"Elias Nebula is practicing Japanese but no one knows."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Death Valley Woolgathering

"Fall Poem"

Isn't the "style icon" every Fall
Diane Keaton in Annie Hall?


"Charles Manson Musings"

I was watching recent clips of Charlie Manson in the dock, up to his usual cabaret. This time I was thinking, "Looks like he's had some work done."

Then later I thought, "Manson looks bad. He's looking run-down. Not his usual perky self. He must have a lot of stress in his life."

I stopped midway through this train of thought and caught myself. I went, "What stress? One thing you can't accuse Charles Manson of is keeping things bottled up."

These are my thoughts for to-day. If you tuned in wondering what I am up to these days, THIS IS THE SUM OF IT.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"Compleat Cobblers."

I have stopped watching Dog the Bounty Hunter because I think that I have seen every episode several times. Nothing more depressing than sitting through episodes trying to recall whether you have seen them or not. Waiting for a dim light of doomed recognition to bleerily alight at the bottom of your weary medulla oblongata. Waiting for a stray quip from Beth that "rings a vague bell," or a memorable facial tic, a harelip or a squint, something unique and familiar about the perp.

Now, in the absence of a regular stream of Parking Wars episodes, I have elected to watch River Monsters to feed my appetite for cable reality guff. It naturally doesn't feature the same high-grade repartee as Dog the Bounty Hunter, but on the positive side it does have gigantic freshwater fish.

The gist of this show is the same as Dog anyway: hunt down a perp, wherefore 95% of the show is wholly devoid of direction, necessarily devoted to building up the putative "thrill of the chase". When the perpetrator (or here the "fish") is finally identified, located and caught, there is that same familiar sense of anti-climax, and the corollary pang of intense self-loathing, felt by the viewer. However on River Monsters, for better or for worse, the presenter does not take the giant fish onto the back seat of an SUV, offer it a cigarette, and try to turn it to Jesus and redemption.

In today's episode, the English extreme-stunt-fisherman presenter (or "EESFP" - his name escapes me and I can't even be bothered to look it up) was hunting down a monster killer fish described in Eskimo legends. He was in Alaska. In other programs this would of course be cue for a volley of jokes about Sarah Palin but River Monsters is not that show. It never will be. If you want Sarah Palin jokes switch to Letterman.

After much exposition and shrill shilly-shallying, and interviewing less-than-credible "witnesses" (half the time I felt like I was watching Teeth Mountain testifying on Judge Judy Christ sake) the EESFP found himself in the unenviable position of trying in vain to catch a common or garden sockeye salmon. When he finally hooked one, a baby bear came over and stole it from him. I'm not making this up - it really happened. The camera crew were so vexxed by this baby bear stealing their salmon that they reported him to the authorities. Really.

I couldn't work out the relevance of the capture of this salmon to the larger narrative (which is, lest we forget, the capture of the mysterious Esquimaux Death Fish) anyway. It was not properly explained. They were trying to ascertain whether there was a "viable food source" for the Mystery Monster Fish I think, but I would have thought the mere presence of the salmon alone was sufficient to conclude that there was a food source. Anyway, after the baby bear chased them off the river they blithely abandoned the hunt for sockeye salmon with utter equanimity. They said, "Well there are pike and salmon in the river so the monster fish could obviously eat them." So what was this whole folderol scene for?

It seems to me, as a lowly layperson, a landlubber and no "piscatorean," that the whole scene was cooked up purely to get a scene with a grizzly bear hovering in the background. The presenter kept pretending to be nonplussed, prattling on about absolutely nothing, while there was a bear idling on the opposite bank of the river. Like he was a tough guy, unfazed by bears. This was just the usual prick-teasing that goes on on American television. They keep you watching narrative emptiness waiting for the punchline. Obviously they decided that the baby bear did not have the cinematic cachet that an adult one would, but still he made the EESFP and his crew look like bunglers and cowards.

So they shopped the poor bear to the park ranger.

Wonder what happened to him.

I hope he wasn't shot.

Anyway, after that - and with no "useful data" extracted from the sockeye salmon - the EESFP went up in a small plane where he interviewed a female anthropologist who told him in detail about a giant monster fish she had seen from the air last year. Why didn't they use her testimony in the first place? Without the capering on the riverbank amongst our ursine cousins?

From this "expert testimony" our intrepid guide quickly asserted that the fish was - must be - a "Massive White Sturgeon". The rapidity and ease with which he arrived at this diagnosis just from the female anthropologist's scanty and bored testimony was suspicious to my critical and cynical eyes and ears. It smacked, I say, of a put-on. Then he says, with equal blitheness, "Well I could spend forty or fifty years trying to catch a sturgeon on this body of water but you and I in televisionland don't have forty or fifty years to spare so I am going to go down to Oregon waters, there to catch a sturgeon." To anticipate his viewers' obvious disappointment, he insisted "I am still catching the same fish, just in completely different waters several thousand miles away. This is not, I repeat not, a cop-out."

