Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Screamin' Genitals, Martha, My Pants Are on Fire!

Let us pause for a moment and reflect upon the joyness which is Jhonen Vasquez. His wit is the sandpaper on the tender skin of the people toward whom it is directed, it's mean spirited and often petty, always articulate and original, and is pretty much my favorite under-ten-buck thrill.

So now there's Jellyfist, his new project with an illustrator named J.R. Goldberg whose own major hootie-ha appears to be this book, thus far. There is a series of frames on a series of pages, much like the comic books of old, except this is the first one that I've read that has commentary. I love reading Mr. Vasquez dancing verbally (I like to think it's like Pigpen from Charlie Brown) around Ms. Goldberg, only to have her swat him away like an annoying fly every ten paragraphs. He DO like to talk a lot and she apparently does not, at least to her audience. Goldberg also has an enormous flair for the grotesque, a point that will be addressed later in this post.

I have to give Jellyfist a thumbs up for a few things (and do not continue from here if you don't want spoilers):

1. The She-Car: A talking car that turns out to be a real woman who was transformed into a car by a weird guy who can ostensibly turn people into machinery that he can use. Another illustrator probably would have turned her into a robot lady. Cool looking, but ultimately cliché and boring. Goldberg makes her look truly...painful. The body of the car looks like a huge, pale, squishy meat plug with wheels. It lacks the shades of wry that would suck the "fucked" out of the up that is the She-Car. Also, as the car-out-of-woman maker drives her around, she can only look down at the pavement passing beneath her. It reminded me of "Gummo" in the slimy way it made me feel. A+, J. Goldberg.

2. Lesssseee....oh yeah, ha ha, bees in a guy's head. It's very strange and freaky and reminded me of a movie called "Wax, or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees". Bee heads are one of those archetypal things I don't understand, so they're fun to watch.

3. I love the landscapes in this. The characters are usually out in the middle of a post-apocalyptic kind of place with ice-cream cones and the like. I was watching Bugs Bunny with a kid the other day when she turned to me and said, "Where does he keep getting those carrots?" I'm like, "Dunno..." This is kinda like that.

The problems are few: It is colored in the manner of easter baskets and grandma dresses. Everything (in retrospect) seemed too mintily green. Secondly, the surrealism is often cut off at the knees by the Vasquez' self-congratulatory narrative about his creative process. Again, fun reading but ultimately distracting and pulled me out of vibe.

Two cents. It is what it is, yo.

Monday, November 05, 2007

James GandolFuckYou

A friend loaned me a DVD of an HBO special called "Alive Day" featuring the stories of Iraq war vets who'd suffered severe trauma. Nothing is more embarrassing and stupid as when someone uses shocking imagery to illustrate a political point that they're afraid to come right out and say. It wasn't even clever ambiguity, it was just splattered guts and half-assed attempts at self-righteousness. You know the movie "Total Recall"? It wanted, at some point, to be an action movie with some clever dialogue in the "Die Hard" tradition. Then one day, they were hammering out the script and (I imagine) someone said, "You know, fuck this. No one is going to care about dialogue if we make blood squish out of a guy's bullet holes like a human blood sponge." Probably some other guys nodded tiredly and that was that. I'm not sure what ideas that they gave up on for "Alive Day" but I'd imagine it had something to do with dignity. I went to a friend's grandma's funeral once and one of the priests was picking his nose (in full view of everyone) during the service. This reminded me of that except it wasn't as classy.

Here are some prime examples of the Alive Day suckage:

The first time we see a soldier cry during an interview, we see a long shot of James Gandolfini handing the soldier a tissue. Ok, they put the box of tissues next to Jimmy boy so that they could get a shot of the tissue hand-off. James, you're a big weiner for that.

A creepy, creepy mom who has been coaching her extremely brain damaged son in what to say when people ask questions. Ok, get this, she coaches him through a rendition of The Marines Hymn, his eyes, lacking focus, shift about the room as he makes lewd gestures that she's interpreting as expressions of happiness and love. This is the most disturbing of the interviews, at least to me. It was a prime example of every shitty way of thinking that got us into the war (e.g., willful ignorance, blind faith, nationalism) all condensed into a freakshow chowder of Oedipal proportions.

A young woman who fears her children may not love her as much if she can't hug them with both arms...the camera lingering on her face while her tear filled eyes nudge the fog of the present aside to get a glipse of the (perhaps tragically lonely?) future. Oh and the topper of that segment is the half-hearted rendition of "Proud to be an American" that she is singing with the rest of her family. Sheesh. That made me shudder almost as much as Marine Mom.

Americans know what's going on in Iraq, they just don't give a fuck. This makes any attempt at scaring us with blood and arms and dead things a completely futile waste of time. What a misguided attempt at scaring up some copy for Gandolfini. Please, dude, next time, bang Lindsay Lohan or something. This other thing was just plain eww.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Our Mother of the Clown Car Vagina

If only this breeder cow and her pasture mate understood how their attempts at reinforcing the "miracle" of life actually made reproduction seem about as mundane (and American) as a grilled cheese sandwich.

How long d'ya have to wait after childbirth to kick someone in the cooter?