Thursday, September 27, 2007

Wes Anderson's Hotel Chevalier

This thirteen minute short film, free to download, is listed as "Part 1" to the upcoming feature The Darjeeling Limited, for which I, along with The Onion, can't wait.

"It's from Britain: I'm Jewish"

I was first exposed to Derek and Simon, the latest incarnation of Bob Odenkirk's comedy, through the highly recommendable Wholphin series from McSweeney's. Having been a ravenous consumer of all things Bob since Mike Shiflet enlightened me about Mr. Show years ago, Derek and Simon has been a most welcome comedic helping.

There are innumerable moments of greatness in this series, but below are... well, a lot, in one sketch. Co-starring the indomitable Michael Cera, of (among others) Superbad and Clark and Michael fame:

Get Your Julia Child On

My friend Michelle Maguire, back in my old stomping grounds of Columbus, is whipping up – among other adornments – aprons with a tip of the spoon to Julia Child.

There are plenty of other curiosities and consumables to be found on her site Pretty Patti, but to start, I recommend (free for the peeking) her photography, the colors of which never fail to inspire: alchemized tints of a waning America.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Out to the Hideout for Hiding Out

That despot of Dollar Stores, baron of blog, potentate of publishing, Jonathan Messinger, is bundling his skull spit into one little quadrant of space-time and selling it as a "collection."

It's "Hiding Out," and all people who like good stories, or Jonathan, or – God help us – both should pick up this monster at his book release party tomorrow night housed by, perfectly, The Hideout. The world just got a literection.

How the history books will try to explain it:

Book Release Party for Jonathan Messinger's "Hiding Out"

Comedian Kumail Nanjiani
Shadow Puppeteer Jill Summers
Partly Dave Co-Host Christopher Piatt

With music and dancing provided by
DJ Nathan Keay and His Seven Inches of Love

Thursday 9/27, 8pm, $5
The Hideout
1354 W Wabansia

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Those Bulbous Buddies

The first story staring the round and confused Titus and Bailiwick originally appeared in Fantagraphics' anthology Mome, but I finally got around to posting it on The Holy Consumption's Sunday Services.

At some point these little weirdos will hopefully find their way into a children's book or two. But at the very least, I think they'll pop up again, the rogues.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Arks and the One-Note Act

Thanks to Mark Burrier for telling me about this. Arks landed a so-so (but I think, ultimately, pretty fair) appraisal on the ever painfully hip Pitchfork. Read to your jaded heart's content

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Passing Fancy: The Giant Slide

I was fortunate enough to work on adapting a poem into comic format for The Poetry Foundation that went up on their site today. Mine is the fifth installment in "The Poem as Comic Strip" series, following an esteemed cast of David Heatley, Gabrielle Belle, Jeffrey Brown, and Ron Regé.

I was previously unfamiliar with Ted Kooser's work, and only stumbled across "The Giant Slide" by chance while searching the archives (attempting to find something by Rilke or a more recent favorite of mine, Joshua Beckman, ultimately not coming up with anything that inspired a comic), but I couldn't help but be sucked in. His midwestern simplicity is, while not the most sophisticated or avant-garde stuff out there (which often I can't stand anyway), perfectly well constructed and easy to live in. A little poetry log cabin. A tip of the hat to Mr. Kooser for the poem and to Ed Park of the Poetry Foundation for involving me in the project.

Monday, September 17, 2007

More Giant Apes: Poontang for the Arcade Dweeb

If you haven't already had a chance to see it, get yourself to the nearest relevant theatre and see "The King of Kong," which is both one of the best documentaries I've seen recently and some of the best I've-got-the-greatest-quotes-from-a-movie-to-regurgitate-at-a-party fodder ever.

Mr. Awesome's single quotation, "That no punk bastard ever got a gnarly piece of poontang by being sensitive and considerate" is worth the price of admission by itself.

But if you don't have time to get to the theatre, or if that (above) paradigm shifting gem of romantic advice isn't enough to sway you, then you can get your fix of classic video game culture below, you punk bastard.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dead Bodies Rock Cook County

My pal John Huston (one of the three skulls invested in the inimitable Ape Ray) was on – or more accurately John's writing was on – The Tonight Show, during the "Headlines" segment. Typically this segment highlights the screw ups and momentary ignorance of the good people who man our nation's newspapers. Fortunately in John's case his "headline" was just good ol' ironic writing, and certainly a lot better than most of the tripe Leno's writers hack out each night. Leno owes him a paycheck, in my opinion.

Further Huston hubbub: if you're in the Chicago area on Saturday, be part of the final show of John's band, the uber-inimitable Grackles. This Chicago institution will be pulling up the floorboards and singeing the ceiling of Ronny's (2205 N. California Ave.), so buy John the beer Leno's too cheap to reimburse.

