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Return of the Knave
Drink It Black
Sunday, 25 April 2004
Whammo
Dedicated to bringing you fun

I'll tell you what I did (yes I went to the Ironfest at Lithgow but that's another story), I flagged the intention to write more - or point and shoot more - comic book stuff (for those interested in that sort of thing), when I was pointing to something that I had saved in draft format but which would then post before the entry that announced it. Confused? The illusion of a flux in the timestream might be a good segue to that very comic discussion. And if it's a time based protagonist you want then one can't go past Hourman. Or can't they?

To me, calling yourself Hourman when that's how long your vitamin supplement that gives you your powers lasts, is akin to starting out your caped crimefighting career as Sensitive Groin Region Man.

No superhero whose raison d'etre is based on power limitation is all that popular. Ultraboy is not a name you hear often.
Whereas wielding a magic ring or being able to leap tall buildings is a superpower that can help identify the character and make them interesting, The Hourman and his ilk usually possess vast power but in a limited fashion and that only extends the 'variation on Superman' perception.

Whether Tyler is the first drug-taking superhero depends on the properties you ascribe to Miraclo; does its boosting qualities make it like ginseng or is the effect more like a speed user whose wits are momentarily sharpened? The temptation to use some outside agent as the source of the protagonist's prowess is irresistible and not even the squeaky clean British weeklies were free of herbally-enhanced characters. And it was a couple of decades before the famous Denny O'Neil/Neal Adams social relevance would make Green Arrow's sidekick Speedy a heroin addict. A couple more decades before a character's book would be advertised on a double-page spread as "This is Sludge" and "This is Sludge on drugs"

Posted by berko_wills at 4:02 AM NZT
Updated: Sunday, 25 April 2004 12:01 PM NZT
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Wednesday, 21 April 2004
Roll out the barrel
("Golden Browne" 'When Bruce Springsteen calls you a rock god, you must be doing something right, reports BERNARD ZUEL.' From SMH Metro Apr 8-15,2004)

...[Jackson]Browne declares he doesn't have much time for what passes for music radio in America, but his visit to Australia last year turned him onto our music networks.
"I had a great time listening to Triple J. It was the best, the most exciting time with all kinds of really insightful moments. You'd have to tune into three or four stations simultaneously here to get the same stuff."
The odd thing about Browne's listening habits is not just that you wouldn't expect to hear his songs on the Js, but it's hard to imagine his core audience of comfortable middle-aged women and men tuning in any time.
This may be unfairly stereotyping his audience, but what are they going to do, refuse to do up the last button on their cardigan?
Yet we've all seen how so many people from their 30s on drift away from the passions of their youth: music, politics, testing themselves intellectually, physically, emotionally. Comfort and familiarity become more important than some quest for sensation.
Browne must see that in his audience. Can or should this drift be stopped? Can he do anything about it?
There's a line from Never Stop, a song on his most recent, surprisingly funky, album that says: "But you had some dreams when you were a girl/Some ideas about the world/And you see how some things will never be the same/And how some things never change."
Is that wisdom or resignation?
"There comes a time when people are comforted by the music that accompanied their coming into their own," says Browne.
Unless you consciously try to expand that or you're aware that you have to work harder now you have to know you will have to use unusual means to uncover the beauties, like Patty Griffin, who is one of the finest songwriters.
"It's amazing to find someone that fully formed at this point in my life who's the embodiment of a lot of my ideals.
"That lyric you mentioned is about a very personal interaction and so the question [of stopping the drift] is a very personal one in my life. This is the same question as Bob Dylan's, who said he who's not busy being born is busy dying.
"That was the credo of my generation."


Posted by berko_wills at 12:54 AM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 21 April 2004 3:58 PM NZT
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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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