Hooray for Craigslist!

“I’m getting a bookshelf! I’m getting a bookshelf!”

I’ve been browsing Craigslist recently in order to see if I could find anything funky and neat for the new apartment or, at least, listings for garage sales and the like.  Today, though? I’m picking up this:

Bookcase, yo!

I am probably entirely too excited for a $20 used bookshelf, but I’m pretty sure my ginormous Oxford English Dictionary will fit on it, which will free up a lot of space on my other bookshelves.  Even with that space, though, I’m probably going to have to buy another set of bookshelves to match the ones I already have.

When it comes to moving, though, that’s the one thing I’m not looking forward to moving–all the books.  I’ve already packed four boxes of books, and I haven’t even touched the books in my office or in the family room yet.  It’s never a fun process, moving, but it’s even less fun for a bibliophile–not only are books heavy dead-weight, but packing and unpacking them takes forever as well.  Still, despite all of my grumbling, I really am looking forward to moving; while the process will be a pain in the ass, it will be nice to become more fully invested in the graduate school and social lives I’ve slowly begun at school.  Plus, this year, I’m the social chair of the English Graduate Organization, so living near campus will make that aspect of the year go a lot better.

Edit: Boo for me, as I completely misjudged the size of that bookcase and the OED definitely won’t fit on it.  Ah, well.  Perhaps I’ll use it for the materials related to my thesis.

June 15, 2008 at 11:52 am 1 comment

Burning down the house.

I love torch songs.

If the term is unfamiliar, Wikipedia describes the torch song as follows:

A torch song is a sentimental love song, typically one in which the singer laments an unrequited or lost love, where one party is either oblivious to the existence of the other, or where one party has moved on. Singers (predominantly female) of the Pop Vocal tradition are referred to as “torch singers” when their repertoire consists predominantly of such material. Torch singing is more of a niche than a genre, and can stray from the traditional jazz-influenced style of singing, although the American tradition of the torch song typically relies upon the melodic structure of the blues.

Another thing people who know me know about me, aside from my rampant, congenital negativity, is that I’m a giant sap. Chick flicks, weddings, and that sort of thing–I’m there. So, it’s no surprise that I’m a fan of love songs in general.

The problem, though? There’s a lot of really shitty love songs out there. Let’s face it–there’s not often a lot of complexity in songs of requited love. “I love you so much / I long for your touch / I love you so dear / whether far or near,” and that sort of sing-songy Hallmark card music tend not to work for me. I mean, there are exceptions–there are good, happy love songs out there, but the sheer amount of crappy, trite ones makes Sturgeon’s Law look optimistic, and are probably what give the entire sappy song category a bad name. I mean, after hearing things like this on the radio every hour, I’d be singing “Down With Love” myself. I think it’s from the late ’90s, if I’m recalling correctly:

I love you, always forever
Near and far, closer together
Everywhere, I will be with you
Everyday, I will devour you

I’m sure we could come up with a gigantic list of songs like that (“I Honestly Love You,” for yet another example). But, as I said earlier, today’s not a day of OOOH HATE KILL HALLMARK CARD SONGS; rather, it’s a day celebrating the sad, the wistful, and the unrequited: the torch song.

Let’s face it–the problem with the happy love songs is that there’s little drama, little conflict–little to make the lyricist stretch his or her wordplay. They joke about “moon/June/swoon” rhymes for a reason, you know. The unrequited and longing parts of torch songs provide drama, uncertainty, and universality–almost everyone has either worshipped from afar or been rejected at some point in his/her life. And still, despite that shared experience that evokes empathy and connection, the torch song is often more personal, more divergent from the common experience, because it becomes the story of one person, but one most can relate to, whereas the fulfilling love songs tend to sound the same in many respects.

Here are a few torch songs I particularly enjoy, listed by rendition rather than lyricist:

“Hallelujah,” Leonard Cohen (1984 lyrics 1988 lyrics): I love just about every version of this song. Every combination of verses. Every version by every artist who recorded it. The 1984 version from Various Positions doesn’t have quite the same torch song gutpunch as the 1988 version from Cohen Live, though. One of the things I like about both versions are the way they end on a surprisingly sweet, touching note (lyrics from the 1988 version, but there isn’t much variation):

I did my best, it wasn’t much.
I couldn’t feel, so I learned to touch.
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come all this way to fool you.

Yeah even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand right here before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah.

