Archive for July, 2008

In May I blogged about the passing of our beloved Guinea Pig Pablo. Both my partner Priscilla and I were devastated by Pablo’s passing and we have really just only started to get over his death. Unfortunately we are both upset again after watching tonight’s edition of Today Tonight. We chose Pets at Peace to cremate Pablo as they seem to be very understanding of our situation and very caring. The website said that Pets At Peace was started after the owner lost a pet and was horrified that his best friend was cremated together with other pets. He started Pets At Peace so people could be sure that when the ashes of their pet returned home they could be sure that it was actually their pets ashes.

Unfortunately the Melbourne franchise of Pets At Peace that we used, has been caught dumping pets bodies in the bush rather than actually cremating them. The said that this was an isolated incident that occurred when their car was involved in an accident, but their is evidence according to Today Tonight that it has happened at least one more time. This is devastating news and now we can’t help but think that Pablo was dumped rather than cremated as we wished and paid for. (If he was not cremated, then what did we actually pay for?!) I am really angry about all of this and Priscilla is extremely upset. I’m not sure what my next move should be, but I should do something!

The worst thing is that Priscilla asked them several times that he would be cremated and not just thrown out. They reassured her that they would not do something as unethical as that.

I have previously written about Force Entertainment’s Three Stooges DVD box set releases, and gave them pretty good reviews. Even though they are not restored versions like the box sets released in the US by Sony, they still look pretty good and there are no great issues. Unfortunately I cannot say the same thing for Force Entertainment’s Laurel & Hardy Volume 1 DVD set.

This set is unwatchable for the reason that the soundtrack is out of sync with the picture. This means that there are times when the actors mouths are moving but no sound coming out, or alternatively there will be sound but the actors mouths are not moving. I have so far tried to watch nine of the shorts films contained on the DVDs, and seven of those have issues with the soundtrack. This is just unacceptable. I know that these films are quite old, yet that is no excuse for this. It is really sloppy and shows no quality control whatsoever. It’s as if someone blindy put the films onto the disc without any care for how the end product would come out. You’d think that a company like Force Entertainment would be worried about damaging their reputation by releasing something as shoddy as this. I have emailed them, detailing the problems that I have with their disc set. I asked them if they are aware of the problem and if they have rectified it. I also asked if there was anyway that they could replace the crappy set that I have with one that they have rectified all the soundtrack problems. In the US if a company releases a DVD with just a slight problem the companies will happily replace the discs, so I don’t see why Force Entertainment won’t do the same. It’s the only decent thing to do.
There are twelve short films on four discs. As I said earlier, I have tried to watch nine of the films so far, and seven of these have had soundtracks that are not synced with the picture properly. The twelve shorts for those who are interested are:

Disc 1

  • Below Zero (1930) – This is one of the films which syncs properly.
  • Our Wife (1931)
  • Unaccustomed As We Are (1929)

Disc 2

  • Brats (1930)
  • Busy Bodies (1933)
  • The Midnight Patrol (1933)

Disc 3

  • County Hospital (1932)
  • Them Thar Hills (1934) – One of the absolute classic shorts that is unwatchable thanks to the poor syncing of the soundtrack here.
  • Tit For Tat (1935) – Another classic and thankfully this does not have any problems with the soundtrack.

Disc 4

(Please note, I have not watched any of disc 4 yet. I became too disillusioned after all the issues that I had to go through on the first three discs!)

  • Any Old Port (1932)
  • Berth Marks (1929)
  • Come Clean (1931)

I cannot recommend this at all. Hopefully Force Entertainment (now called Beyond Entertainment) will retify the problem and replace the poor quality discs that I have purchased. Unfortunately for us who live in Australia this is the only release of Laurel and Hardy that is available. In the UK there is a ripper 21 disc box set available featuring restored versions of nearly all the Laurel and Hardy classic short and feature films. (The set also features colourised vesrions of the films, but the less said about them the better!) The set costs £149.98 which is extremely expensive, but you can get the individual discs quite cheaply. (£6.97)

Back in February I posted a comic story that showed how Bob Kane ‘created’ Batman. My contention was that this story from the 1940s was reprinted in a 2006 trade paper back, even though it is common knowledge that Bill Finger helped Kane create Batman but Kane took all the credit. Well it seems that Bill Finger did a lot more than anyone (Certainly Kane) ever credited him with. Dial B For Blog, Robbie Reed’s excellent site, shares with us the many the ways that Finger, as well as other comics artists, contributed to the creation of Batman. (Click here for part 1, part 2, part3.) Here Bob Kane lays to rest exactly who created Batman (or does he?).

There is also a super thread running at The Comics Journal on Kane specifically dedicated to the ways he took credit for what others had done.

There’s some interesting quotes from that thread from a couple of comics veterans that I would like to share to show just what a nice guy Kane was.