This was a reductio ad absurdum if I ever I heard one. There was no proof that the Monster Fish in question was a Massive White Sturgeon except on our eminent expert's dubious say-so; his speculation would only be confirmed by catching the monster fish in question in Alaskan waters. Which he now had decided against. This journey down to Oregon was a fool's errand.

There's no point in getting angry about this. I know: don't sweat the small stuff. You keep telling me that but it's hard sometimes. So he went over to Oregon where there are literally scads of sturgeon idly booping along the sea-floor just waiting to be hooked up. He caught one in about five seconds and it was about three foot long. We all mistook it for a sprat. It swam away as soon as he tried to grab it by the jaw so he fished for another one and made a mighty production of it when he caught this one, which was I think eight foot long. Still, the one in Alaska was meant to be twenty foot long so I felt cheated some more. By ooh let's see twelve feet of fish flesh.

Then he reaches into this micro-sturgeon's mouth and says, "Look the sturgeon has no teeth, just these telescopic gums." He demonstrated this by pulling the sturgeon's gums this way and that for a while, just to demonstrate the toothlessness of the fish. The poor sturgeon just took it with Christianly good grace. He "never said a mumblin' word." This did not seem to strengthen our presenter's position from where I was sitting. This diminutive, pacific, toothless wonder was our threatening Monster Esquimaux Killer?

The conclusion was, nevertheless, that this fish - "or one like it" - was the same monster up in Alaska and that it had capsized all those Esquimaux kayaks not by ruthless biting (since teeth had it none) but by its mysterious habit of leaping out of the water and knocking Esquimaux out of their canoes. This eccentric trick, incidentally, "has never been explained. Maybe it is motivated by panic."


This is some "fish story" indeed! This wasn't even the tale of "the one that got away" - this was the tale of "the much smaller version of the one several thousand miles away which even that one's identification was only deduced by the idlest speculation. And which got away."


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Poem. Inspired by The Sleepy Eyes of Death Series


It is now considered de rigeur
Among the au fait ronin
To disparage the bushido
While wholly upholding it.

[Interior query:

Can you knock a man unconscious
By punching him in the stomach?]

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Funny Eyes of Death

"The sky... the sea... and the Musou-Masamune blade." RAIZA ICHIKAWA

I was watching The Sleepy Eyes of Death 1: The Chinese Jade, and in the fiftieth minute the master of karate Chen Sun (the excellent Tomisaburo Wakayama - the Japanese Lino Ventura) says to his arch-opponent, the ronin Nemuri Kyoshiro (Raizo Ichikawa), who he has a "hard-on" to battle, "Shall we fight?"

To which Raizo replies, "Not now. Let's end this rude interruption." They then fight off a cadre of inconsequential samurai.

I meanwhile misread the subtitles for a moment, and thought that Raizo had made a genuinely subversive and liberating comment: "Not now. Let's wait til the end of the film."
Boring Comics: Narratological Point.

It is a commonplace in Marvel comic books, particularly ones of a certain era, to waste several pages of the narrative with empty scenes showing the super heroes' battle abilities and finesse in generic battle scenes. The locus classicus is the Danger Room scene in The X-Men.
The splash page customarily begins with the X-Men seemingly spiritedly fighting one of their most notorious foes. After numerous pages (which we, the comic's humble buyers, have plainly invested and wasted whole cents in) the scene is revealed to be an exercise and an illusion. These were mere phantsasms - robotic simulacra created by the Shiiar technology of the Danger Room. Cut to a panel of Kitty Pryde at the Danger Room controls. Eating a slice of pizza, stuck in the mid-Eighties, talking her usual Mary-Sue jive.

This generic scene purportedly establishes the powers and pecadilloes of the characters for new, first-time readers. A similar scene is the opener of literally millions of comics: Spider-Man webspinning through New York and breezily espying a mugging in a back alley.

Must we ever be made to behold this sight ever again? Spider-Man captureing the muggers, grinding them down with vapid one-liners that everybody (really, everybody) is weary of. He webs them up and further lightly humiliates them, then turns to their victims who recoil from him and call him a "nasty hooligan" or some similar synonym.

Cut to a scene of J. Jonah Jameson droning on about the "web-spinning menace"; or a Daily Bugle front page editorializing against the infamous Spinner of Webs.

Marvel Comics are boring aren't they!!! I certainly wish they had never invented the Danger Room.

Add Danger Room scenes to my list of boring comics.