Instead of regretting the past, the voice remains thankful, despite all the heartache–a surprisingly sentimental closing from someone who sings “all I’ve ever seemed to learn from love / is how to shoot at someone who outdrew you.”

And if you’ve never heard the song, you can check out various renditions at My Old Kentucky Blog.

“You Don’t Know Me,” Ray Charles (lyrics): I really don’t have much to say for this one, but it is so super-good. It’s a perennial on my saved song list on my space radio. It comes on so many stations, too–the standards station, the blues station, the ’50s station, the love song station, and one country station. I think everyone is supposed to like Ray Charles.

“Please Call Me Baby,” Tom Waits (lyrics; streaming audio): I just love this so much. Tom Waits “for the win,” as the kids say. There’s just something about the narrative of the doomed relationship and the lovers that keep struggling in it that gets to me.

“One for My Baby,” Frank Sinatra (lyrics): I mean, wow. It kind of echoes what Scott McCloud writes in Understanding Comics about the strength of “cartoony” comics art–that we’re able to project more of ourselves if the elements are more universal, so we see “human being” rather than “this specific human being”–but it does it lyrically. The speaker only refers to the story he is going to tell, but never tells the actual story (by the end, he thinks the story has actually been told and, in a way, it has–just not explicitly).

“La Vie en Rose,” Edith Piaf (French lyrics; English lyrics): I have no idea what she’s saying (and, when it comes to songs, I never trust the versions translated into English), but it melts me every time. It may not even be a torch song for all I know.

…….

Ok. Torch songs. List your favorites. Three. Two. One. Go.

June 11, 2008 at 9:02 am 4 comments

MoCCA 2008, primarily in list form

What follows are most of my MoCCA purchases and other things, in list form (please note: things may be misspelled, as I’m going off of my handwritten notes of purchase and not the actual books themselves).  I won’t bother with the drinks bought, the food eaten, the MetroCard, or the t-shirts (of which there were many–I bought more than I would have because I kept changing my t-shirt because of how incredibly hot it was on Saturday).

Real return to blogging? LIke, actual paragraphs and stuff?  I hope that comes soon, too.  As you can see, this blog repurposes the old Ledger Domain and the Low Road blogs, but now anonymously–I realize that it may not be helpful to have some of this stuff attached to the name I am now using to get teaching positions at colleges, so hence the really obvious sobriquet. 

The books, in no particular order:

• Clean Cartoonists’ Dirty Drawings: Craig Yoe
• The Dada Detective volumes 1 and 2: Stephanie Freese, Dave Milloway, and Matt Wood
• Comic Arf: Craig Yoe
• Three Shadows: Cyril Pedrost
• Pulphope: The Art of Paul Pope: Paul Pope
• The New York Four (advance galley copy): Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly
• Dororo: Osamu Tezuka
• Thoreau at Walden:  Henry David Thoreau and John Porcellino
• Wire Mothers: Harry Harlow and the Science of Love: Jim Ottaviani and Dylan Meconis
• Bluesman:  Rob Vollmar and Pablo G. Callejo
• Chiggers: Hope Larson
• Levitation: Physics and Psychology  in the Service of Deception: Jim Ottaviani and Janine Johnston
• Pictures of You: Damon Hurd and Tatiana Gill
• Burnout (advance galley copy):  Rebecca Donner and Inaki Miranda
• Janes in Love (advance galley copy):  Cecil Castelluci and Jim Rugg
• Action Philosophers volumes 1-3:  Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey (finally, bookshelf-friendly copies to replace my floppy ones!)
• Repo: Rick Spears and Rob G
• What It Is: Lynda Barry
• Drawing Words & Writing Pictures: Jessica Abel and Matt Madden
• The Annotated Wondermark: David Malki
• The Moth or the Flame: Joshua Ray Stephens
• Relish: Lucy Kinsley
• It’s Raining Cats and Dogs (and Other Pets): Mark Z-Man

The floppies and minis:

• Curse of the Wendigo: Chris Brimacombe
• Geraniums and Bacon #5: Cathy Leamy
• Broads & Monsters: Sketches: Pat Lewis (I also bought something else from Pat, but I don’t seem to be able to find it–I thought I had unpacked everything)
• Earth Minds are Weak #8 & #9: Justin J. Fox
• I Dreamed of You mr. Eybyaninich: Justin J. Fox
• Mila and the Prince of Space: Evan G. Palmer
• Happy Dog the Happy Dog: Ryan North & Allene Chomyn
• 55 Words: Rosemary Mosco
• Johnny Hero {Half Asian, All Hero}: Fred Chao
• Tear-stained Makeup: Marcos Perez
• Carl’s Large Story #2 and #3: Marcos Perez
• The Ashen Cat: Evan Palmer
• The Bear: Galway Kinnell and Caroline Kelsey
• Camp Staff Tales: Alexander Cox
• 80gun #2: Ayo
• Little Garden #4: Ayo
• Comics from Mars #1: Paul Pope

