Film Review: Hellboy and the Golden Army & Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

May 31, 2009

Didn’t have time for these when they first came out, thought I’d try them now.

Was not disappointed.

Hellboy and TGA:

Was aware of the basic concept from trailers – and had my socks blown off in the first five minutes. Nice to see John Hurt again – Like Wash in Serenity, one hopes any further films will have flashbacks to bring back a deceased character quite that cool – and the fact that the excerpt worked to establish the plot and Hellboy’s role model for fatherhood, and had a clever puppet sequence to boot rather than a montage of warrior stock footage was extremely pleasing.

Del Toro made everything beautiful again.

Returning characters of Liz and Hellboy cut the deft figures between opera tragedy and comic couple well. Abe finds some love in far more involved character than before – missed ‘Niles’, but Pryor’s performance takes the character out from behind the glass.

Myers disappears from the scenery into ‘Antartica’, despite all the shading he received as a possible successor to ‘Broom’ in the first film. The stressed BPRD FBI rep eases over this absence and hey – we don’t want Hellboy to obey the rules, otherwise he would be Anung Rama. The role of ‘Broom’ is thus hilariously fulfilled by Gauss, with no street smarts but kicks quite a bit of ass for a vapour being. The extreme applications of teleplasty on the inanimate golems let the character really bust a move.

That said, Gauss little monologue on why he suddenly decides to throw out the rules was very heavy handed. We saw him looking at his ring – if he’d just said something to the effect that he’d lost “more than his body and less than his soul in his accident”, it would have sufficed.

The elf princess was good, and it was nice to see Abe gush over someone else than Gauss, but there wasn’t even a chance she was going to survive. And you know things you should mention when you are being put into protective custody? How about: My psycho brother knows where I am all the time.

The elf prince seemed a solid evil-tragedy; he even looked upset when his father and Mr Wink died. And the ‘tooth-fairies’ – brilliant.

The humans at large were similar to before – the agents are redshirts with disposable names like Marble and Steel, and the public humans think Hellboy is evil both on first glance and later inspection.

But hey – he still loves candy and tv.

Indiana Jones and TKOTCS:

John Hurt again. His script his composed almost entirely of repeated quotes, then he tears off ”inter-dimensional travellers, in point of fact, gone to the space betwen spaces” in one badass move.

In other news, Indiana character and dialogue remains intact in that Han-Solo cynic-fighter & presidential academic-adventurer tone that defined the first films. The advancing of age is not a plot point to be surmounted, but a stronger emphasis on the original character not afraid to show fear, pain and exasperated comedy – still hilarious.

The return of the Marion character is another house built on good original foundations, and the fact Indiana both continued the relationship after the adventure and ran away later are extremely true to the mythos. Also, she drives a convertible over a cliff and a three waterfalls. Aw yeah.

Mutt is the rebellious young Indie of this age, down to the dog name, but lacks the education and is acting as Indie’s exposition wall, but is far more fun than only that. La Boeuf wouldn’t be bad in a more knowledgeable role in later films, methinks.

Cate Blanchett as Spalko was extremely fun, every inch the Jones villain. Of course her head is going to explode at the end – its the fate of anyone who wants to know ‘everything’ – but she is a lot of fun every minute prior. Mac is ‘the guy who steals trinkets, before being sucked into the vortex’ and acts it well. The Russian commander didn’t really get much airtime – no scene of his bemoaning the loss of his men, etc, and I didn’t really note his death by ant.

Effects were awesome, setting the same. Yes he survives a nuke in a fridge, but it looks so cool.

Overall, the film’s plot felt mixed up and tangled for the sank of revelation. I could basically understand it, but otherwise it was clunky in places.

The move from Nazis to Communists, and from relics to interdimensional aliens, was a piece of thematic infusion that keeps the pastiche happily alive and well.


Dr Nation Presents: Daze of Days 10 to 38

May 31, 2009

Nation Twitter: Day 09: So this is Daftwager’s famed dirigible? Very well. How deliciously ironic, that that aristocratic capitalist ass should be so abandoned by his precious, purloined possession. Wait, what is that harpoon-

Day 10: Curses! That fool Daftwager scuppered my scheme at the last instant! No doubt a ‘hero’ such as he will survive the predicament-peril I have placed him in. I have my own troubles to tend, presently.

