The Movie Superhero

The real movie superhero is not the one with the cape – or the sword, hammer, shield, trident, lasso, or cyberarm. It is the adult who pays $ 25 to sit there for 90 minutes and endures gasoline explosions and puerile dialog to please the rest of the family.

It’s not like there is any real choice these days. If the motion picture is not about a franchised line of plastic toys, a 15 year-old’s angst, or a thinly disguised leftist conspiracy, it is devoted to sports. Even the art cinema has reduced itself to hours of French people sitting around café tables smoking and sneering. In most of the cinema complexes the best chance for adult entertainment is watching the popcorn machine in hopes that it will catch fire.

I miss the cowboy movies – and the bedsheet dramas – and the dashing war dramas by people who had actually been involved in the real thing. I miss the frothy Hollywood musicals with the pin-up girls and the bright colours. I miss Donald Duck and Wily Coyote. I miss entertainment.

It’s not all gone. I can still get a laugh out of an Aardman animation…and a few of the Pixar ones as well. I can actually enjoy Bollywood movies – even though it is all nonsense – it has the colour and froth that is missing from a lot of stuff. I can even stand foreign historic dramas, as long as they are reasonably believable in the sets and costumes – what i lose in not understanding the plot is made up in the visuals.

Perhaps the mainstream fare is just too overblown – or too juvenile. Perhaps literature has spoiled me for cinema. Perhaps the thought of $ 25 a ticket – $ 85 if you include a chocolate ice cream cone – is too much for the old wallet.



displWhen is displeasure better than dat pleasure? When it is fresh, fashionable, and cheap. And there is nothing more likely to meet those three criteria than the sight of other people. We might be unhappy about animals, or architecture, or antiseptic wipes, but for good old downright peevishness there is nothing to surpass our fellow human beings.

They are bound to be either different from us, which makes them alien freaks, or the same…which means we know just how tiresome they can be. Whether the subject is sex, politics, or religion…or possibly storm door maintenance…we can find something about our friends that can make them into our enemies. And once they are converted they can be used to power hours of fun and games. Consider:

You are a disciple of A. Your friend is a disciple of B. If A and B are allies you are duty-bound to be so with your friend. If they are not, you have a perfectly good moral excuse to be beastly to your friend in obedience to A. I’ll bet you can think of a lot more bad things than good things to do in any one day and this means that you need not be bored at all.

Go to a mirror. Look carefully at your face. Do you have the sort of skin tone and muscular control that will enable you to lift the corner of your upper lip and sneer? If you can, well and good – if not, start a series of exercises to develop this. A good beginning is the lift the lip with a coffee stirrer until your muscles get used to the movement. Then you can also practise lifting one eyebrow – note: it is not as easy as it sounds and very few have ever mastered the art of lifting the brow on the side of the face opposite to the corner of the lip. Done well, this is spectacular. Done badly, people just think you have had a stroke.


Play Floating Sea Mine Game For Free On Android!


Be the first kid on your block to put a hole in the hull of the Rottnest ferry! Blow up a River Wine Cruiser on the way to the Swan Valley! Play havoc with the SPYC Wednesday Evening regatta!

I think that I missed my calling. I should have been a game designer. After reviewing the latest on-line video games advertisements and seeing the re-jigged Pokemon game empty the pockets of the nation, I can see that normal human life and meaningful endeavour is just a mirage. A will o’ the wisp concept. Real life is a sad substitute for little phosphor dots on a mobile phone…

I do admit that I would have been hard pressed to think up some of the stuff that is marketed out there now. As a kid of the 50’s I tried to sink Jap carriers and shoot down Messerschmitts on the side-show alley pinball games of the time – done with BB’s and blinking lights and shadow projections – and I was prepared to spend precious nickels and dimes to do it…but I quail at some of the depictions of personal violence that feature in today’s video games. I’m not into shooting people with machine pistols. I concede that some people need shooting, but I would prefer leaving that to the professionals.

At the same time, I cannot really get involved with games that involve aliens, zombies, or unicorns. Or any other members of the left-wing socio-hippy society. The closest I am prepared to go with that is Space Invaders and that is because it reminds me of some in-laws.

Having lived on the killing plains of Alberta during the 50’s and 60’s I was particularly repulsed by the old 80’s arcade game Missile Command. I tried to play it but could not avoid thinking that the cities at the bottom were Spokane and Seattle and Calgary and Edmonton and Vancouver and, and, and it is is sometimes not at all nice to play the death of yourself and your family and your friends…

Second Childhood Averted


Well, I’m sorry to say I must remain an adult. I’m 67 now and hope one day to be 68…and the rest…but the fond hope of lapsing into a second childhood has been dealt a number of severe blows.

