Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The ALEC OMNIBUS: THE YEARS HAVE PANTS by Eddie Campbell








































EDDIE CAMPBELL'S OMNIBUS, ALEC: THE YEARS HAVE PANTS, IS NOW IN STOCK AND HITTING STORES THIS WEEK!
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"My participation in comics originally grew from my personal admiration for the work of Eddie Campbell, both in partnership with Alan Moore (on FROM HELL) and on his own (in the inimitably observant ALEC stories, as well as the irreverent BACCHUS tales). Driven to expose Eddie's work to the widest possible audience, I entered the comics business as Eddie's distributor in the United States, and soon thereafter partnered with Brett Warnock to re-launch Top Shelf. Fifteen years later (!), I'm holding in my hands one of the things I'm most proud of: A gorgeous edition of Eddie's groundbreaking autobiographical comics, collected in a giant 640-page single volume!" -- Chris Staros

A brief description: Brilliantly observed and profoundly expressed, the ALEC stories present a version of Eddie's own life, filtered through the alter ego of "Alec MacGarry." Over many years, we witness Alec's (and Eddie's) progression "from beer to wine" -- wild nights at the pub, existential despair, the hunt for love, the quest for art, becoming a responsible breadwinner, feeling lost at his own movie premiere, and much more! Eddie's outlandish fantasies and metafictional tricks convert life into art, while staying fully grounded in his own absurdity. At every point, the author's uncanny eye for irony and wry self-awareness make even the smallest occasion into an opportunity for wit and wisdom. Quite simply, ALEC is a masterpiece of visual autobiography.

Available in two handsome editions:

Softcover with French Flaps:

-- $35.00 (US), Diamond: JUL091081, ISBN 978-1-60309-025-4


Deluxe Hardcover:

-- $49.95 (US), Diamond: JUL091082, ISBN 978-1-60309-047-6


Or see both (and more) at EDDIE CAMPBELL's webpage:
Top Shelf

Here's what people are saying:

"ALEC is magic, and even if I knew how all of it was done I'd be doing you a disservice if I pointed out the wires and mirrors. ... It is written by someone who obviously finds being alive an endless source of novelty and conundrum." -- Alan Moore

"Do you need me to tell you how good Eddie Campbell is? Or that ALEC is probably the best book-length comic about art and wine and midlife crises and families and friends and wine and love and art and saying goodbye and terror there is?" -- Neil Gaiman

"This impressive collection -- a high-water mark in the graphic novel's short history -- confirms that no one else in the medium combines emotional truth, literary intelligence, and formal daring with such adroitness and elegance." -- Booklist (starred review)

"Witty and thoughtful ... a great and epic comic documentary novel like no other." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

NEWSFLASH: STUDIO 407’S NIGHT AND FOG OPTIONED FOR FILM



(December 22, 2009, Hollywood, CA) Studio 407 announced today that their sci-fi horror property Night and Fog has been optioned for film by renown producer Gil Adler and Shane McCarthy. No stranger to comic book material, Adler has produced such comic book films as “Constantine,” “Superman Returns,” as well most recently “Dead of Night” which was based on the popular Italian comic book Dylan Dog.

Said Adler: “This material is definitely in my strike zone in more ways than one. And having produced the “Tales from the Crypt” series and some Dark Castle horror films, I can say horror’s a genre I know intrinsically. But what really appealed to me wasn’t so much the genre trappings, but rather the characters that really drive this story.”

Tied to an unsolved mystery from World War 2, Night and Fog, tells the story of a “Frankenstein” like infectious mist unleashed on a military base that transforms its victims into preternatural creatures of the night. But when the survivors try to kill them, they adapt and change into something even more horrific and unstoppable. Caught in between, is a security officer on the base who must escape this gauntlet of horror to save his children before the creatures kill them or the fog infects them.

Added Adler: “When I read this I knew I had to take it off the market. It’s a great high-concept that blends the gothic horror of the Hammer films with the sci-fi horror of “Aliens” and “The Thing.”

“We’re really excited to see Gil’s take on the story,” remarked Studio 407 Managing director Alex Leung. “We’re also honored to be working with an experienced guy like Gil, who knows how to play up iconic figures and can tie them into a horror setting. He’s the perfect person to bring Night and Fog to life”.

Adler and McCarthy are also working together to produce the adaptation of “Havana Nocturne” along with Eric Eisner, and recently optioned Ken Bruen’s crime thriller “Tower.” Leung will also serve as a producer on the film, having worked on Jackie Chan’s “Around the World in 80 Days” as an associate producer, and most recently executive produced the horror film “Hunter” with Stallion Media (“Punisher: WarZone”).

Night and Fog is currently available in comic shops in the single issue format and digitally on I-Phone through Comixology. It will be hitting stores in a trade format April/May 2010.

To see more of the products from Studio 407 you can visit www.studio-407.com. Retailers should email info@studio-407.com to get the release information mailing list.

About Studio 407: Studio 407 brings together the imagination and creative talents of writers and artists from North America and Asia to generate a flow of distinct and kinetic East-meets-West entertainment. A writer driven studio that blends innovation with tradition, Studio 407 is dedicated to publishing the highest quality in comics and manga across a wide variety of genres. From capes to kung fu, giant robots to vampires, and secret agents to mad scientists; at Studio 407, we sweat the details. Studio 407

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

TIGER in the outhouse




Fallen idols never seem to recover, but think of this fact, Tiger Woods is being assailed for private behavior and is losing money for image, none of which have anything to do, with the thing he built his empire around, his game. I am not a fan of Golf, I find it rather boring in fact. But it isn't like he used steroids to improve his abilities, nor cheated to achieve a better score. He acted foolishly in his personal life.

I consider sports a part of mass culture, popular culture then by extention. A person like Tiger Woods can be seen on television selling products, and making money. But if he were to disappear from those commercials, and just play golf, he'd still be rich, more so than 98% of the world's population. I find it hard to summon sadness for his loss of income.

No Worrying this Christmas, just WorryWoos!



Watch this video and then go HERE

Sunday, November 22, 2009

THE LOOKING GLASS WARS, A different take on Alice in Wonderland



According to Frank Beddor, author of the Looking Glass War, Seeing Redd and ArchEnemy, ALICE IN WONDERLAND was not properly understood to be a fairy tale, but rather a poorly interpretated oral history, not a cloaked allegory, nor even perhaps an analogue. For there was a true girl named Alyss, who faced a much more difficult existence than Alice of Lewis Carroll’s tale. Reverend Charles Dodgson did write about Alice Liddell, but changed things, even distorted things, so much, for reasons I am not altogether clear upon, that Beddor felt the need to tell the “real” story of Alyss. Alyss told her story in confidence, and Dodgson let it spill, but, not directly.

Wonderland is ruled by imagination, and is filled with both dangerous and wonderful enchanted things. The cards of a playing card deck take life, in the various castes and tribes of Wonderland, and the power structures are divided between the throne of the Queen and that of Parliament, with Hearts, Spades, Clubs and Diamonds marking the various divisions of power. Wonderland resembles England prior to most of the Industrial revolution, perhaps in the latest era of the feudal system.

A fierce violent civil war set the kingdom of Queen Heart on edge, but eventually the bloodshed is a memory, and eventually Alyss Heart, is to become Queen. Her bodyguard Hatter Madigan, and some friends are able to help Alyss when a coup d'état led by Aunt Redd occurs. While Hatter and Alyss flee, they are chased, by the assassin in the service of Redd, called, The Cat. Alyss' best friend Dodge Anders, Jack of Diamonds, and military commander General Doppelgänger are deeply sorrowed by her being missing, and search, seemingly endlessly. Hatter and Alyss escape through another dimension, and are separated. Alyss finds her self in Charles Dodgson’s time, and becomes convinced she must forget Wonderland, and stop imagining it into being.

