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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

TV Time 

The othe night Spiderman was on, so I watched a good ten minutes of it, just to be fair. It was no good.

I found the "Spiderman" comics deeply unertaining way back because Peter Parker was a bore and troublemaker. For one thing, J. Jonah Jamieson ought to have fired him ages ago. All the guy does is take photographs of Spiderman, when there must be all kinds of more interesting celebrities to pester. Next, anyone with that many problems probably ought to stop dressing up like a spider and take some time off to straighten himself out. Find himself, as it were. I don't think you can do that if you're out evey night looking like a freak.

Then there's the problem of the technical side of his vocation. When I was a boy I was fascinated by mechanical problems, and the whole explanation of Spiderman's capabilities bothered me. How do you get this sticky stuff to stick to buildings firmly enough to suppport a madman's weight, yet not stick to anything else? How do you manage to propel it accurately, and usually upwards, to distances of fifty or sixty yards? Compressed air? And where does he carry the reservoirs for the two substances?

All right, maybe that's the stuff you have to accept in a comic: people can easily invent miraculous gizmos if they really need to go and fight crime. But what I really couldn't visualize is exactly how Spiderman is supposed to get around town. If you plan on swinging from place to place, you'll be severely constrained by the tendency go straight to a point directly beneath the point at which your vine or web is attached. And even if you could negotiate with that, you'd still be losing momentum much of the time. It would only work if there were ropes (or webbing) hanging from every part of the sky. This was, to me, the most important objection. For everything else you can say, well, he just has that stuff, or he's made that way. But you can't have it that ordinary physical conditions don't apply.

And finally, it pains me to say this, but I always suspected that Spiderman was himself instrumental in the origin of the strange villains that he had to deal with. I think they wouldn't have turned up if it hadn't been for him. One guy is going around acting like a spider, so naturally an octopus guy is going to come along to challenge him. That's how these super-villains get their nutty ideas.


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Watching TV is a good way to tear yourself away from the computer.