Prompted by Lord 16’s complaint about ATAR English film studies: “I’m so sick of watching Australian films. They’re always just a bunch of bogans getting drunk and ‘discovering national identity’…”, and the fact that Luscious was off in Perth for the weekend, leaving us with chips, and the DVD player, and cool drink, and honestly, what are you gonna do?…… it clearly behooved the former film student Dad to initiate the current film student boy — who can still say that despite having seen Dark City and all the Mad Max films — in the ways of Australian films that he hasn’t already seen that aren’t filmed through an orange filter…
To whit: The Cars That Ate Paris, the 2006 adaptation of Macbeth, and Undead. Because nobody should ever have to watch Lantana.
Time for another in my incredibly irregular series of Lego Fan interviews. This time we check in on Kameron, the son of one of my writing pals, Dia. He’s at the beginning of his lifetime obsession (BWAHAHAAAHAHAHAHAHAAAAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA he’ll learn….) but he’s already racked up some impressive set builds and is collecting himself a pretty decent collection.
So in his own words, so that we can all look back when he’s rich, famous, and poverty-stricken because he’s spending all those riches on the sets his parents wouldn’t buy him when he was a kid (I’M NOT BITTER!), here is Kameron himself.
It was my father’s birthday yesterday. He would have been 77. He died, destroyed by dementia and regressed to an aggressive, pre-verbal state, in July of 2019. Truth to tell, his passing meant very little to me, as had our disintegrated relationship, which had never recovered fully from his abandonment of us when I was a teenager and had only ever reached the heights of easy familiarity. We hadn’t spoken for a couple of years before his death: his increasing disability, and moving so far away physically, made it easy to acknowledge what I’d had in my heart for a long time– we simply did not belong in the same world, and there was no need to keep trying to force us together. Harsh, probably, but a harshness forged over more than forty years of experience. Even his birthday would not be worth mentioning, were it not for the other anniversary occurring this weekend.
See, I’m sitting at home, alone, while I type this. Luscious is in Perth. She’s attending the awarding of the first annual Blake Triffitt Memorial Prize for Excellence in First Year History, at Edith Cowan University, the University where Blake was studying when he completed suicide two months after my father’s death (And congratulations to Corbin Bright, whoever you are: I hope the scholarship will help take you where you want to be). In the two years since Blake left us the outpouring of love and remembrance for him has been constant: everyone who ever met him has a story, or an anecdote, or just a warm feeling that they can bring back at a moment’s notice. The University itself has contributed to the scholarship, matching our donation and more to give it real heft and make a proper difference to someone’s studies (Corbin’s, obviously. Corbin this year). And I should be down there with her, but it’s the middle of term, and we could only afford the one flight, and so she’s down there with our eldest son Aiden and those family members who live there already, and that’s all well and fine and good, but they’re not me, and…… I’m worried for her.
Grief never leaves. At best, you can throw a sheet over it like a parrot in a birdcage, to send it to sleep for a while, and redecorate around it in the hopes that the shiny new colours will help it blend into the background for a while. But it doesn’t take much to whip the sheet off and for the parrot to start squawking obscenities at your visitors again. This scholarship will do wonderful things, and be a positive contribution to a world that Blake was heading towards joining, but none of that will be a consolation to the woman who has to sit in the audience and hear his name spoken on stage, and know why.
There’s no lesson here. No moral to pass on. I just wish I was with my wife today, and even more so, that Blake was.
So I was talking to Lord 16 about Doom Patrol, which lead me to introduce him to the work of Richard Dadd, and then Luscious and I were watching Red Dragon, the film about Thomas Harris’ inability to distinguish between two similarly named William Blake paintings, and well, here we are: five artists who left the comforts of sanity behind to go chasing after their own interdimensional butterflies, for which we are all the very much better.
5 for Friday: Go on, then. Chase Those Waterfalls.
Yeah, look. I wasn’t always the upright, leftie, Captain of Woke you see before you now. And while I’ve come a long way in regards to my understanding of sexual politics, clearly there was a time when the joke was more important than the message.
Anyway: unicorns, virgins, oh the hilarity.
I can’t defend it. It is what I was. 25-ish years is a long time to improve yourself.
The school year has started again, which means I’m once again trying to take any opportunity outside those hours to remind myself of the things I love about my life. Which means getting some graphic novels into my eyeholes. So a couple of new purchases, a trip to the local library to snaffle anything new they might have picked up, and an old favourite hit this mini-review round up!
A DC staple since the early ’60s, consistently a JLA member, teamed-up with any vaguely supernatural/dark/creepy/weird character on a ludicrously regular basis… and somehow, Zatanna never really makes the A list. In short, she’s a character tailor-made for Paul Dini’s signature combination of wackiness, lightness, and humanisation. And it works, for the most part. This isn’t particularly ground-breaking stuff, but what it is is eminently readable. It’s fun and fluffy, but fluffy with a real sense of darkness and danger underneath, all handled with the lightness of touch that is a Dini specialty. There’s a solid cast of supporting characters, potential for a wide range of unique antagonists, and a sense of fun that’s often missing from the grim-and-gritty titles I lean towards. It’s fun, showcases the fact that Zatanna has an A-grade power set and deserves a wider audience, and while it won’t live forever in the memory, does exactly what comic books should do: make you happy.
