Monday, December 29, 2008

Definitions of popular phrases

"A thing of beauty and a joy forever:" The Eagles thwomping the shit out of (to use the technical term) the Cowboys 44-6, securing a wildly improbable playoff spot and denying the Cowboys theirs, simultaneous to the Dolphins beating the Jets and thus eliminating the Patriots from contention.

Yeah. That's what I call a good day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Shorter Bill Orally

"Christmas is a time of love, peace, and good will to all men, and if you don't like it, then fuck you."

"You got your racial slurs in my Sun-Gazette!" "You got your Sun-Gazette in my racial slurs!"

A real live letter to the editor:

Japan now controls the world automobile market!

The big 3 are no longer in control of pricing production,or distribution. Japan now controls the auto market.

And they are in a position to eliminate or control their only competition. They have plants for many years like the one fully-automated plant that Ford built in South America, but we can't because of union work rules that automation costs jobs and politicians support the unions along with their suppliers unions.

Some of their parts suppliers are located in Third World countries where the workers work for as little as $600 a year.

We cannot compete with that and our unions will not allow us to buy from outside the US from low cost suppliers.

Now the Japs want to control wages in the poor old USA. And they will, with the help of our "brain dead" unions, politicians and CEOs.

It's too late for a bailout !

Howard Casselberry
Lock Haven

I expound on the events of the day

Okay okay: I don't think Rick Warren is a good idea. Actually, I think it's kind of "what the fuck?" idea. Inclusion is great and everything, but you don't have to include fuckass jerkfaces.

That said, before I start wailing and moaning and rending my garments and declaring the Obama administration a dismal failure, I would like to perhaps wait and see wait and see what he actually DOES once he's in office. The Warren thing is bullshit, but in isolation, it's just meaningless symbolism. Not that symbols aren't important, but honestly: if Obama really makes a serious effort to do something about climate change (sure, it's probably already too late, but you've gotta TRY), then for all I care, he can spend his entire administration drawing insulting caricatures of me and my friends, family, and pets and post them on the White House website along with all the embarrassing stories about my childhood he can find--and I'll still vote to reelect him. I'm pragmatic like that.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Newspaper headline noted without comment

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Man, the creative energies are not currently here. Fortunately, I can get some mileage out of things written when I was ten-ish, even if I'm the only one who finds them even remotely amusing. Like the final chapter in the awe-inspiring series that also includes "End" and "Saber, Divine Healer, and Hypnoso!" Yes!

One, there was a man named Gyeymaaace who lived alone by the ocean, ten miles from the nearest village. He was very old because he was favored by End, the death god, who before he was born had said he would live seven hundred years. Gyeymaaace had always wished to see him. One day he built a ship and decided to sail to Guinea over a year away. In Guinea he penetrated the rain forest and came to the jungle where he found the death vine and descended through the earth to End’s kingdom. In End’s kingdom, Cheeisfate, he walked until he came to End’s hut where he demanded to see End. A guard left the room. When he came back, he said End would see him when the full moon was shining over the death vine. Late that night Gyeymaaace went out and saw the death vine. It was a full moon. Gyeymaaace entered End’s hut where End was waiting for him. “What do you desire,” End asked, “that you risk the perils of death to see me?”

“What perils?” Gyeymaaace inquired, surprised.

“The comewin’s death,” End replied. “They have the heads of bulls and the poison of the deadliest snakes to kill every living thing.”

“I saw none,” replied Gyeymaaace. “’Tis that accursed Lifaaryoviek,” End said angrily, “always bribing the comewin’s death so they do not hinder the living who enter my realm. But now the night is almost gone and you must leave.”

At the top of the death vine Lifaaryoviek was waiting for him. She was very angry. “You have entered End’s realm without consulting me,” she said. You must die. But Gyeymaaace was not worried for End had said we would live seven hundred years, and he was not yet a century. So he said, “I will not die willingly, but if I must go I will go. However, I will only die if you can win me in three games of chess. Now Lifaaryoviek was good in chess but Rio-Liedeath was better and when End saw this he told Rio-Liedeath to control Gyeymaaace’s moves so he would not lose. When Lifaaryoviek had agreed to the games, Gyeymaaace said, “but if you lose, Lifaaryo, you will swear to no longer hinder End.”

