Although it's often too mushy and anecdotal for my manly-rational tastes, this book does circumscribe a sensible Utopian worldview, one that pitches t...moreAlthough it's often too mushy and anecdotal for my manly-rational tastes, this book does circumscribe a sensible Utopian worldview, one that pitches the false dream of monogamy out the window and allows for maximum personal freedom. A liberating and very self-possessed vision. It's also aimed primarily at women, often evoking the same comforting radicalized tone of Inga Muscio's Cunt, which takes back the C-word much as this takes back the S-word.
There are lots of fun practical tips on terminology, time-management, slut manners, and communication in here, and the chapter on jealousy is essential (even for monogamists). Yet even there I wish they'd quoted Marcus Aurelius rather than Kahlil Gibran(?!). It'd be interesting to see what sort of slut-manual a couple boys would cook up. The Stoical Slut anyone?
Oh yeah: I think a couple GoodReaders have already pointed this out, but the cover is hilarious. What's with the raven looking up (or rather, down) that freaky redhead's red dress?(less)
In many ways, this is the graphic novel equivalent of an art film. It also demonstrates why comics are a better medium for this sort of narrative than...moreIn many ways, this is the graphic novel equivalent of an art film. It also demonstrates why comics are a better medium for this sort of narrative than film: the colors, page composition, and hard-line style add a "fourth dimension" that film could never capture. Chris Ware is some sort of virtuoso on all fronts too. The only thing about this book is, all that labor and effort on Ware's part can give the reader a headache with prolonged exposure. Even after being blown away the first time out, I've never wanted to return to it. (less)
Both Gaiman and Dringenberg take some serious risks here -- not least of which is a dubious plot device (a "d...moreWow, this one really took me by surprise.
Both Gaiman and Dringenberg take some serious risks here -- not least of which is a dubious plot device (a "dream vortex" centered on a young polychromatic woman) which borders on McGuffin territory. But everything works, including the time travel (with cameos from Chaucer and Shakespeare), the "cereal convention" (nice!), and even the mythic African prelude, "Tales in the Sand."
Two things brought tears to my eyes: the appearance of G.K. Chesterton as a major semi-heroic character, and the heart-stopping homages to Little Nemo during some of the most disturbing moments. (less)
I'm a sucker for that spare semi-autistic voice that Emily Dickinson invented well nigh 150 years ago, and Kevin Young's variation of it (inflected wi...moreI'm a sucker for that spare semi-autistic voice that Emily Dickinson invented well nigh 150 years ago, and Kevin Young's variation of it (inflected with Langston Hughes blues rhythms and John Berryman backwards grammar) is fun (!) and unique. These are not "difficult" poems by any means, but they are blunt, unrelenting, and re-readable (especially the lust poems at the beginning).
I wish his sense of humor didn't depart him so thoroughly in the death poems at the end, and the tedious "Sleepwalking Psalms" live up to their name (proving that he shouldn't ever be allowed near a pentameter). But on the whole this is fun stuff, even if the overall trajectory (lust--> anger --> bitterness --> death) is a total bum trip. That's the thing, Kevin: blues is supposed to cure you of the blues, not give you the blues.(less)
The hidden side of everything? Everything? No. Levitt's conclusions about incentives and demographics are fascinating, sure. But I think we should all...moreThe hidden side of everything? Everything? No. Levitt's conclusions about incentives and demographics are fascinating, sure. But I think we should all mistrust an economist who would hitch his wagon to a scribbler on the make (a move that also advertises young Levitt's thirst for fame and lucre). Other superstar economists -- Galbraith or Friedman, for instance -- had a very obvious ideological agenda, and they stated it openly. A superstar beyond his precursors' wildest nightmares, Levitt claims to have no agenda whatsoever, and remains guided by his Bucky-Fuller-esque curiosity and semi-autistic amorality.
Or so it seems. I think he'll out himself as a neoliberal, or at least a creepy libertarian, soon enough (maybe he has already? I don't read his blog). No true economic lefty could keep his rep aloft in the current publishing climate for this long, even if his musings are decorated with soulless Social Statics and Revenge of the Nerds style curiosity.
