We Shall Not Be Tethered (A Short Album About Love)

On 20th October, 1996, The Divine Comedy performed with the Brunel Ensemble at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London. The previous day, during rehearsals for the gig, they recorded an entire album. The result, A Short Album About Love, consists of seven tracks. It’s also something akin to a compilation album, as Neil Hannon had originally written most of these songs for previous albums. The majority were considered for inclusion on the 1996 album Casanova, but didn’t make the final cut, with several having been too straightforwardly romantic to fit the sex-comedy tone on which Casanova ultimately settled. Short Album was released on 10th February, 1997 – just in time for Valentine’s Day.
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Night of the Cephalanthrope

cephalanthtropy“Fanfiction is valid,” he says. “It’s just another form of storytelling. Just because it doesn’t fit into the bullshit bourgeois framework of copyright law doesn’t mean it’s worthless.” The evening air is cool and damp, and the woods are growing dark; soon the only light left will be the glower of an occluded moon.

“That sounds like an excuse,” she says. “A good writer should be able to come up with their own ideas. Fanfic is fine if you’re a teenager or whatever – I used to read it a fair bit when I was younger – but it’s just a stepping-stone. Training-wheels. For when you’re starting out.” Keeping pace across the uneven earth is difficult; she condemns her stubby legs in silence.
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The Road Will Turn to Gold (Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire)

What is the greatest film ever made? Most of the class stare silently into the middle distance. Some students text; others scrawl malformed nothings on their desks. Still, a few hands are raised. Citizen Kane (1941), recites an obedient scholar of online Greatest Films lists. Solaris (1972), ventures an elevated connoisseur of the cinematic arts. Pulp Fiction (1994), dares some rebellious enfant terrible – the only film he has seen that was older than himself. You are all wrong, laughs the wise old professor. The correct answer is Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire.
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Marked as Blue (Defend Oxford Against Invasion)

lv5-01The objective of the fifth level, “Defend Oxford Against Invasion”, is straightforward enough: the city is under attack, and we’re to fight off the Martians until a human base can be constructed. The game’s midpoint is in sight: we know the drill. That said, there are still some interesting firsts here. We’re immediately struck by the visuals: this is the first level to be set during night, which it manages well, giving us a nice velvety purple-blue sky lit by a faintly pixellated moon. (For the invaders, with their tiny and invisible Phobos and Deimos, this must take some getting used to: one wonders if they marvel at our own vast and silvery satellite – if their sad longing for Earth was due, in some small part, to the draw of Selene.) The opening flyover cinematic takes us through a Martian base, across bridge and field and river, and on to Oxford’s first line of defence.
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The Case of Alan Moore v Twin Peaks

alan moore twin peaks 1Considering Alan Moore’s aversion to the popular culture of the 21st century, I was pleasantly surprised to discover an interview in which he shares his thoughts on Twin Peaks: The Return. Imagine my alarm, then, upon finding that the omnibearded demiurge’s response includes the words “I kind of wish I hadn’t bothered”! The greatest living writer of the English language expressing mild dislike for the greatest television series ever made? This must be how people who love both of their parents feel when they fight. No, this simply cannot go unexamined – cannot go uncontested. In an act of self-annihilation to rival Icarus himself, I am going to have a go at Alan Moore.

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Silk and Amphetamine (Casanova Companions)

something for the weekendTo an attentive Divine Comedy fan in the mid-1990s, it would appear that Neil Hannon was releasing EPs under two banners: the Companion and the Indulgence. A record is a Companion when it’s associated with a particular album, and an Indulgence when it’s not. A Promenade Companion is clearly a satellite in the orbit of the album Promenade; meanwhile, Indulgence No. 1 is slightly more mysterious, and seems to exist for its own purposes. All very good. In 1996, however, this nascent classification system experienced some turbulence when someone decided that the three singles from the album Casanova would each be subtitled “A Casanova Companion”, followed by a number. As such, the number of Divine Comedy records with the words “Casanova Companion” in the title is… six.

I know. Bear with me.
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A Multi-Doctor Manifesto

apprehensionMulti-Doctor episodes are the best. Strangely, however, there seems to be some confusion about this. A sizeable contingent of fans hold that those Doctor Who episodes in which incarnations of the Doctor meet one another are “indulgent” and “complicated”; that they should be saved for the occasional round-numbered anniversary, and rationed out like sugary sweets. This idea is poisonous buzzkillery, and its adherents have lost their way: multi-Doctor stories are the lifeblood of the show, and we can never have too many of them.
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