So the games began. In the beginning, it seemed as if Lifaaryoviek would win, but, as the games got underway, Lifaaryoviek was losing more and more men and Gyeymaaace had not lost half of his and Lifaaryoviek began to get angry. “I have lost this,” she said, “but I will win the next.” But soon enough she did lose the second and the third and Gyeymaaace came home triumphant. The next full moon, End appeared and said, “you have stopped the living from entering my realm. What do you wish?”

Gyeyaaamace did not know what to reply but in a minute he said, “I have always wished to become a god.”

“A good wish, said End, “but what would your power be?”

Gyeymaaace thought a minute. “I have always loved the sea,” he said, “and it is now unowned, but it is being fought over immensely. Is the sea possible?”

End thought. “Yes,” he said, “it is if you follow my instructions exactly.”

“I will,” said Gyeymaaace. “What shall I do?”

“Take your ship to the south of the world,” he said, “and find a cross in red.stab it with a wet knife and the sea shall be yours.

So, once again, Gyeymaaace sailed. And after many hard years on the sea his water ran out and he had to use what the ocean offered. But eventually he came to the south of the earth and found a cross of crimson upon the snow. He took his knife, dipped it in the sea, and stabbed the middle of the cross. At once, his ship became a dolphin, symbol of the sea, and felt the power he had long imagined—the power of a god! Gyeymaaace’s name was changed to Fin, for Gyeymaaace means “long lived land” for he was born in Venezuela, the oldest place in the world, but his name should not represent the land for he was god of the sea.


Friday, December 12, 2008

An instructive example for students

You need at least a C to complete the departmental requirement for first-semester composition. If you get a C- or lower, you have to retake the class.

So I had a pretty marginal student this semester who obviously really hated both me and the class. The look he gave me whenever I ask him to shut the laptop was absolutely murderous. What're you gonna do?

So when I'm grading their penultimate paper, which is a movie review, I realize that I don't have anything from him. I tell him this when I'm turning the papers back. I gave you mine! he lies, completely blatantly and without shame, to my face. How do I KNOW he's lying and that it's not just my disorganized ways? Because when he agrees to give me the paper next time, which I agree to accept for some reason, what he gives me isn't even a review; it's a comparison of professional reviews, which I had asked for earlier but which is NOT THE SAME THING as the assignment, which he really would have known if he had been paying the slightest bit of attention.

This was right before Thanksgiving break. So, because I'm unfathomable generous, I write him an email saying, hey, this isn't the paper. I'll put a grade on it, but it won't be a GOOD grade. Alternatively, you could rewrite it (ie, complete the actual assignment) and get it to me by the end of break, and I would grade that instead.

But I don't hear from him, so I give him an F for the paper. Cause and effect. His final paper is not great but better than anything else he'd written in the class, meaning that he just managed to eke by with a C.

OR SO HE WOULD HAVE DONE. But his failure on the previous paper pushed him down just enough to end up with a C-. He wouldn't even have had to have done particularly well on the paper--he just needed to have done something. So long story short: if he had taken the time over break to do even a really half-assed job, he would have been done with this course that he hates for good and all. But due to his unwillingness to spend even a lousy extra half hour or so on it, he now has to spend another three and a half months. Choices have consequences.

Strawfoot, Chasing Locusts

Sometimes--not often, but sometimes--not often, but sometimes--I hear an album and think, hey--this was recorded for the specific purpose of appealing to my personal tastes! Get out of my head, you opportunistic fiends!

Still, as long as they've recorded it, I guess I might as well enjoy it.

Frantic, backwoods, gothic country is the name of the game here. As you might expect, the band's name comes from 16 Horsepower's song of the same name (which in term comes from the "hay foot, straw foot" military cadence), and 16 HP fans should feel right at home here. Truth be told, though, they only sound like their inspiration in a fairly superficial way. For one thing, they're a lot more country-oriented; while 16 HP tended to rock out a lot, Strawfoot mostly performs in a more traditional country idiom, albeit in a fairly ferocious way.

