LULU by John Linton Roberson (c) 2012.
The first complete comics adaptation of the classic Frank Wedekind tragedy. Click here to buy Book 1! Now also in digital at Comixology!

I Didn't Write That!
27 July 2015
  A Reaction Reading Perlstein's NIXONLAND

I was born Jan. 22 1969. This demon was my first look at a president. A fine inoculation against believing them.

Reading(well, technically, listening as it's an audiobook) NIXONLAND, one thing strikes me: that there is no exaggeration in saying his term was terrifying and took NO time whatsoever to become so. That we are all living in the fractured America he deliberately and carefully made and may never be able to escape; that Nixon poisoned America forever. But especially in his own time. 

He despised us all. Even his friends were only that because they were useful tools, as with every psychopath. He was a truly evil man, and that is a vast understatement only underscored every time we find out more about him. No details ever make him look better no matter how hard you look. We were lesser for letting him be president.

My friend Marc, a socialist activist, rarely among "revolutionaries" is careful about who he calls a "fascist" and tries to use it only when it strictly applies. As am I, and for the same reason: trivialize a word enough and it becomes useless. And fascist DOES have a specific meaning. Most of what we call that now may be authoritarian but is not strictly "fascist." (there are equally bad things that have different names)

But Nixon?

No, that's EXACTLY what he was, at least in technique--but in fascism technique and intent are one. Nixon was our fascist president, and he tore great chunks out of our souls. The fucker was nearly Darkseid. Or, given which one is real and actually destroyed millions of lives, Darkseid is nearly Nixon. Darkseid embodied the concept of Nixon, how he made you feel in that time. The world as nothing but endless war, control, humiliation, submission, and hate. But above all, control.

I knew much of this story before, having been obsessed with Nixon pretty much my entire life--the first few years of my life coincide with his presidency from its start. But Perlstein supplies a lot of context and details that make it all fresh, and worse, again. Nixon is a lesson we all need to remember, and he is also a curse upon us.

I'm not talking about Watergate as such--though that's even more of what I mean--I'm talking about everything he did in his first term that we only know BECAUSE of Watergate. The man was willing to exterminate his opposition. In fact, it seems that Nixon NEVER considered a decent option even once--he went straight to "kick 'em in the nuts, make them bleed," every. Single. Time. First. Time. He did not seem to be able to conceive any option not based on causing pain.

Or maybe he was just a sadist, and now that he had America by the nuts, he did not care about the pretense of considering any other option. He organized lumpenproletariat to streetfight. He used the power of the state in collusion with corporations to destroy radicals and, in fact, everyone who was not specifically pledged as loyal to him, and even then you were not safe. He gave tacit permission and overt encouragement to all law enforcement in America to beat and shoot dissenters in some cases no older than 20. 

He sent Kissinger to wreck Johnson's peace talks with North Vietnam in 1968 (saying "if you wait till November, you may get a better deal") just to make sure he won the election, and then even more Americans and Vietnamese died, for many more years, real reason.

He was certainly at the least a totalitarian, and imagine if he had ended the war in his term and stayed president. Imagine what he would have done.

Because though his massive domestic war on his own people was linked to the war, the main thing was that Nixon wanted complete control from word one, whether there had been a war or no. Because he was a bitter, truly hateful, dark, dark paranoid man who seemed not to have any humanity in him but the weakest, nastiest parts of being human. He wiped out any notion of consensus. The paradigms of polarization he created are with us to this day; 70-year-olds still warping our lives over a 45-year-old argument.

He was terrifying, I am reminded by this, more so than we already knew. That he was removed from office was the luckiest moment in American history. There truly never was, before or after, anything as dark as he in that building.


Except of course.

Who learned it all in the master's lap. And was president,and to this day continues to reopen every wound that may have healed and shit in it whenever possible.

(By the way, why not watch Dick Cheney watch some TV in 2001? Kicking back with his feet up.)

And by the way, whatever the faults of the counterculture, it was still far, far better than having anything to do with the psychopathically, murderously square culture of the time. These people would have killed you to preserve the world as seen in GREEN ACRES.

But it can never be said enough:

Richard Nixon was a fucking monster, and that is what it looks like when a true monster is in the Oval Office. The only thing in the government more frightening than him in his time was J. Edgar Hoover, whose infection we also still live with in some ways that are even worse.