Also boring: "Pantheon" storylines that deal with characters from classical mythology.


Further "English Bands That Americans Like"

The full title should be "English bands that Americans like inordinately," but I think that goes without saying. "English bands that the English ceased to listen to in 1986 but which keep coming round on American turntables."

New additions:

Elvis Costello
Echo and the Bunnymen
Nick Lowe

I thought about adding Sting and Paul McCartney to the list. Does anybody in England listen to these two redundant rascals?

Etymology, Blasphemy and Bowdler

Speaking of the Americans-as-Anglophiles, there is a quite new bar under the Williamsburg Bridge called Gordon Bennett. I was in there with Toby Spinks, sat at the bar, and I was explaining to Toby what "Gordon Bennett" signified in England. "It's an exclamation of awe or surprise." I went further than was necessary, delving as I did into the gnomic realms of etymological conjecture. I said, "It occurs to me now that the phrase may have survived and prevailed chiefly as a bowdlerization of 'God damn it'."

Profane people today are unaware that blasphemy was taken very seriously less than a century ago, at least in certain milieux. There was a New York street gang in the 1850s called The Dead Rabbits. According to the nameless author of the entry on Wikipedia,

The name has a second meaning rooted in Irish American vernacular of NYC in 1857. The word 'Rabbit' is the phonetic corruption of the Irish word ráibéad, meaning 'man to be feared'. 'Dead' was a slang intensifier meaning 'very'. Thus, a 'Dead Ráibéad' means a man to be greatly feared.

This sounds like so much blarney to me, begad and beggorah.
(Blarney? On Wikipedia? It can't be!)

Uncoincidentally, the phrase "dod rabbit" was also abroad at this time-- as a canny, insider, subversive, neutralized way of saying "God damn it". When you said it, anybody astute knew what you really meant, and yet you hadn't strictly offended genteel values by saying the real phrase. The same trick persists today after a fashion in the middle-class use of the oaths "Gosh" and "Golly" ("Cripes" and "Crumbs") ("Begad" and "Begorrah"), which avoid breaking the Third Commandment while pointing ingeniously to the blasphemies. Ambrose Bierce published under the name "Dod Grile" (for "God Riled") in his earliest writings.

I submit that the phonetic similarity between "Dod Rabbit" and "Dead Rabbit" is more convincing than some airy speculation about words from Gaelic. This Gaelic interpretation sounds to me like the wilful excesses of academe at its most academic. And yet it endures. I really should write a paper on this subject for Notes and Queries.

Evenings in the university periodical section blandly leafing through back-numbers of Notes and Queries. This, which sounds pathetic I know, also sounds beautiful to me now. Idly flicking through issues of Artforum on a Norwich night.

Anyway, I merely speculated at the bar that the same may be true of the oath "Gordon Bennett!" While I was explaining all this to Toby, mine host the bartender - a generic Williamsburg collegiate laid-back slacker stubbled t-shirted bardude - had the gall to chime in to "correct" me.

He brazenly leaned across the taps and "explained it away" by means of a fatuous scenario: "If we saw a great sports car right now, while an American would say 'Awesome!,' an English person would say 'Gordon Bennett!'"

How was this different from what I had said? He simply situated it in a rather banal context. He then added, authoritatively, that "Gordon Bennett was also a real guy."

So, of course, was Joe Shmoe a real guy; and what's your point?

I looked at him with wan, noli me tangere disdain. Mine host was a total type, known on college campuses the world over (and Williamsburg is, lest we forget, a college campus sans college). The collegiate American Anglophile dude. He has a close equivalent in Australia in Ryan Webb [see past issues of Curiosa Rubberlineana, ca. 2003-6]. He is expert in smalltalk about exotic sports and is a total bore about "guest beers". He has a preferred English football team and follows them closely. He can talk companionably to anybody, as long as they have a dedicated fondness for utter boredom.

I do not. I am not that man. Nor do I take well to being corrected on points of my own national folklore by outsiders. I said, "Pardon my mistake, Herr Doktor Bardude, I had you for a lowly cocktail shaker! I didn't realize you were the doyen of the philology department. I merely grew up in England."

What I should have said: "Gordon bleeding Bennett!"

What I should have said: "And what is the etymology of the word pillock exactly I wonder, hein?"

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

PARADOX ("Pearls Before Swine").

At the comics shop.

Whenever customers bring their girlfriends into the shop, the storekeeper always upbraids the swains, the suitors, for being so lame as to bring their beauties into so low a den.

" Bachelor’s Hall, Bachelor’s Hall,
I’ll always stay single, keep Bachelor’s Hall."