Justice League International, Book One: Born Again
Believe it or not, but there was a time when nobody was interested in the Justice League: the long-maligned nadir of the ‘Detroit Years’ lingers on in the bile ducts of fans everywhere (They weren’t that bad: more on that issue to come). And believe it or not, there came a time when the Justice League was fun, and interesting, and not a beige cookie cutter assemblage of cardboard cutouts doing boring shit over and over again in an interminable sequence, like they do, oooooh, say, now. And this is those times: the ludicrous, hilarious, utterly absurd Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League International. Okay, some of the gags don’t hold up as well as they used to, and some of the sexual politics are, shall we say, somewhat basic. But this is still, for me, the gold standard of Justice League comics: a book that went where nobody else was even thinking about, that did things nobody thought should be done in a book of its type, and that just bloody well entertained as hard as it possibly could, at every possible moment. And if you don’t believe that I’m right, and that this is the best Justice League comic ever printed, I have two words for you:
Symbiote Spiderman: Alien Reality
What even is this? I mean, I’m as much a fan of Peter David as the next guy: his runs on Aquaman and The Incredible Hulk are iconic. But oh, so often do I pick up a PAD book to find a fan-service nostalgiafest with zero actual ideas or net worth, and damn but if this isn’t the bottom of the barrel. A by-the-numbers Spiderman revenge story with absolutely no logical basis, that doesn’t even involve Spiderman, but rather his symbiote suit who teams up with a Dr Strange who happily betrays every trust Peter Parker ever put in him, for no other reason than…… you know what, I hope David was well paid. I mean, this was published in 2019, for (pardon the pun) Pete’s sake: does anyone give a damn about a previously-untold pre-Venom Black suit story anymore? Seriously, you think I’d learn: Spiderman is a burned out narrative these days. There simply just does not seem to a story worth telling anymore. What a waste.
Checkmate Book 1
Now this is the shit! I’ve ranted before — more than once — about how much I love this title. And I’m right. Intrigue, dark shadows, politics and spandex intermingling, complex plots, complex characters, compromised characters compromising other compromised characters for compromised goals…. hey, it’s my version of comfort eating, and it’s frigging great.
Dark Knights Metal: Dark Knights Rising
What even is this?, part two. Batmans (Batmen?) from multiple alternative Universes, which are somehow below the reality line and whose destruction is use to fuel the multiple Universes we know and exist within (still with me) are recruited by a sort of dark God to destroy and occupy the ‘light’ multiple Universe Earths in order to stop the destruction of the ‘dark’ Earths. And just like that, we somehow have a quite literal anti-JLA of evil Batmen (Batmans?) — I mean, seriously, there’s a Flash Batman, an Aquaman one, a Wonder Woman one, and on and on — and something will undoubtedly happen, but as this is a series of origin stories designed to bring the, uh, ‘team’ together, you won’t know unless you shell out more cash on another volume. The stories themselves are, well, they’re okay in a cookie cutter Elseworlds kind of way, but given the talent involved, it’s surprising how similar they all feel in the end.
Another bit of lazy Saturday morning Classic Space revisionism to get the taste of yet another wasted week out of my brain: 894 (452 for Merkans because they need special numbers) Mobile Tracking Station.
It’s turning out to be a Shakespearean kind of year. Not in that the Queen has died, I’ve written a bunch of plays, and I’m going to die by the age of 52. I mean, chance would be a fine thing. But more in the fact that I’m posting a shit-tonne of Shakespearean insults at anybody who’ll look at me, I’m currently reading 1606: Shakespeare and the Year of Lear, by James Shapiro– one of the best books I’ve read in years — and, well, there’s this post. Inspired by both the above occurrences, and to help scratch a serious yen to watch some more celluloid Shakespeare again, here are five of the best filmic Shakespeare adaptations you could use to fill your eve.
Doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo in my best Twilight Zone voice……
I graduated my BA in English in 1991, completely unready to give up on my childhood and enter the workforce. So I did what any non-self-respecting Arts graduate with no prospects does: I added a Graduate Diploma in Teaching, to give me an extra year away from reality. I graduated that with one firm resolve in life: I would never be a teacher.
I think we can all agree that stupidity is a favourite hobby of mine.
One of the ways it manifests itself is in a deep love of nonsense rhymes: I have a long-standing habit of wandering around quietly singing nonsense lyrics to songs, and frankly, my performance of “I’m Jumping Jack Flash, with a flashy gash” is better than anything the Stones have done in thirty years.
One of the other ways it manifests itself is in an occasional desire to write a picture book, something I never seem to get around to finishing because, just as frankly, I never seem to finish them. Anyhoo, here’s as good a place as any to show you what goes on inside my head when I’m not looking: here are five opening bits I loved enough to commit to scrap paper.
5 for Friday: There Was a Yong Man from Nantucket, with pictures!