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Return of the Knave
Drink It Black
Friday, 16 April 2004
My corner of the bah
An article by Richard Neville, doyen of Oz, had him talking about driving along, you turn the radio on and your family are subjected to "Fuck Da Police", you drive over a hill and there's a Pizza Hut sign telling you to "Get Stuffed". He appeared to be lamenting the loss of civility in society, which is most ironic for the key player in the obscenity trials in the sixties and author of anti-conformist tracts like Playpower. Perhaps he felt that there was no longer the same avenues for rebellion when everyone was being potty-mouthed.

Well now we've truly hit the gutter. Our number one song on the charts is called, wait for it, "Fuck It (I Don't Want You Back)"

Posted by berko_wills at 4:04 PM NZT
Updated: Friday, 16 April 2004 4:08 PM NZT
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Thursday, 15 April 2004
Drinks all round
I have a friend who can't access my blog for some reason so I was all set to send her the link to the Aussie Blogs site but the damn thing isn't showing my blog even though I registered there just last week (and it was showing in all the right places then)

There's quite a diverse range on display there and it's interesting to what degree bloggers have made sure to define what their blog is all about. This goes some way to proving that weblogs aren't all about sharing indulgent personal information with people who wouldn't know you from a bar of soap.


Posted by berko_wills at 3:58 PM NZT
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Sunday, 11 April 2004
Distillery
That wasn't very fair picking on Sierre Leone like that. What happened to showing the innocuous side of countries?

But some right wing commentators have us all pegged as one-eyed haters of the US and that's not the case.

II

I hope everyone's having a jolly Easter. I braved the roads today after we missed two trains (long story)and was pleased to miss the high volume of traffic going both ways. Good thing as we were slow to get started. But it's great to have such a long spell and it's one more of those festivals where Christians have supplanted pagan traditions so, if you're a neopagan, you can happily celebrate in your own way.



Posted by berko_wills at 4:13 AM NZT
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Wednesday, 7 April 2004
Moonshine
I'm working on more comics-related stuff but here's something to fill in time. I found it when I was searching for something else altogether.

II

The World's Most Dangerous Places is a real test to liberal sensibilities. I kept feeling that, yes the principle is correct to treat all new immigrants equally, BUT don't drop me off in any of these countries without plenty of notice.

One nation that really has me scratching my head is Sierre Leone. I thought African nations had the double disadvantage of colonial exploitation and desert conditions yet here's a country that is in RAINFOREST and still has a life expectacy in the forties. Is that pathetic or what? And, yes, they're former British slaves as Liberia is founded by former American slaves (and is still a mess) but this was in the early nineteenth century. How long does it take to get your collective shit together?

Posted by berko_wills at 4:01 PM NZT
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Tuesday, 6 April 2004
Hooch
You see it a lot in the Golden Age, characters not fully developed and serving as little more than rough prototypes to be improved on by later writers.

The objective was an exciting lowbrow read and should be read in that light. There was a certain inevitably that, as superheroes enforced the law and socked criminals in the jaw (but the only poet, as far as I know, was barely an anti-hero. I speak of The Demon)that there would be examples of characters who did this in their daily lives as well.

The cop who feels restricted by his badge of office is a common theme and began with The Guardian. He was also interesting in that, rare for a superhero, he was the support character to a street corner gang of youth.
I only know of one boxer and, thanks to the miracle of retconning, Ted Grant/Wildcat is now said to have taught a young Bruce Wayne his boxing skills.

Reporters are plentiful as they are conveniently at the scene of the crime, and millionaire philanthropists and/or industrialists ensure a steady supply of gadgetry and crimefighting capital. Scientists and sorcerors are endlessly inventive in executing their duty.
And all of them provide, in some measure, a counterpoint to their costumed identity; a respite from official duty that is still useful in the key aim of fighting crime.

Posted by berko_wills at 3:59 PM NZT
Updated: Tuesday, 13 April 2004 3:02 AM NZT
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Monday, 5 April 2004
Sediment
If you want an easy way to catch up on some comics history then here 'tis

It can be interesting to look up some of the original creators like Gardner Fox and Bill Finger. Or characters like Blackhawk and Plastic Man.

Posted by berko_wills at 2:47 AM NZT
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Friday, 2 April 2004
Beer goggles
On one of my semi-frequent trips back to Perth I was raucously amused to see the name on the shop awning in the Hay Street Mall: Cobblers to You
This was a real palliative to the soberminded advice in a book on entrepeneurialship I read, which suggested you choose something boring and nondescript so (a) you're taken seriously; and (b)you have flexibility in where you take the enterprise.

So inspired was I that I embarked on an email campaign of terror; assailing my friends and colleagues with bad puns and whimsical asides on businesses with ironic/iconic names. I made up whole towns populated with appropriate sounding shopfronts. And, like an idiot, I didn't keep any of these. I'll try and reconstruct some of the series and present in unabridged form. It could take a while. In the meantime, these were ones following the same patina as 'Cobblers To You':

You Give Me The Sheets laundry pick-up-and-delivery service
Get Staffed recruitment agency

(it gets better from here)

II

I did try to squeeze Jo Vallentine and the Nuclear Disarmament Party into my big politics posting but something had to give and, despite the existing stockpile and North Korean posturing, nuclear meltdown has all but disappeared off the radar.



Posted by berko_wills at 2:38 PM EADT
Updated: Friday, 2 April 2004 3:01 PM EADT
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Wednesday, 24 March 2004
Fizzier therapy
This would be worth pretending to be an artist for.