"What are you doing," he ejaculates, "bringing these fine purebreed fillies into this foul donjon?, this debauched bachelor den of wasted males ('mutates')? Would ye besmatter these pearls with vile dross and grit? Aye - and it seems you would."

"Whatever dude. Do you have the latest Birds of Prey dude?"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I chose Birds of Prey for my punchline simply because it may well be the dullest comic in the creation. Three female superheroes. Barbara Gordon, Black Canary and... who? I forgot.

("Batgirl." - Damian Morgan)

A while ago the same storekeeper was giving away DC comics "free gratis". DC or Diamond Distributors had said it was okay for him to "title page" them; that is to scrap 'em, and just send back the title pages. So I was tottering over the racks when he goes, "Fabian, do you want a copy of Birds of Prey without the cover?"

I gave him such a purely disgusted, violated look that he added, plaintively, "It's free."

"Still," I said. "STILL."

And yet. And yet.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Boring comic, but quite a good story I am sure you agree. Here's another one just as good as that one and bound to go down in the annals of legendry...

Speaking of which, the last time I saw D. Oregon Morgan it was in London and we met at the MVE comics shop basement. Damian is always flat-broke but he also always has a pocketful of vouchers.

Sing a song of sixpence
A pocket full of vouchers.
Four and twenty copies
Of Secret Invasion Front Line.

I went down there and he was already in place, neck deep in slime, filth, damp rot and back-numbers. Wearing his trademark white tuxedo.

"Livingstone, I presume."
"Elementary, my dear Watson."
"Et mat."

Also assembled there were a few other people; the usual subterranean bottom-dwellers and mouth-breathers, all bent crooked, riffling in silence through the fifty pence bins in a cloud of spores. So our greetings were rather muted. Hadn't seen Damian in nearly a year and the first thing we said to each other was consequently very emotional. Damian goes:

"Um, Fabe, so how come Spider-Man gave away his identity in Civil War and now nobody knows who he is again?"

I coughed and tried to explain this byzantine narrative abortion at some length.

Didn't succeed.

What makes me bring this up is that Damian was steadily building him up a pile of issues of Hawkwoman. I could not believe it.

"Are you doing this simply to defy me, rascal?" I goes. "Do you do it just to damn my eyes?"

Oregon pulled up a copy of Birds of Prey, squinted at the cover condition like it was a Near Mint issue of Action Comics #1, added it to his pile, and goes, "Naturlich, my dear."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** *

One last story while I am so clearly on a roll. A few days later we met Damian and his housemate Kirk (whose special unique characteristic is that he is the oldest person I know) at the launch for some Antony Gormley show at White Cube II, Piccadilly. Yeah, we're all real art buffs. [This said in the voice of John Lydon on the Bill Grundy show.] They're all heroes of ours, ain't they? Oh yes! They really turn us on.

Kirk and Damian had been in St. James's Park that afternoon, playing Ultimate Frisbee, football golf and also their own version of badminton where you hit the shuttlecock up as high as you can and keep batting it up as high as you can. A regular paralympics ("laff-a-lympics").

I looked at them strangely and said, "It's like Don Quixote, at the end, when they all decide to become shepherds." Something pathetic and woeful about this - - something that seemed to suggest to me that the world will end in the next few years.

Everybody was enjoying the free beer except me. I don't drink beer, so I had a glass of revolting white wine from the pub nearby. Awful piss.

Speaking of awful piss, Will Self was there.

Anyway, the conversation was strictly pedestrian and quite obviously headed nowhere, so I decided to "pep" it up a bit with a wry remark to Damian about the comics. Some observation about Franken-Castle or something equally erudite. And Damian pulls up his collar and withdraws from his waistcoat his snuffbox and he heaves a big inhalation of snuff and utterly fucking ignores me.

"Do you snub me now?"

"Didn't hear what you said, Fabe."

"I was talking about the four-color funny-books, Damian."

"What's this, hey?" Kirk says. "Do you read comics, Damian?"

"I've got maybe about six back at my Mum's, Kirk," Damian said loudly and haughtily, looking the other way (where, as it happens, Will Self sprawled idling).

I nodded, coolly, and simply cooed: "And the cock crew thrice."

And you know what it did.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Back to the Sea Floor; Or, "J'Accuse."

I went back, bewilderingly, to the refried basement sale at Jim Hanley's Universe. I had resolved to stop buying up middling comicbooks and wasting my dwindling life on this third-rate guff. So why'd I go back?

Why'd I go back.

I went back like a reanimated cadaver to his best-loved tomb.

Anyway this time down there the place was verily alive with the fanboy's equivalent of drawing room banter. Somebody said something to the shop steward about Batman and soon half the basement was chiming in on this and other scintillating subjects.