Also, damn near everyone calls him "That Freakonomics Guy," while conjuring a Pavlovian drool-drenched image of that Granny Smith Tangerine on the cover. Independent thinker though he may seem, Levitt is obviously the product of brand management now. Until he de-pimps himself from the corporate world, I'd rather listen to Mr. Clean or Tony the Tiger. (less)
Thanks to Sylvia, I now possess an autographed photo of Wanda Sykes. It reads as follows: "Mark, don't blame the alcohol! [heart shape] Wanda" This wa...moreThanks to Sylvia, I now possess an autographed photo of Wanda Sykes. It reads as follows: "Mark, don't blame the alcohol! [heart shape] Wanda" This was a reference to her recent appearance on Jay Leno during which she berated the media for honoring boy-hunting congressman Mark Foley's booze escape clause (you remember Foleygate, don't you?). "Mark Foley is giving alcohol a bad name!" she said.
Anyway, I've had a maddening crush on Wanda Sykes ever since I saw her amazing performance in Pootie Tang. Even when she does her hair up all crimpy and posh, or when she wanders around the set of the awful Monster in Law with drink in hand, my eyes well up with tears of laughter and devotion.
This book is very funny. It isn't the usual stand-up transcript like you got with Rock This! or Sein-Language -- Wanda includes lots of sidesplitting original written material here. Including an eloquent defense of the fake orgasm from a basic time-management perspective. (less)
Maybe not quite as epic and deep (and much thinner) than his first memoir, Palimpsest, this still had me hooked from beginning to end. On top of the u...moreMaybe not quite as epic and deep (and much thinner) than his first memoir, Palimpsest, this still had me hooked from beginning to end. On top of the usual droll and witty rants, he offers us some wonderful anecdotes about, y'know, Grace Kelly, Huey Long, Princess Margaret (he calls her "PM", LOL), Tennessee Williams , Johnny Carson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rudolf Nureyev, etc... The reason some of these stories didn't appear in Palimpsest was very simple: the protagonists weren't dead yet.
Which leads me to the melancholy flipside of this "last memoir" (so Vidal calls it): not only does he describe what it's like for so many friends and enemies to be dying all around him, for the first time, he tells us what he felt when Howard Auster died. (The secret to their fifty-three year relationship? They never had sex.) The recollection is mostly dispassionate reportage: he never once tries to get inside Howard, nor does he allow us even a toehold inside himself during these bleak proceedings. And that's when you notice he's utterly bereft. Powerful stuff.
And to top it all off, he concludes with the real story behind the JFK assassination -- to his mind the most tragic ironic moment in recent history.
Yes, it is true that this book's a bit jumbled thematically and chronologically, but that just makes this a more vivid, decentered tale: you never know what's coming next when this acidic octogenarian gets going (well, probably some more Tennessee Williams gossip, but you don't know what's next after that) . Also, duh, the book's title.
One last note: I'm still not sure what's going on in chapter fifty-three, which seems to consist entirely of a tedious, unattributed quote from Marcie Frank (I'm guessing). Bad editing? Absentmindedness? Some odd Montaigne stylistic allusion I just don't get? Anyway: weird.(less)
At first I thought, OK I "get" it, this is anti-humor. Like Zippy the Pinhead, or that little Kaufman dude who used to wrestle chicks.
But this isn't...moreAt first I thought, OK I "get" it, this is anti-humor. Like Zippy the Pinhead, or that little Kaufman dude who used to wrestle chicks.
But this isn't anti-humor, it's just not funny. A cannabis salad served with a dressing of posh graffix by some glib McSweeney's hepcats.
Here's some examples of the hilarity to be found within: repeatedly calling giraffes "aminals", a feature about "How to Make a Bread Sandwich", the factoids that giraffes don't believe in croûtons, stethoscopes, or subleasing. Why Giraffes control the world's ice supply. The story of the giraffes' feud with the assistant secretary of agriculture... I can't go on. Either these jokes are dead or my watch has stopped. Hmmm, maybe if the entire book were translated into ubbi dubbi...?
