Sunday, March 25, 2007

Indulging my passion for 'outsider art' is proving more and more difficult.

I'm often told by the common herd - those putterers and cultural agnostics who come to my place of business to simper and snivel over their intensely ordinary lives - that my taste in art is jejune at best and moronic at worst. I have a few pieces of fine art on my walls, pieces that would to the uninitiated fall into the handy mental waste-basket labelled 'modern' - although I consider such a mundane term cannot capture the glory of, say, Klesowsky's Five Litres Of My Own Spunk In A Tin Bucket, which I leave open by my desk on top of a small plinth as the artist intended.

(My one concession to the almost pathetically gauche sentiments of those mendicants who call themselves my patients is the occasional spritz of Forest Glade, to somewhat mollify the fascinating olfactory landscape that wafts upwards from the bucket, the repellent nature of the odour after three years on display making it only more provocative a piece of art in my eyes. But I digress.)

Mr Dibny himself often criticised my taste in art. He constantly repeated Edith Wharton's famous criticism of the modernists and post-modernists, that they showed an unhealthy dread of... no, no, I'm misremembering. What did he say? Ah yes - he constantly told me that I could suck it. Also, Klesowsky could suck it, Damien Hearst already did suck it and anyone else I thought was in any way good at art was a useless, talentless asshole who could suck it dry. In hell.

Ralph had a habit of cutting to the heart of such matters that lesser critics would do well to imitate.

'Outsider art' like Klesowsky's being my particular passion, I decided to alleviate my guilt at the shocking way I treated the late Mr Hrudnyev - little knowing at the time that his corpse was at that moment cooling in two separate freezer units - by doing a little shopping on eBay last Monday. Little was I to know that the most sublime item I had ever chanced across was even then going under the virtual hammer!

Tornado Man Dreaming! Even the name, with it's kitsch-hip faux-aboriginal stylings, sent a shiver down my spine. I had to know more! Unfortunately some sort of virus was attacking eBay's main server, with the result that the bulk of the text was gibberish - 'FDKJL SADFASL DFKSJ' and so on and so forth, almost as though the auctioneers had succumbed to a terrible attack of ennui and simply typed a vast mess of gobbledegook to fill up the space of the page. So all I had was the name of the piece and a picture - but what a picture!

The emotionless red head, standing atop a podium of bizarre mechanical parts! It seemed thrown together, almost a parody of what the artist thought a terrible modernist sculpture ought to look like, but it clutched at my heart all the same. I had to possess it! The bidding was lollygagging somewhat, at the miserable sum of twenty dollars and seven cents, but I quickly showed the culturally moribund fools at eBay what was what with a sterling contribution of $500.

I expected the opposition to quail before my superior buying power, but evidently there was one among them - going by the somewhat unprepossessing nom de guerre of yumyumlovelycocktails402 - who recognised what a find was nearly in his grasp. He pushed the bidding up to $1000 and the combat began in earnest.

I was evidently dealing with a connoiseur. Every bid I placed, he doubled, quickly rushing the price to a full six thousand within the space of a few moments. Yumyumlovelycocktails402 was playing with me as the cat plays with the mouse, and I was already at the limit of my resources - unless... dared I think it? Dear Uncle Terry - so old and infirm! I know for a fact that his heart cannot stand much, and he had seven and a half 'grand', as the unwashed say, awaiting me in his will. The stairs at his home are badly in need of repair. It would be a shame if he were to... fall. Yes, a terrible shame. But then - the art would be mine!

Like Faust, I shook the hand of Mephistopheles, and immediately signed Uncle Terry's death warrant by raising the bid to a towering $13,000! More than double the bid as it stood. Uncle Terry would understand - I'd explain it to him in depth before my greater strength hurled him bodily down the spiral staircase, snapping his fragile limbs like matchwood! He would thank me as he tumbled like a rag doll, for giving him the opportunity to perish in the name of art!

At that moment I felt like unto a God - but pride goeth before a fall, and my nemesis yumyumlovelycocktails402 trumped me with a single thousand! My will broke! I was left in the foetal position on the persian rug, sobbing like a child! All my hopes were dashed, broken like so many of Uncle Terry's easily-crushed bones, but eBay offered no words of comfort unless FDJKL SDAFJK translates into 'weep not for the end of your hopeless dream' in some ancient scripture.

