POD: Let’s back up a sec, here.

Posted on November 17th, 2009 in making things

Whoo, that last one was a bit of a rant, wasn’t it? But I needed to get that out of my system, because I’m tired, I’m just dead tired of the “everything’s broken/too hard/scary/etc so why bother trying?” nonsense. And I know it’s not new, but a few years back it just started snowballing because here’s the truth of it: It’s a million billion times easier to tell people what’s wrong than it is to try and make something right.

I’m am well self-aware enough to recognize that following a ranty post with that last statement is comedy gold, yes.

But now I’m going to switch gears and go a little hearts and flowers and rainbows on you.  Because I do honestly get that it’s honestly hard to start something, and it’s even harder to finish it.  Yeah, I know, I really do.  But now’s the time to do it, isn’t it?  Haven’t you noticed how many people — complete strangers, even -  are getting genuinely and creatively excited about Doing Stuff?  Part of it’s very likely the end-of-the-decade rush — it’s hitting some people like a ton of bricks, but it’s infecting even more people with cabin fever.  Folks are dusting off projects they first started thinking about in 2005 or 1999, or just finally flipping the switch and starting on something completely new.

And if the feedback I’m getting is any indication (and I’ve got comments disabled here because they don’t suit me, but I do pay attention to Twitter and I read everything on Whitechapel) — there are a LOT of you right. on. that. cusp. of taking the first step.  So look, I know I’ve been giving you lot a hard time about “just getting it done,” but before I get into my list of Stuff What I Learned Working With POD sometime tomorrow, I wanna back up a step and talk to you.

Here’s what you need to do, right now, tonight.  No, NOT tomorrow morning, or this weekend, or once your work rush has let off a little, or after the holidays, or sometime in the New Year: Right. Fucking. Now. 

Decide what you want to make.

And I’m talking about the single most complicated and ridiculous creation you can think of…


Just the THING.  That’s all.  Is it a book?  Is it a script? A necklace? A toaster-cozy? A shirt? What is it?  What do you want to make?

And oh I mean it when I say ridiculous and complicated.  Look, if you want to take 365 photos of your toaster, one for every day of the next year, sometimes with toast and sometimes with a bagel and sometimes with an English muffin and one shot with a Very Dangerous Fork, and you want to blow those images up to 8.5×11” and put them into a monthly magazine with no words and just a picture of the appliance in its knitted cozy on the front and that’s what you want to make?  Then that’s what you want to make.

That’s what you want to make.


This moment, right now, this THING that you’re deciding to make, this thing exists independently of the fiddly bits for now.  This, what you’re doing here, is something that back in the olden days — before the slagosphere wasted all your time telling you how not to do things — they called a goal.  It’s a beautiful and magical thing that doesn’t need money or time or effort to believe in.  It’s only different from a dream in that you made it yourself, instead of letting your subconscious do all the work while you sleep.

Now, okay, here’s the little-bit harder step, are you ready?

Look at that THING you just said you wanted to make.  Really look at it.  Now, right now, tonight, NOT tomorrow morning, or this weekend, or once your work rush has let off a little, or after the holidays, or sometime in the New Year: Right. Fucking. Now.


Period.  This is it.  You’ve been putting it off, or you’ve been planning to get around to it, or you know that once you get a little spare time it’s at the top of the list… for HOW long now?  I’m looking at you.  I know you’re already taking a breath to rattle off the list of all the things standing in your way.  and what’s more, I know you know they’re just excuses.

And it needs to end, now.  Your life is never going to GET less stressful.  It’s honestly not.  That’s not how life works.  When we put off the things we want to do, the stress of that adds into the stress of life.  You’re not going to GET more hours in the day.  You’re never going to have enough money to put aside spare time.  You’re not going to suddenly have That Moment where it all gels and you suddenly break out and start doing what you want to be doing… unless you MAKE that moment, right here, right now.

