Wassup Rockers


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the comics category.

Catch Up.

First off I just want to say that Gustavo Cerati had a stroke recently and I was pretty freaked out about it, but it seems like the prognosis is cautiously optimistic.  I thought he might die and I was very worried for his family, but hopefully he’ll recover bit by bit without any problem. ¡Fuerza Gustavo, te queremos mucho!

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On Thursday I spent a shitload of cash on trinkets to make me marginally happier about my existence. I originally intended to go buy some albums—Jamie Lidell, Jónsi, Janelle Monáe, others whose names don’t start with J—but I happily improvised my day out and found some other great stuff instead.

On Wednesday I went to Housing Works to check out the Black Keys pop-up store they set up in the bookstore.  I got there around 5 but they’d already closed up because the band was gonna play that evening.  So I returned the next day and I bought myself a copy of Brothers.  It’s actually my first Black Keys album!  I didn’t know which of the older ones to choose.  In theory I’ve always liked them, but it’s always been from a respectful distance.  The main reason I bought something from the pop-up store is that a percent of the proceeds went to Housing Works.  It’s also the reason why I was willing to part with my cash money even though the record was “expensive.”  It was almost $30 and that was… a lot for me, way more than I usually pay for vinyl.  Pretty much worth the money though–it’s a double LP plus came with a CD version as well.  Well played, Nonesuch Recs.

The first single, “Tighten Up,” has two videos and they’re both hilarious.  There’s a teaser vid with a puppet (YEAHHH!!!), and an official one with kids at a playground.  The official one is pretty heteronormative and even sexist (depending on how you read it) so I gotta roll my eyes at it a little, but it’s still incredibly funny.  My favorite part is when Dan Auerbach throws that kid on the ground when he sees the pretty lady.  It cuts away from that moment so fast that it’s easy to miss, but when I saw I could not fucking stop laughing.  Belly laughs, too.  So fucking incredible.  The best part is, I actually prefer the teaser video!  I’m totally a puppet sympathizer so for me, a soulful croonin’ dinosaur puppet = heaven.

Some other vids I’ve seen recently: Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own,” which is an all right song but wasn’t that interesting visually except for one of the cute outfits in it, and MIA‘s “Born Free,” which in the past month or so has caused plenty of verbiage committed to its existence.

But how come no one told me that the director of “Born Free,” Romain Gavras, also directed that one Justice’s “Stress”?  Love how “Stress” has not been banned by YouTube the way “Born Free” has been.  Hm…  It seemed like a lot of the commentary was on how this video fits into MIA’s oeuvre and for me that’s slightly more difficult to consider than when I think of how “Born Free” and “Stress” complement each other.  The two videos are pretty frightening visions of authority and disobedience and violence and power—and these visions are particularly male and adolescent.  Oof.  Seriously gnarly.

Much lighter in tone is the vid for “Por la ventana,” the new track by Gepe which you can see below.  It’s pretty simple and it’s not conceptually innovative, but the execution is committed and effective, and everyone seems to be having fun.  Very colorful, too.  Clearly demonstrating that I’m a lightweight for preferring this over Romain Gavras’s stuff, but I’m not bothered.  Gepe’s song is off the hook!  I can’t wait for his new album, Audiovisión, to come out.  I’ve been really keen on the direction his music has taken in the past year or so.

Shit I got seriously sidetracked…  Anyway, after I stopped by Housing Works, I found myself at East Village Books.  I stayed for like an hour, mainly because they were playing this Carter Family album.  I hummed along to most of it while I browsed.  I got a copy of Eunoia!  Really clean condition, too.  I’m very happy about it.  I walked out as the Carters wailed away on “Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone?”

I also swung by Forbidden Planet, got me Brief Lives (that’s volume 7 of Sandman) and Optic Nerve #8, which means I have own every issue of ON now.  I still need one more Sandman though.  I’m working on it.

In other news, I finally got In the Loop and Breaking Bad season 2 from the library.  I was very excited about the former as I recently read the script for it and I just loved it.  So it was nutty watching it and seeing how different it was from what I’d imagined, from the sets to the setup of shots to the line delivery.  I am surprised that the In the Loop DVD is seriously lacking in features.  Mainly, there’s no commentary track at all; I seriously would have loved to hear about the story, the production and how it fits in with The Thick of It, etc.  Oh well.  The movie’s still pretty awesome, really funny.

Breaking Bad… well, I got it last month, only got through the first 10 eps, so I queued myself up all over again (I know!) and now that I got the DVD I can finished the damn season.  And believe me, it seriously makes you go “DAMN!”  Very stressed out from it, but in a good way.  Trying to decide whether to catch up online before the end of season 3.  It’s gonna take forever for the DVD to come out.  I guess I better decide soon since the finale’s only a few episodes away, but I don’t know how much BB I can take without my head exploding from the tension.

I’ve also been checking out Justified, which is quite breezy in comparison.  I’m very charmed by Timothy Oliphant (read: he’s hot) and by all the twangy twanginess coming out of everyone’s dialogue.  I don’t know that I’d call it superb, but I like it enough to stick with it.  It’s not lacking in poignancy either, which makes it so much easier to like.

A few weeks ago I got the Spaced DVD from the library, too.  I didn’t get through all the commentaries before it was due, which sucks, but in some of them Simon Pegg mentioned he used to do stand up.  I had to look it up, and thank god some kind soul (his mom??  LMAO) uploaded this:

Fucking adorable.  The routine isn’t bad, actually, it’s just that the material is fairly traditional.  Good stage presence though, and I loved how the last bit ended—the crowd response is so awful I totally cracked up.

Something else that’s totally been cracking me up: Parks and Recreation.  I caught up to the final episodes of the season and they were fucking pitch perfect.  I enjoyed this season tremendously and obviously it’s because the writing has been off the hook and the ensemble totally delivers on it!  Paul Schneider and Rashida Jones were a bit misused but for the most part the characters grew and I found plenty to love about them.  Except Jerry.  Jerry sucks.  ;)

The really amazing thing is that even though it’s incredibly funny, to the point where I’m guffawing and gasping for air, I find myself really moved by some of the developments.  It’s weird.  I don’t want to let myself get taken in by a fucking sitcom and yet the show is so good at what it does that, when the grumptastic 20-year-old April failed to get into a bar and her potential date with the ever-goofy Andy came to a premature end, I got a bit teary-eyed.  Just writing about it doesn’t even begin to describe why I got emotional—the expressions on their faces killed me…  And these are supporting players!  But they still bring it.  Shit, I’d tell y’all to watch the fucking show but HEY because of its weak ratings it’s become a mid-season replacement, so it might be a while before we see all these lovely people on TV again.  Sigh.  Hope y’all buy the DVD when it comes out!

…Can’t believe I wrote all this nonsense when I should be studying for a final. Shit.

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More Funnies.

Well, I visited Midtown Comics for the first time because at MoCCA fest they were handing out 25% off coupons that were only valid through this weekend.  I bought the last volume of Y: The Last Man, the first volume of DMZ which looks like it’s going to make me anxious as fuck, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Batman: Year 100 which was kind of a consolation prize for not being able to get Paul Pope’s 100% in paperback just yet (and also because Batman is awesome, obvs).  I got a free issue of Spider-Man, “Grim Hunt: The Kraven Saga.”  I’m not sure why, but I’m not complaining.

The only purchase I’d really planned for was the Y: The Last Man.  I was really looking to get the aforementioned Paul Pope and some Sandman but hilariously and inconveniently they didn’t have the volumes I’m still missing.  Sheesh.  Doesn’t matter, I’m still really excited and happy about my purchase.  Yay trade paperbacks!

I remembered that it was Record Store Day so I decided to swing by Other Music.  There was a queue to just get inside!  I scoffed at the line and went on my merry way.

I’m not sure what the point of this post is.  Trying to define my pathetic life’s worth through knick knacks or summat.


MoCCA Fest 2010.

I haven’t had a chance to talk about this year’s MoCCA festival. I wanted to attend both days but I only got a chance to go on Sunday. Before I swung by the fest I had to go pick up a DVD from the library–Breaking Bad season 2. I’m on ep 4 currently and I think I’m going to puke from the tension. The show is amazing.