Also -- and I bet this bong-fugue insight is what launched this particular Eggers Bros. project -- giraffes really are inherently funny. This book captures that key fact in one (1) place: the hilarious photo spread "Some of the Best-Looking Giraffes". But then even that is inevitably ruined by the "funny" captions (e.g. "watching jai-alai, staring at almonds").
Postmoderninity, get up off your lazy ass and make me laugh! (less)
This groovy and jargon-free narrative is both more and less than the title suggests. "People's history" now indicates an openly ideological effort to...moreThis groovy and jargon-free narrative is both more and less than the title suggests. "People's history" now indicates an openly ideological effort to recast "history" with sociology, underground martyrs, tragedies, and a general attempt to foreground the voiceless, plus ignore the "Great Men" except when they're bastards. This was Howard Zinn's messy specialty, and his foreword here is a benediction. But Irons doesn't wander into the Zinn muck very much: the Great Men (and Women) are very much with us here, albeit cut down to size. And though Irons gives some exciting narrative background to cases like Dred Scott and Gobitis, plus paints new portraits of the great Justices at work, on the whole I read this as more of a "popular history" -- i.e. a Supreme Court history stripped of mystery and legalese, with a bit of human frailty and excitement added in.
Some of the reviewers here were put off by the lengthy account of the Philadelphia Convention in 1787 -- 115 days of argument in eighty pages here. But I was riveted, and I think Irons's purpose is clear: the United States Constitution was not holy writ created by a meeting of brilliant minds, but the product of prejudice, compromise, experiment, short tempers, and windows shut against spies in mid-summer heat. Irons gives the lie to "strict constructionists" who ignore the social context and bitter debates -- not just in Philadelphia but in twelve state legislatures -- that got this cool but obviously Frankenstein-shaped document passed. Barely.
The rest of the book is a very selective history of the Court (our least democratic institution) as it shaped and got reshaped by a bitter, global, and bloody historical trajectory. One thing you'll notice -- and Irons takes pains to point this out at every turn -- is that most Supreme Court justices were mediocrities, dimwits, or worse. Hell even the position of CHIEF JUSTICE has often been filled by blinkered ideologues and political hacks. Dred Scott was not just an institution shooting itself in the foot, but let's face it, a wizened Southern aristocrat using his limited brainspace to arbitrate the future of our country. Similar idiotic results obtain in Plessy vs. Ferguson and Korematsu among many others.
But Irons properly exalts the heroes of the story, including John Marshall, John Marshall Harlan, Brandeis, Frank Murphy, Earl Warren, William Brennan, hell even Thurgood Marshall (whose epic strategery for the NAACP far overshadowed his work as a Justice). Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. comes in for a bit of criticism as an elitist on several fronts, though it's hard to deny his writing and ability to keep the Court among America's respected institutions during rough times. Earl Warren is a fascinating mystery -- a conservative family-values Republican from California now widely perceived as the most liberal Chief Justice ever. Conversely, Antonin Scalia is revealed as a snarky and bitterly ideological justice whose pen gets dipped in Bible blood when homosexuality hits the docket. Fascinating to see justices grappling with their own ideology and this immutable (ha!) document to figure out crazy cases, and when the dodgy "right to privacy" came out the box in the sixties, well -- all hell breaks loose. And that continues today.
Irons does put together a compelling picture of strange times and strange cases, involving rightous grievants and grumbly, witty, twitchy justices -- hell I kinda think an illustrated version of this would become a bestseller. But he fails at the end, where he considers the contemporary (2005) Court. Bush v. Gore, where the Court essentially re-enacted Dred Scott and pissed a political decision into the air that had nothing to do with the Constitution -- gets a bland recounting without any fire of ideology whatsoever. And he seems all too careful in his assessment of Roberts and Alito... whereupon the book ends, abruptly, with no postscript or any effort to look back and bring these scores of morons and occasional geniuses into perspective as a part of American life and history. That omission forces me to omit a star. Well worth reading though... (less)
An eraserhead matricide humanoid almost gets teenage plastic surgery, except he escapes to a hotel where his dad offs himself, or something along thos...moreAn eraserhead matricide humanoid almost gets teenage plastic surgery, except he escapes to a hotel where his dad offs himself, or something along those lines. This seems to be an oddball parable about evolution: the malformed futuristic central character is "Edison Lighthead"; while his adopted sister is a halfwit mute chimpanzee who eats important flies. Also there's a drawing of a geoduck that looks like a penis & scrotum.