Day 11: Furnace destroyed. Daftwager, tradesman engineer, could resurrect it no doubt – but my hands were made to resurrect more intelligently designed machines! Still, I evade the Navy patrols for now.

Day 12: Finally pry the furnace from the floor and dump it overboard. Emptied it beforehand and found a deckhand’s skeletal remains and an intact slice of his brains. Sailor’s muscle memory is very strong.

Day 13: No engineer I, but I have hoisted the deflated dirigible gasbag to form a sail. I paid attention in my time in the Navy. My rigging is a tad sub-par perhaps, but I assure you my stitching is immaculate.

Day 14: Daftwager must have forced the Navy well out of Whitby waters for me to get so clear of this place undetected. I hug the coast, then break for deep ocean waters. I do not hunger for humanity – yet.

Day 15: I reconvert the motor boat engine used to power the dirigible propellers to their original purpose. That and the winds should take me south. I’ll stay in the water – the land is a cruel & terrible master.

Day 16: Damn Daftwager for taking the collapsible telescope with him on his harpoon adventure. There appears to be an oncoming raft, but I can’t see who. It can only be fiends, I have no friends – or do I?

Day 17: Why, if it isn’t my minion Lt. MaGreg, missing an arm and a leg. The cost of escape from Whitby. The cost to the rest of the crew was obedience – they are face-down and lashed together as a raft …

Day 18: They couldn’t board any of the town ships due to the wards, and all of the Navy ships stayed clear. They were ‘looking’ for me – lie. I would never have gotten here if I had not eaten that seaman …

Day 19: I reattach Lt. MaGreg an arm and a leg from a pile of ‘spares’ they were carrying as dinner scraps. The otherwise largely legless crew are seated in the lifeboat, rudimentary rows making double-time.

Day 20: Crew concentrate on escape, I on life! Use flask of U.N.D.E.A.D. on my person to further not only my experiments in resurrection and spontaneous regeneration. I (we?) WILL be INVINCIBLE!

Day 21: Lifeboat first aid kit aids my efforts. Little resources on sea, but I was working on regeneration, even before my … encounter with mutant stoats. Eternal life and eternal youth shall be mine (ours?) !

Day 22: Quatloo breeds demon vermin and calls himself a doctor. I possess the doctorly detachment required to detach my own hand and the surgical skill to reattach it myself with a hand-mirror! Cold logic!

Day 23: I possess the commitment to my cause to sacrifice soldiers, sailors and neighbours to bring immortality to the whole world. All I ask of the world is to take the socialist step of all for one – me (us?) !

Day 24: Previous plan ok. Would have taken the throne at the head of a zombie military. My excesses would have been the ultimate satire upon the flaws of monarchy, my mercies a socialist’s dream. Victory!

Day 25: But no victory. Teamwork, on the other, severed, hand is going swimmingly. Daftwager – festering toad – knew when to delegate, even if it was to a bunch of whores. One day I – we – shall succeed.

Day 25: Yes, this is true socialist thought. Oh, I’ll still be putting the ME in team, of course. One day, I will take of the wine that is blood & bread that is flesh, and rule. Messianic? Ultimate satire of religion.

Day 26: And my work does far, far more than satirise religion at large and the ‘hereditary’ nature of monarchy. I intend to provide facilitation for regeneration by that which disturbed Darwin – the wasp virus.

09;00: The parasitic wasp, Botago Bay Brazil. It lays its eggs in some unsuspecting caterpillar larva, and an infection too.

09:20; The ‘infection’ is nothing less than a polydnavirus – it produces proteins which circumvent the caterpillar’s immune system.

09:40; The wasp larva eat the caterpillar larva, become adults and inherit their own polydnaviruses. It is a provirus, a virus written into the wasp’s own DNA and – it has INTRONS! Introns, in a VIRUS! ….

10:00; You don’t know what introns are, you bile worm. No, lower than a bile worm. A bile worm has introns – it is complex eukaryotic organism. And it is probably more grateful for them than you are.

11:00; This is why, while there is ‘room at the top’, I will be occupying all of it, come the revolution. You probably still think RNA is the singular messenger cement in the building of the DNA blocks of life.

12:00; It all very well to read the ‘The Selfish Gene’ in the college coffee shop – but it is thirty years old. It is taught in the capitalist conversion machine these days – school – and it is … inaccurate in points.