It was expensive, but overall I feel like the operation ran a lot more smoothly than last year, which was the first time MoCCA happened at the Armory. Unlike last year, it wasn’t incredibly hot. For some reason it felt a lot more family-friendly, and on top of that the Scandinavian presence was stronger than ever.  I guess people are really responding well.

I actually went to the Scandinavian panel. I don’t know that I got as much out of it as last year but it was still fun and I liked getting a perspective primarily from people who are more involved with the publishing industry. The panelists were: Espen Holtestaul from Norway, Fredrik Strömberg from Sweden (substituting for fellow Swede Johannes Klennell, apparently too shy to sit in on the conversation), Ville Hänninen from Finland, Mats Jonsson who is also from Sweden, and Henrik Rehr from Denmark. Sheesh, I wish I could link to more official websites, sorry.  Clearly I’m too much of a dum dum to figure out what they are.  Anyway, it was moderated by Shannon O’Leary who although cheery could have been more incisive on the question front. There also wasn’t a lot of Q&A time, although after one weird and random alien conspiracy question from some feller I thought maybe it was for the better no to have a lot of audience input this time around.

I enjoyed myself a lot and I’m really happy I spent a good amount of money on independent artists, though of course I shelled out some money to the bigger publishers too.

Adrian Tomine was nowhere in sight this time around, but I was very happy I got to meet Dorothy Gambrell. She signed the book I bought from her, and so she drew this really miserable picture of Girl that made me very giddy. Plus the company with whom she does merch (Topatoco) was giving out discount coupons so yay!

So here are the comics I picked up:

Second Thoughts by Niklas Asker
– Issue 1 of The Unwritten, which was given out free!
The Numbers of the Beasts by Shawn Cheng
– The second Cat and Girl book
Lihan Himo (“Lust for Meat”) by Olli Hietala
The Ragbox by Dave Kender – I’m assuming it was the author or one of the artists who graciously sold me the copy for $5 instead of $7
Danica Novgorodoff‘s adaptation of “Refresh, Refresh” by Benjamin Percy
– The first set of L’age dur by Max de Radiguès
Bookhunter by Jason Shiga
– Issues five to seven of Optic Nerve, since they had a special offer. Now I only have #8 left to buy.
Ayaje’s Wives and Monsters & Condiments by Matt Wiegle


MoCCA Fest 2009.

[Edit: My friend from work wrote a li’l something on MoCCA too. Clickety click here. Also, I was lurking around a day or two ago looking at other people’s posts, and someone mentioned how annoying it was that there didn’t seem to be any trash cans in the fucking armory. I agree! I kept looking around for a place to dump my trash, and eveeeeentually I found a receptacle.]

Went to the MoCCA fest, which was moved from the Puck building to the Armory between 25th and 26th Streets. The space was striking, absolutely massive–everyone fit under one space, instead of having to split the exhibitors into several large rooms. On one level it was easier to have everyone under one roof, but on another level it also felt a little less personal. I don’t know what could be done about it; the fest had long outgrown its former space, and the move was necessary. The one thing that actually sucked was how humid it got, people were just sweating left and right.

It was just overwhelming to have so many exhibitors and fans in there. Even though there was a floor plan, it was easier for me to just get a feel for the space, so I literally walked up and down every aisle to see who was there and what they had to offer. Then, once I finished doing that, I just returned to the tables that really caught my eye, which was mostly the international artists.

It remained crowded almost all day, so I didn’t get a good glimpse at certain tables. As it happens every year, I saw Adrian Tomine, and his buddy Seth was there, too. I didn’t get anything signed by him, but seeing Adrian was comforting, like, “There’s a familiar face!” Haha. Jason showed up and signed shit, as well as Tom Gauld and I think Kurt Wolfgang too, among many many others. Everyone was so friendly and eager to engage in sweet conversation while enticing us common folk into buying their creative output and in my head I was like, “AHHHHH TOO MUCH I CAN’T HANDLE IT!” but mostly I just smiled politely, said hello, glanced at some of the comics here and there, and just moved on.

Listen, I was on a budget, okay? I really wanted a copy of Joann Sfar’s Piano, but by the point I saw it, I was down to less than $30… And the book was going for $40. There were some other really cool from L’Association and this Belgian publisher named Bries. Bought a couple of titles from the latter.

I was hoping (it was a wild and futile hope, really) that maybe they might have Papa est un peu fatigué but they didn’t. I bought another Ville Ranta comic instead. Bought some other comics from the Scandinavian contingent. I got a mini-comic signed by one of the artists, and I thought he was just gonna give me his John Hancock but he was nice enough to draw me a little something. So I just want to declare this artist, Simon Bukhave, as totally awesome for taking the time and effort to do so.

There was also a Romanian table. I shit you not. Like, of all the random places… They were featuring a series called Hardcomics and I bought a couple, including one that wasn’t even translated. But that’s okay, because I really love the artwork.

The one panel I attended was called “Scandinavian Comics 101,” and the panelists included: Åsa Ekström (Sweden), Mattias Elftrop (Sweden), Johanna Rojola (Finland), Thomas Thorhauge (Denmark), Ib Kjeldsmark (Denmark), Erik Falk (Norway), and one more artist whose name I didn’t catch (also from Norway). If you know his name, or if I misspelled anyone’s name, please let me know! The panel was moderated by Steffen P. Maarup, who is Danish. As soon as I saw how many artists were participating in the panel, I realized we weren’t going to get too far into some deep dialogue from the artists of the various countries they represented. The allotted time was just too brief to get very far… However, the panelists were all very charming and made some great points. For example, I had no idea that so many of them were deeply influenced by French and Belgian comics as opposed to American ones. There was a curious audience member who posed a really interesting question about race and whether the POC in the Scandinavian countries were active at all in the comics scene. The panelists didn’t have much of an answer other than that POC are not really visible. Honestly, there was plenty said during the short time and I’m sure someone who took more copious notes will hit every bullet point discussed… but unfortunately that someone isn’t me. Sorry!

Dude! I do wanna give props to MoCCA for putting out refreshments at the panels!! I feel like my admission money mostly went to good use. Hehe. I had fun, and I got some really cool comics that I’m probably never ever gonna see again, so… it was worth it. Hope all the international artists are able to come next year, too!


Look What I Found in My Files.

nick-cave-rocks

An old Cat & Girl comic I modified… I almost forgot I had it.  I’m not sure what the text was in the original strip.


On the Watchmen Movie, Mucho Text Avec Spoilers.

A lot of times I know that a movie will be a waste of time, but I still get curious about the usually convoluted plotlines so I go online and spoil myself the movie. It tends to happen with a lot of horror movies, but not always. I had already spoiled myself Watchmen, but it didn’t quell my curiosity because I read about all the changes from the book and I wondered how the fuck everything was gonna pan out, so I was (a) dying for the movie to leak, or (b) waiting for 10 days to pass so I could use a movie voucher to watch it for like $2.

I caved. I went to watch it last night. Paid the full ticket price and everything.

There’s some things I should mention. First of all, I didn’t have a phone on me yesterday, which was awkward because I use my phone as my watch, as most of my friends do. I was fucking blanking out and unsure about whether I’d just left it home, or if I’d dropped it on the street. I was wearing a coat with shallow pockets, y’see. So every few hours I had to get change and look for a payphone to call my own phone, hoping my mom would pick up and thereby confirm that the phone was at home. The whole thing was an exercise in hilarity. First off, it’s ridiculous trying to find a payphone these days, even if I found myself in a tourist-heavy area. (And I do mean the tourists are heavy! HAHAHA okay never mind very rude of me I know…) Second off, my mom is pretty much deaf in one ear, so she really can’t hear my phone vibrate… most of the time she can’t hear her own phone, even though her has a very loud ringtone. Third off, I couldn’t call anyone else because the only phone number I have committed to heart is my own fucking number. I hung out all by my lonesome which suited me fine, but I felt very disconnected to the world.

I was full of win yesterday, really.

It was the afternoon and I didn’t know what to do with myself so I decided to queue up for the West Side Story ticket lottery. Since I didn’t have a watch on me, I just stood in the cold for like a good hour and a half until I found out that I didn’t win. Fuck man, I bet this revival isn’t even all that and it was mad cold yesterday, but there were a shitload of people dying to get a fucking ticket. My god.

