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Blog Archive: April 2019I Have Seen Avengers:Endgame
I have two vital and important things to say right from the start about "Avengers: Endgame". Firstly, I shall be disclosing no spoilers of any kind WOTSOEVER in this blog, and secondly, and most importantly of all, I HAVE SEEN "AVENGERS:ENDGAME"!
The thing about spoilers always really winds me up, ESPECIALLY when ARTICLES think they're being really clever and say "No spoilers, but CHARACTER X does not appear in this film", as that IS a bloody spoiler. Or "No spoilers, but watch out for the bit with ITEM Y" because, OBVS, that tells you ITEM Y will flipping be in it. I really REALLY wanted to see this film without a clue what was going to be in it, and THUS the only way TO do that, I reasoned, was to go and see it as SOON as I possibly could.
So it was that I got up at 5.50 AM in the morning on Thursday to go to the 6.30 AM in the morning show at my local VUE cinema. When I booked the tickets several days before I thought this would be a) a bit KRAZY but also b) BLOODY GRATE and I have to say I stand by both opinions. Walking through Westfield Shopping Centre with most of the lights off felt a BIT like going on holiday on an early flight, and also a bit like going to a temp job when I was in my 20s, except instead of going to e.g. sweep up on a building site I was going to THE PICTURES!
As I walked through Westfield I saw various other people heading the same way, and when I got to the Vue it felt like a communal activity, as we presented our tickets to the one member of staff who appeared to be on duty. I'd booked my seat in the very first row as I was aware that the film was THREE HOURS long and so I would require an easily accessible LOO BREAK, but as the (many, many) adverts rolled I thought "I really don't want to spend all that time craning my neck like this," so when we FINALLY got to the trailers (honestly, it was 6.30 AM in the MORNING, couldn't they have just got ON with it?) I went and sat a few seats back, which was MUCH better. The screen was about half full, which is pretty much perfect I always reckon, as there's SPACE but enough people to make the LARFS and the GASPS audible.
And MY WORD but there were LARFS and ESPECIALLY gasps - the latter ESPECIALLY with the bit involving CHARACTER X and ITEM Y! There were also a LOT of TEARS. Good LORD I practically SOBBED my way through half of it, and LARFED some more and then, towards the end, sat clutching my VERY BRANE for fear of it EXPLODING through the things I was watching. As I said the other day, when I saw the first "Avengers" film I could not BELIEVE I was actually watching a film with Iron Man AND Captain America AND Thor in it, but this made THAT look like WAITING FOR GODOT.
Basically, it was completely and utterly BRILLIANT and quite possibly the best film I have EVER seen at the cinema. Yes yes I'm sure there are much more cleverer/funnier/insightful or whatever films that work as a standalone, but as the culmination of over TWENTY FILMS over the course of a DECADE this was bloody astonishing. I still keep THINKING about bits of it and LARFING/GASPING/SNIFFLING over 24 hours later.
The only downside of the whole thing really was that seeing it SO early means that nobdoy else I know has been yet. So please, can everyone go this weekend so I can talk about it? You will not regret it!
posted 26/4/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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Wednesday was a big day for me, as I had my CONFIRMATION for my PhD. This is a sort of mini-VIVA, where you hand over a sample of what you've been up to and talk to somebody about it, so that they can assess whether what you're doing actually IS a PhD project, or an MPhil, or something you need to have a bit of a THINK about before asking again. It's one of the main STAGING POSTS along the way, and though different Universities call it different things, it generally happens about halfway through the research.
It's a big deal, basically, but I must say that I was remarkably SANGUINE about it beforehand. This may in part be because I had been to see a DERMOTOLOGIST earlier in the day about my PSORIASIS, and discovered that I only rank as 4/10 on The Scabby Scale (NB not actual terminology) after lying FULLY NUDE (apart from my socks) on a table and chatting about SUNBEDS. After that a fully clothed discussion of French Philosophers And Why I Don't Think They Apply seemed quite straightforward!
