Good evening everybody, and I hope you’ve all enjoyed your weekend. Welcome back to THE TRIPLE W, a sort of Pure Mood primer of sorts, a wide-ranging post where you can find the other places around the net I’ve been in the previous week. It’s a weekly catch up in the life of Erik Robinson, in which I’ll begin with general ramblings, move on to some linkage, offer a few quick thoughts on comics, movies, books and music, and close up with a look at the week ahead.
WHERE I’M AT
It’s been a while – two weeks since my last TRIPLE W post. I do enjoy doing these – rambling about nothing in particular is really relaxing after spending days smashing my head against a wall trying to come up with something worth talking about here on the blog. Of course, it’s also really self-indulgent to think that anybody cares about the dull, dull happenings of my world. Ah, well, I have fun doing it, even if I doubt anyone could actually enjoy reading it.
Zane has started coming over to my place to do the podcast after constant Skype difficulties, and it’s been one of the best things to happen to me so far this year, as sad as that may be. One of the things that frustrates me most about contemporary life is this constant sense of business – what with day jobs, creative side projects (like what you’re reading now), personal junk and the boring day to day errands like eating, sleeping, doing laundry, or going to the bank…it seems harder and harder to just get together and hang with friends. Of course, I know I’m being completely ridiculous – being the age I am, I have no right to talk about any kind of ‘good old days’, and I’m aware that my generation is unbearably entitled and has the most comfortable standard of living in pretty much the history of time. None of this realist thinking seems to get rid of my nostalgic longing, though – I miss RP session pizza parties, LONE WOLF AND CLUB marathons, arguing about music or talking about comics for hours at a burger joint. Basically, just like every other twenty something, I wanna be a kid again. Of course, being a kid was awful, and I know I don’t really want to go back to that. My point is, I miss seeing my friends, and it’s been great to waste time with Zane again.
Again, I feel guilty and ashamed for the lack of originality in my thoughts, but I’ve been panicked and anxious about two things in particular the past two weeks – the upcoming autonomy of technology taking over more and more human jobs, and our human responsibility in saving species on the brink of extinction. If you’ve been keeping up, the Big Controversial Debate is whether or not we’ve been forced into conserving animals that have the highest chance of surviving / the most use to us as humans. Of course, this gets tricky, because you never know what exact part a creature is playing in nature’s gigantic tapestry – if you remove it from its environment, it could have a ripple effect, and other species could be harmed by this ‘missing link.’ As always, the crushing sense of helplessness when thinking about these kind of huge problems is a slog to get through, but even if I can move past that dark abyss, I still wonder what exactly we could do in this situation. I certainly think all animals are worthy of saving, but if we’ve gone too far, what other choice do we have?
Regardless, nature seems to be getting its revenge here in Canada. We’re surrounded by stories of disaster, none quite on the level of national tragedy, but terrifying reminders of just what the planet’s going through, and how we’re just hapless primates caught wandering around on it’s land. One of my oldest friends lives in Calgary, and though he’s been largely unaffected by the flood (he was unable to go to work, but that’s a blessing in my books) it certainly reminded me of how frail any sense of complacency or calm really is.
I rewatched the first season of THE SARAH SILVERMAN PROGRAM, and now that I’ve become a Harmon devotee, it’s crazy to notice how much of the guy is branded all over that thing. Seriously, the season finale features a ‘shoe’s untied bro’ moment, a fart that turns into a poop, obsessions with race and poverty, questions about God, daddy issues, and 70s/80s pop culture throwback all while finding time to squeeze in a Jeff Davis cameo. I hadn’t seen that show since I was a teen, and as much as I loathe this abused phrase, it holds up really well.
All of my weekly webcomics have been updated – if you want to find them all in one place, you can go here – in BEKKO, it’s fist in slug action, while Dwin and Caia check out an open mic night, Meager Man and the Faceless Fervor have a talk, and in the RP my character Resnais has a solo adventure, opening a school for trouble mutants. I’ve gotten behind on updating GAP FEER, but will be back on track this week. I talked only about WOLVERINE this week at www.marveldisassembled.com and received a comment from the artist after I gave him a less-than-stellar review. I never know how to handle that sort of situation – I really wish comics creators didn’t take it personally when I dislike one small output of their work. I try to never diss them as people, and often I’m a huge fan of other work they’ve done and will point out work they’ve done that I thought was stronger. Anyway, it’s frustrating to me – I’m just some loser sitting on his fat butt talking about comics for free on the internet, while they’re living the dream, drawing Marvel comics for a living. They’ve got nothing to prove to me, nor I to them. I’m just a jerk with a lot of opinions on things. Ah, well. Also, don’t forget I post a lot of illustration, fan art and sketches at my tumblr – http://www.thepuremood.tumblr.com. Mainly naked lady cartoons this week, but some other doodles too.
