I'm not au fait with every permutation of postmodern horror out there, but Buffy does hang heavily over this little comic. The series even copies the Xander-Buffy-Angel triangle, although Ellie differs somewhat from Willow. I got a familiar comforting vibe reading the first volume. It balances the camp and melancholy pretty well, which is exactly the kind of flavour I favour. What's extra impressive is the goofy stylistic tricks Michael Allred deploys: particularly the "dream sequence" in which Gwen observes Amon jump into the panels of different genre comics, a slab of exposition enlivened by the arch way it is presented. Another cute slice of fooling around is the encounter Gwen has with her prospective love interest: she swings out of the door and out of the panel, while he swings into the next panel and into her. That moment is followed by another splash montage bit where we pull out and they fall in love. Normally I would hate this device, since it's often a lazy fudge to avoid actually accounting for the way the couple connect. But Chris Roberson really does try to detail what the conversation was about, and how the process of crushing gets going. And when you have a limited number of pages to tell your tale, that kind of compression is justified. Very well put together, in short. The sort of thing Buffy Season 9 is probably trying and failing to do.


Garden State

I watched this at the impressionable age of 16, in a cinema on Fulham Road, ircc. I remember walking out stunned, thinking this was the film I would have made if I had the money or talent. I know, how very teenage, right? Most people may not have reacted as strongly, though in my bubble the film did feel like a cult hit and a generational touchstone. The themes of rebellion against chemically-induced tranquility, the hole left by an unknown life project, the comfort balm of love and family, seemed to hold a special relevance in an age which joined ironic detachment to epicurean excess.

I've been re-watching regularly since that first time in the cinema, with growing wariness. The cute jokes actually didn't grate so much as the realisation that Natalie Portman's character is at best only half-realised. The film is an extension of Andrew's experience, we don't have access to any other P.O.V. Every actor in his drama isn't a entity with a separate and complete existence. With hindsight, Sam looks like the first contemporary formulation of what became known as the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, a phantom creation imagined by depressed indie boys looking for succor.

I have argued previously that Braff indicates what Sam's inner life may be like, and there is the suggestion that she needs Large as much as Large needs her (a grounding presence that short-circuits her compulsive lying, a fellow melancholic sharing her desire to become someone else). Watching again, that feels like an act of interpretive charity too far. Add it all up and the film provides very little explanation for why Sam would want to hook up with Large. She's just been waiting for some future boyfriend to pick her up on a ninja motorbike, and Large was the first guy to roll up and look past her quirks.

You can leave it at that, and I won't blame you, but I can't help feeling charitable towards this film. The only way to circumvent the difficulties posed by Sam is to recognise that the entire film is an expression of Andrew's subjectivity. Our only entry point into the story is its protagonist. The stylised way it's shot provides no break into reality – it's one long artful hallucination. And if you can buy-in to that (very teenage, sure) solipsism, the film's charms still retain a potency, its injunction to LIVE HERE NOW still convinces.

With repeated viewings, its artfulness, more than anything else, emerges as its strongest suit. When it first came out, a friend wiser than I pointed out how brilliant it was at revealing its significances slowly, and he was right – the balls it throws in the air are all expertly caught by the end. Particularly noticeable with this viewing was the way Mark's gift awakens a memory of Andrew's mother which wipes out years of anger at the fact she was "depressed for no reason". Also the way the inclusion of Sam's brother acts as a momentary check on the protagonist's self-obsessed brooding. Also how Andrew's LA-trained wisecracks are cut short by Sam's appeal to genuine feeling at her hamster's funeral. Also how the wallpaper-shirt gag is actually partly at Andrew's expense...

Even when its indulgences and wish-fulfillment fantasies are (deservedly) picked apart, in terms of craft the film remains impressive, and re-watching it remains a pleasure.


Incognito: Bad Influences

Is this where the series borrows a trick from Grant Morisson and goes meta? Zach Overkill is sent into deep cover to retrieve another agent in deep cover called Simon Slaughter. So far, so very Spy Who Came In From The Cold (with better names). But in their final confrontation, Slaughter starts going on about seeing "beyond this layer of reality", a "force ... watching us". His master plan is to take out both sides and level the giant opposition that structures his world. He wants to go against his own author, punch out God as Hartigan would say. What's great is that the layouts reflect this higher awareness. When Slaughter has his scenes, the linear panel structure is replaced with panels scattered over a large page-wide splash. A great way of conveying this different vision... visually.


