Reading about superhero comics brings me strange mixed feelings of nostalgia and sadness

You know you’re getting old when you read the comments about superheroes and villains on fan pages and YouTube, and discover that you don’t know what characters they are on about, because some of those characters were created after you stopped reading comics.

Case in point for me is Harley Quinn. I continually run into references to her online, especially now that there is an upcoming Suicide Squad movie. People keep referring to her as a “classic” villain, but she was only invented in 1992. And I stopped reading comics around 1985. At least now I know why I’d never heard of this so-called classic. (I don’t have much confidence in the Suicide Squad movie. Jared Leto is one of those actors who make me go “Huh”… Aging pretty boy that he is, I think of him like a male version of Kristen Stewart… good to look at but capable of only one or two facial expressions, and nothing spectacular in the way of acting chops. The movie is likely to be all hype, promising much but delivering little.)

What prompted this post was this article I read online. It’s about the latest Superman issue, which contains many flashbacks and references to previous incarnations of the man of steel. What grabbed my attention was a reference to the Superman of the 1970’s, with Julius Schwartz as editor, and the fact that he did away with many of the silly plots of the decades before and introduced a more “human”, powered-down Superman.

While I had hundreds of Superman comics and annuals, including old ones from my father and from a “swap-shop” where I used to swap bad comics for good ones, most of my comics were from the time when Julius Schwartz was editor. So it seems that my understanding of the character of Superman came from that period, which was relatively short and unpopular with many fans. By the time I stopped reading comics, Superman had become ridiculously over-powered once again, to the point of being totally unrelatable as a character. (Spellchecker, why do you insist that “unrelatable” is not a word? I can not relate to that.) When I stopped reading those comics, he was involved in battles with Lex Luthor and Braniac, who wore gigantic armoured suits, and were equally over-powered so the whole thing was silly. Also I was twelve years old and had moved on to reading Stephen King.

Just after that, the character was rebooted, but I know nothing of any of the “newer” comics. So, as somebody who did read comics for many years, I feel kind of sad when the online comments about classic heroes and villains, as well as about famous series known to “all”, come from a generation after mine, who seem to know nothing about the comics and characters that I regard as classic. Am I that fucking old?

So bear that in mind – when I criticize other superhero movies in future (and I will), my context, my point of reference for those characters, is pre-1985.

On a lighter note, as a child I was always amused by the note at the top of the first page of Superman comics, which reminded me in a way of the Nicene Creed we used to recite every Sunday in Mass. (It started with “Rocketed to Earth from the exploding planet, Krypton” and read very much like the Creed.) It reminded me of the Christ-metaphor built into the story of Superman – the saviour.

In 2010, right after I came out of rehab, I modified my “About me” section on Facebook (which I don’t think anyone has ever read) to be a little joke about this. It’s not very good, but it was supposed to be a combination of the Nicene Creed and the Superman comic starting blurb. Here it is, since I figure nobody has ever read it:

Almost rocketed to Earth from the exploding planet Krypton,
he was not born of the virgin Mary, nor any other virgin, and made man.
After a more or less average life for thirty-odd years,
he suffered, lied and was buried in a methamphetamine addiction and descended into Hell,
but on the third month in rehab he ascended into a normal place in society once again,
which was heaven by comparison.
And there he hopes to remain.

I wrote that as a little joke because at the time, being frustrated with the nonsense of NA meetings, I used to tell everybody that I was my own higher power. (These days I don’t agree with the concept of a “higher power” being necessary at all.) I figure I could do a much better job rewriting that now… but rather not.

And there I did not remain… I did descend back into hell for a while, but next week I will be normal for 2 years and three months. This time I’m definitely sticking around up here…

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Is this for real? (Learn to speak Americanish)

I’ll just put this here…

Now that you’ve watched it, do you think it’s for real? Poe’s Law tells us we can’t tell. If it’s parody, it’s good parody; otherwise I pity the girl.