The other difference is more fundamental. A lot of people assume that all that hellfire and damnation, sinners-in-the-hands-of-an-angry god stuff that 16 Horsepower does is just funnin' around, but this is an incorrect assumption: David Eugene Edmunds is a Christian fundamentalist who absolutely believes in what he's singing, even if he's mellowed a bit with his Woven Hand material.

Strawfoot, on the other hand, obviously IS just having fun with the theatricality of kind of belief system. That's not a bad thing, though. They revel in it, and with great effect. Singer Marcus Eder's somewhat effected-sounding twang is a far cry from Edmunds' Robert Smith-like wailing, but it does the job. You would never have seen Edmunds and company doing a noir murder ballad like "Cursed Neck," because that would have been rather beside the point. Here it's exactly the point, and it's a lot of fun.

Not every song is perfect, but Strawfoot really does tap into their chosen idiom very effectively. "Strawfoot Waltz," "Fiddle and Jug," and "Effigy" really do sound like the end of the world itself, and the lugubrious versions of "Wayfaring Stranger" that bookend the album put the general hopefulness of the song very much in doubt. In these circumstances, it's almost hard to trust an apparently light-hearted, fiddle-heavy song like "My Dog," which comes as an entertaining respite from all the general darkness.

When I write that it sounds like this album was recorded with me specifically in mind, I hope this isn't literally the case, but sometimes it sort of feels like it, based on the band's level of exposure. Obviously there are plenty of talented bands that never hit it big, but I've got to tell you, people, I really, really, REALLY want to hear more of Strawfoot, so if they don't catch on because of your sinful apathy...well, you'd better be prepared to face the consequences, earthly and otherwise. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

People Who Must Die: An Ongoing Series: Part One: Sasha Frere-Jones


Most people would immediately assume that Frere-Jones' main offense is his stubborn refusal to include the proper diacritical mark in his name. That's FRÈRE-Jones, you monster! But that isn't it, really. Or at least, it's only a small part of it. Nor is it his somewhat ill-advised vendetta against Stephin Merrit. Hell, that could happen to anyone, assuming anyone had a massive chip on anyone's shoulder.

In fact, I am forced to heap a certain amount of praise on the man: he can write. He really, really can write. It's not easy to write effectively about how music sounds, as I've discovered in any number of abortive amazon reviews, but Frere-Jones has the gift.

The problem is his tastes. Or, to be more accurate, his relentlessly limited tastes. The New Yorker is the best English-language magazine on Earth--so why does it employ, as its primary critic of pop music, someone so...insular, let's say?

He is on the record as being opposed to snobbish music critics who sneer at mainstream, Timbaland-type pop music as déclassé. Fine. There's something to that. One shouldn't dismiss any kind of music without giving it a fair shake, and even if it turns out not to be All That, there is value in understanding the soundtrack for the cultural zeitgeist (did I just write that?).

But FJ takes it entirely too far. How is it that a magazine that consistently provides fascinating articles on topics about which I knew nothing before but now want to know everything--how is it that I have NEVER, EVER discovered new music from such a magazine? It's absolutely fucking relentless: the man will write review after fucking review of Avril Lavigne, Pink, Justin Timberlake, and other individuals whom EVERYBODY ALREADY KNOWS ABOUT because they're TOTALLY CULTURALLY UBIQUITOUS. This is okay on occasion, but really, Sasha? Really? That's all you got for us? Should we not be able to expect more? Sometimes in the Goings on About Town section, he'll write a little sidebar that suggests more catholic tastes, but as for the main show...well, nine times out of ten it's gonna be manufactured, ultra-commercial pop/r&b, and that's all there is to it. And if me characterizing it in that way sound dismissive, so fucking what? I'm just some dude with a blog, albeit a blog that gets a stunning twenty-nine hits a day. It's not like this kind of music needs a high-profile champion. It would be nice to see a music column that could match the width and breadth of the rest of the magazine.