The first book, The Looking Glass War is a book that is used three ways by Beddor. To construct a world for his characters to explore, to set a tone of the intrigues and adventures, and to create a context for all that is to follow. It succeeds at all three of these better perhaps than the writing, which, while very good, is still rather stiff in on occasion.

The second book Seeing Redd is very much a change from the first, in that the tone becomes much more focused and direct. The story centers on Alyss's reign as Queen, and the citizens of her land’s fear of Redd. King Arch is actually the one causing issues, but due to her notoriety, Redd is seen as being behind it all. However, while King Arch is causing trouble, Redd and The Cat have been quietly building forces, for an army to take over Wonderland. In doing so they swipe Arch’s forces as well, and the world’s of Borderland and Wonderland collide.

The Second book is better than the first, in my eyes, the way that Empire Strikes Back was better in the first Star Wars trilogy. The characters are fleshed out, the world is developed ... And there is a growing respect or love for the characters, even Redd and The Cat.... Some might argue that the first book was more settled when the last page turned, but I would argue that is the way trilogies work. Some might argue that this series is dark, and violent even, but it is not so much more than anything you see on PG films and by no means is it gratuitous as it serves a purpose within the story.

In the third book Beddor drops all the gloves, this is a book about war, powerful women, and how King Arch and his allies wish to stop Alyss and her new ally, someone who agrees that power and leadership comes from Imagination, but, who you would think would be an odd choice. I am reluctant to give more of the plot, save to say, this is a final battle, where all the debts and plotlines are sorted and paid. King Arch is a brilliant enemy in this work because while Queen Redd was evil, she is somewhat a cracked mirror of Alyss, while Arch uses power directly, is male, is hungry for what he wishes to achieve, and is not the least bit like Alyss or Redd.

This series moves me, and I have to say, I am generally not a fan of Young Adult works, nor straight fantasy outside of Swords and Sorcery. There is even some whimsy here, and that tends to be the death of me, but, when sprinkled here, it works to perfection. Individually would grade the books B , B+, and A-. For a series it would then be an B+/A-, which, for a generally hard to please guy like me would tend to suggest that if you are a fan of such works, this would work well for you, and, if you aren’t, the quality of writing and subject matter might still work for you.

LEARN MORE AT:

The Looking Glass Wars homepage, Another view of the Looking Glass world, Watch Frank Beddor discuss Alice/Alyss

Friday, November 13, 2009

THE GREEN FAIRY, or, How Absinthe models how Popular Culture embraces or ostracizes

There are always people who insist that the present trend, whatever that is, is new and unique. And there are those who just as insistently argue that whatever is new has been around forever. So I am initially here going to say that this isn’t a ground breaking commentary, nor is it likely to be something new to you. But I want to place into perspective a concept I’ve heard remarked upon that is somewhat in error. People talk about how product placement in media is subliminal, that there is an effort to use messages to sell a product. People talk about how media “glamorizes” drugs or violence. People talk about how popular culture is totally manipulated by those in the advertising and marketing departments towards the ritualized indoctrination of youth.



But people who make up popular culture cannot swim outside of the stream, they are a part of it, they are not thinking Dog poop is yummy no matter what someone might insist, and they follow their interests. I know two retailers who told me that customer purchases completely changed their outlook for their business by purchases and revenue streams showing them where the money to make existed. Not in one associated product, but another they thought would be ancillary. That is, the tail does not wag the dog. The voices of popular culture might embrace a product, might endorse it by use, but if Bruce Willis decided to glamorize dog poop by eating it in his films, there’d be no rush anywhere, no matter how we love Bruce, to model his choice ourselves.



Absinthe is a perfect example of how a product, that artists tended to desire to use became celebrated in media. Outsider creative communities seemed to adopt the use of it, and it became a product that possessed a certain air of mystique around it. And then it became taboo and banned in many places. Popular culture might celebrate things like drug use, but just as often, it uses media and the voices of popular culture to isolate and remove what it perceives as dangerous. Just like poets. All voices that are deemed dangerous get shunned, or silenced. So, if a product or view is uplifted by media, it probably already exists and is being reflected.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

HORROR IS:



DEFINING HORROR
Noun horror (plural horrors)

1. An intense painful emotion of fear or repugnance.
2. An intense dislike or aversion; an abhorrence.
3. A literary genre, generally of a gothic character.
4. (The horrors, informal) An intense anxiety or a nervous depression.

Horror Fiction Encyclopedic entry

FROM PEOPLE WHO KNOW
---------------------------------

For me a horror film or horror novel involves fear, terror, and boundless fascination with some force that is unseen and difficult to define. Almost always, good horror novels and films have to do with the supernatural and the way that it menaces human beings, or works in their lives in mysterious ways. But not always. The remake of The Thing was an excellent horror movie and the source of the horror was an alien who could enter into and take over human form.

---- ANNE O’BRIEN RICE Amongst the finest Horror authors, and writers ever



Merriam Webster gives the following as the primary definition of horror:

Horror: noun. painful and intense fear, dread, or dismay.

While it's certainly all that, I've got a bit of a different take.

If you want to see ice hockey being played, you may trudge to the Nassau Coliseum (if you're an Islanders fan), or Madison Square Garden (for the arch-rival Rangers), to take in the game. At the arena, you'll see fast play. Passing and shooting. Scoring, on most nights. You'll see fans rise to their feet, emotions unchecked, when the home team hits the twine. You may see the crowd agonize if a favorite player or superstar goes down with an injury. You'll see collective tension as a member of the opposing team races in on a breakaway, and a collective sigh of relief if the goal tender makes a save and the puck squirts harmlessly away.

What does this have to do with horror? Go back to the Merriam Webster folks' summation.

Figured out my take?

Horror is the arena. Horror is Maple Leaf Gardens or the old Spectrum in Philadelphia. Horror is where you, as the creator or as the visitor, choose to go to attend the thrill-ride. Like buying tickets to a hockey game. Or like strapping on the blades and the helmet if you're fortunate enough to be on the proactive side of the equation.

When I write, I'm lacing up. I'm taping my stick and sharpening my skates and heading out to the ice to do my thing. And, my thing will be, in part, to bring the pain. To make the fans in the seats uncomfortable. To cause them to hold their collective breath as the bad guy threatens to lower the boom, before, perhaps, letting the goal tender bat away the shot.

Or perhaps letting it tear off his hand...glove and all.

Horror encompasses everything we have in the emotional toolbox of human existence. It's not just the painful and obscene and terrifying. It's the quiet dread, like a fan might feel before facing a favored opponent whose team leads the league and has all sorts of weapons on offense. It's the very rafters of the building. It's the seats upon which we spend all that time on the edge. Horror is all the negatives of our existence, put into black and white and stuffed down our throats, no different than the box scores in the paper the morning after a true whippin' at the hands of another team. Horror is the inescapable. You're there, in the building, trapped in your seat, or mucking about in the corners looking for a shift change. It can be exhilarating, it can be nerve-wracking, it can be heart-stopping. It does not have to be bloody...but sometimes it is. It doesn't have to be violent...but sometimes it is. It doesn't need to stay with you...but when it's good it does, following you around like the lingering afterimage burned into your retinas of a pass taken in full stride and fired into the net in the blink of an eye. Something you stop, examine well after its occurred, and can still find awe-inspiring, or blood-chilling.

Horror is our arena for taking people on the joyride. For others, the arena may be comedy or drama. For those of us who live and breathe the darkness; who seek to mold the unseen and unthinkable into our tools of the trade, horror brings us all together, tears aside our defenses and sends the lowest-common-denominator of our fears hurtling at us on an end-to-end rush.

That it breaks the rules, or occasionally locks the EXIT doors and pins us to our seats as the rafters threaten to crumble in upon us, is just part of the price of admission.

