Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Free Form Comments

Say whatever you want to in the comments to this post -- random, off topic thoughts, ideas, suggestions, questions, recommendations, criticisms (which can be anonymous), surveys, introductions if you have never commented before, personal news, self-promotion, requests to be added to the blog roll and so on. If a week goes by and I have failed to add you to the blog roll TELL ME TO DO IT AGAIN, and KEEP TELLING ME UNTIL IT GETS DONE. I can be lazy about updating the non-post parts of this site. Remember these comments can be directed at all the readers, not just me.

ALSO. You can use this space to re-ask me questions you asked me before that I failed to answer because I was too busy (but now might not be). That is often the reason I fail to get back to people, and on a blog, after a few days, the comments thread dies and I just kind of forget about it. Let's use this space to fix that, because it does need to be fixed; I look like a jackass sometimes, leaving people hanging. I will TRY to respond to any questions here.

AND you can use this space to comment on posts that are old enough that no one is reading the comments threads anymore. For example, if you thought of a great quote for the great quote commonplace book, but now no one is reading that, you could put it here.You do not have to have a blogger account or gmail account to post a comment -- you can write a comment, write your name at the bottom of your comment like an e mail, and then post using the "anonymous" option.

WRITING FOR THIS BLOG. If you think your free form comment here might be better as its own post, but you do not want it to be public yet, email it to me. My email address is available on my blogger profile page. If I think it will work on this site, your post will be published here with your name in the title of the post. You can propose what you will, I am always looking for reviews of games, tv, movies, music and books.


Marc Caputo said...

What do people think about a year-end "best of" list? I always liked the Village Voice Pazz and Jop Poll - they would divide 100 pts. over 10 albums/singles and give a max. of 30/min. of 5 to them. The ties would be broken by number of mentions. I have a bunch of them (actually 2-4 copies per year from 1987 - 2005; after that, the paper fired Robert Christgau BECAUSE THEY'RE STUPID!!!!! and I wont go back, but the format is great.) I could look at them and I'd be willing to collate the data. Then, we could write reviews and lookbacks at trends and other things.

Stephen said...

I've had to bail on your Whedon X-Men reviews (since, as a trades-reader, you've now passed the point where I've gotten to), but I thought that this review of the first three trades was interesting.

Geoff Klock said...

Marc: I never really read best of the year reviews, but not for any particular reason. I don't read many magazines, and I am often just flat out behind on stuff. (Didnt my post on cloverfield make me look dumb this week?)

Stephen: thanks.

briang said...

Geoff, could you recommend a good starting place for someone who wants to get into some Aaron Sorkin. I've seen episodes of the West Wing here and there and I liked the Studio 60 pilot but I was just curious as to what you thought the best introductory point would be for a Sorkin newbie such as myself.
Also, has anyone here checked out No Country For Old Men yet? I really enjoyed it and I've been digging on the Cormac McCarthy novel as well.

FPFP said...

i always enjoy flicking through the end of year polls, but im always slightly depressed looking back at issues from like 5+ years ago where some artist is listed as third best album of the year or whatever and they have either disappeared off the face of the earth or with the benefit of hindsight and the lack of hype you think "actually, that album / film etc wasnt that great.."

i remember a particular instance last year in one of our uk publications where they listed the artic monkeys first album as the 36th best debut album of ALL TIME, higher up than appetite for destruction, searching for the young soul rebels, greetings from astbury park mephis and 3 feet high and rising amongst others, sometimes its sad to see how hype can affect these things and skew our perceptions of whats arround us

James said...

I saw The Darjeeling Limited this week [spoilers follow for that and The Life Aquatic], and went back to read Mitch's review. Good review Mitch! The character death bothered me too. It did seem slightly less hasty than in The Life Aquatic, but I wonder if that's because I enjoyed Darjeeling more generally. On reflection though, Darjeeling's death actually bothers me more: it feels like Wes Anderson is entitled to kill off Ned, even if it screws up the movie, because he and Owen Wilson created the character. But some anonymous Indian kid? Who only exists to progress your protagonists' emotional journey? That seems overly callous, and drains my good will.

jen said...

Just back from a week in NYC, where I marveled at the delay in movies coming out in the UK.

Regarding the Lost webisodes, I'd say the producers are giving you fans whatever dregs of "extra information" they can come up with and assuming you'll all do a little happy dance over it. They aren't intending to get new viewers, just to placate the ones they already have. With the extended inter-season hiatus on Lost, they have to give you guys something, but don't want to leave out the slightly more casual viewers who aren't bought into the brand enough to view webisodes. The end result is that you lot get essentially pointless additional material.

Until the webisode format is more accepted, by its nature it's going to be the web/TV version of DVD deleted scenes -- stuff that doesn't add to anything and that was deleted for a good reason, and that only the biggest fans are going to care enough to sit through.

