Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Here Come The 'Wednesday Comics' (But For How Long?)

Last week saw the much-heralded release (at least in comic book circles) of DC’s new weekly series, ‘Wednesday Comics’. It has been a while since I have been this interested (OK, I’ll just admit it… geeked out) by a new series. The book is printed on newsprint and folds out to reveal 15 broadsheet-sized pages, each with a different story. And they are not just ‘inventory’ stories either, but new work by top creators such as Neil Gaiman (of ‘American Gods’ and ‘Sandman’ fame), Mike Allred, Paul Pope, Brian Azzarello, Eduardo Risso, Kyle Baker, Kurt Busiek, Dave Gibbons (the ‘Watchmen’ artist, though he’s writing here) and Joe Kubert. Being one of those kids who would go straight to the newspaper funnies each weekend, this is something I didn’t realise how much I wanted until somebody invented it.

Or do I? One of the frustrating things about the newspaper funnies was those strips that never told a complete story but that you would have to follow for weeks on end to understand what was going on. All of the strips in ‘Wednesday Comics’ are like that, which one reviewer likened to a cute date that disappears right before you can order your food. Not many of the writers seem to have adapted their styles to the new format, the twin ‘Flash’ and ‘Iris West’ strips being an exception. Still, just sitting on the couch staring at the art was my reading highlight of the week.

I suppose the question is how long the novelty will last. The buzz around most innovative new series fades away at around the 12 to 18-issue mark (examples off the top of my head: ‘American Flagg’, ‘Bone’, ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’, ‘The Authority’ and ‘Planetary’, all of Alan Moore’s ‘America’s Best Comics’ line, ‘Madman’, etc… watch out ‘Umbrella Academy’…). ‘Wednesday Comics’ is only scheduled to run 12 issues at this point, although surely given the success of its debut DC must already be thinking about another series. I hope it continues, as long as they can keep the quality of the stories high. And I don’t think it necessarily has to be big-name creators that make it a success, there may well be lesser lights whose special genius is writing and drawing a killer ‘newspaper strip’ (for those who understand cricket analogies, the graphic novel would be the Test match, the newspaper strip would be Twenty20). If DC can manage that, then ‘Wednesday Comics’ could soon be a staple of every comic reader’s week.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Boycott the Gold Coast!

In its efforts to expand its market, the Australian Football League plans to introduce a team on the Gold Coast in 2011, and a team in Western Sydney shortly thereafter. Given that these are not traditional AFL markets, the AFL has implemented a number of strategies to ensure that these teams are competitive from the start. For example, the Gold Coast is already up and running and playing matches in its efforts to resemble something akin to a football team by the time it enters the AFL in a couple of years time.

So far, so good. But the linchpin of the AFL's plan is to grant the Gold Coast team major concessions in the National drafts of 2009 and 2010. In summary, in 2009, the Gold Coast team can sign 12 17 year-olds born between January and April 1992, and then in 2010, they have not just pick 2, not just pick 3, but also picks 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 15!

If the aim of the AFL is to make the Gold Coast competitive they will probably succeed. However, if they also want the team to be accepted by the football public, then I think there's a good chance they will fail miserably. Who can get behind a team that has the cards so heavily stacked in their favour? I reckon that, by the time Gold Coast enter the league, I will despise them even more than Collingwood. Yes, Collingwood! (And I just joined a Facebook group called 'who wants collingwood kicked out of the afl'.) At least the Pies have to play by similar rules to everyone else (you know, apart from that whole 'away jumper' thing).

And it doesn't matter to me if Gold Coast end up struggling or not. Even if they totally screw up the picks I'll still hate them; they should have been someone else's picks to screw up! (Preferably Richmond's, we can screw up picks more efficiently...) And when the Western Sydney team come in, I'll hate them just as much, if not more, because they come from Sydney and prevented a Tassie team from entering. This is a greater dose of charity than a hundred consecutive 50 metre penalties!

Come on football followers, let's all band together and boycott those freeloaders! Who's with me?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sir Arthur Eddington's Famous Cricket Puzzle: A Solution

Here's my solution to yesterday's puzzle:

-First, set up the bowling order: the only possible order is this - Pitchwell and Speedwell alternate for 6 overs each, then Tosswell and Pitchwell alternate overs, with Tosswell bowling 7 overs and Pitchwell bowling 6.1 overs.

-Tosswell bowls 5 maidens off his 7 overs, therefore his other 12 balls yield 31 runs. This means that there must be at least 7 fours off Tosswell’s overs.

-Since Tosswell only takes one wicket, the maximum amount of batsmen he can bowl to during those 12 balls is 5. Therefore, 2 batsmen must hit 2 fours each off Tosswell. The only two batsmen who could possibly do this are Bodkins and Perkins (no-one else scores more than 7 runs).

-So Bodkins must survive to face Tosswell, and he can not score in the first 12 overs.

-As Speedwell does not bowl a maiden this means that Bodkins can not face him at any point. Therefore, Speedwell must bowl 3 overs which yield 4 runs each, and 3 overs that yield 1 run each (any other possible combination means that Bodkins would have to score at least 1 run off him).