Oh I’m making a sappy speech right now, sure I am.  Imaginary music should be swelling on my cue.  But I’m telling you the absolute truth, okay? If you say, right now: “Oh whatever, I’ve heard that before, but it’s different for me, I’ve got different troubles and it’s not going to hurt me to wait until 2010″ — then you’re already out of the game, and I’m sorry, but that was that.  You might get there in ten years, sure, anything’s possible… but it’s going to have to be a different you that gets you there.  Because you, right now, haven’t got it.  And that’s fine — not everyone does — but it’s really time for you to put your energies into whatever you think is more important than Making What You Want.

The rest of you, well, you just signed on for a metric fuckton of work, and tomorrow you’re going to start realizing how much — but you’re all going to make it.  As long as you’re telling the truth, as long as you’ve decided you’re going to make your Thing, as long as you’re not shitting yourself just so you can feel like this paragraph is for you — you’re in.  It truly is just that easy — you make your goal and then you do every damned thing you can to get it done. You’re making a THING.  What, you think you can’t make a little Time?  Time isn’t half as hard as making a Thing! If you can write a book, you can make time.  If you can sculpt, you can create the moments to do it. If you can make pictures or music or knit or anything, then a little jiggery-pokery of space-time is nothing at all.

(That’s all a lie.  It’s hard as all fuckity, honestly.  But you said you weren’t lying when you said you wanted to do this thing, so you’re fucking well in it, now.)

That’s it.  Do it, or don’t. Shit, or throw out the pot. Pick one, and stick with it.

And if you come back tomorrow, I’ll be here helping the folks that, just like you, decided to Make Something.

Tom via Trixie Bedlam

Sunday November, 22 2009 07:03 PM PST

trixiebedlam posted a photo:


butcher shop via Trixie Bedlam

Sunday November, 22 2009 07:02 PM PST

trixiebedlam posted a photo:

butcher shop

seriously high-end butcher.

of note via Trixie Bedlam

Sunday November, 22 2009 07:02 PM PST

trixiebedlam posted a photo:

of note

check via Trixie Bedlam

Sunday November, 22 2009 07:01 PM PST

trixiebedlam posted a photo:


now to see the rest of the beautiful

Cookie Misfortune and Stocking Stuffage via Meredith Yayanos

Sunday November, 22 2009 06:46 PM PST

Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner. For many of us, these two holidays represent an opportunity to give thanks for the many blessings in life with creatively stuffed bird carcasses and to observe the sacred, immaculate birth of baby Jesus with hemorrhagic spending sprees, respectively. For others, they’re merely an excuse to go see schlockbuster matinees and pig out on massive quantities of Chinese buffet food.

Cookie_Misfortune_small copy
[via Whittles]

No matter how you choose to celebrate T-Day and JC’s B-Day, your experience can only be improved by Cookie Misfortune:

For too long, the world of fortune cookies has been nothing but banal platitudes and generic hopes for a brighter future. That?s all over now. Cookie Misfortune is making it possible to blow minds and ruin dinners everywhere.

[The cookie's messages] range from the quotidian (Fuck you) to the particular (You will die alone and poorly dressed) to the classical (Life is nasty, brutish, and short). You?ll never get two of the same in any given box of ten. Furthermore, our Misfortunes will be changing frequently, according to our whimsy.

I have to admit something- I’ve fantasized about doing EXACTLY what these guys have done for years, but could never quite muster the funds (or the vitriol) to follow through. Three cheers for Russell and Jason and their fang-ed wee upstart. I hope you guys sell a fuckload of these as white elephant gifts for the holidays.


Other choice Coilhouse-sanctioned stocking stuffers:

  • Snarky McFuck Buttons (shown above)
  • Snake & Bacon’s Cartoon Cabaret
  • Diesel Sweeties goodies
  • Nifnaks
  • Zoetica Ebb fine art prints
  • Warren and Ariana’s Electrophonic Empire
  • Matt Jones’ “Get Excited and Make Things” tee
  • And of course, Coilhouse #03. (Not to mention #04! Which you’ll be hearing more about very soon.)

Scrappy teensy indie vendors, have you got holiday wares you’d like to promote? Add your link in comments. (Please, just keep it short and sweet. A brief description and a URL, thanks!)