And that, in a nutshell, is why Sasha Frere-Jones Must Die.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Monochrome World

About right now everyone wants the lyrics to an obscure song by an obscure eighties pop group (Cleaners from Venus), amiright? Exclusively on inchoatia! I can't figure out the "do you listen to the..." part for the life of me, so anyone with any helpful ideas should feel free to chip in.

East street eight thirty five
There by the factory gate
Just as the day is coming alive
Two kids kiss as they wait

And he was a biker boy
And she was a factory girl

She looked pale and tired
He was disheveled and wild
I heard her say just as I walked by
"Oh, John, let's make a child."

And he was a biker boy
And she was a factory girl
And they were a hundred light years away
from a mixed-up monochrome world

They danced, built council houses out of sand
You just can't get a grant for love and fresh air
In a monochrome world

East street quarter to nine
Boss drives up in his car
He says to her "don't kiss on my time
"It's not cheap like you are"
And he was a biker boy
And she was a factory girl

Boss goes trundling by
John says "Hey you in the suit
"You know that I was wondering why
Fat jerks end up with the loot."

And he was a biker boy
And she was a factory girl
And they were a hundred light years away
From a mixed-up monochrome world

They danced built council houses out of sand
You just can't get a grant for love and fresh air
In a monochrome world

They danced built council houses out of sand
You just can't get a grant for love and fresh air
In a monochrome world
In a monochrome world
In a monochrome world baby blue
In a monochrome world
Have you ever read Barbara Cartland?
In a monochrome world
Do you listen to the [??smashing distant??]
In a monochrome world
Have you ever read Barbara Cartland?
In a monochrome world
Can I take you to...
"That's my line surely..."

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A few more words about Mother 3 that I couldn't seem to fit in the main text

As concerns the game's connections to Earthbound: I really had no problem in that regard. The attempts of Chrono Cross to tie in with Chrono Trigger didn't work because they felt awkward, forced, and fundamentally disrespectful. I have no such problems with Mother 3. Okay okay, so we have Pokey--but why not? It seems appropriate to me (he DID say he'd be back, after all), and the game doesn't try to push the connection too hard. Sure, the return of the Mr. Saturns feels a little gratuitous, and sure, it's not clear what Dr. Andonuts is doing here. But none of that affected my enjoyment of the game as a whole in the slightest.

Fourteen hundred thirty-seven words about Mother 3

In chapter three of Mother 3, you control a monkey named Salsa. He has a punishment collar around his neck, and Fassad, the shady individual who is ordering him around, uses it to give him electric shocks when he does something wrong, or right, or really just for kicks. The monkey is the titular main character here, but it's really an excuse to let the player see things from Fassad's perspective. Salsa's just a pretext. He provides the player with a good reason to hate that jerk Fassad but also, in an ambiguous way, to identify with him, since he helps Salsa by killing monsters that would be way too difficult for the weak simian to take down on his own. This right here is some really smart stuff. Unfortunately, things go a bit downhill for Salsa; even if he wasn't there so much for his own sake, the fact that he IS a playable character means that you assume he's going to play some sort of pivotal role in the story--but he really doesn't. What does he do after being rescued from Fassad? How does he rescue his girlfriend? *shrug; inarticulate mumbling* He only appears briefly later on; he's the only playable character not present at the final battle, and he's only represented in the ending by a brief sound effect. It's pretty strange.

But I don't want to dwell on it too much; I merely bring this up to show that the game is not perfect--and there are other ways that it's not perfect as well (could not Duster and Kumatora have been better-developed? Could we perhaps have seen a little more of Flint before the finale?). But ultimately, this seems like petty sniping, because in spite of all this, it's still the smartest game I've ever played.

Look at the critique of the rise of capitalism that is at the center of the story. And marvel that that last sentence was written about a videogame. The villain of the piece, Porky (or Pokey, if you prefer Earthbound terminology) wants to gather everyone on the islands where the game takes place together so he can exert his will on them and use them as his playthings. How to do this? By effecting the development of capital in the utopian, pre-capitalist village that is at the center of the game world (the fact that the village is later revealed to be the relic of an advanced society probably should color this interpretation, but let's keep things simple for the time being).