13:00; Your biology, your self. I’m not capitalist enough to teach old dogs new tricks. Oh don’t worry, it won’t have any effect on your post-revolution status – unless you didn’t want to be a worker grunt?

14:00; Don’t sob so. Here it is in short; when your DNA codes protein and sets enzymes, it does so via exons (an article in a newspaper you cut out) AND via introns (the all the other bits of the newspaper).

15:00; Yes, I know, you think it is ‘one gene equals one protein’. There are 34,000 genes and 100,000 proteins. You think there is junk, selfish, DNA – some of it is working overtime. Apologise to it. Now.

16:00; So these introns may reorder the mass DNA information. This is why some propose we share 96% of the same DNA of chimps. Though, with your intelligence, there is a much more obvious reason.

17:00; Intronic data – that is herder of the mass genepool’s guppies into one form or another. And there are a couple of things I can do with a very sharp intron stick and some extremely long words. Science!

18:00; Well what is with the parasitic wasps then – it isn’t as if humans have virus built into their very DNA to ‘turn-off’ the body’s immuno-rejection impulses in certain instances. Or do we? The answer is yes!

19:00; Endogenous RetroVirus 3 is in its entirety in the human DNA sequence. Allows a foreign body to grow in the host’s body without attack. Ancient antidote? Perhaps. Current home – the babymaker!

20:00; Baby, being half mummy and half daddy thus survives in mummy’s tummy. ERV-3 is separated safely from the rest of the system by intronic data, manipulation of which could lead to no rejection again.

21:00; And this only the start! By manipulation of DNA I can turn on the regeneration data inherited from our reptile ancestry, turned off for interlocking teeth over regrowing mismatched sets. Rooster teeth!

22:00; I shall create a race of immortal immaculates in the image of gods! Fire shall not break, nor ice halt, my wonderful true-mind gestalt!! I shall be Nation, father of nations in my holy army of humanity!!!

23:00; Of course, once I do that, there will be no more need for children – bothersome really – so I’ll just shut off the intronic babymaker virus ‘Children of Men’ style. Get some peace and quiet around here.

00:00: Apparently, during the course of my atheistical rant, the boat was swallowed whole by a whale. I had wondered why the stars had gone out. My my, I can’t imagine why that happened. Ah, entropy.

Day 27: First day in whale. To keep professional spirits up, have begun to harvest blubber from the still-living whale. To keep morale spirits up, have begun to host nightly shadow-puppets. Headless rabbit!

Day 28: Whale tongue goulash. Whale bone boat struts. Oil. Essentially, we are cannibalising the still-living whale for parts. We’re not taken being eaten lying down, you know. Except when we are sleepy.

Day 29: Intron experimentation continues. Emulating wasp polydnaviruses, I inject MaGreg’s anonymously donated & hastily resown arm & leg with MaGreg’s dna. Arm skin tone and hair colour homogenise.

06:00; Conversion complete – the donor and leg’s dna entirely overwritten by Lt. MaGreg’s. The prospect of restored legs enliven’s the lower-limb lacking lackeys. Why bother? Full regeneration comes next.

09:00; Getting the hang of using ‘we’ rather than ‘me’, which is rather ironic as it is a case of the me versus the we. Zombie soldiers, spare legs in hand, wish to be restored to their former height or they’ll …

12:00; … what, bite me? They should feel like my lab animals – I did kill them all and revivify them with super-serum! I don’t have time to waste wading through limb reattachments. I’ll regenerate them soon …

15:00; … okay, apparently they are quite sick of hearing about my regenerative supplementative. I don’t have any reptiles to mitochrondrially compare where the mammal non-regeneration intron station is.

18:00; The beast swims faster and faster south in an attempt to lose us, its terminal indigestion, swallowing starfish and stars with each great gulp. Hope too. ‘We’ve’ made a whalebone cage, too. All for me. 21:00; A starfish slumped by my feet regrows a limb lost in its loss of liberty, like me. Then it all clicks into place. We were all waterbabies once, after all. I splice the center, then mix with UNDEAD introns.

Day 30: Agree to operate on request. Ask for light to work by, then toss the fat-torch into the bundle of blubber bombs in the corner. Conclusion to failed ‘teamwork’ experiment with termination of contracts.