--- JOE MONKS Horror author, and Director



Horror is a feeling. People often want to define horror as the thing that CAUSES that feeling, but that's too vague. The causes for horror are too subjective. What horrifies me may not affect you the same way. Horror is personal.

It's more than simple fear. It's shock. It's revulsion. It's primal. It's so strong that we crave it until we actually experience it. Then we want to get as far away from it as humanly possible.

--- MICHAEL MAY writer and blogger



Like all genres, horror's main function is as a marketing tool: it lets book publishers and movie producers tell you succinctly, through the use of a universally recognised code, what sort of story you'll get if you buy a particular book or see a particular movie. It helps consumers to avoid the wrong kind of narrative surprise - the kind you'd get, say, if you were all keyed up for blood and gore and you found yourself reading a Mills & Boon novel.

Once you get into the specifics of the code, of course, you find that it's more subtle and variegated than you might expect. Horror narratives are distinguished by being - at least potentially - frightening or shocking or disturbing, but within that there are supernatural narratives, there's slasher fiction, there's the sort of cosmic horror of Lovecraft, genre fusions like urban fantasy, and monster movies that (at one extreme )may intentionally be far more cheesy than scary. there's no one, universal thing that both binds these stories together and separates them absolutely from other stories. It becomes a question of weighting and emphasis. Maybe you can still get away with saying that horror tells stories about things that are now or were once thought to be frightening: or maybe you should look at the narrative purpose of horror instead.

Brian Boyd's book "On the Origin of Stories" discusses the possibility that all narratives confer adaptive advantage - that they evolved because they're useful to our development ad our survival. If that's so, then one thing they do is certainly to allow us to test our responses to situations we've never encountered, so that arguably if we *do* then encounter them we don't freeze up from the sheer strangeness of the sensory input. Horror would be an extreme example of that process: it pre-adapts us to the most hideous and appalling events, toughening us mentally and emotionally.

Or maybe it's just fun to get pants-wettingly scared when there's nothing really at stake for us...
--- MIKE CAREY Writer of Hellblazer, Lucifer and far far more.



TWO HORROR AUTHORS in print have said

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. --- H.P. Lovecraft * Supernatural horror in Literature (1927)

Fear is an emotion that makes us blind. How many things are we afraid of? We're afraid to turn off the lights when our hands are wet. We're afraid to stick a knife into the toaster to get the stuck English muffin without unpluggin' it first. We're afraid of what the doctor may tell us when the physical exam is over; when the airplane suddenly takes a great unearthly lurch in midair. We're afraid that the oil may run out, that the good air will run out, the good water, the good life. When the daughter promised to be in by eleven and it's now quarter past twelve and sleet is spatting against the window like dry sand, we sit and pretend to watch Johnny Carson and look occasionally at the mute telephone and we feel the emotion that makes us blind, the emotion that makes a stealthy ruin of the thinking process.

--- Stephen King, Night Shift, foreword (1978)

And lastly Me

Horror is what humans do to each other, like war, terrorism, racism, and violence.

Farewell Captain Lou



I am preparing a fun group interview about the definition of Horror to celebrate Halloween, but will post that tomorrow. Today PopLitiko saw the sad news that Captain Lou Albano died. He was a wrestler, manager, actor, and personality that saw popular culture and wrestling meet. It is only appropriate that a site like PopLitiko remembers him, today, for he exemplifies the fact that more and more, our mediums mix, and what used to be low brow or high brow entertainment, no longer has false walls to divide them.

full Wikipedia entry

“Louis Vincent Albano (July 29, 1933 - October 14, 2009), better known by his ring name Captain Lou Albano, was an American professional wrestler, manager and actor. With an over-the-top personality and a penchant for boisterous declarations, Albano was the epitome of the antagonistic manager that raised the ire of wrestlers and incited the anger of spectators. Throughout his forty-two-year career, Albano guided 15 different tag teams and 4 singles competitors to championship gold. A unique showman, with an elongated beard, rubber band facial piercings, and loud outfits, he was the forefather of the 1980s Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection. Collaborating with Cyndi Lauper, Albano helped usher in wrestling's crossover success with a mainstream audience. Capitalizing on his success, he later ventured into Hollywood with various television, film, and music projects.”

Monday, August 31, 2009

Dept. of Filk: The Literary Mack the Knife

This morning while running some errands I was listing to our local Public Radio station and it played a suite of Kurt Weil tunes from his Threepenny Opera. That inspired me to go back in my files and dig up a li’l piece of filk I wrote several years ago. Ladies and Gentlemen, let me present…


The Literary Mack the Knife


Oh the shark has
Pretty teeth, Dear;
And he shows those
Pearly whites;
You won’t find him
Read a book, Dear,
But you might see
Mack the Knife.

When the shark bites
With his teeth, Dear,
Scarlet billows
‘Gin to spread.
Mack is very
Literary;
You might say that
He’s well-read

Once upon a
Midnight dreary,
Weak and weary
Pondered I;
Is that tapping
Just a raven,
Or is Mackie
Stopping by?

It was brillig
Slythy toves did
Gyre and gimbal
In the wabe;
Vorpal Mack went
Snicker-snack, Dear;
Jabberwock lay
There outgabe.

Mistress Em’ly
Belle of Amherst
Once sat writing
Over tea;
“Since I could not
Stop for Death, Dear,
Mack he kindly
Stopped for me.”

By the shores of
Gitche Gumee
Hiawatha
Used to go;
Now Nokomis
Sits there weeping;
Mackie say it
Isn’t so!

Captain Ahab,
That fanatic,
Sought to kill a
Monster whale;
But who really
Sank the Pequod?
Mack says “Call me
Ishmael!”

Once an Old Man
Caught a “Beeg Feesh”
As he struggled
‘Gainst the Sea;
When the Sharks bit
With their teeth, Dear,
Mack said “Leave a
Bite for me!”

Rev’rend Dimmsdale,
Sinning Hester,
Ol’ Judge Pyncheon,
Sweet Goodman Brown;
Mister Hawthorne
Set them up, Dear,
It was Mack who
Knocked ‘em down.

Our great authors
Wrote us stories
Full of sorrow
Pain and strife;
Don’t go napping
While in Lit class,
Or you might miss
Mack the Knife!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Comic Book Inker of Note: Vince Colletta



If you look online you will see a variety of different opinions regarding former Marvel and DC inker Vincent Colletta. Some of the views come from fans and some from people who dislike his work or the man behind the work. The fans usually refer to the amazing volume of work by Colletta, as he worked many books each month, and did so with speed. The non-fans usually point to the same thing, that his work is sparse compared to other inkers, and suppose that it was due to the speed in which he worked. Fans say he was a rescue worker at the publishers, saving books from being late. Non-fans suggest that they’d prefer late and better work. Vincent Colletta’s claim to fame beyond speed is his work with Jack Kirby and some romance comics from earlier eras. Being that you are reading this, you likely wonder what I think about his work. It is a normal thought. Jack Kirby was the first artist I could identify by sight and know that his work was good. When I became more sophisticated in my views I grew to dislike the inks done to his pencils by Vincent Colletta, while I never felt the same towards any of his other inkers. I did not assume then, because I didn’t know, that it was speed, I simply didn’t like it.

But I appreciate that the person of Vincent Colletta worked hard, however the end result, because amongst other things, I realize art is about taste. I am not a fan of the work, and while I’ve heard a large amount of stories about Colletta by many of the artists in comics who I know, I do not suppose them all to be true. There are many other things I could say, but few have to do with his work, or even much the man himself. Most are arguments about the legacy of his work, and stories about the man. And of course there are debates online about things almost nobody witnessed first hand. So like him or not, Vincent Colletta was an inker who should be remembered for many good things, and perhaps some less than good things. Beyond that is not my point.