Post tags: Crackpot Visionary, DIY, Diasporrhea, Food, Shopping

Thought Bubble Afterparty Playlist via Jamie McKelvie

Sunday November, 22 2009 02:38 PM PST


At Long Last: or, But I STILL Love PBS via Cherie Priest

Sunday November, 22 2009 01:03 PM PST

A very nice man from Noffke towing company has just removed the Doom Sentra, which I’ve been driving for about eight years. I’m sad to see the wee white car go — almost illogically so, given that it is, at the end of the day, just a piece of machinery … one that has given me a great deal of grief over the last year. But it was a piece of machinery with my own comfy butt-print worked into the driver’s seat, and I’ll miss her all the same.

As some of you know already, I donated the vehicle to my local PBS affiliate, KCTS9.

I did this for a variety of reasons, including (but not limited to) — the fact that it needed many minor repairs and would’ve been a pain in the neck to sell; whatever it goes for at auction will be a tax-write-off; and I have an (previously confessed) unholy love for public television.

But I must admit, the donation process turned out to be an elaborate pain in the neck. It’s supposed to be a 2-3 day event whereby they send a towing company grab your car and give you a piece of paper; but due in part to the incompetence and hilarity provided by one particular KCTS9 customer service rep, this turned out to be a week-and-a-half long process that occurred only in the wake of six phone calls and fanatical persistence on my part.*

For what it’s worth, the towing company fellow went above and beyond to help me out. If it weren’t for him, I’d still be sitting around waiting for one particular woman at the KCTS9 vehicle donation office to uncork head from ass. But Towing Gent assured me that they perform 15-20 of these donation pick-ups per day, and they almost never become FUBAR’d like mine.

So although I make this tiny public grousing about how things were handled, I do want to assert that I don’t regret the decision and I do recommend it for other people. When all was said and done, they still removed the car and gave me the correct paperwork, and despite KCTS9’s merry gauntlet of interference, I was able to make my donation.

Honestly, the time frame wouldn’t have been quite such a big deal except that I’d left the Sentra parked on the street here in Capital Hill, where street parking is a rare and precious commodity. It’s so rare and so precious in fact, that after we’d left the Sentra unmoved for about two weeks, a parking enforcement officer told me that it should be classified as “abandoned” and subsequently impounded if I didn’t relocate it. I told the nice man in the little cop go-cart that the car was presently uninsured (so I legally couldn’t move it), because I was in the process of donating it to PBS. He seemed appeased, but you must understand why every subsequent day that the KCTS9 office failed to sort out the paperwork and send the tow truck was a day of stress for yours truly. Especially once the chalk marks began to appear on the tires again.

Anyway. Ordeal: Over. Sentra: On to a better place, to serve a higher purpose. PBS: Still a rock star in my eyes. But henceforth you may expect me to wince and gently eyeroll every time I see those commercials begging, “please give us your car - it’s easy!”

* I have in fact sent them a friendly email to this effect, detailing the full story and exactly how the communication breakdown occurred.

Links for 2020-11-21 via Warren Ellis

Sunday November, 22 2009 01:00 PM PST

  • Help ?Escape From Dullsville? Escape Obscurity!
    "About a week ago, he finally finished the 288 page book collecting all 7 issues of L.O.A.F. The collection, titled ?Escape from Dullsville? also contains over 80 pages of new material, including the previously unpublished L.O.A.F. #8. Unfortunately, pre-orders have not been high enough for SLG to justify printing the book. (That can?t have been an easy decision for a publisher so dedicated to supporting industry underdogs.) Unless Andy can raise enough pre-order sales quickly it may never be printed…"
    (tags:comics )
  • ‘Frankenstein’ fix lets asteroid mission cheat death - space - 20 November 2020 - New Scientist
    "the mission team has now cobbled together another working engine using parts from two sick ones" - this mission, as I recall, was an absolute lemon
    (tags:space )
  • Acoustic Weaponry In Nature

    (tags:video )