Anyway, I peaced out of there but the cold and the hunger was getting to me so I just went into a Sbarro and paid $2.29 for a 20 oz. bottle of water… Jesus fuck. Whatever, I had a fun time people-watching the tourists surrounding me. I wondered if they saw me as a tourist, too. But I peaced out as soon as I warmed up and I walked up to the Lincoln Center area to see if the indie theater had anything good showing at a godly hour. Never mind that I wasn’t even sure what time it was. I wasn’t too interested in the movies showing at that moment, so I walked over to the big chain theater near the Barnes & Noble and bought a ticket to Watchmen.

Okay, I admit it. I was curious about the plot changes, but I have a crush on Patrick Wilson, too. He was one of the highlights of the Angels in America movie for me (and believe me, I wasn’t that enthusiastic about the movie as a whole). I was really puzzled by the fact that he was playing Nite Owl. Nothing on Patrick Wilson’s acting, I think he’s a wonderful actor, but I mean, Patrick Wilson is fiiiiine. And Dan Dreiberg, his character, is totally lame. And has a paunch. So I wanted to see how the hell they worked that out. I was really interested to see Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Jackie Earle Haley, too.

I found out a few days ago that the opening box office for Watchmen was only like, $50 million, so I wasn’t sure how many people would show up for a weeknight screening of the movie. The closer it got to the screening time, though, it filled up pretty nicely. There were a shitload of open seats though; I had a whole row to myself, there was a couple sitting directly behind me, and on the row in front there was a black dude, but he was farther away to one side. You wouldn’t believe my surprise when the lights went out and after a good number of trailers, some dude sits next to me. Or rather, I was sitting in the third seat into the row, on the second seat was my purse, and he sat on the seat closest to the aisle. Well I noticed he had a bag on him so I moved my purse to the seat on my other side. Instead of putting his bag between us, he sat next to me and put his bag on the seat closest to the aisle. See where I’m going with this? I mean from then on I knew there was something odd, right? Like there’s at least a hundred empty seats and you’re like, he just happened to see the seat next to me was empty?

The movie started and everything was okay the first fifteen minutes, but then I realize he was moving a lot. So I peeked over and noticed he actually had his penis out and was masturbating right next to me. There was nothing sexy happening on the screen, obviously, just a sick guy. I didn’t know what to do, because a part of me just wanted to tell him to put it in his pants and just watch the fucking movie. I even considered ignoring him but I realized that I couldn’t concentrate on the movie just knowing that this guy was wanking himself right next to me. In the span of like, four or five minutes, I debated with my course of action and decided that bringing attention to his behavior could bring any number of mostly sucky responses, so I just decided to up and leave. I felt bad about getting in the way of the couple behind me.

Since I was already out of the theater I decided to maybe place a call to my phone. Then I thought, “What the fuck, I paid $12.50 for this shit and I’m gonna watch this motherfucking movie to the end!” Besides, I was kinda worried the dude had followed me out so I thought it was better to be in a room full of people. The row behind the couple whose view I blocked was completely empty, so I sat there. And I hoped the dude wouldn’t show up and give me trouble.

Well wouldn’t you believe it, I noticed that the very row in which I sat was totally empty, too. The motherfucker left after I did.

Anyway, after that I just watched the movie in relative peace, though on occasion I’d drift away and worry that the guy would show up again or something. I mean, maybe if the movie had been more absorbing, I would have forgotten completely about the pervert, but there you go. Watchmen was pretty sweet in pieces, but as a whole, it didn’t gel.

I’m sorry it took me so long to get to talking about the movie. There’s really nothing to say that hasn’t been said already. Yeah, the sex scene was awful. Everyone was laughing and it was probably the biggest laugh in the movie. Listen, I don’t want to hear “Hallelujah” used in a movie or TV show unless it involves Alan Dale dying on-screen of a heart attack, mmmkay? I’m sick of it being used as “emotional shorthand” in the cheapest way possible. Besides, when I read the comic and got to the scene, I thought something like Depeche Mode would play in the background. Sigh.

The changes they made to the characters were really annoying, and sometimes they were fundamental changes. It’s like most of the plot revolving around them stays the same, but there’s so many things about the characters that aren’t fleshed out that would have explained why they did this or that. For example, there’s no real explanation to the complexity in the relationship between Mama Silk Spectre and Baby Silk Spectre, which is such an interesting take on feminism and sexism in superhero culture. And we never see Baby Silk Spectre having this back-and-forth between hating her superhero past and loving it. Instead, she acts as the person who is really way excited about getting back in costume and drags Dan back into his.

Another deep change was that they made no mention of Rorschach’s discomfort with women. We don’t even see the whole thing about why his mask moves and shit. They made Rorschach a lot more sympathetic, and more… I don’t know what word to use, more functional? I imagined Rorschach was in a world of his own, but even in the way he spoke, he seemed like he could still fit into regular society.

And Ozymandias’s plan just seemed like the kind of thing that a regular evil mastermind would come up with, whereas when I read the comic, I was riveted by the level of ridiculousness his plan involved… For all the slow-mo used in the movie, I feel like they didn’t linger on the important stuff, relying more on telling us the important bits instead of showing us and letting us reflect on what was happening on screen. There were so many subtle things missing that I was able to fill in from having read the comic, but I couldn’t imagine how a complete stranger to the movie would fill in those blanks. For example, I wish we’d seen more of Rorschach’s shrink and how he is affected by Rorschach. Part of me wants to watch the extended version of the movie and see how much it improves (or worsens). I also hated that they all seemed to have superhuman strength. Come on, these people have been in retirement! They’re not getting any younger! At least they could have explained that they were secretly still keeping strong, or something.

Worst of all, I never fully felt like there was anything at stake. Or rather, I could see some of what was at stake, but I didn’t feel the depth of how cataclysmic the stakes were. This movie’s failures made me realize how much I loved The Dark Knight.

Yeah, Malin Akerman was mostly wooden. To be frank, for any shortcomings involving the acting, I’m gonna place squarely on Zack Snyder. Not that I’ve seen any of his other movies, but it really felt like he didn’t place acting at the top of his priority list at all, it was like he cared more about replicating the look and feel of the comic a lot more. I don’t know if it was because he thought, “No one’s gonna care, this is an action movie! The fanboys don’t care about beautiful acting, they want to see Rorschach’s capture sequence to be portrayed exactly as it is on the page!” (The sequence involving his capture was, indeed, awesome to watch.) I don’t even know how much prep work they did on the actual performances. But on the screen, it very much felt like it was more about what the actors brought to the table and that Snyder gave them minimal notes on how to maximize the emotion. It’s like he just threw everyone in front of the camera and was like, “Okay, ready? Bring it, y’all!” without talking about the motivations of the characters and blah blah blah. And if a performance was subpar, I can see him going, “That’s okay, you tried, we’ll work on it in post-production!” Am I being unfair to Zack Snyder? Well, if he has beef he can write to me about it. Well, to be nice, I think he would make a really wonderful music video director. He’s got a strong visual sensibility.

Some random shit I did like: the liberal use of fake blood. Whoever gets to press the button that makes the blood squirt out like that must have the funnest job ever. Loved the McLaughlin Group bit in the beginning–I thought it was spot-on. I also enjoyed the opening credits where we see the history of the first generation of superheroes. Mama Silk Spectre’s costume was really cute, even if her boots weren’t appropriate for crime-busting. My favorite moment involving Rorschach was when he’s like, “I’m not locked up with you, you’re locked up with me!” It was a very satisfying moment and I thought Haley’s line-reading was perfect. The movie made me appreciate the Comedian’s complexity more, actually! In addition, there were two funny moments in the jail break out that stand out. First, Baby Silk Spectre unnecessarily kicks some guard’s ass, and Nite Owl’s reaction was priceless. Really nicely done, especially because, even though he was wearing his mask, he conveyed his opinion beautifully. Second, I loved Rorschach’s whole “Need to use the men’s room” bit, especially with the door swinging. I think those were my two favorite moments in the movie. I also thought that 80s NYC was rendered nicely. And I thought they tried to leave a lot of in-jokes for the fans, which I appreciated.

There was one moment in the movie that genuinely surprised me. Just the choice of direction was unexpected. It’s Rorschach’s final scene, and he takes off the mask, and he’s crying. I didn’t remember him crying in the comic, but I looked it up and he totally is. Now, when I saw it in the comic book, I thought he was crying out of anger, frustration, disappointment that his former teammates were willing to settle. But in the movie he seems to be crying in resignation and in fear of death, too. That choice kinda does make sense, now that I think about it, but it makes Rorschach’s exit so much less badass than I originally conceived it in my mind.