Two different considerations of Vincent Colletta’s work

Reasons to dislike Vince Colletta and his work

Reasons to like Vince Colletta and his work


Two different views:

Len Wein, Writer at DC and Marvel, on what he enjoyed most about working on Luke Cage: "Getting to work with the wonderful George Tuska, before Vinnie Colletta got his hands on the pencils and ruined them."

Jim Shooter EIC Of Marvel Comics : “He (Frank Miller) ended up getting a small job from Western Publishing, I think. Thus emboldened, he went to DC, and after getting savaged by Joe Orlando, got in to see art director Vinnie Colletta, who recognized talent and arranged for him to get a one-page war-comic job."

Search his work on the comic book data base

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tribute II



KARL MALDEN

Karl Malden was not the most handsome fellow you might run across in Hollywood. He wasn’t an action hero, he wasn’t a spectacle of a human being turned actor. He was a brilliant actor and he died at the age of 97 years old. Someone wrote to me about my memorials to Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon thanking for including the memorials to recently fallen soldiers alongside them and said, not every life was iconic, but every life is important. And I completely agree. And Karl Malden is a perfect example, he was a brilliant actor, in a field of talent, celebrity and spectacle. Not everyone has the talent who is beautiful, not everyone can hold your interest such as a person who is more spectacle than anything else. But talent for acting will make you a sought after actor, and the extreme length of Malden’s career attests to that fact.

The list of films he was in that were brilliant is amazing, it includes On the Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, Patton, How the West was Won and many more... But, there is more, he became perhaps more famous as the veteran cop in The Streets of San Francisco, and later as the pitchman and voice of American Express, with the famous catch phrase slogan, “Don’t Leave Home Without It”.

He will be missed.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tribute

And perspective

MICHAEL JACKSON
August 29 1958 - June 25 2009

I was a young child when I first saw Michael Jackson sing, with his brothers in the Jackson 5. I could not believe that so much talent poured from his mouth, and danced through his body. Later when I was 19 years old I watched in amazement when Michael Jackson moon walk danced across the stage on the Motown 25 Yesterday Today Forever television special. I was speechless and my father, who didn’t like anything close to popular music (and nearly never cursed), exclaimed, “what the hell just happened?!”.

That moment was one that many fans and witnesses of his career remember. But his life was one of joy and pain, both from inside his family and from the outside world. Michael Jackson sang from an early age and performed incredibly, and started achieving hits with the Jackson 5 and moved to singing solo and never stopped creating hits. And there are reports that he was physically and emotionally abused. He was accused later in life of sexually molesting children. But he either avoided prosecution through settlement or was acquitted of the charges. I am not commenting upon his innocence, except to say he was never proven to be anything, except different.

For me Michael Jackson was a child who never grew up, with amazing talents, who was broken. For time beyond measure the mediocre have attacked the genius, and Michael Jackson was made to be even more strange than he already made himself into being. I do not, again, claim to know what he had done, or not done, but I do know, that he was prey for the media, and his talents became his sorrow, for if he’d been less gifted might he not have lived normally? This doesn’t forgive or forget things he might have done. Simply points to the question, but for this would that...



FARRAH FAWCETT
February 2, 1947 – June 25, 2009

Farrah Fawcet was an icon of beauty, forever symbolizing American fascination with the glorious blonde, captured upon film and television, but through humankind’s memory I think, for a very long time through one iconic poster. She was in swim suit, apparently somewhat wet, and a bit cold, and beaming with a smile you couldn’t manufacture.

Her acting would have been considered weak if she’d only appeared upon the T & A fest CHARLIE’S ANGELS, but she didn’t end her career there. She went out of her way to find hearty roles that would display her talents. And in doing so she created a certain question mark, for while we seem to adore empty headed gorgeous people, she seemed to possess something more. Whatever that might be. Certainly she had talent, and beauty.

I was not particular to her iconic appearance, I have no particular fetish for hair color or hard nipples, but I do think she was a nice person from what I saw.



ED MCMAHON
March 6, 1923 – June 23, 2009

A television presenter, comedian, comedian straight man, an announcer, and more Ed McMahon became a part of American television culture due to his presence there. It wasn’t just his voice, or his physical appearance, he didn’t dance, he didn’t sing, at least on camera. He was however someone we trusted, and seemingly loved.

He became famous as the “sidekick” to Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, his work there was to give the brilliant Carson someone to bounce comedy off of, to pace the opening of the show, and to generally give the viewer a feeling that you too are a member of the fun.

It is the fate of such a person to be considered in the light of another’s success. His work was complimentary to Dick Clark, Jerry Lewis and the aforementioned Carson. However, he shined in an area lesser known but just as important. He flew as a training pilot teaching others to fly during WW II, and as a tactical air and artillery observer in the Korean Conflict. He retired as a Brigadier General in the Air National Guard, and as a Colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve. He was everyone’s friend so to speak, and more than one generation of viewers will remember his voice and presence upon the stage.



AND THE REST

In amongst the tributes for recent celebrities who have died, I suggest we end with a sobering reminder that people die every day who are not famous and who are doing very important work...

Source

Sgt. Justin J. Duffy 31 02 Jun 2009 3rd BCT, 82nd Airborne Division, MND-Baghdad Died June 2 of combat-related injuries after an IED detonated near a patrol in eastern Baghdad / DoD Rlease: Died June 2 in Baghdad, Iraq, when an IED detonated near his vehicle

Spc. Christopher M. Kurth 23 04 Jun 2009 3rd Bn, 82nd Field Artillery, 2nd BCT, 1st Cavalry Division, MND-North Died from injuries received during a grenade attack on a patrol in the Kirkuk province of northern Iraq, June 4 / DoD Release: Died June 4 in Kirkuk, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle was struck by an anti-tank grenade

Spc. Charles D. Parrish 23 04 Jun 2009 5th Engineer Bn, 555th Engineer Brigade, MNC-Iraq Died of injuries received during a grenade attack on a patrol in the Diyala province of northern Iraq, June 4 / DoD Release: Died June 4 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered earlier that day in Jalula, Iraq, when his vehicle was struck by an anti-tank grenade

Lance Cpl. Robert D. Ulmer 22 05 Jun 2009 1st Bn, 8th Marine, II MEF Headquarters Group, II MEF, MNF-West Died as the result of a non-combat related incident June 5 / DoD Release: Died June 5 as a result of a non-hostile incident in Anbar province, Iraq

Staff Sgt. Edmond L. Lo 23 12 Jun 2009 797th Ordnance Company, 79th Ordnance Bn, MNC-I Killed by an IED during combat related operations June 12 / DoD Release: Died June 13 in Samarra City, Iraq, when an IED that his explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team was acting to neutralize detonated

Sgt. Joshua W. Soto 25 16 Jun 2009 1st Bn, 77th Armor, 4th BCT, 1st Armored Division, MND-South Killed by an IED near the city of Samawah June 16 / DoD Release: Died June 16 in Iraq of wounds suffered when an IED detonated near his vehicle

Capt. Kafele H. Sims 32 16 Jun 2009 18th Engineer Brigade, MND-North Died as a result of a non-combat related incident in the Ninewa province of northern Iraq June 16

Spc. Chancellor A. Keesling 25 19 Jun 2009 961st Engineer Company, MNC-Iraq Died as the result of a non-combat related incident June 19 / DoD Release: Died June 19 in Baghdad, Iraq of a non-combat related incident

Originally posted at this link

Saturday, June 6, 2009

RANTastic

I am not much on rants. Normally I give and get back, I take and try to be gracious and realize that other people have views, and most are every bit as right or wrong as my view. But...



