Last night, I finally knocked off the Spring semester. Due to Circumstances, I was forced to take an Incomplete in an English course – the dreaded and eldritch Overview of Literature Part I – and didn't complete the term paper until around 11 PM last night. So, considering that I had to spend the better part of yesterday pontificating on The Merchant of Venice, I figured there may as well be some overlap here. Here are both Orson Welles and Al Pacino reciting Shylock's monologue:
Growing up without a father was – hell, still is – oddly paradoxical. There was no big gaping hole where Dad should have been. While my mother had two subsequent husbands and a long-term boyfriend, none of them were filling (or were asked to fill) that particular role for me. On the other hand, father-son relationships on TV, although never in real life, really got to me. The most striking example I can remember was in an episode of Twin Peaks. Major Garland Briggs, played by Don S. Davis, recalls a vision he had to his rebellious son Bobby. His character's mixture of Adult Seriousness and the incredibly sincere, even wide-eyed, show of emotion buried itself in my heart like a hot stake. The reaction of his son, who is usually a colossally unrepentant bastard, made it hit all the harder.
Don S. Davis died 2 years ago today.
Now, I don't want to drag you down too much, so here's everyone's favorite Russian surf rock/psychobilly/whatsit band Messer Chups with “Twin Peaks Twist.”
Family Guy hasn't been good for a few seasons now, but I sincerely recommend Something Something Something Dark Side (trailer), their Empire Strikes Back parody and sequel to their Star Wars parody, Blue Harvest (trailer). It's spot-on and made by people who, like me, truly love the original Star Wars series, warts and all. Plus it is almost entirely free of the cutaways that started to get old around, what, season 4?
You can watch the TV edit of it on Hulu, but you should get your hands on the uncut DVD version. Oh, and if you're wondering where the bizarre title came from:
This is Mt. Sims, previously known as Mount Sims, and the project of Berlin-based American DJ Matthew Sims. Back in the early 2000s he was on the forefront of the electroclash scene. Now music is pretty close to darkwave now, with some post-punk influences that you can hear in the guitar and synth. He's even collaborating with The Knife
Back in the 1990s, though, Matthew (then Matt) Sims was the lead singer of Sublime/311-lite band Citizen King, who had their one big hit with “Better Days (And The Bottom Drops Out)”. For some reason, he's attempting to shrug off his past careerclearly self-penned Wikipedia page doesn't mention a word of it. The video is pure late 1990s – it's even got grey aliens, a UFO and kid with gelled-up spikes:
Matthew Sims' transformation isn't nearly as distinct as the individual in the following video. Try and figure out who this 1991 Billboard-reaching rapper is:
Yeah, that's Justin Warfield of Joy Division-cribbers and emo-kid favorites She Wants Revenge. How's that for a makeover? And speaking of lost 90s acts, that is, in fact, Shirley Manson.
I've recently been re-reading the grand Matt Fraction/Ed Brubaker run on Immortal Iron Fist. I have to say that I absolutely adore David Lanphear's noun-based illustration of the sound effects which appear in David Aja's segments (each issue takes place in two or three different timeframes, with a different artist for each.) I usually don't pay a whole lot of attention to that particular facet of comics, but he's got me looking at every issue real close now.
All from Immortal Iron Fist #1-6
Just this May, Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel played a set at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC. I missed it. I don't remember why I missed it, but I'm almost entirely sure there's a good reason. It may have been having no idea he was playing a show. I sincerely hope that was it. The set was part of a benefit for musician Chris Knox, who suffered a stroke in 2009. A benefit album was cut, which included the following cover of Knox's “Sign the Dotted Line” by Mangum. This is the first Jeff Mangum release since the 2001 concert at Jittery Joe's in Athens, GA:
As far as the concert goes, there were no cameras allowed. Fortunately, we live in the future where everyone's telephone happens to have one built into it. To the best of my ability, I've cobbled together Mangum's set (sans the encore, consisting of "Engine") on YouTube. Enjoy!:
In what may be one of the most tenuous connections I have ever made between two pieces of media, I think I found a reference to Christopher Guest's folk-scene mockumentary A Mighty Wind in issue #4 of Gregg Hurwitz/Jerome Opena's ongoing Vengeance of the Moon Knight. Here's the panel:
And the Fred Willard monologue:
“Thank god I'm not crazy. I have real enemies. It's a tremendous relief to discover that someone really is after me.”
In 1977 Philip K. Dick gave a rare public interview during a French science fiction convention. In the first section, he speaks about the difference in respect the science fiction writer received in the US and abroad, specifically France.
In the second part, he speaks about his literary upbringing in Berkeley.
The third part is by far the most interesting. Dick describes a break-in he experienced that his lawyer credited to “the government.” He goes on to speak about illegal surveillance, COINTELPRO and his self-ascribed status as Enemy of the State. Dick also reveals that in his research for The Man In The High Castle, he stumbled across the etymology for “egghead.”
Click to Enlarge
All-Star Superman #10, 2008, Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely
Morrison and Quietly, as they tend to in this series, get along so many emotions and ideas in so few words and such very simple illustration. There a million reasons – some I can describe, some I cannot – but this panel gets me right in the gut every time I see it. There's a context to it revealed organically, previously in the issue: Superman stops a runaway train, riding which is Regan's psychiatrist. He is on other side of the telephone – that small pink thing Regan (nice choice of name, by the way) drops the lefthand panel.
Her facial and body expressions tell the story in a way that dialogue never could. There's sense of disappointment and resignation in her body language: one hand at her mouth, rendering her mute, the other hovering over the dropped phone, unsure of what it has done. With her eyes shut that tight, you know she doesn't want to do what she is about it, and inside that wide-eyed surprise at Superman's silent arrival, there is a sense of relief and closure; things have gone wrong for her, again, but this time it may not be so bad. She still tries to get away from him, almost by reflex, in that Tim-Burton-doll way she is exists, not believing his words but just as quickly embraces him for dear life.
Her sense of alienation is painted perfectly; she's a dark, scratchy splotch against the majestic impersonality of the Metropolis skyscrapers. Superman's speed, too, is conveyed brilliantly as faster than the speed of thought. He arrives silently enough to not spook Regan, in the midst of her last thought, and his touch is calm and soft enough to simply surprise her. He is much larger than her, as invulnerable but not as impassable and numb as the environment which has driven her to suicide. His embrace lets her know that there is a part of her just like him, and in that way, just like the buildings, just like everything in her world, and that she is in no way alone, nor can be.
A few months ago, I was touring the headquarters of the non-profit for whom I work. While my department's office, which takes up a relatively small single floor, is in midtown Manhattan, HQ is a sprawl of programs and facilities in an out-of-the-way Queens neighborhood. One of these programs is English language education for adults, aimed mostly at immigrants. Now, as an immigrant myself, I learned English as a second language at age six, and the material was appropriate for that age: we had coloring books about cats and lessons about the proper names for school supplies and so on. Even the Spanish classes I took in high school were aimed at studying the language in a purely academic manner. The workbooks for these classes were quite different. I read one of the handouts, which was a lesson on idioms for socializing and dating. There was something strange about teaching slang – especially when it had to do with sex – although in hindsight it made perfect sense. We second graders were picking up the very basics of communication. The individuals in these classes, on the other hand, have had an adult's-lifetime-worth of speaking in their own language and understood social cues perfectly well. They lacked only the vocabulary and its proper context to be able to communicate naturally. Still, even for the most dedicated student of the language, it must be odd to be asked to compose a sentence properly using the phrase “hook up.” Although, probably nowhere near as odd as studying under this guy:
via The Awl