I’ve seen the result, and it is hard work. Hard for the old child and hard for the middle-aged adults who must become minders. All the vaunted governmental help with the situation seems to be ringed with governmental regulation. The business sustains more clerks and government printing presses than the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The only winners in the contest are the old people who manage to live long enough to compel the government clerks to admit them to nursing homes and the only prize they get is boiled turnip porridge for tea.

Apart from this, the price of the second childhood has been raised beyond my reach. My original childhood was replete with toy trains, model airplane kits, BOY’S LIFE magazine, and BB guns. Lionel trains still exist but at a price that would stagger Commodore Vanderbilt. Model airplane kits cost as much as two cases of beer. BB guns are illegal in this British Colonial Nanny State and a subscription to BOY’S LIFE would put you under the intense scrutiny of the authorities. I have thought of playing with dolls and doll houses instead but even there I get funny looks.

In one respect I am glad that I must still stay an adult – I have seen some of the cartoons that kids watch these days and quite frankly I wouldn’t have the stomach for the violence and sexuality of them. Likewise the comic books – I believe they are now considered graphic novels and I must say the ones that they sell in the comic shops are certainly novel and extremely graphic. I don’t mind seeing burlesque shows and butchering my own meat when out hunting but I quail at the comic books.

And I am also absolved from the necessity to see things in ” Politically Correct ” terms – I am still able to see the truth and speak it – albeit against an increasingly shrill orchestration and an increasingly slick set of  spin doctors and crowd movers. I am independent enough not to be easy to silence. I don’t ” Shush! ” cheaply. I have a price list and give receipts.

” Is That Supposed To Be A Joke? “


No, it’s supposed to be the Queensland Minister for Roads. Mind you, when he turns around and bends over you’ll see the humour of it all.

Telling a joke is always fraught with danger. You might be rude. You might be racist, or bigoted, or out of step with the rest of humanity. You might offend a religion…and I know one that will certainly be offended no matter what you write. You might have bad timing or forget a crucial portion of the lead-up. You might even forget the punchline. For these reasons it is always wise to carry a photograph of the Queensland Minister for Roads with you to distract the audience. When they lunge for it, you make your getaway.

Personal jokes are the most dangerous. If you laugh at someone they are offended and if you induce others to laugh with you the effect is worsened. Should you cause the victim to laugh at themselves they will never forgive you and will do everything in their power to be revenged. A useful thought when it comes to family birthday parties – did you really want to be going to the damn things forever? No? Well, you know what to do…

It can be interesting to observe the sort of couple in which only one partner gets jokes. The oddest thing about this is that person may not even be the jollier of the two – just more acute. As they laugh and their partner doesn’t, the tension rises. Eventually the dull one will turn on the bright one and pick a fight. At this point it can be helpful to offer to explain the joke to the non-laugher in simple terms. Just be closer to the door than they are when you do.

The venerable joke book seems to have gone by the boards – Joe Miller used to be the one that was the standard. Of course the English had Punch magazine but this was chiefly an aid to the non-laugher. There probably were German joke books and Chinese ones but no-one has dared to press them upon us.

Even comic books generally aren’t. They are graphic novels or superheroes or thinly disguised porn, so there isn’t a great deal to laugh about with them. You can get a giggle out of the prices, though, provided you don’t pay them.

Still, you can always count on the three announcers on the hip radio show. There are always three, as this is a magic number for people; one announcer is opinionated, two are incompetent, but three are cool. If three of them make fun of something they must be right and you need to bring your opinion into line with theirs. If they laugh, you laugh.

So, there are these three announcers who walk into a bar…




The Delicate Art Of Facebookery – Or How To Skin Friends And Irritate people

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For the last few years I have been tinkering with that social land mine – the Facebook account. Occasionally I cut the red wire and occasionally I cut the blue wire, but whichever one I choose it still blows up in my face.

At one time I thought Facebook would be an easy way to keep in touch with people – I embraced the message facility avidly. Until I discovered that some people have a horror of talking on it and I was put back to the ordinary emails. Worse – sometimes the emails seemed to cross and sensitive matters were revealed. I blame myself for the loss of Lichtenstein.

I suppose I should have suspected that Facebook was not going to be a polite dinner party when I started getting invitations to mindless games and bogus surveys. These have since been revealed to be mechanisms whereby I inadvertently give out targeting information to a variety of advertisers. This seems to be the trend as I see more and more ” suggested posts ” by complete strangers promoting their own wares. I am mortified to see that a member of my old profession has taken to this sort of flapdoodle and should I encounter the culprit they will suffer. Of course as I have retired from five years from the dear old game, I have little chance of encountering the swine, but I can at least poke fun from a distance.

