Sunday, May 31, 2009

Duck Comics: "The Golden Nugget Boat"

The ethics of pro-"life"rs

You perhaps remember in season three of The Wire, when Stringer tries to have Omar murdered while he's taking his grandmother to church. And you also perhaps remember how angry Avon is at this attempted hit--you are not supposed to attack even your most hated enemies in these circumstances, was the reasoning. It was part of a moral code.

So there you have it: drug kingpin more ethical than pro-"life"rs. Make a note of it.

(Not that this would be less appalling in other circumstances, but the church aspect really adds that extra little ghastly, ironic frisson to the proceedings.)

"Hey," you say. "This was a lone individual. Not all pro-"life" individuals are murderous psychopaths." And on the one hand, yeah, you're right, and on the other hand, oh, bullshit. Sure, not ALL of these people subscribe to the tenets of domestic terrorism groups like Operation Rescue (whose pious, hypocritical denunciation of this murder is truly stomach-turning), but who's fooling whom? When you have this constant drumbeat or "murder, muder, muder" and "genocide, genocide, genocide," it's the height of disingenuousness to claim no responsibility for things like this. "Sure, we kept shrieking about how abortion doctors were worse than Hitler--but we never wanted anyone to actually do anything about it! Heaven forfend!" Uh huh.

If you consider yourself pro-life and you're as horrified by things like this as I am, perhaps you might want to reconsider your rhetoric. If you already avoid loaded terms like "murder," good for you, but you're in the minority, and you might want to go a little further and consider what your fellow travelers are like, and how their logic ineffably leads to things like this.

RIP George Tiller, Hero and Martyr.

UPDATE: Some additional links. I would say "goddamn these people," but there is no conceivable hell that would be hot enough.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

New Manic Street Preachers album?

And it's being explicitly marketed as a followup to The Holy Bible? And it features leftover Edwards lyrics? On the one hand, this sounds sort of cynical, and really, fifteen years on, when all the band members are fortysomething family men, doesn't this seem a little...affected? On the other hand, I can't deny being intrigued nonetheless. Perhaps the reader of this blog who keeps up with these things more than I do will weigh in on this in the near future.

Anyway, I think I'm getting old and cynical: I still like the band, but now when I hear some of their more intentionally incendiary lyrics, I can't help picturing a picture of a kitten trying to look ferocious, emblazoned with the legend "I IZ A TUFF REVOLOOSHINAREE." Aren't you just ADORABLE? I want to ask. So, while I'm aware that in one sense this is an incredibly unfair exercise, but let's spotlight a few of their more egregiously silly efforts to be transgressive, shall we?

"I laughed when Lennon got shot."
-"Motown Junk"

No you didn't. Get over yourselves. Depending on whether this is a Wire lyric or an Edwards lyric, you were eleven or thirteen when Lennon was shot. Really now.

"Sterilize rapists! All I preach is extinction!"
-"Archive of Pain"

Yeah, Andrea Dworkin would be proud no doubt, but can I point out that all three of you left are married? I'm just saying. And...I kinda doubt that you were eschewing sex on principle even back in the day. I could be wrong! But I'm not.

"Fuck the Brady Bill! Fuck the Brady Bill! If God made man they say, John Colt made him equal."

Yeah. This is the part where I point out that, as much as it may pain you guys to hear it, you are all somewhat fey Englishmen from middle-to-upper-middle-class backgrounds. I would be willing to be some some fair amount of money that none of you have ever used a firearm. You are not Black Panthers. And even if you were, getting that worked up over a five-day waiting period? Seriously?

"Churchill no different; wished the workers bled to a machine."
-"The Intense Humming of Evil"

Yes, I know you're cool Marxists and stuff, but I kind of doubt that even Karl would make the assertion that Britain and Germany in 1943 were pretty much morally equivalent. And I even-more doubt that "the workers" would agree with this assertion. But maybe they've just been brainwashed.

"England's glory lives on in world-wide genocide, so celebrate Buchenwald as her majesty's heir."
-"We Her Majesty's Prisoners"

Along the same lines...Look, I'm not saying British imperialism was a pretty sight. I AM saying, however, that it was pretty well OVER by this song's release in 1991, as much as it might do your self-righteous RAGE good to believe otherwise. And honestly, dudes, Nazi comparisons are great and everything, but really, is this the only way you can shock the bourgeoisie?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Favorite Duck Comics

By request, some always-subject-to-change lists from which I may well have left some vitally important stories. Lists in approximately descending order. Only five Donald adventures because there are so many fewer than there are Scrooge adventures. I really ought to also make a list of Barks ten-pagers, as well as one of Gyro stories, but the problem is, there are a hell of a lot of those that I haven't yet read.