Thus, Tornado Man Dreaming left my life, never to return. Perhaps one day I will chance to see it in some private collection and muse wistfully on what might have been. And perhaps one day I will have my revenge on you, yumyumlovelycocktails402. If my time as therapist to the World's Finest Superhero has taught me anything, it is that revenge is delicious and best served cold, like a gazpacho. I will be signalling the waiter of vengeance soon and ordering my starter, yumyumlovelycocktails402. Beware.

And as for you, Uncle Terry, please don't read this journal entry, or if you do, think how much trouble it will be for you to change your will at this late stage.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

This is the final indignity, Mr Hrudnyev.

I don't visit the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet often, and I certainly don't expect much from it - a brief slaking of the pangs of hunger on days too filled with activity to consider a luncheon. But I expect simple courtesy at the very least. Closing your restaurant for four days in a row, without any warning, is not a sign of simple courtesy - it's a sign that I should take my business elsewhere.

Unfortunately, when I have a yearning for Bialyan cuisine, Hrudnyev's is the only game in town. So, day after day I have deposited myself outside the door, hoping against hope that the usually-competent Mr Hrudnyev will get over whatever chronic lazyness is motivating him to stay closed and serve me the fresh salt-buttered jerky with a side order of spiced nmpetva that my tastebuds clamour for. Yesterday I turned up more through bloody-mindedness than anything else, and today I was motivated by nothing more than sheer unmitigated anger, wanting to give that wretch Hrudnyev a personal piece of my mind before I turned and left his establishment forever. I've already decided that I'll be mail-ordering my saffron-coated baked sprouts in their mild hgnitivolek sauce from Bialyafoods.bya from now on, although I can't get their website to load for some reason.

Oddly, I've noticed that the delicatessen has raised the price of Bialyan srntyal by several hundred per cent over the last couple of days, and despite this outrageous price hike, their entire stock quickly sold out and no fresh supplies have arrived to replace it. It seems the forces of the world are conspiring to prevent me from satisfying my cravings.

The worst part is that I know for a fact Hrudnyev is in the building - I've heard various noises from within during my impotent vigils outside, ranging from some sort of mewling yelp, like a strangled sob, to long stretches of weeping, to a loud crash and the sound of a man bellowing "Did you think you could hide from me here, Bialyan scum?" in a vaguely Egyptian accent, but deep and resonant as though used to working the stage at Las Vegas resorts. This was followed by a loud crack, like the snapping of a heavy branch, and a sort of wet tearing sound.

All I can say is that if Hrudnyev has time to listen to loud television dramas, he has time to cook me some food.

I've been so enraged by all of this dilly-dallying on the part of my once-favourite buffet restauranteur that I haven't even looked at the news, national or international, for almost an entire week. I'll look forward to sitting down with the Sunday papers the very second I've finished updating this journal.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I'm finding Black Adam's new musical direction difficult to support.

Those of you with long memories may remember that during my time as the late Mr Dibny's psychiatrist, I developed a fondness for Steve Lombard, who bounced back from that regrettable incident at the New Year to host Lombard's Late Late Lunch Hour, the conceit being that Mr Lombard is so utterly 'wicked chill', in the parlance of the times, that he takes his luncheon at ten o'clock in the evening as preparation for spending the small hours locked in the arms of inebriation and presumably his latest sexual conquest. Thus Lombard is seated at table by a character in chef whites called Alain Kickasse, and proceeds to tear his way through a twenty-ounce steak, served with pommes frites and some of the most unhealthy-looking onion rings I have ever seen, all to the accompaniment of dancing girls, an array of sports bloopers and live music from ZZ Top.

Needless to say, I find it completely fascinating as a snapshot of our current cultural milieu.

During the course of this titanic meal, Lombard presents his view of the current political regime and its opponents using his Freedometer - a sort of sliding scale with a drawing of a capitulating primate at one end and a photo of John Wayne at the other - gives a short precis of the current developments in the sporting arts and provides the viewer with his current pick for 'Ho Of The Show' (this week: Jane Austen). Finally, he invites a guest to his table to share post-prandial cigars. I was expecting perhaps an appearance from Elliott Sadler, who reminds me of Baudrillard as a young man, but the eventual appearance of Black Adam - dressed in a tuxedo as well as his trademark cape - shocked me to the core, considering recent events. It was only last month that Lombard accused Adam in print of being little more than an Egyptian Robbie Williams! I'd have thought that particular hatchet to be uninterrable.

Oh, and also I understand Black Adam's family was murdered by some sort of talking crocodile.

