Monday, December 31, 2007

No Country For Old Men is good. It is disheartening that I'm not going to see There Will Be Blood this year. Before No Country, there was a trailer for a horror film about vagina dentata, and in the lobby a movie poster for a new Michael Haneke movie whose slogan is "you must admit you brought this upon yourself." I'm not saying the names of either of these movies because I would put them in bold for the sake of formatting and then it might seem like an endorsement.

The first half of 2007 was better than the second half, because I made movies, and my friends had yet to move away. Now, there aren't really enough people around to make a movie with, and so my life is boring and I haven't had anything interesting to talk about in terms of life experience for several months.

Happy new year, everybody. May your New Year's Eve be filled with just enough introspection to work out how to make the next year better. That level of epiphanic thinking is pretty much the perfect amount of drunk to be- The memory intact, but no sadness-dwelling.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

For Christmas, I got a copy of George Saunders' The Braindead Megaphone. I also was in a car accident, and that was pretty brutal, but I think I can skip over that. But the Saunders book now sits finished, so I might as well review it.

It is too bad, the way the book world works. The main problem with The Braindead Megaphone is the insertion of things that are clearly humor pieces, in a book labeled "essays," where the essays are really great and make a lot of smart arguments that seem to condemn the more simplistic humor pieces, such as "Ask The Optimist" or "Woof." In Persuasion Nation was similarly split between serious short stories and pieces of glib comedy. At the time, I wished he could reconcile these two sides. Now, I just think that the books need to be more carefully edited. The pieces that are weak here- well, they would've been weak if they had been in In Persuasion Nation, but they would've fit in better. Especially if the more serious pieces had been held off for another book. The book world wants what it wants, and doing what I propose would mean three books released at some point in the undefined future, rather than the one-book-every-two-years schedule which is preferable to book companies and customers. Authors too, probably: Having these sides pressed up against each other forces you to engage the scope of the author's vision, rather than just specific facets of their voice.

The reportage in The Braindead Megaphone is pretty great. Some of it was viewable on the internet- Stuff that kind of bridges the line between the straight journalism and the more humorous stuff by choosing a selectively ironic tone- This would be "A brief study of the British" I'm referring to, although "Nostalgia" which follows it in the book I would consider kin, even as it gets closer to humor writing. It's still in the vein of an essay. The piece about Dubai, or the "Buddha Boy" essay, written for GQ, are straightforward journalism, and great. The title essay makes a decent argument and would be a fine opening statement for a book of essays, and is the kind of thing that really makes me think the lesser pieces should not be included.

Then there's four parts of literary criticism: One for Johnny Tremain, one for Slaughterhouse Five, one for a Donald Bartheleme short story, and one introduction to an edition of Huckleberry Finn. These are great pieces, inspiring pieces, that make a person want to write, even as they teach lessons. They are not grouped together in the book, but they do appear in the sequence I list them in, and each brings with it a lesson. Johnny Tremain, read early, taught a lesson about the importance of language sculpting. Slaughterhouse Five is read later, and teaches a number of lessons, but one of the things sort of addressed but not brought up is how in the time since Johnny Tremain, views about how language should be sculpted had become calcified into unusable and foolish shapes. Vonnegut taught Saunders a lot. The lessons Saunders gleaned from Vonnegut and Esther Rhodes are ones I've already learned. The things Saunders talks about in relation to Bartheleme and Twain aren't as instinctual, at least not to me. Great pieces, and why have I not read Donald Bartheleme?

I didn't like Huck Finn when I read it in high school and haven't tried since. But reading these pieces and then going back to write these things I'm writing, I got mad at the way my own highly specific tastes have fucked my voice.

Oh wait: This is the only book I've read this year that came out this year. I also got a copy of Steve Erickson's Zeroville, which is an example of the problem: Both Erickson and Saunders have all their books emblazoned with a Pynchon quote extolling their respective virtues, and then I go about, mining similar vibes. Recognizing the caliber of a gun, looking down its barrel, not really able to get out of the way.

Oh yeah, car crash: First Christmas in years my mom spends Christmas morning with her two sons, and then, leaving the house to go to another family member's house, we are hit in an incident that I didn't quite witness the cause of. Suffice it to say: The car what did the crashing (oh by the way: other people completely at fault) smashed into me, backseat on the driver's side, more than anyone else in the car, although it mostly just hit the wheel on that side, popping tires and breaking an axle completely in a way that requires the car (bought my mom I think a month or two ago) to be replaced. I made fun of my mom for getting a world-fucking gashuffing behemoth, but then I didn't die after getting hit by a car. I do hope for the vehicle to be replaced by something that's less of a terrible beast, but my mom, being very uptight even after no one is hurt and is taking the way time progresses in stride, was very shook up and will probably buy an even more ridiculous thing with whatever insurance money she can muster.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Has anyone who reads this heard the band Cerberus Shoal? Not just heard of them, but listened to a record or two? They have broken up, but become a bunch of other things- They were something of a collective. Anyway, two bands to exist in their wake- Fire On Fire and Big Blood- run around putting out CD-Rs (records to come in the new year) but what I've heard, in mp3 form or on WFMU has been pretty great. The Big Blood stuff especially. They cover Can's Vitamin C! Really well!

They play folk music kind of in the vein of Comus, and I think they live in Portland, Maine. I'm under the impression that Cerberus Shoal were more on some sort of crazy Sun City Girls esque trip, but I can't confirm this. Can YOU? Can you even define what I mean when I say "crazy Sun City Girls esque trip?" Dante's Disneyland Inferno is more along the lines of what I mean, as opposed to Torch of the Mystics, but those are two records out of a very large discography.
I found something kind of interesting: a "Top 100 things" list made by Matt Groening probably around the time of the height of the Simpsons popularity. It's a sidebar. It's an interesting mix of counterculture staples that are really great (Joseph Heller!), popular culture, comics from the eighties that seemed good at the time but probably don't hold up, and esoterica from around the world- Satiyajit Ray’s Apu trilogy, beloved by my friend Joel Brazzel, comes in right behind The Catcher In The Rye.

Also, yesterday I watched the Half Japanese documentary that Jeff Feuerzeig made 10 years before he made The Devil And Daniel Johnston. In the footage of the recording of a cover of "I Heard Her Call My Name" with Mo Tucker playing the drums, one of the other not-a-Fair-brother members is wearing one of those bootleg Black Bart Simpson T-shirts that I now associate with Andrew Jeffrey Wright. On this shirt, Black Bart Simpson is chasing after Black Betty Boop. One of the more famous Half-Japanese photos involves Jad Fair wearing a Destroy All Monsters t-shirt. Destroy All Monsters is a thing I think of as being a forerunner of the Fort Thunder movement which Andrew Jeffrey Wright was on the periphery of. The guy from Half-Japanese is wearing the shirt not as a reference to AJW, rather those Black Bart Simpson shirts were just a thing in the culture at the time, whereas now they're more of an element to be collaged or whatever. The Destroy All Monsters book, Geisha This, is currently available at the Picturebox site, and I very much want to buy it, but do not have the money this Christmas season. It's got a flexi-disc, when Picturebox was making the Black Dice book they wanted to put in a flexi-disc but there's only one manufacturer these days and its prohibitively expensive. Geisha This was made in 1995, one year after the Half-Japanese documentary, and probably two years after Matt Groening made his list of the best things.

Later that day, when rereading comics, I discovered that the artist Rita Ackermann (high-profile work includes the cover art to the Thurston Moore album Psychic Hearts, and an interview in the last ANP Quarterly, where I learned she's friends with Gang Gang Dance) appears in Paul Pope's science fiction comic Heavy Liquid, as an old woman, because the comic is set in the future. Paul Pope also wrote and drew Presidential candidate Ron Paul's favorite Batman comic, which I bought for a quarter a few years ago, in an example of capitalism not working.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Politics blogging: Joe Lieberman endorses John McCain for president. That won't help anyone.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The other night, at the Capitol Theatre, I projected Sean Penn's Into The Wild, which is a terrible movie. I had a weird reaction to it, one not as visceral as I get with other movies- I was actually viewing it and reacting to it largely on technical grounds. I kept on thinking, over and over again, "oh, that's a bad decision." The way the text appears on screen in yellow, the use of voiceover as this thing that seemed outside the rest of the narrative, the editing decisions. It was really not very well-made, no matter what sympathies people might feel to the subject matter. It is weird to suddenly start seeing a movie with that kind of filmic sense, that throught process. I actually felt like I could do a commentary track for it.

Today, by way of a link at the Family blog, found in a great post about Saul Bass, I ended up at a movie blog, which linked to an interview with movie critic Armond White, who I don't agree with on everything, but at least has an interesting perspective, which allows him to be right about things like Wes Anderson while being wrong about things like Billy Wilder. He sings the praises of a movie called Chameleon Street, from 1990, which, if my understanding is correct, is made by a black man, shot on video, and aspires to Orson Welles. Sounds great! Netflix has it as being out on DVD this Tuesday. Netflix doesn't have the movie Saul Bass directed about giant ants, though it does have the movie of the same title that stars TV's Dean Cain.

Tonight I projected Kurt Cobain: About A Son, which is not very good, but is interesting to me because of the footage of Olympia, shot not while Kurt Cobain was alive, but fairly recently. It includes footage of the Yes Yes, an alternative art space where I saw a lot of great shows that only lasted a year. Immortalized on film is the writing on the window in red marker "The Yes Yes needs $1500 for rent this month."