The other clue was the realisation that some friends on the list do not know how to behave at a polite dinner party. Or a polite cocktail party. Let’s face it, some of them would be embarrassing in a Baltimore bar at closing time…

The basic rule of polite parties has always been to avoid the three poisoned topics; sex, politics, and religion. The weather, the state of the stock market, the cricket, Jane Austen, whatever you can light on for a quiet natter, but avoid the sorts of topics that get the wrong juices flowing. Any congregation of two or more people will have three or more opinions on any subject and the longer these opinions rub together, the more heat is generated. FIne if you want to lie on your back in a verbal trench under fire cutting barbed wire but hardly conducive to social success.

But each time I open some of the friend’s postings it really becomes the same thing – Labia, Labour Party, and Libya. Or mammaries, ministers and Mohammed. It sometimes gets so fraught that I welcome the pictures of fluffy kittens and children being injured by swings.

I tried removing the worst of the opinionistas early in the piece – once I detected an unchanging rant from one husband and wife team – different postings but equally disturbing – I pushed the ” unfriend ” button. I didn’t mind encountering them at real-life social events because in those cases I could put my helm over and steam away to other conversations – they were not in my face on my computer. I discovered an odd thing – while they did not re-appear in my list, I was quietly blocked out of my social club email lists – and I suspect that as one of the unfriended people controls the websites for that social club, that I will be routed out forevermore.

I was still being blasted by a couple more of the friends on a regular basis on the subject of religion. One has it and one doesn’t but both are determined that anyone within the reach of their keyboard will be forced to go adopt the same opinion. I found them terminally irritating from two separate directions. The maddening thing is occasionally they posted charming things, and in person are pleasant and kindly souls. So I tried two experiments – First I suggested them to each other as friends and told each one that the other really needed some counselling on the subject of faith…then I gave them both a rest off my page by blocking their posts for two months. I have since let them back – one is quite quiet now and posts lots of things that don’t deride religion – the other is back to the old tricks and liberally lards her kittens and landscapes with Allah. She may be due for a longer vacation.

Of course I am not innocent of harm in all this; I do jump on some postings that just beg for it and I recently was de-friended for laughingly suggesting a non PC video game to one chap. I had not realised he took these things quite so seriously. Interestingly, his mistress has not removed me from the Facebook list so I have the prospect of meeting them at social club dinners and outings. Whatever is the protocol for this? As I have received la coup privat from him but not her, do I speak to her but not him? Is she a listening post for him in Facebook? Would it be crass to tell jokes in his earshot, he being a man of sober mien?

I wonder if it was Brother Stein that did it? I must draw him more…

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The Sunday Funnies

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Every Sunday when I was a child the highlight of the day was the delivery of the paper. It was that sort of a childhood.

All week long the regular newspaper – The Calgary Herald –  had arrived in a high arc; thrown from the street by a kid on a bicycle. It sometimes announced itself on the porch and sometimes buried itself in the bushes alongside. I suppose it contained the news of the day but as a child all I wanted was the comic strips near the back. They were in black and white, as was the rest of the paper at the time – the era of offset printing and colour plates was a few decades on.

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Still, there must have been some sort of magic down at the Herald office between Saturday and Sunday because here were big panels and they were in full colour! Dennis the Menace, Alley Oop, Mark Trail, Steve Canyon…and more. I loved them. It was one of the influences that started me on the drawing board – that and the fact that I was bored during lectures and had the time and opportunity to cover my exercise books with warships, airplanes, and cars. This went on for 40 years – all the way  through university and work. It still continues, but now I get to play cartoonist myself.

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I discovered the simple ‘ball-men’ style back in the 1980’s. The basic building block lent itself to a number of topics by the inclusion of hats, accessories, and expressions. I spread the cartoons through NAVY LIFE, LGB DEPESCHE, WA Police Department bulletins, the ADAWA newsletter, two books, and PHOTO TRADER. All that was needed for some of the publications was a basic understanding of the topic and access to some of the buzz-words used in their trade. You could make puns about anything.

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Most times there was a specific caption appended. The difficulty came with some of the publications – the editors thought that they could improve the fun by substituting their words for mine. Wrong. Change a word and you either misdirect the picture or ruin the rythym. Thus it came as a relief when I was given the responsibility for the blog at my workplace – Camera Electronic in Stirling Street in Perth – and was allowed to send out the funnies without interference. I am also delighted to be able to do it here on this blog – as I do for a more limited readership through the Facebook system.

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So here are the first of the Sunday Funnies. I have sort of censored them, and sort of not – so you can read them and laugh if you are amused or fire off a stiff letter if you are not. I’m not quite sure how that letter gets to me but try anyway – this blog will get easier to do as time goes by.

Thanks for coming folks. Try the macaroni casserole.