But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. She makes a good point, whether it’s deliberate (and I like to think it is) or not. Not about language, but about the mind-set of many Americans, who grow up in a bubble where everything is American, and wind up thinking that everything in the world originated there, including language and religion.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read comments by Americans who think that Christianity is a (white) American religion. It’s a Middle Eastern religion…

It’s especially ironic at this time of year, when Christian Americans prepare their nativity scenes, with their pink little figurines of Mary, Joseph and Jesus… Those same Americans who are opposed to the immigrants.

The fact is, Mary and Joseph would not have gone by those English names 2000 years ago, and they were as brown as the immigrants you would prefer to turn away.

Maybe worthwhile adding for clarification… I didn’t write this to dismiss Americans. The US is the world leader, and so they are citizens of the leading first-world country. That there are so many who are ignorant is depressing… surely it does not bode well for countries like my country of birth, South Africa? If there are so many ignorant idiots in the US, how many of my fellow citizens here are even worse? Surely the vast majority…

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I’ll say it again: Don’t give money to beggars!

That fool that I wrote about last time has returned to the group, again complaining that atheists are arseholes and are not compassionate because we didn’t give him money. His arrogance insults me! If someone begs from you, and you refuse to give them money, what right do they have to be angry? So this time I’ll spell it out…

When somebody begs from you, and tries to make you feel pity or compassion for them, it’s a scam. It’s always a scam. In fact, they are attempting to manipulate you using a logical fallacy: The appeal to emotion. Specifically, it’s an appeal to pity.

The man posted photos of his bank statement. His balance is 2 Euro’s… Boo-fucking-hoo! Here’s what my cheque account looks like right now:


  • Balance: R -26,576.35 (Negative)
  • Available balance: R -576.35 (Also negative. So my account is beyond its overdraft limit.)

Am I asking people for money? No! Will I? No.

Don’t pity me. I have over a thousand Rand in my wallet, cash. I also have another credit card with a different bank. (Only for emergencies.) I paid all my expenses at the beginning of the month. Unfortunately, that’s what my finances look like at this time of the month, and when my salary comes through at month’s end, my actual balance will be relatively close to zero. (But available will be much higher.) But I’m coping… I’m doing OK, and it is slowly getting better.

OK, it’s depressing. My available balance will be over thirty thousand, on pay-day only. Then it will plummet as I pay the expenses. But I pay them all and still have a few thousand to put in my other credit card, and a couple of thousand cash for the month. It’s depressing watching the balance drop from over thirty thousand to zero by the fifteenth, it’s more depressing when that last debit order (to pay my “credit card legal” account) is forced through to take my account beyond the limit, and it’s double-depressing when I think of what the real balance is, taking my overdraft into consideration. I could also post pictures like that scumbag, and beg for money, but I don’t, and I won’t. (Except for the picture here. But that’s different, to make a point. I don’t want your money.)

(Oh, and I have just been upgraded to FNB private banking this week… I’m guessing they must have dropped the requirements.)

Come to think of it, I can not imagine how I used to afford my drugs in the past. All my money is used every month now, and the cash that I have is for important things… like Burger King every Saturday and superhero T-shirts for me and my son. Fuck drugs…

It was much worse before. In 2009, I lost everything. In 2011, it nearly happened again. For a month, I had no job, and still had to pay my rent, and my car, had to buy food, pay the electricity and so on, and take care of my mother besides myself. Did I ask for money then? No!

I got off my arse, and I found myself another job. (I didn’t stop using drugs straight away, and I am ashamed of that, but I did eventually stop.)

The point is, as bad as my situation was, I never begged, neither in person nor from strangers online. My situation was my own fault, and it was my responsibility to do something about it, which I did.

I have zero respect for anybody who begs. You shouldn’t have any either.

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How can you believe that your religion is the right one, and all others are wrong?

Just a short one today… I was amazed at a share on an atheist Facebook group recently, where the person tried to rebut the often-used atheist argument (according to him) that there are many different denominations of each religion, by suggesting that all those other denominations were created by the devil.