I heard some kids in the Gamestop or Gamecrazy where my son was spending his money talking about how a certain game was cheap at only 50 dollars new. I am sorry to be sounding, here, like an old fart, I realize things have changed, and I am no longer young, at 45 years old. But you have to understand something when I grew up we read books. And now you can buy books from when I was growing up for half of their cover price, for a dollar or maybe two. You hear me? Exciting mind warping adventures, sexy heroes and babes, guns, swords, magic...



So, for a dollar or three, let us say $2 you could go and get a kick ass story. Yeah you can splurge, by something more expensive, and it would be good too. But here is the thing, the best fiction, the best books remain good. Meanwhile your fifty damn dollar game is done once you unlock the secret mojo. I am not, actually complaining about any video game. Or for that matter, the cost of such. I am not saying one is better than the other. I am saying, if you are comparing things, my imagination runs much better at $1.50 RE Howard fueled, than Halo Wars or some such thing for fifty damn dollars. And if you want to compare fine, I can read 25 books in three weeks for fifty dollars and you can play your one game. And then my brain will be bigger and yours will be animated.



Really, games are great. I am not so old that I don’t get that. But pick up a classic fantasy or speculative fiction book for cheap. Read the hell out of it, and share it. Check out Halfpricebooks.com or a local used book store. Seriously, reading classic stuff makes you smarter and happier. Or at least smarter.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Classics



Graphic Classics

Comics for decades were comfortably accepted as written or intended for children, and any step out of that was considered abnormal if exciting and good. The market for comics therefore was young, and anyone older reading and buying comics was considered, young minded if not less than bright. Over the years as the medium of comics grew more efforts were made to make comics more mature as both the art standards and story standards improved.

The maturation of the comics world came at the same time that the world of youth matured, in response to the US involvement in Vietnam. That era found people of all ages becoming more divided in values, between young and old, liberal, left, conservative and right, and Democrat and Republican. The Civil Rights Movement added a degree and layers of turmoil to the cultural stew, rightly, and all of the world seemed to turn upside down. Comics grew up slowly, with small steps, but by the time of the middle 1980s and Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns comic books reached a plateau of mature content, that has not returned to former levels. This meant something, along with the shedding of Comic Code Values and self censorship, the comic book industry would begin to shed young readers, as it focused more and more upon the comic book buyer with money to buy weekly comics, ... the 18-28 year old males. Over time as the market became more and more specialized in content and sales efforts, so too did the readership becoming smaller and more hardcore. In recent years this trend has become extreme, with the sales being more aimed at an elite audience and the buyers being fewer in number.

Children can find comic books in stores now, but rather than being able to pick up anything they have to use considerable parental help, or comic shop guidance to finding the grail of their quest. Thanks to my efforts with my son he has a collection larger than my own, but, not too many parents have time for that. Well I have the solution for that. GRAPHIC CLASSICS. They put literature in the form of comics, allowing adults to read great even maturely aimed stories, and kids to be able to read these great works that due to the medium are perhaps easier to digest, that cause their own interest in both comics and literature to grow. I really cannot see a better tool for getting kids into books, and getting adults into comics.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Popular Culture Mediums depictions across different country's youth and young adults



Americans won the Pacific war by dropping two Atomic bombs. American hegemony over the world did not last long, but the near worship of the bomb as the savior and defender lingered long.



Japan was defeated in the end of the Pacific war by use of two Atomic bombs. Seeing their world being destroyed without the ability to stop the destruction, the Atom bomb was a weapon of devastation and horrible consequence, poured out by a conquering army. When the conquering nation later occupied their nation, a cult of victimization grew, as the only nation to be attacked by the holder of the power of the Atom.

Do not presume here that I am aiming my view at the morality of use of nuclear power. I am no expert. However by looking at how popular culture mediums, particularly, comics, film and animated films, between the cultures shows immediately that one country sees the Atom as being Godlike power to be used by a hero, and, the other, that the destruction caused by nuclear weapons is devastating and irresponsible and completely without response.

The existence of cross country values is very interesting to me, for it shows what is important, and how our own cultural views become skewed by our experience.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nothing to Fear but Fear itself?



They say, (whoever it is they are), that popular culture mediums reflect, and do not themselves create. The hype over the film Natural Born Killers inspiring murders that didn’t happen, did reflect a tendency to attach consequence to art, when in fact, art reflects consequence. But even then, Oliver Stone suggested that the genesis of the story came not from art but a reflection of society. But his model of killers becoming famous and celebrity was more outrageous, than accurate. The true genesis of his story is very clearly a case of a then conservative culture becoming spellbound at the horror of an event. When a car accident, extra bloody, occurs, we look. We don’t want to, but we do. It is not a guilty pleasure, it is a sense of horror that makes us look. We don’t believe the reality we see, so we stare. IT IS FEAR.

But, it is true that when something odd happens, or change is present, we seek to understand what it is, through creative mediums. Disaster, catastrophe, rebellion, and war all present the creative mediums with opportunities to consider what MIGHT happen if... and usually the underlaying cause is fear.

When Bill Clinton was President of the US, we saw gun sales and fear go up on the side of the right and off right. When George W. Bush was President of the US America caused gun sales and fear on the side of the left (in Latin America) and fear in most of the rest of the world. With President Obama in office gun sales have grown, and fear of both an impending financial disaster and the ongoing Global Warming and catastrophic implications of that cause responses in people, out of fear, and desire to know more.

Ayn Rand’s creative work in general and in particular her work ATLAS SHRUGGED has been seeing a mass response in the time since Obama took office. Are the core values of America being challenged? Well, fear of that perhaps. But beyond that, Libertarian (Ayn Rand would approve of Libertarianism, mostly) values are being reflected in the move, in America from party politics to value politics. When the Republican party lost in 2008 most were awestruck by the depth of it. But what has risen in its place, and by much of the left if not party Democrats, is a dismissal of party, and party platforms. And this will change politics at its core, because while Republicans talked a good game on anti abortion values, the real holders of those values are people who are not in line with much of core Republican views.

Global warming might not be what various critics from either side of the debate say it is, or is caused by, but it is happening. Environmental catastrophism is going to ring truer than ever in the coming years, to the point where there will not be a debate. An alarmist film such as Soylent Green from the 60s and 70s could not have happened with such power in the 80s to the present, just because the fear in the culture of it happening was at the back burner.

A world wide outbreak of disease, plague has been a fear of humans since we’ve been aware of our world around us. In the world that sees AIDS in Africa killing huge numbers, fears of Swine Flu, SARS, Bird Flu, Ebola, and more, just how freaking prescient was Mary Shelley to have perceived the LAST MAN to be one due to disease world wide? Very.

And now that Iran just test fired a missile, and has been considered close to being within 2 - 3 years of a nuclear weapon, should it develop one, how much must nuclear apocalypse be upon the minds of people, fear of that is enormous, if not as great as during the Cold War.

Fear causes people to look, out of a desire to know.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Racist popular culture... even OK by some

RED SKIN. RED SKIN?

Would a team named the San Francisco Slanted Eyes be ok?
How about the The New York Negro? Or Brooklyn Black Skins?
How about the Kansas City Kikes? Harrington Honkies?

Why is the name REDSKINS ok and not racist?

Because the overall majority of the culture doesn't care about the feelings of the Native People.

Sports is entertainment, Entertainment is part of culture, popular culture.

And yet, racism is ok there.

Hmmmm... discuss this amongst yourselves while I go get a dictionary...

Redskins Not considered racist?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

WorryWoos!



IT IS TIME TO PRAISE SOMEONE FOR A WORK THAT IS WONDERFUL

I had the great fortune to receive a product in the mail from WorryWoos, a maker of plush animals and story books. I do not have a child the age who’d be into this but, I certainly would have had one 6 years ago... The toy line is perfect for children, the plush animals personify a worry, and the story will help comfort them. The more I see in this world with people in pain, children in crisis from circumstances and bad parents, I worry. This is a product that deserves credit on my different levels, it is fine quality, it is tender and sweet, it is fun, it is pretty.

