Tag Archives: review

Merrily Merrily Merrily Merrily? A Not So Gentle “Dream Life”

In Salgood Sam’s words, Dream Life is “an unconventional narrative–what I’ve been calling neorealist comics. It tells the story of five childhood friends, loosely based off Peanuts archetypes, as they confront derailed expectations, reality checks, ethical & physical traumas, and loss. It showcases some richly drawn and hopefully narratively subtle pages, designed to lead you through and show the story in a lyrical fashion.”

Of Salgood Sam’s artwork, just google “Dream Life: A Late Coming Of Age” (or watch the YouTube vid above)–his style is incredible. His crowdfunding has been written about (that third link should be required reading). In his early days, he drew the work of Warren Ellis and Clive Barker through Marvel. Lately, as part of his next-to-no-sleep work ethic, he posts illustration instructionals on YouTube.

Dream Life is a beautiful book, with a minimalist cover and satin finish. BRAG: In my copy, le Montréalais drew my portrait–yay Kickstarter!

Me on a bookplate, by Salgood Sam

Me on a bookplate, by Salgood Sam

The surreal permeates a book otherwise grounded in reality, and it’s a wonderful experience for the reader. Most remarkable to me is its emotional depictions: the drudgery of the cubicle farm, being blindsided by sexual assault (the threat is palpable, though not ‘graphic’), rekindling friendships, and the hard, cold brevity of its few violent scenes.

Dream Life is a work of art. The best thing, though? There’s more story coming.

Find Dream Life: A Late Coming Of Age here.

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When the Purported ‘Best’ Is Simply ‘Most Popular’

Allow me to begin with a quote by the late Kurt Vonnegut:

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut

The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

Every once in a while, a serious news organization spews forth a truly troubling opinion. Today, NPR published ‘When a Popular List of ‘100 Best-Ever’ Teen Books Is the ‘Whitest Ever.”

That’s ‘white’ as in skin colour. As in only two books on the list have non-white protagonists, with a couple of minor caveats. This article about the skewed list is part ‘necessary conversation,’ part ‘self-rectal exam.’

I understand the controversy – the list will become a recommended reading list, & will influence purchasing. Levelling the playing field with an awareness of the advantages of colonialism is vital, so that artists rank based on merit rather than DNA.

The article goes into ‘concerned defence’ mode, explaining how its audience is racially skewed, & that acknowledgement–& knowledge–is valuable. But then it links to a white writer who ranked twice on the NPR list, who wrote:

As lovely an honor as this is, it also made me sad. And angry and frustrated.

Lots of Feelings

Lots of Feelings

It smacks of the minor character in Mean Girls, who wasn’t a student, but shared anyway b/c she had ‘so many feelings.’ (A moment of me-tooism: I support The Indian Act, I believe in a multicultural Canada–as contrasted against the ‘melting pot’ US–& I grow weary of peers who self-righteously demand to care nothing for the injustices perpetrated by their ancestors.)

I get the sadness; we’re aware that a greater good is suffering. But why the anger & frustration? A very small, very specific audience spoke. It wasn’t the Ku Klux Klan; enjoy it. What is there to do but remain aware, have conversations in which we speak highly of diversity, & support initiatives that enable it? White doesn’t wash off. Our culture is trying to sort itsself out, & it’s a big job (made bigger by those who revel in BS notions of supremacy).

That’s what legacy is about. Your descendants enjoy the results of your deeds… and they suffer the results of your deeds.

It would be overstating the point to suggest that it wouldn’t do any good to shoot ourselves in the face (or to simply stop creating) to make room for other voices. But, if I can be cruel, she also wasn’t angry & frustrated enough to demand her works be taken off the list. There are books to sell, after all, & it’s hard out there for a pimp.

Yeah, Mötley Crüe.

Yeah, Mötley Crüe.

The thing that irks me most, though, is the immense stupidity of the causation. Our media culture loves to pander to audience favourites & brand them as ‘Bests.’ NPR’s great crime? After tallying an audience survey of favourite books, NPR called their list a ‘Best Of.’

Best Of lists have peeved me since my days reading Hit Parader in high school, when craptastic bands ranked higher in reader polls than the greatest (LOL) bands that ever lived. (I wish I could make that funnier by quoting the names, but they are lost to Back Issue heaven.)

So, what happens when NPR attempts to gerrymander its audience to be ‘inclusive’? Does it increase its strength, or does it fade as it tries to be everything to everybody – an impossible task?

I loved them so.

I loved them so.

Here’s a better question: How does one be white, live in a predominately white community, Read in Colour, & prevent feelings/accusations of ethnic tourism & cultural appropriation?

I fear the world of Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Harrison Bergeron‘ is on the threshold.

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Interactive Art

Green Pedestrian Crossing by Jody Xiong

Green Pedestrian Crossing by Jody Xiong
Seriously, check the link for the method – it’s brilliant!