Barks Donald Duck Adventures

Dangerous Disguise
Big-Top Bedlam
Vacation Time
Lost in the Andes
A Christmas for Shacktown

Barks Uncle Scrooge Adventures

Only a Poor Old Man
The Horseradish Story
The Flying Dutchman
Back to Long Ago
The Mines of King Solomon
The Prize of Pizarro
The Secret of Atlantis
The Mysterious Stone Ray
Mystery of the Ghost Town Railroad
The Menehune Mystery

Don Rosa Stories

A Letter from Home; or, The Old Castle's Other Secret
Return to Xanadu
Prisoner of White Agony Creek
The Quest for Kalevala
The Empire-Builder from Calisota
Last Sled to Dawson
The Beagle Boys vs. The Money Bin
Attack of the Hideous Space Varmints
His Majesty, McDuck
A Matter of Some Gravity

Duck Comics: Gladstone Gander

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Potentially great duck comic news.

Here. It's still rumor, but

I understand that Boom Studios has won the comic book license for "Walt Disney Comics And Stories," "Mickey Mouse And Friends," "Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck," "Donald Duck" and more.

Boom has recently shown much promise with its well received Disney Pixar and "Muppet Show" comic books, and this seems reward for its efforts,

Both titles were previously published by Steve Geppi's Gemstone, a publisher that has been seen to be suffering of late.

Fucking sweet. I'm not sure what "The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck" means, unless they're reprinting Rosa's magnum opus, which would be great but which wouldn't seem to count as a full, ongoing line, exactly. Probably it just means "Uncle Scrooge." Let's just hope that Boom has as much love and respect for the comics and their history as the late Bruce Hamilton's Gladstone did (Gemstone wasn't bad, but not quite in the same league--too much reliance on European imports and not enough on rarely-seen vintage stories, if you ask me).

Next step: seduce Don Rosa back into the field with a blank check and total artistic freedom.

Step after that: reprint "Sign of the Triple Distelfink," so that that fucking US310 stops mocking me by not being available anywhere for less than three hundred dollars.

Final step: hardbound, acid-free Carl Barks Library in Color.

And literally all will be well with the world.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Where Jon Kyl found his principles

As to industrial conditions, however, Babbitt had thought a great deal, and his opinions may be coördinated as follows:

"A good labor union is of value because it keeps out radical unions, which would destroy property. No one ought to be forced to belong to a union, however. All labor agitators who try to force men to join a union should be hanged. In fact, just between ourselves, there oughtn't to be any unions allowed at all; and as it's the best way of fighting the unions, every business man ought to belong to an employers'-association and to the Chamber of Commerce. In union there is strength. So any selfish hog who doesn't join the Chamber of Commerce ought to be forced to.
-Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt

Some things just leave you speechless


Sen. Jon Kyl made clear he would use the procedural delay if Obama follows through on his pledge to nominate someone who takes into account human suffering and employs empathy from the bench.

Republicans want it VERY CLEAR that the only acceptable candidates are remorseless, unstoppable killing machines.

"We will distinguish between a liberal judge on one side and one who doesn't decide cases on the merits but, rather, on the basis of his or her preconceived ideas," Kyl said.

Indeed, ABORTION the ABORTION last thing we ABORTION want is ABORTION some sort ABORTION of ABORTION limtus ABORTION test for ABORTION Supreme ABORTION Court Justices ABORTION.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Duck Comics: "Interplanetary Postman"

Friday, May 15, 2009

It took seconds of your time to take his life; it took seconds.

Now, I like this song a lot; I think it's the best track from Dare!, which is saying something. Still--I can't help finding that refrain sort of amusing in perhaps unintended ways. We presume it's meant indicate something like "for you it only took a moment, but for him it took his entire life. Jerk." But the way "seconds" is emphasized always makes me think that it's not so much assassination qua assassination that annoys ol' Phil as it is the lack of pride that goes into a kill that takes mere seconds. "A real artist would have take at least minutes, preferably hours," he seems to be saying. "What kind of philistine are you?"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Star Trek kinda post

Well, I didn't hate the movie as much as SK did--I wouldn't say that I "hated" it at all, quite—but neither can I really argue with anything he says about it. I enjoyed it, kind of, generally, but it really really rankles me that, for reasons that seem to stem mostly from laziness, it’s not the masterpiece that I feel like it could have been. It’s nowhere near as bad as Watchmen, but it’s actually more disappointing, I would say: there was effectively no chance that anyone was going to make a Watchmen movie that didn’t suck (though it sure would have been interesting to watch Terry Gilliam try); the fact that Zack Snyder (grrr—that fucking hack! Just thinking of him causes me to experience RAGE) was involved sure didn’t help things, but even if a director less bedeviled with unfathomable psychological issues could have done better—I still have a hard time imagining they would actually have done well. Star Trek, on the other hand—it coulda and shoulda.