Then, I came home and watched Kim Ki-Duk's Time. Which is a good movie. It's not as transcendent as 3-Iron: there comes a point where the ending is vaguely imaginable, it's a bit repetitive (although deliberately), and maybe a tad misogynist. It's still very good, and in terms of things like shot compositions, it's probably better than any other Kim Ki-Duk movie I've seen. There's also more dialogue, I think, although I don't remember Bad Guy too vividly. Really interesting psychology, great images, and the vague impression of there being something to think about to think through the movie. Right now it strikes me as being similar in some ways to Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, although without the same depth of feeling to its plot movements. I don't know what to say about it, besides recommending it. It really invigorated my love for Ki-Duk, after not seeing any of his films for over a year, because the things I saw that weren't 3-Iron weren't as good as that first film.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Do the kids still listen to Wu-Tang? I told a guy I work with I bought the new Wu-Tang Clan album, and he was surprised they are still making music, and thought that a current album would be terrible.

He is wrong, it is pretty great, except for the track with the Beatles sample and John Frusciante and Erykah Badu. Generally, a lot of the songs where RZA playing the bass takes up a lot of the space in the mix (actually, the predominant trait to the mixes is how open they are, so maybe that is not how I should phrase that) are not as good as the ones that utilize samples- Good use of Nancy Sinatra!

Speaking of Nancy Sinatra: I bought the new Wu-Tang from a Best Buy (Loss leaders! And also it turns out there's an exclusive bonus track, which is awful on exactly two levels) because I had to do the work Secret Santa thing for someone I had never met. I found out it's someone on disability, and was glad I hadn't gotten her something embarassing, based on not knowing that fact, for example "These Boots Were Made For Walking: The Best Of Nancy Sinatra" which is not a compilation I'm certain exists. Does Nancy Sinatra have a lot of good songs? Would such a best-of be a good buy in general given the person in question is able to walk/dance? I think it probably would be.

I will be listening to 8 Diagrams a lot, but it is not going anywhere near the top ten list. Neither's the new Ghostface. And so, I regret nothing.
The floods in Washington that made national news did not actually effect me. However, I learned that the last place I used to live- a duplex in a complex, off a relatively well-traveled road- was flooded. I ran into the neighbor I shared a wall with, she told me that water seeped through the walls and into the carpet, with the back door unable to be opened, and the front door a tricky proposition. This was weird to me: Huh, there's a disaster that I averted, seemingly narrowly, although I moved out five months before.

The other night I picked up the Chris Ware edited McSweeney's 13, and looked at the Gary Panter short story, "Nightmare Studio." He mentions, in talking about visiting Bruce Tibbetts' house in a dream, "As is common in dreams about departed friends, there is water damage in the house." I lived at that house with my best friend, and left those months ago because he moved back to Alaska. There were no dreams, just the mental imagery of the house turned ruined, that rung with this resonance.

It is this talk of Gary Panter and absent friends which I might as well use to lead off this talking about Tekkon Kinkreet, which is probably the best comic I read this year.

(Oh- 1-800-Mice has been canceled as of issue two, but there'll be a graphic novel in the fall of next year. I'm going to post this as a comment in my original review, but might as well say it here too.)

It's from Japan, which is really surprising to me. Japanese comics, generally, strike me as terrible, and this is a thing I've been trying to work out the whys and wherefores of. I like Japanese movies just fine. When I was talking about this online with Bill Randall, who lives outside Tokyo and is kind of an expert on these things, he pointed out that the big figures in Japanese cinema are heavily indebted to American cinema- Howards Hawks and John Ford are respected and emulated by the likes of Kurosawa, but manga has its own lineage. Obviously, it can't really be expected that I would be into the mainstream popular stuff, but even the alternative/underground Japanese comics, which have their own separate lineage, have problems. Shigeru Sugiura, who Dan Nadel of Picturebox referred to as "the Herriman of manga" because of the whole branch of comics weirdness that stems from him, looks clip-art stiff compared to the aliveness of a Krazy Kat strip. Everything that descends from him strikes me as equally stiff- Bill Randall also says that in most Japanese comics drawing culture, copying is taught, not figure drawing- I got the implication that figure drawing isn't a big part of the Japanese visual culture at all, which struck me as really weird. Also, a lot of the manga being published right now, the stuff that's doing gangbusters in Barnes And Noble, is "unflipped"- the image progression reads right to left, even though the words, translated and in English, read left to right- which strikes me as completely counterintuitive, although it's possible to learn how to do it. (Brian Chippendale's comics read back and forth, left-to-right and then right-to-left, so your eye stays focused on panel to panel movement and never goes up from the page.) One artist doesn't have the whole page flipped, but goes in digitally to move the panels to the alternate side of each other, which I find interesting from a composition perspective. I find the whole idea of flipping large sets of images interesting from a compositional perspective. But even though Akira is flipped to read left-to-right, I still think that comic's fucking unreadable and baffling for some reason- it just puts me off completely.

Somehow, this comic got through all those filters. It didn't a couple of years ago though, when it was published as Black And White in a series of three digests that I just read the first one of. It really didn't make any impression on me then. The new printing is bigger now, which makes the images breathe, and the story is all there in one chunk. But really, my response was so strong on this reread that the fact that I didn't like it the first time is near-baffling.

The drawings are the main thing. It has a weird balance of looking like it's drawn by a little kid and being completely solid- The perspectives are skewed, buildings bend, but it never becomes confusing that you're looking at a building, even as the panel has the buildings on the side, with the composition centered on a drawing of a moon with a face on it. It's all drawn at odd angles that avoid that clip-art feeling. There's all these retarded drawings- There's one of a car that I'm particularly obsessed with, the way it looks molded out of clay. It's a deliberate choice- No. 5, by the same artist, does not have kids for protagonists, and is a lot more solid, and somehow it goes back to the level of being not quite readable of almost every other Japanese comic I've read. Osamu Tezuka's Ode To Kirihito is pretty much the only other manga I could read, and that likewise is this weird cartooning tour de force of style-switching and casual avant-garde approaches. In Japan, seemingly, comics styles that are solid are only so because they've cooled to the point of congealing.

Gary Panter's comic drawn for the Japanese market, Cola Madnes, is influenced by Japanese underground comics, seemingly, in how sparse it is, and how the figures relate to each other spacially. His ratty line is what stops it from looking like clip art and brings it back to looking like the marks on paper that all of his work looks like. When I say that Tekkon Kinkreet carries with it some of Panter's power (Paper Rad call him Gary Panther for a reason), that isn't what I'm talking about. I'm talking about that basic level of sloppiness, combined with perfectly understandable drawings, that allow drawings to shift up their style and communicate feeling.

Feeling, it turns out, when reading it all together, is what this comic has in spades. It's about, on one level, male friendships, as this sort of thing that is able to stop the natural violence and craziness of the individuals. This is true about all relationships, but in this story, it's specifically about violence. When the characters get separated, it's more affecting to me here than in Goodbye, Chunky Rice due to the way that things go badly in terms of people's actual behavior as they fall apart, rather than just pine and feel lonesome. It's also more affecting to me because of the drawing. (Goodbye, Chunky Rice is still a good comic though, with its own strengths to the drawing.)

On another level, it's about gentrification. Which is what Brian Chippendale's Ninja was about, which I've already talked about in terms of its relation to Gary Panter.

On another level, it's a fight comic. One of the things I like about Japanese comics is the terminology. Things actually get called "fight comics." The word "manga" literally translates to "irresponsible pictures," which would be both a good name for a comic shop and an exploitation film production company. I don't like how Japanese comics are mostly just broken down by genre into demographics- one for boys, one for girls, one for men, one for women. (The stuff for boys and girls is what mostly is translated and popular. American women read the stuff for girls- I'm not sure what the stuff for women even is, as I'm under the impression that even the stuff featuring gay romance designed to appeal to a female readership is technically for girls. The stuff for men is really violent.) The really weird underground stuff doesn't get broken down, I don't think. It's kind of baffling to me. Anyway, one critic, responding to another critic who was asking "wait, are there Japanese comics for adults? I know there are American comics for adults, thanks New York Times!" brought up Tekkon Kinkreet. Another critic said "No, Tekkon Kinkreet is just a marginally more sophisticated version of these comics for little boys that are really popular. You should've mentioned these comics about the bombing of Hiroshima!" I jumped in to explain the whole Gary Panter not being Chris Ware thing. Tekkon Kinkreet might not read like literature, but it does read like really great comics, which is an argument that's foreign to a reviewing culture used to saying things like "a good graphic novel can be equivalent to a prose novel." Different mediums have different strengths. I get something different out of a Borges collection than I do a P.T. Anderson movie. (Has there ever been a short film as good as the best short stories? I'm pretty sure there hasn't been.) A main strength of Tekkon Kinkreet is how the violence is drawn: Movement is captured well, generally, and so is psychological intensity. From this, some of the drawing is kind of free-associative symbolism, in a way that couldn't be done in another medium. Towards the climax, fish are just drawn flying through the air, sort of as a visual-language leitmotif that doesn't really distract from any of the other elements. Wait, flipping through it again, maybe that doesn't happen. There are drawings of fish though, thrown in as symbols in their own panels, adding to the energy of a page as a single unit, though.

Somehow, over the course of reading it, I felt it all start to add up, the weight of one drawing after another. The way individual drawings worked, added up into the way entire pages worked as a piece of design, and then intuitively by force of the narrative just got piled into this even bigger shape, that after 614 pages of skewed perspective things start to look differently. My only complaint about the book is the use of this kind of distressed font which can also be found on the cover of the last Melt-Banana album. It is about as important here as it is on that record- You're not staring at the front cover when an album like that plays.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I got into an argument on the internet awhile ago, over the nature of videogames. In this conversation, I came off as a philistine, because the argument I was making runs counter to standard party lines. I thought where I was coming from was completely understandable, but the person I was arguing with thought I was just talking crazy talk. My argument will be reiterated here.