Cover Me with Force Rays and Aqua-Beasts

I'm obsessed with bizarre comic covers, particularly those sporting declarative speech balloons ("I, the protagonist, cannot believe the obstacle I must overcome in the pages between this and the back cover!"). Often I don't want to actually read the schlocky comic within, as the oddity of the cover is somehow ruined by the unintentionally staid nature of the guts. The amorphous, gurgling story in my head seems to have better potential. And one of the best examples of this is "Challengers of the Unknown," which, though it's a much older title, I only happened upon this summer.

It's not that the comics are awful by any means, but there's a quality to these covers that almost no content could match. And luckily someone's been nice enough to archive them all (issues 17, 21, 22, and 30 were the ones that initially caught my attention on the San Diego Comic Con floor), in addition to tons of other amazing covers. Tease your eyes out.

Quick, Robin... to the Women's Batlib!

Maybe I should be more disturbed by this than I am. Why did the writers feel it necessary to have Batgirl willing to let Batman and Robin die just so she can explain the Federal Equal Pay Law? It's as if the U.S. Department of Labor is trying to say, "Pay these broads! They're crazy! These bitches will blow your ass up in all kinds of womanly explosions!"

Then again, Batman is sort of written to be an asshole too ( his dismissive "No time for jokes, Batgirl" is deserving of a bat-slap), so I guess it's equal opportunity strangeness after all. Thanks, 1974!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Stock Shock: Wilhelm, I Love You

After spending time with sound sculptor to the stars PK Hooker (will I point out yet again that he is the science behind Pusy Gums Johnson? Yes, I will) during this summer's west coast tour, I found myself paying more attention to sound design, sound effects, and sound editing in films. Specifically, I couldn't help but keep in mind the care that PK and his ilk take in creating completely original sound libraries for a film. Need a car door slam? Go out and record it. Need a hyena cackling, a monkey screaming, a pencil dropping? Record them all. All original, nothing from stock sounds. And this obsession with uniqueness made me all the more interested in a phenomenon I'd heard of called The Wilhelm Scream.

If you're already familiar with what The Wilhelm Scream is, then just go straight to the compilation film below and bask in the insanity or this recycled piece of movie sound history. If you're not familiar with it (though in all probability you've heard it in one film or another), you can read the history of what has to be one of the best movie in-jokes here.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Time and Madeleine L'Engle

Farewell to beloved fantasy author Madeleine L'Engle, who left us, many volumes the richer, this past Thursday. While later books may not have held up as substantially to scrutiny , "A Wrinkle in Time" holds fast as one of the best books of its kind. It, along with a small cluster of books, shaped me and the stories which I draw and to which I'm drawn. And each time I return to the world she crafted I'm never left questioning what it was I loved so much the first or last time I visited. That book, and certainly many of her others, travels through time as easily as its protagonists.

Reading more on her since her death, I appreciated this quote (also in the above linked Times article), as this is often how I feel things end up in my books:

"I think that fantasy must possess the author and simply use him. I know that is true of ‘A Wrinkle in Time.’ I cannot possibly tell you how I came to write it. It was simply a book I had to write. I had no choice."

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Electric Gaytriots

They may not be Joy Division, but Detroit's Electric Six's masterpiece of subtlety "Gay Bar" sports one of the best videos ever made.

Abe Lincoln, I want to spend all your money.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Joy Division Transmission

As I agreed in a discussion some time ago with Anders Nilsen, I think Joy Division may have been one the greatest bands to have ever commanded the stage (and I agree with the oft stated opinion that Love Will Tear Us Apart is one of the better songs ever written).

And that's all I can really say about that. This is really nothing more than a high five post for Joy Division fans, why make it seem more academic than it is?

Yes, Virginia, There is a King Kong

While this National Geographic article is a couple years old, I just stumbled on to it, and thought it too amazing to not post.

Reading the article I couldn't help but imagine that moment when German scientist Ralph von Koenigswald discovered the first remnant of this giant ape species (Gigantopithecus blacki) only a few years after the discovery of the famous Peking man (or the infamous Peking man, according to some creationists, whose outrage is nicely dissected (and I think inarguably refuted) in this article). I think it's fair to guess Ralf scientifically pissed himself.

As the article from National Geographic points out, and this overview of Gigantopithecus concludes, there is plenty left to debate about just how massive these beasts were, and hopefully far more data to collect, but as Russell Ciochon (The University of Iowa scientist quoted extensively in the National Geographic article) remarks, the fact that these creatures roamed Southeast Asia at the same time as early man makes them an inescapable source of fascination.