The guy who plays McCoy is good; so is Uhura; Simon Pegg is perfect as Scotty; Sulu doesn’t really get enough attention to register (he gets to have a sword fight, but as SK notes, it’s too jump-cutty to really amount to anything); Chekhov is a ridiculous cartoon whose sole purpose is to remind people of “nuclear wessels;” Nurse Chapel and Yeoman Rand were not seen fit to receive feminist reinterpretations. Admittedly, adding more characters would have made the thing run awfully long.

But Kirk and Spock—yeah, man. I dunno. I just dunno. It really cannot be overstated that Spock deciding that Kirk needs to be launched onto some random planet for insubordination is completely fucking insane--but arguably no more completely fucking insane than Kirk deciding that making Spock snap by mocking his dead relatives and countrymen to wrest control of the Enterprise (yes, he was told to do it--it’s still fucking insane) was a good idea. How could a guy who does something like that possibly be considered captain material? Why could Spock ultimately be okay with it? And WHAT SENSE does it make that, because Spock had one understandable meltdown, a guy who, for fairly obvious reasons, is more prone to emotional outbursts should therefore take command? It’s just stupid.

Okay, so the writers had to find some way to get Kirk promoted over Spock, who had been in Starfleet longer. There were any number of ways they could have done that. They chose the first way that came to mind, for some reason not caring that it makes both their leads look psychotic. LAZY LAZY LAZY WRITING. If you have a massive budget and you’ve been charged with remaking a franchise with so storied a history...why would you skimp in this extremely vital area? I guess it’s true: people have this weird blind spot that prevents them from understanding why good writing is important. You know, I wanted to be rooting for Kirk and Spock once they work out their differences and Learn To Work As A Team™, but the knowledge of what had gone before kept nagging at me. Rather distressing.

Another note: the events of the movie basically invalidate the entire established history of Star Trek. Now okay, so the idea was to make a movie that everyone, not just established, rabid fans, can enjoy, so if there were some compelling narrative reason to do this, I wouldn’t object. But there really isn’t. What it looks like to me is nothing more than an excuse to extend a wholly gratuitous fuck you to series fans. I am hardly the Star Trek fan I was at one point, so I mostly shrug this off, but just the same, I find it extremely uncool. Or no! Maybe I’m wrong! It seems very likely that the only reason they messed around with time travel was because they had gotten Leonard Nimoy on board and they needed some way to work him into the story! But why would they bother with that except to draw in old-school fans? And why would they be pandering to fans if they were only going to kick them in the throat? What were they thinking? It surpasses understanding. I suppose the most likely answer is that they weren’t really “thinking” at all. Isn’t that always the way?

In spite of its flaws, the movie is okay as a summer popcorn thingie; because of its flaws, that’s all it is. Still, it does kinda make me want to go back and watch some Original Series episodes, which I haven’t done in forever. So I guess that’s a plus.

UPDATE: Also, teenage Spock being bullied by other teenage Vulcans? Come on. WAY too teen angst, and it just looks silly, like some sort of Star Trek parody.

UPDATE II: 96% positive review on Rotten Tomatoes. Come on. But as one of the few negative reviews noted, and this is pretty funny: enormous, gaping canyons in the middle of Iowa. Okay.

UPDATE III: Yeah, and the idealistic, humanistic, sixties underpinnings of the original series? Gone. Not even present in the most token of ways. Now more than ever, I think that's a great shame.

UPDATE IV: Yeah, writing update III makes me think: Chekhov was originally meant to show that we could live in harmony with the people who were our mortal enemies at the time. Whereas now Great Babylon has fallen, leaving him to serve no point. I mean, I understand why you wouldn't want to leave him out--that no doubt would piss people off something fierce--but the original intention is lost. As long as we're fucking with "canon," whatever that is, why not be really ballsy and replace him with a Palestinian character? If you cared about working within the spirit of the original show, that would certainly be more appropriate than what we DO get.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The best thing about the Hitman series?