  • polis: a blog about cities: Underground Below Ulaanbaatar: Homelessness in Mongolia’s Capital City
    "The manhole covers are often only partly closed because they serve as the doorway to the underground sewers where the homeless of Ulaanbaatar live. The homeless sleep underground on the hot water pipes as a way to keep warm during the bitter winters…"
    (tags:city pol architecture )
  • polis: a blog about cities: Paramodernism
    "…not the repackaged neomodernism that seems to be cropping up everywhere, a literally redesigned utopia that ignores the social, the political and the very notion of a just city or the right to the city - but one which is capable of taking on the profound and intertwined crises of poverty, injustice and the environment. This requires not a new modernism but a paramodernism, something altered, contrary beyond and alongside what has come before…"
    (tags:architecture culture )

Notes On Thought Bubble via Kieron Gillen

Sunday November, 22 2009 09:15 AM PST

Jamie and I like Thought Bubble a lot. We’ve been there for each of its three years, and each year it’s grown gracefully and elegantly. It started small, and intimate and friendly. Now, it’s as big as any comics-specific con in the UK, without losing any of its positive traits - not least being organised with devastating effectiveness by the Thought Bubble staff. It’s not a con - for example - when a major guest misses his panel because no-one told him he was in a panel. I’m also a fan of its one-day structure, which rather than spreading it out over the weekend, it does in a single day - and then does workshop events on the days around it. In other words, you turn up on one day, and you see everything you want, and then get drunk with no worry that you have to move at all the next day.

So yes - Jamie and I sat at our table and dealt with a pretty much constant flow of human beings. Our positions changed a bit over the years too, of course. At certain times, we had to deal with a full on crowd of people. There really wasn’t a gap. Jamie drew all day. I talked all day. And the people visiting us were a mix of the new and the familiar. Having done this for a while, and seeing people change across the years is fun - seeing people we first met when they were in their mid-teens grow to adulthood in stop-motion photography is fascinating. Also, for the first time, we had significant amounts of people who primarily knew me from our Marvel work. Even had one chap who’d never read anything outside Marvel - the understandable “I had no idea where to start”. Of course, starting with Phonogram will doom him completely.

I didn’t do any panels, except the one I was chairing: Videogames and Comics panel, where I prodded Pete Doherty, Liam Sharp, Duncan Fegredo (who I only now realise I didn’t actually speak to outside the panel, which is a real shame) and my room-mate Antony Johnson. It seemed to go pretty well - I sort of was in full on dual-class mode, trying to balance being a journalist (i.e. Facilitating the discussion and getting everyone else to reveal juicy anecdotes about the two media) and being a creator (i.e. revealing juicy anecdotes about the two media, swearing, insulting Zelda and Modern Warfare 2’s writing). At the least, there were laughs in the right places. Hurrah!

The main event was in the evening. Lisa had somehow been convinced into letting us DJ. Abstractly, it was the Phonogram wrap party. While the issues wouldn’t be out, we figured that at least all the work done. Except, of course, that was over-optimistic, and Jamie still has to finish off the last one. Still - there were other reasons why we’d want to do DJs. Thought Bubble ties into our own personal Phonogram narratives. Last time, we’d just got the orders for issue 1, which were so disastrous we were scowling monsters. I missed the train and forgot to bring books. Jamie came close to losing art. It was a fucking disaster. And then Thought Bubble was Thought Bubble and we went away back in love with comics. In a real way, I sometimes wonder if Thought Bubble wasn’t there, whether we’d have just thrown in the towel.

A part of that for me - though Jamie was in the VIP bar for most the evening - was the dancefloor. Mikey Bennet improvised laptop DJing, crouching on the stage - the only place with a jack - and keeping a heaving crazy dancefloor seemed to be about as punk rock and joyous as anything gets. People trying to avoid dance too loud - while still throwing themselves off the stage - because the volume was too low. It inspired the final B-side in the final issue.

It made perfect sense for the circle to turn, y’know? We had to do something there. We had to DJ.

Problem: Neither Jamie or I had ever DJed. I don’t know about Jamie, but everyone’s always surprised when I say I’ve never done it. A few chances, but fate has always got in the way of it, and I never pursued. So in the true Phonogram spirit, we turned to our friends - wanting to both express our solidarity with everything and save our asses if we were shit.

