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Ben Owen
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I had a similarly mixed response to the film, though I think you're right that it's lack of coherence doesn't stop it from being worthwhile in a couple of ways. I was leery about the laughing with/at the townsfolk for their small-town southern ways too. The reviewer for the Village Voice suggested that this expressed the film's complexity, and I think that's true, but I'm not sure if it's necessarily a virtue. But then what's the response? Don't widely distribute a film that records all of these amazing turns of phrase and expressions? That'd be sad. My girlfriend actually faulted the movie for leading the viewer into identification with Bernie as a character, and then using documentary footage to give the ring of truth to the narrative. The skepticism the movie encourages the viewer to feel about what the townsfolk say serves--she thought--to make the Jack Black stuff seem truer, when it seemed to be pretty much just his version of events. I haven't given it too much thought--I was basically just pleased that it was more enjoyable than Men in Black III.
Toggle Commented Jun 19, 2012 on Bernie at Parabasis
Hunter: You nailed it. Thanks. I mean, I guess figuring out why the engineers hate humans so much is meant to keep us curious for the next film. But if so much of the film is so sloppy about basic plausibility, there's little sense that its answers concerning bigger stuff are going to be much more satisfying.
jconks, Shit's intense. Rhona Berenstein, one of the few scholars who's made any kind of sustained argument about jungle movies makes a lot out of that "Hot Voodoo" scene, and I can see why. The fact that Dietrich puts on a blonde wig (with arrows through it) is amazing, since it suggests that she needs to be artificially, emphatically blonde to make the contrast with the gorilla suit (and her backup dancers) as acute as possible. It reminds me a bit of Candyman--like the problem for white men isn't just that nightmare representations of black men are a threat to white women, but actually that black men and white women might be dangerously interchangeable.
Toggle Commented May 29, 2012 on Stereotypes & Stereoscopy at Parabasis
I know nothing whatsoever about theater. You should probably take it up with the management.
Toggle Commented May 27, 2012 on Stereotypes & Stereoscopy at Parabasis
Wait, wait... to clarify... plenty of men were doing terrible things before the US was at war. I just think that's the most visible sign of something new and terrible in the popular imagination (though I have war on the brain cause it's what I'll be teaching my students about this quarter).
Toggle Commented Sep 22, 2010 on Premieres: Lone Star at Parabasis
Mmmm... brains. You pin the central preoccupation of modern TV and then move on to a thoughtful and sympathetic review. My question, though: why are we so worried about how men live with the terrible things they do? What's going on? I wanna do something sweeping like blame it all on 9/11, but Tony Soprano was everybody's darling before that, before the US was at war and real men were having to deal with the truly terrible things they'd really done all the time. So what's the story?
Toggle Commented Sep 22, 2010 on Premieres: Lone Star at Parabasis
Much of Matt's post could equally well describe my own muddled thinking about the war in its first few months. It's hard for me to write about it because I feel shamed and embarrassed about it. I also don't, as he writes, wish to engage in lengthy self-justification. I was wrong, and I'd rather not to try to explain away my wrongness. I do, however, appreciate his honesty, and thanks for putting this up, 99.
Toggle Commented Aug 21, 2010 on Quote of the Day at Parabasis
Isaac: I didn't mention The Walking Dead because I haven't read it, and probably won't (I'm scared of zombies, and the apocalypse), but I'm glad you did. I don't know whether it's illustrative of the "fusion" tendencies the artists discuss on Inkstuds, and that you can see in the other comics I mentioned. (Bullet-Proof Coffin is a trawl through pulp comics history, for instance, while King City mixes graffiti art and kung-fu mythology with a lot of European comics influences.) But Walking Dead certainly is an example of how Image is putting out interesting comics. As to what the particular peculiarities of the indie/mainstream breakdown might be for comics... I don't know. I'm tempted to say that the divide is breaking down for many of the same reasons as it is in films or music. Is it glib to say the internet? Perhaps. But I'm certain that the fact that so much art is available for review, side-by-side, almost instantaneously is one factor, as is the fact that to order a desperately obscure back issue you now just go to ebay, or wherever, rather than having to scour back issue bins across nine towns and two trade shows. To be comics literate is now a more accessible and common thing, and I'm guessing that it also demands less of a diligent commitment to one or two aspects of the comics subculture. There is also a feeling that--and this comes through in the Inkstuds conversation as well--to some extent comics artists have always been this way, monitoring the craft and styles of other artists whose work differs wildly in content or tone from their own (one thinks of the visual allusions to particular compositions from Spider-Man or Archie in Jaime Hernandez's Locas stories--see Jeet Heer at Comics Comics or the Todd Hignite Jaime art book for examples). The difference now is just that that influence is more in the foreground. As to why, again, I'm not sure, though I'll keep thinking about it. Josh: I haven't read that. It looks fucked up, but maybe in a good way. Have you read any of the Luna Brothers other stuff? I confess I didn't know their work until a brief google just now.