Just one quick link before I bore anyone with this ‘reviewer responsibility’ garbage, but Delcan Shalvey – one of my favourite mainstream cartoonists working today – tweeted about the lack of skill comics reviewers have in talking about Art, and that they owe it to themselves to learn the jargon necessary to discuss such matters. This led to further criticism, including reviews as summary and other common arguments against the critics of mainstream superhero comics. I see all this as, for the most part, ridiculous. The age of criticism as we once knew it is dead – we no longer look to critics for an expert opinion, for a voice to persuade us whether or not the latest movie, dish, dress, LP or comic is worth purchasing. We look to criticism for a voice, period. A voice to argue against internally, or a voice to articulate why we loved or hated what we loved, or a voice to put into perspective the unique and subjective experience that media gives one person. One of the best things about the internet is the way it removes the need for credentials – any person’s thoughts are as valid as the next’s, and how much validity they’re given is up to us to decide. I actually think that’s a good thing – criticism hid behind the veneer of snobbishness and elitism for a long time. Critics really are just another dude or lady who saw the thing you saw, and I like that the internet is much more up front about that. Anyone can talk about art – specifically mainstream comics art which, c’mon, should not be homework to look at – and even if my opinions don’t go deeper than ‘I hate how he draws faces’, it doesn’t change the unique reaction I had to what I was seeing. And I think that’s what’s important.
WHAT I’M INTO
I’m really late to the party on this one, but EMPOWERED is fantastic. I can’t help but compare it to John Bryne’s SENSATIONAL SHE-HULK – it’s a very knowing and hilarious look at superhero sexism and exploitation that somehow manages to treat its characters with respect, and never hide behind the sarcastic sneer of irony or cynicism. EMPOWERED is very up front about it’s desire to entertain, and that makes all of the semi-serious topics Warren tackles feel very sincere – often, when comics indulge themselves in metatextuality or self-reflective questioning, the desperate mood of attempted academia or cleverness drains out all the fun, and makes the bigger issues fall completely flat. By mocking EMPOWERED’s own desire to both entertain and challenge, Warren avoids this pitfall, and instead prepares you for difficult questions about your attitudes towards sexuality, sexism and the superhero genre’s most degrading trademarks. Very funny, touching and thought-provoking stuff.
MAJOR ARCANA – Speedy Ortiz – A band named after a character in LOVE AND ROCKETS? Be still my beating heart! Before you roll your eyes at yet another bunch of flannel wearing ’90s nostalgist, give ‘No Below’ a listen. It really is a near perfect song, one of many songs on the record that are both honest and moving and catchy, killer-hook kinda tunes. I’ve been listening to this album repeatedly – it really is one of my favourites of the year, and I tend to find ninenties revivalists pretty obnoxious. Great stuff. RECOMMENDED TRACKS: “No Below”, “Cash Cab”
SOUTHEASTERN – Jason Isbell – a very fantastic, if a little over-produced, record. On the tracks that work, Isbell gives us a mainstream country sound that still contains human pain, but sometimes things get too much of a commercial slick sheen. Still, this is Isbell’s best record – there’s some really moving lyrics on this album, and I love that Isbell ignored the typical trappings of a record about alcoholism, focusing on the redemptive strength of getting out of despondency, instead of romanticizing the failure that led there. RECOMMENDED TRACKS: “Elephant”, “Songs That She Sang in the Shower”, “Super 8”
ME MOAN – Daughn Gibson – I hope you’re all fine with me just writing love letters to record after record this week, because here’s another new release I’m ecstatic about. I love Gibson’s odd, chesty drawl of a voice, I love the hollow sonic jangle of the guitars around him, I love the bleak melancholy of his lyrics – including a heart breaking statement that makes me tremble even typing it out in a song about a relationship gone sour – “I wish we had a kid that never wanted to die.” Holy, man, that’s intense. I really, really enjoyed this. RECOMMENDED TRACKS: “Franco”, “Phantom Rider”, “Kissin on the Blacktop”
HONEY LOCUST HONKY TONK – Robert Pollard – all right, here’s one I’m not exactly jumping for joy about, even if it’s pretty great in it’s own right. I don’t much know what to say about HONKY TONK – if you somehow feel you need more of the incredibly prolific Pollard, there’s more to like here. Really strong songs, even if slushy guitars kinda drown things out sometimes.