Another reason I was quite calm was that I was actually rather looking forward to it - this was a chance for me to TALK UNFETTERED about Doctor Doom and Transmedia to a room containing people who HAVE to listen and, indeed, ask questions, which seemed quite appealing. The aforementioned people were my two supervisors, Professor R Sabin and Dr I Horton, and the EXAMINER Dr D Byrne-Smith. Before Dan turned up Roger and Ian both asked, a couple of times, if I was stressed about it. I replied, quite truthfully, that I wasn't, and it was only later that I realised that maybe THEY were!
The interview was, for me at least, GRATE fun. Dan asked some Excellent and Pertinent questions, most of which I could answer (at some length, and with INSIGHTS emerging as we discussed them), and when some arose that I couldn't answer I said "I don't know." This is SUCH a better way of doing things than panicking and trying to make stuff up that I wish I could ALWAYS remember to do it! Dan also gave me some THORTS, IDEAS and also CRITICISM about what I was doing, which was ACE - apparently some people BRIDLE at this sort of thing, but if there is one thing that doing my MA a few years ago taught me, it is... well, it is "Go To The Pub Afterwards", but if there is ANOTHER thing that it taught me it was How To Receive Notes. Doing CREATIVE WRITING stuff involves a LOT of listening to other people's opinions of what you have written, and the best way to deal with it is to just sit there and TAKE it, whether it is BRILLIANT, DAFT, or somewhere in between. What I got yesterday was heavily skewed towards the brilliant end of the spectrum, which does make it easier!
When we'd finished that bit Roger and Ian had to leave the room so that I could discuss how it was going privately - this didn't take very long as I have been having a WHALE of a time, so then it was my turn to go out while the three of them discussed how I was doing, and then a few minutes later we ALL sat in the room again, and they told me it had all gone FINE and that I am now (nearly) officially CONFIRMED as doing a PhD. PHEW! Obviously, this being a University, there are approx 700 committees this has to go through before it is OFFICIALLY official, but those are meetings that I do not have to go to!
When it was done we all popped downstairs for a celebratory PINT and a surprisingly in-depth and THORTFUL discussion on The Nature Of Practice Research. Working at a University Of Interesting Things and simultaneously STUDYING Interesting Things at the same University is ACE!
posted 25/4/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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A Tourist Trip To That London
Over the weekend The Sights On My Tour and I went round That London looking at SIGHTS and having GOOD TIMES. It began on the evening of Good Friday, when we went to the new Mother Kelly's craft beer place near us, to meet The Hewitts and drink Kolsch-style (not Kolsch-actual) BEER and then go a couple of doors down to DINE IN at our local chippy. I tried some of this here "Banana Blossom" stuff that is meant to taste like fish - it DID a bit, which was weird as I've not eaten it in about 25 years, and I'm not sure i liked it! What I DID like, however, was walking into the shop and most of the staff saying "HELLO!" to me. I felt like NORM!
On Saturday we went into London town for a wander around. We started off in Westminster, where we saw the Extinction Rebellion protests. They had closed off the whole of Parliament Square, which was LOVELY as it meant there was no traffic but lots of happy people wandering around, including several Tour Guides who seemed to be REVELLING in their sudden freedom from traffic watching. We then went to The Tate Britain to see the Van Gogh And Britain exhibition, which was dead good but CRIKEY it was a bit LONG. The actual famous Van Gogh paintings that were in it were GRATE, and some of the Early Stuff was interesting too, but the curators seemed to have decided to pack it out with other stuff as much as they possibly could, which I guess is OK from a Value For Money point of view, but did make it a bit hard going. The daftest example of this was the room where they had one of the Sunflower paintings, surrounded by some other paintings of sunflowers "in dialogue" with it. The ACTUAL Van Gogh Sunflowers was AMAZING - crumbs, you get a real sense of What All The Fuss Is About when you see it "in person", it is LUMINOUS and ASTONISHING - but the other paintings just looked a bit rubbish in comparison. Similarly, towards the end, there were some other paintings by other artists using "strong colours" that just looked wishy washy in comparison. Having said that, there WAS a Constable which was ACE, and as I say, the Van Gogh Actuals were ACE.
