Finally got Tom Strong: Book Six. This one seems to end the series, though you never know what will be resurrected in comics.
Makes a pretty decent conclusions. Starts off with a two-parter scripted my Michael Moorcock, with guest appearances from a couple of his characters. Nice to see a cameo from Oswald Bastable (retro-adventurer in 1970s novels, before anyone coined the term steampunk).
After that a couple of stories tie up some loose ends in the ABC universe. The final issue is written by Moore himself. Ends with Tom Strong's view of the big event at the end of Promethea: one event is a little bit clichéd but it does round off the series.
With the fuss over the Watchmen movie, interesting to see how Alan Moore has come full circle. While the angst-ridded vigilantes he and Frank Miller pioneered in the Eighties have become the new orthodoxy, Tom Strong represents a more mature kind of science-hero, capable of adult relationships, again more driven from altruism than vengeance.
What I'm Reading 2
Picked up The Final Solution by Michael Chabon in the library. Very short, more a novella than a novel, this is another book dealing with a last case for the retired Sherlock Holmes.
Not really as good as "A Slight Trick of the Mind" by Mitch Cullin. The mystery elements are stronger here, but still not particularly ingenious by mystery standards. Doesn't really deal with old age as touchingly. The background in wartime England doesn't have any outright anachronisms, but didn't really seem to capture the atmosphere very well. not sure the impoverished vicar would have been able to afford a car or get the petrol either.
Not a bad read though. But I think we've had enough revisited Holmes for the time being.
What I'm Reading 3
Grabbed another Elseworlds comic from the library. Batman: Gotham by Gaslight imagines Batman in 1892. Reasonable well-done story, but not particularly outstanding. Batman originally appeared in 1939, so he's rather closer to the Victorian era than the present day anyhow.
What I'm Watching
Saw the BBC adaptation of Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida on DVD. Set in the Trojan war, it mixes a love story with intrigues amongst the Greeks and Trojans.
Reminded me oddly of "Hancock": seems to suffer a bit from the same problems of mixing tragedy and comedy. Wikipedia suggests it may be a fix-up of an early comedy and a late tragedy, which is why it doesn't fit together to well.
The production gets very camp for the comedy bits:
kind of Carry On Up the Topless Towers of Ilium.
Also the middle-aged flower of the RSC don't exactly
give the cast of 300 much to worry about in terms of
On the other hand, thought the ending was impressively bleak. Found it a bit shocking when Achilles finds Hector unarmed on the battlefield and doesn't even bother killing him himself, getting his Myrmidons to stab him from all sides.
Overall, can't really recommend it except for its supposed innovative value as "the first modern play". Does have some decent cynicism though,
PARIS. And tell me, noble Diomed-faith, tell me true,
Even in the soul of sound good-fellowship-
Who in your thoughts deserves fair Helen best,
Myself or Menelaus?
DIOMEDES. Both alike:
He merits well to have her that doth seek her,
Not making any scruple of her soilure,
With such a hell of pain and world of charge;
And you as well to keep her that defend her,
Not palating the taste of her dishonour,
With such a costly loss of wealth and friends.
He like a puling cuckold would drink up
The lees and dregs of a flat tamed piece;
You, like a lecher, out of whorish loins
Are pleas'd to breed out your inheritors.
Both merits pois'd, each weighs nor less nor more;
But he as he, the heavier for a whore.
PARIS. You are too bitter to your country-woman.
DIOMEDES. She's bitter to her country. Hear me, Paris:
For every false drop in her bawdy veins
A Grecian's life hath sunk; for every scruple
Of her contaminated carrion weight
A Troyan hath been slain; since she could speak,
She hath not given so many good words breath
As for her Greeks and Troyans suff'red death.
PARIS. Fair Diomed, you do as chapmen do,
Dispraise the thing that you desire to buy;
But we in silence hold this virtue well:
We'll not commend what we intend to sell.
Here lies our way.
Went to see Radical Light: Italy's Divisionist Painters 1891-1910 at the National Gallery. Hadn't really heard of these guys before, but it's well worth a visit.
Their technique is a bit like the pointillists but with short lines of pure colour instead of dots. From a distance, your eyes blend in the colours, but it means there's a lot more brilliance and texture to the pictures. So, reproductions don't give you much idea of what they look like: you really need to go and see them.
Also, while the technique is the same, there's a great diversity to the themes. Some of the paintings are bucolic images of the countryside, but there are also symbolist paintings with realistic figures emerging from surreal swirls, and there are political, socially aware pictures of the rich and the poor, workers, and demonstrators.
While it's a bit steep at £8, it's a good chance to see something unfamiliar and which needs to be seen in person. Recommended.
Also took a stroll to see this year's Serpentine pavilion. Frank Gehry did this one. Liked it a lot: bright and airy, appealing fractured structure, and the blond wood gives it a bit of texture.
Also dropped in the gallery to see: Richard Prince: Continuation. Quite diverse: some interesting photographs. Wasn't so impressed with the conceptual stuff: mostly erratically grey-painted casts of car bonnets.
Interesting interview with James Carse on religion is not belief.
Muppets sing opera:
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