Guide To My Blogroll – The Home Stretch

And so we’re on to the last chunk of my guide to my blogroll. Remember, as always, just because I leave something out doesn’t mean I’m not reading it or it’s not good – there are at least 50 other blogs I read regularly that deserve to be there, and the choice of the ones linked here is more or less arbitrary…

Penny Red is the blog of Laurie Penny, a feminist socialist journalist, and one of the better political writers on the left.

Pop Underground is a group blog, involving some people I know online and some I don’t know at all, devoted to powerpop.

Quaequam Blog! is the blog of James Graham, who you may have seen here in comments. James is a Liberal Democrat and comic fan in approximately that order, and he tends to be on the ‘social liberal’ side of the party (roughly those who lean more towards redistribution than towards libertarianism, to overgeneralise enormously).

qwghlm is the political blog of Chris Applegate, who is interested in tech and civil liberties issues but who hasn’t posted for a couple of months (I’ve been saying that rather a lot in these, unfortunately – however, at least two of my blogroll have restarted blogging since I started doing these, so there’s hope…)

RAB writes well about comics, and his own life, and about stuff. He’s another one though who doesn’t post enough at the moment (once a month or so, recently) but when he does, it’s excellent. I’d say more about his blog, but he doesn’t post enough right now – post more, RAB!

Reinstate Karen Reissmann is the blog for the now-ended (settled out-of-court) campaign to reinstate Karen Reissmann, a nurse who worked for my former employers, the Manchester Mental Health NHS Trust, but cared more about treating patients than about the ego of the head of the trust, and was sacked for it. No new posts will be going on that blog, but it’s linked here both as a reminder to myself of how grateful I am not to be doing that job any more, and of the fact that there are things worth fighting for.

Richard Herring is my current favourite stand-up comedian (those who only remember him from his double act a decade or so ago, he’s doing very different stuff now, playing with the form in ways that almost no-one else is capable of). He’s also blogged every day for six years, and some of the posts are hilarious.

See Below is a group comics blog featuring Leonard Pierce and Matt Rossi, both linked in the last of these, plus several other people (the mainstay of the blog is the wonderful cartoonist ‘Calamity’ Jon Morris). Recent highlights include Rossi’s disgusted review of the Watchmen film, Pierce’s skewering of another Watchmen review, by James Lileks, and Morris’ ‘Spider-Man Gets His Butt Whupped Week’ – a week of pictures of Spiderman getting beaten by his villains.

Fred ‘Slacktivist’ Clark is a USian evangelical Christian, and also a left/liberal activist. He’s a wonderful writer, and unlike most American Christians-who-go-on-about-being-Christian appears to have actually read the bits of the Bible where Jesus says things about caring for your fellow man. As well as regular posts on politics and religion, he also has spent the last five years going methodically, page-by-page and sometimes line-by-line, through the Left Behind series of books (he’s done one thousand-plus-word post every week for five years and he’s still at the beginning of the second book), pointing out every way in which the books are morally, ethically and theologically repugnant, and showing how the writers’ utter lack of basic literacy ties in with their equal lack of basic human empathy and the shallowness of their world view. One of my very favourite bloggers.

Supervillain is Sean Witzke, who writes very long discursive essays about comics and film (and occasionally music) about once a week, and the rest of the time posts short bits – YouTube videos, found images and so on. Sean has a fantastic mind, making the kind of associations between topics I try to make myself (but I suspect more successfully) and also has a better eye than I do – the pictures he chooses make his blog one of the few that’s often visually interesting.

Tez Burke is someone I know in about five different ways independently (he’s friendly with friends of my wife, he works with a friend of mine as a DJ, he’s a Lib Dem associate of Mat Bowles and Jennie RIgg, and so on…). A Yorkshireman with a beard almost as big as mine, he writes about Lib Dem politics, Prog Rock and Half Man Half Biscuit.

The Factual Opinion is one of the few group-blogs that has a distinct personality, so that even though there are several distinctive writers there (Sean Witzke writes for them as well as his own blog, for example) it feels more like a magazine with an editorial line than a disjointed collection of posts – helped by regular features such as “Economist Versus Idiot” (a weekly analysis of that week’s Economist), The Virgin Read (a comics review slot by Nina Stone, a non-comic-reader) and regular comics, music and TV review slots. By nature of the multi-writer, multi-topic form, it’s patchier than some of these links, but when it’s good it’s very, very good, and the hit rate is surprisingly high.

The People’s Republic Of Mortimer is Alix Mortimer, probably the best writer (as in putting words together in pleasing combinations) blogging for the Lib Dems, although once again (all together now) she’s not posted much for a while (something about trying to have a social life or earn a living or just do stuff that isn’t in front of a computer or some such nonsense… I don’t know… don’t these people know how boring it gets not having new stuff go into my Google Reader all the time?)

The Savage Critics is a group comics blog. There are a lot of writers for it ranging from at worst OK (naming no names) to at best Jog (the best writer on comics there is right now) and Abhay Khosla (whose flamboyantly profane language and frequent diversions conceal a sharp and original mind), with most of them being pretty good.

The Tearoom Of Despair is the blog of Bob Temuka, who deserves to be better known among comics bloggers – his writing is very much of a piece with the Mindless Ones, Sean Witzke and Vibrational Match – there’s almost a movement there or something. He writes great, long, thought-provoking posts, and also loves Doctor Who.

The Universe Of Discourse is an irregularly-updated blog on computer science, statistics and general stuff. I added it to the blogroll when I realised that every single post I enjoyed on the Planet Perl aggregator was coming from the same site. Posts there range from an expression of annoyance at the phrase ‘known to man’, to discussions of whether the word wank disproves a theory in linguistics, to explanations of some arcane programming structure stuff. Well worth reading even if you’re not interested in computers qua computers.