Day 31: Daftwager very correct; here I am a head unable to breathe, unable to die. I am quite a quiet dead – until the regenerative imperative kicks in and everything below the neck begins to reappear. Cold.

Day 32: Finally float ashore a desert island. My we made that whale run. Half way around the world, by the looks of the biology. Not quite deserted – there is a footprint by my eye. More worried about crab.

Day 33: Rescued from crab by native nomads. Irony – in an attempt to become a god beyond false God, have been reduced to a talking head, worshipped as a god by those who believe in literal communion.

Day 34: Ask how they understand me, and if they eat all their wandering gods. One answer – a skeletal colonist and his collection of instant messenger pigeons, not a one of which sent. Name tag: Montaigne.

Day 35: I play into the local belief that these are the birds of god, scribble a brief note with a pen between my teeth (in exactly my own handwriting) and send it to Daftwager in Paris. He is all that is left now.

Day 36: I’m not afraid of dying, I’m afraid they won’t kill me. I barely regenerate a doll-sized bodypart before it is cut and eaten. Von Quatloo is … competent enough to devise a manner of death if unresisted.

Day 37: Daftwager is the only who hates me enough as an individual to chase me half way around the world. Everyone else just hates me as a concept. Nobody but a bad man finishes off the vaudevilain.

Day 38: The problem with being an atheist god, my blood drunk and my flesh eaten, is that I have nobody to pray to. Well, I’ll just have to hope the gods believe in me sufficiently to kill me. Soon. Now even.

Patrick McLean – The Seanachai

May 23, 2009

A particularly good podcast I have been listening is the Seanachai, by Patrick McLean.

The one uniting factor of all Seanachai episodes is the telling of a story. Fiction, Fact, Fantastic, Feasible – McLean delivers, in a wonderful reading style, brief tales which are original, interesting and very, very funny.

A copy editor, McLean has an innate grasp of the short form I greatly envy. These narrations of his might extend to ten, fifteen minutes, often less, where some quality storytelling is delivered in prose not only economic, but articulate and insinuating. Meaning is clean and powerful in a way that evades me and some writers I have read.

The stories also take on a hint of essay – much like Mur Lafftery’s Lessons of a Geek Fu Master – taking an entertaining premise to explore matters such as extraordinary rendition & funding of international terrorism to Mexican Show Trucks & Vampires in the Attic.

The stories themselves would be enough. But they’ve been wonderfully presented as podcasts. Not a podiobook; sound effects, and not a podio drama; one voice.  Brief, they are run through with the smooth narrative voice of McLean, with a skill for funny accents and insinuation, lending depth beyond the printed form.

This form has evolved to a new project – How to Succeed in Evil.

HTSIE began as a series of short pieces in the Seanachai podcast. It follows Edwin Windsor, a consultant to supervillains, constantly frustated at his clients inability to follow the smart path to a controlling interest in the world rather than trying to arbitrarily take it over.

Eventually, in the original shorts, Edwin enters supervillainy himself – the smart way. He sets up a multi-billion dollar insurance company, the only one that will insure against metahumans of all kinds. He creates the demand by harnessing particularly destructive villains as a threat, then training ‘adjustors’ to take care of incompetent heroes.

Betrayal occurs, and Edwin slips away neatly into the night with an uncountable fortune and thoughts of the future.

This has been resurrected.

How to Succeed in Evil, The Novel, is now being podcasted. Greatly revised, greatly expanded, still going up as I speak, my first impressions were mixed.

Firstly, there was a certain nostalgia regarding the several plot changes – nothing truly earthshattering on the negative side, and taking care of all the comedy-based points that didn’t sit right – but still was unsure of the changes.

Secondly, another character is introduced. Not a minor one – its  a hero, sharing no scenes with Edwin and no direct obvious plot connection. The scenes are clever and funny – but one hopes they’ll be tied into the main story by the end of the novel. Parallel narratives with indirect relation do tend to get on my nerves – particularly in books like Shadowmarch by Tad Williams, where there is an entire parallel plot that isn’t explained in that novel. Ah well.

But, overall, it won me over resoundingly. Great expansion into all characters, far more development in the plot changes, lots of great new ideas – the former work was a sketch, this is the masterpiece.

As to when I was converted to the Novel – Mr McLean had me at “Barry ate the kitten”. That is all.