We then had a stomp via some sunny PARKS across town for LUNCH in Tibits, popping for a look at the old Apple Building on Saville Row on the way, then went round to The Royal Academy to see the Renaissance Nudes exhibition, as the aforesaid Tickets In My Raffle had won us a couple of free entrance to see it. This one was MUCH more sensibly sized, filling five small rooms which I could happily WHIP round in half an hour, which to be honest is about my level of concentration for this sort of thing. The best bit was the room of SKETCHES by Leonardo, Michaelangelo (and all the other turtles etc etc) which were GORGEOUS. As the NOTES gently hinted, there were a LOT of pictures of Pretty Young Men Without Many Clothes On, notably a LOT of pictures of Saint Sebastian, who seems to be the saint of being penetrated (by arrows) and not seeming to mind. WOT can it all mean eh readers?
Then on SUNDAY we headed out to our old stomping grounds in Wanstead Park, where we went to look at the BLUEBELLS. We weren't sure if they'd be in full bloom yet but MY GOODNESS they were. The "Bluebell Wood" area has had WALKWAYS set out on the ground for the past couple of years, which has had the result of making everywhere else a stomping-free-zone, so that the flowers have MULTIPLIED so that it is an Ecstatic SHOCK of purpley blue as soon as you are among them. If you are in the area I would HIGHLY recommend a visit, if possible taking in a trip to the tea hut along the way - it is ACE!
posted 24/4/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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Marvel Movie Madness
A couple of months ago I got all excited about Game Of Thrones coming back on the telly, and decided that the time was ripe for a REWATCH of the whole series! This thrilling idea got somewhat derailed by me having loads of other stuff to do, so that all I'd managed before the new series started was to read one of those "here is who everybody is and who they have killed/shagged previously" articles.
HOWEVER, in the week before Easter I realised that there was ANOTHER long running series FINALE coming up which I COULD do a rewatch for i.e. The Marvel Cinematic Universe! We have ALL THE TELLY in our house, so I knew it was do-able, and a glance at my diary showed me I actually had some FREE TIME available in which to get it done. So it was that I sat myself down on the sofa and over the course of the Easter weekend watched a total of FIVE Marvel films i.e. "Avengers", "Avengers Age Of Ultron", "Captain America Civil War", "Thor Ragnorak" and "Avengers Infinity War". The three Avengers films were chosen because OBVIOUSLY they are Avengers films, with Civil War and the Thor one basically being two halves of another Avengers film. I have now completed this re-watch and have the following INSIGHTS to give:
- They are ALL much better than I remember them being, ESPECIALLY "Age Of Ultron" which I was a bit disappointed by at the time but which actually ROCKS along like nobody's business.
- The whole thing REALLY works - it's amazing how COMICS it all is, and how it all ties together so (seemingly) effortlessly. If I'd had time I would have definitely also watched "Black Panther" and "Ant Man" (as they are ACE) but even without them the whole thing flows beautifully. It was like watching one INCREDIBLY EXPENSIVE series that also had huge chunks of MASSIVE ACTION every ten minutes.
- It is LUDICROUS that "Civil War" is meant to be a Captain America film when CLEARLY it is an Avengers film from start to finish.
- Tom Hollander as Spider-man is UTTERLY GRATE.
- The Black Widow film cannot come soon ENOUGH.
- Thor Ragnorak is probably my favourite because it a) is dead funny b) looks FAB with all the Kirby stuff and c) is probably the closest it gets to The Actual Comics without actually BEING like the comics.
- I love the way that, in "Infinity War" the bits with Doctor Strange in are like the Doctor Strange FILM, and the Guardians Of The Galaxy bits are like THEIR films, and the same for everyone else AND YET it all mixes together so well.
