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Friday, January 27, 2006


I Am The Resurrection And I Am The Light

Or the Old Testament version, "He's gonna step on you again."

I wish to thank Kevin for alerting me to the most wonderful, insane thing that I will read all day—an upcoming British TV special I want to see so badly I--well, I wouldn't actually go out of my way to do anything in order to see it, but it sounds perfectly demented:
The BBC plans to mark the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ this Easter with an hour-long live procession through the streets of Manchester featuring pop stars from The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays and featuring songs by The Smiths and New Order.

In the programme, called Manchester Passion, a character representing Jesus will sing the legendary Joy Division anthem Love Will Tear Us Apart before dueting his arch-betrayer Judas on the New Order hit Blue Monday, according to senior church sources involved in the production.

Mary Magdelene, the penitent whore of the New Testament, is also getting in on the act: she is being lined up to sing the Buzzcocks hit Ever Fallen in Love (with Someone You Shouldn't have) accompanied by a string band.

Former Happy Monday and Celebrity Big Brother winner Bez will play a disciple.

The climax of the event sees Jesus sing the Smiths classic song Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now as he is being flayed by Roman soldiers. He will then come face-to-face with his Roman prosecutor Pontius Pilate with the two of them singing a duet of the Oasis hit Wonderwall and its chorus...The event will end with the resurrected Jesus singing an as yet undisclosed song from the top of Manchester's town hall.
So what will the "undisclosed song" turn out to be? The Stone Roses' I Am The Resurrection would be funny, but lyrically it's a cruel, bitter dis. True Faith? Hallelujah? Groovy Train? (Just kidding.) Matt? Dave? Anyone?

Update: According to the Independent, the Buzzcocks song is out but "Speculation has grown that Jesus will dip into the [Stone Roses]'s back catalogue to perform the baggies' anthem "I Am the Resurrection" as the climax." Ha!

Q: How stoked am I by the idea of a guy in a Jesus costume singing a song with lyrics like "You're a no-one nowhere washed up baby who'd look better dead", "I couldn't stand another second in your company" and best of all "I couldn't bring myself to hate you as I'd like" to a crowd of Englishmen on Easter, broadcast on national television as part of a pro-Christian celebration?
A: So stoked. The Brits are so gloriously weird. Even if they retool the song just to include the chorus, it's still fucking nuts.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Unbelievable... but true!

San Diego's only Guided By Voices tribute band, The Fading Captains, is playing Scolari's Office tonight.

I think everything you can think of exists somewhere.


Links Hogthrob

Lotsa new links today, mostly political--you should now have all the information you need to become appropriately engaged, enraged or despondent, depending on your demeanor. Among the left-wing-ranting highlights:

The Poor Man Institute is never less than amusing. Today's post, "Let's stage an all-star panel on blogger ethics in my pants" is typically brilliant, the best thing I've seen on the Deborah Howell shitstorm, the latest humiliation of the traditional media.

You know in samurai movies, where the hero is facing a villain who cackles menacingly, thinking he has the good guy backed against a wall, but then his head is slowly sliding off his neck, and it dawns on him that the samurai killed him so fast he didn't even know it? James Wolcott is like that. As Gilliard often says, people fuck with Wolcott at their own rhetorical peril. The pen might not be mightier than the sword, but Wolcott's pen is certainly sharper.

John Aravosis' AMERICAblog stands out among political blogs on the left for regularly effecting change. Remember when Ford went homphobic then backed down just as fast? That was John.

driftglass, who I first noticed in Gilliard's comment section, and digby bring the scorn and loathing with eloquence and élan.

Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing requires registration with WashingtonPost.com, but it's entirely worth it. Froomkin rakes through all the day's best reporting on Bush, excerpts it with comment, and what emerges is muck of the most damning sort. The Post moves his column around a lot, and I'm an idiot about this kind of stuff, so I'm not sure if this link will work for long, or if it attaches specifically to today's column. We'll see by tomorrow.

Elsewhere, I've added:

PopMatters—a catch-all pop culture review/essay site with a heavy emphasis on music. Most of the writers seem like eager young people trying to think as hard as they can--with mixed results. Check out this recent, thoughtful examination of Sarah Silverman for an example.
DVD Journal—runs down upcoming releases and offers thorough reviews
Metacritc—a review aggregator for CDs, DVDs, games, TV, books and film
Movie City News—pretty much what is sounds like, with regular columnists and a comprehensive set of links to the day's Hollywood news

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


MBV? Is that you?

A DJ on my favorite station just told Rob Dickenson from Catherine Wheel (he's playing a solo show at the Casbah tonight) that there's a rumor that My Bloody Valentine is reforming and playing Coachella this year. Please file this rumor next to the scheduled release dates for the multiple MBV box sets that you all remember buying in 2005.

Monday, January 23, 2006


Say My Name, Say My Name

As of 11 o'clock this morning, I'm now Cole Moore Odell. After 12 years of marriage, I've finally done what I should have done on my wedding day, and taken my wife's maiden name as part of my own. As I had to explain to the judge, and I'm sure I will explain to a few more people before I die, Moore isn't a middle name, it's the first part of an unhyphenated last name. My full name is as follows:

"Cole Francis Moore Odell, that's M-O-O-R-E, no hyphen, O-D-E-L-L, no apostrophe in Odell."

The judge's last name, by way of contrast, was "Pu".

For his part, Abe says when he turns 18 he's changing his name to "Punchy Pigfoot."