Daftwager Twitter: Day 38

May 23, 2009

28 Days Later; Day 38:

07:00; The Whitby Resurrection Project continues, aiming for summer. Chief finances come from pirates, politicians and even the French government, who turned to money when death threats didn’t work.

07:30; Receding waters have revealed various treasures of R’yleh. Jewelery by no human hand made. Devices whose function is astounding, but require tentacles to use. A ‘Buddy Cthulhu’ statuette. Money.

08:00; The ladies have decided to set up a permanent franchise of La Pantalon Rouge in Paris, with strict direction from the Whitby office, to whip these cheese-eating surrender-monkeys into sexy shape.

08:30; Apparently the Parisian Office will have the high standards of its mother office; a degree in the sciences, a healthily buxom body, cunningly bilingual and a basic flight training course for moving house.

09:00; The new Whitby Windmill may transform into a mech. A green-haired, purple mascara man named Leeron is helping with the design. Apparently he knows Mecha Nick . . . personally. Blackmail?

10:00; Sky’s the limit with the flying mech. When the LRP’s rich clients let them drown, the LRP people became decidedly unromantic, and have photos of those clients in the most interesting positions . . .

10:15; . . . the ‘stink-beetle’, the ‘avocado’, the ‘messiah’, the ‘vitamin B-4’, the ‘taking tea with the parson’ (with all three inflatable tigers), the ‘Implausible Name 6#’ (with the special sock puppets!) . . .

10:30; . . . and the flying goggles with the eggwhisk! So said clients are very willing to cough up the cash to keep the keeper of the photographs, video & DNA evidence happy. So long as it is within budget.

10:45; Oh wait, we’re blackmailing them! What budget! Let me see . . . lets have those superconductors made out of gold . . . and those crystal recorders made out of diamond . . . sentient monkey-butlers …

11:00; My position in the house remains the same; standing at the new blueprints board, sitting at the bureau de change, and upside down & leaning to the left in Open’s bedroom. Known as the ‘cartwheel.’

12:00; Lunch, the sound of silence. Pete Pequod receives a lot of pro-pirate propaganda for picaresque corporate raiders by his heroic actions, particularly in this time of anti-pirate popular feeling. All roses.

13:00; Received an Instant Messenger Pigeon. In Doctor I. Nation’s handwriting. He thanks me for mentioning Paris. Dirigible rocketed equatorial before splashdown. Lucky for him it used to be a life raft.

13:10; Washed up on an island unmarked on the lifeboat’s maps. Gondola wrecked on rocks. Supplies suffused with salt, compass is rusty. Lucky for him, there is fair weather and a lot of available food.

13:20; Unlucky for him, the island is inhabited by cannibals. A spontaneous regeneration solution for his face has extended to his body, and the islanders find him a god that can be conveniently ‘meat-milked’.

13:30; The irony of a zombie doctor eaten by cannibal natives is not lost on him. He has sketched a rough starmap of his current location. I tried to kill him. He expects no rescue. Everyone else is dead.

 13:40; I stare at the map for some time. Then I fold it over and place it in my pocket.

13:50; I give the pigeon to Canary Mellow, an LRP man with a degree in ornithology and specialty for watching birds while they do whatever they pay him to watch them do. Apparently its doing their do-do.

14:00; Dinner! My staff ‘mourned’ my apparent death by having a wake (inherent Irish idiocy). Drinking my gin, not noticing the zombie siege and eating my supply of stoat steaks. Chestbursters all. Yuck.

15:00; Other people had adventures. Eldritch fenced with Nation after I left the Spiritualist Church. The TransmoGreyFriar converted the army to kicking zombie ass in the name of the Lord. And . . .

15:30; Peter Barker and Cliff Kent had to fight off a horde of sentient clams trying to raise Cthulhu, lead by none other than . . . John Lobster. Glad I stabbed him now. Well, moreso. Its a seaside town thing.

16:00; I bet Captain Nemo never had to deal with Kraken-sized dread spawn in clam form. The French wouldn’t know an ethereal beast if it played the theme from ‘Revenge of the Overfiend’ on their insides.

17:00; Paris! Slow season, but bustling with risk! Adventurers; Paradigm, The Deadly Light Shade, Ninja Bob Roberts, the Count de Rabelais, Beaulingerie & ArtDecollatage and the Defenestration Stations.