Really? I don’t think he thought it through. When I was still a believer (many years ago), there was one thing that always haunted me: How can I believe that my religion is right, when the only difference between myself and others is that I was born into it?

That was the one aspect of my religion that I thought about the most. I thought about it every day. Oh, I tried not to. I tried to cherry-pick just like everybody else who went to Mass. I tried to pick out the sweet sermons of Father Tom, our parish priest who liked to preach about love. He was a great priest, someone that others could learn from, and he could say more in five minutes than someone whose sermon lasted for forty five minutes. So I tried to cherry-pick the good bits out of my religion just like everybody around me, but I could not.

I’d wake up the next day and think about it again… “I’m Roman Catholic”, I’d tell myself. “The one true faith”, I’d tell myself. “But what if I wasn’t? What if I’d been born Jewish? What if I’d been born Muslim? Wouldn’t I be just as sure about that religion?” It didn’t occur to me to ask my parents, or the priest, because I knew what they would tell me. I also knew what the clergy of some other religion would tell me: That theirs is the true religion. And they would be every bit as sincere and sure of themselves as Father Tom.

That was the beginning of my freedom from indoctrination. The one little thought that planted so very much doubt, it could not be ignored. There is only one answer to those questions I asked myself as a teenager: No religion is right. All gods ever worshipped by man were created by man. To hang onto your indoctrination, despite knowing logically that it makes no sense, requires rationalization that can only come from a madman like the man who posted that nonsense on Facebook. I’m not saying it’s easy… To let go of years of brainwashing is exceptionally difficult, but to go ahead and believe that your religion is right but every other religion is wrong… that’s not only stupid, it is also arrogant.

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Some interesting criticism of Batman

My last post was more dark that I like to write, although I feel it is necessary to write of the darker side of addiction, and occasionally my own nature (in the admission of my critical thoughts about a deceased friend, thoughts that are not politically correct to express). There’s a dark side to addiction, and I have a dark side too. I prefer to pretend it’s not there, but sometimes facing it is necessary. However, today is a good day to write about something light-hearted: my fascination with super heroes. It started in my childhood when I looked at the pictures in comics, then progressed as I read comics from about the age of seven in 1978 until I stopped reading comics in 1985, and now I watch super hero movies, reliving some of the best moments of my comic-reading childhood as I watch the heroes on-screen. Here I must express yet another politically incorrect opinion: my dislike of Batman. (Why it is politically correct to like Batman is perhaps something for another day.)

I read an article that contained some interesting criticism of Batman here. It’s worth reading, although I don’t agree with all of it.

For one thing, him being so dark is the only thing I do like about Batman. When it comes down to it, Batman is just a rich guy in a costume with fancy gadgets. The stories where he defeats enemies with super powers are contrived to the point of being silly. (Within the context of comic book stories. I can only suspend my disbelief when super-powered beings fight one another, but when a normal man can defeat them, it gets stupid.)

I hated The Dark Knight Rises. It was three hours of predictable drivel, which I sat through in boredom after predicting everything that would happen in the first half hour. And I predicted that shit even though I was high at the time. I don’t know why everyone else seemed to love that movie. Bane, in his goofy mask, was a clown of a villain, one whose backstory didn’t make sense after the twist in the plot was revealed… a twist that I guessed the minute I saw the new character… a pivotal character to whom Bruce Wayne turned for all kinds of contrived reasons. A pivotal character introduced in the third part of a trilogy, which made her true purpose obvious.

