Saturday, July 28, 2012

She's not a girl who misses much

I don't know if you've noticed, but the American right is doing it's damnedest to really fuck over working people, what with favoring slashing social program so that the ultra-rich can never pay any taxes ever, opposing economic stimuli that would help end the recession, being adamantly against any minimum-wage increases (or minimum wage, period, if they really had their way), and of course, you know what they think of the idea that people without money should be able to get healthcare.  It only stands to reason that, under those circumstances, people would feel angry and scared and uncertain.  They're not always sure why, because in our public debates such things are almost never plainly laid out; instead they're couched in airy abstractions which republicans (and, sure, plenty of democrats) favor because it makes them superficially look less sociopathic, and which the media reinforces because they're supine.
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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

John Crowley, The Solitudes (1987)

The time has come to dig into Crowley's four-volume Ægypt cycle--twenty years in the making, the first volume having been published in 1987, the last in 2007 (so twenty years plus however long this first one took to write).  This was originally simply entitled Ægypt, but reverted to its intended title when all four were published in a uniform edition in 2007-9.  Apparently, these editions (which are the ones I'm reading) were revised in some way, but I have no idea how or how much.
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Sunday, July 22, 2012

The problem with Gameboy nostalgia

You can play original-Gameboy games on a Gameboy Color or a Gameboy Advance or a Gameboy Advance SP or an emulator, but here's the problem: you can't play them with the original pea-green palette.  No loss to anyone who never played them back in the day, but for those who have, that's a pretty huge part of the experience, and it's pretty much been completely lost because this has apparently never even occurred to anyone.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The worst don't seem to have much conviction either.

The good news (I mean, aside from "Jesus is risen"): I found a Bible tract in a restroom stall at a ballgame.  The bad news: it's the least visually dynamic tract ever.  I checked the press's website, and now I'm doubly disappointed; the people who put it out are certainly credibly crazy.  Why couldn't I have gotten the one aimed at the rad young dudes?  Or the one about the Demon Rum*?  Or even (I'm not sure even ChickCo has ever done anything quite this psychotic) the pro-death-penalty one?  Mine's pretty generic by comparison.

*I think that was the title of a Friends episode.
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Friday, July 20, 2012

John Crowley; Little, Big (1981)

The thing about Little, Big is, it's kind of indescribable.  Oh, it's easy enough to say what it's "about" in outline: it's the chronicle of a large family living on a rural estate in upstate New York that is felt to be close to Faerie over the course of a century or so.  I could even relate some specific things that happen over the course of the novel: a photographer obsessively tries to capture evidence of faeries' existence.  A young man goes to the big city to seek his fortune.  Another man is transformed after making a foolish wish.  A magician creates architecture of memory.  A young girl is taken and replaced by a changeling.  I could go on.  But really, there's no point.  It would be woefully inadequate in terms of giving you any real sense of the thing; as anyone who's read it would attest.  The title refers specifically to the notion that Faerie is kind of a ring, and when you get deeper into it--to places by rights be smaller--it actually gets larger; on a more general level, it refers to the characters lives and contrasts in perspective between big and little.  And that's about the best I can do as far as describing it goes.  The plotting is complex, allusive, and deft, like the orreries that figure into the narrative.  It's by no means Ulysses or anything, but there are definitely things to miss (not, however, that this will ruin the novel for you).  I will just say that it would not hurt to be passingly familiar with both A Midsummer Night's Dream and Attar's Conference of the Birds.
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mouse Comics: General Advisory

I don't know why I haven't been mentioning it here, but I'm currently doing a nine-part series at my other place on the stories in the recently-published volume three of the Floyd Gottfredson Library.  Got four entries up so far.  Check 'em out, if you're into that sort of thing.  And if you care about comics in general at all, definitely look into this series.  It's a treasure trove of old-school comics genius.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ronald Sukenick, uP (1968)

The novel's about a guy named Ronald Sukenick (yup, it's that sort of book), who is writing this book, and freely remembering his life as a teenager, as a professor, and as a writer.  There are also various sequences dramatizing his persecution fantasies and some featuring his alter-ego-of-sorts, Strop Banally.  Passages can freely move between any of these with no warning or transition, and there are some stream-of-consciousness-y bits that go by without any of that lame bourgeois punctuation.  And there are occasional typography tricks.  You know the drill.
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Sunday, July 01, 2012

Music on airplanes

So I was messing around with the little personal mini-screen thing on the airplane, where you can watch selected movies and listen to selected music and play really half-assed selected games.  Observations:

-I haven't listened to Led Zeppelin seriously in many a year, but I played Physical Graffiti just on a whim, and I really think I appreciated it more than I ever did back in the day.  It's no wonder this band was so priapically huge.  Their version of "In My Time of Dying" is one of the most epic monuments ever.

-If you saw an album entitled "Ethiopian Hip Hop," you would think, whoa, that sounds incredibly interesting, wouldn't you?  And you would play the hell out of it, right?  Well, then you would be crushed, because it's complete bullshit: it just features a miscellaneous variety of stuff from DECIDEDLY NON-ETHIOPIAN artists like Kanye West, Eminem, Outkast &c.  Apparently, the "Ethiopian" part is just to denote that this particular mix is specific to this airline.  I feel like I should be suing someone here.

-Finally: I came upon an album in the inexplicable "Kidz Bop" series, in which popular songs are sung by children.  I'm having a difficult time conceiving to whom this would be of interest, or indeed who could possibly be black-hearted enough to exploit this apparent interest, but there you are.  American capitalism, ladies and gentlemen.  This was volume eighteen in the series.

Anyway, my only point here is that this album included a version of "Telephone" that I listened to out of morbid curiosity, and I can report to you that apparently "sippin' that bub" was considered an inappropriate thing for a minor to be singing, so it was replaced--I am not kidding here--with "eatin' that grub."  All kinds of special, that is, not least because now you can't help imagining the song being sung by a cowboy at the town square dance.  The disc also included a version of "Alejandro," a "kid" version of which strikes me as genuinely inappropriate no matter what ridiculous nonsense you do to the lyrics, but I did not have the stomach to give it a listen.