Monday, February 05, 2007

One book

Daredevil #93 by Ed Brubaker & Michael Lark

Distressingly, Brubaker's latest issue has all the excitement of watching furniture being rearranged - Matt weaves an alibi for a press conference, gets reunited with the presumed-dead Foggy with as little fuss as possible, gets his various charges dropped within less than a page, manages to spring the Kingpin from the pen.... Any writer, regardless of quality, would seize upon the melodrama inherent in these details (the Kingpin trial virtually demands its own arc), yet Brubaker merely prods at the notions, fearful of letting the content intrude upon the generic tone he's set up in the previous issues.

It is a minor vice of criticism to reimagine the object at hand, the typical result being one careworn set of preoccupations (the artist's) being replaced with another equally forgettable set (those of the commentator), but even the scenes where Brubaker's competence makes itself known long for a bit of punch. For example, if one replaces the close ups of Matt in the press conference scene with illustrations of his wholly apocryphal tale, his dialogue in voice-over, the scene, once tightly bound in the visual stasis held over from the Bendis/Maleev era, suddenly becomes exciting to look at, casts genuine doubt upon whether Matt's public and private personae will ever be fully separated (a notion only glanced at in the scene's final panels), and takes a not altogether too disruptive tonal shift into actual humor (which didn't hold over from the Bendis/Maleev period).

Alas, the only amusement found herein proves wry - the contrast between the bullet-point storytelling of the current issue (racing from plot point to plot point in a variety of environments) to the previous, perhaps Brubaker's best yet - an issue-length conversation between two figures in a dark room.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

High Minded Gossip Galore

Some items (as ever) of interest

Written Lives by Javier Marias
A collection of biographical sketches of various (non-Spanish) writers, each shot through with Marias' infectious bemusement (talent seemingly correlative to ridiculousness) and affection - Lawrence Sterne and Malcolm Lowry (despite trying to murder his wife on two separate occasions) emerge as the most genuinely likable of the lot. A brief tome - even read, as seems almost inevitable, in a casual manner, the majority of the book is likely to pass within a single sitting (or, in my case, over the commutes which bookend my weekday) - you can't eat just one. Memorable observations: Nabokov "hated nearly all writers"; Mishima's death "has almost succeeded in obliterating the many other stupid things he did in his life"; all the glorious affectations which seem to have comprised Henry James' existence; and various et ceteras.

A Prairie Home Companion (D: Robert Altman, 2006)
Not quite An Autumn Afternoon (not many movies are), with which it shares obvious thematic and extracinematic similarities. Nonetheless, fairly good.

Dave Chappelle's Block Party (D: Michel Gondry, 2006)
Not quite Wattstax (not many movies are), with which it shares obvious thematic and extracinematic similarities. Probably better, actually.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

What a horrible, horrible few weeks that was.

Now I can't imagine anything going wrong ever again.

Some thoughts about funerals



- Priests should really turn their cell phones to "vibrate" while the mass is being spoken over a body.

-And standing outside for a half-hour in 40 degree weather while the burial is being held isn't much of a hoot, either.

- Plus, you become an embarrassment to family, community, nation, and race when you are a pallbearer who accidentally drops his flower on the unsanctified earth and not upon the intended coffin.

To abruptly and uncomfortably return back to the typical fare found within this journal, here are some

Amusingly apt comments made the other day on the ilXor boards:

-- Richard Baez, January 19th, 2007.

That's pretty cluttered for a Quietly piece!
-- M Perpetua, January 19th, 2007.

AYE - it's like he drew one of the battles I'd stage with my characters when I was three.
-- Richard Baez, January 19th, 2007.

In that sense, it totally works. And really, how else should you be approaching He-Man?
-- M Perpetua, January 19th, 2007.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Emilio Baez 1933 - 2006

Grieving can take on many forms - for me, my grandfather's death entailed eating the greater portion of a large pizza and getting slightly drunk while watching Meet Me In St. Louis.

Henceforth, another hiatus. Hopefully shorter this time.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

If I ever start a hot dog review column, I shall call it "Frank Discussion"

Because certain things need to be said. Anyway, here are some


Chronicle Of Anna Magdalena Bach (D: Jean-Marie Straub (but really Straub and Danielle Huillet)):
Why is the emphasis in every camera set-up either the vocals or Bach but never the instrumental sections? Should we presume that the Straubs have made a concession to the audience by placing the more identifiably and human elements in any given foreground, given the last question? Why do the images of documents stripped from the past which punctuate every narrative/diary section remind me of the literary habits of Sebald, Marias, et al.? (Actually Sebald seems a direct aesthetic descendent of the Straubs...hrm.)