Unlike, say, Daniel Clowes, French is no writer, and you just have to groove on the drawings, which are, yes, very haunting and wondrous. But that's the thing: they're great as single frames, but the "plot" as a whole is dull and not weird enough for my peculiar tastes.
Maybe this book would get a five-star rating over at GoodGazes, as soon as Edison Lighthead wills it into existence. (less)
DEEP IN THOUGHT: KEEP OUT, reads the LED outside Reed Richards' lab, and that's what seems to control this unusual F4 tale: he's either cogitating his...moreDEEP IN THOUGHT: KEEP OUT, reads the LED outside Reed Richards' lab, and that's what seems to control this unusual F4 tale: he's either cogitating his way into and out of the ultimate Doom nightmare, or it's a solipsistic wormhole thought experiment. In either case, Grant Morrison's penchant for lateral thinking, asking for our trust, bending every known canonical rule, leads to something resembling a elliptical Berryman-style poem. Even better is Jae Lee's artwork, switching from Prince Namor's eloquent rear-end to Reed's grotesquely constipated deep-in-thought face, to a pitiably human three-limbed Ben Grimm. Even invisible Sue Richards, represented by a wine glass, is rendered with lustful compositional verve. Recommended. (less)
I don't know what it is about Grant Morrison -- he's got a vivid, slightly nutzoid imagination, and dig his insistence on walking his own path. But th...moreI don't know what it is about Grant Morrison -- he's got a vivid, slightly nutzoid imagination, and dig his insistence on walking his own path. But there's always something too detached and cruel -- Brechtian even -- in his stories. Bob Schreck's over-the-top intro here announces this book as "proof positive that magic is indeed alive and well", but I dunno. There's just something irritating and un-magical about giving Lois Lane some superpowers (and a hawt outfit), or having the Man of Steel test himself against Hercules and Samson (zzzzzzz). Frank Quitely and Jamie Grant give it all a dreamlike rainbow-bridge visual style -- which I like a lot -- but on the whole I'm not to eager to read volume two. (less)
It's like you're getting twisted and pressed into Barrington Moore's densely packed brainfolds: so much knowledge, such a broad vision. I like these m...moreIt's like you're getting twisted and pressed into Barrington Moore's densely packed brainfolds: so much knowledge, such a broad vision. I like these macrohistorians, they got balls. And it's harder to figure out their mistakes. Possibly the best course-assigned text I've ever read. (less)
On the one hand, the b-movie dialogue and relative lack of character development don't seem up to the usual Warren Ellis standards. Even the story see...moreOn the one hand, the b-movie dialogue and relative lack of character development don't seem up to the usual Warren Ellis standards. Even the story seems lifted from countless other alien-origin-of-humanity tales of yore (though it's possible Warren is spoofing Scientology here too). What makes it work are Chris Sprouse's vast, exciting visuals -- everything from the cold, coffin-filled depths of Europa to the way stoic Nathan Kane (yet another Samuel L. Jackson lookalike in comix) can't help glancing at a woman's ass when she wants him to. Great stuff. (less)
Now if only all this hilarious squalor resulted in some great music, all would be well in the world. In fact, I think this book might be the Crüe's gr...moreNow if only all this hilarious squalor resulted in some great music, all would be well in the world. In fact, I think this book might be the Crüe's greatest contribution to civilization. The anecdote about Ozzy snorting urine and ants nearly sent me to the hospital (with oxygen deprivation) (from laughing). (less)