17:15; Scientists; Maxine Min, ‘Saint Bright, Cartouché, Sir Claude Claustrophile, Paine V, Verne’s All-Seeing Being, Parvenue, Morgue Ann, the Symphony Sisters and the Oklo Effect Ska Band & Vocals.

17:30; ‘Heroes’: Joan Justine, The Beast of Our Lady, Lovechild, and Les Jeans d’Armes (Binary Janus, Stiletto Steeltoe, Corpus Crystal, The TGV, Cataflaque, The Musk of Fear) and Les Jeunes d’Armes.

17:45; ‘Villains’: The Red Lady, Psylent Film & the Monochrone, Wrothchild, Fin de Siecle, The Scarlet Pimp, Marion & Annette, the Marquis de Made, Catacomb, En Fou, and Lucien & his ten Chiens.

18:00; The police finally caught my Sick Note saviour. The details are too complex for here, but sufficed to say – if you find a Sick Note, it is a dead giveaway if your boy/girlfriend develops nymphomania.

18:10; News: “The Keisatsu-cho, apprehended ‘Sicko’ during Golden Week. Viewing cop badge numbers through a sniper-sight, ‘Sicko’ subsequently hacked the police files for their true names and faces.”

18:20; “As the quick-fire short hand of the Sick Noter rattled off coma and diahorrea for approaching police forces, specialist help was called in to backup on ground troops. Police were finally aided by …

18:30: … British transfer student Magical Grrrl, the secrecy of her identity and her ability to enliven and empower her stuffed animals with a smack of her wand being crucial to the capture of the sick fiend.”

18:40; “In the heat of the battle, Gothic Lolitamer, fellow foreign exchange student and nemesis of Magical Grrrl, appeared, seized the Sick Note and attempted to write Magical Grrrl’s secret identity inside.”

18:50; “GL was foiled at the last moment by cubbyhole-sized stuffed-cub Mental Ben, MG’s mightiest magical plushie, whose precise psychic attack and hair-pulling strategy won the day. Much rejoicing.”

19;00; Pity I won’t be able to use the Plunderwear hack to summon a Sick Note again, but I shouldn’t rely on people who hole up in clocktower with a notebook. Also, nice to see local kids make the news.

20:00; Highly tempting to inject Robespierre and Voltaire with rejuvenation juice and have them duke it out by the light of the moon. But Days of the Dead are strictly forbidden here. A lot of shallow graves.

21:00; Occurs to me that “You tried to kill me” and “I expect no rescue” may mean something other than pleas for forgiveness. Nation is immortal. I study immortality’s limits. He may want me to finish the job.

22:00; I pass the map to Jerry “The Big” Dipper, amateur astrophyscist and professionally acclaimed amourist. I ask him to specify a rough viewing point on earth from this view. When sniping, aim to please.

23:00; Whitby’s reopening shall be led by my reception of medal from Mayor Ward. Hopefully he is still in the double-foot cast and sitting on an inflatable doughnut, or he may just strangle me amid awarding.

00:00; The ‘animatronic Daftwager’ was a Tintin parade balloon. Shall never have a my body-image represented by a big blimp. But Open tells me that a part of my body that is definitely a big blimp. Oh my.

00:30; Suddenly, have better things to do than to plan Tintin theft. A better someone to do.

An-gals & De-mans

May 17, 2009

Saw Angels & Demons. Good.

Haven’t read the book and I’m not particularly compelled to do so after seeing the film. But it is an ok film.

Imagery is very powerful at every level. The Vatican, the anti-matter bomb, the branded keys. Every shot is a painting, every scene setting elements of plot & theme alight. Viewing a character referring to the Church as a Bank through the circle of MB hood ornament. Viewing a saviour character descending from the sky in a parachute under an exploding sun. Etc.

So its worth watching it for that.

The themes are handled cleverly. They ultimately present a character who sees faith as ‘a gift he has not yet been granted’, and acting on the part of innocent people intelligently. He doesn’t really run around with a gun too much and though the explanation for his non-execution is tenuous, Hanks plays a steady character.