The Science Service - Story and Art by Rian Hughes w/ John Freeman on vocals:
A neat curio from 1989, awash in the retro-futuristic aesthetic that (as this and Dare seem to indicate) preoccupied Hughes during the late eighties and early nineties. The story itself is fairly engaging (GET-IT-OVER-WITH PLOT SUMMARY: "corporate irresponsibility in the world o' tomorrow"; in a bid for profit and p.r., company pushes a problematic product which alters user's appearance - hijinx ensue) but the various high points are completely divorced from narrative - the establishing shot panels, with Hughes' designs in full view and aswarm with minutia, provide the most salient pleasures to be found herein. Fun.

Miracleman Book Three: Olympus - by Alan Moore and John Totleben:
Featuring the overripe prose which seems, of all Moore's eighties work placed on pantheon pedestals, to have only escaped Watchmen - the tendency, thankfully, diminshes as the chapters wear on (but dear lord, does the "Aphrodite" section drag!). While the "superheroes in the real world who deal with mature themes and RATED - R" theme is a well-plowed field of commentary, what's typically neglected are the delightful imaginative leaps which jut out prominently on every other page - the firedrake gene, the various myths which coalesce around the climactic battle, the goofy little and/oroid, the fantastic alien tribunal scene... There's a great deal more here to be mined.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

My name is Richard Baez

And I've been murdered by the Department Of Doubt. Let's see if I make it through the next few weeks.

Here are some stray notes that have passed through my mind's sandy terrain, with parched lips and eyes an unhealthy (yet aesthetically appealling to the camera) bloodshot red:

- Manny Farber's Negative Space proves both intimidating and inspirational, like Evel Kinievel. Having weaned myself from it over the past two years (throughout my thoroughly eventless school years it was pretty much my bible of aesthetics, as it's careworn condition will attest to), it now takes the place recently vacated by The Stories Of Vladimir Nabokov on my daily commute. There really should be more intelligent commentary on The Curse Of The Cat People floating around...

- A choice quote from the aforementioned Grand Old Man Of Creative Grammar: What a queer sensation to be face-to-face with a causeless film that can draw a "my God, I like it" remark. Which, in my context, refers to Cowards Bend The Knee, that Guy Maddin contraption from a few years back which escaped my sight for some reason, probably due to my lack of enthusiasm for The Saddest Music In The World (of which the only notable detail I can recall is the novelty of Mark McKinney as Serious Actor). A choice intertitle from Cowards: The Joy Joy Joy Of Meeting Someone New! Which sells itself really; now you have to see it. Will there be further comments ahoy for this cautionary tale of blue hands and incestuous themes? Please let it be so! Good intentions...

-Matt Fraction and his mastery of the first-person narrational tone, despite his relative inexperience. Exceptions: it's rather diluted in The Immortal Iron Fist, presumably by the presence of Brubaker (who, from my own reading experience, sticks with a flat competent tone based upon whatever genre he happens to be working in (despite the hossanahs, nobody ever quotes Sleeper, do they?)), which manages,nonetheless, to be a decent tale of kicking and punching; I suspect, of my Casanova collection, issue three remains in near-mint status thanks to it's lack of first-person. I first ascribed Fraction's gymnastics of phrasing to Casanova solely, but found my idea rebuffed by the very fine first issue of Punisher War Journal; Will Frank reference Get Smart! next issue? Stay tuned!

-Why blogging again? Partially because of this post by the estimable Jog but most likely because I reread a few earlier posts and kinda thought they counted as less embarrassing than I expected. I can say I sorta like the Delmer Daves review a few posts down, meaning the temptation to rewrite occurs to me with only every other sentence - with the current rather hasty post, it's all wincing.

-Why all the parenthetical asides?

-Ideas for future posts, almost all of which will be abandoned if my intentions are rebuffed by time and loss of interest (per the status quo of this blog):

Significant notes on Casanova, which I adore.
More Farber, this time with actual commentary.
Some extended comments on some songs.
A review of Funny Ha Ha, which I've now seen three times.
Cowards Bend The Knee review
Brief overview of all the Joann Sfar books I've read and why reading them will make you a better person, able to better function in society with only a minimum of ill-will held toward your fellow humans.
Some actual personal information about me, and why I've held you at an impersonal distance for so very long.

Monday, November 13, 2006

More minutiae

-There's a Work In Progress just waiting to burst forth from the larva of a meek Word file into a glorious butterfly that'll glitter and flounce on the screen before your eyes; alas, it'll have to wait a bit longer before the spotlight shines upon it.

-While reality may become a grand perpetual motion study in impressionism, two weeks sans corrective lenses can prove problematic. Social interaction is muted, slapstick shenanigans ensue in unfamiliar environments, restaurants without tactile menus become unfeasible propositions, plus various et ceteras., among which is a smashing scene depicting our protagonist (male) and his accidental journey into the women's lavatory - yes, the giggles you hear are indeed those of teenage girls, further cementing that hoary trope...