A Comic Book, and Album, and The Orgy of the Trees

I managed to sneak away for a few hours to read the just-released third collection of Kieron Gillen's and Jamie McKelvie's Phonogram, "The Immaterial Girl." It's as brilliant as the first two and it left me in a seriously altered state that I can't shake. Even though it has the least-sad plot of the three collections, it's the most melancholy because it feels like a passing of the baton to the next generation. There may yet be more Phonogram, but it will inaccessible to me and I won't get the references without reading the glossary at the end (and, seriously, if you buy these books, read the bits at the end because they're fantastic.)

Introverts and extroverts are currently defined in terms of energy. If you get energy being around people, you're an extrovert, and if it drains you, you're an introvert. At least, that's my understanding of the state of play. Doesn't matter if I'm correct or not; just go with it. It's an interesting way of describing dichotomies and I wonder if it's a very limited case of a more general truth. Phonogram's phonomancers are people who get their strength from the music. I can relate to that because I have different playlists for different moods and I swear there are times I feel so tapped in to the music that it feels like I can wave my hand and scratch the air*.

My point, before I got distracted, is that it strikes me that "people who get energy from X" vs. "people who don't" is a distinction that probably applies to more than just introverts and extroverts. I don't know yet what to do with that idea, but it seems both true and important. Probably not novel, mind you, but it's new to me. 

Anyway, go get the book. It's the best work of pop culture on pop culture I think I've ever experienced. Double-plus points to Mr. McKelvie, who I'd thought might be something of a one-trick pony. He's always done amazingly clean lines and marvelous facial expression, but he went way beyond that with Phonogram. The man's an incredible artist with way more range than I originally gave him credit for.


On a slightly unrelated note, I'm writing this in a coffee shop where a band called All The Bright Lights is playing. I'd never heard of them, but they sound like what would happen if Explosions in the Sky hung out with Sigur Ros and that's a fantastic combination. Earlier this week, I bumped in to Wolf Alice on the radio. They're another band with a sound that sounds very familiar to me, but I can't quite place it. I really dig it, though. Loud, chaotic, and fierce. I'd been struggling to find new things to listen to, but apparently, I wasn't struggling hard enough.

That said, I've been listening to the re-issue of Tony Banks' second solo album, "The Fugitive," over and over for a while now. The 80's revival of prog will always be with me. That was a funny time, and it's a part of the 80's that doesn't get a lot of ink. Several of the late 60's/early 70's progressive stalwarts had their greatest commercial success in the 80's by paring down their sound. Yes' "Owner of a Lonely Heart" was by far their biggest hit. King Crimson never sold well, but their three monocrhomatic albums ("Discipline," "Beat," and "Three of a Perfect Pair") were as commercial as they'd ever get. Even the Moody Blues finally had a few hits. Plus, of course, Rush, who were progressive even if no one dares call them that.

And, of course, Genesis got bigger as the band got smaller. Both the old and new singer sold tons of records. Kind of weird if you think about it: This era known for big hair and sparse arrangements was fertile ground for the bands who had songs that ran an entire album side or longer. Anyway, Tony Banks was always a hero to me. He's why I've always had at least a couple of synthesizers in the house. Check out this instrumental gem, some of which may or may not have turned into "Second Home By The Sea" on the next Genesis record.



Here's a quick update on my health: The good news is that my chronic skin condition is slowly, slowly getting under control. Other than having to wear hippie clothes and an occasional application of external steroids, I'm good. I'm probably not going to be wearing shorts any time soon, but I'm not sure anyone would want to see me in shorts under the best of circumstances. This marks a huge improvement over the last couple of years, when I was on a semi-regular string of steroid injections. So,  huzzah! Things are getting better.

Of course, every silver cloud has a dark lining. Steroid shots are magical. They give you energy, they help you heal, and, here's the important bit, they put an end to almost any allergic reaction. In the past, this time of the year has been brutal as I have issues with oak pollen. I've actually lost my vision due to my eyes turning an opaque yellow when exposed to oak pollen. The previous two years have been heavenly in that respect as I was on steroid shots and suffered no reaction to the pollen whatsoever.

I am no longer on steroid shots.

My skin is getting better, but I really didn't miss the sneezing, the burning eyes and throat, the feeling like the inside of my head grew two sizes too large for my skull every morning. Coffee being magical, I can function, but I do it with thoughts of violence towards the shameless public reproductive acts of trees in general and oaks in particular. Last night I dreamed I owned an ax, and it was one of the better dreams I've had of late.


* Peter Gabriel's second solo album's cover, in other words. Some of Hipgnosis' finest work.