The villain was … complete. The reasons the pseudo-villains gave was understandable for not exposing him right away. I found it wearing at times – where did the Camerlengo get the time to rig a car? Why didn’t he take the journals? As obvious a villain from the start he was, the confirmation of the not-Illuminati angle was a relief; I am sceptical, at best, of super-secret societies running the world. Overall, I find that point of view overly optimistic, and share Alan Moore’s that:

  • Yes, there is a conspiracy, in fact there are a great number of conspiracies that are all tripping each other up. And all of those conspiracies are run by paranoid fantasists and ham-fisted clowns. If you are on a list targeted by the CIA, you really have nothing to worry about. If however, you have a name similar to somebody on a list targeted by the CIA, then you are dead.
  • The main thing that I learned about conspiracy theory is that conspiracy theorists actually believe in a conspiracy because that is more comforting. The truth of the world is that it is chaotic. The truth is, that it is not the Jewish banking conspiracy or the grey aliens or the 12 foot reptiloids from another dimension that are in control. The truth is more frightening, nobody is in control. The world is rudderless.
    • “The Mindscape of Alan Moore” (2003)

The hidden path across Rome angle therefore is weighty premise. Yes, it says, we hide within plain sight – and you need an extremely complex network to work that out. So, wait, couldn’t we not articulate out entire system of communication through the public statues in the churchiest city on earth?

In essence, I often feel such scenarios are the equivalent to building a simple device, then building a wall around it, a moat of piranhas below and autonomous spinning discs of death above. And then the whole enterprise eventually becomes weighted towards the further building of the wall, the feeding of the piranha, the maintenance of the discs and nothing about the original device.

Anyway – cool historical factoids – spawns interest – probably Dan Brown tours around Rome – lots of nice Vatican screenshots. Good for Tom Hanks, good for Ewan McGregor. Interesting, but still fictional.

Prefer to read the Illuminatus Trilogy – it would cover the details of Da Vinci Code & Angels + Demons in ten pages. Then contradict it ten pages later.

Daftwager Twitter: Day 10

May 17, 2009

Day 10;

01:00; My dear hells, the difference ten days makes.Why yes, I’m gloating after nine in the evening. Why yes, I saved a town full of people today.Why yes, those are both once-offs, I assure you.

07:00; Residing in ‘La Pantalon Rouge’ is little different on the Continent than it is on the Isle; many of the girls are multilingual, and they are all at least bilingual. Being bi is a requirement here, I hear.

08:00; I breakfast as the greatest gentlemen in Christendom and as the rich Japanese do – surrounded by ancient and expensive Western art. The loo in the Lourve alone is a watercloset worthy of Waterloo.

09:00; Landing an airship in the Louvre is an international crime. Landing a windmill bordello adjacent to the Louvre, crushing that crime of a pyramid, is to win France’s Man of the Year. Gold medal landing.

10:00; Stole some old bones that poked out from under the plexiglass pyramid. Wonder who I could summon with these? Later, French midgets arrived and asked me to follow the Yellow Sick Toad.

11:00; Despite his yellow-jaundiced appearance, its origin in his occassional alcoholic indulgence, and the fact that he is a frog, Yellow Sick Toad does seem like a mean nickname for Nicolas Sarkozy.

11:30; Apparently Yellow Sick Toad is his popular nickname of unpopularity. Sarkozy himself likes to think they call him the Wonderful Lizard. Like Clemenceau was ‘The Tiger’. Because he was Grrreat.

12:00; Oooh, a parade at noon Mr. President? Defeating the socialist candidate, getting tough on pirates, old Sarko and I could get on like a house on fire – flames, screams, anarchic death . . .

13:00; An animatronic giant with my visage shall march down the Champs Élysées, laser beams in the eyes and missiles in the fingers, voice of Depardieu booming my victory. Or at least thats what he says.

14:00; My fellow Whitby folk have docked in Le Harve, with nothing to declare but their hatred of the French. What matter if the bricks and mortar are underwater? We saved that which is most important –

14:30; – the 20 people who held 90% of the town’s economic capital, and the 13,595 now-homeless minimum wage labour paid to drain every last puddle, resurrect every last pedestal. On the slave-cheap.

15:00; I’m afraid the town flood was ultimately necessary to drive away the military. They would have killed the zombies, us, and our own personal undead ancestors. They never liked Day of the Dead. Boo.

16:00; Yes, Ireland would have been closer to Whitby than Paris. So? Tartarus is closer to Hades than the Elysian Fields. The land of potato homunculi (the leprechaun) and medicinal methanol is not for me.

