Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Superheroes That Never Took Off

When I got home from Biba Academy the other day, I realised my hairdresser had seemingly been influenced by Rogue from X-Men when she decided on how to colour my hair. (On a related note, remind me never to let a hairdressing student have free reign over my 'do again.) That got me thinking about superheroes, and I decided to come up with some of my own invention that were so incredibly lame that they never would've made it in the cut-throat, super competitive world of fighting-crime-whilst-looking-cool (which apparently is not incompatible with wearing your underwear on the outside). Anyway, the first one that came to mind was...

The Victorian Lady! Straight outta the 19th century to give modern bad guys a good old-fashioned thumping!
Special Skills...
*Can crochet help notes in record time, so she can be quickly rescued after the baddies have captured her!
*Can hypnotise people with her cameo necklace!
*Wields a croquet mallet like nobody's business, both on and off the green!
*Riding boots for kicking!
*An umbrella for poking!
*A Dorothy bag full of rocks!
OUCH! PHOOEY! EEP!Weaknesses...
*Her high collar really chafes the neck!
*She occasionally suffers from bouts of hysteria!
*She's highly likely to become stricken with consumption!
"I say, you little sod, put down your snuff box and put up your dukes, post-haste!"

Other superheroes too lame to make it past the drawing board...
*Mr Sniffles!
*Unpleasant Girl!
*The Rambler!
*P.C. Person!
*Mouth Breather!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Paint a Vulgar Picture? It’s as simple as ABC

I seem to have been hanging around bargain bins a lot, lately. Some may say this is behaviour typical of many respects of my life but whatever.

In the course of these bargain bin explorations, I have discovered a series of CDs that, for the most part, seem to be a cynical attempt of big biz music to scrape up and lob out the shit in their back catalogue that isn’t shifting enough product. I can’t say that I have come to expect much more from Universal. However, they have taken this approach to sleazy new lows with the so-called ‘Masters Collection.’ The name suggests that the artists represented in the collection will be those who have given us the most finely crafted popular music of the last century. Sure, John Lee Hooker, Louis Armstrong, and James Brown turn up, but after those namechecks, the unsuspecting public has a lot of old tosh thrown at it. Here, naturally enough, is where I come in. I fuckin’ love tosh. I’m an unashamed connoisseur of the tacky, the cheesy, the synthy. But I as enthusiastic as I can get about the stuff, I would never claim that Robert Palmer was a "Master", nor would I claim that Style Council were "Masters". Universal do and have (and you can find both those compilations in the bargain bin at J.B. HiFi).

However, it gets much more oxymoronic than that (with emphasis on moronic). Not only are Robert Palmer and Style Council Masters, their compilations are said to be “Classic”. Before I go on, here are the OED definitions of Master and Classic:

Master An artist of distinguished skill, one of those who are regarded as models of excellence in their art.

Classic Of the first class, of the highest rank or importance; approved as a model; standard, leading.

Now, riddle me this; would you consider that Bruce Willis or ABC fall into either of these categories? Well, in Universal's alternate universe they do. Careful reading of the liner notes of both compilations see the authors wavering between thinly disguised apathy and straw-clutching justifications of the artists' inclusion in the series. Consider the lines in the Willis booklet where his harmonica playing skills are described as “arguably impressive” and his records are cited as proof that he “refuses to take himself too seriously.” Ouch! The writer of this none-too-flattering patter doesn’t even sign off with their name, instead choosing the anonymity of initials. I’m guessing the author didn’t want to be associated with Brucey's music, an “homage to the music Willis loved, old soul and R&B.” (Basically, Willis’ two album career consisted of well-meaning but misguided and ultimately embarrassing cover versions of songs that were waaaaay beyond his capabilities and a couple of cheesy originals featuring his “arguably impressive” harmonica. Would you want to hear Willis clumsily plod through ‘Under The Boardwalk’ or ‘Save The Last Dance For Me’? Didn’t think so.)

ABC’s inclusion in the series is only slightly more justified. Most people I try to discuss them with don’t know which band I’m talking about until I break into the chorus of ‘Poison Arrow.’ The guy at J.B. didn’t, but I could tell he was overwhelmed by my vocal abilities, which are no less than arguably impressive. The liner notes for this disc stretch in a most unconvincing manner to give ABC some cred. Consider the opening line, “Fronted by an English Literature graduate, ABC were always going to be a different proposition in the world of pop.” Well, I hate to nay-say but I’m willing to bet that most bands have at least one member who is a former Arts student who realised their degree wasn’t going to lead them to anything but a lifetime of waiting tables. Indeed, sometimes English Literature graduates end up as the writers of liner notes, as is suggested by the author’s description of one of ABC’s incarnations as “big beats, coupled with a post-Archies’ cartoon image.” Right-o, then.

Certainly, ABC might be masters of the K-Tel compilation and Brucey might be a master of “arguably impressive” harmonica playing, but I for the life of my couldn’t find either of these in the extensive definitions provided by the good people at Oxford.

At the record company meeting/On their hands - a dead star...

You could have walked away/...Couldn't you?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Bring back the Mysterious Boy!

The British ruling elite have a lot to answer for with regard to their long history of ransacking and pillaging important archaeological and anthropological treasures from other countries. Countless important artefacts, of both cultural and artistic significance, have been plundered, generally from regions poorer than Britain. The word elginism was derived from Lord Elgin and his theft of the Parthenon Marbles. Rightfully, there are often impassioned campaigns to have these pieces, like the Marbles or the Rosetta stone, returned to their country of origin.

In Australia I believe that we are sorely remiss in our neglect of one such cause. There is a national treasure that has been looted from our shores, and I, for one, believe that it is high time we began to pressure the British government to bring it back to us. Certainly, it has become extremely decrepit and possesses shaky cultural value in our modern times but it has a definite historical weight. An earlier, more primitive people held this object up as an idol! How long will we allow it to be kept from us? It belongs in Australia, in not only its true spatial context, but also its true cultural context.

Peter Andre. It's time he was returned home.

Sure, he's a greasy spiv, but he's our greasy spiv.

In England, the man is reduced to second base with a badly tanned, hairless, oversized Barbie doll. In Australia, he would have his pick of real, flesh and blood women. Bring him home!