Toggle Commented Aug 4, 2010 on The Manatee Has Become the Mento at Parabasis
Thanks 99, you summed up my feelings about this really well--both the shock of seeing this on a basic cable sitcom, and the importance of the point itself. I think maybe this loops back to the point Anne was making about using the position of paranoid despair as the starting point. Louis CK is just about as despairing a character as you could imagine, at least as he appears on the show, obsessed with death and the collapse of his body. I love that--it's funny cause its terrifying. But what has made the show even better is that it isn't content with nihilism. In Troy Patterson's review for Slate he described some kind of moral core beneath it all, and I think that's right. From his position of terrible shittiness, Louis actually can start to imagine different ways of doing things in the world (hence the sequence above, plus jokes at his own expense about homelessness and starvation) not out of any particular liberal do-gooder impulse, but simply because he's tired of the bullshit and feels he has nothing to lose.
Toggle Commented Aug 3, 2010 on Straight Talk at Parabasis
Re: Tea Party Comics--oh God, that is vile. It's funny, I celebrate the mini-comix impulse precisely because it lets people get their ids on paper, but then you actually see what's in some people's heads and you find yourself longing for a little repression. Re: the podcast--Thanks! Re: Love and Rockets--feel overwhelmed no longer! I believe the folks at Champs Not Chumps put up some links to handy-dandy internet guides on how to read L&R. Please be aware that the best place to start reading Jaime's work is probably not the beginning. If you pick up The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S. collection, that begins right in the mid 80s when he'd found the more interesting themes and stories we talked about in the podcast. Re: your graphic novel--I don't actually know any artists personally (except a couple through very minor e-mail correspondences)... yet. But I'll keep my eyes open, and will plug your project whenever the opportunity arrises.
Toggle Commented Jul 31, 2010 on Big Media Me at Parabasis
Congratulations Josh! First Second have done some terrific stuff, and I'm glad you've found such a good publisher to take up the adaptation of The Chalk Boy. Who's drawing it? Also, yay Rege! New language for comics!
Digressive subcategory #1, Repellent Song Names: "This Sex is on Fire" by Kings of Leon--Makes me think of chlamydia. Oh, and @Lise M, I think Mating Call could be a cool name for a female pop-punk artist.
Toggle Commented Jul 28, 2010 on Repellent Band Names at Parabasis
Yay substanceless posts! I don't have to worry about pretending to be smart. Anyway: Limp Bizkit Hoobastank The fact that a band name is a reference to a popular work of art often makes me like it less. Hence, while I like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, I think Bat Country is a tacky name for a band. Also Airborne Toxic Event. And (thanks RVCBard) Toad the Wet Sprocket. Monty Python is awesome. Quoting Monty Python is generally dreadful.
Toggle Commented Jul 28, 2010 on Repellent Band Names at Parabasis
Josh, glad you've enjoyed it too. I also really like how depressing it is. I'll keep watching as long as it remains relentlessly focused on mortality and physical collapse.
Toggle Commented Jul 23, 2010 on What Would You Recommend? at Parabasis
The FX sitcom Louie, of which I've seen the first three episodes (four have aired so far, I think). If you've enjoyed Louis CK's standup in the past, then this a decent approximation, just within the limits of basic cable's tolerance. Watch the poker game discussion at the beginning of the second episode. It seemed, to me, refreshing that the show was willing to discuss homophobia in comedy without laughs, but I'd be curious to see what other people think. Oh, and also the Cartoon Network cartoon Adventure Time. I guess it's for kids, but only in that kids are probably good at appreciating unadulterated awesomeness. Seriously, it is some wonderfully strange and beautiful stuff, unbound by logic or cliche stories.
Toggle Commented Jul 23, 2010 on What Would You Recommend? at Parabasis
I meant to say: "aren't narrowing." Sigh.