Sketches and the like (taken with digital camera rather than scanner):

Pat Lewis inaugurated my new sketchbook.  Now that I’m no longer, er, coupled, there was no reason to continue on with the shared sketchbook of dalmatians my ex and I were building.  With a blank sketchbook in hand, I was at a loss to come up with a theme I could make work (although I have another one lined up now, if I can find a small, intimate book for it–it’s a pretty awful sending-me-to-hell theme that I don’t think a lot of people would be down with), but then I decided I’m titling it Words. Language. Literature. to go along with the whole “getting my academia on, yo” thing.  Tough thing to draw, so I started everyone out easy–people reading books.  Friday night at Zombie Hut (at least, I think that’s where it was–it could have been at Rocketship, too), Pat mentioned how much he loved drawing the Thing, so:

The Thing can read

My next sketch stop was Marcos Perez, famous for Carl is the Awesome and other such things (including music).  You can kind of see his thing peeking through behind Pat’s, er, Thing thing, but here is Carl doing what Carl does best: being awesome all the time:

Ch-ch-ch-check lit out

This taking-pictures-of-sketches thing kind of isn’t working out, but fuck it.  That’s what Scott Pilgrim would say, I think.  Here’s Bryan Lee O’Malley’s sketch of Scott not reading:

Scott Pilgrim finds books more challenging than evil ex-boyfriends who have vegan powers.

Finally, by webcomicser Jeph Jacques (Questionable Content), a drawing of a cute girl who talks like me and every other hipster doofus–she speaks my language!

Fundamentalism I can get behind

Things I would have bought at MoCCA, had they been there:

• Comic Book Comics #2: Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey (not out until July)
• Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko: Blake Bell (shipping or printing snafu–the book’s arrival got pushed back to Monday)
• Your moms.*

Favoritest Memories that may or may not involve comics:

• Karaoke with the nerdcrew, including Joe Rice and Alex Cox’s brilliant “Like A Prayer,” F-dot’s FUCKING AWESOME rendition of Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” (I have never seen karaoke done like that)
• Dropping $30 or so at the used bookstore in my hometown on the way to NYC–got some Chester  Himes stuff cheap, two fun books on language, dialect, and etymology, and other assorted things that smell like a mixture of old book, stale cigarettes, and air ionized by repeated NPR programming
• Spending a lot of time with Justin J. Fox, including hearing the real story behind Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and inadvertantly cock-blocking him in the nerdiest of all possible ways.
• Buying books that I wanted at last year’s show, but ran out of money before I could get to them.
• Drinks, food and conversation with some of my favorite people, including James Smith, Neilalien, Metrokitty, Das, F-dot, Pat Lewis, Joe Rice, Justin J. Fox and Marcos Perez, Alex Cox, Michael Pullmann, and Gina Gagliano; seeing others like Kevin Church and Benjamin Birdie briefly; convincing my best friend on the planet to make it in for Chinatown karaoke; an awesome hotel breakfast with a wonderful guy and his wife from Buffalo, NY who were in town to help their son move to Brooklyn–we killed a little over two hours shooting the shit; and getting some quality time with two of the other people in the grad program who tagged along to do the whole NYC sight-seeing thing.
• Running into my friend Kristin’s sister, Kat, whom I only have seen in family photographs but still recognized, which lead to an awkward stalker-esque interchange but made for a great reason to call Kristin in Chicago that afternoon
• The free advance galley copies of upcoming Minx books
• Being somewhere where at least twenty people saw my arm and said “Hey! Nice Great Gatsby tattoo!” as opposed to “y’know what would make that shit sweet? You should put some skulls in it.  Or some big-tittied bitches.  Or a demon with, like, blood drippin’ out its mouth an’ shit.  Or some big-tittied bitches.  Or an alien smoking weed” or “you’re going to Hell, young man–and that’s where demons will rape the tattoos off of you. Amen. Hallelujah.”
• Having others confirm that, yes, those Centaurans on Doctor Who really do look like people with Downs Syndrome who abuse steroids and is that supposed to be a commentary on something related to eugenics or not?
• The whole Rocketship party, but especially seeing Jason’s original art in person–it’s given me an idea I’m going to run with if all goes according to plan (perhaps for actual ink-and-paper publication, even).