Better than pretending to be a comedian perhaps? I don't know, this has got me puzzled. Some comedy sketch programs that relied on parody for their chuckles have been given short lifespans despite being as funny as hell. Yet Skithouse is a bit of a hit. Leastways it's still on.

I'll give you just the opening paragraph from an article in last weeks TV liftout:

Last Laugh

There's little time for comic relief among the writers of Skithouse, reports Paul Kalina.

When 20 or so of Australia's most successful comedy performers and writers gather at the production office of Ten's 30-minute sketch comedy Skithouse every Tuesday, the idea of having a good time is far from their minds. By 9.30am, the officers are buzzing with hyperactivity. Writers are begging one another to read their scripts; others nervously prevaricate over last-minute changes.
"It's a funny time," says head writer Paul Calleja. "If you were just standing here watching it, you might even think it's a lot of fun."

All of which is news to me, and would no doubt be to my son, who is fifteen, as we sat and watched the show once and counted how many of the sketches were weak to insubstantial to downright nonsensical. The show is put to air by Rove Productions and really, as far as sketch comedy goes, all I can say is "What the...?"

The Australian fast bowler idea is a very simple one and designed for easy repeat laughs. But I'd prefer a chortle at the Lilleean figure getting a cat down out of a tree his way than any of the other series of non sequitirs and comedic misfires.


Posted by berko_wills at 10:43 PM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 1 May 2004 6:04 AM NZT
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Thursday, 11 March 2004
Pony (up)
Before we move off (conventional)politics, far be it for me to ignore the minor parties. Because we have proportional representation in our Senate, there is quite some advantage to having a range of fringe politics there. It's not as those our system has been rendered unstable - like Italy's - which, paradoxically, it would be if voters weren't such sheep.

There have only been a handful of parties and individuals who have really made a dent on the scene. I was amazed to see that the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) still exist (though an ABC report says they're struggling to survive). They were big in the seventies but haven't been a force for some years.

The major third party is the National Party but they kind of don't count since they don't present an alternative but form coalition with the Liberal Party. This has always left me a bit bemused since, while both parties are conservative, the Liberals are essentially a party for city accountants and lawyers; their policies of privatisation and less-than-fair laissez faire are not at all in the best interests of remote rural communities who need both their supply of essential services and their industry to be subsidised by the taxpayer.

Only in Australia could a party be formed on the platform of "keeping the bastards honest" and this charmed me and others to the extent that we voted for the Australian Democrats to hold the balance of power in the Senate. But though the party was formed by Don Chipp and there had been a gnomic male leader since, the number of female leaders has made the manhandling Andrew Bartlett seem like a regressive choice. I liked Janine Haines, liked Cheryl Kernot even more, and positively creamed myself over Natasha Stott Despoja (so I was probably thinking - or voting - with my dick when I found myself at variance with virtually all my friends over her political virtues but I still think she's more than a cute blond with cherry red Doc Martens) so it was more than a little disappointing when she was, ahem, rolled after a brief tenure at the top.

Now it's the Greens turn and I, for one, couldn't be happier. Their leader, Dr Bob Brown, is truly the man of the hour.

II

And, though superficially it looks like a two-horse race, there's still more. Sure One Nation are a spent force (the link is old news now as Hanson and Ettridge were released from prison and the charges dropped but she was unsuccesful in contesting from her new home in Sylvania Waters) but Reverend Fred Nile's Festival of Light trundles on, decades on from the Menzies era (when there was an attempt to have them outlawed)the Communist Party of Australia still exists, as does the Socialist Workers Party and let's not forget Independant Tasmanian Senator Brian Harradine, whose impassioned speech looked like keelhauling the introduction of the GST until Senator Meg Lees went running to the Govt and agreeing to it with nary a by-your-leave.

Whew! Just like elections themselves, this entry has dragged on so I will finally post now (I've been working on it for a week). I hope you're all suitably grateful.

Posted by berko_wills at 12:19 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 21 March 2004 3:23 PM EADT
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Sunday, 7 March 2004
Chip in
What Bush fails to grasp, or refuses to acknowledge, is that America's actions automatically impact on the rest of the global village. So it is quite wrong of him, and of Republican Party voters, to act in the interests of the US alone (not that he is doing that either). The reason I am profiling, even tangentially, US pre-election is because I know how much effect the administration will have: economically, diplomatically, and militarily. It's not that I don't care what system of government gets up in Liberia but I feel it will impact less on my way of life, whatever the outcome.

As it happens, we are also having an election this year. The Australian Labor Party have finally stopped shooting themselves in the foot and have appointed someone who can lead them out of the wilderness after eight long years.
Where Kim Beazley jr was too intellectually top heavy and too circumspect in detailing what he stood for in layman's terms, and Simon Crean simply lacked the charisma and game plan to convince anyone, Mark Latham hit the ground running; quickly defining his position*, and that of his party, to differentiate it fully from the incumbents, and hit the Howard government with a series of curveballs that put them on the back foot for the first time.
So effective has he been that a recent poll shows them winning in the two party preferred system. I'm not counting my chickens just yet but it's looking less grim than when I was wailing about how ineffective Crean was in encouraging the usual voter-weariness with the government at around this juncture.

[*a good example is his stance on marriage and families. He supports the idea of gay marriage by saying that, as long as a couple are committed to a loving, lasting relationship, that is the most important thing. This contrasts considerably with the Howard view and makes the choice clear whatever your own position]

Posted by berko_wills at 2:57 PM EADT
Updated: Monday, 8 March 2004 1:34 PM EADT
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