Now, we could spend time worrying over kids, and thinking is this going to solve all the problems I allude towards, but the answer is obviously not. But if someone is in pain, and you can alleviate that pain, isn’t that a good thing? I say it is.

This product is perfect for kids, and I give it my whole hearted thumbs up, well as much as my arthritic thumbs can point upward.

CHILDREN ATTACK MONSTERS: WORRYWOOS.COM BEGINS MONTHLY CONTEST

(May 1,2009- Jersey City, New Jersey,) Worry Woos.com announced today that beginning May 1, 2009 there will be a new monthly contest at www.worrywoos.com. Participants are asked to send in their artistic rendition of their own WorryWoo monster for monthly entry into a drawing for one WorryWoo book and plush doll of their choosing! While yes this contest is intended for children, the young of heart are welcome as well. All submissions should be sent via email to andi@worrywoos.com or by USPS mail to WorryWoos.com, P.O. Box 273, Jersey City NJ 07302. The first winner will be announced June 1, 2009 and all participants artwork will be posted on the website regularly.

Andi Green, WorryWoos Creator explains, “So many people are having such a tough time and kids are like little walking sponges. They take all the stress and fear in regardless of age and they simply don’t know how to handle it. This is our little way of helping everyone vent! And seriously, what could be better then making monsters?” The existing worry woo monsters can be see in the product section of the www.worrywoos.com.

To sign up for the WorryWoos mailing list at this address.

For more information on the product line, visit WORRY WOOS. For terms on carrying the WorryWoos product line email andi@worrywoos.com.

About Worry Woos.com:

The Worry Woo Monsters, a series by Andi Green, was first seen in a New York City art exhibition in 2001. Originally called The Monsters in My Head, Green wanted to create characters with a story that each embodied an emotion. From loneliness to confusion, she began tackling complicated feelings and transformed them into quirky, loveable characters. Her message of “embrace your emotions” received such a positive response, she was asked by many if she ever considered turning her single art pieces into storybooks. In 2002 she began to expand her concept, but it wasn’t until 2007 that she decided to publish and produce her new collection. The Worry Woos have won multiple awards and can be found in toy stores, specialty gift stores, and museum stores nationwide including the renowned MOMA gift shop.

Friday, April 10, 2009

film2comics - or - comics2film

You hear in films today how this or that character or story was originally found in a graphic novel. You have seen in comics a trend towards licensed books, where a comic can sell to a ready made audience with further stories in a particular world or with a particular character. But in film you almost never see a direct to film take, outside of 300 or Sin City, however in comics the direct novelization of a film has often flopped in the comic market. So while film takes liberties and does well, comics take what has been done and places it on paper, to poor sales. Why is this? Well I am sure there are many reasons, such as the desire to sell a comic to people who wouldn’t normally be in the audience, but that is unlikely. I mean, you don’t see Woody Allen novelizing his movies into comics. There is no Sleeper the comic, nor the Further adventures of Sleeper. The comic audience is rather galvanized towards male power fantasy. If a movie doesn’t possess those qualities, it won’t be adapted to comic form. But direct adaptations mean that the work in comic form is already likely a comic character. And a film to develop and adapt a character or story, needs to have creative control over the work. So comics are forced, if they wish to make money, to develop the concept further, whereas in film, they have almost always taken liberties to tell the story they want. It clearly isn’t a two way street.

But I am not unhappy there. The Daredevil movie was in itself fun, but didn’t really get why Daredevil is so awesome a character. The novelization would be telling a story that was wrong by the standards of the comic world. So what is good in terms of adaptations? In both directions I think Sin City and 300 were great. But there is little else I think this of.... except...

M the film by Fritz Lang was interpreted, sequentially and to the panel, directly, by Jon J. Muth. The comic was as beautiful and haunting as the movie was painful and disturbing to watch. I’ve truly never seen a better marriage of concept and page.

You may be able to order it through your comic shop. It is a beautiful book.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Comedy



I believe that both comedy and horror are the most specific genres of any medium to a person's individual taste. So when I post a pic of famous comedy teams, I do not expect you to agree. It is simply to illustrate that we are chatting here about comedy. And frankly, beyond this introduction, what I'd like to know, is what makes YOU laugh.

For me there is a wide gap between what I enjoy in comedy and what I am supposed to enjoy. I laugh hard at the Three Stooges, but was told they were low brow. I like JackAss the movie and the show. It is very lowbrow. And The Young Ones, from the BBC, who showed that humor, even in the UK is not such a dignified affair. I love Laurel and Hardy, and twice I was rescued from sadness by the Lil Rascals/Our Gang. Humor depends upon your mood and experiences, and it depends upon quality. If Curly Howard is poked in the eyes by Moe, it requires some degree of ability to portray it without fully injuring Curly. And more, just because someone is able to make you laugh on a lowbrow level, it does not mean, at all, that they are unintelligent. It means they could see what would be funny, from their perspective as an actor, performer, writer...

But tell me, tell us at Poplitiko, what/who makes you laugh?

Monday, March 30, 2009

unRealityTV

If you watch a sporting event, televised live, is it reality television? If you watch a game show, with results based upon decisions made by the player being shown, are you watching reality television? If you watch police officers chase down a thief, before cameras, however unhappy the result, are you watching reality television. If you watch people singing in a contest hoping to be considered by the judges and audience to be the next superstar, are you watching reality television? If you watch a show with a court judge deciding a case between two people in civil judgment, are you watching reality television? If you are watching two people report about their date together, and how they did various things and was it a “love” connection, was that reality television?

I would argue yes, but, not reality.

What is the factor that joins these as one genre? The lack of a creative voice making the event happen? Chance, and human behavior are captured upon film? The filter is the human invention of television but the aim is to present events and lives that are real. So then, how isn’t that pornography? Clearly there is something visceral and real about two people having sex in front of camera. Whether or not the morality accompanies the event is not the point. We are discussing what it is, not what it should or should not be. But in porn, a real event is captured, all the way to the end, And yet if you were to argue, as I just did, people would scream. But aside from the obvious sexual extremes involved, the act, the event is presented before cameras, reveals intimate details, and shows things that you wouldn’t learn outside of having watched the piece. How is porn not reality television, and, how is reality television not porn? Unearned intimacies are what porn is about. Porn allows a person to see private things without being someone involved in the private event. There are many similar products in culture, for women there are romance novels, for men there are violent action films, professional wrestling and some sports. You feel in love, you’ve been through a sports event. But porn is not reality. Romance novels are not reality, but are fantasy. Sports are not reality either, but we can certainly enjoy them. Even, I say, porn, without feeling a need to call it one thing or another.

So then what is reality television? Frankly few of what are called reality programs have more than a speck of reality within them. They are results of cameras being where no one expects them, and then being framed by presenters as being reality. They are the result of watching a spectacle, a family in disaster, a person being filmed for how different his response will be to something, or a contest. So here is another point forgotten often, reality television is a nature show, or a cooking show. It is a gardening show or a biography of a life well lived. I find the term Reality television ironic, for the creative arts reflect reality far better, clearer, in more detail, through fiction than the supposed truths revealed by Reality TV. The churning tidal pools of life offer far greater opportunities of reflection than anything packaged by television. Go read a book while sitting with a loved one, drinking coffee or other delightful beverage. Go for a walk listening to your iPod. Play with your child... You’ll feel better for it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

RAWBONE



RAWBONE
Jamie Delano
Max Fuimara
Full Color
Avatar Press
(In case you didn't figure it out, this is rated mature.)