For the first few chapters of the game, there is no money: everything is FREE. You can just waltz into the village trading center and take whatever you want. This is a pretty radical move, and one that is sure to cause some cognitive dissonance in players. This is NOT the way RPG grammar works. It's impossible for us to conceptualize the system, either in RPG terms or in terms of actual, real-world economics. It forces us to think about things differently. It challenges us.

But then, Fassad brings money into the world. Sure, he gets whacked around a bit, and Salsa escapes his clutches, but none of this means anything. Capital takes on a life of its own. Now there IS money and there are shops, obviously, and things become more "normal," by RPG standards. Nonetheless, there's a vague unease hanging over the whole enterprise, represented by the "happy boxes" that everyone obtains. Their precise effect remains effectively obscure, but people in general become a little less nice. The society becomes more stratified. Crime is introduced to the world where there had been none before.

And there is more to come. Capital is not static. More and more people in the village start talking about how they want to leave this one-horse berg and move to the Big City--that's where things are REALLY happening. And then, in the end, they do. The final chapter of the game takes place in New Pork City, where the entire village has emigrated. It probably goes without saying that NPC represents a new level of economic development as much as a physical place. Specifically, it represents late capital. Fred Jameson would be intrigued.

In Tazmily, even after the change has occurred, it's still partially the same place. You can see remnants of the pre-capitalist version of the village. NPC has no past; it is entirely a simulacrum. It's gaudy, vulgar, and cheap, and it's all there is. Global, post-national capitalism. It's a postmodern approximation of a city: somebody comments that everyone from the village came, but there's no place here to live. It wasn't designed with actual human beings in mind. It's a monument to mindless pleasures (as Gravity's Rainbow was originally to be entitled) from the mind of an immature, power-mad child. It's appropriate that Porky's ultimate fate is to be forever trapped in an impregnable sphere: the draining of history becomes frightfully literal.

The question is: what comes after late capital? This is a difficult question to answer, since it's where we appear to be stalled. In Mother 3, at least, it all comes crashing down--Porky's gone, the dragon is released, and...what happens next? That's not clear. Part of me thinks that at this point I might just be making excuses for a rushed ending, but I THINK it would be fair to say that the reason we never get to actually SEE anyone or anything at the end--just hear disembodied voices--is indicative of this ambiguity. We have reason to be optimistic, but we really don't know what's going on.

It should be emphasized that none of this feels even slightly didactic, and you don't even need to think about the game in this way to enjoy it. That's a large part of its genius. It would be easy to build a cumbersome, unwieldy game that tries to be deep via vast, heavy-handed symbolism and massive amounts of poorly-written sententiousness (hi, Xenogears); the fact that a game can be this smart while never forgetting that it is in fact a videogame, and that that is the most important level at which it needs to succeed, is really, really impressive. In my view, the only place where Mother 3 slips up slightly in this regard is the part where Leder--the mysterious tall dude--presents you with the island's backstory as a largish text dump. I think there might have been more graceful ways to handle some of that. It's not a major point, however.

While marveling at how smart the game is, we should also take a moment to marvel at how emotionally resonant it is. It has all the requisite Mother-style wackiness that we expect--but, although there's plenty of wackiness for wackiness's sake, even here there's still occasional unexpected poignance: isn't the Mole Cricket's grandiose ambition kind of inspiring? Aren't the Magypsies--the game's mystical drag queens--truly some of the game's best and most likable characters? And let's not forget the Rope Snake--not that I have anything profound to say about him, but I wanted to bring him up, however briefly. Because he's awesome.

When the game gets serious, however, look out. In the first chapter, Flint shows the most authentic display of grief I've ever seen in a videogame. The brief sixth chapter really is a kind of visual poetry. And the last boss fight is an absolute heartbreaker. Some might complain: hey! Where's the bigass monster to be slain?! But they are missing the point. The emotional climax here is far more powerful than any run-of-the-mill enormous creature could be.