Well, I recorded the show for posterity, as I have long been an afficionado of swing music and all those who turn their hand to it, and I've long been impressed with Black Adam's work in the field. I took the liberty of making a transcript for those reading Ralph's journal - while I know he despised swing and its proponents, he did know both Lombard and Adam, and thus I'm sure he'd have chosen to use the space in this way rather than in yet another rant about the vast sums of money he was owed.



LOMBARD: Compliments to the chef! My left arm is still tingling. Ha ha ha! Ow. Okay, after a meal, what's better than a good cigar? And what's better with a cigar than a little sweet music? Ladies and Gentlemen, it's an honour to welcome onto the show the ruler of Kahndaq, whose fifth album, 'Sphinx Of Swing', comes out two weeks today... Black Adam!

ADAM: Thank you. Thank you very much.

LOMBARD: How do you spell that? Kahndaq? It's two Ks, right?

ADAM: Oh, I can't - can you believe this guy? It's a K and a Q. Hey, say that Robbie Williams thing. Say it to my face, I dare you.

LOMBARD: Can you believe - hey, can you believe this guy? You ain't a Robbie Williams fan?

ADAM: The man is an insult to swing. He's an insult to swing music. I mean, about the time he was making that album, I was punching the Justice Society, and the Flash said to me later he thought I was the better musician. I'd just punched the guy in the face!

LOMBARD: That was after your first album?

ADAM: Yeah, 'The Swing Of Eternity'. I'm kind of embarrassed by that now... I mean, there's so much more I could have done. At the time I was kind of hampered by the whole supervillain thing, I mean, on the one hand, all that time trying to conquer the world, it's time you're not in the studio. Also, people see you hanging out with supervillains, being a supervillain - it hurts sales. I think that's why the fourth album -

LOMBARD: 'Zehuti Frutti'.

ADAM: Yeah. That's why it flopped, because I was with the Society a lot, and the papers were all 'oh, he's a supervillain'...

LOMBARD: Well, it worked for Sinatra.

ADAM: It's a different time now. People don't like it.

LOMBARD: Okay, I'm gonna change the subject a little now... you've had some personal tragedy recently.

ADAM: Yeah. Yeah, this week in fact. Um... I don't know if this got on the news here, but my wife, Queen Isis, and my nephew were, uh... well, they were killed. And in my nephew's case, eaten. By some mad scientist death machines.

LOMBARD: Wow.

ADAM: Yeah.

LOMBARD: How's this affecting the album?

ADAM: Oh, massive changes. Top to bottom. It's going to be delayed. I mean, I've already pretty much gutted the opening track -

LOMBARD: 'You Tear Me Apart'?

ADAM: Yeah, now it's 'I Tear You Apart'. In fact, the whole album, it's not going to be called 'Sphinx Of Swing' anymore. Right now the working title is 'Swinging The Sword Of Horrific Venegeance'. I'm thinking May, June release.

LOMBARD: I know last week, on the phone, you were saying the album was on the theme of hope, kind of about your hopes for a unified world - I guess it's more about horrific vengeance now? Is that specific horrific vengeance, or horrific vengeance against humanity in general?

ADAM: Yeah, it's about total war on humanity now. In fact, I'm kind of declaring pretty much total war on humanity, here, now.

LOMBARD: Wow, on my show?

ADAM: Yeah, yeah, you heard it here first. On Lombard's Late Late Lunchtime. I'm declaring war.

LOMBARD: How about that, folks? Wow, total war. Look, this is going to sound kind of crass, and, y'know, feel free to tear my head off -

ADAM: Go ahead, go ahead. I'm open to criticism on this.

LOMBARD: Look, we had Isis on the show in February as our Valentine's Day Hottie, and she was very much into... her whole political stance seemed to be about not declaring total war on humanity. I mean, she was kind of a liberal. I'm just wondering...

ADAM: All her idea.

LOMBARD: No. Really? Was this before -

ADAM: Her dying wish was for me to declare total war on humanity. I was as surprised as you were. I mean, I guess it's like a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged, you know. Anyway, she definitely wanted vengeance, and she didn't really specify against who, so...

LOMBARD: ...so you need to rework the album a little.

ADAM: Right, exactly. I need to change a few things around, but it's still going to be a great album. 'I'm Holding Your Heart In My Hand', you remember, that track I came on and sang last month - that's still on the album. The emphasis is changing slightly, I mean, it's not, y'know, a metaphor any longer, but it's pretty much exactly the same. So yeah, I don't think my fans are going to be disappointed.