Things that kind of sucked, in retrospect:

• Disappointing horse racing results
• Having said best friend accosted by a crazy Mongolian guy at the bar who was talking about “Obama,” “McCain,” God bless America,” “prison,” and “need food”–those are pretty much the only words we made out.
• The Bob Dylan laserdisc being broken, so Brian Cronin couldn’t sing anything at karaoke.
• The Minx table refusing to sell me books that are already published and sitting on their table
• Not getting time with certain people–barely saw Tim Leong this year, didn’t get to meet Bully at all, seeing Chris Mautner and Jog only briefly, Kevin Church being a big whiny vagina with a cold and shit and not coming to karaoke (Marcos came to the first party and he had a migraine! A migraine!), not only barely seeing Chris Pitzer but forgetting to buy the collected Skyscrapers of the Midwest (luckily, my shop will likely have it, as they like AdHouse as much as I do), and people I didn’t know were at the show until after I had left.
• Being sick and miserable and hopped up on Tylenol Severe Cold and Flu (but I still made it to karaoke, Kevin–FYI)
• The goddamn fucking heat.  I went back to the hotel in Brooklyn mid-day on Saturday, and nearly passed out before I got into the sweet, sweet air-conditioned walls of the Comfort Inn-Brooklyn Bridge (also–really cute desk clerk girl who, while she was probably only being nice to me because I was a patron, totally didn’t seem phony about it so maybe you will see her in a soap opera some day or something) where I pooped and showered and changed my shirt for what would be the second of four wardrobe changes inspired by the fact that I sweat like a kid that’s even fatter than I already am.
• The really shitty Dave Matthew’s Band-esque band that played before the Indie Spinner Rack party 

Things I have already made with the reading on (presented in order of how I got my read on, and with two word midget reviews):

Geraniums and Bacon #5: fucking awesome.
Clean Cartoonists’ Dirty Drawings: pretty interesting.

Total hours of sleep had between Friday morning and Sunday night:

• Six (approximately four Friday night, and about two Saturday night)

Amount of money spent on books, apparrel, food, alcohol, lodging, gas, and other assorted expenses:

• [REDACTED: I don't want to see the number when I post because I will likely kill myself]

The crystal ball:

• recharged love of comics leads to more bloggery
• recharged love of comics nerds leads to an SPX visit

* If she wasn’t giving it away for free, I mean.

June 10, 2008 at 4:14 am 5 comments

The past few months…

…have been a bitch and a half. This semester isn’t going as well as I had hoped. The sheer amount of work (reading, writing–fortunately, no arithmetic), coupled with things going on at work and at home, have made blogging fall way down on the list of priorities.

So, updates:

• I will try to blog more (for reals this time!). I even have a 75% compeleted post that has nothing to do with comics.

• I adopted another dog. He had been thrown off the back of a truck in rural Virginia, and they were scheduled to put him down because he had mange and a secondary skin infection. So, I drove home with this:

And now have this:

Classic movie fans: A relatively hard-to-come-by film is airing on Turner Classic Movies Thursday, November 15th at 10PM on the East Coast: Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious. Just a friendly FYI.

Comics! I haven’t been reading much–hell, most of my MoCCA pile is still untouched, and I stopped by the comics shop and picked up four issues of The Comics Journal that I had missed. I don’t expect to be talking about them much in the next few weeks, because…

• I signed up for National Novel Writing Month. I know, I know–I don’t have time to blog, so why would I have time to do this? The answer is–I don’t. And that’s kind of why I am doing it–it’s going to free me up from my “internal editor,” knowing that I have to get through 50,000 words in 30 days on top of everything else going on in my life. It officially kicked off today, and I started what I’m currently calling “The Critical Approach” on my lunchbreak. I didn’t meet my target wordcount for the day yet, but about 500 words in a half-hour (hey, I had to eat first) isn’t a bad start, I suppose.