Games don't work as storytelling mediums. They can't do what a movie does, no matter how cinematic their creators try to be. The whole nature of there being something that someone else controls works against the natural storytelling impulse, and specifically, the ability to have an ending reinforce themes.

This isn't to dismiss them as their own thing, or to say that they're useless because they can't tell a story. I think their strength is this weird meditative aspect, of doing something over and over again to get further and further. I like them as reverse Buddha Machines, designed for the eyes and hands, as opposed to being listened to. World exploration also fits into this.

The idea that as technology improves, games will become more cinematic is an awful one, completely opposed to what I find useful or interesting. Most games I like are over ten years old at this point, but that doesn't mean that the technology is a dead-end. I keep on imagining bigger worlds.

I bring this up because I had further aesthetic differences with the person I was arguing with: He wrote a thing about comics where he stated that the drawing doesn't always matter, but the writing always does. I don't know if I can get into arguing against that without parroting other people's opinions, so I'll just let it suffice to say we had different ideas of what constituted good drawing- which is a completely different argument.

On the other side of things, I had a conversation in real life with another writer. I asked her what sort of literary influences she had, and she responded by just saying that she tried to capture the way her favorite music made her feel. Which at the time, I took to mean that she didn't read very much, and a dodge of the question, but to angle for that sort of transendence is altogether admirable. I've sinced learned that she mostly writes music criticism and features, so it's not quite the same thing, but still.

This post doesn't quite work. It exists largely because I am putting off writing a post about Taiyo Matsumoto's Tekkon Kinkreet. I feel obligated to do it at some point because comics bloggers started linking to me, so I should up the comics-content accordingly, but I don't want this to be about comics exclusively, or predominantly, and actually I don't even read enough for this to be updated regularly were that to become the case. I think my goal is to try to talk about all sorts of different artistic mediums, like it's all some sort of vague toolkit, for people trying to take one medium and bend it towards being like another, to achieve some sense of transcendence. The only issue is talking about everything like that, angling towards transcendence without a really emphatic focus, will probably end up with a lot of kind of vague and inarticulate writing. (My Tekkon Kinkreet review, for instance, will be focused on the drawing, but I am without the aid of a scanner to actually make my points lucid.)

So, okay, let's talk about Steven Millhauser. Which I've done before. Bill Boichtel, proprietor of a comics store in Pittsburgh, said that "In the literature, film and-- perhaps especially-- the comics of the last few decades, we can’t help but notice faint hints of flavor, subtle aromas, and distant echoes which seem, now, after becoming familiar with it, to have somehow emanated from [Edwin Mullhouse]." (He also recommended another book of prose I'm reading right now.) I can only vaguely understand where he's coming from with that, but it's still more sensible than this quote, from I think The Washington Post, that shows up on a lot of his books, saying that his writing doesn't "just aspire to the condition of music, but actually achieves it," which is completely insane for all but the most synaesthetic of us. That said, I kind of think Millhauser's stuff works like visual art- Partly because of the way he talks about art, but mainly due to how the nature of the ideas of fantastic world building that form the basis for the majority of his stories would make sense worked out in an installation context.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Hotel Chevalier short that shows before The Darjeeling Limited is interesting in that it doesn't show a lot of what is typically associated with Wes Anderson's style, the things that people are criticizing as tics. It's not crazy art-directed, it's not really all that quirky, etc. It could be said to signal a new direction, if anyone thought he was going to go that way, but I don't think anyone thinks he is, because that's a terrible direction, and Hotel Chevalier really isn't very good. It's important for context later on in The Darjeeling Limited.

Matthew Perpetua said the smartest things about The Darjeeling Limited, or at least the things that I was thinking about: Hey, here's a movie about rich kids, because Anderson's art-direction-driven style makes the most sense in a movie about rich kids, which I have no problem with, and also that's what the Coppola family members who cowrote the script know. Although, it's also worth noting that the movie doesn't have enough Bill Murray in it: The best scenes have Bill Murray in them. There's two of them. Oh, that first scene, with moving cameras? That's an interesting way that Anderson's style could evolve in a positive way. So nice and brisk coming out of the claustrophobia of Hotel Chevalier, shaking off its boredom.

I also liked the way the soundtrack was largely pre-existing Indian music. That showed signs of growth, although it was held back by the use of that song Jason Schwartzman plays on his iPod (it gets heard TWICE in Hotel Chevalier, right? At least!) (and in terms of art direction- eek, an iPod? The Royal Tenenbaums had things like electric tie racks) which brings us back to the world of expected Wes Anderson soundtrack choice music.

I did like the "I like how mean you are" bit at the end of the movie, which does require the setup in the short, making the short necessary. Also, the very presence of the short preceding the feature signals an interesting artistic choice/possible new direction. Certainly, these are minor deviations, but I still think they're valid.

I still think The Life Aquatic was better, and I think it's unfair to compare it to anything before The Royal Tenenbaums. Is it the weakest? Yeah, probably, but who cares, that's not the point. It's comparable to Lost In Translation in some of the themes it deals with, and it's way better than that, and isn't what really counts in art the strength in the way in which things are articulated, rather than how something fits into an oeuvre?

The answer is yes, but I don't think I have anything to say about the themes in question. Nor does any other movie critic in America, besides that Fluxblog piece I linked to, and that piece gets distracted, so there we are. The Darjeeling Limited is a thing that exists, and has its pleasures.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

2007 Top Ten!

Technically, the year isn't over yet. But this is the point where the record industry pretty much stops putting out records, excepting things that are easy sells as Christmas gifts. Someone- John Darnielle?- Postulated that every record released after the last week in November is made by Queen. There's also the new Wu-Tang, Ghostface, and maybe the new Nas record with the controversial title. Feel free to post it in the comments thread. With an exclamation point. Just make it seem like it's directed at me. I didn't hear enough rap records this year.

This is really just an excuse to talk about music, the way we relate to music, etc. Oh, and to give you points of comparison when actual influential music magazines and websites start posting stuff. There are certainly things that came out this year that I haven't heard yet that I might really like. But it's either a top ten post or just a random post about that new Magik Markers record.

Without further hullaballoo:
1. Panda Bear - Person Pitch
2. Dan Deacon - Spiderman Of The Rings

I'm not sure I like that order, actually. I feel like Person Pitch is the more obvious choice, which is why it's at number one. It's the more "mature" album, even though the lyrics are super-simplistic and positive. Dan Deacon tells people at shows to imagine they're in their childhood den having a pizza party: His music is actually consciously childlike. Because of that, there's still more teenage energy. In some ways, they're the same record. The Dan Deacon record is overstuffed, bursting at the seams with so much energy. Woooody Woodpecker beats Comfy In Nautica as an opener, but Bros beats out Wham City as a third track epic.

I kind of want to give it to Dan Deacon, actually. This is due in one part to my contrarian streak- I think in 2004 my stance for awhile was that Girl Talk's Unstoppable was the album of the year, rather than Animal Collective's Sung Tongs- and kind of a tribute to the kind of year I had. Not the entirety of the year, but the fun part, the first half, was pretty Dan Deacon-ish. The fact that it's a record people might be writing off as a novelty record makes me even more behind it. Also, I used "Big Milk" in a movie I made. I don't know, last year I said the best album of the year was Paper Rad's Trash Talking DVD. These are my biases: Nerds rummaging through the cultural garbage, making jokes all the while, and somehow ending up with something moving.

The best thing I read about Person Pitch this year was on Stylus's top fifty list blurb.

But yes, switch those, actually, to note my contrarianism.

3. Marnie Stern - In Advance Of The Broken Arm

When Marnie Stern came to town, she ended up opening for BARR, which threw me for a loop I didn't expect. I told people to come and ended up in the restaurant talking while she played at the back of the bar. I'd only heard a chunk of her album then, a few mp3s, and wasn't even sold enough to buy a copy off her- I figured the show would kick my ass and convince me if the record was worth a purchase or not, but then I didn't hear the songs. Hey everybody, I'm an idiot.

But let's move past that, because these songs are amazing. The most recent time, I was actually listening for rhythms, moments where the drums and the riffs actually synch up to achieve what is normally associated with rock music. It didn't happen so much. Everything is falling down the stairs, or flying around your head. It's all over the place. It's got tornado powers, summoning the wind. It's all achieved through labor. Marnie Stern plays the shit out of the guitar, all cooped up in her room. Totally committed to the music. All of the songs are about art making, specifically, the putting a lot of work into such things. "My fingers burn, the skin is peeling off. This is my Thunder Road, this is my Marquee Moon, this is my Orthrelm In Tune, this is my love for you." That is a lyric that will die on the fucking screen, but ohhhhh dude. "Thunder Road" sounds like "Thought For Food," The Books record. Anthems for art-making: "I've been off the radar way too long!" "I'm almost an island, but not quite yet." The whole album is named after a DuChamp piece. Oh, and after a shitload of pop songs played from a whirlwind, the last track utilizes these spoken-word/performance elements that just nail me right where I stand: "I will paint you a picture that's inside my head, but first I must carve out a place." Sweet jesus. I think that Marnie Stern could make another record, not about art-making, and it might be able to actually communicate its depth to a larger group of people. I made some movies this year, and listened to a lot of Marnie Stern. I'm not really making anything anymore, but songs like "Put All Your Eggs In One Basket and Then Watch That Basket!!" are still totally awesome even when the title isn't the slogan you're living your life by.