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06 June 2015
  New Sketch: Suzy Spreadwell, Dreamin' of the Devil (NSFW, UPDATED)

New rough sketch, which I might make more finished later, of Suzy Spreadwell, with a familiar motif. I do intend to run this one into the ground. This is prep stuff for a scene written for chapter 3, so yes, this gets even more wrong.



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28 March 2015
  Your Random UK Comedy For Today #19: Chris Morris - BLUE JAM + Some LULU

All the episodes of Chris Morris' cult radio trauma, apparently with the songs in between the sketches removed. To be listened to alone, late at night, hiding under your covers with agoraphobia. 

Humor from the abyss, and it's looking at you. Giggling.

Still too busy to blog, but here are some LULU bits I've just done.


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20 February 2015
  New Cartoon: Robert Smith's Waitress (pencil)

SO! Not much blogging. Where have I been? 

Hard at work on completing the next chapter of LULU--as well as assembling the next THIS SICKNESS, which will include that, Suzy, Cyrus, and maybe even a little Emily Kaplan

Also wrote an essay on Dave Sim and Cerebus for an upcoming Sequart book, and then here's this silly thing I just sketched. Might ink it later. (click to expand)


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20 December 2014
  The Sony Hack: Seriously, Stop Pissing Your Pants, America (UPDATED) their initial public statement, whoever hacked Sony made no mention of North Korea or the film. And in an email sent to Sony by the hackers, found in documents they leaked, there is also no mention of North Korea or the film. The email was sent to Sony executives on Nov. 21, a few days before the hack went public. Addressed to Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton, Chairwoman Amy Pascal and other executives, it appears to be an attempt at extortion, not an expression of political outrage or a threat of war.
"[M]onetary compensation we want," the email read. "Pay the damage, or Sony Pictures will be bombarded as a whole. You know us very well. We never wait long. You'd better behave wisely."

Oh Jesus. Are we really this stupid? Looks like Charlie Brooker is a prophet.

I'm already sick of the likes of the "New Alec Baldwin Now That The Old One's Broken", George Clooney, intoning pompously about what we "lost" with the Sony hack, as though the United States itself had spread its ass wide for an enemy. As though we gave up our fucking nuke codes.

It was not the US. It was Sony.

Who had an IT dept of 3 people and had laid off most of the rest of that staff, who left their passwords on a single document called "Passwords.doc," on a system that wasn't even encrypted. Are you kidding me? It may not even BE North Korea. For all the evidence they have (which Wired has already explained is damn skimpy, and NK's involvement was a conclusion jumped to long before any kind of evidence) it could turn out to be one very amused kid in a basement somewhere, laughing his ass off at all of you.

Update: and considering North Korea lives entirely by people believing its empty threats--that's how it gets foreign aid, for god's sake--why then, given this worked, would they now deny it? Do you think North Korea would miss an opportunity to seem scary and competent at something? Are you that ready to believe anything you're told? No wonder you never stop our involvement in a single war, Mr. and Ms. America.

You provide the prose poems, I'll provide the war. - Charles Foster Kane

It was Sony. And what did they give up? What did we lose?

One fucking movie. One stupid Seth Rogen comedy. That is all. Sony does not guard your security you're so worried about. Sony has nothing to do with the government. Sony is not even a US company. There is no reason to believe many others would be stupid enough to leave their systems so insecure(especially not now) and again, these are private corporations, not the nation. We have not lost free speech. One corporation has shown its cowardice.

I just found out from my future stepdaughter, who's 11: kids don't know Sony is a Japanese company. I wonder how many others don't. Everyone seems to think Sony is some beloved institution, some American Mom & Pop corporation.

The honor of Sony is not the honor of the US, and we have none anyway, as you may have noticed from the torture report this distracted you from.

Although Hollywood does serve an important American political function in that it keeps most people in a useful state of childish gullibility, easily manipulated by emotional narratives even if shot through with plot holes.

And do you think this is the first time a movie has been repressed by the studios for any number of reasons? And do you think this was anything but the exhibitors getting scared that people might stay away from the theatres to see other films on Xmas day?

Pick your battles. Get a grip.

Mere hackers probably did this, and because it was easy to do it. Perhaps even members of their laid-off IT staff, and why hasn't that possibility even been broached?