Noughties Nuum Top 100

Dissensus has been trying to organise a poll of hardcore continuum tracks post-2000 for a little while now, although it looks like it might have run out of steam. It got me thinking anyway, and lurkers have been welcomed so I might still vote. However, unlike a lot of the other board members, I came to the Nuum late (my grime Damascus moment came in early 2010, catalyzed by Reynolds's writings and the first taste of Run The Road). So I've been listening to this music differently, detached from the environment it has been produced in and designed for. All the weirder because I've grown up in London and have for long periods of time been in close geographical proximity to this stuff, a parallel that has only recently been broken and crossed. So my experience of the Nuum has been almost entirely "retro-active". Whether that makes me a part of Reynolds's "retromaniac" age is a discussion for another day – like when I've actually read the book. Short answer: maybe, though "mania" would put it a bit strongly. Anyway, point is I felt a bit out of place contributing to a poll of enthusiasts most of whom have a first hand knowledge of what they are talking about, while I am still doing my homework and trying to catch-up.

That didn't stop me from compiling a ballot, tho! I decided to make this ENTIRELY retro-active, excluding stuff after 2010 when I started tuning in to the Nuum and listening in real-time. The irony is that as soon as I had done so, the Nuum started dissipating into a million different streams. Suspicions of the internet and digital culture entirely overcome, the solidity provided by physical spaces and objects evaporated, so what we have now is more like a 'cloud' of shared history and signifiers stretching ever thinner. This is the new normal, to misappropriate a term used by Lindsay Zoladz.

Given the temporal boundaries of the list (2000-2009), perhaps unsurprising that grime features heavily (40+ of entries), UK Garage and UK Funky / Bassline being cut out at either end. Dubstep and progeny, also at the heart of the decade, is less well represented (about 30), and the picks are (perhaps) more idiosyncratic, since much of the core Tempa/DMZ sound doesn't do very much for me. The list is also skewed by the availability of what's out there. My ideological aversion to vinyl means that I'm reliant on what got a digital release. Happily a lot of classic productions are being made available as MP3s (cf. DJ Q's Archive, Ruff Sqwad's White Label Classics, Big $hot, Macabre Unit, Sticky all putting together albums of material made ~10 years ago). But it is unquestionable that some strands suffered from a lack of compilation and archival work.

Undisputed reigning champion of the list is Wiley, with 15 entries. As mentioned previously, 2012 brought about a significant re-assessment of the man's talents. He was always going to be all over a list such as this, but his presence was enhanced by me finally locating my senses and unreservedly accepting his frequent proclamations of unassailable prominence.

[Deap breath]

Here's the list. I've made only cursory checks on whether the stuff here fits within the timeframe, welcome any corrections on that score.