That's what a month's worth of comic books costs me these days, with a 15% discount and absent any trade paperbacks, hardcovers, or pricey once-every-three-years altcomix. Picking up my expensive wad of paper on Saturday, I actually looked at the individual prices on some of these things for the first time in years. How can Infinite Crisis cost four dollars? More importantly, how could I be four issues in without knowing that? I've been on purchasing autopilot for too long, it seems. As Tim O'Neil has pointed out, the high profile books (In my newest stack that would be Green Lantern, Infinite Crisis, All-Star Superman and All-Star Batman) now use the same glossy cover stock as porn magazines. Is that what the extra dollar is for?

Still, for their cost, many superhero comics are entertaining these days. I'm only a few books into the pile, but already I've been greatly amused by a book-length, "sexy" version of Miss Piggy going into crazy karate mode on Doc Hopper's men (All-Star Batman and Robin #3); a nice surpirse in Simone Bianchi's gorgeous fill-in art job on Green Lantern #6; an issue of Planetary where Warren Ellis puts to the test the notion that he can make tedious exposition into compelling reading; and Grant Morrison's superb All-Star Superman.

By the way, this is not a comic book blog. Crazed ramblings of a three-year-old to resume shortly.


The Fourth World Exception

In my Shazam post, I lumped Kirby's Fourth World books in with some others that I think only work in the hands of the original creators, and which should be left to reprints and fond memories. But the New Gods books are a bit different, and as such have met with slightly more creative success post-Kirby--especially as supporting characters and concepts not expected to carry their own titles. As one-time Kirby assistant Mark Evanier says,
Jack did not create the series to be a solo Kirby work. He initially intended to launch the books, hand them off to others and move on to other projects. When he found himself remaining in place, he turned them into one of his most personal creations.
Unlike the Fawcett, Charlton and Quality heroes, which came to DC via trademark fire sales, Kirby's Fourth World material was actually created for--or at least initially published by DC, with Jimmy Olsen at the center of one of the books and Superman appearing here and there. Subsequent creators certanily aren't betraying any original intent on Kirby's part by reusing these ideas.

Where later creators have failed, I think, is in trying to approach the manner in which Kirby expressed himself--cartooning so idiosynchratic that it's difficult for me to fairly judge whether or not the work is inherently any good. I know I love it, I know it succeeds on its own terms, I know Kirby had a kind of genius for illustrating raw power, and a knack for coming up with demented ideas like Willie Walker's alter ego here, a cosmic angel of death on skis. It's moronic and clever, crude and beautiful all at once. And whatever else they may be, the look and feel of Kirby's comics are as hard to copy as the specific curve and weight of a Charles Schulz head. Too many writers have tried to imagine what Kirby might have thought, or how he might have used his characters in additional Fourth World stories. But nobody thinks like Jack. And it shows, every time a John Byrne makes the attempt.

Grant Morrison doesn't even try to play that game--which is why his takes on Kirby ideas so often work. Nobody thinks like him either, and he seems to have taken to heart Kirby's admonition that the only way to truly emulate him is to have your own ideas. Morrison's comics are filled to overflowing with strange notions, devices and references that I think Kirby, father of "Brain Bombs" and "Zoomways" would certainly admire.

Morrison is currently working with three Kirby creations in his Seven Soldiers maxi-series: The Guardian, Klarion the Witch Boy, and Mister Miracle. In each case, Morrison has used the thematic building blocks of Kirby's creations--responsible cops and kid gangs, youthful rebellion, the fantasy of escape--to tell his own stories, advance his own agenda. Kirby's style has been integrated into the marrow of these comics so deeply that his influence is nearly invisible, but it's everywhere. In the dynamism of Cameron Stewart's figure work (can something be over-the-top and subtle at the same time?), in sword-wielding Rat Kings and Subway Pirates, in earnest explorations of the will to resist authority, in the use of over-muscled goons thrashing each other to get all metaphysical about the nature of reality. It all works because Morrison sees the forest for the trees--the conviction and the curiosity behind Kirby's energy dots and off-kilter perspectives. I still don't think most of these characters are capable of carrying their own ongoing titles, but then again that was true even when Kirby was producing them, and almost nothing--remake or original--can sustain a regular superhero comic in the direct market since the readers of the 70s locked the doors behind them.

Is it just that Morrison in particular is clever enough to make a creative success of anything he works on? I'm not sure. His portrayals of Captain Marvel and Plastic Man in JLA were weak, his Captain Marvel pedestrian and any points he might get for bold reinvention of Plastic Man more than negated by his decision to turn him into Jim Carrey. (While the team dynamic of JLA needed a fool, making Plastic Man be that fool seemed arbitrary.) I think Morrison simply gets Kirby* in a way that 1) most other creators do not and 2) in a way that Morrison doesn't get certain characters created by other artists. Kirby's influence is all over many of Morrison's creator-owned books, most recently Vimanarama and Seaguy.

Then again, Kirby's influence is all over most superhero comics. Perhaps his ideas have been more successfully integrated into the DC universe because superhero comics all work off of Kirby templates. Beck's Captain Marvel and Cole's Plastic Man represent entirely different strains that have almost entirely died off. Cartoonish whimsy doesn't translate--there are no words for that in the modern language of superhero comics--and Kirby wrote the dictionary.

PS with Mister Miracle #3 spoiler--scroll over to read:

*I think if Kirby had been given enough issues of Mister Miracle, he eventually would have gotten around to having the title character's dick cut off with bolt cutters.

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