Sony is embarrassed. But now Hollywood smells an opportunity and will try to use this to its benefit, Clooney and Sorkin setting the tone. What you need to watch for is Hollywood calling this its 9-11 & trying to push through a new SOPA-like law to finally yoke that pesky web. A plan the Sony emails indicate they already were trying with other means--this might make it easier. That's why they want you to think this is a crisis.

Update: they already are.

Personally, I only can be grateful for whatever spares us more Seth Rogen films. But you'll see it, don't worry. It's not like GREED, which the studios actually destroyed. Because they could.

Because that's what happens if you do "art" through a corporation. It's theirs, they can do as they like. Sorry you now find there's two edges to that. If you want free speech, take it, but the only free speech here was that of a corporation and I do not cry for them or for Hollywood. At all.

My bigger issue is how this proves how quickly Americans believe what they're told, especially if war is a possibility. We are an ignorant, stupid people and the most childish "empire" in history.

UPDATE: The hackers now say the Interview can be released. Yeah, sure North Korea would risk an international incident just over this and say that. You all got played.

If I'm bothered by anything, it's that this scuttled the making of the film of Guy Delisle's excellent graphic documentary about his actual time in actual North Korea, PYONGYANG. But you know what? Hackers have a much harder time killing comics, so buy the book right here and consume something far better than the Interview would have been anyway.

"Fuck Hollywood." -Chuck D

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18 December 2014
  I'm Disappointed in REGARDING SUSAN SONTAG

UPDATE: On a couple more viewings, I think this is a little better than I say below and it's fairly well-done, but in general I do think this film is far too much gossip and far too little of Sontag's mind. So I will let this review stand unrevised, because this was my first, unguarded reaction, and it follows:

Saw REGARDING SUSAN SONTAG last night. Well-done enough but I found it shallow. The movie is gossipy and (with only about 90 min to work with) spends far too much time on her ex-lovers and the issue of her never publicly coming out. You barely get any idea of her real achievement and not nearly enough discussion of her work or what it meant, leaving you with a feeling it was "inspiring" or something.

It spends an awful lot of time trying to stick a label on someone who resisted being boxed into ANY labels her whole life, something I admire her for. Ultimately I feel it suffocates her.

Of course it's important to talk about her relationships and her sexuality should not be glossed over at all. It's an important part of her life. But sometimes the film comes off as revenge by the lesbian community at Sontag for refusing to be defined by that or any group. (it's not like she ever wanted to talk much about her personal life anyway) Had she come out she'd have been tagged "lesbian writer Susan Sontag," and her work would have mostly been defined by its relation to gay culture rather than that plus all other culture. (something they're trying to do to her now, this film being part of that) Sontag belongs to all of us and her influence is much bigger than just that. Considering how furious she got whenever introduced as "woman writer" or once (by all-time asshole chauvinist Norman Mailer, and you can see this in the film TOWN BLOODY HALL), "lady writer," I think one can conclude she mainly simply wanted to be considered a "writer" full stop. And why not?

If you know AIDS AND ITS METAPHORS you can't say she abandoned gays. But perhaps she wanted to just be Sontag. (also, though it was mainly women after her divorce, she would more properly be called "bisexual." Why so scared of that word?) In any case, all that would be fine if we got just as much serious talk of her work, but there's so little compared to what there could be.

And it really makes me mad they let so much of her early years be described by a bitter, cackling ex-lover who states without regret she punched Sontag in the face out of jealousy and left a huge bruise. There was a party right after with Allen Ginsburg attending, she says, and he asked, "Why did you hit her? She's younger and prettier than you." And..."That's why," she says she replied. Again, no regret. Presented uncritically. I've admired Sontag since I was in high school; she's a huge influence on my thinking. So hearing that she'd done that to Sontag and seemed to think she was right to do so, frankly, I wanted to punch HER in the face. I think it was seeing her chuckle about it.

To me, remembering what my friend Angel sometimes went through with her girlfriends, I'm reminded how unseriously a lot of lesbians often take abuse within their own community, a real and common problem. This woman's interviews really left me uneasy.

Perhaps had it been longer there could have been more that would actually interest someone not already familiar with Sontag in her work. This isn't that film, sadly. Maybe next time.