4. Electrelane - No Shouts, No Calls

Most of the songs kind of blur in my head. Krautrock rhythms, with girls singing. It's just a great aesthetic. I remember writing, in an e-mail to someone, that I wanted to make a movie with the tone of this record. Looking back on it now, it's kind of vague what I meant. To take a guess, I imagine I'll mean the rhythm of it, the kind of cool yet danceable beat, vaguely detached, but in a dreamy way, but with this undercurrent overtone of actual human emotion and longing. This was in the springtime that I wrote this, this is a springtime record. Flowers blooming, skin showing, wind blowing. I guess this band is now broken up a little. This is them nailing an aesthetic, after some instrumental records that weren't so good, really kicking ass on pop songs.

(I think they had a record with vocals, all sung in French, which is lame in as much as I don't think French is their native language, so it's vaguely an affectation. The straightforwardness is what I'm responding to here.) It's not a perfect album, it's just a really great aesthetic- Which, by the way, is what I think is going to define the music of the decade: The most exciting bands to me aren't the ones doing the best songs, but they're the ones putting on the best live shows. This would be bands like Lightning Bolt and Deerhoof, "favorite bands" whose albums aren't going to be the favorite of the year, due to something about them that makes their work all blur together. Maybe I just think of those as favorite bands because I am seeing bands live now, as opposed to the bands that existed during the nineties, when I was younger. Wow, that's a hell of digression. Especially since that record with vocals, The Power Out, I only heard once, at a party, and I mostly just remember liking it.)

5. Boris With Michio Kurihara- Rainbow

Wow, Boris were really great when I saw them live. I don't know. This record's really good. I listened to it a lot, especially towards the beginning of the year, when I first became aware of its existence. I like the way the guitar solos just kind of split through the songs like lightning. I like that it's metal largely in the ridiculousness of the vocal performance. I think it's a lot better than last year's Pink, because it's not so monolithic/monochromatic.

6. Magik Markers - Boss

I saw Magik Markers wrap up their set opening for Sonic Youth in 2005. I think they sucked at the time. I remember Elisa yelling at the crowd "fucking do something!" shortly after I'd walked in. This is their first "actual" record, after a bunch of CD-Rs and assorted Bull-Tongue-submitted detritus, with "actual" songs, and being recorded in a studio, and... I like it a lot. The thing thrown at noise musicians- that anyone can do it- isn't necessarily untrue. This album has actual songs, but still is kind of "anyone can do it." But the only other people I can think of who actually did it is Sonic Youth on Confusion Is Sex. Songs are moods, fast or slow, different effects pedals, different vocal melodies or approaches, and they switch up, and they're well-recorded and then well-chosen for their order: Alternate rockers with ballads, determined by how fast the instrumentalists are moving their hands. The justification I read for them making this record was their realization that they could do better songs than other people. They were right. Anyone could make this record with the right point of view, the same point of view that leads to confrontational noise shows and the realization that you're smarter than other people. This is better than that Thurston Moore solo record, which was in turn better than any Sonic Youth record since Murray Street. Killing your idols is fun, and made easy when they decide to record your album and then release it.

7. Liars - Liars

This could probably beat out the last two records. Not unlike Magik Markers, this is a band tightening up to make pop songs, only they were already further along than the provocation of noise shows. I like the fact that Plaster Casts Of Everything starts out kind of bad and then transcends itself. I like that Houseclouds sounds like early nineties Britpop, specifically Blur. I like that the third song then sounds like They Were Wrong So We Drowned b-sides, only not shitty. I like that when it comes into focus again it sounds like Jesus And Mary Chain. I like that my friend Alex tried to get my friend Evan to listen to it by saying it sounded like sixties garage rock, and then when I asked him about it later he admitted he was basically lying. It sounds like sixties garage rock only in relation to the rest of the Liars catalog, and that if you had synaesthesia its colors would be red with purple flashes like The Creation once claimed to be. But maybe I only think that because those are the colors of the cover to Strawberry Jam, which this is better than.

8. Wooden Wand - James And The Quiet

The cover of this album is a photo taken at a friend's house in Olympia, at a show I was at. This wouldn't be worth mentioning if this weren't a folk record. Because it's a folk record, it seems strangely appropriate. It's the best "straightforward" Wooden Wand album so far, whereas The Flood was their best jammy record. I listened to this a lot. I don't know what to say about it, besides what I wrote about it a few months ago. The runner-up folk record would be the Nina Nastasia/Jim White collaboration.

9. Eric Copeland - Hermaphrodite

Some might like the Black Dice singles compilation more. This is another record I wrote about, if I recall. I've been talking about it to people, I know. Insisting that it was the noise record of the year, and then telling someone that even though the album art might be creepy, the actual vibe of the record is sunshiney. It brings to mind world music, and walking the streets of unfamiliar foreign lands. The live show, with its ridiculous live volume, still had rhythms, although I don't think anyone in the audience was interested in hearing them: The high volume and the setting sort of stripped the sunshine away. Still, it recast this music in a different context, and it was amazing. The runner-up noise record would be Black Dice's Load Blown, yes.

10. Menomena- Friend And Foe.

This could be switched out for Strawberry Jam, certainly. I liked it a lot when I first heard it, and then I found out that what I had downloaded was not the actual tracklist, and that the actual tracklist doesn't flow as well. I also found out that the tracklist I was listening to had a track missing that I didn't add into iTunes. That song's not bad. None of these songs are bad. Another record I already talked about when I first heard it.

No runners-up! I've been writing about music all year, and don't need to list the things I liked again.

Friday, November 23, 2007

1-800-Mice is a great name for a comic book. Just say it out loud if you have doubts. In terms of crafting prose that rolls off the tongue, a comic pretty much just needs to nail it with the title. With movies and TV, dialogue needs to ring true, books and poetry might be read aloud. A comic just needs to have its voice captured in the form of brand recognition, especially with these one-person doing whatever the hell they feel like comics. "Love And Rockets" is a pretty good example. When I saw the title 1-800-Mice for the first time, I got all excited. I walked around with it in my head like a pop song's chorus for a day or two.

The comic itself is pretty good, which is why I'm writing about the title now, rather than when I first came to know it. It's a good name for a Matthew Thurber comic, specifically, because it seems like a non sequitur. It wouldn't actually work as a phone number. The first time I read one of his comics, I was half-distracted by trying to have a conversation or something, and couldn't really follow it. The prose- the dialogue/captions, that which is not drawing- is really distinct, it has these odd rhythms, and the stories themselves have the same rhythms. It seems like nonsense, because it will take these sideways detours. But it's not a Marc Bell comic, where the nonsensical dialogue is just this weird act of self-negation and deterrence: It actually builds and goes places. "1-800-Mice" actually ends up being a plot point. It's the name of a company that uses mice as couriers for messengers to parts of the world unable to be reached by cell phones. Which is, maybe, the plot point on which the whole world turns, thematically.

Because detectable within Thurber's comic is this anxiety about the modern world of cell phones. I'll cite examples of dialogue like "I spent too much time on the internet today. It's fucking up my DNA." "I hear that man... but how do we get out of the way... of waves?" and bits from thought balloons like "recurring nightmares of population density, a poisoned ipod or a generation lost to a suicide faddishness." And I think part of this is why anthropomorphic characters are being utilized. Thurber reviewed a Leif Goldberg zine where that sort of technique was admired for how it "helps level the playing field between humans and the Earth." There's an interview with Thurber in the same magazine as that review, as well as a comic involving humans turning into lizards. There's this weird natural world bubbling up through a cartoon world, which is one of those things that seems counter-intuitive, but actually makes perfect sense to me, in a way that's hard to articulate in the form of criticism.

It's because of this that I got obsessed with 1-800-Mice, with it really bothering me that there was a long period of time when a second issue was out and unavailable to me. Even though, after reading the first issue at the same time as another Thurber comic, the newspaper Carrot For Girls, I thought the latter was better, even though it's kind of not that great. I finally got issue two not too long ago, and that comic really was great.

The same magazine that hosted Thurber reviewing a Leif Goldberg zine had an interview with Thurber himself, that ended with him saying that he wanted to "figure out how to write funnier comics, more interesting comics, more readable stuff." It turns out when reading issue two that the key to making funnier comics is to make them more readable as comics, actually utilizing the panel-to-panel rhythms that have traditionally worked in comics rather than having apeshit layouts that are closer to psychedelic posters with a lot of text on them. Pretty much everything before that first issue had sequences that were largely unparseable on a first read. Here, the nonsensical weirdness just works as jokes, rather than artiness, but it doesn't detract from what makes Thurber interesting at all.

I attribute this shift to the publication of Art Out Of Time, edited by the publisher of 1-800-Mice, Dan Nadel. Art Out Of Time is a collection of old comics, drawn by people who were weirdos enough to have a distinct vision, and presented in a context that highlights that what these were distinct artists, and not just hacks, even though they were hacking out the pages at the time. Everything I've seen Thurber cite as an influence is kind of esoteric- the music of Caroliner, The Sun City Girls, and Captain Beefheart, the comic-zines silkscreen printed in the underground. Art Out Of Time presents stuff that works and tells straightforward narratives, originally for kids largely, and points out that it glows with weirdness anyway. It's like pointing out that the beat for an Usher song sounds like Black Dice to someone who really likes Black Dice, this kind of "wait, what" epiphany that leads to clarity because you understand how to channel idiosyncracy in a way that's clear.