I’m sorry this post is such a mess. I said so much but nothing really coheres… I guess some Zack Snyder rubbed off on me. Zing!

EDIT: Oh crud, I forgot to mention, I was totally pumped for some of the trailers they showed before the movie. In particular, I almost died of excitement when they showed the Wolverine trailer, not because of Hugh Jackman, but because I had no idea that Gambit was gonna be in the movie! Holy shit, I do not care how bad that movie is, I can’t wait to see Gambit in action!! I used to have such a crush on him (er, the cartoon version of him) when I was like, 8. Siiigh.


Marjane Satrapi + Chris Ware @ NYU Skirball Center (Festival of New French Writing).

Earlier tonight I went to see Marjane Satrapi and Chris Ware in conversation, with Françoise Mouly as moderator. Even though I wasn’t feeling 100%, this was an event I needed to attend because… well, how often do you see a lineup like that? It was fucking free, too. So I HAD to go. I didn’t take notes but here are some of my impressions:

I’d seen video footage of Marjane Satrapi before doing interviews and stuff, so I had a clear sense of what she’d be like. Thanks to my coworker, I had the pleasure of seeing Comic Book Confidential a little while back, so I knew what Françoise Mouly would be like, too. (In one word: HOT.) When it came to Chris Ware, however, I didn’t even know what he looked like, what his voice sounded like, so imagine how surprised I was when he walked onto the stage. No really… one some level he looks like a walking, talking version of one of his drawings, which weirded me out. Even the kinda bummed out attitude was so familiar. And yet, as the discussion went on, he uncovered all these interesting layers that made me appreciate him so much more as a complex individual. His self-deprecation was almost off-putting (his wife must be one patient woman) but it was still genuine enough for people to be able to laugh in sympathy. And hey, for such a mopey cartoonist, he had great comic timing.

I think for the most part I gained a lot of wisdom from Satrapi, but it may just be that her French-accented English just made her sound really deep. What’s cool is that even though Satrapi and Ware have such wildly different styles in their artwork and their creative process, most of the hour-long conversation was dedicated to noting how much they had in common. So one of the really cool things that Satrapi talked about was the relation of the audience and the medium of her work. For example, a reader is very active when reading a comic because they are allowed to imagine what is going on between the panels, but working on the film version of Persepolis, it was difficult to have to fill in those missing points between the panels because a film goer is a lot more passive when experiencing a movie.

Another point Satrapi made was that drawings are closer (more intimate?) to human nature than, say, photographs, because a photograph reproduces reality whereas a drawing reflects the way an individual views the world. Well this reminded me of that Bible passage, “God made man in his own image,” which makes me think of how artists are trying to create the world through their own eyes. There is some quality of wanting to take control and be a little bit God-like when you are an artist, of creating a world and having a say in how things turn out… Do I make any sense right now?

I think it was at this point that Chris Ware chimed in, speaking of his daughter. He spoke of how his four-year-old daughter has been scribbling or doodling ever since she could hold a pencil, but ever since she’s started (pre?)school, she’s been coming home with these pictures of, for example, things that could be recognized as faces. What he meant is that she learned that certain abstractions, certain shapes or whatever, can be combined to form something recognizable. So that a circle can be a head and two dots can be eyes and there can be a line for the nose and a line for the mouth. And this isn’t something that was innate, but that it was something she learned. Yeah, I was thinking about McCloud’s Understanding Comics when Ware talked about this. But I mean, what really struck me was realizing that we learned that certain symbols are universal, so that everyone sees “<3” and says, “That’s the shape of a heart,” or maybe a triangle resting on top of a square symbolizes “house,” and that this is something learned.

We were able to see Ware’s gradual artistic process, from the blank page until the final product, and you could kind of feel the audience going, “Holy crap.” Cos even in its raw, blue-pencil form, you could see how detailed everything was. Even Mouly and Satrapi were looking at the images and whispering to each other, “Incroyable!”

The other amazing thing was we all got to watch a short animation that Chris Ware did of this… I don’t know, I guess it was a feature on This American Life. The story he animated was so hilarious, and not just because the story was so great, but because the artwork complimented the storytelling so brilliantly. It makes me wish he only did animation. It was pretty wonderful to see his familiar figures in motion.

Man, I haven’t laughed this hard since… er, well, since last night’s 30 Rock. But really, I felt so happy to be there and to witness this event, not least because we got to see this short animation. Earlier today, as I got ready to go out to this discussion, it kind of hit me how lucky I am to live in New York where there’s always all this cool, oftentimes free shit happening. Sometimes I wish I lived somewhere cheaper, but shit like this makes me feel so privileged to live in this city.

I liked hearing about the different methods Satrapi used in her different comics, too, but it was really cool to just hear about her childhood, too, about how she had limited exposure to comics as a child, and then finally learning how much potential the medium offered her to express herself. I wish Ware had shared more about his childhood, too, though he was so sure that the audience didn’t care to hear anything about it. He did mention, though, how annoyed he was

As the conversation wound down, Mouly mentioned that Ware and Satrapi had published their first books at a relatively young age, at 31 and 30 respectively. After the event was over my friend and I were walking down the street, and we both expressed some sort of relief that we still have time to accomplish something. I mean, frankly I find it kinda hard to even see myself alive at age 30 (is that a weird thing to say?), but this event gave me a bit of hope. It made it slightly easier to see a future ahead of me, one where I could actually contribute something of substance to the world, whatever that may be.

Hm… I forgot to mention a lot of stuff about their conversation, so hopefully some other bloggers will fill in. They’ll probably be a lot more eloquent, too. Ultimately, I was left with a deeply positive impression of Mouly, Satrapi and Ware, and it was really cute to see Satrapi and Ware, in particular, praising each other’s work.

Before I sign off, I have some name-dropping to do. First, as I’d hoped, Art Spiegelman was totally there, sitting in the audience. I was just thrilled to be in the same fucking room as Spiegelman. Second, when I walked outside Skirball, I almost bumped into this person taking a picture of his (her?) friend with… Paul Auster! Can you believe it! Paul Auster was at the event too! I mean, unless he just happened to be walking past the Skirball Center at the very moment the discussion was over and everyone was spilling out onto the street. But I doubt it, especially knowing that his work has been graphic novel-fied, I’m pretty sure he attended the discussion too. Fucking cool. Once again, I love living in New York.


Some Notes.

Part I

I just read this post on Moleskine Literario (¿otra vez? ¡pos sí!) about Julio Cortázar’s former spouse selling the rights to three unpublished stories. Iván wrote,

Está claro que Cortázar no decidió publicarlos en su momento por considerarlos equívocos, pero no importa, nadie espera demasiado de esos textos, lo interesante es el legado. Eso sí, el libro será de ultra lujo: solo 100 ejemplares a 260 euros cada uno.

That is, “It’s clear that Cortázar decided not to publish the stories at the time because they weren’t right, but that doesn’t matter, no one expects much from those texts, what matters is the legacy. That said, the book will be an ultra luxury: only 100 copies at 260 euros each.” (My emphases. Also: not a literal translation.)

What really annoys the fuck out of me is that it seems ridiculous to charge 260 euros to get your hands on three unpublished stories. Honestly. This woman couldn’t donate (or even sell!) the works to a museum or a library? Turning the stories into a commodity, a very expensive commodity at that, pisses me off so bad. My dearest hope is that the people who get their hands on this ARE establishments such as museums or libraries that will allow the masses to have some sort of access to them for free, rather than having the copies go to private individuals who, for all we know might use the stories to wipe their asses with them (o lo que sea). Argh. 260 euros! And none of it going to the fucking author, cos he’s dead. So why is it so fucking expensive? Supposedly, it’s just how much it’ll cost to bind the stories in a beautiful volume, and that the publisher won’t be making a profit. Pffft. Okay, even if that’s true, for the consumer, it becomes much more of a “haha, I got one and you don’t” situation. I don’t see why Cortázar’s former wife couldn’t just make it available to a wider mass of people so that we could get a better sense of his writing process and the like.

“What matters is the legacy,” right. But why should Cortázar’s legacy touch only a select few who can afford it? I hope at least one of the people lucky enough to buy the stories just scans the fucking thing and leaks it onto the internets.

