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
Wow. SDCC. Crazy, huh? Zane and I will be talking about it on the podcast tomorrow naturally, but I’m still pretty rattled over the whole thing. I was not expecting Ultron for AVENGERS 2, as dissapointed as I am that Pym won’t be involved. Of course, I’m already panicking at the dreaded ‘villain over-abundance’ problem that would be unavoidable if the film were to contain both Thanos and Ultron. Of course, this is typical nerd speculation/negativity – maybe Thanos will be slowly teased over the course of several AVENGERS movies, appearing definitively in a fourth or fifth film. Marvel seems intent on treating their cinematic universe very similar to their publishing line (a focus on inter-connected titles and overbearing market presence). I was quite tickled at the news that the recent miniseries shot up the bestseller list after the title for the sequel was revealed as AGE OF ULTRON.
SUPERMAN/BATMAN? Of course, my reaction is somewhat muted, what with the focus on a Clark/Bruce rivalry. I can’t say I’m surprised – it’s been a staple of the DC Universe for decades now. Still, it just doesn’t make sense to me that those guys wouldn’t be friends. In actual comics news (insert snarky over-Hollywoodization of comic-con comment here), I guess I’d say I’m happy Nightcrawler is coming back, though I’m less than ecstatic it will be in a comic written by Jason Aaron, whose X-men work has been all over the place in terms of quality. There’s so much news, I’ll save the rest for the podcast!
All of my weekly webcomics have been updated – if you want to find them all in one place, you can go here – in BEKKO, punk pop star Killadilla takes a limo ride with her gay robot best friend, while Dwin recalls a hoodie, a magical imp from another dimension appears for pranks and chaos, and in the RP Amaroth fights off were-lizards in a hospital and the kids have their first mission. I’ve gotten behind on updating GAP FEER, but will be back on track this week. I talked about THANOS RISING #4, UNCANNY X-FORCE #8 and THOR:GOD OF THUNDER #10 at www.marveldisassembled.com. Also, don’t forget I post a lot of illustration, fan art and sketches at my tumblr – http://www.thepuremood.tumblr.com. More naked lady cartoons this week, but some other doodles too.
I’m going to skip the links this week, only because the absolute craziness of SDCC has sort of eaten up all my internet browsing time.
WHAT I’M INTO
That’s right, I read a good 50 odd STREET FIGHTER comics this week. Hardly my proudest moment, but I have to say, I really enjoyed them. I can’t even begin to understand what compelled this read through – like any child with a Super NES, I played a lot of STREET FIGHTER II in my childhood, but I’d hardly call myself a fan. I’ve never even touched III or IV, and I only have a passing familiarity with the ALPHA series. Regardless of the reason, I read them, and they’re pretty fun. Handled by an entire studio of artists – seriously, the art credits continuously hit past eight for the lead story alone – Udon does a really good job streamlining all of the characters bizarre back stories into one large tapestry of back story. They really do pull of having all of the characters more or less tied into Shadaloo without it feeling too coincidental or unbelievable. Though, even they couldn’t make any sense out of Blanca. The series also has a really fun sense of humour – Ryu forgets to wear shoes to Ken’s wedding, Cammy kicks Chun-Li straight through the hood of her car, onto the dashboard and next to her wallet, open to a picture of her dead father who Cammy killed – that actually had me laugh out loud. So, yeah, these comics aren’t good – I mean, I can’t really recommend them in good taste. But I had a blast reading them.
WHERE DOES THIS DOOR GO – Mayer Hawthorne – I think Mayer Hawthorne exists for one very simple but important reason – to remind crotchety old cranks like me that contemporary pop music can still sound great. WHERE DOES THIS DOOR GO does sound like the sort of thing you’d hear on any Top 40 radio station/mall sound system, except it’s one step above in quality – it isn’t lazy and artless and brain dead. It’s not cerebral or complex, but it’s the kind of moving and memorable pop music that I’m always complaining has disappeared. A really fun surprise. RECOMMENDED TRACKS: “All Better”, “Where Does This Door Go”, “Robot Love”, “Back Seat Lover”
ABOUT FAREWELL – Alela Diane – Sure, it’s a break-up record, but it’s a really good one. Diane’s voice is breath taking, not necessarily stronger but clearly…different than it sounded on her debut album, and that’s a good thing – it adds to the mood of hopeful tragedy the album is kind of going for. Diane started out singing songs like this, but completely changed gears with last years more sonically complex ALELA DIANE & WILD DIVINE. Going back to something close to her original sound works for the idea central to break-up records – that you can get over a relationship by hurtling head on into the pain, but be prepared for more and more relentless rounds of hurt in the future. RECOMMENDED TRACKS: “The Way We Fall”, “Black Sheep”
ANDY AND HIS GRANDMOTHER – Andy Kaufman – I’m one of those weird Kaufman obsessives, so this was a complete geek joy for me to listen to. A series of home recordings, conversations with friends and bits. With a record as unique as this, there’s not much more to say – if you’re into Kaufman, it’s essential, but if you never ‘got’ him, well, this isn’t going to change your mind.