Jamie Delano is a writer of importance, who writes, oddly enough, in the world of comic books. His work is challenging to people who desire only pabulum, for it creates whole cloth new paradigms and criticizes through fiction existing paradigms. His writing is an equal in quality, or better, to the name talents of the UK and Ireland. Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, Mark Millar, and Paul Jenkins are all talented, but none write the sort of stories that Jamie Delano does. In his most recent previous work Narcopolis, Delano questioned openly the future where drugs replace moral/ethical choices. He created in it a new language that was born from his perception of the world that would spring around that sort of culture. And some people did not understand it. The drug use was not condoned but it was also not, judgmentally critiqued. And some people did not understand that. Delano’s works do not allow the reader to make simple judgments because he does not.

RAWBONE starts from a premise of Pirates in the Caribbean, but there is so much more. For one thing, pirates were the scourge of the sea, at one time, but Disney, ala Johnny Depp prettied them up into heroes. Delano refuses to kiss the ass of current popular culture. In fact, he loses his foot up that same ass, by making his characters nasty, and, at this point irredeemable. This story is dark and lush, and it plays with our expectations, and makes the Church as evil as the pirates, but, as with most of Delano’s works, there are no simple answers, and the answers you are likely to come up with are at this point, lacking.

From the solicit “Jamie Delano cuts loose on a vicious pirate tale, delivering a bloody, terrifying vision of a world on the high-seas! But these are not the family-friendly kind, these are the roughneck, stealing, heartless bastards of the 17th century Caribbean. A rebellious young women named La Sirena has built a haven for pirates called Puerto de los Suenos (Port of Dreams). It is a good life for those that want to live outside of the crushing boot heel of the Church of England. But the church is a powerful enemy. It expends a lot of its pillaged wealth to bring about the downfall of the pirate scum who are praying on merchant vessels. Thus, the legend of La Sirena’s life will begin, one drip of blood at a time, while the British garrison waits for the pirate to slip into their ambush, tension building as seeming supernatural forces pick off the forces of law one by one, and imagination runs terror through the survivor’s veins.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

MicroCon

I know compared to other comic book conventions this is small, but frankly, it is my favorite. I like it better because it is smaller, but, the venue is nice, the weather is just right, never too hot, never cold.

If you are in the area stop by and buy stuff, even some of my stuff!



MicroCon

Saturday, March 14, 2009

An interview with Tarringo T. Vaughan, wonderful poet and writer



TARRINGO T. VAUGHAN is a great writer of poetry, and a very thoughtful person. I offer this interview to hopefully expose you to his work, and to suggest that at PopLitiko we consider all aspects of popular culture. Even the aspects that aren’t AS popular.

Tell us about your background?:


I'm a 32 year old male with a bachelors in English. Graduated from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 2000. Was born and spent my younger years in Boston and since the age of 7 have been living in Springfield, MA. I am the oldest of 4 children raised primarily by a single mother. I have been working In the health care field for 8 years now.

People often assume that poetry is rhyme alone, and perhaps rhythm make a work a poem. What is a poem, and why does or doesn't rhyme matter to its being a poem?:

I learned pretty quickly that poetry didn't have to be rhyme, it can be many things. A poem is simply a poet's expression and if they are able to reach the reader in the form of inspiration then its poetry. Rhyme to me only matters if it comes naturally. Sometimes I rhyme because its within the flow, but I try not to force it.

What poets are the poets you love to read?:

I read Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, Charles Bukowski, Joseph Brodsky, Alicia Keys, Maya Angelou, Pablo Neruda

You are gay, black, and a poet, are there any other ways you are outside the norm of society? Does that inform your poetry? How does it, if it does, hurt your poetry?:

I think I'm outside the norm simply for writing so many different styles. But being gay and black gives me much more inspiration as far as writing goes. I don't think I ever have writers block. It hurts me because I think many male poets/writers assume and have assumed they know what my writing will be about. For the most part though, it hasn't hurt much.

Who inspires your poetry today? What inspired you to become a poet?:

I would have to go back to the writers of the Harlem renaissance because for them it was all about expression and the appreciation of self. I've always inspired to be more of a novel writer and script writer until one day a reader of mine told me I should try poetry.

FlexWritersOnline, FlexCafe and other places are havens for writers. What is your ultimate goal with them, and how has running them gone? Are there issues with doing so?:

My ultimate goal is exposing and connecting writers. Leading a group on myspace has been stressful although it is rewarding at the same time. I get a lot of shit just being a moderator. I've heard so much negative about me which is not true and it all comes down to competition which it should not be about.

Why be a poet? wouldn't writing music lyrics be more rewarding both financially speaking and societally acceptance-wise?

I think music is poetry so writing lyrics is what we are doing. A goal of mine is to make is socially acceptable.

What is a poet's greatest asset?

Their surroundings.

In 5 years, as a poet, and then, as a person, what do you hope to be doing, and having accomplished?

I honestly hope to see many books published of those I have grown to known and perhaps my own name on a book cover.

Where have you been published?

I haven't been published, many are shocked by that but I also haven't tried because I don't feel like I have anything complete to do so.

Lastly, what does poetry offer society?

A poet offers society a connection to the emotions people feel in that one may relate and feel they are not alone. It offers voices that may not be heard otherwise.

Find Tarringo’s work at:
FlexWritersOnline
FlexCafe
Diary of a Gay Black Man
Tarringo Vaughan

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

American Culture: In Guns We Trust?



I am not always able to see why people disagree, Republicans and Democrats in the American political system should both have the best interest of the country at heart, right? Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists all believe in some form of system where good behavior and moral beliefs are vital. They should have a great deal of common ground. Women and men both desire love, and pursue it, however poorly or misdirected. But in all these examples, they don’t get along, however much they should be able to do so. I cannot understand it, but I recognize that it happens.

“There are no "good guns". There are no "bad guns". Any gun in the hands of a bad man is a bad thing. Any gun in the hands of a decent person is no threat to anybody — except bad people.” - Charlton Heston

On the other hand, I fully understand why people who own guns in the United States do not intellectually find common ground with those who do not own guns. Gun owners trace the independence of the United States and American people to a well armed civilianry. They consider how free Americans are societally, and they attribute that freedom to being able defend their freedoms from governmental intrusions. Beliefs such as these are difficult to argue for or against without passion. For while Gun culture has beliefs regarding the ownership of guns or the right of ownership, those who disagree, and do not own such weapons also have beliefs. They believe that if guns are available that people who aren’t interested in self defense or sport shooting or hunting will be able to acquire a gun and use it in the committing of a crime. They suggest that the Second Amendment to the Constitution in the Bill of Rights provides for a well armed and trained Militia, not everyone wanting a gun. They also point to accidents that happen and take lives due to guns being a dangerous tool in the hands of the inexperienced or careless user, or worse, child.

“After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it. I sure as hell wouldn't want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.” - William S. Burroughs

I am explaining all this because Gun culture in the United States does influence the popular culture, the knowledge of the past, the beliefs about the society and nation. Guns are part of the American scene, and guns are symbolize things to both sides of the argument. Guns are dangerous. But to the gun owner they are a good danger, one that threatens criminals, defends property, and keeps the government from taking more than just the gun away, but all rights. Guns are dangerous in a bad manner to those people against gun ownership. The danger is not misunderstood, bullets kill, but motives, scenarios and circumstances help to make the argument one with few winners, just angry expressions and disagreement.

“It's just a ride and we can change it any time we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money, a choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.” - Bill Hicks

So, if you are an American who believes in the legends of the American West, with cowboys, the great frontier, the role of violence in taking the land, I am willing to bet that you are a gun owner, or at least support gun ownership rights. If you are an American who believes that there are a great many victimized people groups in America due to the violent process of nation building, I am willing to bet that you do not agree with or feel a need to greatly limit gun ownership and gun ownership rights.

