Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lists of Five

Here are Five Lists of 5 things. The lists aren't in a hierarchical order, however an individual list might have one. Some are prescriptive. Some are simply to amuse.

5 things to have on a Desert Island: Copy of James Joyce's Ulysses (Preferably anotated but any will do), Bucket, Pen, Paper, and, of course, Towel.

5 movies to see before you die (not because you're dying): (this is a list that Film4 made into a TV series after the relaunch of Channel4. They picked ten movies from after the millenium, ten from the nineties, ten from the eighties, ten from the seventies, and ten from before. despite appearances to the contrary, I think brevity is important. No, I really do! So, here's one from each decade)

2000: Unbreakable - M. Night Shyamalan (2000) Suspension of Disbelief and Science Fiction go hand-in-hand, right? Shyamalan combines both the viewer's need for clarity (How is that guy going to explain super-strength and invulnerability in a realistic and scientifically feasable way?) and the character's need for closure (What's happening to me? Why now?) into a story that makes science fiction seem mundane.(the lack of capitlization is intenional)
Shyamalan preserves, and even transmits the binaries of the superhero, or rather supervillain genre. Buried in the commentary of subtle science fiction is the supreme irony of comic books. Rather than be defining their villains by their actions, superhereos are defined by the supervillains. In addition to being found by Samuel L. Jackson, the aptly named "Mr. Glass," Bruce Willis is told about comic book heroes, in fact told how to be a comic book hero, by him.

1990: Boyz n the Hood - John Singleton (1991) They know nothing in life but to be legit, and, um, as an artist, I respect that...
Also, it's a movie that captures the desperation induced by econimic desparity through personal and social lenses. If you've only seen Laurence Fishburne in The Matrix then the Furious Styles character is a headtrip, but also beautiful.
I was going to put [another movie] on here that dealt with communication and soundbytes and, pardon the pun, communicable disease, but I opted to put this on here instead for the binary. (Communication and inability to communicate/listen. sorry i've edited myself into murkiness) These are all "90's issues" and I wouldn't be so bold as to say "Boyz N the Hood deals with them more effectively, eloquently, in a smarter way," but I will say that BNtH is 33% more realistic in it's expectations of effective communication between individuals. (I've measured using an alembic and a calcinatior to be sure.)

1980: Monty Python's The Meaning of Life - Terry Jones (1983) How could I resist having this on a list of movies to see before you die? It's also extraordinarily funny. As previously asserted, I love satire. I don't think there's a better way to make people look at something than to make fun of it. "Isn't it awfully great to have a penis?" Jack: Why, yes it is! This is frightfully funny. Betty: You're laughing. What's going on here? Et voila! la connaisance. Furthermore, it's the year I was born. Everything from 1983 is golden, including, but not limited to: Jaws 3-D, Porky's II: the Next Day, and Superman III.


Formative: A Fistful of Dollars - Sergio Leone (1964)

Five comic books you should read (even if you don't):

1. Transmetropolitan - Warren Ellis and Darrick Robertson. Spider Jerusalem, the Hunter S. Thompson of the magical future fights the french language, fascist cops, and presidents for the readers that both elevate him and commodify him.

2. We3 - Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly. A Cat, a dog, and a white rabbit, in military robo-suits. They fight robo-doberman and escape with a homeless man while the handlers must face justice. Behold, the Western Manga. The pets talk, but they can't spell good.

3. The Dark Knight Returns - Frank Miller. There is a world where this is the only comic you should read. This world would have superheroes. There hasn't been a Batman for a while, the guy who dresses up like him has a dream about a giant bat and then there is again. Arkham Asylum villains trickle into Gotham. Robin's a girl this time around.

4. Preacher Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. Man goes on a quest to find God. and tell him to shape the heck up. Is pursued by the Man with No Name. from Hell. His cohorts are his ex-girlfriend and a vampire. from Ireland. Laughs are had.

5. Pride of Baghdad - Brian K. Vaughn and Nico Henrichon. Released three years afterwords, Pride of Baghdad dramatizes the lions of the Baghdad zoo as they escape from their pen in the wake of the Iraqi invasion of 2003. Read it for "This isn't right. Freedom can't be given. It must be earned." if nothing else.

Five Questions my Generation will Inevitably Ask:
1. What the fuck was I/were we thinking? (thank you, Jenny Owen, for cementing that association in the minds of the majority of 20-30 year-olds)
2. Why did I buy that?/ Why are they selling that to me?
3. OH! What are they doing?
4. How did I get here? / Why did I do that?
5. What's that mean?

Monday, February 4, 2008

a bought of generational talkin'

A while back I was putting a great deal of time and energy into a top ten comics of 2007. Nothing came of it because I'm an over-critical prick when the time for retrospection comes and until that time comes, I'm eager to say that everything is "freaking genius." I suppose "eager" is doing the most work there. It's a tough word, I'm proud of it.
One of the comics that was on that misconceived list was Army @ Love. I went on about Urskine evocative (of the 1950's, not of the female form in the flesh) pens and pencils and the Veitch's brilliant satire. "Misconceived list" is a little misleading and I should get rid of it, but the list was misconceived and I felt like it was a waste of time in some respects, however, Army @ Love was, and I can't stress this enough, one of the finest comic of 2007 and if you don't pick up the trade you're doing yourself a disservice.
So that's a really roundabout segue, but I'm wordy-guy, and I believe in Words. Words made me my fortune...
More recently, Veitch talked about generation X in Army @ Love, he called the generation after generation Y and my brother's generation generation PWNed. A couple of characters are having this conversation, a guy in his mid thirties representing the gen Xer and a nineteen-to-twenty-two-year-old representing Gen PWN. Of course a bunch of ancient men have told Gen PWN that Gen X screwed everything up, and it's up to them to fix it, thus the moniker. The Gen Xer then rebels against this idea, loses control of his vehicle, and has to be bailed out of trouble by the Gen PWNs.

Of course what really got my eye was gen y. I never said I wasn't self absorbed. One of those recurring thoughts I have (I'm far too literal to have recurring dreams) is "I'm sorry sir/madame, but ,what the fuck?" This is usually uttered to a head of state or authority figure. It's in the spirit of self-examination, of course. More to the point, those points I get to in my writing where I come to dubious conclusions or at some point at night the only word that can be uttered is "What?" What I'm getting at, specifically, is what the Gen Y questions are going to be. I think "hey guys, what was up with all celebrities? That got kinda cult-ish, didn't it?" would be a good one.