Some other criticism I had for that movie:

  • The way Bruce Wayne’s money is swindled from him makes no sense.
  • He has no one else to turn to but the new female character, the same one who didn’t exist until the third movie, and whose story does not add up. (Nobody else in the whole city, but the person who happens to be the true enemy in disguise?)
  • Bruce didn’t need two love interests. OK, one was the enemy in disguise, revealed in the otherwise unnecessary love scene where they linger too long on her tattoo, but there was no reason for her to want to sleep with him in the first place. Her plan had already succeeded and his money was gone. That scene was inappropriate and the character’s motivation to sleep with him was not explained. Just one of many things you’re supposed to forget about at the end of the movie.
  • At some point, I felt like I was watching Rocky II, where Bruce Wayne is the overconfident fighter who didn’t bother to train. All that was missing was the fucking music when he climbed out of that prison.
  • His back was healed by fucking magic.
  • Apparently he teleported back to Gotham City.
  • Bane reads a letter telling the truth about Harvey Dent… This is a known terrorist wearing a ridiculous clown-like mask. And everybody believes him?
  • Bane’s superior fighting skills are non-existent at the end of the movie. (Of course it was revealed that he was never even accepted into the League Of Shadows, during the plot twist, so his line “I am the League of Shadows” made no sense in retrospect.)
  • Batman evidently used his teleportation skill again at the end of the movie.

I truly hated that movie. (And it had so much potential! Christian Bale is one of my favourite actors, but that movie was poorly done. A similar story, one that followed on from his old enemy of the first movie, but of much higher quality and without so many mistakes in the plot, could have been produced. Instead we got this slapdash tedium that felt like an adhoc addition to the story.) Maybe guessing the plot twist right at the start made it even more tedious, but I don’t think so. It was a fucking boring movie. I think back to the Bruce Willis movie, The Sixth Sense, that I watched years ago… I guessed that plot twist right at the start as well, and it was still a good movie. I truly can’t understand why The Dark Knight Rises still has a high rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It was a terrible movie. (That I watched once, three years ago, while high on crystal meth. If I watched it again now, clean and sober, I’d probably find even more wrong with it. But I’m not going to watch it again.)

I’m a Superman fan, because as a child I started out liking super heroes that actually have super powers, but I have mixed feelings about the upcoming Batman versus Superman movie. If Superman really wanted to defeat Batman, he could do so from a considerable distance with his heat vision, for example. But we all know that the real purpose of the movie is to introduce the Justice League, so why all the stupid Batman versus Superman hype?

To be fair, Man of Steel was also not a great movie. I enjoyed it though. I liked what they did with Krypton, and I liked the new Superman costume. I thought Henry Cavill played the part well, and was glad that at last someone has taken up the mantle from Christopher Reeve. I liked the non-stop action, and I could suspend my disbelief since it was about super beings fighting one another. However, others have pointed out the many faults of that movie, the worst of which was the cardboard-cutout villain of general Zod. His motivations became less believable as the movie progressed. I liked that there was no Kryptonite though, but of course there will be in the upcoming movie. I’m still looking forward to it, but hope that it will not be the disappointment I know it might be.

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The unfortunate side of Facebook, the accidentally morbid profiles that become shrines. Addiction takes our lives too soon.

I don’t know if most people are aware of this, but after you die, your Facebook profile remains open. If you’ve been there long enough, sooner or later you will have friends who die, and then their pages become places where they are remembered by their loved ones. So while the messages and photos are posted with love for their lost beloved, those pages become accidentally morbid and really quite depressing.

I have two deceased Facebook friends, whose accounts I can not bring myself to unfriend… I didn’t know about one of them until today.

Firstly there was Joshua McAllister. He wasn’t even thirty (I don’t think) when he took his own life on the 24th December last year. He was an addict who I met in rehab at the end of 2009. He was a sweet guy, a gentle giant, and a bit of an idiot. But he was a good idiot.

I’m sorry to call him that, sorry if any of his family come here and read that, but it is as I remember him. He was a big guy, weighing far too much for someone his age. And he was one of the few genuinely good people I met. He’d never do anybody harm, and was kind and generous to all.