Musical Interlude A

“Soch na kya,” from Ghayal, which is a reinterpretation of “Llorando se fue,” better known as the song that inspired “Lambada.” Further proof that this song is bangin’ in pretty much every language and arrangement. Just recently I noticed that “Llorando se fue” actually has Japanese lyrics, which I noted from the use of the words “anata” and “watashi.” Yay for rudimentary Japanese language skills. Anyway, as soon as I realized that I thought, “Geez, I never knew were Peruvian.” It’s just that whenever I think of big Japanese populations in Latin America I think of Peru and Brazil. Heh. But Los Kjarkas are actually Bolivian. Regardless of where they’re from, I’m curious as to why they sing in Japanese in the first place. ¡Qué misterio!

Part II

Words Without Borders updated! Its theme for February is “The Graphic World,” and there’s some sweet translations of comics available. It’s also worth checking out their archives for older translations of comics. For example, there’s an excerpt in English of Fuguet’s “Road Story.” Good shit!

Musical Interlude B

I never made a list of favorite albums of 2008, and I’m so glad because I only listened to Utada Hikaru’s Heart Station recently and I’m loving it. I’m kinda dreading her forthcoming English language album, mostly cos I listened to her newest single and it’s dreadfully boring. But Heart Station is undeniably awesome.

Part III

How do the Kindle fiends do it? How can anyone stare at a screen and just read for extended periods of time? I had a hard enough time wanting to read Colson Whitehead’s “Wow, Fiction Works!” I mean, I opened the page and it loaded in like, five seconds, and then I… proceeded to not read it. Jesus. For like hours and hours I was like, “Oh, let’s put it off for a bit until I’ve finished watching this stupid youtube vid of [insert your favorite pointless youtube time-waster of choice here].” Finally I understood that I wasn’t going to read this essay unless I printed it. Because if I printed it, I wouldn’t be distracted by other open browser pages, not to mention it felt good to have something tangible to read. And it didn’t hurt my eyes to read it! In fact, I was pretty giddy about it. Whitehead is so gleeful in his delivery that it’s infectious.


Cien Por Ciento.

Sometimes I like to think that I can learn a lot about an author just from the content of their work. It’s a stupid thought. Just because an author writes in the voice of a murderer, for example, it doesn’t mean that the author is a murderer. Er, unless it’s some sordid non-fiction tell-all. But you catch my drift. I remember in school we’d read poetry, and people would always confuse the voice of the speaker with that of the author. I mean, William Carlos Williams may have eaten the damn plums for real, but we can also argue that maybe not, and that he just imagined the poem into being. Right?

Yet I can’t help but think that certain statements are so telling. I guess no one can really help it.

I just finished Paul Pope’s 100%, and I was really moved because it seems to me like he really loves art. Both in 100% and Heavy Liquid, we encounter situations where art and commerce collide. Reading Pope’s comics, it felt like he truly believes in it. Maybe he’s a crass sellout bastard in real life, what do I know. But at least from these pages, I got the sense that to him, art is something sacred.

I think I liked 100% better than Heavy Liquid, mostly because it focused on a wider variety of characters. I don’t read a lot of sci-fi shit but Paul Pope is really good at just sucking you into this futuristic setting. I loved that the story is set in NYC (most of Heavy Liquid was set there, too), because the future he imagines seems so much more plausible in this city that is constantly shifting shapes, old and new structures clashing and creating an unlikely but beautiful landscape. His artwork is so lovely. The specificity of all the things that make the future what it is–the technological advances as much as the things that are revealed to have remained the same–is intriguing and it really makes me wonder what is going on in Paul Pope’s mind.

Reaching the end of his comics, I felt a pang of sadness, mostly because I didn’t want the stories to end. It really sucks, I don’t want to give the comics back to the owner.


More Random Goodies.

(1) Some comics I finished reading include The Bottomless Belly Button, Crickets #1 and #2, Eightball #22 (Ice Haven), Heavy Liquid, Nocturnal Conspiracies, and a while back, Watchmen. So even though I haven’t gotten started on my reading challenges I’ve been on a pretty sweet comics streak, not to mention I totally got a copy of McSweeney’s #13 for 64 cents. Yup yup! Okay, so the McSweeney’s book is totally missing a few pages (WTF) but most of it is pretty intact and as great as when I first read it. My supplier says he will get me more comics which I’m really excited about.

(2) Alberto Fuguet upgraded his blog(s)! Now they’re just one blog located at his official website (click here). Filled with a bout of bravery–or maybe it’s just stupidity–he’s decided to allow comments!

(3) Speaking of other blogs, The Complete Review did a little survey of the past 100 reviews they’ve done in order to answer “How international are we?” Sometimes I grumble to myself that they “never” review the shit I’d like to know more about, but seeing stuff like this survey makes me appreciate the site so much more. If only other sites were as conscientious about giving well-rounded coverage to all sorts of lit in all sorts of languages from all sorts of places.

Another thing, in Three Percent, Chad Post wrote recently about doing a radio interview in which people submitted questions through mofuckin’ Twitter. !!! I’m telling you, until the moment I read about this, I really had no sense of Twitter being useful. I understood that it could be interesting, but I didn’t see how useful it could be. Except now that I see what its capabilities are, I wish EVERY fucking Q&A session ever would require the average civilian to Twitter in their question… if only because whenever I go to a Q&A, or hear one on the radio or whatever, the questioner just tends to meander while setting up their question for like three solid minutes and then finally asks a really dumb or shallow question that can either be answered in one word, or is way too fucking complicated for the recipient to answer it concisely. Ugh. Where has this 140 character limit been all my life!

The radio interview that Chad did was kinda “meh,” mostly because the host of the show didn’t seem very up on the concept of literature in translation. It made for awkward interview exchanges.

(4) Um, you can read Eunoia on the internets for free. Amazing! Incroyable!

(5) Okay, confession time. I have a shitload of records that have been left unopened for years (it’s a long story), and I finally finally listened to some of them, including the first album by The Evens. I have a love/hate thing for Ian MacKaye, so it was a pleasant surprise that I really liked it. Dude, I’m on their Wikipedia page and it says that Ian and his fellow Evens lady friend Amy totally procreated. Now, y’all know Wikipedia don’t lie, so it must be true. Can you believe it? There’s a mini-Ian ready to wreak havoc on the world! Haha, I kid. I’m really happy for them, actually.

(6) The latest issue of Bomb magazine is titled the “Americas Issue,” even though it mostly focuses on the Southern Cone. It’s kind of annoying because I’m so sure there must be some great artistic scenes in every country in Latin America that we just don’t know about. (In their defense, they did include a reprint of an interview with Guillermo Cabrera Infante.) I’m not complaining too much, though, because they included a feature on Nicanor Parra as well as an interview with Babasónicos, which continues online here.

[Edit 1/14: Haha, I didn’t realize that the Americas Issue is an annual issue focusing on different areas of the Americas. So that’s why this particular issue focuses on Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Santiago. My bad!]

(7)

I watch this video, and I see how big Karen Carpenter’s smile is, and I watch how skilled she is playing the drums, and it bums me the fuck out. I listened to my Carpenters CD recently and I hated that the vocals are so far up in the mix. I wished I could hear the arrangements better, especially when they included parts where she’s drumming. What I really like in this video is that you can tell she studied drumming, the way she plays is more akin to a jazz drummer than, say, some kid in a punk band just functioning as a timekeeper.

By the way, if you haven’t seen Todd Haynes’s Karen Carpenter biopic (?), Superstar, starring a handful of Barbie dolls, you should just watch it on Google video here. And for this, I thank god that the internets exists. It’s actually a really good movie, I learned a lot about anorexia and I also learned that the Carpenter siblings weren’t such big squares in their private lives.

(8) Dude! I started rewatching Mad Men and it’s most excellent. Especially after having devoured the two seasons and knowing what’s gonna happen, it’s cool to go back and see certain hints that were dropped along the way that were very revealing about the characters. I’m also stunned by how fresh the writing feels, even though I’ve heard all the lines already. Can’t get enough of Pete and Peggy.

(9) My guitar is dead. Broken. I hadn’t picked it up in a while so I don’t know what happened, exactly. But I’m still fucking sad because it’s irreparable.