- Flipping heck, I thought it was INCREDIBLE that the first Avengers film had Iron Man AND Thor AND Captain America AND The Hulk in it, and could never have DREAMT that a few years later I'd be watching a film with them AND The Vision AND The Black Panther AND The Scarlet Witch AND Spider-Man AND Doctor Strange AND so on and so on.
posted 23/4/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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A Day In The Countryside
Yesterday I headed out to WILTSHIRE for a work meeting. It was a lovely day to do such a thing, both because of the weather (which was SPRING-LIKE) and the fact that it is the week before Easter which, in an academic setting, is basically one long Friday afternoon with hardly anybody about, so you can do other stuff without worrying (too much) about DISASTERS occurring while you're looking the other way.
For some reason Academic Types always seem to think it is a really good idea to book meetings at 9.30am so that those travelling have to get up at half past awful to get there, and I very nearly fell into this trap myself when organising this trip. However, sense prevailed and we arranged to meet just after lunchtime, which meant i was able to get my train at an EXCEEDINGLY sensible time. The train was one of the new high-speed GWR trains which have ACTUAL LEGROOM in them and functionining toilets, it felt like EXTREME luxury the whole way there!
I was meeting somebody at Bath Spa University's Corsham Court campus, so instead of going to Actual BATH I got off at Chippenham and then STRAIGHT into a bus. I was very impressed with Chippenham's Integrated Transport - the bus stop is DIRECTLY outside the station and there were buses WAITING when the train pulled in.
Twenty five minutes later I got off the bus in CORSHAM which looked like something off the TELLY - I deduced later that it had been in POLDARK, largely due to all the shop window displays that said "We Was On POLDARK". I walked along streets that seemed to have come straight out of Jane Austen, and then into Corsham Court itself which looked EXACTLY as you would expect a manor house to look. It even had its own LORD living onsight! As I walked up to the house I thought "What is that horrible noise?" and then turned a corner to see a) GROUNDS that looked like Mr Darcy would come wandering through at any moment in his soggy undergarments and b) a PEACOCK!
I went inside for an Actually Dead Good meeting about a system which Bath Spa use called FIGSHARE which we currently HAVE and are trying to work out what to DO with, and then the people I'd met very kindly took me for a guided STROLL around the grounds where OH MY WORD we saw an Actual Peacock Actually Peacocking i.e. its ginormous TAIL was up and fanned out. It was ASTONISHING - it's one of those things we see so much in BOOKS or ILLUSTRATIONS but I don't think I've ever seen one in real life before. It was RUDDY HUGE!
And so I made my way back, through fictional Truro, a bus ride in the sunshine, and then the train home. If you ever get the chance to go and talk about computer systems at another institution, I would highly recommend Corsham Court!
posted 18/4/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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Touring - Lessons Learnt
It's now a fortnight since the end of the 'No Headliner Tour' with Mr M Tiller, which I think is sufficient distance to examine what LESSONS we can LEARN from the experience. I have identified FOUR (4), as follows:
The first, as detailed previously (and indeed throughout the tour), is that ROCKING around the country with Matt was GRATE fun. I would highly recommend him as a TOUR BUDDY and officially Would Tour With Again if consent was given!
The second is that doing gigs once a week is RUDDY GENIUS. The driving principle behind it was that Matt and I are both MATURE ROCKERS and so cannot be doing with the TREADMILL of doing gigs on subsequent days, and this turned out to be very wise as even playing a gig once a week was KNACKERING. This is partly because of all the travelling, late nights and early starts, but also because we ROCK SO HARD that it takes about a week to recover.
Another truly excellent aspect of weekly gigging is that you know there's always another one coming up, so if one gig doesn't quite work out how you expected in some way then it doesn't really matter as it's NOT the only gig you're doing. For instance, when the Leicester gig wasn't the SELLOUT SMASH I'd hoped for it didn't spoil the evening, and I was able to actively ENJOY the very lovely people who HAD come.
