Monthly Archives: August 2011

CHRONOLITH

In my Doctor Who book The Eyeless, a giant alien structure materialises suddenly in the heart of a city. Its origins are mysterious, and in a throwaway line, a scientist from that city comes up with a list of possible explanations: an enemy attack, an alien artefact and so on. The speculation I was proudest of coming up with was that it might have been sent from the future by the descendants of the people living there.

As with all good ideas, I wasn’t the first person to come up with it. Robert Charles Wilson had written a book where he’d coined a word to describe the concept: The Chronoliths. I didn’t know that when I was writing The Eyeless, but I have read the booksince, and I’d highly recommend it. Ironically, while I was writing my book, I was reading another by the author, Spin, and  I think that one’s better still.

I suppose the word should be pronounced Crow-No-Lith, but I prefer it to rhyme with ‘monolith’ (Kron-Oh-Lith). The Monolith(s) from 2001: A Space Odyssey and its sequels (as immortalised in action figure form) also speak to future achievements, and may have been the ultimate inspiration for Wilson.

There’s only one real-life chronolith that I know of (if there are others, please let me know). Markers of future achievement are actually quite common, when you start looking for them. Most high streets have empty shops with posters in the windows announcing ‘Future site of Tasty Panda Chinese restaurant’ or something like it. We now get teaser posters that promise movies which won’t be out until some distant Space Year: Star Trek II, Coming Summer 2013.

But if it’s a -lith, it’s made of stone. That’s just etymology. The only true chronolith I know of is in Riverside, Iowa, and looks like this:

(Image from Wikipedia).

In The Making of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry claimed James Kirk was ‘born in Iowa’ (it would be Star Trek IV before that was confirmed on-screen). Someone in Riverside wrote to Roddenberry and asked if Kirk’s official birthplace could be Riverside. Roddenberry agreed that such a matter should be decided on a first-come-first-served basis and an official proclamation (signed by Roddenberry) now hangs in the town. As well as the chronolith, Riverside has a Trek museum, a large metal USS Riverside model (currently being repaired ‘after being hit by a meteorite, or perhaps a truck’ as one local puts it), the town motto ‘Where The Trek Begins’ and numerous other signs and points of interest for pilgrims. The recent JJ Abrams movie established that Kirk was born in space … but the Enterprise is built at the ‘Riverside Shipyards’ and Kirk crashes his car into the deeply ageographical Riverside Quarry.

Before anyone scoffs, it is fair to point out that the claim this is the future birthplace of James Kirk is certainly more plausible than the notion that the Turin Shroud could have got within a thousand years of Jesus. A glance at this week’s cover of Newsweek demonstrates it’s not the craziest thing in Iowa at the moment. But that’s to damn it with faint praise. What we can say with certainty is that there’s a real life chronolith, and it’s in Iowa.

The truly dedicated can buy a tube of Kirk Dirt from the Museum. ‘What is Kirk Dirt?’, you ask? Well, click the link.

Advertisements

JUKEBOX WITH A J

This is a list of songs written and/or performed by Alan Moore, with some pertinent information. With one exception, it doesn’t include most of the songs performed by characters in Moore’s comics, such as the Joker’s musical number from The Killing Joke or Terner’s song in Century 1969. I’m thinking of compiling a list of those, so if anyone has done that work already FOR GOD’S SAKE SOMEONE TELL ME.

Ahem.

There’s some excellent scholarship and commentary in a number of places. Alan Moore’s Songbook; Alan Moore’s Magical Words (including an essay by Anthony Johnston); The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore (George Khoury) and Alan Moore – Storyteller (Gary Spencer Millidge), that includes a 19 track CD which serves as the perfect sampler for Moore’s music. The book A Disease of Language has a long discussion between Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell about Moore’s performance art.

Many of these songs are commercially available, often as downloads.

A brief overview and explanation of terms: Alan Moore wrote a musical called Another Suburban Romance in the mid-seventies, three songs of which have survived (Old Gangsters Never Die, Judy Switched Off the TV and Another Suburban Romance). He tried to form a band called The Emperors of Ice Cream in 1978 and wrote a album’s worth of songs, but the project never got off the ground. He wrote a couple of songs for the Mystery Guests and performed a poem for Bauhaus (as discussed in a previous posting). Bauhaus lead man David J worked with Moore on songs based on V for Vendetta and on single The March of the Sinister Ducks (1983). After a number of years where he was very busy writing comics, Moore joined/formed the band The Satanic Nurses around 1990, which evolved into The Emperors of Ice Cream by around 1992. They acquired a female backing group, the Lyons Maids, and performed and recorded songs including ones Moore had written back in the seventies. The group also included Tim Perkins, who became a regular collaborator on Moore’s musical projects.

In the mid nineties, many of these songs were put to pictures in the magazine Negative Burn (with little to no involvement from Moore himself). These were (almost) all collected in Alan Moore’s Songbook (1998). A Spanish version of the same idea, using different artists, Magical Mistery Moore, was published in 2001. This was reprinted in America in 2002 (with a slightly different line up and the aforementioned essay) as Alan Moore’s Magical Words.