-We know that Pitchwell only bowls two maidens. Therefore, of the 3 overs that Speedwell bowls which yield 4 runs each, Bodkins must face Pitchwell after only 2 of those overs (and score nothing), and the other 4 runs must come off Speedwell’s last over.

-By the time that Speedwell finishes his last over, there must have been at least 19 runs scored - 15 off Speedwell, and at least 4 off Pitchwell (as he would have bowled 6 overs, with only 2 of them being maidens). Therefore, Atkins, Dawkins and Hawkins must all be out by this point (since Bodkins hasn’t scored), and Jenkins must have scored at least 1 run. But Jenkins can’t have scored only 1 run by this point, as we know that 4 runs are taken off Speedwell’s last over. Therefore, 23 runs have been scored from the first 12 overs.

-This means that the 5 batsmen who scored the 7 fours off Tosswell are Bodkins (2), Perkins (2), Larkins, Meakins and Simkins.

-It also means that a four was taken somewhere off Pitchwell’s first 6 overs, and no fours were taken off his last 6.1 overs (no other combination of scoring shots is possible). And this means Pitchwell’s last 6 full overs yield 1 run each (since 8 runs were taken off his first 6 overs, and there were no maidens in his last 6 full overs).

-Bodkins must be on strike for Tosswell’s first over as 4 runs were scored off Speedwell’s last over. Can it be a maiden? No, because a single has to be scored off Pitchwell’s next over, and none of Bodkins, Jenkins or Larkins (if Jenkins has gone out) can do that. Therefore, Bodkins must score 2 fours off Tosswell’s first over, and then go out, and then someone else must score a four, which can not be Jenkins. So Bodkins is Tosswell’s only wicket, and Jenkins is Speedwell’s only wicket. Fall of wickets so far: 1/6 (Atkins), 2/12 (Dawkins), 3/18 (Hawkins), 4/23 (Jenkins), 5/31 (Bodkins).

-Meakins replaces Bodkins, and he must score a four off Tosswell’s first over (as there are at least 3 fours in that over). Perkins and Simkins must score their fours in Tosswell’s second non-maiden over. What about Larkins? Since Tosswell has already taken his wicket, only two batsmen (Perkins and Simkins) can face him in his second non-maiden over. So Larkins must score his four in Tosswell’s first over, and Meakins must score a 1 to get him on strike. Therefore, 17 runs are scored off Tosswell’s first non-maiden over and 14 off his second one.

-The next few overs go as thus. Meakins scores a single off Pitchwell’s next over, Tosswell’s next over is a maiden (since Meakins doesn’t face Tosswell in his second non-maiden over), and then another single is scored off Pitchwell’s next over. It can’t be from Larkins, so he must be the next man out, at 6/41. Hence, the single comes from Perkins. Tosswell’s next over is a maiden (as Meakins is still in), and then Meakins scores his last single off Pitchwell’s next over, followed by another Tosswell maiden, and a Perkins single off Pitchwell. Then Tosswell bowls yet another maiden, and Meakins is dismissed by Pitchwell (since he can’t score another run), making it 7/44.

-Simkins comes in and scores a run off Pitchwell. Perkins and Simkins then plunder 14 off Tosswell, with Simkins hitting 5 of the runs, and Perkins 9. That takes Simkins up to 6 runs and Perkins to 11, meaning they can’t score anymore. In Pitchwell’s next over, he takes Perkins at 8/59, and then Tomkins at 9/59. Wilkins then comes in and scores the final single. Tosswell then bowls his final maiden over to Wilkins, and then Pitchwell comes back and takes Simkins with his first ball of the over (and last ball overall).

Final answers:

a) Tosswell dismissed Bodkins, Speedwell dismissed Jenkins, Pitchwell dismissed the rest.
b) Wilkins was left not out.
c) The fall of wickets: 6, 12, 18, 23, 31, 41, 44, 59, 59, 60.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sir Arthur Eddington's Famous Cricket Puzzle

This puzzle appears to be diabolical, but it can be solved - Don Bradman did it, and I did it (and that's where the similarities between me and the Don end).


An Imaginary Scoreboard

Atkins 6
Bodkins 8
Dawkins 6
Hawkins 6
Jenkins 5
Larkins 4
Meakins 7
Perkins 11
Simkins 6
Tomkins 0
Willkins 1

Extras 0

Total 60


Pitchwell: 12.1-2-14-8
Speedwell: 6-0-15-1
Tosswell: 7-5-31-1


1. The Batsmen have scored only in singles and 4s.
2. All of them were clean bowled. No one was caught or run out. There were no no balls or 'short' runs.
3. Speedwell and Tosswell bowled 6 and 7 overs respectively at a stretch.
4. Pitchwell opened the bowling, with Speedwell coming in at the other end for the next over.
5. The overs were of 6 balls each.


1. Which bowler dismissed which batsmen?
2. Who was not out?
3. What were the Fall of Wickets?