So, suddenly, for an issue at least, (and I'm very much anticipating issue 3, which should be coming out imminently) Thurber's comics read all that much easier. What's weird is that, to me, they kind of felt like funny animal comics already. Kind of like how the Grant Morrison Doom Patrol comics that remain an all-time favorite channel silver-age superhero stuff that was already kind of weird because people were working at high enough speeds that unconscious anxieties spilled out and turn up that weirdness by utilizing a conscious awareness of a history of surrealist artwork. Only for "The Fox And The Crow" or something. Now, it's really been nailed, and the comic reads like Boody Rogers adapting fragments of an unpublished Thomas Pynchon novel. (Other Art Out Of Time reference points would be the nervousness of Rory Hayes, with the frozenness of Ogden Whitney surfacing on the page where Groomfiend is receiving a message from a coffee cup.) I cite Pynchon not just because I like him, but due to the size of the ensembles he works with, and the proclivity towards "funny" names that was in itself probably inspired by cartoons. (Oh, also the weird sexual practices: In issue two a cop fucks a duck! But not in the tawdry way that you'd see in a sixties underground comic, but in the weird and casual way it would happen in Gravity's Rainbow.) But I do really like Thomas Pynchon, and part of the reason I think that's a fair comparison point is because 1-800-Mice rules.

And while that's an obvious ending to an essay, I realize that I didn't get into, really, the way that sometimes out-of-nowhere, right after a tangent, there'll be occasional moments of straightforward emotional truth. Like, the "Megabat" page in issue 1: In itself, it's a complete detour from the rest of the comic, and then towards the end, there's a two-panel detour. And then, at the end: "I need to move," which, due to the context in which it appears and the way its drawn, I now think about everytime I think about how I need to move. That the context is pretty much completely fantastical makes it even more of an achievement. Or two panels on the page that wraps up that issue. It's the same improvisational methods that are so all over the place that enable the comic to be funny, when it is funny, are the same things that enable the emotional bits to come out of nowhere and be all the more resonant for it.

Oh oh: The ad copy for it, that appeared in issues of Cold Heat and probably nowhere else, "Like Maus without the holocaust" is completely hilarious and really should be thrown around more.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The thing that makes Guy Maddin movies work when they should be horrendous is that they aren't that tied up to the source material they're referencing. Brand Upon The Brain has this crazy frenetic editing that would never be in a silent film. It's powered by the digital editing software of today, but restrained by the idea of the serials he's referencing that it doesn't go off the rails into Tony-Scott-ville.

I didn't see it with the live narration, orchestra and foley artists of its touring iteration. I saw it projected on film, and then learned that the touring show was projected digitally: The live narration utilizes a teleprompter and a synched-up digital signal. The point is that this vision that critics take of Maddin as this nostalgist is an impossible mistruth.

Brand Upon The Brain is great. The Saddest Music In The World is maybe tedious, and some of his shorts might peter out and just feel like a stylistic exercise. This film, on the other hand- Sure, the framing sequence is easily forgettable, and the actual meat of the film might not have much of a climax, but the majority of the film is more persistently entertaining/interesting than any other indie film I've seen so far this year. It's one of those great examples of actual experimental work, in a narrative context, creating this thrilling sense of something happening that's more entertaining and direct than anything that consciously avoids anything too obviously formal for fear it might be distancing.

This isn't to say that the weird frenetic editing isn't overdone. (An effect used frequently was created by running a mouse back and forth on Final Cut through a series of shots, while recording it and then editing that back into it later.) This is supposed to cite that what is happening is the narrator's memories, as outlined in the framing sequence, but still that framing sequence is easily forgotten. It is overdone, but it's awesome, completely in keeping with the melodramatic narration, and the way in which the narrative piles its elements on.

Hell of a thing!
Sunday's episode of The Simpsons, guest-starring Jack Black and some comics people, was a weird experience. I guess almost every time I see a new episode of The Simpsons, it's weird and discomfort-inducing for a moment or two. It's still on the air, it really shouldn't be, and no one knows what to do with it. Occasionally, a joke will be really mean- I remember a "Bart torturing Skinner" sequence that seemed completely unacceptable to me. Generally, the vibe is that it's trying to be Family Guy- a show that I would assume everyone who wrote for The Simpsons would feel superior to. I just feel bad for large segments of people when I see an episode.

My theory as to why that show is still on the air is because Matt Groening is too much of a good liberal to lay off nice, funny people from what is probably the best job they will ever have.

Anyway, the last episode didn't have moments that were like that. It just had a bunch of jokes that were so nerdy and inside that I can't imagine normal people would get them. And they weren't delivered casually- They happened one after the other. Just relentless nerdiness.

There was this animated Tintin sequence, which I'm not even sure constitutes a parody or a joke. Because I've never read Tintin. If you have, and can explain if that was a joke, and how it was a joke, I would like to hear it. I get the impression things don't explode that much in Tintin.

I imagine that the general public was as dumbfounded and bored during the whole subplot as I was during that scene. Even the stuff that I understood made me vaguely uncomfortable- the bit where Lisa tells Dan Clowes how much she related to Ghost World? Yeah, that bothered me.

Still, I laughed at a lot of the nerdy shit, and in a way where I was really glad there was no one around to not laugh at that shit with me in the same room. I was really thrown by its existence, but that made me laugh, when I did laugh, all the harder: It felt like inside jokes being done on this grand scale that had to be alienating most people.

Or maybe no one watches The Simpsons these days.

I also laughed later on, at the sight gag of Homer with his stomach stapled, and then later on, post plastic surgery. Oh, and the "Count back from ten" "Okay, I admit it, I'm drunk" exchange.

During the subplot that was all nerd shit, all the time, the only joke that wasn't just an obscure reference was Jack Black's girlfriend saying the line "My name is Strawberry, and I have a lunchbox for a purse," which is hysterical to me. Way funnier than Alan Moore complaining about corporate behemoth employers mistreat his work. For the people reading this blog who might need that joke explained to them: That's what he does in real life! All the time! Not really a well-observed joke about certain types of people like the thing about the lunchbox purse is, no.

The last episode I remember seeing and thinking was okay was later highlighted by a blogger for The Onion AV Club as being written by the guy who did My Super Ex-Girlfriend, and having similar undercurrents of casual misogyny. That episode was good enough to have come from a season where The Simpsons was just starting to go bad.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

When people talk about hip-hop/pop producers, Rich Harrison is underrated for weirdness. In addition to that Amerie song I really like, (actually, a lot of them are pretty good, and he does all those beats) he also did this new Usher song, "Dat Girl Right There," which I just heard, and is fucking crazy. I haven't heard about him listening to Black Dice, which Timbaland apparently does, but that really shouldn't matter- This song is way weirder than any Timbaland song I can name. Any contenders I am forgetting should be posted in the comments.

I wish either of those dudes would produce an Enon record. The new Enon is terrible for its generic rock and rolling- People saying it is the closest to Brainiac than any Enon record need to listen to Electro-Shock For President again. That record rules: It's weird dark minimal atmospheres (in a way kind of comparable to the last Kites record, actually) with just the slimmest bit of song structure for the vocals to freak out over. Seemingly when critics are comparing Grass Geysers... Carbon Clouds to Brainiac they are just referring to the points off Hissing Prigs In Static Couture that didn't age so well, which is just a handful of choruses where the vocals are mixed in a very 1990s alt-rock way. I am probably thinking of Veruca Salt as a comparison point. That didn't fuck up those songs, really, they're just the lamest part of an awesome band. (Or Smack Bunny Baby isn't so good, either, but that was before John Schmersal joined, so it probably doesn't count.) For Enon records, I guess I would put Lost Marbles and Exploded Evidence just behind Believo!

But yeah, that Usher song: Fucking crazy! That Amerie song: Pretty fucking good!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

CF makes noise music and draws comics. Somehow, I've earned a reputation for liking noise music, when I pretty much just like Black Dice, and Black Dice side projects. And not even every Black Dice side project- The collaboration of Eric Copeland with Avey Tare, Terrestrial Tones, is not to be found on my computer, even though Alex owned a copy of Dead Drunk that I remember having some moments. Actually, maybe I should look into that. But anyway. CF makes noise music under the name of Kites, whose record Peace Trials I've talked about liking in the past. That one goes back and forth between brutal noise jams and folk songs, and the jams get more abstract and brutal as the songs become prettier, as the record goes on. I never would have downloaded that were it not for my affection for the guy's comics, as they've appeared in various anthologies. I can connect those folk songs to the drawing styles, almost. There's a warmth, and a simplicity: CF draws in a thin pencil line, occasionally embellished with watercolor paint.

Anyway, CF's put out a "graphic novel," his first after a bunch of short stories and minicomics and drawings. It's called Powr Mastrs, it's completely awesome, and none of the reviews I've read of it have articulated why. He also put out another record on Load pretty recently, which I'm listening to now, hoping to talk about.

For once, the weird hyperbole/nonsensical assertions that is noise discussion's stock in trade is accurate: The Load website describes this record as cold. Yes. There are human voices on this record, but they're not in syncopation with the instruments. Noise machines go fuckity-buzz-beep-bomp-skronk, while the human voice does spoken word: "Lady! No one's going to look at you that way! Put your compact away!" and sometimes get chewed up in the machines themselves. But Load also does the weird bullshit for a record for the comic, Powr Mastrs, and it's not even worth talking about.

Powr Mastrs is great, despite the lack of the watercolor paints that are sometimes a huge art strength, that make CF's stuff look like Henry Darger. Without it, the art sometimes gets into Charles Schulz territory, in terms of sideways figure drawing. There's also this weird geometric technical drawing aspect to the architecture, and the angles things are chosen to be depicted from. There's also these drawings of plants and animals which are really great, and where the drawings shine most obviously in terms of what's considered good drawing. The coolest elements of the drawing lie somewhere in between though, when figures get distorted of abstractions as their bodies pull apart. This happens in a lot of CF's comics: Some sort of hydrocephalic hallucination of power ripping things apart from the way they normally lie. More of a vision than a hallucination, actually, because the way the figures and the architecture look, so thin-lined in pencil, there's a sort of squareness that is different than what you'd see in, say, a Brendan McCarthy comic, which for the sake of the argument will serve as shorthand for psychedelia in the traditional "taking some mushrooms and throwing down the paint" sense. That stuff is muddier, this is more clear. The crazy distortions keep the geometric clarity of seeming drawn with s-curves and t-squares. It's awesome.

