Graphic novel review: Moto Hagio’s a Drunken Dream and Other Stories

By , August 29, 2011

Moto Hagio’s a Drunken Dream and Other Stories
by Moto Hagio

Hagio revolutionized Japanese “girl’s comics,” or Shojo manga, by broadening the subject matter to include death, ghost stories, and sexual confusion. Hey – it’s all my favorite stuff in one place! But I was a little let down as the intended audience was obviously someone a little younger than me. Maybe I am just a snoot. Still, Archie this is not. If ambiguously gendered mystical melancholia is your thing this book has it in heaps. Recommended for Morrissey fans.

The stories that hit the mark the most for me: “Iguana Girl,” a refreshingly mature take on being the runt of the family, and “Angel Mimic,” which flips the script on the student-teacher crush scenario.

Making this work more valuable is the front (or is it back?) matter by translator Matt Thorne that includes a rundown of notable Shojo manga artists and a long interview with Hagio. Drunken Dream and Other Stories is window to a world of art not many of us have access to.

- Bryan

Book Review: Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead

By , August 23, 2011

Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead
by Sara Gran

Make no mistake; Sara Gran’s new novel is not a cozy mystery, nor your standard detective novel.  Gran has written a genre-bending tale so real and gritty and mystical,  she’s gonna fold a new wrinkle in your brain.  You’ll love and despise lead character Claire DeWitt, as you cheer her on to solve the crime.  Gran has used Post-Katrina New Orleans as time and place for her mystery, weaving in the devastation, corruption, and heartbreak of its people.  If you’re not already familiar with Sara Gran, get to reading!  I’m glad to know that Claire DeWitt is just the first in a series, and you will be too.

-crystal

Music review: Evanescence / Ellipsis

By , August 22, 2011

Scorn - EvanescenceEvanescence / Ellipsis
by Scorn

With dupstep becoming its own full blown genre, it’s good time to look back to the beats that made it all possible. What does it mean when drum machines and keyboards are old school? Thudding dub glory was never bleaker than Scorn, aka Mick Harris, who after walking from the behind the kit of death metal stalwarts Napalm Death decided make these sonic cumulonimbus clouds. Beats of doom? Yes.

“Automata” sample

Later, hipsters figured out how to combine a laptop and a turntable just like a they did a thrift store bike frame and a fixed gear hub. The rest is history but Evanescence has become something of an underground electronic classic, especially when paired with its companion remix album Ellipsis Scorn - Ellipisfor which Harris dialed up the snootiest of his UK electro pals: Autechre, Coil, Scanner, etc.

Dreamspace (Coil mix) sample

I have a fantasy in which at least one fan of the band Evanescence mistakenly takes this album home only get Harris’ astral concrete poured over their head. That’s the fantasy but in reality they might like this album, and so might you.

Back to School with Books and Movies

By , August 16, 2011

It’s back to school time for students of all ages.  Don’t know about you, but a part of me always feels nostalgic for my own school days of riding the big yellow bus, going to recess, being served both tater tots and pizza for lunch… I saw a bumper sticker on an old jalopy (ok, it was my car) that proclaimed “The truly educated never graduate.”  With that in mind, here are recommended  titles for continuing your pop culture education.

  • ArtHerb and Dorothy, Stealing Mona Lisa: a Mystery
  • HistoryMonty Python and the Holy Grail, The Historian
  • LanguagesBroken English, The Namesake
  • MusicAcross the Universe, How to Kill a Rock Star
  • PhilosophyHappy-Go-Lucky, The Secret History
  • Physical EducationStrictly Ballroom, Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses
  • PsychologyRepulsion, Love in the Asylum
  • ScienceMoon, Special Topics in Calamity Physics
  • Surviving School - Napoleon Dynamite, Carrie
  • Study hard,
    -crystal

    Book review: Juice!

    By , August 15, 2011

    Juice!
    by Ishmael Reed

    Juice! tells the story of aging African American cartoonist Paul Blessings and his experience of the O.J. Simpson trial. As a 1960s black radical, it is obvious to Blessings that O.J. is innocent. The management at the TV station where he works doesn’t necessarily see it that way. Hijinks ensue as one by one those around him come to believe O.J. is guilty and his work is increasingly censored by his “betters.” Mirroring Blessings’ mental struggle with the Simpson case is his physical struggle with diabetes. Censorship and illness are both new battles for an artist unaccustomed to compromise.

    Reed is an author whose edge has not dulled with age. Juice! is a hilarious satire of the car horn performance art that has become cable news. The book charts this devolution. Though laugh out loud funny, furrowed brows are for everyone as Reed refuses to float any of our assumptions about race, sexuality or privilege. Reed’s work doesn’t conform to formal expectations either. He blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction, and specifically in this case, cartoons and prose. Blessings’ cartoons are included, all drawn by Reed.

    Juice! is particularly timely now that there is another trial making the cable news rounds in which the jury seemed to disagree with popular opinion. Doubly delightful for me is the metafictional shout out Reed gives to Gerald Vizenor, one of my favorite under read authors.

    Popmatic Podcast August 2011

    By , August 11, 2011

    Bjork and ToriOn this month’s show, we talk about things we’ve broken up with… and things we’ve fallen back in love with – the bad habits we can’t put down. And of course, we tell you what tickles our fancy! Can the host obey his own “no jokes” rule?

     

    Things we’ve fallen OUT of love with:

    On the Road by Jack Kerouac

    Tori Amos (what gives Tori?)

    Neil Gaiman (go win another award already!)

     

    Things we’ve fallen BACK in love with:

    Tusk by Fleetwood Mac

    Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero

    Bjork (it means “birch” in Icelandic)

     

    What’s tickling our fancy this month:

    Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Wild Beasts – an indie, dream pop, post punk band from the UK

    The Millions – a website dedicated to books and literature

     

    Legends of Film: Owen Roizman

    By , August 3, 2011

    The Stepford WivesBill and Clint bring us an interview with Academy Award nominated cinematographer, Owen Roizman.  Mr. Roizman has photographed such films as The Exorcist, Network, The Stepford Wives and The French Connection.

    Book review: Stone Arabia

    By , August 1, 2011

    Stone Arabia
    by Dana Spiotta

    One of the most anticipated novels of the summer, Stone Arabia tells the tale of Denise Worth and her imaginary rock star brother Nik. Nik is real but his career is imaginary. A Henry Darger-esque documentation of his fantasy stardom and aesthetic swerve into self-indulgent wankery, including a slew of fictional rock critics’ opinions thereof, is his true art. Denise, a single mother and executive assistant to real life Hollywood royalty, is Nik’s best fan and arguably worst enabler. Denise’s daughter Ada seems to be gearing up for a larger-than-life career as an imaginary film maker. Denise’s mother is slowly succumbing to dementia. Denise has a hard time figuring out what is real. She is addicted to the news.

    A meditation on media saturated 21st century identity construction isn’t exactly lacking in the world right now but Spiotta gives us enough minutia (both emotional and pop cultural) to lend Stone Arabia some heart. Maybe this material is a little close to home for me to judge it at a distance but I kept wanting something to happen: for someone to die, for someone to get famous, for a family secret to blow the top off things, etc. Spiotta opts for slow burn. You’ll be left looking in the mirror and person on the other side will be staring back hard. Though disappointment is integral to the performance, there are probably enough entertainment business administrative assistants and imaginary rock stars in this town for Stone Arabia to become a local hit.

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