These pillocks, seemingly to a man, could not get past the basic problem of verismilitude in the funnybooks. One major pons asinorum for them was that characters in the comics didn't age at the same rate as people in the so-called "real" world.

"Franklin Richards used to be the same age as the kids in Power Pack," one grumbled. "Now he is younger than them."

"Aunt May was born in the era of the Civil War," complained another with furrowed brow, "and yet she still lives."

I had heard similar confusion in other comicshops. At Roger's, he was reasoning with a young seeker of truth, that if the comics were in "real time" then "Peter Parker would be ten year older than I am." The unshying seeker palled and left that place fast, mumbling "I have to look into this."

John Byrne has talked at considerable length about the tedious problem of Franklin Richard's age in a hundred-page interview that I amazingly read from start to finish. Everything interesting to say about this incredibly dry (and cut-and-dried) subject is in there. Still, the comics basement men talked about it as though it were a new, fresh subject for discussion and they were the first brave pioneers to strike upon this magnificent paradox at the very heart of modern life.

Next they began to bitch that characters in the comics had a habit of dying and then coming back to life. They discovered, through the frank exchange of opinions, that this was not the case in real life. In real life, they announced with grave confidence, people who died seldom returned from that interesting state.

They went on kvetching about the unreality of comics, all the while stacking up piles of comics to buy and presumably read.

Finally, after listening in silence for some time, I had had enough. I said, "Lads, lads. It seems to me that you are in the wrong place in your quest for verisimilitude. Might I recommend the works of Emil Zola?"

A moment. Then the Mexican gentleman, checklist in hand, queried:

"Zola? That's the Kirby-era Cap nazi villain with the camera for a head and his face in his thorax, correct?"

I paused; thought regretfully of this doomed planetoid and replied:


Thursday, April 29, 2010


Or, "Hulk Smashed."

I like to think that I am a man who can concentrate sufficiently to understand basic texts and even to a degree complex ones. Post-war philosophy has long been my Achilles heel but I believe I can cope with this shortcoming manfully.

Is it that contemporary "continental" philosophy is especially complex, or is it that it is routinely boring, poorly written and wilfully introverted? I further wonder aloud, Is it a coincidence that the foremost readers and espousers of theory at university were also proud members of the juggling society?
I used to sit in the postgraduate methodology seminars, batting my bottom lip absently, listening to (no, listening around) the voice of Richard Robinson as he spoke of Heidegger and that interesting Nazi's dull textual sleights of hand, or of Deleuze and Guattari and their eccentric but nevertheless thrilling "rhizomes," and I used to think, "In less than an hour I can be drinking hard cider and shooting wicked-ass pool and we can forget this flimsy pretense for being here."

Given my proven excellences as a reader, then, I have nevertheless come to doubt my certified "powers" as I attempt to make sense of the recent Hulk storyline.

A Guggenheim "genius award" to the first person who can explain this thing to me.

It's hard to work out any of what's going on in the Marvel Universe right now. The Hulk comics are especially mind-bending, and not in a particularly good way. I don't know who's where when and I definitely do not know why.

"Riddle me this, me Trinity scholar":

The Red Hulk was a double-agent between MODOK's grisly crowd of misfits and maniacs on one side and Bruce Banner on the other. Hulk's son Skaar, meanwhile, wants to kill Bruce Banner but only when he turns into the Hulk - which Dr. Banner shan't do. He simply refuses to comply. His resolve is marvellous to behold.
Skaar and Dr. Banner are also in the Wolverine titles at the moment with Skaar double-crossing Wolverine with Wolverine's grandfather (or whatever he is) Romulus. Are you following this rubbish?
Doctor Doom was kidnapped and knocked "the fuck" out with what amounted to a "stupid bomb" so he couldn't think straight. I know the feeling. The eminent Herr fon Doom is, "simultaneously", appearing in titles across the board with a marked knack to be in a dozen places at once almost equal to Deadpool's. Out of alarmed curiosity, Who apart from me is doggedly, perversely reading Doomwar? As a general rule, any story involving the Black Panther (or Storm) is boring beyond measure. This one proves the rule entirely.
Then, in the Hulk titles, every major superhero gets turned into a "Hulked-out" version of themselves. They are really called the "Hulked-Out Heroes." I think that "Hulked-Out" should enter the common parlance, because it describes my condition quite remarkably. I am wholly hulked-out.
Regardless of me and my refined sensibilities, Deadpool-as-Hulk (yklept "Hulkpool") disappeared into the time-space continuum for to kill Deadpool. That is, to go back in time and kill himself before he became "hulked-out". Why any person would suddenly conceive of this powerful drive is not explained by the exellent craftsmen at MARVEL COMICS; but we keep on buying right along. It is a time paraodox: accept it and stare out of the window, as if you are in the postgraduate seminar again and letting the venerable Richard Robinson's paper pass over your head like gamma rays on a balmy afternoon.