In other words, half hour sets from assorted luminaries - but Jamie had 45 minutes, me an hour for reasons which I’ll explain later. First up was Penny B in absentia, playing her varied eccentric playlist (Disney’s Macho Duck to the Style Council to God Knows What). The first real set was the spikey-rush of Julia Scheele and Tom Humberstone (Who later coined the phrase “It’s all gone a bit phonogram” in response to everything going a bit Phonogram). Jamie went next with a cheerful array of synth-diffused music. I lead into Matt Sheret - and the Joy Division obsessive showed a fearless i’m-not-fucking-around best-indie-club-ever-if-you-like-people approach (You start with Hey Yeh, you know what the stance is). Though, of course, some Joy Division worked in. Adam Cadwell was balanced being worryingly cool with actual pop which lead from sixties motown and Northern Soul to end with… well, he was over-running. I was going to ask him to move on. He said he had one track left. I asked what it was. He told me. I said he could play it.

After all, I could hardly not allow a man to play Where’s my Jumper.

(Er… not that’s a good example of Cadwell being cool, of course. Some things are betond that)

Marc Ellerby played took the quality American Indie-rock card, with a splash of - er - other indie-rock, probably. Les Savy Fav, Pavement, et al. Mikey B made his return with a… oh, it’s all getting foggy now, but it inched more towards pop with a credible edge. And then, rounding off the evening, was Al Ewing. Who took pop, sheared the credible edge off and used it as a brutal bludgeon to mash the dance floor into a shape which amused him. Starting with Jazzy Jeff’s Boom Shake the Room, running through early nineties dance, German Abba versions, Come on Eileen and…. well, it’s nearly 3. People are going. Coats are on. Seeing this, we decide to wrap up. He drops the final count-down - and the wondrous sight of people trying to resist the sheer stupidity, and then submitting and dancing and screaming in their coats.

It only gets more stupid. He ends on Take That’s Never Forget. A scratch-comics Take That take the stage and lead the crowd in a micro-stadium gig. Heartwarming and stupid and… POP MUSIC, y’know? This is what it’s about.

I fear footage of this will emerge online shortly.

My set was simple. No room for improvisation. I just played the setlist for the Singles Club. The main core of the stuff that happens in the club happens within just beneath an hour. Also, notably, between 11 and 12. I threw a couple of relevant ones at the end, but otherwise it was just The Singles Club live, with me as Seth Bingo and Jamie on lights as Silent Girl. It went brilliantly, though obviously having to play a set list I wrote as a literary device lead to a few things I wouldn’t have played making it in… but nothing totally killed the dancefloor, and the best stuff was amazing. Seeing Can I Take You To The Cinema actually pack the floor after all this time’s a joy. And seeing what Pullshapes did… well, I actualy got a bit emotional. Not tears in my eyes, but an enormous feeling of love for pretty much everyone alive. Seeing a great mass of friends and friendly strangers lose themselves in all their glorious, individual ways, their natures showing with every step, all human life twitching before me… yeah, it felt amazing. I think it’s my new answer for “Where did you get the idea for the Singles Club from?” question. That moment was so profoundly beautiful it echoed back down the timeline to my earlier self, making me create something to create that moment, and incarnate it.

(Actually, that bit was so splendid, I ended up fucking up the next song and skipped Robyn’s Who’s That Girl. However, because in the comic the record skips, it’s actually appropriate. There No Accidents)

And, of course, I had people doing requests and me trying to remember what Seth would say to them. “No Oasis. The only monobrows we play are Le Tigre” is the only one which sticks in my mind. Though we were only like that to clear Phonogram readers - the party is upstairs in the Leeds Casino, so we got a steady trickle of general local people just wandering around. Trying to explain to people why we couldn’t play Release Me - not least that I didn’t have it - added another element of surreality to the whole thing.