MUCHACHO – Phosphorescent – This one isn’t a new realease, and I’ve actually owned it for a while now. But it’s become a regular part of my rotation this week – it has a really great Sad Summer vibe, perfect for blaring through the house as the sun shines outside and I bang my head against my drawing table. Beautifully produced, country/pyschedila record, it’s certainly Phosphorescent’s best, and something about it fits the summer mood. RECOMMENDED TRACKS: “Song for Zula”, “Down to Go”
FIRST NOVEL by Nicholas Royle – this is a really complex and ambitious novel, one that stumbles as frequently as it succeeds, and it relies so heavily on it’s twist ending that it’s hard to say whether or not readers will feel cheated or moved at the end of the book. However, it tackles many important ideas central to the concept of contemporary fiction – namely, if we keep on deconstructing how stories work. will they? And, perhaps less serious but still as intriguing, why are there more and more writers and less and less readers? Royle explores this all in earnest, and they’re certainly questions that keep me up at night – I seriously can’t believe how many creative hobbyists I meet, yet running into someone who’s read a novel in the past year (!) seems an increasingly rare thing. This may sound hyperbolic, but many people I know have not read since they got out of high school, which is kind of unsettling to me. I’m no scholar (as proven by the fact that I read STREET FIGHTER comics this week and then told you about it) but novels are pretty much the most important thing in my life – I mean, it’s like cheap therapy. I don’t know how I’d get through the unbearable stresses of adult life without old sad writers helping me through it. FIRST NOVEL is about a creative writing teacher who wrote one novel no one ever heard of and never another, now obsessed with finding images of successful writers working rooms, to see if his book may be in their collection, or if the tools they use and decor they display may prove the secret to good writing. Royle is a fantastic talent as a writer – descriptions of our protagonist vexed by a Kindle are breath taking, as are the mundane and throughout passages describing his meager existence. Which brings me to my biggest complaint – it’s a book about the workings of stories, a book about coincedences, about a man stricken by loneliness living a ghost of a life. Some times the Auster influence is really over bearing, and I say this as maybe the world’s biggest Auster fan. That’s sort of the problem with FIRST NOVEL – it’s really, really good, but there’s just a lot of rough edges that keep it from being great. Auster really has a gift for making the unbelievable coincidences in his novel seem like the humbling power that is life, the endless expanse of the universe reminding us of how insignificant we are in a jovial, cosmic joke kind of way. In FIRST NOVEL, it feels a little more tacky, a little more TWILIGHT ZONE-y. Still a good read!
Though I liked it a lot more than most critics, ONLY GOD FORGIVES is definitely Refn’s worst film. That being said, I still enjoyed it. It’s a stylistic exploration of violence and sex and the combination of the two, a classic revenge story, good versus evil. In fact, Refn often described DRIVE as a fairy tale, but I’d say this suits that criteria more. Julian, played by Ryan Gosling, is living in Bangkok when his brother is murdered by the father of a fifteen year old prostitute he’d killed. Julian’s cruelly demanding mother, the hilariously and mesmerizing Kristen Scott Thomas (seriously, one of my favourite performances of the year) arrives from the states for the death of her ‘first born son’. Julian’s obsessions with fighting and sexuality wage war with his mother’s obsessions with revenge and family. The film is short on dialogue and plot, and it surprises me little that so many critics find the movie off-putting – most movie critics like a movie to follow the rules of novels, really. I also don’t see the side of the defenders, who claim that DRIVE was Refn’s experiment with a mainstream picture and that this is an attempt at something more abstract. But the thing is, ONLY GOD FORGIVES is extremely straight forward. It’s a revenge picture, and a pretty good one. I guess you can’t have slow motion with eccentric soundtracks and gushing red blood without ‘pretense’ being thrown around, but I don’t find the movie pretentious – Refn and Gosling both seem to celebrate the film’s trashiness, in the same way they did DRIVE. I don’t mean to be naive – I get why Tarantino would award DRIVE a ‘nice-try award’ – both it and ONLY GOD do play as kind of Tarantino-lite. But I think Refn is his own unique thing – he’s got a weird, dark sense of humour that I really appreciate, and I think he has a knack for cinematic flow and rhythm. Theres a kind of visual flatness to his movies that I’ve never liked, but really, ONLY GOD is pretty good, much better than what you’ve been hearing, I assure you. And man oh man is Thomas ever incredible!
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
Because you’re never in no hurry. Thanks for reading, and let me know if you got any sort of enjoyment from my ramblings about my life. Stick around for more comics, music and movie talk in the week ahead. Meanwhile, new entries in all my webcomics, but I’ll be taking the week off from MARVEL DISASSEMBLED, because, well, it’s my birthday.
Now, what are you watching/listening to/reading/loving?