Clash of the comic book titans

If you're not a comic reader, here's some background.

Five Leeton pizzas

As a family exercise we bought the same pizza from five different shops to compare the state of Leeton's takeaway food market. This was instigated as a way of demonstrating that Eagles Boys are not "the best pizza ever" but they do remain incredible value, especially on a Tuesday night.

We unanimously agreed that Da Goodfellas make the best pizza in Leeton (based on the specified toppings) and they also make the largest by diameter. It really was an amazing pizza and a revelation of what this humble fast food staple can achieve. Wish I had been able to get a pic showing that for $17 you can get either the largest or smallest 'large' pizza in town.

To conclude, we found you do get what you pay for. The quality of the ingredients went up with prices but it was also clear that Benvenuti enjoy a strong brand that allows them to sell smaller offerings at a premium. The night we ordered from there may have been a difficult one for them because I thought their pizza suffered from being overcooked.

$17 - Benvenuti

$17 - Da Goodfellas

$7 - Eagle Boys (Tuesday night special)

$15 - Mick's Pizza

$13.50 - Leeton Pizza and Pancake House

Into the black

This graph has been on my mind for a couple of months now because it suggests something extraordinary is happening to Australian identity as more citizens identify with their indigenous heritage.

It makes me wonder how recent events will be viewed in the future, such as the 2008 national apology delivered by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the 2007 Northern Territory intervention led by then Prime Minister John Howard. The former seems a bold step forward for our nation, recognising the failings of paternal policies for indigenous people; while the latter represents one of the most recent of those policies. I wonder if in a decade or two it will look like a turning-point in our national identity.

It's amazing that within one hundred years of policies like assimilation we're moving, as a country, from wiping out indigenous cultural identity to widely adopting it.

If you look at New Zealand you can see that Australia could've moved toward embracing aboriginal culture much earlier.

Richardson sword

It was with mixed feelings that I took possession of this family heirloom earlier this year.

This ceremonial sword was presented to my great-grandfather, John Richardson. He had the distinction of being a Gallipoli veteran, having landed in the first couple of days of that campaign and, after being wounded, evacuated shortly afterwards. After lengthy rehabilitation, he returned to the AIF on the Western Front, where he was again wounded shortly after his arrival there.

My uncle John used the sword in in a parade at Portsea, Victoria in 1980 when he was serving on the staff at Officer Cadet School and also as a Brigade Commander during a parade in Sydney in 1997.

I first saw this sword as a child and was told it would come to me if I were to join the armed forces, which wasn't to be my path in life. My cousin Chris enlisted and the second time I saw it was in his possession in Sydney. He would leave the Army and worked as a security contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan, before his sudden death while working in the latter.

The phrase about 'those who live by the sword, die by the sword' has been on my mind since I saw this sword a third time, when I received it. While it's not literally the case, I can see that there are decisions which shape our lives and mine was to become a pacifist when I learned how another of my uncles avoided conscription to Vietnam as a conscientious objector. Otherwise it's possible I would've ended up in the Army too.

I don't know much about my great-grandfather. I never asked my grandfather about him but my father has remembered him as a distant, grumpy figure from his childhood. I now wonder how he felt fighting in the disastrous Gallipoli campaign and leading young men to their deaths again in France. Warfare has changed a lot in the last century and so has the value placed on human life.

Television commercial

This television commercial was produced for Leeton's Bidgee Binge program and will air locally through June to September.

Raucous chorus

Wrote these lyrics for a song that will be part of a series of multimedia presentations planned for the close of Leeton's centenary next month:

As dusk arrives dark fills the sky
winged silhouettes cry as they fly
A raucous chorus overhead
fight for a branch to be their bed

First wave squawks and behaves wild
like teenagers, gallah juveniles
Next arrive quiet pairs
gliding stately through the air

And I envy how they fly
from tree to tree all their life
And I envy how they fly
let me be free in my life

Leeton trees a temporary home
Who knows where else they roam
but when they roost I stand in awe
as the river red gums are all full

And I envy how they fly
from tree to tree all their life
And I envy how they fly
let me be free in my life

Game of Thrones-inspired self-portrait

Game of Thrones is known for the phrase "winter is coming" and I'm prepared with my woolly jumper and hoodie combo.

The sword is optional, as it's a family heirloom.

Old is new

2013 has seen a couple of big acts release new albums and, while I haven't listened to them, I've been observing the debates on a couple of websites.

It's interesting to see how some artists stir these conversations with comments that appear calculated, such as Daft Punk's dismissive attitude toward laptop musicians:
The problem with the way to make music today, these are turnkey systems; they come with preset banks and sounds.

I can relate to this. I've found using analogue synths provides richer sounds than software synths but also because I've found my laptop to be a fascinating way of experimenting with sounds once I stopped using the samples.

However, my interest in raising this discussion is to provide a slightly different perspective. While I think Daft Punk's disco shows their age a bit and, though I like disco, it seems a very sentimental direction for a duo who I liked for making techno that harked back to earlier days.

When I first read about postmodernism it was framed as a carnivorous approach that took the aesthetics of movements and reworked them away from such anchors as context. Taking meaning and making it a spectacle freed from result from the needing to deliver a message.

It was suggested the opposing view to postmodernism was romanticism, which prefers sincerity and authenticity, but once irony had been unleashed it was hard not to be skeptical.

When reading Peter Kirn's diatribe against Daft Punk, my Facebook reply focused on how it's a PR technique to draw distinctions between your record and those of contemporaries. But I think Daft Punk's focus on using older machines to make new music is similar to those trends you see in apps where a simple device is given an older look or character.

Software effects have been making VSTs with graphics that reflect old hardware for a long time but the rise of photography filters that mimic old polaroids or the faded brown tones of grainy photographs have been very popular.

Which reminds me a bit of Boards of Canada's aesthetic, known for warbling sounds of tape dubs and the like. It's interesting some listeners say it sounds too digital. Reading an interview with band just now and the interviewer started a question:
In the context of history, we live in an age of unparalleled science and rationality. But despite this, religion and ideas of mysticism – along with other fringe concerns such as conspiracy, etc – continue to thrive.

Part of the appeal in such narratives is they're easy to understand. As technology revolutionises various aspects of our lives, the demand to stay current competes with many other demands. So I'm wondering if the marketing of devices by giving them an old, familiar look isn't a way of selling a product to an audience who are feeling increasingly hostile to having to learn new technology?

In a way this would be furthering the postmodernity of it all too, because the apps never really fully capture the physical model. Sometimes it's the results, sometimes it's the interface, sometimes it's the way they're slavishly imitating hardware but avoiding the key details to avoid infringement.

Which leads to this weird deja vu feeling. Like the sequels and updated myths in franchise movies, there's a sense the meaning and authenticity of an original spirals away into infinite semiosis -- as meaning shifts in each incarnation and floats further from the definition anchoring it.

Daft Punks interpretation of disco harks back to an age that never really existed.

Love from Leeton