Oh - as several people asked, I’m not planning on revealing the full set list yet. I suspect I’ll include it in the back matter for the trade, so expect it to make its way online around then. I’ll link my spottify playlist too. It isn’t actually possible to work out from the comics - there’s some songs which characters respond to but don’t actually get actually named. I was pleased to see the unnamed-in-the-comic track which dragged Kid-with-knife to the floor managed to do the same to a whole lot of people

In short, Thought Bubble remains Britain’s premier comics convention. I’m fond of them all. Caption is a micro-scene pleasure. Bristol has had a few rough years, but is still an institution. Birmingham is rock solid. MCM is enormous and splendid, but its comic section - while larger - is a side-event rather than the main thing. I could go on.

But Thought Bubble is the best. To use the line you always use if you want to be easily quotable in marketing: if you only go to one UK convention a year, go to this one.

I’ll see you there. Like, obv.

Twitter Updates for 2020-11-22 via Kelly Sue DeConnick

Sunday November, 22 2009 08:26 AM PST

  • Sooooo tired. #
  • HL wanted to go to the store with MF, but wouldn't put on his shoes-so he had to stay home…where he has literally cried himself to sleep. #
  • Oh man. @mattfraction jacked his finger up in a huge, huge way. #
  • @Alejandrobot Half-inch shard of wood, right under the nail bed. Can't tell if he got it all out. Intense pain. Still. in reply to Alejandrobot #
  • @theisb Not really. in reply to theisb #
  • @Alejandrobot Yeah, pretty much. in reply to Alejandrobot #
  • @theisb S'okay. He's not gonna die or anything, he's just in pain. in reply to theisb #
  • @ramtower Yeah, it's bad. HL and I went to bed, so I'm not sure if it eventually started to feel better. He's sleeping, so I assume so. in reply to ramtower #
  • How can that be? http://is.gd/517hB #

Twitter Updates for 2020-11-22 via Kelly Sue DeConnick

Sunday November, 22 2009 08:26 AM PST

  • Sooooo tired. #
  • HL wanted to go to the store with MF, but wouldn't put on his shoes-so he had to stay home…where he has literally cried himself to sleep. #
  • Oh man. @mattfraction jacked his finger up in a huge, huge way. #
  • @Alejandrobot Half-inch shard of wood, right under the nail bed. Can't tell if he got it all out. Intense pain. Still. in reply to Alejandrobot #
  • @theisb Not really. in reply to theisb #
  • @Alejandrobot Yeah, pretty much. in reply to Alejandrobot #
  • @theisb S'okay. He's not gonna die or anything, he's just in pain. in reply to theisb #
  • @ramtower Yeah, it's bad. HL and I went to bed, so I'm not sure if it eventually started to feel better. He's sleeping, so I assume so. in reply to ramtower #
  • How can that be? http://is.gd/517hB #

there's hope yet via Trixie Bedlam

Saturday November, 21 2009 10:25 PM PST

trixiebedlam posted a photo:

there's hope yet

who knew?

cloche but no cigar via Trixie Bedlam

Saturday November, 21 2009 10:25 PM PST

trixiebedlam posted a photo:

cloche but no cigar

smoking's a nasty habit, anyway

?Reluctance? Progress via Cherie Priest

Saturday November, 21 2009 07:51 PM PST

Here are today’s stats for the dirigible/pony-express short story with zombies, the Goodnight-Loving trail, and a 19-year-old Union veteran who’s stuck with a mechanical foot.

    Project: “Reluctance”
    New Words Written: 2483 (not bad)
    Present Total Word Count: 3992 words
    Goal: 5000 words by November 29

    Details: I’m totally going to overshoot this one. First draft will probably top out around 6K, but I can cut it down later. It always takes me a couple thousand words to really find my footing; I’ve learned to just push through it, then prune it later. Regardless, this one is just a pleasure to write-a little gem of a thing, in its way. Not that I’m not having fun with Bloodshot, mind you, but this small piece feels a little more familiar … or something.

On the (Augmented) Media via Jamais Cascio

Saturday November, 21 2009 04:45 PM PST

"Sixth Sense," my interview with NPR's On the Media, talking about augmented reality, went live this weekend. Here's the audio:

(MP3 download also available.)