RUN THE JEWELS – El-P and Killer Mike – this album is completely ridiculous, but in a really wonderful way. Two amazing artists in a battle of arrogance, it’s knowing enough that you can just sit back and listen to the two trying to one up each others rhymes. RUN THE JEWELS is a total blast. Very fun stuff. RECOMMENDED TRACKS: “Twin Hype Back”, “A Christmas Fucking Miracle”
KILT II – Iamsu! – Maybe this is sacrilegious, and probably the biggest compliment you could give Iamsu!, but I liked this a heck of a lot more than YEEZUS. Iamsu! is really incredible, and he manages to pull of songs about wanting to be the next Kanye or odes to Tumblr and Instagram without coming across as overbearingly twee or self-deluded and obnoxious. The tendency to rely on an echo-effect in the production stage gets kind of grating, but over all, a really great record. RECOMMENDED TRACKS: “Hipster Girls”
ONE TIME VINE – Mavis Staples – I loved this. Wonderful, inspiring gospel music that looks at the strength and courage in human weakness. I mean, seriously, ‘I Like the Things About Me’ is just a perfect song, and Staples’ voice makes you really believe she’s climbed out of the bottom the hard way. If you don’t like this record, you’ve forgotten how to feel.
THE MIDNIGHT MASS – Louise Burns – It’s been a good week for albums that I’m going nuts over. Louise Burns’ newest is AMAZING. If you were playing the Dum Dum Girls’ as much as everybody else last summer, you owe it to yourself to check out Vancouver’s own ruler of personal idiosyncratic sunshine surfer pop. Terrific!
LONE RANGER is not a good movie, and I say that with a heavy heart. I think a lot of people love nothing more than to tear big-budget summer blockbusters apart, but I take no joy in seeing really awful movies – sure, there’s a joy in seeing a bunch of well meaning kids who know next to nothing about what they’re doing try their damn hardest (MIAMI CONNECTION), but to see a bunch of talented people fail on a giant scale, while handling a property I have a personal connection to? I get no joy out of that. The frustrating thing is, when LONE RANGER is good, it’s really good. Unfortunately, that’s about twelve minutes out of a two and a half hour running time. Most of the time, it’s just another obnoxious attempt at being clever, a movie that takes every second to remind you it’s aware that it’s above trying to entertain you or move you in any way. There’s a scene in the very opening of the film in which Johnny Deep as Tonto (or is it the other way around) pauses in mid-air to look at the camera when a child in the film questions how the story is going, and I nearly gave up and left right there. It suffers from every joyless and heartless decision that’s strangling mainstream movies – a weird and passionate desire for the Lone Ranger to hardly appear in costume, to always make buffon decisions, and to get mocked any time he does anything attached to the original character. LONE RANGER is just as ugly and meandering as you thought it would be, save for a brilliant climatic train sequence that brings Buster Keaton to mind. If this movie allowed itself to be an entertaining action serial, as the last scene did, it would have been incredibly enjoyable – but it wanted so badly to be smarter and better than it’s audience that it falls completely apart. I’d appreciate if instead the wonderfully talented actors and film makers respected us enough to now we want to be entertained – when we buy the ticket, we’re signing that contract – and just let themselves make a movie that would have us jumping for joy and cheering in our seats. All of those empty asides and reminders that the movie’s as brilliant as we are? It’s far more degrading than taking us to the mythical and heroic world of the Lone Ranger’s wild west.
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
Because I need some sort of reason to keep doing this every week. Thanks for reading, and let me know if you got any sort of enjoyment from my ramblings about my life. In the week ahead, be here to see me talk She-Hulk and Deadpool, more Superman ramblings, a new episode of the Podcast, and a lot more. Meanwhile, new entries in all my webcomics, and more reviews at MARVEL DISASSEMBLED. Zane keeps promising me he’ll show up at the site again, but still nothing on that front. We shall see, we shall see.
Now, what are you watching/listening to/reading/loving?