If You’re Looking For a Good Read…

These bloggers decided that December will be National Buy a Book by a Black Author and Give it to Somebody Not Black Month. I know it doesn’t roll right off the tongue, but it’s a really cool idea! Since I’m not black I’m planning on buying myself a little something. Hurray! Make sure to read the comments section for some great reading suggestions.

Maybe I’ll finally get that Nikki Giovanni collection I’ve been itching for.


We Now Return To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming.

Get ready for a longass post. I know that in the blogosphere, timeliness is next to godliness, but y’all gotta understand my modem died in the ass on the 23rd and it took me a while to get back on track. Believe you me, I was überpissed that my modem died only after two months.

But part of me is really glad, because on the 23rd I went to a free panel for the NYILFF on this movie that, until the day of the panel, was titled Humboldt Park. Now it’s called… something really generic and forgettable with the word “holidays” in the title. I really enjoyed myself at the panel, mind you; the cast members present were Freddy Rodríguez, Luis Guzmán (!!), Melonie Diaz and Vanessa Ferlito. They were all really nice, and the cool thing about the footage was that they really did seem like this big, fun family which warmed my crooked little heart. Half the panel focused on the making of the film and the other half was a Q&A that veered a lot more into Latinos & the film industry in general. But I felt funny listening to the filmmakers. I’m not trynna sound like some punkass kid who’s all “FUCK THE SYSTEM,” but I felt like they were pandering too much to what the studios want. The filmmakers seemed really eager to please a wide audience (por ejemplo, the title change was, apparently, because Humboldt Park “wasn’t testing well”) and although that’s a noble pursuit, you can’t be all things to all people, so I wasn’t sure how to receive this information. More than anything, I ended up feeling worried.

The whole conversation was kinda getting me down, PERO. Then they talked about an upcoming project that I pray will not end up in some sort of development hell. The words “Puerto Rican City of God” actually escaped their lips a number of times. Holy shit. It’s gonna be based on that Tego song, “Julito Maraña.” They said the script was a beautiful mess of 160 mofuckin’ pages. That’s a shitload of pages, y’all. It’s actually gonna be filmed in the Puerto Rican ghetto, too. I don’t know where this area is but I inferred that it’s an area headed by a drug lord, and he actually gave his blessing for this movie to be filmed. They haven’t started filming though, they’re probably still working out all the pre-production shit.

I know we should be moving away from the sort of movie that makes it seem like Latin America is nothing but a destitute shithole filled with violence and pain and corruption, but I dunno… if it’s done well (I fucking hope it’s done well) and there’s true artistry involved, I think this sort of story is worth being seen.

On the 24, I went to the Public Theater to see a new play called Tío Pepe, which was part of the Public’s Summer Play Festival. I knew it was going to be a modest affair, but I had no idea that all the tickets for the play’s week-long run were already sold out. They told me I could get on a waitlist for the matinee, and since I didn’t have other plans, I told them I was game. I was the fourth person on the list and some of the people were requesting multiple tickets, but I totally lucked out and got a ticket!

I’m so glad I got in, because the play totally exceeded my expectations. Just goes to show that, even though this work is by an up-and-coming playwright, Matthew Lopez, the Public definitely produces quality shit. It had a cast of five and, although I don’t claim to be an expert, they were all really wonderful except that a couple of them had really really terrible accents. I mean that it was very obvious they’d grown up here or had lived here since infancy and that they mainly spoke English. But that’s okay, generally their delivery was really good and believable and fun.

The script was pretty good, too, lots of laughs and it was really a great way to deal with issues of escapism and self-delusion, among other things. When I found out the reason for the play’s title, I was like, “Ooh, this is really juicy info.” The other thing is that it was totally sincere about its appreciation of old school musicals. The matriarch of the family, played by April Ortiz, got to sing a bit and she had a great, booming voice. I hope this play can move up to longer runs or bigger venues. It would be a pity to just let it die.

Oh my god, and the actor playing Alejandro, the son who wasted all of his potential, was sooo fiiiiine. He’s some dude named Nathaniel Mendez, and his bio was short as hell–he doesn’t even have a Law & Order credit (yet). What is this kid doing with himself? Okay, maybe it’s because he’s not a New Yorker or something? I was shocked by the short bio, to be frank, because he was so good in the play. Hope he gets more work.

That same evening I went to see Estilo Hip Hop. Last year, I went to a screening of Raquel Cepeda‘s Bling: A Planet Rock, and they showed a preview of Estilo Hip Hop. At that point the filmmakers, Vee Bravo and Loira Limbal, were still seeking financing and were working on their footage. They showed us like 15 minutes, and I’m telling you, that after seeing the final product on the 24th, only two or three of those minutes made it into the 1-hour movie. I do remember them last year expressing their ambition to do a far more extensive project with exposure to more countries, but in the final product they focused on rappers from three countries, Brasil, Chile, and Cuba.

The screening was fucking rowdy as hell. The doc was awesome, I wish it hadn’t been just an hour. The doc doesn’t just focus on hip-hop in Latin America, it also focuses on the real activism that hip-hop has inspired, which I thought was fucking rad. The music was great, too. As ex-Prisionero (and current Updater) Jorge González said in an interview about Chilean hip-hop: “Chile es un extraño caso en el que el hip hop no pasa por los Beastie Boys, sino por De La Soul.” Loosely, “Chile’s a strange case in that hip-hop is influenced not by the Beastie Boys, but by De La Soul.” Don’t worry if you missed out on Estilo Hip Hop in Nueva York, though! Vee and Loira said the movie’s gonna air on PBS in Spring 2009.

As I noted in my overly emotional way last Friday the 25, I had wack first time at the Quad, what with the screening of Stellet Licht (Luz silenciosa) fucking up and all. As luck would have it, El Guincho cancelled all his US shows (visa issues?), which meant he couldn’t do his show at the Seaport. So Friday was just filled with disappointment. The bigger slap in the face is that they were replaced by some Brooklyn indie band. C’mon, those are a dime a dozen. I mean, yeah, the band was okay, but what makes them stand out? I was pleasantly surprised, however, to hear Atlas Sound for the first time. The tourists and other passersby didn’t give a shit, but I thought the music was good. Pop-y just the way I like it, and kinda ethereal in certain parts, too. I wonder what Deerhunter sound like.

On Saturday the 26 I went to see Malta con huevo, which isn’t ~*QUALITY*~ shit, but it still made me giggle. There were like ten of us in this hugeass auditorium, which in itself was totally hilarious. I think my favorite thing about it is the tone and how it changes from the first half to the second, but I also dig the structure of the story.

This past week I wasn’t up to much. I’m still getting used to having cable for the first time since, um, 1995. And that was cable in fucking Chile, too. I’m totally fascinated in how useless it is. (We got the service so my parents could watch Korean-language channels.) We don’t get any of the expensive channels but I was still shocked that there’s really no profanity allowed on cable. I think the bestest thing about having cable is that they show Law & Order all the time, and I’m totally addicted to the entire franchise, it’s true.

I found the Criterion Collection DVD of La haine at the library (thank heavens, cos I didn’t want to spend the money on it without seeing what was in it) and I have decided that Mathieu Kassovitz is the most handsome director in France. Also, fashion aside, the themes in the movie are still remarkably relevant. It was weird hearing the director’s commentary, though, because it was done before Sarkozy was elected, and Kassovitz is very vocal about not being a fan of the dude. But I’m still glad I listened to it, because I did get a better sense of how these kids’ lives are turned upside down in a mere 24 hours. It was cool because he also mentioned that he was on Charlie Rose, so I tracked down the interview and it was great!  It was a relief to see that Kassovitz hasn’t always had a great accent in English–when I heard how well he spoke English on the DVD, I was kinda shocked and wondered if this man was perfect.  I’m glad to see that he is human after all, and that he had to learn not to sound like the stereotypical French person speaking English. You can see the interview here. I also loved hearing on the commentary that Jodie Foster sent a copy of the movie to fucking Scorsese, imagine how Vincent Cassel felt about this? He musta pissed his pants…

I also watched American Psycho and it was pretty fucked up but I couldn’t stop laughing. It’s just that when a part was funny, it was really fucking funny. Like that whole sequence with all those interchangeable yuppies comparing their business cards… it was delightful to watch. It was exciting to find out that it was directed by a woman, just because there aren’t enough female movie directors anyway. I’m glad I heard the director’s commentary for this movie, too, just because it helped me understand and interpret Patrick Bateman a little better.