The noise isn't like that at all. It's, you know, noisy, against that sort of recognizability. Brian Chippendale travels in the same circles as CF. His comics keep the visual noise of crazy cross-hatching, and in Ninja it was made clear that that was deliberate. The panels that didn't have that, that were clean, were thought of as being bleached, gentrified for yuppies. The insane sketchiness was to reinforce a vision of a world that was more like Fort Thunder and less like a condo. Noise as something exclusionary, but also celebratory of vitality. CF's comics have a particular style, but it's not really of a piece with his music the way that Chippendale's work is.

CF's comic in Kramers Ergot 5, which he did the covers for, was signed "Fuck all you careerists and fuck the president," and in Powr Mastrs there's a note on the table of contents that says "law stay away." Tom Spurgeon has described CF's comics as being dissimilar to a sort of fantasy story about good triumphing over evil and more about weird social interactions that might be kind of unfair. What I like about this stuff is the way that sort of punk human personality elements are reflected in world-building and good stories, that sort of attribution of the transference of ideas from one consciousness to another. That's why I want to connect the comics to the noise- they come from the same person, and thus, theoretically, the same place, and in an effective piece of art, I tend to think the artist's vision is communicated. The noise only does that in terms of scene signifier: something so abrasive that it can only exist in certain contexts, and those contexts, due to their extremism, can have these lawless overtones: Shows held in houses, usually with fridges full of dumpstered food and drugs readily available. There's a whole set of associations. In Powr Mastrs, there's a "transmutation night" for witches off in the distance for lawless fun. There's also "beard parties," where immortal children pretend to be old.

In a lot of CF's short comics, there's this kind of transcendence, also, that comes from not being all that into conflict: "Race From Dying" from the SPX 2001 anthology had a dude opting out of work by drawing lines and patterns he could disappear into. The 2-page story in Paper Rad's BJ and Da Dogs had a character that took lack of conflict for granted in favor of making friends, kind of as a punchline. There's some kind of zen peacefulness that just sort of comes up. This is also vaguely evident in the folk songs from "Peace Trials" which hint at extollations of peace. Powr Mastrs doesn't have that, but it's not over yet, it has a while yet to go. So far it's just laying out the world of social relationships, which will maybe end up transcended in the future. But without that element- that "the point" element, the third-act conclusion that enforces the themes, there's still a lot to like. One element is the drawing, which is hard to articulate the strengths of, besides just saying that it's graceful. There's also the humor, and the world being built as an interesting one in itself, of just a world inside an artist's head.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The other night, I watched Elia Kazan's A Face In The Crowd. I liked it, but realized that it would probably blur in my memory very quickly with Billy Wilder's Ace In The Hole. Mostly, the two movies just share a tone.

Face In The Crowd
is interesting for the way in which it depicts the idea of a down-home, folksy country musician as supporting conservative politics- made in an era in which conservative politics were unpopular. It was made in 1957, which while it might not seem like the most liberal of times now, it's still worth noting Eisenhower saying that if a president ever tried to abolish social security, every liberal in the country, including him, would rise up. The far-right politician in this film is someone who supports the abolition of social security, and is also described as "the last of the isolationists." What a weird little time capsule.

Ace In The Hole was made in 1951. It stars Kirk Douglas, as a journalist who manufactures spectacle to make a name for himself. It's simultaneously funnier and more of a tragedy than Face In The Crowd, but Face In The Crowd, being made in 1957 has a crazy little proto-film-psychedelia scene of over-editing that I find really endearing.

They are almost the same movie, some sort of flipside to each other. Both are about the way the media chews people out and spits them up, and there's some corrupting process along the way. Ace In The Hole is about a reporter manufacturing a story where there is none, with tragic results. A Face In The Crowd is about the subject being chosen and inflated in a way beyond his control. It's more sprawling- it takes place over a longer period of time, and is about a person becoming a celebrity and becoming corrupted, but there are weird brief looks into his foundational psychology.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A few nights ago, I was sick with a fever. It was pretty debilitating, leaving me unable to sit up or accomplish tasks, even basic ones like eating. I called in sick. The next day I woke up, feeling better, getting better throughout the day, after probably a little less than 14 hours of sleep. I was confident that when I awoke the next day, Tuesday, I'd be aces. I ended up sleeping more than I expected to, and feeling pretty awful, but different symptoms than I had at the first onset of sickness. I apparently look and sound terrible- I just heard myself talk, and it was not pleasant. I'm mostly worried about an ear infection- it's one part thing that is mostly gotten by three years old to one part the idea of an eardrum rupturing.

The word that I heard about how to avoid these first came to me by way of a story of things gone awry. A friend of mine had put minced garlic in her ears, and then freaked out and pushed it down to the point where it got stuck and she had to go to the emergency room. As I recalled this to an acquaintance who works at the school medical center, she expressed terror. If her ear drum had burst with the garlic inside, what is probably the worst pain ever would have had still more burning compounded on top of that. I then talked to someone else, a woman who is knocked up, and thus soon to be a mother, who vouched for the garlic method, although admitted beforehand that it seemed hippy-dippy, but also explained how the person who had it go awry did it wrong. She also advocated other things, like wearing earmuffs and washing your ears out with hydrogen peroxide before sleep. Anyway. I tried the garlic thing, it was pleasant to do. I will keep at it, I suppose. Looking up medicinal uses of garlic online finds things that seem legit, although some of them are more involved than I am willing to attempt for something that still gives off strong stenches of hippie vibes.

EDIT: and now I'm crying!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

So, the Halloweeen party. I spent a lot of time making the costume, which still wasn't done in time. That was to be a jellyfish costume, made out of grocery bags. It just ended up looking like garbage. Anyway. The party was held at my house, and at the end of the night a girl, a friend of a friend, was drunk enough to find me attractive. So drunk, actually, that I could not in good conscience be okay with this. My roommates looked on, probably wondering whether or not I was a scumbag, as I resolutely did not move my face the forty-five degrees needed to make out, and instead stared straight ahead, trying to communicate telepathically "oh my god everybody I am fucking overwhelmed, but I swear that I am not a rapist." I need to wake up in a few hours to escort this girl, sleeping on a mattress in the living room, to the Greyhound station, when probably she will not remember anything. I will also make eggs to cure what is sure to be an awful hangover.

But the party went well, despite a lack of people I invited showing up, and the disc of music I made to play during costumed wrestling matches not playing. Costumed wrestling was fucking amazing.

While I was attempting to achieve telepathy, one of my roommates was giving me booze. Why? I don't know. It seems completely counter-intuitive. But anyway in a few hours I will wake up early and live to regret it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

My friend John Samson is completely insane.

I really need to travel out to Colorado. What a great dude.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I keep on calling a person who is in some state of transgenderification by the wrong pronoun. I think of this person as a male, but they would rather be referred to as a she. When I met this person, I did not think they were female even for a minute, despite signifiers in dress. The facial structure and such confirmed a history. Maybe people think I am an asshole, or being conservative, or something, because they keep on correcting me. I just keep thinking "I calls 'em as I sees 'em" because I can't see the person as female, even if that's how they view themselves.

In other news, the Steven Millhauser novel Edwin Mullhouse is pretty great, working in a fairly different way than his other short stories. His next short story collection, Dangerous Laughter, comes out next year, and if that contains all the stories I think it will, ("A Precursor To The Cinema," holy shit) and if the things I haven't read live up to that standard, that should be quite the book. But Edwin Mullhouse is a hell of a thing, completely misrepresented by its back-cover copy. It hints at a large number of themes while really elucidating childhood. Whether it evokes all childhoods or just the stuff of my demographic is kind of outside my power to say, but considering the age gap between Millhauser and I it seems to safe to go with the bolder claim. I have already promised to loan my copy out to someone because of how excited I was to talk about it after having finished it this morning.
Whoa dude, Bongwater


I am referring to the band, who I haven't heard until now, when I began downloading their record "Too Much Sleep." I also downloaded a 1990 peel session, which is kind of terrible- most tracks are collages of disparate parts in a way that's just kind of annoying. But this, this, the first few tracks at least, are THRILLING. Adventures in sound. One member of the band is the producer Kramer, whose sound hasn't grabbed me in the past. But here, on his own, mostly, oh boy, it's like Joe Meek meets The Butthole Surfers or something. ("Something" could just as easily be "Faust.")With a girl singer. It's not a collage, it's a freeflowing river. Alex, download this. I would post about it on the Collected Animals board but that is a place that is growing in uselessness at a startling rate. I'm four songs in, it might fall apart, but every time it's seemed to fall apart at the beginning of one song it's found a beautiful place by the end. I would compare the experience of listening to this to the new Akron/Family record, "Love Is Simple" for the first time.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I've been working at the Capitol Theater for the last two years. Half the time I've spent in Olympia, and my involvement was probably the thing that sold me on Olympia. A couple of months ago, the guy who hired me, in a volunteer capacity, and taught me how to be a projectionist, was fired. I liked him a lot, but other people found him eminently disagreeable.

When this happened I felt weird and stunned. I don't think I had any idea how to process it. Luckily, the guy who told me that Jeff was fired followed this up immediately with talk of a strike. Which gave me a context.