The other aspect of weekly gigging that I really enjoyed, and that brings us on to our THIRD lesson learnt, is that it gives you plenty of time to learn DIFFERENT songs for each show. In the past I have tended to fall back on an "uberset" of GUARANTEED BANGERS, which is good for Actually Remembering The Words Most Of The Time, but is less good for VARIETY and, especially, for writing new stuff. I'd also found it a bit embarrassing in the past when I'd play with people who DID change it up a bit - I especially recall being vaguely ASHAMED when I toured with G Petrie and, especially, G Osborn, who were forever introducing new songs into the SUITE, while I was basically doing the same set every night. Thus I wrote up a list of about 45 songs to have a go at and, in the weeks leading up to the start of the tour, diligently went through trying them out. Some of these songs were abandoned, some got straight into the set only to never return, others took several weeks of practicing before I was confident enough to actually perform them in front of people, and some even got written along the way. In the end I did THIRTY FIVE different songs, as listed below, with number of gigs in brackets:
Crumbs, that is a LOT of songs, and a LOT that only got done once too! Initially I had MAD ideas about doing entirely different sets from night to night, but it quickly became clear that there were some songs that I WANTED to keep doing, notably the newer ones like Two Blokes, One Pub and You're A Tory Now which both got played on six out of the seven dates, so I let myself off and DID them.
Two Blokes, One Pub (6)
You're A Tory Now (6)
Cheer Up Love (4)
I'm Doing The Ironing (4)
It Only Works Because You're here (4)
20 Things To Do Before You're 30 (3)
An Office Ballad (3)
Someone Else's Turn (3)
The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B) (3)
Chips And Cheese, Pint Of Wine (2)
Clubbing In The Week (2)
Come On Apocalypse (2)
Hibbett's Golden Rules Of Beer (2)
In The North Stand (2)
Say It With Words (2)
The Lesson Of The Smiths (2)
I Don't Have To Worry About That (2)
Another Man's Laundry (hanging on your line) (1)
Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid (1)
Billy Jones Is Dead (1)
Can We Be Friends? (1)
Do The Indie Kid (1)
Easily Impressed (1)
Hey Hey 16K (1)
I Come From The Fens (1)
I Did A Gig In New York (1)
Mental Judo (1)
My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once (1)
Payday Is The Best Day (1)
Rock & Roll Mayhem (1)
That Guy (1)
The Perfect Love Song (1)
The Saturday Lunchtime Wrestlers (1)
We Did It Anyway (1)
(You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock (1)
FORCING myself to play different songs also forced me to practice a bit more too, and made me more LIKELY to because it gets VERY DULL trying to practice the same songs over and over again. It also made me think that, without wanting to blow my own trumpet or anything, some of these songs are PRETTY GOOD. Clubbing In The Week, for instance, could be wheeled out a lot more, even though it has basically now become FOLK MUSIC, with the previously HILARIOUS idea of going into a nightclub and feeling as if "Everybody in there looks like they are half your age" now passing ACTUAL FACT and heading instead towards WILD OPTIMISM.
The fourth and FINAL lesson I learnt from all of this is more of a reminder really, that going and doing gigs is not just about, well, going and doing gigs. The thing I loved most about the tour was the fact that I got to travel around meeting up with some of the EXTREMELY lovely people I have got to know in almost thirty years doing this ridiculous thing we call ROCK. Doing gigs irregularly, and especially doing them mostly in London as I have done lately, makes you forget that sometimes really nice people that you LIKE will sacrifice a perfectly pleasant night IN and come OUT to see you, and that once the business of the GIG is over you can sit around with them and have a chat. This is clearly the BEST bit about touring, and the main reason that I would like to do it again!
Not just at the moment though - I'm still worn out from this one!
posted 4/4/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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Cologne Part Two: Mini-Break!
Saturday in Cologne began at an exceedingly pleasant, leisurely pace, although it did feature one of the most terrifying natural phenomenons known to man over breakfast. The hotel we stayed in had a BUFFET system, and goodness me but you do NOT want to get in the way of Germans In Search Of Breakfast. They are a delightful and charming people, but Quite Determined about the morning repast.