I didn't know much about Shigesato Itoi before I looked him up while playing this game, and was really interested and edified to learn that he's something of a public intellectual (and HOW awesome is it that he was in My Neighbor Totoro?); that videogames are not his primary thing. That's probably why he was able to make such an effective game: he doesn't fall prey to videogame tropes and cliches, and in the process shows that games can do far, far more than they are usually called upon to do. He seems pretty definite that there won't be a Mother 4; I can accept that, but I sure hope that he tries his hand at gaming again, because he's exactly what the medium needs more of. I can't call Mother 3 my favorite RPG; there are too many other games with to which I have strong emotional ties for that to be a fair statement. I would be willing to call it the BEST RPG I've ever played, however. Wow.

Friday, December 05, 2008


I know what you've been thinking: "there was never a prequel to this amazing story," you are reflecting to yourself. "What a shame." You naive FOOL!

End, not yet called End, but Miycondia, did not like his mortal life. He wanted immortality--which his people had thrown away like a broken spear!!!!!!!

He also had a very persuasive friend named Comewin.

One day Miycondia and Comewin went hunting together. Miycondia had a good hunt, but Comewin caught nothing, and when he saw Miycondia’s fine boar he practically died of envy. Though Miycondia usually shared whatever he caught with Comewin, this time Comewin was so jealous he angrily refused all food offered to him. So Miycondia took all the leftovers, but Comewin, still hungry, stole them. Miycondia swore to kill Comewin and went to do so. But when he got to the village, to his dismay, he found that Comewin had persuaded about fifty people to be his allies.

Furious, Miycondia saw that a quick revenge was not possible, so he started building a ladder and with it climbed to the heavens and started looking for the immorala, a plant with the property of immortality. When he found a field of immorala, he ate it until there was naught but a barren desert.

Now Miycondia, being immortal and having powers far superior to plain humans, changed himself into a kite and soared downwards. Miycondia was far from pleased when he saw Comewin ascending the mountainside, and angrily flew at the ladder, going top speed, and broke it. Comewin fell screaming and was badly injured.

Miycondia went back to earth to find that Comewin, in a last attempt to defeat him, with his men was terrorizing the countryside. Miycondia fought them off, but in the process lost a hand to a man named Unathes whom he fiercely killed. Then he put a spearhead in the place of his hand.

At the end of the battle, Miycondia’s friend Udelicor was killed by Comewin. Miycondia, enraged, took his spear and dipped it in a calabash of poison and struck Comewin with it, mortally wounding him. So he god his new name, End or Death.

Then End found the death vine in the middle of the jungle and descended it into the ground to the realm of Cheea, the king of death. But Congrace, the fifty-headed viper, would not let him pass, so End took on the likeness of a dead man and Congrace let him pass. When he got into O Nove, Cheea’s realm, he found Udelicor, but Cheea would not let them leave. Angrily End took the spear with which he had killed Comewin, cut off one of Congrace’s heads, and smeared some of the poison onto the spear, and killed Cheea. And so End became king of death, and changed Udelicor’s name to Rio-Liedeath, and made him the god of reincarnation. He gave him a staff with the head of a viper carved on the top, and the head of a sabertooth carved on the bottom. When people died, if they had been good, Rio-Liedeath would strike them with the viper head, and their next life would be a lucky one. But if they had been evil, he would strike them with the sabertooth, and their next life would be unlucky. Extremely evil people, such as Comewin, he would not strike at all, but send them to the bottom of O Nove, where they would be tortured forever with many different punishments. Comewin was given a spear and a find boar was set in front of him, but every time he tried to strike it, it would move out of the way, and he was always hungry.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A small glimpse into Composition 11011

A student in my class did what I have been known to do, which is to compile the more eccentric statements made by one's teacher. And she presented these to me. I think I have a good way to go before I can REALLY compete with the pros in the weirdness stakes, but it's a start.

"You have problems, perhaps."

"What thinkest thou?"