Rick Veitch

“In 1979, Steve Bissette and I got hooked up with Bob (Kane) about a possible project he had in the works to do a NASCAR promotional comic. We met him in the lobby of his Manhattan high rise. As he shook our hands he said “I’ve just come from the doctor. I’ve got a sore on my penis!”

He took us up to his apartment which was decorated all in red; the walls, furniture, rugs, everything bright red. There were dozens of crude paintings of “Biff!”, “Pow!” and other comic book sound effects. He said they were by him but they looked like grade school level of art.

He showed us some Batman originals by Neal Adams and claimed they were by him.”

Mark Evanier

“Ashley Holt wrote:
Mark, you’ve told this story before, saying that Kane claimed the art in that Novick comic was his. Was that the case?

ME: Sort of. Kane was telling us (my friends and me) that he still drew the Batman comics. One of my friends took the latest issue, which I’d brought along, and held it up and said, “Did you draw this one?” Kane said yes. I said, “But that’s Irv Novick’s art. Irv Novick drew that.”

Kane realized we knew more about comics than he thought so he changed his rhetoric a bit. He started explaining to us about ghosts…how all the great cartoonists had assistants and ghost artists and inkers and helpers. He said (approximately), “I didn’t mean I drew every line in the comic. Al Capp draws Li’l Abner but he doesn’t draw every line of Li’l Abner. He has a staff.” I don’t recall if he said Novick was a ghost or an assistant but that was the essence of his explanation. Then I showed him that Novick had a credit inside as artist…

A little later, he flipped through an old comic that one of us had brought and identified one story as being by Dick Sprang, and he said, “He’s the best ghost I ever had.” I remember that specifically because Sprang’s was a name I had never heard before.”

I just wished that now that Kane has passed away and cannot enforce DC to recognise him as the sole creator of Batman anymore, that they would at least start to put Finger’s name on the credits. It is good now that when old stories are published DC do credit the art to the actual artists who drew the stories, such as Sheldon Moldoff, Jerry Robinson and Dick Sprang. I just would like to see them say “Batman – created by Bob Kane & Bill Finger”.

To show just how classy Bob was, here is his tombstone, where he gives God credit for co-creating Batman, but not poor Bill Finger.

3AW Breakfast Show

Posted: July 27, 2008 in Media Watch
Tags: , ,

Ross Stevenson and John Burns have been entertaining Melbournians for many years, but I am beginning to wonder if they will maintain their ratings dominance that they have held for so long. Whilst they are undoubtedly much better to listen to than the boring ABC or the craptacular FM radio jocks, I find that many of the elements that have made the 3AW football telecast unlistenable have slowly crept in to the show. One thing that I find very annoying is the amount of sound bites and clips that constantly are played and interrupt the banter between Ross and John. This sort of thing seems to be just to keep Ross amused but it really does make listening quite frustrating.

Another thing that I find annoying is Ross’ ‘China Fact’. While I can understand Ross wanting to capitalise on the Olympics being in Beijing and trying to inform and entertain listeners with useless trivia about China, but why does he have to have Kuy Sakamoto’s ‘Sukiyaki’ playing in the background? This song is JAPANESE, not CHINESE. Believe it or not, Japan and China are not the same country, and even though they look the same, Japanese and Chinese people are very different to each other. Surely Ross could have gotten some generic Chinese sounding music rather than a well known Japanese pop song?! At least Ross no longer does his faux ‘Oriental’ voice whilst doing this segment.

While the 3AW Breakfast show still retains their popular ‘Rumour File’ segment, and regular guests such as Sly of the Underworld, they will remain the most listened to radio program in Melbourne.

The Dark Knight – Movie Review

Yesterday I saw the latest Batman film “The Dark Knight”. Well it was cheap Tuesday, I am a huge Batman fan and it’s been forever since I have been to the movies. The movie was great, certainly the best Batman film ever made (better even than “Batman and Robin”!). Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker is amazing. He seems to have really made the right balance between being menacing and funny (in a macabre way) and is surely deserving of an Oscar nomination. I also liked how Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine all had larger parts in this movie. Overall I thought the movie was a great rollercoaster ride that I loved every minute of. However, as a Batman fan boy there were a couple of things I thought could have been improved.


I was really quite annoyed that Harvey Dent/Two Face died at the end of the film. Why does the villain have to die at the end of the movie? Harvey is one of Batman’s top 5 rogues (with Joker, Catwoman, Penguin and Ras Al Ghul) so why kill him off? Why didn’t they use Harvey to his full potential? Tim Burton started this trend of the villain dying at the end back with the original Batman film in 1989. I thought it was a stupid thing to do then and it’s just as stupid to do now!!!

Also, was the Joker meant to be a real clown? It seems that he was meant to be wearing clown make up, as there was one scene where it was running and another where part of it came off. The comic book Joker doesn’t wear make up! His skin was bleached white and his hair turned green after he dived into a vat of chemicals trying to escape Batman. (See the Red Hood) This is an important part of the Joker’s character as it partly explains why he went insane (see The Killing Joke).