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27 November 2014
  Novecento aka 1900 (Bertolucci, 1976)

A special Thanksgiving treat: Bernardo Bertolucci's grand, messy but incredibly lovely socialist historical epic melodrama, and one of my very favorite films. Not least of which for the brief but memorable role of Stefania Casini, whom readers of this blog & my comics know as the model for my version of Wedekind's Lulu. It's true the film is very sentimental and over-the-top, sometimes even risking being quite silly. But I think socialists deserve their GONE WITH THE WIND too. Anyway, I like its excessiveness. At least Bertolucci was trying something big and worth doing. Also makes a good complement to THE CONFORMIST. This is the English version. Watch it before it's gone. I'm sure whoever put it up will be banned quickly. Happy Thanksgiving!
Part 1

Part 2


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30 October 2014
  From the Archives: Count Dracula (BBC, 1977)

And now a treat for Halloween--My favorite version of Dracula, by Philip Saville & Gerald Savory, which I first saw when I was 8(as mentioned here), starring Louis Jourdan. Any adaptation of Dracula will always be one removed from the original, because the original is an epistolary(told through journal entries, letters, and that kind of thing). This one however manages to be closer to Stoker than any other version. And is quite scary. Also kind of hot. This film has been somewhat of an obsession for me since I was a kid.

It's BBC 1970s, which means it's film outside, video inside. But like many, I think horror works better when it looks cheaper, and in any event they do a fantastic job with the means they have. And I actually like the video effects. Also excellent are Frank Finlay as Van Helsing, Judi Bowker as Mina, Jack Shepherd as the best Renfield since Dwight Frye--and maybe better--and my first movie crush, Susan Penhaligon as Lucy Westenra. Quincy is played with the worst American accent you've ever heard, but try to look past that. Check it out!

And here's the whole Stoker book. Happy Halloween!


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22 October 2014
  Creative Advice

Don't look down.

You want to, I know. And it's understandable. You feel you should take in the whole experience. It would be easy and quick to look down, surely. And if you don't, how could you really understand the yawning immensity you're overcoming?

How can you really feel the awe you should so you know how brave you are, how great your achievement is while you're having it?

 If you're really as brave as you think you are, you should be able to keep your footing anyway, and if you can't, isn't it all a fraud?

If you don't look down then it's just a walk like any other, and couldn't anyone do that?

But you're not trying to prove anything. You decided to walk across that rope, that's all.

So don't look down till you have.


22 August 2014
  "East of Eden" (ABC miniseries, 1981)

Segueing from discussing Crumb's adaptation of the book of Genesis to a famous American masterpiece that uses Genesis for its allegorical structure. All from an agnostic! And another brief stroll through my childhood.

I saw ABC's very thorough adaptation of Steinbeck's EAST OF EDEN when it was first broadcast--in a censored and shorter version--when I was 12. And I had the goddamn biggest crush on Jane Seymour for a while after this, till she killed that with DR. QUINN. Hell, you tell me who looks better in those kind of clothes, and only Helen Mirren has a better evil smirk. I think I've always crushed on both for  many of the same reasons, come to think of it.

But Jane Seymour as Kathy is one of the sexiest villainesses ever. And she is pure, total evil in Steinbeck, quite explicitly--but here you come to understand(without justifying) why she goes down the road she does, even if she does do evil things to get there. It's more nuanced. And to this day this miniseries is one of my favorite things.

I only saw the better-known Elia Kazan version with James Dean much later, and could not understand why it was considered a classic except that it was one of James Dean's only films. And I still like Sam Bottoms (sadly now deceased) better as Cal. The whole cast is great, and the sweep and scope of the thing is mythic and yet down to earth. This one more or less IS the novel, while that other one is about the last sixth of it, and not really very good.

If you haven't seen this, tuck in and treat yourself. Here's all 6 hours. One of the better miniseries from the heyday of the form.


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18 August 2014
  What Ferguson Should Remind You

The reason they perpetuate racism: their horror of what will happen if black & white citizens realize they're on the same side-which is not the cops' side. Or the upper class' side.

This is how they destroyed any real power for unions in the south. Racism always has a use for the moneyed &  powerful. None for you.

Don't ever think that at the upper levels, they don't know exactly what they're doing. The chaos and confusion are meant for you, not them.

In the end, the Ferguson PD will win, people will feel a glow for knowing it was tragic, and someone will end up with an Oscar eventually.

Because that's what always happens.