LOMBARD: And in the meantime, you've got this war on humanity thing going.

ADAM: Yeah, I'm sorry about that, Steve... I know it's not really what I was booked to talk about, but, you know, the album won't be out until June, and my war starts now, so, you know...

LOMBARD: Adam, you can... I'm flexible, you can come on and talk about whatever you want. Seriously, we love having you here.

ADAM: You're just saying that because of the tearing-in-half thing.

LOMBARD: Aw, come on, I can't - can you believe this guy? Huh? No, we love you, man. I'm even sorry about the Robbie Williams thing. You're more like the Egyptian Scotty Morris.

ADAM: Oh, now you're just flattering me. You're trying to butter me up. I'll kill you last, how's that?

LOMBARD: Can you - seriously, can you believe this guy? Black Adam, ladies and gentlemen. Give him a big hand.




And there you have it.

Personally, I'm somewhat perturbed by this news - it seems that at best, Adam's latest album will have a maudlin quality, and at worst it will tip over into full-on shmaltz. Frankly, as far as the state of modern swing music is concerned, Isis' death couldn't have come at a worse time.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Daily Planet can evidently do without my subscription.

There are fewer things more likely to rouse the ire of a man of honour and dignity than seeing his friends dragged through the gutter press when the mortal frames they have left behind them on their trip to the Elysian Fields have barely begun to cool. Imagine, if you can, the towering rage that gripped me at the instant that I espied the following article in Friday's edition of that enduring testament to yellow journalism, the Daily Planet.

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It continues in this vein.

"Ralph Dibny's fall from grace was not because he flew through a red sun. For you people. Not that you aren't grateful enough or anything, but I'm noticing there's been a distinct tailing off in visitors to the Superman Statue. Just putting that out there. Maybe if Superman was writing this article, he'd take the time to point out that he's given himself man-tits to save your sorry asses and it might perk him up slightly if he saw a few more people going and spending some time there. There was this one time this old guy in a wheelchair turned up in his WWII uniform and saluted it, and that made my whole weekend. That really made it seem worthwhile. And I'm sure Superman would have felt the same way if he'd seen it.

"We're two different people.

"No, Ralph Dibny's fall from grace was not because he flew through a red sun. It was because of the spectre of mental illness. Harold Chan, 31, was absent the day that Dibny broke into the internet cafe that he works at and attempted to sodomise one of the monitors, but he says that the incident 'still wakes him up in the middle of the night, sweating, in case it happens again while I'm there.'

"This reporter knows what it's like to wake up in the middle of the night, wanting to make a decaf latte with heat vision and then do some light crimfighting. But this reporter never can because he has no superpowers. An experience he shares with Superman. Presumably that's a bit like waking up in the night being afraid that a naked 'detective' will burst into your place of employment and do unspeakable things to the equipment that you have to touch every day. I share his pain, and I'm sure Superman does too despite the total absense of any connection between myself (wears glasses) and Superman (contact lenses).

"What next for Ralph Dibny? Not much, if he's dead. Apart from decomposition, which awaits us all. Even me. Actually, I hadn't thought of that until now. I've got man-tits and I'm going to die. I'm actually going to die. Probably in only sixty years. I might die before Lois, I'm a lot fatter. God, I've got a lower life expectancy than Lois and she used to throw herself out of windows because she didn't have a signal watch. I'm going to be sick.

"Why aren't more of you at the Superman Statue?"

Obviously, I'll be writing a stern letter to the editor, Mr Perry White, and dropping my subscription at once, although frankly it will be a relief to dispense with the Planet after the recent downturn in its journalistic fortunes. Once, Clark Kent was known for groundbreaking stories like "Superman Saves Space Plane", "Superman Gets In A Fight, Again" and "What Superman Had For Breakfast This Morning" - that last one I believe was what won him his Pulitzer. Now, the front page groans under the weight of such Kent-written stories as "I'm Depressed", "Ouch, I Stubbed My Toe" and "Supernova Could Be As Good As Me, I Mean Superman, If He Got Rid Of That Silly Mask And Just Wore An Eyepatch Or Something In His Secret Identity, It Really Works And Nobody Ever Says Anything", which I actually fell asleep halfway through reading.

Confusingly, Mr White is praising Kent to the rooftops on the grounds that the man has conquered new and dizzying heights of writing prowess. This leads me to suspect that the Planet is, and always has been, run less as an actual newspaper and more as some sort of complex corporate insurance scam.