Thursday, December 13, 2007

A crime by any other name...

Pop quiz: one of these euphemisms for torture was used by the Gestapo and the other by the Bush administration. Which is which?

(a) "Enhanced coercive interrogation technique"

(b) "Refined interrogation technique"

The answer can be found here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Look This Way on the radio

Oops - forget to mention: Arts on Sunday (Radio NZ National) recently interviewed me for a piece on Look This Way (for which I contributed an appreciation of Barry Linton). You can listen to the interview here, if you're quick (it's up for another week or so). Also interviewed are the book's editor, Sally Blundell, and another contributor, Hanna O'Regan, who talks about Cliff Whiting.

Reaffirming reality

Surely one of the agonizing attributes of our post–September 11 age is the unending need to reaffirm realities that have been proved, and proved again, but just as doggedly denied by those in power, forcing us to live trapped between two narratives of present history, the one gaining life and color and vigor as more facts become known, the other growing ever paler, brittler, more desiccated, barely sustained by the life support of official power.
Mark Danner, 'The Moment Has Come to Get Rid of Saddam:' The Crawford Transcript in The New York Review of Books, November 8, 2007, pg.59

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Comics Show - DVD now out!

The perfect Xmas gift for the comics obsessive in your life: The Comics Show, a wonderful documentary about New Zealand cartoonists directed by Shirley Horrocks (yes, she's my step-mother - but she's also an award-winning documentary maker!), now available on DVD (which includes extra interviews).

"The writing and drawing of comic books has remained a little-known and under-rated area of New Zealand culture. Director Shirley Horrocks reveals it to us as a highly creative subculture with a rich local history.

"Despite a moral panic about comics in the ‘40s and ‘50s (recalled here by Eric Resetar, the grand old man of local comics), later decades brought us the exciting counter-culture work of Barry Linton and the other artists of Strips magazine (such as Dick Frizzell and Grant Major), the new directions taken by women artists such as Coco and Pritika), and the publication of long-form ‘graphic novels’ such as Ant Sang’s Dharma Punks and Dylan Horrocks’s Hicksville. There are now comics for all ages and interests.

"Comics have links with animation and with music (as shown by Chris Knox and Karl Wills among others). This highly entertaining and visually inventive film takes us from Auckland street culture, to Wellington’s ‘Eric Awards’, to a do-it-yourself comic collective (‘Funtime’ in Christchurch). This is an unexpected, eye-opening arts documentary with broad appeal.

"The Comics Show screened at the New Zealand International Film Festival this year in Auckland and Wellington. Commissioned for TVNZ's Artsville."

To order the DVD, email

New books

Two books came out recently that include work by me:

Look This Way: New Zealand Writers on New Zealand Artists
Edited by Sally Blundell
Published by Auckland University Press

My contribution is a piece about the great Barry Linton, done in comics form. You can see an excerpt here.

As Far As We Know: Conversations about Science, Life and the Universe
By Paul Callaghan and Kim Hill
Published by Penguin Group (New Zealand)

I contributed illustrations (one for each chapter). You can see a sample here.


I've just finished Lolita, which is just as good as everyone says it is, and thought I'd jot down this comment from Nabokov's afterword (not because it reflects my own opinion, but simply because it's interesting and I want to think about it some more):
For me a work of fiction exists only insofar as it affords me what I shall bluntly call aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art (curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm.
Anyway, now I'm keen to watch both film versions - especially the Kubrik one (which I don't think I've seen before) - by way of comparison. To my mind, the novel is a very slippery story and Humbert Humbert's narrative is so densely layered with delusion and subjectivity, I'm dying to see how Kubrik adapted it. I remember the Lyne version as slightly annoying - though that was before I'd read the book, and frankly, Jeremy Irons just irritates me. So I'm now prepared to give it another go.

BTW, I had to take a break half way through the novel (at precisely the point where Humbert was about to sleep with Lolita for the first time); it's a very enjoyable read, but also very disturbing and dark. By then, the disconnect between Humbert's self-obsessed and narcissistic account and the ghastly reality of what he was doing to the people around him had become too much. I needed to take a breather (by reading some nice relaxing nonfiction). Of course, once I summoned up the courage to continue, I was thoroughly hooked. What a book...!

And while I'm on the subject - how about that hysterically funny 'Lolita' scene in Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers? Lord, I laughed so hard it hurt!

I'm back...

Well, after experimenting with Vox, I figure I may as well stick with Blogger for now. It lacks some of the bells and whistles of Vox, but for some reason I kind of prefer it. God knows why...

Anyway, I'll post a couple of new things to get myself started again...