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Friday, November 09, 2018

Comic Cuts - 9 November 2018

I had a bit of a disaster on Sunday morning. One of my hard drives failed, a back-up containing about 2tb of stored files. Now, this is a bit of a disaster, not a TOTAL disaster, because, for just this reason, I have all the files backed up twice, so one back up mirrors the other.

The irony is that I was using the drive at the time to back up my e-mail. I was starting to get a bit worried as I had mail dating back to the early 2000s – correspondence with hundreds of people relating to books, magazines and comics, work-related mail and all my Bear Alley correspondence. I had no idea where all this was even stored, let alone how much space it was taking up.

I asked some friends on Friday and, following their advice, managed to track down a folder with 16gb of mail. I was copying this folder onto a pair of hard drives when one of them failed. I turned it off and turned it on again, which is the limit of my technical abilities, but it was stone dead, having turned in an instance from a highly intricate piece of technology into a brick.

Thankfully I still had a couple of the older drives that I had taken out of service when I bought the new ones, so I spent all of Sunday and all of Monday backing up the files that I now had only one copy of.

Thankfully the drives weren't full and I managed to fit all the files onto the two smaller drives. I did discover that one spare drive I had was busted and no longer worked. Thinking about it, this might have been the drive that failed the last time I had to replace back up drives and I just hadn't gotten around to throwing it out. I want to dispose of them responsibly, but at the same time I want to smash the actual drives into tiny fragments to stop anyone getting hold of the data. I took a hammer to a failed drive once and it was hugely satisfying.

So I need to buy a new pair of drives. I'm working on the principal that if one has failed, the other (bought at roughly the same time) might also be on the point of failure, so I may as well pick up a couple of drives for peace of mind.

Thankfully, I was offered a little bit of freelance work during the week – only a couple of days' work – but it ought to cover this unexpected expense. Now all I need is for someone to pay me enough for a new TV, as the old one is on its last legs!

Which reminds me. Don't forget I'm flogging off some books and magazines on Ebay. Treat yourself. You can see what I'm selling by looking at the "see other items" on the right hand side of the page. At the moment there's a bunch of Cinefex magazines up for grabs. Beautiful mag. I just don't have the shelf-space for them anymore.

The few spare moments I've had I've spent mostly on the Forgotten Authors essay mentioned last week, which I've still to finish, and starting to put together a pitch for a book or three as job hunting is going very slowly.

The big news of the week, distracting from Brexit for once, was the US midterms. Feeling in need of something a bit more lighthearted after Tin Star, I have been catching up with Veep, the Thick of It-style US series by Armando Iannucci.

The show is only a half hour in length, so I have been tempted to binge on it and watch three or four episodes at a time. A normal US sitcom clocks in at around 22 minutes, so you can watch three in an hour. I keep forgetting that this is an HBO show and a half hour is a half hour. Three episodes is half again what you get from three episodes of, say, Brooklyn Nine-Nine. No wonder I'm feeling so knackered as I've been watching them to wind down at the end of the day.

I'd watched a couple of seasons previously so I picked up the storyline where Selina Meyer (the vice president, or veep, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) has been temporary president following the resignation of President Hughes. With elections due, she has been on the trail drumming up votes and, at the end of the fourth season, the election resulted in a tie, with Selina and her running mate Tom James (Hugh Laurie) wining the same number of electoral college votes as her rivals.

This forces a vote in the House of Representatives, with each of the fifty states given a single vote. And if this should result in a tie, the deadlock is resolved with a vote by the Senate for their favourite of the two vice presidential nominees. The fifth season sees everyone in political overdrive as they try to woo voters to Selina's side, but with Tom James working against her, hoping that he will have a shot at the Presidency. When it looks like James has won, the deadlock is broken by Andrew Doyle, Selina's despised Vice President, who realises that Selina has no intention of moving him out of his backwater job, and casts his vote for the opposition.

It sounds like a complicated and confusing show, until you realise that all the characters are dogs fighting over scraps under a table. They have nothing but self-interest at heart and form alliances only for their own security and to defeat others. It's only the tight focus of the storylines, the inventiveness of the dialogue and the pace that stops you realising just how horrible everyone is. In fact, you can only have the slightest iota of sympathy for the main cast because the people outside their circle are an even more ghastly, bunch of back-stabbing bastards and bro-wannabes, only still functioning because the strength of their ambition blinds them to their incompetence.

I'm now in the middle of season six, with Selina, unable to cope outside the limelight, trying to establish her legacy and wondering whether to run in the 2020 Presidential race. Season seven (due early next year) will be the last. That'll leave us with two years of real American politics to cope with without the sitcom filter. Aaaaargh!

Random scans... I only managed one pair before the clock hit midnight, so the rest are, for the most part, recent purchases.


  1. Sorry to hear about your hard drive. I've been pretty lucky so far with mine (stupid thing to say!). Do you use any cloud backups? I use Backblaze which seems reliable, although I've yet to use it in anger. Also have to say that I've read that Stewart Lee book and it was probably the best book about comedy I've ever read. Both funny and educational, which is how I view Stewart Lee generally.

  2. I'm always nervous about cloud storage... you hear so many stories of even large companies being hacked. Also, I back everything up twice, just in case, and our internet connection isn't the fastest.

    I agree with you about Stewart Lee. I'm a long-term fan, although Mel isn't, despite coming with me to see him during his last tour. He just doesn't click with her. I'm "Aaaah?" and she's "No... not aaaah!"