The Intermittent

Why Are You Still Here?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

PSA'S

Sam Hiti has his new book, EL LARGO TREN OSCURO, available for order at his site here. Hiti's work is on my automatic buy list, based on his earlier Tiempos Finales, which was a species of splatterpunk bible story, only with substantially more metaphorical and narrative throw weight than that high concept implies. I thought it was the best book put out last year. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of the new book; c'mon, it's about a demonic train and will undoubtedly feature some gorgeous art. One hundred and four pages for ten dollars. Go.

Also, I'm thinking about going to a new template. If any of you three are really wedded to the baby blue, this is your chance to speak up.
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WARREN ELLIS AS LEMMY

Someone remarked once that Motorhead hasn't written hundreds of songs over the course of their career; rather, that they wrote basically one song hundreds of times. But then again, who really cares, insofar as that song is The Ace of Spades. Or Overkill, or Killed by Death, for that matter.

similarly, it's pretty well known by now that Warren Ellis prefers to work the same strip of earth in his books. But then again, who really cares, insofar as those books are of the level of Planetary, or Hellblazer. Desolation Jones will get a look; when Ellis is hitting the right notes, he plays his song like no one else.

Bonus Motorhead/Ellis connection here: "I knew a guy who’d put a tape into his car’s player and would wait until Lemmy tore into “Ace Of Spades” before standing on the accelerator and pulling out into the street. I must’ve nearly died a hundred times because of that bastard."

I've never been a car with Ellis but still; I've been that driver at another place and time. I firmly believe that this is acceptable, almost mandatory behavior, frankly. On the other hand, driving recklessly to Bad English's "I Remember You?" This should not be acceptable under any circumstances.
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Thursday, May 12, 2005

MY DAY, IN A MICROCOSM

I'm in the bathroom at work when the button drops off my pants. Into the toilet. The public toilet. Now, the bowl is clean, and I thought about my retrieval options, but still; a public toilet.

At least it wasn't my cell phone this time.
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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

QUICK THOUGHTS

I haven't read EVERYTHING BAD IS GOOD FOR YOU(not that a simply ignorance of the material has ever stopped me before), but based on the New York Times piece, his argument seems to be that complex narratives are better, and better for you, than simply narratives. This seems wildly wrong to me. This, for example, and to stay with this week's "Freemason's Rule the Country!" brand of O.G. paranoia, is an incredibly complex narrative, full of odd connections and character; it's also the work of a loon. This, on the other hand, is similiarly complex work of paranoia and alternate history (featuring again the Queen of England if not the ubiqitious Masons) and is, if not, art, at least a hell of a good time. In other words, I'm not sure complexity itself is enough, at least not if we're talking aesthetic merit (complex but inartistic works might I suppose be good for you in cognitive development sense, even if they're are crap as art). When we talk about art being good, we're really talking complextity plus something; be it craft, inspiration, or revelation. Complexity by itself is not enough.

Second, while reading through the back and forth on the Rosenbaum piece, I notice Rose raising a question about the proper use of stereotypes internal to other cultures. This is a good and prescient question, especially as more Western creators appropriate Manga and Anime tropes as well as Asian themes in general; in fact, in an odd bit of blogospheric synchronicity, I was wondering about this recently as well, after reading Sharkknife. Not that Sharknife is either bad or offensive, mind; but there is something weird, or at least potentially, weird, about an American book by a white creator whose protaganist is an Asian girl whose primary characteristic is, essentially, cuteness. Or where the dialogue is, I don't know, some sort of a faux street thing; a work whose impact depends on an appreciation of the funkily exotic. Maybe there is nothing weird about it, given the cultural cross-pollination at work. Maybe it's me. I mean, I think Sharknife had it's heart in the right place, but still; Elvis loved black music (allegedly), after all, and he doesn't get a pass. I wish I could articulate why this thought crops up in some works but not others; after all, I don't think Kagan Mcleod's Infinite Kung-Fu is bad for playing with both Blaxploitation and Chinese stock plots and characters, but then again that book has style to burn. It may be merely that I want some self-awareness from a work that is playing with foreign tropes. Mcleod, with the extensive back end he puts in his books, where he rambles on about classic martial arts films, sort of suggests that he knows what building blocks he's using. Sharknife, by contrast, is pretty much the opposite of self-aware, which could be what sort of bugged me about it. More thoughts, later, with more time to think.

And in the spirit of half-formed thoughts dragged from the Peiratikos comment threads, I'm still gnawing away on the bone that is Sin City; how and why the film version was so much more unpleasant than the comics given that the film's slavish devotion to the source material. I never thought that the comics were too much; I felt the movie was way too much. I felt bad seeing it with my wife, even though she liked it. And I can't quite figure out why. I mean, it's not because the film deviated from the source material. It might be the overload of three stories at once. Reading each segment a year apart, it's harder to notice Miller's obsession with genital mutilation. It might be a change in where I'm at with respect to the real world; fictional evocations of torture--especially torture used to reify the morality of the protaganist--is something I find more troubling these days, certainly moreso than I did back in, say 2000. It might be that we respond differently to film and comics violence. Movies control what we look at in ways comics can't, plus there is sound, Dolby surround in this case. And not just noise and movement, but real people up there on screen. I think that this may be the big one. We're sort of trained, I think, to look at people on the screen as stand-ins for real people. Naturalism, with respect to the human body, is sort of the default assumption; even in a movie like Star Wars, the basic limits of the body are basically the same as lived by the audience. Blades cut, rocks crush, throats choke shut. We empathize with the mutilation because we understand it; we've lived it, in miniature at least. Bodies in comics are abstractions, on the other hand (maybe) are abstractions. We don't empathize the same with a representation of a person. Picasso's Guernica may be a powerful painting, but it is rather worse at conveying the horror of war than this picture.
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WASHINGTON DC: FOOD, FELLOWSHIP, SICKNESS, AND SHOES

I have returned from Washington DC. Interesting trip. The last time I was on 12th Street NW, it was six years ago and my friend was working as a bouncer at Poly Esthers. The area to the east was...well, not so good for drunken post-club wandering. Now? Pretty much stumbling drunks curb to curb come midnight, so far as I could tell. Some pretty powerful gentrifying going on there. Not at all what I expected from DC. Poly Esthers, by all accounts, remains a shitty place to go if you're not getting free drinks from friends on staff. Any club that can ruin Prince for a man is a bad place indeed.

I was able, thanks to commenters steered here by Jim Henley, to get some pretty good food while I was there. Jaleleo and Zantinya were both, as promised, excellent, and made wonderful backdrops for my friend Brian to explain his decision to abandon law to teach high school; and damned if it didn't make a lot of sense, and he didn't seem much happier than he did as a billing machine. Capitol Q had good pulled pork; if not so good as might be found in Texas, at least good enough for me. Again, thanks to everyone who helped me out via comment.

The trip also gave me the opportunity to meet some of my erstwhile compatriots. It's odd meeting in realtime people you've only know online. They're at once much more and much less than you'd anticipated. Less magisterial and imposing, more funny and kind, especially as regards the bartab. Jim, Eve, Marc, Julian, Will; it was a lot of...well, I'm sure there's a word for it, I'm sure of it. A good one.

But it was not all good food and company; no, I was afflicted in head and toe. The latter, a classic mistake: never bring, as your only shoes, brand new dress shoes. The lanky thiry year old hobbling around Dupont Circle this weekend? That was me. And I somehow managed to pick up a sinus infection while I was there. That part, at least, was no fun. I am no fan of pleghm.

But it was worth a little pleghm to meet some terrific folks and to see again America's premier Masonically designed city. A trade I'd gladly make again.
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