Hulkpool Adrift Thru Time was actually a good story but what it added to the larger narrative escapes me. More Deadpool money for the Marvel coffers. Deadpool is in twenty titles a month - even Marvel is making embarrassed jokes about this, even as they scoop up my money into their bulging pockets using a large trowel.

At this moment in my life I don't know if the denouement of the Hulk arc has even happened or not. Has that story finished? Nobody seems quite sure.

Now to DC: Batman is finally returning from the dark confines of the, yes, the space-time continuum. Perhaps out there he'll run into "Hulkpool" and the "Dark Knight Detective" can figure out what is going on in the Hulk titles cause I can't. In their Blackest Night ("Dullest, Wettest Afternoon") maxi-crossover fiasco the sum of it was that DC brought back the Martian Manhunter. Bet you'd been missing him I know I had.

Now you're up-to-date and will have something good to say if you ever have the excellent fortune to be in a drawing room with Tinsley Mortimer or Paul Johnson Calderon.

[Portions of this article first appeared in an e-mail to Damian Morgan.]

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Crinkly Headers: Secret Origins (Or, "Secret Rogerins")

Corin Depper is here. With his patented passive-aggressiveness.
Never comes out and has a row –– but he foments trouble everywhere he goes, as if by magic.
I said to him, "Have you ever said 'Boo' to a goose, Corin?"
He goes, "Boo."


I was walking down through Union Square West heading north, thinking, "Apropos of boring comics, all stories involving the Shi'Ar and the Imperial Guard are boring. Also any stories containing or involving Alpha Flight. Likewise anything set in the Savage Land."


The scene: The Time Machine

The time: What is time, after all, in a time machine?

The circumstances: I was trading my Deadpools for numbers of Cable and (pre-Max, MU) Punisher War Journal. Slipped in a Silver Age Doctor Doom special "under the rose". Roger was generous & allowed the trade.

Sifting through some Spider-Man copies and frowning, I coughed and straightened my tie and went to Roger, "May I approach the bar and ask a question?"

Like a slip of a lad hesitantly asking one of his parents where exactly babies come from --- and why.

Roger assenting in his nebulous way, I approached the "bar" bearing a copy of an early-Nineties Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man which was warped and rippled in bumps along the tops and bottoms of the pages.

Nigh every copy I have seen of this title, between #159 and #188, is so corrugated. Also issues of GI Joe and Web of Spider-Man from the same benighted period.

I went to the bar, and showed them to Roger. "Do you mark these bumps along the header?" I asked.

Roger squinted a spell, and looked perplexed. Finally he realised that I was not complaining about the art. (Far from it - Sal Buscema was drawing this title for a long and excellent run at the time.)

When he had ascertained the source of my complaint, he remarked, "You need to see a psychiatrist."

It's going badly with you when your comics guy is remarking that you are in need of therapy. That said, Roger's proffered solution did not satisfy me. He reckoned that the comics were warped and crinkled by sitting in damp. He goes, sheepishly, "Did you get your wrinkled comics from us? Cause we used to keep our longboxes in a damp basement..."

Nice to know that my esteemed comics guy keeps his valuable back stock in a balmy subterranean mangrove swamp - a real winning recommendation there, Rodge. It isn't that though. I think it is a problem with Marvel Comics across the board (or at least certain titles) from that period, irrespective of where they come from. They aren't all from Roger's soggy basement. I just got some numbers of Punisher from Lone Star Comics in Texas and they have the same "crinkly header" problem.

Roger said, "There would have been some comment on this phenomenon among the comics community in the last thirty years. I don't think you have just discovered something that has eluded the greatest minds of the comic-collecting nation . The comics collecting fraternity is traditionally, shall we say, vigilant , ah, exacting indeed, on such minutiae concerning, ah, condition."

I kind of bridled at this, "slightually". Like I wasn't able to out-think the paltry comics buff community with my excellent eye for detail? Like I, with my larger knowledge of the universe, couldn't see beyond the petty purview of the fanboy?
"Or perhaps it's just that I'm a pioneer, and you men gathered this day in this room have not the 'eyes to see'" I yelped faintly, to dull chuckling from the room.

The fact remains that I keep finding crinkled comics from that period in select Marvel titles from a variety of sources. Should "they" ever come to notice this phenomenon, say in the pages of Overstreet or even Wizard, I hope that some honest soul will rightly attribute its original recognition to me.