Terror Danjah feat. Hyper, Bruza, D Double E, Riko - Cock Back V1.2
Kristine Blond - Love Shy (Club Asylum Mix)
Wiley, Flow Dan, Dizzee Rascal - Eskimo Vocal
Pinch - Qawwali
Lethal Bizzle feat. Fumin, D Double E, Nappa, Jamakabi, Neeko, Flow Dan, Ozzi B, Forcer, Demon - Pow! (Forward)
Ruff Sqwad feat. Trim - Jampie (prod. Wiley)
Riko & Target - Chosen One
Dizzee Rascal - I Luv U
Sadie Ama feat. Kano - So Sure (prod. Terror Danjah)
Joker - Digidesign
Ruff Sqwad - Xtra
Pangaea - Memories
Ny - Something Real
Roll Deep - When I'm 'Ere
El-B feat. Juiceman - Buck & Bury
Wiley - Crash Bandicoot Freestyle
Artful Dodger - It Ain't Enough (Dodger Dubby Dream Mix)
Cooly G - Love Dub
The Bug feat. Flow Dan & Killa P - Skeng
Roll Deep - Let It Out
Dizzee Rascal - Ice Rink (prod. Wiley)
Wiley feat. Rage, Esco, Jammer, Scorcher, God's Gift - 16 Bar Rally
Terror Danjah feat. Triple Threat, Funsta, Shabba D, D Double E, Skibadee, Bruza, Melo D, Hitman Hyper, Ragga Twins - Creepy Crawler (Reckless Soldier)
Shystie - Pull It (Ill Blu Remix)
Burial - Fostercare
Ruff Sqwad - Functions On the Low
Lady Sovereign - Cha Ching (Cheq 1, 2 Remix)
Trim - Wot Part 1 (inst: Wiley - Taplin)
Jammer feat. Wiley, D Double E, Kano, Durrty Goodz - Destruction V.I.P.
Digital Mystikz - Misty Winter
Sticky feat. Ms Dynamite - Booo!
Darkstar - Aidys Girl's A Computer
MJ Cole - Sincere (Wookie Master Mix)
Kano - Sometimes
Guido feat. Aarya - Beautiful Complication
Toasty - The Knowledge
Wiley & Riko - Lethal B Diss (inst: Wiley - Fire Hydrant)
Paleface feat. Kyla - Do You Mind? (Crazy Cousinz Remix)
Plastician feat. Shizzle, Fresh, Nappa - Cha Vocal
SLK - Hype! Hype!
D Double E - Frontline (prod. Big-E-D)
Boxcutter - Silver Birch Solstice
Spor - Aztec
Artful Dodger - Woman Trouble (Wideboys Pick A Pocket Or Two Remix)
Ghetto feat. Kano, Scorcher, Devlin, Wretch 32, Durrty Goodz - Top 3 Selected (Remix) (prod. Rapid)
Ny feat. Maveric - Make It Work
Burial - Raver
Shackleton - Blood On My Hands
Teebone feat. Kie & Sparks - Fly Bi
More Fire Crew - Oi!
T2 feat. Jodie Aysha - Heartbroken
Bear Man feat. Blazer, Doctor & Fender - Drink Beer (Remix)
DJ Q & MC Bonez - You Wot!
Sunship feat. MC RB - Cheque One Two (Remix)
Wiley - Nan I Am London
Zomby - Spliff Dub (Rustie Remix)
Roll Deep - Poltergeist (Remix) (prod. Terror Danjah)
Breakage feat. Newham Generals & David Rodigan - Hard
Instra:Mental - Watching You
The Midnight Circus - Complicated
Ramadanman - Every Next Day
Dizzee Rascal - Sittin' Here
Untold - Stop What Your Doing (James Blake Remix)
MJ Cole - Bandelero Desperado
Joker - Stuck In The System
Plastician feat. Skepta - Intensive Snare
Digital Mystikz feat. Spen G - Anti War Dub
Angel Lee - What's Your Name (Artful Dodger Mash Up Vocal Mix)
Geeneus feat. Ms Dynamite - Get Low
LV feat. Dandelion - Turn Away
Geiom & Appleblim - Shreds
Ghost (El-B) - Lyrical Tempo
Raffertie - Wobble Horror!
Dogzilla - Never Ending Story
Genius Cru - Course Bruv
Untold - Anaconda
Virgo feat. B Live & Flirta D - Clack Riddim
Mizz Beats feat. Wiley, Jammer, Earz, JME & Sier - Saw It Comin'
Parson - Throw Some Ds
Subeena feat. Jamie Woon & Om'mas Keith - Solidify
Naphta - Soundclash 1 (Grievous Angel V.I.P.)
Rebound X - Rhythm & Gash
Distance - Traffic
P Money - 1 Up (prod. Royal-T)
Terror Danjah - Piano Madness
Horsepower Productions - When You Hold Me (Version)
Pay As You Go Cartel - Know We
No Lay - Unorthodox Daughter
3rd Core - Mindless & Broken (MJ Cole Mix)
Deadboy - U Cheated
Silkie - Dam 4
Gabrielle - Sunshine (Wookie Main Mix)
Crazy Titch - Sing Along
Jamie Vex'd - In System Travel
Wretch 32 feat. Badness & Ghetto - Ina Di Ghetto
Mount Kimbie - Maybes
The Bug feat. Flow Dan - Jah War (Loefah Remix)
Gemma Fox - Boxers (Delinquent 4x4 Mix)
Commix - Be True
Benga v Skream - The Judgement