Finally, there could have been a bigger part for Cilian Murphy’s Scarecrow. Scarecrow is my favourite rogue so I was disappointed that he only appeared for less than five minutes in the film.


Notwithstanding the few problems I had with the film I still though that it was entertaining. It certainly is the best hero movie ever made, I just wonder which villains they will use in the next movie. I suppose that they will have to use the Penguin (hopefully they wont do what Tim Burton did and make him a human/penguin hybrid), Catwoman and Poison Ivy again. I want to see a movie featuring Deadshot or Mr Zsasz or even Firefly. Let’s just hope that they haven’t lined up Killer Moth to be the next rogue. Don’t get me wrong, as I love Killer Moth, it’s just that he doesn’t fulfil the grim and gritty trend of Batman Begins and Dark Knight. Perhaps Killer Moth will have his day if Joel Schumacher is ever allowed to make another Batman film (Oh God, please don’t ever allow that to happen again!!!).

The Three Stooges Collectors Edition is a relatively new box set DVDs containing Three Stooges shorts and feature film that has been released by Force Entertainment here in Australia. It is not to be confused with the official Sony release that has the Stooges shorts listed chronologically that is now available in the USA.

The first of 4 (so far) box sets that Force has released, this set focusses mainly on Curly’s shorts, with a few of the Shemp shorts also featuring on the set. The DVDs have all the typical Stooge slapstick comedy that they were renowned for, but one short on the set, “You Natzty Spy!” which is more a brilliant satire on the situation in Nazy Germany in the early 1940s. In fact, the Stooges were the first comedy team to satirize Hitler and the Nazis, with this film coming a little before Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator”. “You Nazty Spy!” is probably the best Stooges film ever made, and proves that they didn’t necessarily have to beat each other up to make people laugh. This film alone is reason enough to recommend this set to classic comedy lovers, especially since it is priced at just $13 at Target, even though there are no extras to speak of. The transfer quality to DVD is OK, but a couple of the films do have slight imperfections with the prints that don’t really interfere with the enjoyment of the films. Still 6 disc featuring 9 hours of Stooges material is perfect for any fans of Larry, Curly, Moe and Shemp.

The Full List Of Contents:

Disc 1

  • Back To The Woods (1937)
  • Half-Wits Holiday (1947)
  • Matri-Phony (1942)
  • Restless Knights (1935)
  • Violent Is The Word For Curly (1938)
  • An Ache In Every Stake (1941)

Disc 2

  • Gents Without Cents (1944)
  • Healthy, Wealthy And Dumb (1938)
  • If A Body Meets A Body (1945)
  • Phony Express (1943)
  • Rockin’ Thru The Rockies (1939)
  • No Census No Feeling (1940)

Disc 3

  • Idiots Deluxe (1945)
  • In The Sweet Pie And Pie (1941)
  • Pop Goes The Easel (1935)
  • The Three Troubledoers (1946)
  • Yes, We Have No Bonanza (1939)
  • Three Little Pirates (1946)

Disc 4

  • Booby Dupes (1945)
  • Crash Goes The Hash (1944)
  • Dutiful But Dumb (1941)
  • How High Is Up? (1940)
  • Three Missing Links (1938)
  • You Nazty Spy! (1940)

Disc 5

  • 3 Dumb Clucks (1937)
  • All The World’s A Stooge (1941)
  • Grips Grunts And Groans (1937)
  • Uncivil War Brides (1946)
  • Whoops I’m An Indian (1936)

Disc 6

  • Swing Parade (1946)

Pay Pain!!!

Posted: July 16, 2008 in Pay Office Blues

One of the benefits of working is that at the end of the fortnight you get paid for all of the hard work that you do. One of the annoying things with the company that I work for is that very often my pay that I receive is incorrect, which means that I have to waste my time ringing up the pay office to get them to fix things up. This week I was not only underpaid by $130, but I did not have anything paid into my superannuation fund, or get the expected 4% pay rise that we were supposed to receive now that the new financial year has started. This is just so frustrating!!!

I acknowledge that the people in the pay office do have a difficult job in coordinating the pay of over 100 employees, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that at least once a month I am underpaid and that I have to get them to fix things up. I should not have to closely examine my payslip every fortnight with a magnifying glass to make sure that everything is correct. It should automatically be correct every time that I am paid. Just imagine what would happen if I did not check my payslip closely every two weeks. Also, I am not the only person whose pay is being messed up every fortnight. Other people have to go through the same ritual as I do so that their pay is fixed as well. This means that there must be something fundamentally wrong either with the people who work in the pay office, or the system that they are using to work out the pays. There should not be so many errors occurring so often. I have heard that they will soon be employing a new system to work out the fortnightly pays. This cannot come too soon.