“Some parents say it is toy guns that make boys warlike. But give a boy a rubber duck and he will seize its neck like the butt of a pistol and shout "Bang!"” - George F. Will

I am not suggesting here, for any reason, that either side is correct. I simply pointing out that within what we call popular culture are views that are often part of the whole view, but disagreed upon. Gun culture is part of American culture, but not everyone agrees that it is a good thing.

“And the National Rifle Association says that, "Guns don't kill people, people do,” but I think the gun helps, you know? I think it helps. I just think just standing there going, "Bang!" That's not going to kill too many people, is it? You'd have to be really dodgy on the heart to have that…” - Eddie Izzard

((I will certainly be asked by reader emails if not via comments, if I own a gun. I come from a family that did not hunt, but my brother does now. My best friend is a gun toting Libertarian, and in high school I was one of the very few males who attended school during Deer Hunting. In Wisconsin if you didn’t hunt deer, you were not normal. I do not own a gun, but I grew up in a part of the country where hunting was the norm. I do not find myself desiring to own a gun, but I am not against the ownership of guns. I think most of the problems come down to the fact that nobody wants criminals to be able to acquire guns, but we know they will. So how do you prevent it, at the same time as allow gun ownership? I don’t have an answer, but I am not saying all gun ownership should end because criminals violate other people’s rights. In fact you could argue that gun ownership protects you in those cases. So I am a tweener.))

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lovecraft



Pronounced by the creator of the mythos as Khlûl'-hloo, H.P. LOVECRAFT’s work The Cthulhu Mythos, lingers today as one of the greatest concepts in genre fiction. The combination of unreal horrors and the response of unquestioned reality of the human mind is the subject of his writing. His universe is a terrible place, where there is little hope, and humanity cannot comprehend the world that used to be normal but now is inhabited by terrible things.

Lovecraft was a person unmoved by emotional things. He considered religious views to be abjectly pitiable, that is, he saw the need for religion as coming from a source of weak minds and fear. The result of his views about belief clearly underpins his views on the structure of the universe, the cosmology of this world, and his fictional mythic universe he created. The Gods and their minions are largely above even thinking about humans, for they are considered little more than talking meat. The world in which humans live is alien to those Gods, called the Elder Gods, because of the vast knowledge and view towards the universe that those Gods have. That is, humans live in a universe where beings far more powerful exist, who do not even pay attention to humanity beyond an annoyance, and upon earth we discover them and their schemes at our own risk and detriment.

The world created by Lovecraft was stark, brutal, but also, measured in how much the human mind could describe and endure before collapsing. Some reviewers and critics considered his use of language to be filled with archaic terms, hyperbole, and unconvincing characters. But in saying/writing/asserting so, those critics miss out on the great ability of Lovecraft to create horror. Since the action mostly happens off camera, and the narrator is the reader’s eyes to the event, the language evokes antiquity, the hyperbole reflects the narrator’s inability to comprehend exactly what is happening, and the characters themselves are portrayed far better than the critics suggest because unlike most fiction, the major characters in this are neither heroic, nor victims, but observers. While there are some heroes certainly, the event of the story within such a powerful setting is the reason for the trip, it is by no means due to the characters nor the genre nor language of the writer.

Why does it succeed? I believe that Lovecraft’s horror succeeds because it doesn’t rely upon formulaic patterns, however much it uses templates, archetypes, and devices. It uses stereotypes of human races, and gender, but it does so in the context of the work being considered. Lovecraft did believe in his race’s superiority, and it would be foolish to suggest otherwise, but as part of a early twentieth century piece of literature it is neither out of place nor should it be unexpected. I’d suggest it is regrettable, but I also think it is not something that should remove greatness from the memory and view towards Lovecraft’s work and legacy of intellectual creations.

I recommend the written works of H.P. Lovecraft, the critical works of S.T. JOSHI regarding H.P. Lovecraft, and hope you can get into the quality of the work without being distracted by the baggage of it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Things

AN ANNOUNCEMENT

LANCELOT from Diminuendo Press (an imprint of Cyberwizard Productions)

“He was the perfect knight, he was the fallen one. He rode to Arthur’s defense, he broke Arthur’s marriage apart. He was noble, kind, and great. He was selfish, foolish, and broken. Who was Lancelot du Lac? Was he a knight of virtue, or a traitor to the crown? He loved a woman, who was queen, but was he a tortured soul in love, or a brazen gigolo who would steal his best friend’s wife? This book is a collection of prose consideration of the man, poetic interpretation of the stories of Lancelot, and artistic renderings of the two very different, yet valid approaches to the story of Lancelot du Lac.”

Two poets, one writer of prose, many fine artists, gathered to create a work that is beautiful, poetic, brutally honest, and romantic about a figure from legend, Sir Lancelot du Lac. It came about at the urgings of a French poet G.F. Evrard that he and I work together. We gathered our friends, some who did the work, others who fell off project, and we produced something unique. With a prose consideration of the history of the character, two poets each writing their views of the character, in poetic form, and color and, black and white illustrations of the poems that round a project into more than poetry, more than art, but something quite different. While the initial work was hard, the real fighter here was the publisher Kelly Christiansen who managed to edit and design a work that featured people from different countries, using three or more languages, and two continents. You might see a sequel to this, if this sells well enough, so if you are interested please plan to buy this book.

A MINI RANT

Someone I know hates this hates that hates everyone because they do not comply with his sense of normal. What is normal? Is it being white? Is it being straight? Is it being like everybody else? Screw that.

You might disagree with me but I believe God obviously loves diversity because we come in different colors, different sizes, different looks, there is no cookie cutter for human labeled normal. The fact that diversity is the norm suggests that we are made different, unique, beautiful, because that is how it was intended.

And if there were the case that normal is a rule, I'd cut off my arm to be different, because who the hell wants to be the same. If people like being different just to be different, who is harmed by it? I sure am not.

Some point to chaos, and individualism as hurting the core, the masses, the unit of the family and society. Bullshit. We are able to function as a core because individuals constantly test and create new limits.

Is it wrong to be different? Sometimes there is a motive behind being different. Milton said that Satan preferred to rule over hell than serve in heaven, but I suggest it isn't about power this desire to be different and deviation from normal, it is expression of the human spirit. We need those who are different to move us.

Jean Giraud, known as the artist Moebius, one of my heroes, said in an interview that the creative people of society are its true' warriors,' for they create the intellectual debates that help society grow.

In World War II the US government interned all Japanese Americans and their parents. The policy was racist. But it was only after highly creative people such as Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange and others stepped forward and illustrated the problem did Americans become moved to change.

Never accept normal as all there is. There is far more.

WORDS TO REMEMBER

“Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again. And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children.” Pablo Picasso

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hunger

What is the point of writing if nobody reads your work? What is the point of anything if there is no response to it. A great artist can do the most perfect painting known to humanity, but if nobody sees it, or appreciates it, there is something lost.

Therefore, popularity is important even when quality should seem more an absolute, and definable. You might like something, but it doesn’t make it good, but if nobody likes something, the ability to judge its impact will leave it forgotten or ignored. An artist told me to never stop working, that hunger, depression, fatigue are all good, if it means that the work will survive and be born. But we don’t live in a society that accepts, loves, or nutures the arts. We live in a society that commodifies the arts or ignores them based upon its own needs.

Starving artist is a cliché term referring to the fact that artists and creatives in general who commit to their work rarely make money, but to become the best in what you do, you must do that. You must make a choice as a creative, to do it for the work, whatever the reward, or to do it for the reward, and if there is none move on. All of the arts are peopled by talented creatives. But there are also people who succeed because of marketing what they do to the people who will respond... An artist who does not see that money is part of their work will starve.

This is not all to say that a creative should not do one or the other, or both. It is to say, that, for the world to appreciate the work, is to redeem the effort. To buy the work is to redeem the creative artist. Support a living creative, buy their work.