[In the voice of Crispin Glover, in River's Edge:] I feel like... Cotton Mather!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Puppies "4" Sale

Watched another episode of Dog the Bounty Hunter where the cops beat Dog to the suspect. Should this show be renamed Dog, That Whipped Puppy? Should this show be renamed Cringing Cur Cowed by a Rolled-Up Newspaper? Or should this show be renamed, succinctly, Cops?

Nothing daunted, after wasting fifteen minutes of my time with a case that goes nowhere, Bobby Brown and Dog and his family now rallied and went after a female petty thief. Surely even they can’t bitch this one up.


Perp worked out of a “video store” as a "model" and so Dog says, “Bobby you go into the store and pretend you want to hire her and get an appointment with her and then we’ll pounce.”
At this time Bobby is dressed in a t-shirt that says in large letters “Property of Bobby Brown, Bail Bonds” and he has his big bounty-hunter badge swinging from around his neck. Surreptitious as ever. He flaps into the store and soon he bounces out again, saying, “He’s setting up an appointment now.”
Here be stealth.

So they're like a bunch of Scooby-Doo detectives scurrying and panicking in the forecourt of a mini-strip-mall and they go, "Quick she's coming, let's hide!" They duck into a building and Dog goes, as they scram through the plain wooden door, "Can you see through the peep-hole." A moment later as the door shuts: "Is there a peep hole."

The room they were in was a sort of abandoned seminar room.

When they "pounced" on the girl she just passively stood there and singularly failed to enter into the excitement of the moment. It's often that way on this show; the bounty-hunters get all worked up and enthused about the job and the chase and the thrill of the hunt, the spoor of the quarry, view halloo! and tally-ho!, right up until the moment when the perp has been caught and the perp is so bored and bland that the illusion is dashed. This girl simply misunderstood the arrest warrant. She said she didn't want to check in with the police until she had paid off her cell-phone charges.
This is, I believe, precisely what Hannah Arendt had in mind when she coined the phrase "The Banality of Evil."

Another idiocy while we’re at it: On the side of my Kellogs “Smart Start” cereal box (“Dumb Start” more like - a vapid cereal we bought while they were on offer and now that I have established conclusively that I hate this shit we have about ten boxes to go) is an offer to get the DVD of Marley and Me. What I ask you could possibly go wrong with a post-suicide-attempt Owen Wilson, a labrador puppy and Jennifer Aniston as the stars. Anyway, on the side of the box it says, “Get a $3 rebate when you laugh and fall in love with Marley and Me.”
I naturally thought of the following “exchange”:
“What if I don’t laugh and fall in love with Marley and Me?”
“Then you don’t get the rebate.”

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Peculiar episode of Dog the Bounty Hunter I just saw.

Peculiar episode of Dog the Bounty Hunter I just saw.

You want to hear about it?

It was a bit like Otto Preminger’s Angel Face starring Bob Mitchum. The end was protracted and impotent – there was a false crescendo, a premature ejaculation, and then half an hour of just noodling. Like A Passage to India or Huckleberry Finn. Imperfect resolutions in each.

Leland it was who said, “I only had three hours sleep. I wasn’t even halfway through my dream.” Leave it to Leland to come up with the gnomic Heraclitean summary of the episode. Actually, isn’t that the beginning of Dante’s Commedia?

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la diritta via era smarrita.
In the middle of the dream that is our life
I awoke to find myself
In the SUV with Dad chasing a fugitive
Who was no longer a fugitive.

The fugitive in question, one Nono, a serial beater of women (although everybody who knew him swore he was a swell all-round fellow), had gone down to the county sheriff’s “around about midnight” and had his girlfriend Mary “go his bail.” They kept quiet about this and went ahead made a deal for Nono to “give himself up” to Dog and his crew. The idea, it was surmised, was to catch Dog and his team for false arrest and so get them in turn humiliated and arrested while Mary – the schemer behind the scenes – would simultaneously collect some money off Dog for her “informing”.

A scheme worthy of Machiavelli – or the sinister minds behind the JFK assassination.

That’s complicated I realize. Imagine how I felt watching it. There were conspiracies everywhere. Beth said she was conducting “the investigation behind the investigation” and she made it a gendered issue (as they say in the academy) by solving the mystery with Mary Ellen while Dog was blundering around with this guy “Scott”. She kept making the same joke: “Girls rule, dogs drool.”

Scott was a four foot ten double-agent sent by Nono’s malicious shadow militia to sabotage the Dog camp from within. Scott was expert at this, blundering and stuttering the whole time and ballsing up any investigation with his vacillation and hemming and hawing. Dog was naturally incapable of combating this cause he’s prone to hem haw and space out vacantly himself.