After the meeting amongst all the projectionists about a strike, I thought about the idea that if I were the fired party, I would leave town. He was going through a brutal divorce, and then got fired, but got a chunk of money to prevent him from suing. If that were me, I would go on to new adventures. Probably I think this because it is that this guy is the lens through which I view the Olympia Film Society, and Olympia by extension.

He didn't do that, he stayed around, and we had a strike for a while. Over the course of the meetings, it became articulated that the projectionist community and some other people felt really alienated from the Film Society, and this was kind of a dealbreaker. It wasn't about the firing- although that was my reasoning behind the strike, as I viewed it as a labor issue- it became symbolic of general malaise. Every month that passed without a single good movie playing had been problematic as well for volunteers that were essentially paid in passes to see movies they didn't want to see. The decision was made to try to amend the Film Society's bylaws that the Board Of Directors be elected by members, rather than the Board being a self-electing, and thus autocratic, body.

The paperwork and petitions went through and a meeting was held. In a lot of ways, the spectre of that firing loomed large. So large, actually, that the rather reasonable idea of having the board be elected didn't pass. (There was a second part, that the board by immediately dissolved and a new one elected, which I understand people's hesitation about.)

This infuriated me, as I sat in the theater. People clapped as the decision for there not to be voting passed. When a woman got up to call bullshit, she was booed and told it was over. I looked around, wondering "God, who are these fucking assholes?" and I saw one former professor of mine who I didn't get along with, and who kicked me out of the class.

I kind of freaked the fuck out, existential-crisis-ly speaking. This thing that I gave a large chunk of my time over to, that I liked, and that made me like Olympia, was in the hands of the same assholes that represented everything I didn't like about Evergreen.

I just kept on thinking "evil will prevail." This was last Saturday.

It's worth pointing out that the majority of people who voted voted for a democratically-elected board. But not the two-thirds needed to change the bylaws. It lost by nine votes. I wasn't there in time for the vote, because I had to work. I didn't know I could just drop off my vote in advance, or something. I thought that people had to sit through the whole meeting, and hear both sides of the issue, etc. I was wrong, a lot of people dropped off their votes, some without knowing the issue, and then left.

Since then, a lot of people I liked who worked for the Film Society have quit. I don't think they're leaving Olympia. I spent an hour talking to someone who's actually a paid staff member, who was thinking about quitting not because of the election- they didn't have a personal stake in the race- but because their work is a lot harder if a lot of volunteers quit. She said that if she quit the Film Society job, she would probably also have to leave Olympia.

That conversation and others kind of lead me in the direction of not quitting the Film Society, even though it seems like it might get shittier in terms of people I deal with there. I really can't understate that community element, or how alienating it was when the election went the way it did. Hypothetically, it would be like me liking Olympia partly because of how liberal it is, and then finding out that the majority of people who lived there voted for Bush, because the liberals are actually in the minority, and just make up the overwhelming percentage of people I deal with on a regular basis. Finding out that it's not the people you deal with on a regular basis who make the decisions, but a group that might as well be called a cabal.

The word "cabal" was kind of thrown in the direction of my projectionist clique as well in our campaign. It struck me as really weird, but I guess we are that alienated. It's like being told that the group of people you see are the time are "hipsters" and are actually very exclusionary. Or that they're elitist in their taste, even though it seems to you that you like all the same things and it's all very popular. It's a paradigm shift. Only, you know, I think those people are wrong, who are throwing these terms around. I don't think they know what they're talking about, but they're maybe not aided by the people in question being kind of inarticulate geeks.

Maybe my feeling of wanting to quit is adolescent and unprofessional. I will concede that on the basis of that being the Film Society I want to be a part of. I want it messy and fun and not trying to compete in a capitalist market. The idea of "unprofessionalism" makes me feel like I'm not a volunteer for an arts organization, but free labor for some kind of bastard corporate machine that's nominally a non-profit.

I feel really conflicted about it. I definitely feel like the bastards won. I feel impotent and disenfranchised. The conflict comes in when questioning what to do when that's the way you feel about a thing.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Evil will prevail.

There are two things I want to write about, one important, one unimportant, both infuriating to me right now.

Okay, most unimportant thing first. The bigger thing will get a meatier post.

My roommates insisted on a party. I pitched a theme- Cat burglars. Everyone comes dressed in black, climbs in through the window, the lights are off, people bring their own flashlights.

Flash forward to now: What is this bullshit electroclash.

Backtrack to one roommate inviting the most people, me inviting no one.

Her friends have cat faces painted on. They are playing shitty electroclash. Before this was the Spice Girls. It all makes me want to get into the goddamn fetal position. If this were someone else's house, I would leave right now.

I did know this would happen.

The other more important thing I will write about in my next post is the


reason why I really wish there was a party tonight, I could very much get drunk and dance and be around my friends. But this thing is a fucking disaster. I need to move. I think I'm going to go to the woods right now and bring a fucking book.

EDIT: I went to the library and read Gary Panter's Cola Madnes, and when I came back I find out that the exact same songs are playing. One mix CD, on a loop.

Monday, October 08, 2007

This is a note to myself, posted in public so as to make me feel more accountable to it. The notes about waking up early like an adult would do were always kept pretty private, and so they are easier to ignore.

So on this message board that I post on that is kind of turning to shit, there was a thread about clothes. At first, the idea of thrift stores was brought up, and then it was lamented "oh man it's all about thrift stores these days, all these debutantes shop there now, I blame the Olsen twins, and now the prices are going up and it sucks." Then the idea of making your own clothes with silkscreening came up. This was also lamented as being in fashion right now. This is a music message board, for a band that's blowing up, (this is kind of what's turning the board to shit) but not as much as The Shins or something. I mention The Shins because they were a band I was into in high school and now feel weird and territorial about. I actually started to feel weird about pretty much all music since I moved to Olympia- I'm sure I've blogged about that feeling, where I realized that the private thing I had was actually a social thing for most people, and I had a different context that felt more pure to me.

Maybe it helps that the last Shins album wasn't so good that allows me to come to the conclusion I am getting to.

Fuck it, eyes open, okay, it's not weird and awkward. It's life, it's just part of the weird awkwardness that is life. But that's no reason to be territorial about it. No reason to be self-sabotaging, which is what I've been doing since high school at least. This isn't to say I'm going to embrace all the stupid modern bullshit that accompanies the things I like in this day and age. It's just meant to signify going for it, being a weirdo, with the understanding that at some point in the near future what I like and what the world likes will probably intersect in a way that will actually be advantageous to me. This is probably presumptuous. I'm not saying it will happen. But it's an option that I should be aware of, probably.

Another note, to the public at large: It seems like L.A. is becoming a thing. Not in terms of Hollywood, or that there are people I know who live there, but this scene I'm aware of from the blog for Sammy Harkham's store Family and ANP Quarterly. This could also be connected to Arthur magazine, and the venue The Smell. That seems interesting to me. Moreso because of the whole Hollywood and friends of mine thing, although I think it's pitched at this "art" level that those people don't give a shit about. There's also the whole Upright Citizen's Brigade theater thing, and the fact that the Comedy Death-Ray people are getting a TV show is very exciting. Not to say that I will move there or anything, but I'm aware of it's thing-ness and am pleased in the way I am whenever I get the idea that something is a thing.

Word through the wire is that the future trend is weird psychedelia. This is from a Grant Morrison interview in Arthur, and also elsewhere, a general "these things run in cycles, this is what's next" type of prediction that I was excited about when I read it in 2004 I think and that seems like it actually is a thing that's blooming, as I listen to Animal Collective shows being broadcast on NPR. I've been here all my life dudes, but maybe now is the time to start investing in land, art-wise, if my meaning can be gleaned.

(It was pretty cool in the new Arthur when the woods of Olympia were discussed in the C & D music column.)

All this means is all it's always meant, that I should make more movies and write more books or whatever. Be less self-defeating, and less inert. Part of that includes waking up early, fine, so be it. The alarm is set.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

I know I write about Shary Boyle all the time, but she just updated her site with a bunch of new drawings and exhibition photos, and the announcement that she'll have the back cover and two pages in the next Kramers Ergot, and these are all very exciting things. The new drawings have worked in space and planets, expanding the range of the alternate worlds that were previously largely occupied by human bodies in the "Porcelain Fantasy" series. This is more geology than porcelain, and its reaching towards the cosmic.

The Kramers thing looks great, but next year will also bring a monograph called "Otherworld Uprising" which I think will probably be very much a thing as well. Seriously: My favorite contemporary visual artist.

Blogger is being weird about links right now, but:

Saturday, September 22, 2007

So shortly after I assumed responsibility for paying the bills in my new house, I ran out of checks. I ordered more, then didn't see them arrive, leaving a bill to go unpaid. The person who saw those checks and put them in a kitchen cabinet meant to serve as a mailbox got mad because the one bill left unpaid was in her name. But I don't want to talk about that. I want to talk about the checks themselves, and how I listened to the person at the bank's insistence that "old english" was the font most people chose- Highly unlikely, but this combines with a misspelling of my address to strike me as humorous.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sometimes people will say things to me that if I were the person talking to me, I would not bring up because it seems like it would be a touchy subject for someone like me. And I don't know if they don't think of things like that because I just play it cool all the time, or if it's just that the whole point of someone like me is that I don't have sensitive subjects. Although maybe the two are related, but they seem separate.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Like most people who are assholes, most of my regrets are concerned with times I could've said something obnoxious and seemingly wrong-headed that I totally believe, but didn't, because I didn't think of them at the time.

Today, as I cooked seashell-shaped pasta, I thought back to my class Art Media Praxis. When a kid suggested we watch a Hitchcock movie as an example of a normal film, well-done, for its editing rhythms, to contrast with Maya Deren or something. The teacher's response- "we all know what a normal movie looks like" is basically true, and I had a problem with the kid citing Hitchcock for how safe that is.