Although everybody loved him, he didn’t have much love for himself. I knew then already that he had tried to commit suicide before, and that he was lonely. In rehab, and in the church we were all forced to attend on Sundays, he found his reason to go on. He’d stand there during the worship, with both arms raised high, singing praises to his imaginary personal god. I couldn’t stand that church. I couldn’t stand that the message of accepting Jesus for your own salvation was so appealing to the weak-minded, desperate people like McAllister (I can’t bring myself to refer to him as Josh because that’s my son’s name) as to give them an apparent solution to their problems. Even though the entire sermon every day at that church was about “seed faith”… forty minutes of bullshit to convince you to give those despicable people money, people desperate for an easy solution to all their problems didn’t see the problems with the church that seemed to give them an answer. I tried… I had long talks with him where I explained exactly why I hated that church, even going so far as to quote what had been said in the sermons, but he didn’t want to hear. He welcomed the message of salvation, coming from those despicable people who had obvious personal wealth that they’d accumulated from people like McAllister.

Yes, he was weak-minded, and I’m sorry to say that too. I had nothing at that time, while he had family nearby and always had sweets and cigarettes. They wee really cheap cigarettes, and I hated the taste, but I knew that when nobody else would give me, I could always turn to him. Even if he had only two left, I could always persuade him to give me one; so desperate was he for friendship – for acceptance. He was such a good person, but was a little too generous, and I took advantage of that.

I don’t think he ever found his way out of depression, but instead relied on the false comfort of his imaginary personal saviour – Jesus Christ. Being credible like he was, was perhaps part of his downfall. Relying on faith in theism and the 12 steps was never the treatment he needed. But it was the accepted way to do recovery, so everybody thought he was doing fine.

My other deceased friend is John White. I never even knew him in person. He was a much older man, aged 49 in the US, who found me via my old blog. He’d struggled with addiction for years, and I thought he was doing fine. (I do not know the circumstances of his death.) He posted regularly on Facebook last year, all about his new house and the work he was doing on it, as well as his new skateboarding hobby; then he stopped posting and I forgot him until yesterday. It turns out that he died suddenly on April 26th, 2015. Here’s a link to his obituary. He was a computer programmer like me, but he was also a brilliant man who achieved many other things in his life.

I’m struggling to conclude anything out of this… Struggling because those were two good people. Both were addicts, but neither was anything like the stereotypes you normally read about or meet. Both were well loved by many (you can see that on their Facebook pages), and would never harm anybody, yet they died too young.

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Some unexpected flattery from 26 years ago. You made my day!

Yesterday I posted a scan of an old photograph on Facebook… It was a photo taken at school, from my matric year in 1989, and featured thirteen guys sitting on a bench. We weren’t the closest of friends, but were a good bunch of guys who somehow banded together and talked shit on the field at break time.

I didn’t really have a set clique of friends that I hung out with. I never really did fit in anywhere, or sometimes I felt that I did fit in everywhere, so I hung out with different groups of people all the time. I was in a kind of limbo, neither popular nor unpopular – mostly average. As someone who always ended up in the “top set” of every class, but didn’t do any work or ever stand out, I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. I guess these guys were similar, and so in the last couple of years of high school, they were the ones I hung out with the most, even though I wasn’t close with any of them. But it is a good photo, in retrospect.

Here it is… Seventeen year old me is on the far right in the second row.


Through that photo, I got in contact with some people I haven’t seen in 26 years, but what really surprised me was a compliment I received from one of them. He confessed that all those years ago he had a huge crush on me and thought I was “the hottest guy on the planet”.

Wow. I didn’t see that coming. I can be quite vain (as well as shy and lacking self-confidence simultaneously – it’s complicated ), and always thought of myself as hot, to be honest, but I also always figured I was the only one to think so. I don’t know how I would have reacted if I’d known all those years ago… It would probably have been awkward. I don’t think I was homophobic (selective memory maybe) but I think I was ignorant. Thank you, buddy, for telling me now, after all these years. I am so flattered… that’s the best compliment I’ve received like… ever… and you really made my day.

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