At some point, in the games' world, there must have been a board meeting of some kind where a whole bunch of highly-educated executives decided that, yes, absolutely, for stealthy, silent killing what we want is a bunch of hairless, seven-foot albinos with prominent barcodes tattooed on the back of their necks. Oh to have been a fly on the wall at that meeting.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Why Harper's is worse than The New Yorker

So I read this article (not available online to nonsubscribers, but really, it won't kill you (haha) to miss this one) in Harper's about a former Juarez hitman. How can that not be fascinating? you may well ask. And it's kind of interesting, sort of, in its own way, but it's really not a great article. Or even a particularly good one, really. The substantial problem is that the author, Charles Bowden, is not content to let the material stand on its own. No, he wants to be capital-L Literary, so we get guff like this:

I crossed the river about twenty years ago--I can't be sure about the exact date because I am still not sure what crossing means except that you never come back. I just know I crossed and now I stumble on some distant shore. It is like killing. I ask him, "Tell me about your first killing," and he says he can't remember, and I know that he is not telling the truth and I know that he is not lying. Sometimes you cannot reach it. You open that drawer, and your hand is paralyzed and you cannot reach it. It is right in front of you but still you cannot reach it, and so you say you don't remember.

In addition to making no sense (that business about rivers isn't any more sensical in context), and in addition to the lame attempt at psychologizing, there's that "and...and...and" construction, which is the sure sign of hack who wants to sound literary. Does the world really need multiple Cormacs McCarthy?

The other problem I have with this piece is that--and I know that Bowden is a well-known author with a reputation and a lot of books, BUT--I'm not totally convinced that the whole thing isn't made up. I'm not making accusations, but it just feels as though if you have a story like this, you're gonna want to let it stand on its own. Whereas if you are merely fabricating a story like this, you might overcompensate with extra artifice. Witness Scott Templeton in the last season of The Wire. Also, the details seem just a little too much. Like there's some sensationalizing going on. So our hitman is super-disciplined, because that's totally badass; and he's also constantly strung out on cocaine and whiskey and hardly ever sleeps, which is ALSO totally badass, but which doesn't mesh too well with the super-disciplined bit. It's as though Bowden wanted to stick in as many awesome details as possible, even if they weren't really compatible.

Okay okay, but in spite of this, I suppose it probably IS legitimate. It just doesn't read that way, which is kind of a big problem. Not that every New Yorker piece is brilliant, but I don't think you'd see anything in that magazine that was bad in this particular way. No doubt you could find counterexamples, but it sure isn't the standard, I will tell you that much.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Duck comics are fucking with our heads

Duck Comics Revue is on temporary hiatus due to computer issues (it should be back in a few weeks at most), but I must share this panel without comment:

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Further proof that the New Yorker is still the best

One prefers to avoid using the word "inspiring," since it has unfortunately trite Oprah-ish, Lifetime-Movie-ish connotations that tend to cheapen anything it's applied to. Still, it's a word. English has it. And dammit, we should be allowed to use it. So: this New Yorker essay by Philip Gourevitch (not currently available online to non-subscribers--but it probably will be at some point, and it's worth buying a print copy for in any case) is...inspiring. It's about the post-genocide situation in Rwanda, which, it transpires, is way better than you probably could have imagined. The country is peaceful and progressive, and

Rwanda is the only nation where hundreds of thousands of people who took part in mass murder live intermingled at every level of society with the families of their victims.

The country utilized a system of reconciliation courts, not unlike South Africa (as I understand it), but on a much greater scale. What's great about the article--one of the things--is that it doesn't sugarcoat this process--it ain't a Disney movie. Genocide survivors are quoted as being universally bitter and cynical about these courts--as they have every right to be. However,

none of the survivors I spoke with thought that there was any better solution. Never mind reconciliation, Tutsis and Hutus had to coexist. [Gourevitch's translator, Jean-Pierre] Sagahutu expressed the sentiment most succinctly: "It's our obligation, and it's our only way to survive, and I do it every day, and I still can't comprehend it." When I repeated Sagahutu's formulation to other survivors and to members of [President Paul] Kagame's Cabinent, it was always met with recognition: Yes, that's it. So what was required politically was emotionally incomprehensible, and the President's idea of the common good hung in the balance. "At the beginning, it is very fragile, but with time I think it holds," Kagame told me. "People's hearts and minds need some time to heal. They will probably need a whole generation, and the memories will keep lingering."

I find this kind of fortitude little short of incredible, and it's impossible for me to imagine Americans being capable of behaving in this way. I'm sure there are criticisms of the man to be leveled, but the picture the article paints of President Kagame impresses the hell out of me. I just hope that nothing happens to him, because I have the unpleasant suspicion that he may be the only thing holding the situation together. Still, if a country can come back from what Rwanda experienced, no matter how imperfectly...well, it gives you hope.