I’ve been reading a bit, too, if you would call it that. I read Agota Kristof‘s The Notebook, which had its share of disturbing moments, but the narration was incredibly and consistently well-done and the story culminated to a satisfyingly fucked up ending. In addition, I finished The Left Bank Gang and The Living And The Dead by the Norwegian comic book wonderboy that is Jason. I was pretty “meh” about The Living And The Dead, but I thought The Left Bank Gang was fucking awesome. I finally read The Rabbi’s Cat, too. Damn, I totally forgot that Joann Sfar is a dude, so you can imagine my surprise when I read the “about the author” bit in the inside cover of the book. I read Sfar’s The Professor’s Daughter which I thought was too brief and not substantial enough, but thankfully The Rabbi’s Cat did not disappoint. The story was lovely, especially because I don’t know much about the Jewish culture in North Africa, and I also loved Sfar’s artwork. Can’t wait to read the second part.

I also read a couple of essays from this book called Beyond Babar, which is about children’s literature in Europe. The only reason I picked it up at the library is because one of the essays was about Christine Nöstlinger‘s Konrad, which was one of my faves as a kid. There was also one on The Neverending Story and how it’s ~*TOTALLY META*~ in a way that the films could never capture. (Would have been cool to read an in-depth discussion on Michael Ende‘s Momo, too.) It was a cool book with a lot of discussion on translation.

I’m excited about this month. I’m gonna go see Janelle Monáe and Jamie Lidell at Central Park mañana (¡¡es gratis!!), and I’m gonna spend a lot of time at MoMA watching Coen Bros movies. They’re having a marathon! Also, next week, the Fordham University Theater peeps are staging a version of The Martian Chronicles with mofucking puppets, and the tickets are pretty cheap, too, so I’m gonna try and check out the production. Good shit all around.


Jeffrey Lewis @ Sound Fix, 6/27

I wrote this post last week after seeing Jeffrey Lewis:

The last time I went to a Sound Fix in-store was for Art Brut (what have they been up to??), and I couldn’t even get into the bar area where they do the shows cos I got there too late. This past Friday I went to see Jeffrey Lewis for the first time ever, only to find out that it was a benefit show for which I had no money, and even worse, there were four other acts playing before Jeffrey got on stage. I guess it evened out with the fact that there were no openers for the Babasónicos, but still, it was exhausting even if the acts were pretty okay.

First one up was Kate Ferencz. I feel really mean saying this because she seemed kinda nervous, but her music was awful. Just brutal sitting through it (I was just so tired I couldn’t stand through much of it). I understood that she had this whole lo-fi, heart-on-her-sleeve esthetic but as someone on the listening end, I didn’t find it enjoyable. I mean, I like Beat Happening and other such acts as much as the next person, but I seriously questioned her ability to play and sing at the same time. Her singing on top of that was very child-like in a grating sort of way. I don’t think she understands the concept of a melody and interesting song structures. To me, her songs felt like they meandered too much without anchors such as choruses and the like, and I don’t even know if she understood the capabilities of her voice so that she could write songs that would play up her strengths.

Wow, I just re-read that last paragraph and I sound like the biggest cunt in the world. Well, in her defense, she had a lot of her friends come to the set and they seemed to enjoy it a lot.

The next act was Archipelago, which included a guitarist/vocalist, a drummer, a flutist, a violinist, and a xylophonist. I got the sense, however, that the group was led by the guitarist/vocalist dude. Like they weren’t really interacting much and they all looked very focused on their parts as if they were still learning the songs. It was your reg’lar, pretty indie pop rock act, but I thought they had a good go live and they had some interesting arrangements. And even if it seemed like they didn’t all know the songs by heart, they were fairly polished and professional live. They were probably my favorite out of the four lesser-known acts.

I wasn’t the only one who approved: in the middle of the set, this little girl (or boy??), probably like a year or at most 18 months old, just waddled her way up the stage. The band members had a good sense of humor about it. The little girl was particularly taken by the drums, as I was taken by the really handsome drummer guy. Said handsome drummer guy offered the little girl one of his sticks and she took it and got to bang on it a bit. He was like, “That’s it, I’m done,” obviously upstaged by the cute little girl. It was adorable. Fortunately for him, he was able to keep his job since the dad of the little girl quickly scooped her back and away from the stage. The rest of the set went wonderfully.

Well, apparently The Best Thing Ever, the group who went on after Archipelago, were playing their second-to-last show ever. They were engaging, even though I wasn’t in the mood for being engaged. By this point I was feeling pretty worn down. The crowd was chatty but the band members were not deterred and pulled out all their best tricks. The sing-a-longs were a success, which fascinated me, and in fact the singer dude said something really smart: “The secret to playing shows is making the people think they know the songs already.” I can’t remember how their music went, mostly because each song was different. This one guy was really cool cos he played the trumpet, and I really liked that the cellist girl really knew how to rock it on her instrument. I guess they were on the punkier side of things.

The last act before Jeffrey went on was Laura Stevenson. She’s basically a singer-songwriter, which sucked for her because most people were not down for her shit. She was aware of this, too, so she kept her set short and sweet. I felt bad for her. The songs were well-written if nothing too memorable. What was memorable, and unfortunately so, was her vocal delivery. When she spoke she had a natural voice, but when she sang she would force it to sound more child-like in her throat instead of singing from her gut. It was pretty annoying and, in my opinion, took away from the quality of the songs.

After so many years, I finally saw Jeffrey Lewis live. I felt pretty goofy standing right in front of him wearing my Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights t-shirt. The story of how I acquired the aforementioned Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights t-shirt is long and complicated and so it will have to be told on another post.

The set was fucking good. After all, he has toured extensively, usually as an opener for a crappier act, who knows why. Unfortunately, he didn’t bring his comics or a projector to illustrate his songs, but it was all good. Another weird thing was that he’d played a lot of shows recently, so he wanted to play songs he hadn’t played in any of the shows. So really, there was no chance at all for me to hear him do his song on The Fall. People kept shouting for him to do his Will Oldham song, but we got some great shit, such as “Don’t Be Upset” and even better, “Back When I Was 4,” which was the very first song of his I ever heard!

But let it be known I wasn’t entirely drunk on some sort of nostalgia. I enjoyed the brief-as-hell set for what it was: a dude with little vocal range with his guitar telling these intricate stories through song while accompanied by a really enthusiastic friend. I’m sorry, I totally don’t remember what his friend’s name was, but it seemed like he was just playing the accompaniment parts by ear and I thought that was way cool. Jeff’s delivery, as expected, was deadpan and monotone which really tickled my funny bone. Can’t wait to see him again.


MoCCA Fest 2008.

MICHEL GONDRY WAS AT MOCCA. I RECOGNIZED HIS NOSE RIGHT AWAY. I FROZE .

Couldn’t even say hello.

Adrian Tomine was there, as always (LOL). Another notable: Jason! All the way from Norway, and he looked just as Scandinavian as you’d imagine. A lot of the Finnish artists who came last year were here again, and I hope they come back next year, too! They’re all wonderful, if only I could afford their lovely books.

Went to see David Hajdu speak on his latest, The-Ten Cent Plague. I didn’t think he had the best stage presence, but still interesting.  My biggest shock?  Learning how to pronounce his last name.  It’s “HAY-doo.”  The excerpts he read were pretty engrossing and I definitely want to buy it… when it comes out on paperback.

Housing Works also had a book fair outside on the street, but the weather was brutal so I only lingered there like ten minutes before looking for air-conditioned refuge.

Tomorrow: Teatro de Chile’s Narciso, presented at TeatroStageFest.


ND/NF 2008: La Zona (Rodrigo Plá) @ Walter Reade Theater.

It was the last day of New Directors/New Films stuff. I fucking missed out on one movie I really wanted to see, Etgar Keret‘s Jellyfish, but today I made sure to see Rodrigo Plá’s La Zona. The movie’s about this closed off community–it’s literally walled off–and of how they deal when these robbers infiltrate the area. I liked it a lot because it was such a timely movie, touching on topics that really interest me such as technology, surveillance, police corruption, class differences, as well as urban/suburban issues. The narrative arc of the story was well-handled, I feel, with certain little details you forget and think are throwaways until they end up playing a big role in the story.

