Archive for August, 2007

My Letter to Dick Durbin

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

I’m never this intemperate when addressing public officials, but I’ve had it.

Senator Durbin,

I’ve supported you for as long as I’ve lived in Illinois. I even supported you, reluctantly, after you blubbered on the Senate floor when Republican operatives played rough with your accurate criticism of U.S torture. But in reading your response to Bush’s $50 billion Iraq supplemental request, I’ve reached the point where I can no longer support the path you’re taking.

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The King Shares the Throne

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

Jack Kirby is enjoying one hell of a resurgence. New hardcover editions bearing his name seem to be issued weekly, ranging from his foundational work at Marvel (the Fantastic Four Omnibus series—I’m waiting for the first installment to be reprinted) to his more cosmically outrageous solo work, such as the Fourth World, Silver Star and Devil Dinosaur. A recent Marvel superheroes stamp collection produced by the Post Office is almost an homage to his talents, as many of the featured characters were invented or defined by Kirby’s pen. Even the New York Times has gotten into the act, offering an editorial by Brent Staples that acts as a posthumous pat on the back.

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The Essence of Quiet Desperation

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

In praising The Office, I wrote about how well it does capturing the feeling of being trapped, stuck in a job that you hate but unable to see any real potential for change. Killer of Sheep, a film by director Charles Burnett, reminds us what it’s like to be really stuck. His camera takes us on a wide-ranging tour of 1970s Watts, presenting bluntly the poverty and isolation that plagues the area’s residents.

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An Equal, Not a Token

Friday, August 17th, 2007

A friend of mine, Ashok Selvam, wrote a strong piece on cultural assumptions and identity politics for the Daily Herald. It’s partially a reaction to a tragic local story where a mother and her two children died in a fire set by the mom, but it goes beyond that, evoking humor and sadness alike.

Handbags and Gladrags

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

The characters in Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s shows don’t suffer from a fear of falling—it’s too late for that. Instead, the predominant malaise is a fear of falling further, an abiding anxiety over what last reserves of dignity, pride and self-respect will have to be sacrificed to get through another day.

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This Week In Comics

Friday, August 10th, 2007

What I picked up at the comic shop this week:

Fables 64

As mentioned earlier in the week, Fables is one of my favorite comics being produced at the moment, and this week’s issue continues the trend as the fables community mobilizes for war against the Adversary. Guest artist Aaron Alexovich provides a more cartoonish take on the characters than regular artist Mark Buckingham; it punctures the weight of the proceedings somewhat, but it’s still skillfully done.

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Banana Snapple Redux

Friday, August 10th, 2007

FLYMF contributor Zachary Locklin has a short story, “Fifteen Things About DJ: A Biography,” published in the most recent issue of Poetic Diversity. In less than 1,000 words he gives us a touching snapshot of a personality (although I guess you really did have to be there for the rape joke).

There’s also a banana Snapple reference, which will be familiar to the few of you who remember FLYMF‘s second issue. He’s also wrote A Disgrace to the Gothic Establishment and America, the Suck Fest, or a Modest Tax Proposal for us, both of which showcase his wry, polished style.

Go Ape

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

One of the most memorable things of any Intro to Anthropology class are bonobos. These chimpanzee cousins, found only in the Democratic Republic of Congo, live in peaceful, female-led groups. They eschew violence and deal with stress that comes their way through casual sex, which often involves the entire group and employs the missionary position and same-sex partners.

In short, they’re sex monkeys. They’re cool. In college, my roommates and I even named our short-lived band after them.

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The Best in Comics

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

This week is comics week at the Onion A.V. Club, and they’ve had some pretty fun features so far. The series kicked off with Twelve Memorable Comic Strip Deaths, a good read for those who enjoy their newspaper funnies, and it’s continued with interviews with Chris Onstad, Bill Willingham and Joss Whedon.

For those who haven’t read it, Chris Onstad’s Achewood comic strip is one of the funniest comics in production today, and since it’s online, it’s all available for free. It starts with the basic premise of talking animals, but it distinguishes itself with the care and precision that goes into defining each character’s personality. Ray’s gonzo materialism is offset by Roast Beef’s painful introversion, while the innocence of Phillipe is matched by Mr. Bear’s gentleman sophistication and Lyle’s raging benders.

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Going For It on Fourth and Long

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

Finbar Connors plays professional football, but he isn’t a millionaire, nor is he a star. Instead he’s an aging wide receiver who has caught on as a player-coach with the Centerport Cossacks, a team in the upstart Northeast Football Association, in Larry Gaffney’s comedic novel “One Good Year.” By using football as a springboard to explore male camaraderie and the anxieties that surround it, Gaffney is able to balance crude humor with a nuanced portrayal of the acceptance of maturity.

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