Scott was so short he was like a sinister dwarf from a circus of crime. I expected him to turn up at any point in a clown suit and turn somersaults while throwing skittles at the team. But he lost out in the end because Beth donned her deerstalker and solved the conspiracy and begad she had the last laugh. She said, “Scott, we caught you out, interloper at the margins that ye are, and now you are expelled from society.” Scott, who you see had once been a bounty-hunter himself and had found a sort of kinship there that he had never felt before outside of the circus, walked across the parking lot sniffling with his head hung in shame. He looked even samller than usual, the figure he cut there as he trundled into the distance. He walked out to the perimeters of the outer city limits and then he kept walking down tords the creek. Perhaps he is still walking – or perhaps his figurative hat is floating.

I was puzzled, though, why Dog and crew would pursue Nono after they knew that his bail had been paid and his warrant had been pulled the night before. They knew he was trying to scam them, but they still showed up. For what?

To taunt him, was the reason. I watched this story unfold for an hour just to see some childish chest-puffing and drubbing at its end?

Dog and his “pound” need to really work on their narrative endings.

Sometimes the cops come into Dog the Bounty Hunter and foul up the whole story. Dog is always put out by this, largely because he doesn't get his money when the cops arrest the perp. But also it makes for a poor show. Sometimes Dog is duly obeisant and says that the cops are "our big brother" but other times - like today - he spits the word "cops" like everybody else does.

It really is important to be able to finish a narrative with a flourish.

Wisht I coulda-------

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Da Kine. Da Fuck?

1) I have a dreadful habit of watching episodes of Dog the Bounty Hunter that I've already seen. They all start to seem the same after a while - like episodes of New York Noise. The one with Devo - Vivian Girls - Blondie - that dork from Beirut - Byron and Thurston... So usually I'm two thirds of the way through an episode of Dog before I realise, "Oh I seen this one already I know what happens." By which point I think fuck it I'll watch it again.

Because life is so long that we can afford to waste time like this can't we?

I was watching this one episode with a female perpetrator who in her mugshot had badly-drawn on eyebrows. It was as if they had been drawn on with a big black magic marker - via the tremulous hands of a blind man. And when I saw her mugshot and those magnificent brows, I thought, "Oh I've seen this episode." But I kept watching, rapt in my sublime forgetfulness, and Dog and Beth and family were nosing about this woman's home - which was really just a dirtshack complex on a remote backlot, but it was full of hidden rooms. Lots of ninja hidey-holes. I thought I was watching Shinobi No Mono for a minute!


You didn't like that one, all right.

Anyway, the woman was a "meth-head" and (naturally) also a single mother of six, but she in addition stood accused of stealing somebody's dog. Like that episode when that "Bonnie and Clyde" team stole Buddhas from outside a Thai restaurant. And so this time Beth goes, "What the fuck is this about you stealing a dog?"
"I didn't steal no dog."

Meanwhile Beth is, you can tell, trying to steal one of the woman's dogs herelf! I know I've seen one episode where Beth actually did take the perpetrator's pet dog because she liked it and the perp was going to jail after all. So Beth is in the habit, let us say, of blithely taking other people's pets herself. And she was playing with this puppy on camera for ages. Lots of screen time for this one puppy. Eventually Beth had to reluctantly give the puppy back to the meth-head owner (who dully goes, "Drive safe now"), but you could tell that she had been hard at work angling to get the puppy for free. Like a child in a toyshop does - tries to get his or her parents to buy them something simply because they make such a public show of spontaneous fondness for it that the parents can't legally refuse.

Like my nephew in the Disneyland shop. He ran in there, sensing that the time was ripe to get gifts from the adults around, even when he didn't necessarily want anything. He wanted things in the abstract. He was picking up things willy-nilly and pulling a heart-tugging expression.

Beth was doing that very thing with this puppy, but it didn't work anyway.

And then she has the big brazen magnificent balls to accuse the perp of stealing a dog!

2) So then they have the perp on the backseat, and if you've read my earlier "posts" about the show in question you'll know that the backseat is a scene for a lot of soul-searching and hard questions. As the academics would say, it is a "site of radical cultural mediation and exchange." So as usual Dog and Beth are like Jay Leno, in that the first thing they ask the perp is if she's got any kids, and she goes "I had six, but one died."
And Dog, half-asleep and oblivious, goes, "And how old is she?"
"She WAS one-year-old -- WHEN SHE DIED in a car accident!"
So then, all tact and sensitivity, Dog goes, "Oh, da kine."

The fuck---?

"Da kine" is an old Hawaii word that doesn't have a set meaning and so can be said at virtually any times. Dog's company is even called "Da Kine Bail Bonds." And so when this woman tells him her daughter died aged one, all he can find in his human heart to say is, "Oh. Huh. Da kine."

One for the linguists, methinks!