17:00; Yes, I am comparing Paris to heaven. The food, the books, the art, the architecture, the history, the burnt effigies of Dan Brown. I mean, it is still insuperably, insufferably full of French people but still…

18:00; They never turned up Nation’s boat in the wake of the other ships, Navy or Whitby alike. Well, of course he is dead. That I’m sure of. It is just that Nation lacks the good grace for ‘death’ to stop him.

18:30; I’m not worried. Villainy never sleeps, Heroism is ever vigilant. However my war-crime committing, whole town-saving flitting, self gets by with an easy eight hours of sleep a night. I’m just a bad man.

19:00; In fact, perhaps a celebratory tipple is in order . . .

20:00; Wine! Gin! Petrol! Drinking the midgets under the table was hard, then I realised they were French kids. Wine adds 10 years. In sleep they resemble angels. I buy a glass of ice and steal their kidneys.

21:00; Back home by nine. This would be nebbish of me, if my roaming home was not a drink-filled bordello filled with fillies and fellows. Thankfully, I can sleep through noonday cannon. And often did so.

22:00; Told the French troops their money was no good here. Not because they are admirable paragons of the international art of war and the trying profession of peace, but because all they had was euros.

22:30; Set up a bureau de change, with specific intent to short change. Every little hurts. Hey, if the girls have bear having notes pressed into their bare g-strings, they might as well bear friendly familiar faces.

23:00; Open led me to bed. I told her I had not drank enough to be drunk yet. She said yes, the point of an early bed is so that I could keep my point well into the morning. She knows what she wants. Yay!

00:00; . . . is that a feather . . .

01:00; . . . is that a whole chicken . . .

02:00; . . . is that a Whitby Pterodactyl skeleton . . .

03:00; Yes I’m gloating before nine in the morning again. From now on I’m of the opinion I’ll try everything twice, to make sure I got it right the first time. Early to bed, early to rise again, and again, and again.

03;30; Bang goes my eight hours. Bang indeed.


Animal Men

May 9, 2009

A story I forgot to relate last week on the subject of Wolverine;

Apparently Frank Miller did a trend-setting run on the Wolverine comic, in which the following scene occurred – Wolverine chases a deer through the woods in a series of panels. Finally, he catches up to it, touches it on the neck – just to prove he could do it – then let it go. This was repeated by later writers a few times, until at one point an artist called Sam Keith had to draw it. And he did. And Wolverine was naked in every panel. Not tasteful-wild-gothic naked, but rather a full-frontal-explicit naked.

When he sent it in, the editors didn’t have time to get it redrawn, so they had to get in everyone there to start drawing flowers, bushes and trees with low hanging bows in every scene to cover up Wolverine’s junk.
When he was asked about this later, Keith commented that the script he was sent never said Wolverine was dressed.


Anyway, if you thought you had it hard with tasteful-Jackman escaping from the Weapon X facility, just pity the editors who had to airbrush Wolverine privates.

Other Sam Keith stories include:
When asked by a writer of a comic Keith was drawing was there anything he always wanted to draw, Keith replied “I always wanted to draw a fish with wooden teeth.”

Sam Keith had to send in a cover art piece and it was down to the wire on the time. Then the package arrived and the editors tore it open with joy – to find it empty. As one editor is calling Keith frantically, the other looks at the box, holds it up to the light, gets an exacto knife, cuts open the box along the seams, and finds the cover art drawn on the cardboard box inside. It had to dyed to be fit to print.
When the other editor got Keith on the line, Keith replied ”that he had run out of paper and didn’t want to bother anybody”.

Animal Man, Volume 1:

Very good. Very, very good. As always, when the main character is well explained & well preserved, I go for the issues about someone who dies at the end, such as When We Were All Animals, Coyote Gospel, The Death of The Red Mask and Birds of Prey. I really liked those ones – Morrison is a very powerful writer and creates figures comic and tragic. Buddy is becoming interesting in and of himself, and the apparently disparate mystery threads are unique, patient and wait like hungry crocodiles.

As previous posts have mentioned, my animal rearing is pretty much built in. As such, its interesting to see the theme of animal right carried over beyond one episode, and even then lumped in with the environment. Particularly given the impact thinking on this had on Morrisson’s own life, I have to at least respect, sometimes admire this treatment, and feel it a lot less prolesthising than I assumed it would be.

I await further development with interest.