Trousers Of Time is my wife Holly, who has only posted two things on her new blog, but they’re both worth reading – and if you do, she’ll post more…

Vibrational Match is another idiosyncratic mostly-comics blog, which has just restarted after a long absence (to which we all say huzzah). David’s recent posts include a fantastic review of Synedoche, New York (which I can’t believe I missed in the cinema – I’m a fool), a discussion of the similarities between Sleater-Kinney and Jack Kirby, and a ‘transmission from Planet X’ that’s a summary of Grant Morrison’s recent work as written by Borges. I feel like I’m selling him (and some of these other people) short here, but he’s *well* worth reading.

And Wouldn’t It Be Scarier? is Andy, a Lib Dem blogger and Doctor Who fan who (you all know this by now) hasn’t updated in ages but who had a lot of good stuff to say when he did (mostly on internal party matters/electoral stuff, but very worthwhile for those, like me, who are interested in that).

So… where is everybody? When I said, a month ago, that I’d do this blogroll thing, everyone was merrily posting away, and now that I’m doing it half of them have vanished. Is there some sort of bizarre virus that only attacks people with opinions on different voting methods or more than one Patrick Troughton story on DVD? If it weren’t for the fact that Andrew Rilstone and David (Vibrational Match) have both started blogging again since I started this I’d be very depressed right now…

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17 Responses to Guide To My Blogroll – The Home Stretch

  1. sean witzke says:

    Hey thanks for the kind words, Andrew. Temuka, the Mindless and David Allison – that’s great company to be in.

  2. pillock says:

    Well-deserved company. Sean is too modest.

  3. David says:

    What Sean said!

    My writing has definitely been influenced by my fellow “idiosyncratic” comics bloggers, and I’m a little bit shocked at how many nice things have been said about my return to blogging. Thanks Andrew! Thanks guys!

    This Guide To My Blogroll series has been grea, by the way — every blog should have one.

    I’m working my way through the non-comics sites you’ve linked to now and it’s making for good reading…

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      They’ve been saying those things because they’re true. You write good stuff.

      Glad the guide to the blogroll has been useful to at least one person. One of the things I like most is when I introduce one group of people who read my blog to a good thing that previously only one of the other groups knew about…

  4. David says:

    That should be “great” rather than “grea” obviously. Giving up coffee is proving to be far too problematic for my sleep-deprived brain.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      I sympathise. I used to drink 20+ cups a day, and dropped down to not drinking any for three months last year, for health reasons, and am now sticking rigidly to a maximum three cups a day… Hellish, isn’t it?

      • David says:

        It’s health reasons for me too, which means no coffee. Except for the one I sneakily had on Saturday and then paid for almost immediately.

        But yeah: where did my energy go? Brain no work good. Is gud blogger?

        • Andrew Hickey says:

          It gets easier… I found cocoa a useful substitute, but I was giving up in the winter, when hot drinks are more important. If you make it without much sugar, it has a similarly bitter taste and looks similar (Green & Blacks Fairtrade Cocoa is good for this) and you’re not forced to the ultimate hell of… *shudder*… decaf…

  5. David says:

    Oh, and two more things:

    (1) The link in this post for The Tearoom Of Despair currently leads to the Savage Critics site, and (2) I’m going to see Richard Herring at the Fringe this weekend and I can’t wait!

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      1) is fixed – thanks for the catch.
      And you’re very lucky with 2) – I’ve heard Hitler Moustache is his best show yet, and that’s saying something after his last few shows. Have you seen him live before?

      • David says:

        This’ll be the first time I see Richard Herring live, which is why I’m so excited!

        I’m going to see Stewart Lee next week too, and will thus be experiencing two fists of advanced comedy fun in short succession.

        • Andrew Hickey says:

          He’s absolutely wonderful – actually a far better stand-up than Lee (who I’ve seen twice – once was brilliant, once mediocre. Herring on the other hand I’ve seen four or five times and every time was wonderful).

          If you haven’t already, you should get hold of Herring’s live DVDs – Someone Likes Yoghurt and Menage A Un being my particular favourites, because they’re the more formally-interesting ones (his live shows tend to split into the experimental and the personal – I prefer the former, though both are good).

          • Sorry for the late reply but:

            I hadn’t seen much of Herring’s solo work, and had only recently caught up with Lee’s. I was a big fan of the two during the nineties, but lost track of them early this decade when my interest in British comedy waned (I saw too many blokish non-entities doing stand-up and became inattentive to the whole art form like the fool I am).

            Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle reminded me that they existed, and I started to try to track down their solo work — Lee’s work is easier to youtube, so I was more familiar with that than with Herring’s up until recently.

            On the strength of last week’s shows, Herring seemed like the better artist, but they were both really, really good. The big difference was that Herring managed to integrate complex plays on form and audience expectation with lots of traditional jokes and liberal polemic, while with Lee’s show the play was more the thing.

            It’s funny that both shows have drummed up some controversy — they’re both courting this, obviously, but Herring’s show in particular is unmistakably liberal in its intentions.

            I’ve just ordered Menage A Un and Somebody Likes Yoghurt from go faster stripe – thanks for the recommendations!

  6. Jennie says:

    I blame the weather, which has made me itch for gardening. I’m actually counting the hours till I get paid so that I can place my order for bulbs at Thompson and Morgan…

  7. Andy Hinton says:

    Thanks for the nice comments, Andrew. In my case, I blame a new job, and its requirement that I accompany a trip to the Edinburgh Fringe. Given that this is something I have tended to do unpaid for the last several years, I was quite pleased with this, but it did mean quite an intense couple of weeks as I tried to produce, tech direct and sound design a show all at the same time.

    I will be starting up again soon, it’s just a matter of finding something to get me going again…

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