In other news, just got my Journal of Popular Culture in today's mail. The first article is on Captain America and the third is on Marvel Comics.

James said...

I just had a look back at the Beowulf comments, and dr. k says "However, this I don't get: Anthony Hopkins sleeps with Angelina Jolie, and you get Grendel; Ray Winstone sleeps with Angelina Jolie, and you get an Academy Award that changes into a dragon. How does that work?" That actually made sense to me: Hrothgar is old, fat and weak, so you get the malformed Grendel; Beowulf is vital and strong, so you get a full-fledged super-demon of might.

Geoff Klock said...

Briang: A Few Good Men is a great place to start because it is self contained and you wont have anyone going " gets better." But I have to say that I was hooked by both the pilots for West Wing and Sports Night. If you do not like the first few episodes of either show, it does not get so different that i think you will change you mind about it. (Unlike Buffy or Angel, niether of which kick into any kind of gear until season 2 of each)

Jen: part of my frustration with the format is that my friend Brad just won an Emmy for his work in the 2 minute web format. I KNOW better thing can be done, and I would have counted on LOST to be a show to do it.

James: The question is did Hopkins sleep with her when he was young and strong like Beowulf. Since the story is cyclical I expect this. I don't know what to make of it either though the professor of world mythology I saw Beowulf with pointed out the long tradition of the two sons, one beautiful and perfect, the other deformed and monstrous. Could be that?

James said...

Geoff: I expect he was young, and it's fair to assume he was strong based on the pattern of the story, though there's no real evidence either way. You can infer an intrinsic difference between Hopkins and Winstone though: the aged Beowulf is just (or nearly) as strong as when he was young, while the Hrothgar we see has certainly declined. But yeah, your friend's theory could well be where Gaiman and Avary were coming from.

Jason Powell said...

I am at last ready to say something about "The Black Dossier." It took me a while to get through (I am a slow reader), but I finally got through it. This may dovetail with your theory that Moore's prose is "endless" and that overall it is exhausting. BUT I have to say, I loved it. Regarding the points you made when you first brought it up:

"the endless prose,"
***It is lengthy, but it's so good! I'm a big fan of this style of prose, however. I enjoy and word-play and intricately wrought sentences, and prose that is constructed to a certain poetic rhythm. (Although I hesitate to use the word "poetic" in such a vague way, since I'm trying to argue with someone who knows poetry like the back of his hand.)

"the meticulous recreation of genres I do not think I really care about."
***Ah, but what about for someone who DOES care about them? Personally, seeing Alan Moore create a "lost Shakespeare play" -- even if it is only five pages long --- was pure Heaven. There is definitely some other stuff in there that recreates genres I don't necessarily have strong feelings about. But even in those cases, I still want to read it, because Moore is filling in bits of continuity about the League. I'm so interested now in what these characters are doing or have done that I'm happy to read about it in any style.

"Hard work to be sure, but rewarding for the reader?"
***I think it absolutely is. I love that all the various bits from both this and the previous prose pieces in the earlier "League"'s are pieces of a puzzle that can be used to build a kind of unified-field theory" for the fictional universe that it takes place in. Also, "Dossier" introduces for the first time the concept that the League has a purpose and a destiny; that they were not just arbitrarily created.

Granted, Moore is using a lot of his familiar tricks: The idea that the characters we're reading about have precursors, and that there is a destiny they're meant to fulfill, is something we saw in both "Swamp Thing" and "Promethea." But it still managed to surprise me when I realized that League is heading down this same route. To paraphrase what you wrote about someone else, Alan Moore always does the same thing ... but I always fall for it.

jen said...

Of course better things can be done with the webisode format, but, as of yet, there's nothing in it for the networks (or individual shows) to offer more than superfluous crap in two-minute chunks.

I think network TV is really unsure about how to use the format. It doesn't do all that much for them in building brand loyalty, at least in most cases. But then you have the SNL Digital Shorts, which led to concrete changes in how NBC related to sites like YouTube.

It's interesting how, during the WGA strike, there's been a spike in the number of news articles looking at webisodes. Regardless of how the strike ends up in terms of payment for those 'sodes, it seems it will certainly raise the public profile of them.

Matthew J. Brady said...

Wow, lots to talk about here. And I'm not even coming in five days late, like usual. Here's some of my thoughts on various conversations, broken down by category:

Year End Lists: I love them. The arbitrary date for the "new year" is a good time to look back on that previous period of time and talk about what was good, what was bad, trends, memories, etc. As fpfp said, sometimes stuff ends up on there that eventually gets forgotten, but that's part of the charm, I think. It's fun to look back at them a few years later and see if stuff that you thought was great has stood the test of time or not. Plus, I find it fun to rank stuff and debate with people about whether one book, movie, TV show, or whatever is better than another. One of my favorites is the movie roundup at The Onion AV Club. They also do a reader poll, which I participated in last year. Good times.