"...which is a fantastic Scrabble word." [in reference to "quondam," I believe. And it is.]

"Do you hate all your friends?"

"And still, there are ghosts in this room!"

"I'm just gonna tear these things up out of spite."

"You'll find as you go through life that most things revolve around oysters."

Things that are postmodern: an ongoing series: maybe: part one: For Better or For Worse redux

I vaguely remember For Better or For Worse maybe sort of not-sucking at some point in the indeterminate past, but it's been a damned long time, I will tell you that much. Lynn Johnston's treatment of her characters has for a long time been nothing more than an increasingly implausible sequence of wish fulfillment that revealed WAY too much about her own neurotic psychic makeup. I suppose there must be people out there who just THRILLED to the "oh look, aren't the Pattersons the most wonderful, saintly, just-goddamn-PERFECT-in-every-way people" antics. People who didn't find "Elizabeth can NEVER EVER be allowed to escape the stultifying clutches of her horrible family" deeply creepy. And yes, even people who enjoyed the stupid, cutesy puns that had to end EVERY. DAMN. STRIP.

Yes. I am sure these people exist. And I am equally sure I would prefer not to meet them.

But for all its sucktastitudinousness (that's a new word I invented--any theorists who want to use it MUST give me credit), at least it was a real thing. Other comics aren't like it, and you have to grudgingly respect the fact that Johnston's artistic vision, such as it was, sustained itself for thirty-odd years. At least she HAD an artistic vision, however misguided it may have been. You think you can say that for the dudes who write Zombie Shoe?

But now. But now! BUT NOW! Apparently Johnston had no other ideas and no notion of how she could possibly live her life without FBoFW in it, so we are subjected to her surreal effort to rewrite the entire thing from the beginning, assuming she's able to keep body and soul together for that long. It goes without saying that this is a terrible idea: it's just incredibly boring, and the prospect of it is exhausting: I'm really supposed to follow this for another thirty years? Fuck that noise. I'd rather have my gums scraped, as someone once said.

But the point towards which I'm stumbling here: this actually IS pretty interesting, in a perverse way, because it gives us a practical demonstration how--after the manner of Baudrillard--reproduction can drain something (in this case just a lame comic strip, but still) of meaning. When Johnston initially drew the strip, it was unpredictable. What I'm about to say probably isn't true, but just go with me here, okay? Think in terms of FBoFW and nothing else: it was part of the real. Which is to say, it hadn't been assimilated. Johnston could have a character come out of the closet (twenty years after Trudeau had, but never mind that), and people would write angry letters to the editor about the decay of Family Values. She could kill off a dog and have people get all choked up. Hell, as unpleasant as it was to watch, Anthony's sort-of romancing of Elizabeth at least provoked strong reactions in people.

But that's all changed. The strip is entirely a known quality. It has, I feel safe in saying, entered the realm of simulation. It can't do anything to anyone now, other than promote feelings of boredom and bemused bafflement (or baffled bemusement). By copying herself like this, Johnston has succeeded in draining her strip of significance. Now it's just a flat, anodyne image with nothing behind it and no power to evoke anything. It may look the same, sort of, but that's all. "Look" is not the same as "mean." If I were Lynn Johnston (god forbid), I would do that thing that people say is the first thing you should do when you've dug yourself into a hole.


Sitemeter alleges that I have an average of twenty-one visitors per day. Really? Really? Why? The problem with this is that it makes me feel like I have an obligation to actually post something, in a desperate attempt to entertain the slavering masses. Like a jester caught in a dragon's lair. Or possibly that I should try to start some sort of cult. Good times. So! More soon, gods willing!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Christmas songs are my ticket to the top!

I just installed sitemeter, and for whatever reason, I see that this entry receives the most hits from random websearchers, by a rather wide margin. Some random dude even characterized me in comments as a "fool." Must be high tension caused by the War on Christmas. Anyway, my course is clear: from now on, this blog will consist of nothing but an endless, numbing barrage of posts about Christmas Generic Winter Celebration™. It'll be good times for all!