The Emperors of Ice Cream group disbanded by 1993 and Moore began an irregular series of musical performances, all of which have been released on CD (but good luck finding most of them). In order, these are The Birth Caul (performed 1995, CD 1996), The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels (performed 1996, CD 2001), The Highbury Working (performed 1997, CD 2000), Brought to Light (1998), Snakes and Ladders (performed 1999, CD 2003), and Angel Passage (2001). In 2001, he and Perkins worked on songs for a band called Car Ads of the Future, but none of these have been released. Eddie Campbell adapted The Birth Caul as a comic, Brought to Light was a dramatisation of an earlier comic.

In 2010, Moore put his story/essay/tribute Unearthing, about his friend – and comics legend in his own right – Steve Moore, to music and released it in a lavish boxset.

Moore was asked to write an opera by the group Gorillaz. The opera was to be about Elizabeth I’s mysterious advisor John Dee. Moore published an account of what happened next, along with all the work he did for the project, in Strange Attractor 4.

So … here we go. If anyone spots something I’ve missed or got wrong, or can think of anything else to say, please Comment below and I’ll update my list accordingly.

THE ANGEL HIGHBURY – A track on The Highbury Working (1997).

ANOTHER SUBURBAN ROMANCE – The title song of the musical Moore wrote while part of the Northampton Arts Lab. Sources vary as to when he wrote it, but it’s no later than 1976. It wasn’t recorded or possibly even performed in the Arts Lab days. There’s a 1992 recording on Storyteller. This song was in Negative Burn 9 (1994), but is one of two not to appear in the collected Alan Moore Songbook. The songs (not the whole musical) were adapted into a comic book by Avatar (written by Anthony Johnston, art by Juan Jose Ryp, 2003). It’s unclear whether Moore ever altered the lyrics from their original seventies version.

ART – A track on Snakes and Ladders (1999)

BAGHDAD – A track on Snakes and Ladders (1999)

THE BIRTH CAUL – The title track of The Birth Caul (1995). Also on Storyteller.

BOOK OF COPULATION – A track on The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels (1996)

CHIAROSCURO – An Emperors of Ice Cream song adapted in Negative Burn 24 (1995 – art by Dave Gibbons). Unreleased and possibly unrecorded.

CLARE’S GHOST – Moore’s spoken reading of this Edmund Blunden poem is a track on Slipstream’s 2003 album Transcendental.

CLOSING – A track on Brought to Light (1998) and Storyteller.

THE DEMON REGENT ASMODEUS / SYMMETRY BECOMES IT – Two titles for the same work, an incantation that’s also a 170 word, 877 character palindrome (one where the word order is reversed, not the letter order). It’s a track on The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels, which also appears on Storyteller. The alternative title was used for its comic book incarnation which was part of the new material in Alan Moore’s Magic Words (2002).

DOUBLE DARE – A spoken intro to a Bauhaus Song. See the Brilburn Logue entry on this blog for more details.

DRESSING OF THE TONGUE – A track on The Birth Caul (1995).

DROWNING IN GOLD – A track on The Birth Caul (1995).

DRUNK BOAT – A song for Car Ads of the Future (2001, unreleased)

DUMMY – A track on The Birth Caul (1995).

EXPERIENCE – A track on Angel Passage (2002), There’s an excerpt on Storyteller.

FIRES I WISH I’D SEEN – An Emperors of Ice Cream track from around 1992, which appears on Storyteller. It was adapted for Negative Burn 14 (1994).

14.2.99 – An Emperors of Ice Cream track from around 1992. It was adapted for Negative Burn 12 (1994). Unreleased, and possibly unrecorded.

THE GATE OF TEARS – A track on Snakes and Ladders (1999), also on Storyteller.

HAIR OF THE SNAKE THAT BIT ME – One of the first things Alan Moore wrote during a burst of creativity following his first direct experience of magic. It appears on Hexentexts (1994), and in slightly different form on The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels. Adapted in Negative Burn 17 (1994) and Magical Mistery Moore (2001).

HAT-TRICK – A track on The Highbury Working (1997).

HOME WITH YOU – A song that was originally going to appear on a disc with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier. DC lawyers were apparently concerned it sounded too much like the theme tune to Fireball XL5. (2007, unreleased).

IMMORTAL LOVE – The other song that would have appeared on the Black Dossier disc (see Home With You). (2007, unreleased).

JIMMY SHIVERS – A song for Car Ads of the Future (2001, unreleased)

JUDY SWITCHED OFF THE TV – A song from the musical Another Suburban Romance (see that entry). Unreleased and possibly unrecorded.

LADY, THAT’S MY SKULL – A track on The Highbury Working (1997).

LAOS – A track on Brought to Light (1998), also on Storyteller.

LEOPARDMAN AT C&A / LEOPARDMAN AT C&As – An Emperors of Ice Cream song, dating from about 1992. One comic book version appears in Negative Burn 35 (1995), another in Magical Mistery Moore (2001). Covered by The Dirtbombs on We Have You Surrounded (2008). Moore’s original version appears on Storyteller.