But anyway, what I should've said, was "Rope is an experimental film." Which I would argue, but I think is indisputable. Fuck, man, Rope. This blog post will take as a pretext that you've all seen the movie Rope, although you probably haven't. It's my favorite Hitchcock movie, done all in one take, with a moving camera, the splices between reels done as the camera moves past someone's back and the screen goes black for a frame or two. It's explained in issue 3 of The Ganzfeld how it was done- all the walls were on wheels, and the skyline outside the window was pretty thought out.

I realized that Rope is pretty much the opposite of another movie cited on my Myspace favorite movies, the Japanese anime Mind Game that is pretty much the only anime I like. (There are others I tolerate.) Rope is about committing the perfect crime. But the crime has already been committed, so the film then becomes about getting away with it. Meanwhile, the technical side of the film is this weird highwire act, with the same imperative- getting away with it, making it work, having all the artifice come off as reality. Alternately, it's about the morality- the leads imagine themselves as Nietzchean ubermensch, who should be allowed to do whatever they want. Jimmy Stewart realizes that this isn't actually the case, this is completely wrong- that there should be restrictions to behavior to keep us human and good. The film's likewise formally restricted, and this helps make the film good.

Mind Game isn't restrained at all. It's about living your life freely, and the animation is constantly freewheeling- it's stylistic exercises/excesses make the argument that characters in the film make. That movie has a part that's restrained in terms of its plot forward movement, but even that can't stop the nonstop shifting of visual approaches. I wanted to screen Mind Game, I think, because of how powerful the visuals are. The way that style can fit content in narrative works seemed like an important point to get across, along with the limitlessness of style that film possesses.

Tomorrow I'm going to see Animal Collective play in Seattle with Eric Copeland of Black Dice opening. That'll be great!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A terrible feeling at the pit of your being.

I've decided that the next few movie things I make will be collaborative. I was thinking a of making movie with one kid, longer in length than what I've done before, and a music video done for the band of the guy who sells me groceries.

I had the meeting about the movie today. That was kind of encouraging, he doesn't have any ideas as of yet. I was hoping we could work through the ones I have and combine those with his and hash things out but that hasn't happened yet.

But more of a bummer is this CD I'm listening to now, to pick a song for a video. I don't want to be negative, which is for me kind of a first time ever thing. But I will say that the actual CD seems really poorly mastered. And I'll just say that the songs are so self-contained, self-referential, or so suited to a live performance that I don't know how a music video could even be a thing. I had ideas for a music video but maybe they are just "video ideas," visual notions.

I don't feel like I'm superior to these people. Actually, the work ethic of the dude from the grocery store- he works a forty-hour-a-week job, makes music in a variety of different projects, one of which is actually liked by people? There are times when I am unemployed and not going to school and am still unable to write sizable chunks of fiction with any regularity.

But ohhhh boy. I don't know how I do the thing. You know? If art is the thing you make to stand in for personal communication, or to deepen it- to say something else- I still think that the idea of artistic collaboration is probably subject to all the problems of normal interpersonal interaction, vis a vis how the fuck do you do this.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I really like this quote, that I heard attributed to Peter Blegvad, which I will paraphrase- "Only a jailer would consider 'escapism' a bad thing." (referring to art)

I also like this quote that I came up with and will use in a movie someday. "You'll Rue Mclanahan the day you crossed my path."

Sunday, September 02, 2007

So I could talk about the events at the Olympia Film Society. The guy who trained me and was something off a father figure for a small circle of Olympia AV nerds, Jeffrey Bartone, was fired by the board of directors. Fourteen projectionists stopped working in protest. One person remained, the most recent projectionist to finish his training, a male nurse who's kind of a fuckup. He is training people- One that I know of is an Evergreen Electronic Media higher-up who is disliked by most people I socialize with. When I went to see The Ten last night, there were more technical difficulties than usual, and a scratched-up print.

We're trying to work it all out.

The Ten is pretty good. Winona Ryder gives a really great performance, surprisingly. Kerri Kenney's bit is a highlight, unsurprisingly. A lot of the weakest bits have the best comedic actors. There's an animated segment, done by a Wonder Showzen dude, with an H. Jon Benjamin voice, that's not so great. A.D. Miles' bit sucks. Paul Rudd has a pretty dull part. Meanwhile, Michael Showalter is essentially an extra.

I haven't seen Superbad or Knocked Up, but I imagine both of them are better than this. It is possible also that The Simpsons Movie is funnier.

But what I wanted to talk about is something I've talked about elsewhere, how Flight Of The Conchords is not actually a funny show. I am convinced that it's popularity is attributable to social cohesion, relating to something rather than jokes. It's why people like Dane Cook or Larry The Cable Guy or all the things despised by the people who post on aspecialthing, only for a different demographic. It's about musicians living in New York, trying to make it, and the jokes are largely about dating. They're not insightful jokes, or funny ones, but the presentational context is appealing. I'm not saying that's the whole appeal, because it has broader support than that, but- it's not a really funny show.

If you think about it, this show is probably why Lucky Louie was canceled. Lucky Louie couldn't find support because the people the show was about don't have a lot of disposable income, and don't spend it on HBO. Flight Of The Conchords is slightly less funny, but can find a sympathetic audience of hipster-types. Lucky Louie isn't even the funniest show. Flight Of The Conchords isn't terrible, it's not unwatchable. It's just really overrated. And it's mediocrity makes an argument against the type of comedy I like, that it isn't really good, but that people can just relate to the people saying it.

I swear that I am laughing at the jokes.

30 Rock and The Sarah Silverman Program are way funnier than Flight Of The Conchords, despite their network TV and basic cable pedigree. I am now meeting people who don't like The Sarah Silverman Program, because they don't like Sarah Silverman ON THAT SHOW. They like her stand-up, and some might like everyone else on that show. But it's an unsympathetic character. This, by the way, is what makes the show funny. That show kills me. Some people prefer the Flight Of The Conchords. And they might deny the social cohesion element- that's kind of a big thing to throw in people's faces, that their tastes are short-circuited by their hipsterism, since hipsterism is so based on the idea of taste.

Certainly, there's signifiers for FOTC being a funny show. It has a bunch of really funny people on it that don't really do anything particularly funny. Eugene Mirman is the funniest dude. Kristen Schaal runs in the circles of people I think are funny, although I've never seen her comedy, I don't think. But really, those signifiers should be shot down by the fact that there's a lot of song parodies.

I talked to a guy who liked it, a fellow who lives in New York who was visiting my roommate. I made this argument to him. He said the later episodes are better.

Me: "Are they about more than just dating and song parodies?"
Him: "No, they're really random. It's just retardedly funny."
Me: "It's not retardedly funny. I've seen it, I'll giggle and I'll titter, but that's not retardedly funny, that's saying that's something is hysterical."
Him: "No okay I know that's saying something else. I mean it's retarded, and that's what makes it funny."

Anyway this guy, who the part where he describes the show as "random" is meant to be a tipoff to laugh at him, did a shitload of namedropping. All of really obvious things. He was also wearing an Of Montreal t-shirt when I had this conversation. Probably one bought on the most recent tour judging by the unpsychedelic font. I tried to tell him about other things in New York comedy- Invite Them Up, for example, and when I got around to trying to explain The Best Show On WFMU, which actually is occasionally retardedly funny, he left halfway through, I think to go smoke weed.

One of the few people who agrees with me about Flight Of The Conchords sucking is my good friend Alex Tripp, who's come to the same conclusions on his lonesome. When I lived with him and would watch movies and feel the same way about the movies, I felt that there might be a certain level of just picking up on general moods that then got amplified. The fact that both of us have watched this show in isolation from each other and reached the same "this show is not very good and actually makes me feel uncomfortable in how not very good it is" really reassures me. The other show that is really popular with friends of mine that Alex and I decided independent of each other wasn't very good was Arrested Development, but I don't have the same problems with that show that I do with Flight Of The Conchords. Or maybe I do, actually, but Flight Of The Conchords articulates that better. I did feel that Arrested Development was maybe getting a pass on the basis of the David Cross involvement, but that's not all there is to that show.

Seriously if there is something on either of those shows that is funnier than the Tracy Morgan dream sequence with Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy as Thomas Jefferson, I would like to fucking see it, and I will tell you right now that that Pet Shop Boys parody does not count even a little bit.

Friday, August 31, 2007

I've been hoping to stop just writing about comics, but waiting to see a movie to give me something else to write about. Today my roommate's girlfriend came down from Seattle, bearing an Animal Collective ticket I gave her money for, and also two movies from Hollywood Video. These were watched in rapid succession, which you may remember me complaining about.

The first was Blades of Glory, which I'm sure will fade from memory quickly. Pretty much exactly what I expected in terms of not being as funny as a movie directed by Adam McKay, but still having a fairly good cast, besides the people I don't care about because the things they were in that were popular, I dislike. This, for those of you who don't remember, is the movie about ice skating with Will Ferrell, who's great, and the guy from Napoleon Dynamite, who's awful. I do know his name, but I'm deliberately not saying it, because he's awful. Amy Poehler, Andy Richter, and Jenna Fischer contribute to my feelings of goodwill.

Next up was Zodiac, which I actually actively wanted to see when it came out. I feel like the more time that passes, the more David Fincher movies get dismissed, but maybe that's just the crowd I run with shifting. Anyway, this was a movie that worked. It didn't fuck around with any ridiculous CGI or flashiness, and I don't think it'll appeal to anyone's youthful anger. It is long, but probably as long as it had to be.