Saturday was technically the start of the Weekend Mini-Break segment of our trip, so we then moved to the traditioanl first point of business on a mini-break i.e. going on an Open Top Bus Tour. As mentioned many times before, Open Top Bus Tours are BRILLIANT, and a FLIPPING SUPERB way of getting to know a city. We had a lovely 90 minutes sat on the top deck learning many Fascinating Facts about Cologne, getting our bearings, and also realising that Cologne is a BIG place. When I came before with The Vlads we only really saw the centre of town and the area between the Ibis and The Blue Shell, but there it turns out to be HUGE!
Once off the bus we popped into a bar for some more Kolsch (it is ACE) before attempting to get a bus out to Ehrenfield, where there were apparently some nice places to eat. Unfortunately our tram didn't come - it spent about 15 minutes being stuck at 9 minutes away - so we decided to abort that mission and instead go to Sattgrun, which turned out to be FANTASTIC. It's an all Vegan restaurant a bit like Tibit's, but instead of WEIGHING plates you just pick the size of plate you want and fill it up. There was a very small sign asking people not to PILE UP grub although, this being Germany, people didn't need to be told not to take the piss, so didn't. It was all very sensible, and also RUDDY DELICIOUS. We had CAKE too!
Next we went to had a look at the inside of the Cathedral, but could only get into a small section at the front as I think they were closing. This was not really a problem - the main attraction is the FRONT anyway, and my dears once you have been in Peterborough Cathedral you have pretty much experienced Cathedral Perfection anyway - and instead myself and The Cloisters In My Quadrangle went for what turned out to be a LONG and FAB walk alongside the Rhine and out to the 'Crane Buildings'. By the time we got back to the hotel we were DONE for the day, and ended up having our tea, and some more BOOZE, back at the hotel. It was lovely!
Sunday began somewhat earlier, as we had more to do before our plane left, but we discovered that the aforementioned Germans In Search Of Breakfast were still stomping determinedly towards the bread rolls. Once we'd eaten we packed, dropped our bags at reception, then headed over to the other side of the city centre to join the Free Walking Tour. We got there slightly early so had just enough time for another Kolsch and some pretzel sticks (an EXCELLENT combination) before setting off on what turned out to be a HIGHLY informative and also VERY FUNNY stomp with a guide called Sidney. I now know a LOT more about how and why people in COlogne are, basically, cool and groovy, and also why the city's coat of arms has three crowns and eleven black tails, AND what the "Chunkel" (sp?) dance is. We went off for lunch halfway through but, when Sattgrun turned out to be closed, went back to find the group again, and we were glad we did, otherwise we would have missed the BUCKET SPEECH at the end. This was just like the one we were all meant to do on the Free Fringe, and included a section in which he clearly mentioned 10 Euros during a joke which, he said, his boss said they "had" to do. His boss was right to say so!
After that we found ourselves back at Heumarkt so went to our favourite pub (the same one we'd been to on Friday) and were amazed to discover it also did VEGAN SOUP, so had some of that alongside... more Kolsch! We are are nothing if not committed to experiencing other cultures! We then went back to the hotel and headed for the airport (on a double decker train!), where we discovered our plane back was PACKED, so we didn't get a row to ourselves, let alone one EACH, but apart from that the journey was FINE.
In summary then, Cologne was BLOODY BRILLIANT. Can we go again please?
posted 3/4/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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A Conference In Cologne
Thursday morning began for me at the truly APPALLING hour of 5am, for LO! I had a plane to catch, to the wonderful German city of COLOGNE, where I was to attend a conference about comics fandom.
All right, it wasn't JUST to attend a conference, it was ALSO to have a weekend there with The Kolsch In My Glass, who was coming a day later. We had taken a bit of a RISK booking it, as at time of booking the UK was meant to be leaving the EU while we were there, so there was a good chance we'd have some HEFTY delays, or even NO PLANES AT ALL, on the way back. Still, Cologne is a nice place to be stuck, and the aforesaid Clauses In My Contract had LONG predicted there would be no Brexit anyway, so we took the chance. NOTE: she is usually right about this sort of thing!