LIMBO – A track on The Highbury Working (1997).

LITVINOFF’s BOOK – An existing song Moore used in The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels (1996), it also appears on Storyteller. One of the the original adaptations in Alan Moore’s Magic Words (2002), there’s another version in Yuggoth Cultures (2003). Litvinoff has been mentioned a number of times in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century.

LONDON – An unreleased song that was adapted in Negative Burn 10 (1994).

MADAME OCTOBER – Sung by Tom Hall on his 1994 album Watering the Spirits, included on the anthology Rocking for Romania. It is also on Storyteller. Adapted in Negative Burn 16 (1994).

MAP DRAWN ON VAPOUR – A track on The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels (1996).

(THE) MARCH OF THE SINISTER DUCKS – A wonderful comedy song that’s done the internet meme rounds a few times, although I’m sure there are people (including fans of his work) who don’t realise Alan Moore wrote it. It was recorded in 1983 and released as a single on Beggar’s Banquet, with Old Gangsters Never Die as a B-side. Cover art was by Kevin O’Neill. It appeared as a flexidisc given away with Critters 23 (1988), which also included an essay by Moore.

ME AND DOROTHY PARKER – An Emperors of Ice Cream (featuring the Lyons Maids) song from 1992 which is on Storyteller. It was covered by the Flash Girls (it’s on their 1995 album Maurice and I), It was adapted in Negative Burn 26 (1995) and appears again in Yuggoth Cultures, which also has an interview with Moore where he briefly discusses it.

THE MERRY SHARK YOU ARE – One of two songs for the Mystery Guests, released as a single (1980)

MR A – A song written for the second incarnation of The Emperors of Ice Cream, a parody of the Velvet Underground song Sister Ray. It was about the comics creator Steve Ditko. Moore read a spoken word version for Comics Britannia, but a full song version appears on Storyteller.

MURDERS ON THE RUE MORGUE – A song written by Moore for the original Emperors of Ice Cream in the seventies, recorded by the Satanic Nurses in 1990 and released on a cassette with the fanzine Frank in 1992. It was adapted in Negative Burn 13 (1994 – art by Neil Gaiman).

NUMBER 1 WITH A BULLET – A track from The Highbury Working (2000), which also appears on Storyteller.

OLD GANGSTERS NEVER DIE – A song from Another Suburban Romance, which was then used as the B side for March of the Sinister Ducks.

OPIUM NIGHTS – A track from The Highbury Working (2000).

OVERTURE – On the V for Vendetta EP (1984, reissued 2006) and collected on David J’s album On Glass (1998).

PEPPER’S GHOST – A track from The Highbury Working (2000)

POSITIVELY BRIDGE STREET – Unreleased, adapted in Negative Burn 11 (1994).

THE PRESENT MOMENT – A track from The Birth Caul (1995)

ROSE MADDER – Unreleased, adapted in Negative Burn 28 (1995)

A SKELETON HORSE – A track from The Highbury Working (2000)

SOMETHING IN THE HEART – A song for Car Ads of the Future (2001, unreleased)

SONGS FROM THE KITTY KAT KELLER – On the V for Vendetta EP (1984, reissued 2006) and collected on David J’s album On Glass (1998).

SPECTRE GARDEN – Tracks from The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels (1996)

STAIRS BEYOND SUBSTANCE – a track from The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels (1996)

STARS AND GARTERS – A track from Snakes and Ladders (1999)

SYON – A track from Snakes and Ladders (1999)

THIS VICIOUS CABARET – The song V sings at the beginning of Book Two of V for Vendetta. On the V for Vendetta EP (1984, reissued 2006) and collected on David J’s album On Glass (1998).

(A) TOWN OF LIGHTS – An existing song that Moore incorporated into The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels (1996). Adapted in Negative Burn 37 (one of two not reprinted in the Alan Moore Songbook) and Magical Mistery Moore.

TRAMPLING TOKYO – A 1993 song from Godzilla’s point of view, credited to Alan Moore and the Jazz Butcher. It appears on Storyteller. It was adapted in Negative Burn 18 (1994 – art by Art Adams, reprinted in colour in Art Adams’ Creature Features, 1996).

UNEARTHING – a lavish 2010 adaptation of a piece that first appeared in the anthology London: City of Disappearances.

V’S THEME – On the V for Vendetta EP (1984, reissued 2006) and collected on David J’s album On Glass (1998).

THE WORLD’S BLUNT ENGINE – A track from The Birth Caul (1995).

WURLITZER JUNCTION – One of two songs for the Mystery Guests, released as a single (1980), and it’s on the Nation of Saints  CD given away with Dodgem Logic 1.

YOU ARE MY ASYLUM – A 2009 song recorded by Alan Moore, Downtown Joe Brown & the Retro Spankees that was on the Nation of Saints CD with Dodgem Logic 1 and is on Storyteller.

YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS – A song for Car Ads of the Future (2001, unreleased)