If anyone’s curious, here’s what I tossed out:

Vijay Patel’s bodega hummed with the vibrations of coolers filled with soda, milk, and energy drinks. The tiny television behind the counter buzzed in a slightly higher tone–the poorly remanufactured off-brand set’s inner workings were audible even over the Sale of the Century remake WWOR was airing in the afternoons. The few other post-lunch customers weren’t talking either–not to themselves, and not to the other customers, either. And no one was speaking to the crazy brother with the gun; if they did that, he might stop pointing the gun at the back of my head and start pointing it at one of them.

Vijay loved shitty syndicated daytime game shows, which is why I swung by at 1PM instead of 2PM–I knew I’d get the regular discount if I didn’t interrupt Family Feud. Something about how it reminded him of the gambles he played, he told me once–moving to America, starting his first store, opening his new store outside of the Indian storefronts of what gets referred to in Jersey City as “Patel Street.” At least, that’s what I think he was saying–even though we’d shoot the shit as I drank his coffee and buy my Camel Lights, I usually only picked up about two-thirds of what he was saying. If his accent didn’t trip me up, whatever bit of candy he was gnawing at did. Still, I got the gist of it–any new venture, planned or not, is a gamble.

Vijay learned from his gambles, though. A few robberies left him shaken, and scared him enough to install one of those silent alarm systems that runs through the phone line and alerts the authorities. “Next time,” he told me, “none of those fucks are going to be getting off with any of my money again.” At least, that’s what I thought he had said–something like that, at least. The point was, he had a new system and he was dying to use it at the right time.

Vijay had been on the business end of a gun a few times, but not enough times, and definitely not enough times to know that this wasn’t the right time. This was the wrong time–the worst time. The brother was twitchy. Twitchy, big, and young—drugs, probably. And if he was big twitchy, and not scrawny little shit twitchy, it meant he wasn’t used to working on hype or dust or whatever the fuck he took before he walked in and pulled his piece out. It meant that he had narcotic-fueled anxiety on top of all the other anxieties that come when a stick up kid pulls a job.

It meant Vijay should not have given me that look, that cocky look someone gets when he pulls a straight flush on the river or the chance to land “quixotic” in Scrabble on the triple-word score. That “Don’t worry, Harris, my secret will save us all” look.

It meant Vijay should not have pushed that fucking button.

**************************************

Hopefully, this will give me reason to blog some more, despite not having time for comics, movies, or anything else, really.

November 1, 2007 at 5:32 pm 3 comments

It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you without a dope post to step to.

Thanks, Palette, for reminding me I’ve neglected this blog.

 For once, it’s not just laziness. I’ve had a rough month taking care of a sick old dog.  I think I have him to the point where he can be maintained, but it’s kind of gut-wrenching to know that, at best, I’ve got a year or two with him.

 So, I’m going to rectify that. 

 You know what I miss? INTERNERD DRAMA. Internerd drama is awesome. That’s maybe the thing I miss most about doing The Low Road. I was never Graeme McMillan, or anything, but I loved pointing out and mocking some of the crazy histrionics of the internerd in my own, special way. 

 I thought I grew out of it, actually.   I mean, blogging lightly about comics and classic film? Doesn’t lend itself to the real investment in the happenings of the blogosphere or the forum world or anything like that.  Plus, we’ve got Dick doing it awesomely.

Still, sometimes the drama touches on things I wanted to write about anyway.  This time, it’s turf warfare, a concept as old as, well, turf.  I found a thread on the Classics Forum at Comic Book Resources (arguably the least drama-filled comics subforum on the internerd, those classics cats).  In it, a poster points out an interesting comics-related web site  from Mr. Kitty he stumbled across: 

This website features some fascinating and hilarious material, assembled by one or more people who are both funny and highly knowledgeable about comics. Check it out today! 

However, Stupid Comics rubbed Scott Shaw! (of Oddball Comics) the wrong way:

Gosh, what a unique website. And jeepers, such a clever name, too. I wonder where these geniuses came up with the idea for “Stupid Comics” anyway?

Seriously, ODDBALL COMICS has already covered a lot of this material, and with much more depth, information and humor. (“Stupid Comics” numerous “fucks” and “Goddamns” don’t particularly enhance the commentary material either, in my opinion.) I’ve been doing my Oddball Comics slideshow since around 1975 or so, probably long before the people behind “Stupid Comics” were even born or able to read. Sites like this and “Superdickery” strike me as being amateurish and generally scornful of comics.

So please consider me overwhelmingly underwhelmed.