The Darjeeling Limited: I still haven't read Mitch's review, so I'll have to go back and check that out, but I really liked the movie. [Oh yeah, SPOILERS, so skip to the next point if you haven't seen the movie] I think I disagree about the kid's death, and here's why I think it works in the movie (maybe better than the death in Life Aquatic): the brothers are doing this touristy tour across India, superficially visiting holy spots and not understanding the significance. They're trying to be sincere, as a way to connect with each other and deal with their father's death and their personal issues, but they're still kind of being "ugly Americans", wrapped up in themselves rather than the culture they are trying to experience. But when they stumble into this profoundly sad moment in this small community, they get pulled out of their self-centered bubbles and actually make a spiritual (and human) connection. I don't feel like it happens in the movie just so they can have this moment, I feel that they get to experience this moment and connect the people's feelings with what they are feeling about their father. It's a beautiful scene, and I didn't feel like it was just something thrown in to add to their emotional journey. But maybe that's just me.

Beowulf: You know, I wasn't all that interested in seeing the movie, but the discussion here has me feeling like I should. I'll have to try to see it in 3-D though...

Black Dossier: Goddammit, fucking Borders still hasn't got my copy in, or they haven't called me at least. I'm going to go and complain to those bastards, because I really want to read it so I can actually read some reviews and join the discussion that everybody else is having. Dammit.

Self-Promotion: I'm having a contest over on my blog (in celebration of my 400th post/one-year "blogoversary") to try to get people to design a header graphic for me. A prize (or prizes, if I get enough entries) will be awarded, so please enter!

James said...

matt: [SPOILERS for the Wes Anderson movie again] You're spot on in your analysis of The Darjeeling Limited, but I don't think that contradicts my reaction to it either. The sequence was too perfunctory for me to find it beautiful: the focus appears to be only on how the child's death reconnects the brothers to that of their father, skipping right over the actual tragedy and going straight for the emotional beat necessary to continue the brothers' arc. My problem isn't that I think the death has no point, but that it feels like ALL point and no death, if you see what I mean.

Christian said...

I just got back from a Gogol Bordello concert and I think my brain might be bleeding. But in the good way. Never seen so much energy on a stage, and on the floor, for three hours straight. Great, great fun.

Geoff Klock said...

james: thats a good point

jason, jen: thanks

matt: if you cannot see it in 3D forget about it.

christian: i do not know who this is. I should find out...

Mikey said...

For what it's worth: I am OBSESSED with end of year lists (or lists in any form, which a significant proportion of our television takes nowadays. Anyone read Paul Morley's "Words and Music: A History of Pop in the Shape of a City"?) I would welcome yours - please take whatever form feels right.

Also - saw The Weakerthans a few days ago - people were singing along to virtually every line, which was very strange indeed although not entirely unpleasant.

Marc Caputo said...

I have a 20-year obsession with lists myself. Did you know that Don DeLillo has called list-making a "sign of cultural neurosis"? You know where I read that? In The Comics Journal 210, the one with the list of the 100 best comics of the century. I even have a list of my favorite lists. I'm not the type who uses a list to bat people over the head saying, "See - it's good - it's on the list!" (Well, not anymore...) I like lists for the juxtapositioning of something I love in front of (or even better, behind). I like lists for how they spark debate and argument.

Matthew J. Brady said...

James: [SPOILERS for Darjeeling limited again] That's an interesting way of looking at it. I think the circumstances of the death worked well for me, showing how it can happen so quickly and randomly it can occur. And we did see plenty of the tragedy, with the family's reaction and everything. But that's my opinion, and to each his own and all that.

Marc: I think the debate and argument is what I like, even if it's only in my own head ("How could they possibly put X ahead of Y?!"). That's part of the fun of listmaking as well; I usually try to put together a list of the top ten movies of the year (I don't read enough books or listen to enough music, and comics or TV are too diverse to compare a lot of things directly, so they have to be broken down into categories, making things more complicated), and it's so hard to rank them; I often have to just decide on some arbitrary reason that I liked one more than another one. But that's half the fun, isn't it? I was wondering if I would want to do a best of 2007 on my blog like I did last year, but I think I'll definitely have to now.

Christian said...

Gypsy Punk. Gogol Bordello is probably best described as if Clash and Pogues had a brawl in Eastern Europe. The name is a references to Nikolai Gogol, as he "smugled" Eastern European influence into the Western world. Aside from the gypsy punk stuff, there's a little reagae, a little heavy and basically a little of everything.
(Probably a better representation of their preformance. Except it's toned down a little bit compared to how they were interacting with the audience at the concert.)

Streebo said...

A little late to the party but - I love year end lists. It always reminds me of the good things I may have missed. Then I get the chance to go back and seek them out. Saves me a lot of wasted time that way. For example - I'm waiting to see if World War Hulk or Countdown make any kind of year end "Best of" list before I devote another dime to those books. My guess - is "no."