Every time I run across a new form of interactive art, such as that of Green Pedestrian Crossing by Jody Xiong, I’m impressed.

I use my creativity in a straightforward fashion – I want to tell a story, or report & opine, & I do it.

Each new method suggests a new medium, & a new world of exploration for artists.

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LOLing @ Lars

Stanger, the weakest of all metal

Stanger, the weakest of all metal.
Also, that’s not a typo, but an in-joke I decided you needed to know.
B/c you do need to know.

Another meme. Growing up, I was such a Metallica fan, then so disappointed by their post-Black Album work, that I can’t resist turning the screw.

Which makes me a bit of a hypocrite, b/c I fully support all artists’ efforts at evolution, even if it’s –quote-unquote– ‘selling out.’

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Queer as Home Ownership

Emmett & Ted: kind-of fabulous; very gay

Emmett & Ted: kind-of fabulous; very gay

I’m a victim of time travelling humour.

Note that this isn’t humour about time travel, just a random sentence about a concept considered true at the time. Infallible, actually.

But when introduced to the line & its delivery after the concept was soundly debunked, this sentence’s earnest, plaintive appeal to rekindle a romance is really goddamn hilarious.

Seriously – I laughed so loud & long I scared my cats.

See, I’m nine years late watching season three of Queer as Folk (2003 airdate). The first season was really strong, but the second flagged, so I put off the third in favour of consuming other entertainment products. Anyway.

Of course, by 'gay' I mean zanily happy

Of course, by ‘gay’ I mean zanily happy

I don’t even need to set it up; your knowledge of the past decade will do the heavy lifting. From the end of Episode 4, ‘Brat-Sitting’:

Ted: I suggest we take Dear Abs’ advice & get our own place. A space big enough for you to feng shui your heart out. And or me to close the door & try & hit a high C along with Pavarotti if I want to. In fact, I was thinking of a house.

Emmett: A house?

Ted: With a backyard, & rooms or you to decorate.

Emmett: Decorate?

Ted: It’s the best investment one can make. And besides being a great deduction, it’s a proven hedge against inflation & an unstable economy. So, what do you say?

It’s like 2003 reached out & tickle fucked me till I pooped my pants.

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Star Wars: Clone Tiffs

Luke & Kermit

Said the frog to the Skywalker: “I’m okay with the fist up my arse.
You seem to be having a spot of trouble…”

The bright side. I reexperienced the Muppet Show episode featuring a couple of droids, Luke Skywalker, & Luke’s cousin Mark. (The first sketch – a shepherd’s love song to a sheep – was pretty ballsy.)

And now I’m nine years late seeing Star Wars: Clone Wars. After the utter crap that was the prequels, I couldn’t do it, despite friends’ approval.

It’s amazing what fanboys will begrudgingly accept as ‘okay’ when they’ve been greatly disappointed. Lucas et al still design like fools. Robot targeting that isn’t accurate? Robots whose main processing happens in the anthropomorphic ‘head’ with no redundancy? Pfft. Reboot the whole damn thing, sez I.

And how about that opening titles music? Next time you want to audibly eschew the vibe of imminent destruction by emulating a marching horde, try to not filter it so much that it sounds like chewing.

All I hear is Bluntman & Chronic with the munchies. I don’t know; maybe it’s Peter Mayhew (groan).

And MacGregor’s Obi-Wan wasn’t this whiny. Did James Arnold Taylor go back in time & take lessons from A New Hope‘s Mark Hamill? This is really making the Matrix sequels look good. Hell, Schumacher’s Batmans shine by comparison.

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Trilogies: Matrix vs LotR vs The Dark Knight vs (original) Star Wars

You say you're a trilogy? I am your father. Deal with it.

You say you’re a trilogy?
I am your father. Deal with it.

I was recently met with the challenge to contrast/compare the Matrix & LotR trilogies against Christopher Nolan’s Batmans. Such is the sad state of fandom, but I risk digression. Let’s get to it.

Matrix: Not a trilogy. The first film has a definite ending. After that, the sequels scan like big-budget sexist fanfic with poorly written cool/clever ideas in them.

LotR: I appreciate the technical challenge that went into bringing LotR to the screen, but effort is not the only standard by which quality is assessed (IMO, ‘effort’ should be the least factor). I appreciate slow storytelling (Brown Bunny, Solaris, 2001, Dead Man, Tinker Tailor, Ben Hur, JFK), but I have never been so completely bored. Beyond one theatre viewing, Fellowship has always put me to sleep; Two Towers has, if not several naps, then definitely pee-breaks built into the film. Return is the only one that engages from open to close. The trilogy, though, is nearly entirely as self-indulgent as anything by Ed Wood, only better-funded & -executed.

Batman/TDK: I have to hold judgement, as I haven’t seen Rises. But the first film is very strong & the 2nd is excellent. After their promise, & if Nolan’s still on his game, it’ll be the only trilogy that is a true challenger for the rep of the original Star Wars trilogy.

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