You know, people express their passions in weird ways.  Some of us good-naturedly mock ourselves and the things we love.  And some of us become very proprietary about ideas we hold dear, evidently.  I’m in the former category–recovering Irish Catholic upbringing, and all of that–and Shaw! appears to be in the latter.  His latter comments in that thread demonstrate some very weird rhetorical tricks designed to make him appear to have the high ground, but fall flat.

 The big one that sticks with me is this:

Speaking of being on “the right track”…

– At SDCCI ’07, I recently did my ODDBALL COMICS show to a SRO audience of over 1,000 people who were kept laughing throughout the performance.

– I’ve been doing variations on my ODDBALL COMICS show at conventions all over the country, spanning four decades.

– I’ve been writing my ODDBALL COMICS column for the Internet for over seven years, first here at Comic Book Resources (where it won a “Corey Award” for “Best Column”) and now on its own website.

– Kitchen Sink published a boxed set of my ODDBALL COMICS trading cards, which was one of the finalists for an Eisner Award for “Best Comics-Related Product”.

– Avalanche Press published my ODDBALL COMICS calendar.

– Last year, my live ODDBALL COMICS show had a very successful eight-week run at Hollywood’s ACME Comedy Theater.

“Pedantic and tiresome”? Looks like a lot of people would disagree with you, Dave.

On the other hand, as someone who has worked with a number of top Canadian entertainers (I produced and directed two animated SatAM TV series “starring” Martin Short and John Candy, THE COMPLETELY MENTAL MISADENTURES OF ED GRIMLEY and CAMP CANDY, as well as storyboarding a MacKENZIE BROTHERS Internet cartoon, all of which also featured voiceover performances of most of the legendary cast of SCTV), I think that I’m somewhat qualified to congratulate “Stupid Comics” for disproving that often-held theory that Canada’s chief export is comedic talent.

Where to start, where to start…

  • Those 1,000 people? Likely older, reverential comics fans.  Let’s face it–humor falls along demographic lines more often than not. 
  • The appeal to longevity doesn’t really work if the counterargument is that the method is tired and, therefore, not as funny or valuable as it once was.
  • That “other people disagree” with the value of Oddball Comics rings hollow when people are disagreeing with Shaw! regarding the value of Stupid Comics.
  • The closing back-handed compliment just, well, isn’t the way to go if the whole point of condemning the cats at Stupid Comics for being too snarky, is it?  It strikes me as kind of like saying to someone “Hey, your antisemitism offends me! Those kikes have feelings too!”

What really bothers me, though, is the claiming of turf.  An idea isn’t something one can really hold onto.  Hell, as I’ve written before, an idea in and of itself is not of any value until it’s executed well.  Here, we have two different sites, both taking inspiration from similar material, and executing it in different ways.  Oddball Comics isn’t my cup of tea.  Maybe it’s yours.  Enjoy your tea, or something, but I’m going to stick with this new flavor of coffee I just found at Stupid Comics.

EDIT: If you want to track the other side of the discussion, you can also view the thread at Shaw!’s forum.

Typing that exclamatian point hurts the inner prescriptivist grammarian I thought I had completely eradicated.

*************

 Unrelated: my friend James sent me this web-comic, and I just had to share it with everyone else.  It’s always nice to see people mocking the white heteronormativity that happens within American superhero comics–not because it’s something that needs saying, as I think most people recognize it, but because it’s fun to watch the people who vehemently disagree with it get all hot-and-bothered about it.

August 16, 2007 at 10:27 am 12 comments

Someday, I will post actual content.

Today is not that day.

 • In today’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, there’s an article about graphic novels created by Kaplan Inc. to help students with their SAT and ACT exams.

• I would probably be blogging more if my life wasn’t utter chaos and if I hadn’t reconnected with my Playstation 2 and, in particular, Def Jam: Vendetta and Def Jam: Fight for New York.  And I made a new friend:

Nerftastic

It’s made out of Nerf.  I can throw it at things.  I think I’m in love.

Clearly, I’m not having the productive summer that I thought I would have.  I am hoping to finish this big long classic film post soonish, and to get some post-MoCCA reviews up.

• The new Savage Critic and you should, like, totally check it out and stuff.

• The other night, I got an e-mail saying I got into a class for the fall that was previously closed–lazy as always, I registered late.  It isn’t a particularly exciting class, but it is one that I need to graduate with my MA.  However, as I still work full time, I can really only spare the time to give two courses the attention they deserve, which leaves me with a bit of a quandry.