My journey went SUPER SMOOTHLY - I got the high speed to St Pancras, the tube to Paddington, then the Heathrow Express to the airport, which was all FAST, if not CHEAP! I only had hand luggage, so it took 10 seconds to check-in with a machine, and I found myself through security with an HOUR to spare! The plane was not full, possibly due to more cautious people than us NOT booking, so I got a whole ROW to myself (so even had a NAP!) and then I walked straight off the plane onto a train, and was in Actual Cologne less than an hour later. It was amazing!
It was all so PEASY that I had time to pop to the hotel and drop my bag off before getting a U-Bahn to the conference at Cologne University, where I FINALLY got a bit lost finding my way round campus. I popped into a building and a VERY helpful German gave me a MAP. Germans are GRATE!
The first day of the conference itself was dead interesting, with a FASCINATING session about The Gift Economy (the idea that fans share their work with each other for free for the love of their subject matter) and how that is disappearing, to be replaced by PLATFORMS (e.g. Patreon) which allow fans to pay each other for what they're doing. There was also one about nostalgia and "anti-fandom" and then a keynote which pretty much brought all the THORTS of the day together.
I also saw some RABBITS sitting on a mound in the middle of the campus. We don't have THAT at UAL!
It was dead good, but it didn't finish until 8.30pm, by which point I was KNACKERED, so decided to head home. I got to the tram stop to see nobody waiting and a message going across the message boards, which I used Google Translate to discover said "No trams from here". I then used MAPS to walk home, and discovered that there'd been an accident up the way, so it was all shut. "Thank GOODNESS for Smartphones" I thought as I stomped along, although WEIRDLY my route took me to the area round the hotel that The Validators stopped in for Popfest last year, so for the second half of the route I knew where I was!!
The next day dawned MUCH later as I was KNACKERED. The first session was a meeting of an academic society, to which we were all invited but which I felt I could probably miss without worrying too much (and also without forcing people to speak English!). The second was about Gender which is officially an Interesting Topic but a) not vastly relevant to My Research Interests b) something I'd been to several times before and c) not as appealing as a much needed LIE IN an hotel breakfast.
So it was that I left the hotel at a very leisurely 1pm to stroll down to the University, taking a slight diversion to see The Blue Shell, site of last year's COlogne PopFest, as I went. I arrived at the venue at 1.35pm to discover that the afternoon session, which was meant to begin at 2pm, had already started. One does not wish to reinforce national stereotypes, but surely only in Germany would an academic conference session start EARLY!
There were two REALLY interesting talks in this bit (and one not so interesting one), about FASHION and then HIP HOP. The former used Chris Claremont's run on the X-Men to talk about the meanings of costumes, uniforms, dressing, visual systems, othering, and narrative use of clothing. In other words, a whole lot of FASCINATING things I had never really understood/thought of before. The latter basically explained why Hip Hop is a) the way it is b) a superhero narrative, and CRIKEY it was compelling, to the extent that when the speaker said "Grandmaster Flash" (as an example of Hip Hop artists giving themselves superhero-like stage names) I had to suppress an "AHA!" It also VERY MUCH convinced me that the Doctor Doom really IS a hip hop character - the poor beginnings, the oppression, the personal injury, the rising up against his enemies, the fights, the regrets, and especially the castle and visible signs of success. Move over Noah Hawley, I feel a SCREENPLAY coming on!
As everything finished I did manage to actually SPEAK to a couple of people (very brave) before heading off to the hotel and then to the railway station, where I was just in time to meet The Times On My Timetable, freshly arrived from the UK. She too had had a whole row of seats to herself on the plan - we both realised that this might have been because hardly anybody else in the UK had advance booked seats on what was meant to be Brexit Day!
We trundled off through the streets of Cologne and, again thanks to Google Maps on my phone, found Heumarkt and the very same pub where The Validators had first sat last year. The Beer In My Glass was VERY impressed by the system of bringing many small beers to your table, and we did indeed enjoy MANY small beers, all while discussing how BRILLIANT the Germans are. I reckon that we should put the whole March To Leave on a plane/high speed train to Cologne for the weekend, then they would happily agree that these are people we very much SHOULD be in a club with!
posted 1/4/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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