The movie featured that really hot woman that Gael García and Diego Luna fall for in Y tu mamá también, as well as someone who had the same last name as Javier Bardem and pretty much looked like him, so I’m guessing that it was his brother. Oh, I just googled him and I can confirm that he is indeed Javier’s brother. It was cool cos Carlos Bardem was supposed to be Mexican in the movie; I suck with discerning accents and stuff but I thought he did a pretty sweet job. Maribel Verdú kept her native accent, which I also think is cool. I thought she was underused in the movie, her character was this really honest, virtuous, moral (and superhot!!) wife married to a more amoral man, but instead of being a full character of her own, she seemed to exist as a reaction to the amoral man (played by Daniel Giménez Cacho). The boy who played the married couple’s son, Daniel Tovar, was really really good. I hope people pay attention, it would be cool to see him blow up and get even meatier roles.

The movie was showing at the Walter Reade at Lincoln Center, and I was scared it was gonna sell out so I woke up early this morning and took the train down to the movie theater and made sure to get a ticket. It was $10, which, I’m sad to announce, is a FUCKING BARGAIN. I’m not gonna complain, cos I was checking out the movie listings for the Tribeca Film Festival, and those are $15 per person. Yikes!

Anyway, since I got the ticket early, I bummed around for a while at the Barnes & Noble nearby. And guess what?? They totally had multiple copies of Alberto Fuguet’s Road Story! And I totally bought a copy! For like $18! I know it’s stupid, but it hadn’t even occurred to me it would be published en los EE.UU. Then again, I never even thought Fuguet and I would be in the same country at the same time, but apparently he’s teaching some classes at UCLA (so he blogs). I seethe with envy at those kids who get to take his classes… well, unless he’s an asshole of a teacher. Who knows? Either way, I think it’s exciting that he’s only 3000 miles away. I wish he’d stick around in the country until, I don’t know, fall–he should totally come to the NYFF then! Haha.

I would like to express my beef towards the Virgin for not stocking There Will Be Blood before the release date. What da dilly, yo! You release In Rainbows weeks in advance but not There Will Be Blood? Boo!! Oh well, at least I just have to wait until Tuesday.


Jeffrey Eugenides + George Saunders @ Barnes and Noble (Lincoln Center)

What a surprise and what a delight. So the proceeds for the new book that Jeffrey Eugenides edited, My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead, are going towards 826Chicago. I had no idea that Eugenides was touting a new book and I had no idea that he was going to be joined by George Saunders. Honestly, I didn’t know who George Saunders was, but after tonight, I’m never going to forget him.

Eugenides’s reading was very cerebral, scholarly, but really interesting. Y’know, all about Catullus and how he was totally poking this married chick, which obviously means he was asking for trouble. He also read a bit of a Milan Kundera work from the anthology, and I was surprised that Kundera is pronounced with a stress in the first syllable and not the second. Eugenides’s finest moment: referring to Dave Eggers as the Bono of the literary world. Can I get a “zing!” anyone?

Saunders, who apparently is also of Greek origin, was incredibly funny. His piece was so clever (or at least I found it clever) and since the narrator is meant to be a teenager, there was something terribly funny about watching Saunders say things like “Dude.” I know a lot of people say “Dude,” but the way Saunders said it was special… I guess you had to be there. I almost wanted to buy the book because of his story. I definitely pledge to check out his other works.

The crowd was pretty good, they didn’t take five million years introducing their questions, though one person was very nervous so she got a bit rambly. But it was kinda sweet. Okay, that’s not true, I get a bit uncomfortable when people get so “starstruck,” but I know she didn’t mean anything by it.

Somebody asked the two authors if they have acted before, just because of their strong stage presence. Saunders said “Hails naw” but Eugenides said that he had as a high school and college student.

There’s another collection that just came out, too, but the proceeds go to 826NYC. It was edited by Zadie “With a ‘Z,’ Not Sadie With an ‘S'” Smith, and from the looks of it, the cover is by Charles Burns. At least I think it is by Burns, I’m only guessing from the line work.

You can read more about 826 here. It’s a really cool organization, it’s geared towards kids.


Based on the Story By…

Well holy shit.  I just found out Pizzeria Kamikaze (or rather, “Kneller’s Happy Campers”) was made into a movie, Wristcutters.  And Tom Waits plays Kneller.  I bet the story isn’t based in Israel anymore, what with a cast that includes Patrick Fugit and all, but YEAH!  I really wanna see it.  Maybe not in the movie theater, but I’ll definitely check it out if it’s on DVD.

I really dig Etgar Keret.  At first I thought Pizzeria Kamikaze was just okay, but I can’t stop thinking about it.  I really need to buy it soon!!


¿Qué Onda Y’all?

So how have your LAMC experiences been so far? I know a number of you have been googling the LAMC recently and ended up here. Well, my experience so far has been pretty non-existent. It sucks not having money for a badge (I’m geeky and I would totally attend the panels if I could). It sucks being under 21, too, so I can’t really go to the ~*EXCLUSIVE*~ parties. It also sucks realizing that this event might actually be a big deal when you find out that tickets for Mala Rodríguez (for that Bowery Ballroom showcase) are “no longer available on Ticketweb.” Oy! I admit it’s totally my fault for hesitatin’, but when did the conference become a big deal? Sigh. It’s aight, I’m going to watch Transformers with my friend tomorrow, forget you fools who are lucky enough to have badges/tickets!

Honestly, I heard that Zoé had to cancel their Apple Store set because their gear didn’t arrive on time and I felt giddy inside… I figured if I couldn’t see them, no one should be able to either. :/ I’m a douchebag, it’s true. But their show at Prospect Park is still on!! And I can’t wait to see them. I’m just glad Shakespeare in the Park is on break maintenant. Having two jobs pays well, but it’s kinda stressful handing out programs to people like Vanessa Redgrave and trying not to FREAK OUT about it.

The biggest news I have today is that I learned how to type accents on my laptop. I’ve never had a laptop before so this is quite a revelation.

+ Some recommended reading:
Sergio Vodanovic (especially Viña)
Etgar Keret


MoCCA fest 2007.

Holy moly!!  I just watched the new Amerie vid!!  For “Gotta Work”!  Here!  My token hip-hop friend sent it to me.

So last Saturday I had a ~*JAMMIN’*~ time at the MoCCA festival.  I got to meet Alison Bechdel (I also went to a panel she led which was really interesting), and I got a book signed by Adrian Tomine (it was 32 Stories), and I bought Epileptic and these other David B. books called Babel.  I haven’t gotten to the latter comics yet but I did finish 32 Stories and it was fantastic.  It’s also weird to see how much Adrian Tomine’s lettering improved over time.  These Finnish comic book artists showed up, too, which was really cool but their books were expensive (and mostly in Finnish) so I only took this free booklet with their bios.  Their work seems really beautiful and I hope to check it out eventually.  I also saw a poster announcing that the Persepolis movie is coming out this fall!  I hope it’s good.  I think it will be, because I think the Iranian government or something has already condemned it, or something like that.  Haha.  Seriously, don’t they have better things to do, like running their country?


Eye Love Adrian Tomine.

I read Optic Nerve #11. It was pretty good, but as any Adrian Tomine work, it sort of makes your heart die a li’l bit after finishing the comic. There’s this one panel in the comic that made me cry. It was just so pathetic I couldn’t help myself.

If you’re unfamiliar with Adrian Tomine, you should really check him out. He’s published several books that collect his Optic Nerve works. He is often compared to Raymond Carver. Shit, I almost wrote Raymond Chandler. I’ve never read either Raymond, so that shows you how ignant I am. What else? Tomine’s work features clean lines, and impeccable lettering.

The most surprising thing when I read Optic Nerve #11, however, was that I laughed. It was a loud, ugly belly laugh. I can’t believe it. I’ve never done that when reading Tomine’s work. It’s just not that kind of material. But it was a lovely feeling, I admit.

FYI, if you’re gonna buy #11, you should get #9 and #10, they’re all part of the same story arc. Or you could wait until the fall, when the three comics will be bound together into one collection. But I take Tomine’s love in real small doses, I can’t handle his work all at once.

My random track of the day is Venetian Snares‘s version of “Gloomy Sunday,” which samples Billie Holiday’s version of the song. I’m thinking of writing about this song for a class project.

Venetian Snares – Öngyilkos vasárnap