Toggle Commented Jul 20, 2010 on Are Alt-Comix Narrowing? at Parabasis
I agree with both you and Sturgeon that Leith's piece seems strikingly out-of-touch. I'm happy to bemoan the sad man tendency he describes, but it's stupid to describe it as if it were the majority of non-genre comics (And I'm not entirely happy with that distinction, since a number of the great alt-comix of recent years have been genre-bound, and if you don't believe me then stare at Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit until your eyes bleed from its awesomeness. Or Lauren Weinstein's The Goddess of War. Or anything by Josh Simmons.). And I take Spurgeon's point about Lynda Barry being a bestseller as right on the nose. She's been producing brilliant comics for three decades and shows no sign of slowing in terms of innovation, nor turning to self-pity even as she explores autobiography. And what else has succeeded in the marketplace? Persepolis? Fun Home? Autobio comics, sure, but by women, and hardly self-pitying. I think you're right that a certain bunch of guys who get book design work and covers for the New Yorker have a conspicuous presence beyond the comics world that perhaps other artists don't enjoy, but I think that their presence is actually helping to broaden both the appeal, and the content, of smart comics, by creating a larger marketplace for smart comics. I'm too tired to reason this out, but I just have this sense that now is a great time for comics--there are just so many more kinds of comics than there have been in the US for a very very long time, possibly ever (although my history is kind of hazy, and I get the sense that comics were pretty massive just prior to the total saturation of TV). Comics are narrowing at all. They're broadening suddenly and surprisingly in all directions. Spurgeon's mentioning of Picturebox and Adhouse is important. I'd add the late, great Buenaventura and Top Shelf to that list too, and Last Gasp, and if we're broadening beyond the Anglo comics axis, also NBM, Viz, and Vertical. These are all comics publishers with wildly different sets of priorities and aesthetics, but all of whom publish art comics. Shit, even Image is doing it (If you haven't read Bulletproof Coffin by now then please do so immediately. I'm concerned for your health.). You never have to read another sad man story again, and you can still find more comics than you'll ever wish for.
Toggle Commented Jul 20, 2010 on Are Alt-Comix Narrowing? at Parabasis
I love this, especially how you emphasize how the ways in which the world will be fixed are likely to be unimaginable, and different than we expect. And also that two explanations can pertain to one thing. That video is, as you say, easily and perhaps rightly dismissed in the context of a homophobic DADT-bound military, and yet if you'd asked me a few months back, before I saw it, whether a video of active duty soldiers vamping to Lady Gaga was going to be the next big thing on the internet, I would have scoffed. When we are surprised it is our obligation to emphasize that we were surprised (I say this as a reminder to myself), and not to allow cynicism, paranoia, or cool to incorporate everything.
Toggle Commented Jul 17, 2010 on Don't ask don't t-t-t-telephone me at Parabasis
99, if you haven't heard it, do yourself a favor. Sketch Theatre video and (legal) free download right here: It's funny, the description of the tentacles and nameless terror in your post must have been so effective in driving me to the brink of madness that I blanked it from my memory...
Toggle Commented Jul 14, 2010 on I Write Like H.P. Lovecraft at Parabasis
Based on my most recent post to this blog, I got Dan Brown too. I think I used too many "the ____" adjectives when describing people. Fuck. You think if I'd put some psychotic old school racism in there, along with a couple references to shoggoths, I would have got Lovecraft too? (PS, now I have the Aesop Rock remix of the Mountain Goats "Lovecraft in Brooklyn" stuck in my head--not a terrible thing.)
Toggle Commented Jul 14, 2010 on I Write Like H.P. Lovecraft at Parabasis
Toggle Commented Jul 12, 2010 on R.I.P., Harvey...I hope you can. at Parabasis
I like the title of the companion piece from the AV Club, "Lizzy Caplan cruelly starts getting your hopes up about a Party Down movie." It captures the sweet, painful longing I feel about the dim prospect of these hipster shows being revived. The very thought of that 10-minute teaser for the fourth season of Veronica Mars still makes my heart ache.
Toggle Commented Jul 9, 2010 on Today in WTF? at Parabasis
It's so sad. Starz! should keep this going as a prestige project, in the same way as Murdoch keeps The Times running at a loss. Except better.
Toggle Commented Jul 1, 2010 on Dreams Are A Life Force at Parabasis
Heh. I appreciate your commitment to attending odd events, so I can experience them vicariously. Re: polo, the first Hunter Thompson piece I ever read was his article on polo for Rolling Stone, illustrated by Ralph Steadman. It's basically about how freakish polo people are. I feel like it kind of changed my life, but that was 15 years ago, after I scrounged the copy of Rolling Stone from the scrap magazine pile in my high school art room, and I haven't read it since. But because of the internet nothing is forgotten:
Toggle Commented Jun 30, 2010 on The Other Half at Parabasis
Thanks D*niel--I've got a copy of Hey Princess but have been slightly hesitant about reading it. Ditto The Troll King, which seems to be very very different. But I will get to them soon.
Toggle Commented Jun 26, 2010 on The List Goes On at Parabasis