Archive for September, 2007

Posting on Posting

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

I spent my morning driving fence posts into some very hard ground.  You’re all welcome.

Jeffrey Rowland is ready to write a thesis

Saturday, September 29th, 2007


Nathan Rabin’s Year

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Over at the Onion’s AV Club, Nathan Rabin has been putting on an amazing show with his feature My Year of Flops. The premise is simple as it is misleading: every week, twice a week, Rabin posts a detailed review of a film that was a box office disaster. So far he’s something like 35 weeks into the year and I think I understand what he’s up to. I’m a slow learner.

If you read a few, you’ll see that he’s doing an admirable job regularly posting humorous, pop-culture-riddled, light essays about some of the worst, most unusual, or plain crazy images and sounds committed to film. He’s engaging, energetic, funny and thoughtful. His audience has been receptive and vocal – the comments section is a delight to read.

Sounds like any goofy blog on the Internet. He’s picked a weird thing to write about and is doing it with elan. But that’s not really what’s going on here.

Nathan Rabin is putting on the most masterful criticism exhibition I’ve seen in some time. He’s doing the critical equivalent of playing a dozen simultaneous blindfolded chess games. He’s deliberately analyzing films that audiences met with indifference – the worst possible reaction to an artist – and finding something interesting to say about each and every one of them. Extracting and inspecting inspiration – even flawed inspiration – from art that the masses have dismissed with a shrug showcases the essence of a critic. It’s a remarkable way to showcase criticism as an art form, not to mention Rabin’s considerable powers in the area.

It would be one thing to lay down a dry analysis of these uniformly flawed films; Rabin is presenting careful, erudite analysis of these with the jaunty air of a world class raconteur holding forth. His infectious enthusiasm is addictive. Even though I know what’s coming, after I read each one I’m ready to sign up with the Boys’ Band (or buy a monorail). And when the dust clears, I realize he’s slipped some intellectual challenges into my pocket while I was laughing at his in-jokes.

It’s a perfect communication of the passion and insight that Rabin brings to criticism. Come on along and enjoy with the rest of us who are hooked.

Fear is a Force Multiplier

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

I think of cholera as the sign of a failing society in the 21st century. We understand how to avoid it, and the requirements for doing so amount to basic sanitation. It’s a big failing for us as a species that we continue to lose people to it.

Of course, cholera has returned to Iraq.

Bruce Schneier points to a post from Eric Urmansky about how terrorism and our reaction to it is putting Iraq back into the 19th century.

Is that a mold hyphen sniffing dog?

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Another weird thing in LA: mold-sniffing dogs.

Review of The Joke’s Over

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

My review of Ralph Steadman’s The Joke’s Over is up at Bell, Book and Candle.

The End of the Line

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

The End of the Line is a photo essay about Bangledeshi salvage of supertankers that has been making the rounds with good reason. Have a look. Amazing quote: “The scrap metal stripped off these vessels supplies 80 percent of Bangladesh’s steel.”

Going into the longbox

Saturday, September 15th, 2007
  • Moon Knight #12
    • I’m outta here. This is the end of an arc, and my collector’s mentality will let me stop buying this title now. The arc ended with a muddy attempt to run a multi-timeline tying up of a couple climactic threads, but the tension just wasn’t there for me. I think the Moon Knight crew deserves better.

Reviews up

Saturday, September 15th, 2007

Reviews of Rory Stewart’s The Prince of The Marshes and Max Shulman’s I Was A Teen-Aged Dwarf are up at Bell, Book and Candle. The Stewart book is a must.

For those of you who don’t live in LA

Saturday, September 15th, 2007

This is the kind of thing we have to put up with.