 So, here are the choices.  Two graduate courses enter.  One leaves.

 Topics in Literature as Genre: Modernism and Gender

This course will focus on modernism and gender in film and literature of the 1910s and ’20s. Secondary sources will include Cinema and Modernism by David Trotter (Blackwell, 2007) and The Spectacular Modern Woman: Feminine Visibility in the 1920s, by Liz Conor (Indiana, 2004). Sections of the course will focus on the films of D.W. Griffith and Charlie Chaplin, the literature of James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, and women in relation to various aspects of popular and consumer culture during the decade. Besides these sources, we will utilize selected primary writings and additional web sites and resources. The expected visit of London filmmaker Georgina Starr and showing of her film Theda based on the career of screen vamp Theda Bara will fit right into our work. Students will write individual short essays, produce a class presentation, and write a major research paper. There will be a great variety of topics to chose from.

Topics in Postmodern Literature: New Media Literature

Literature has been directly engaged with technological change and its mediation of language for at least the duration of the modernist period-from telegraph, radio, magazine, newspaper and book typesetting, to the fax, T.V., personal computer, desktop publishing, networking, and digital multi-media production. In this course, I will be interested for us to consider the poetics of electronic literature (i.e. the text-oriented subset of new media) from experiential, aesthetic, theoretical, and historical perspectives. Some initial questions that may inform our study are:

  • How do art makers integrate technological concepts and their social implications into art? (database, interactivity, algorhythm, open source, modularity)
  • How does the saturation of the social world and the terms of specific media devices (cable T.V., video-game, mobile phone) inform literature?
  • What are the important concepts, genre conventions, and “APIs” organizing the varied kinds of work within electronic literature: hypertext, net.art, e-poetry, vispo, blogs, wikis, podcasts?
  • What reconfigurations to prior genre conventions and understanding of text objects can we observe? How does the “remediation” of classic genres transpire? Do multi-, hybrid- and inter- media overwhelm genre thinking?
  • How can the tools of literary study be adapted to their reading? Where do new media leave the material book?
  • Does the advent of “new media” constitute a paradigm shift, a fresh chapter, or only the illusion of literary change? To what degree is new technology enabling, determining, or limiting?
  • What do we gain by considering new media from the perspective of electronic literature, rather than such disciplinary categories as performance, experimental music, or computer science?
  • How is the writer and the activity of writing reconceptualized? (FLARF, singular genius vs. collaborative writing) How is the reader and the activity of reading/consuming reconceptualized? (navigate, launch, operate)

The semester will be choreographed to acquaint you with current digital practices, leading you toward becoming a fluent reader/viewer/user, while buttressing these engagements with research into the development of new media as a textual art, and the history of human/computer interaction. Our study themes will oscillate between close encounters with new media artifacts and more distanced reflections on theoretical and historical issues–supported by assigned critical readings, student-led panel presentations, collaborative online work, and student-curated exhibitions. We will communally work through a number of emerging new media “classics” and “foundational” critical texts with the aim of enabling students to develop a conceptual framework for producing review-quality critical writing about new media and introducing it into their teaching. In addition to electronic exhibits and reserve texts, we will work with such titles as: The New Media Reader (eds. Wardrip-Fruin and Montfort), New Media Poetics (Morris and Swiss), and The Language of New Media (Manovich).

I’m torn.  On the one hand, the first course?  Right up my alley in terms of time period, content, and media.  On the other, the second course is an interesting field, one I think may be highly relevant in the future of humanities academia.

July 16, 2007 at 10:42 am 9 comments

“Tastes bad!” “More filling!”

That long-ass entry?  Still in the drafts folder.  This entry isn’t.  It’s also probably skippable.

Ed Piskor has just completed a new graphic novel with Harvey Pekar on the Beat Generation, and it looks awesome.  And people say MySpace is exclusively the domain of shitty bands and pedophiles.  Just today, MySpace helped me learn about Deep6 Studios, Ryan Dunlavy’s new website, and, um, that a girl my college roommate dated has seen 82 out of 245 movies on some list.

• Speaking of movies, Johanna steals my thunder.  If you haven’t seen Casablanca or The Philadelphia Story, this would be a good week to do it.  I’ll be watching Dark Passage for the first time, so I’m looking forward to that.  Also of note: The Awful Truth and Rashomon.

• More movie stuff: Matt at Better Late has posted his first review, covering Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window.

July 9, 2007 at 3:36 pm 9 comments

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