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  Me on Deconstructing Comics Again: Robert Crumb's "Book of Genesis"

Once again you get to hear me talk with the patient Tim Young about comics.  I can see you're already forgetting to breathe in anticipation!
This time around, we're talking at length about Robert Crumb's complete adaptation of the Book of Genesis. And our verdict?....
 Well, you'll just have to listen, won't you? THE SUSPENSE.
It's funny that those theology and scripture classes I had to take at DePaul & Loyola finally were some use. In talking about a comic. Which you can buy here.

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16 August 2014
  Tales from the Ferguson PD

So, let's see. Was Mike Brown shot for being black and teenage in front of a paranoid Ferguson cop?

Oh no, the cops say, it was for stealing cigars when the store called us about a robbery.

Except the store never called them about said robbery, nor now do the cops claim he was involved in one. And Officer Darren Wilson was unaware of Brown being connected with any robbery. All he saw was a young man with no respect for traffic planners and took action, brave fighter for law that he is.

And it took a whole week of their making war on their own citizens for having a problem with their having shot a young man who hadn't hurt anyone to even float that bullshit story, or indeed even a pretense of needing to explain why. But then they had more, because we all love a story. Robbery didn't take? Well...

Oh, then it was for walking in the street, because people know they'll get shot if they do that. Perfectly justifiable.

Tomorrow they'll say they didn't kill him at all, because like all black teens he is in fact a zombie. Or a vampire. Or a zombiepire.

And I just think about how cops take it when you keep changing your story like you have no respect for their intelligence.

Meanwhile, now that the militarized, reactionary Ferguson PD is off the job and the state PD are there to protect the citizens, here is how things are tonight. Here are said citizens, protesters, guarding a local business from being looted.

 One wonders why the Ferguson PD wanted to exacerbate the problem so, and how badly they wanted their bullets to be lead rather than baton rounds.

And one definitely wants their toys taken away. Barney Fife does not need a tank.


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04 August 2014
  So: I'm in the Catalog for the "Wedekind's World: Theater, Eros, Provocation" Exhibition in Munich (Updated)

So I mentioned there was other news connected with LULU that I'd tell you about.

Last week the exhibition manager of the Deutsches Theatermuseum in Munich asked me for permission to use two pages from LULU in their exhibition catalog for a show they're doing on Frank Wedekind, the author of the LULU plays. 

Obviously, I said yes. 

See below for the pages they asked to use. One is from the story, another is a character design sketch from the appendix. (click each to enlarge)

A pretty big retrospective, it seems. This is rather an honor, even if I'm only a tiny part of this and won't get to see it. LULU may not be well-known here, but it certainly is in Germany, so to be included at all in a show about Wedekind is extremely flattering. 

Of course, it may have some bearing that there's not much more of him represented in comics--mine is the first and only attempt to do a full comics adaptation of the plays. Other than that I only know of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's brief two-page treatment of the conclusion of PANDORA'S BOX. But hey.  I'm grateful they thought of me for whatever reason.

The exhibition takes place in late July to mark the 150th birthday of Wedekind (July 24), which I had no idea was coming up. The title of the exhibition is "Wedekinds Welt - Theater, Eros, Provokation" (note: site is in German), and apparently it will be covering many versions of his work over the last century, as well as works inspired by his, such as Guido Crepax and his fixation on Louise Brooks, the most famous Lulu of all.

And speaking of weird fixations on legendary sexy actresses, they say they will be speaking to some degree (not at length, I'm a minor one of many much more worthy adapters of Wedekind covered) about the connection of my version of Lulu to the great and beautiful Italian actress Stefania Casini. As most of you know--because I never shut up about it in interviews--I based my version visually, and to some degree spiritually, on Casini. Not precisely--I think I only relied on photoref directly for one or two panels--but just attempting to catch something of her look and attitude, imagining how she might have played the part.

I even had the pleasure of telling, and thanking, her recently, and she's...flattered. Which is something I think is kinda neat.

Anyway, there's something for people who think I never talk about anything nice. And looks as though all that money I spent on those years at the Goodman School at DePaul went to something for once. Well, not really.

Oh, and here's the latest inked (pre-lettering & greys) page of the next chapter.

Update: just got the exhibition catalog. Very nice, big book, and I'm on 2.5 pages of it I can't read, because it's in German! But a great honor nevertheless. Also nice to be right next to Guido Crepax in the book.
Wedekinds Welt exhibition catalog

Wedekinds Welt exhibition catalog - Roberson pages


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19 July 2014
  Artemis 2005-2014

Many of you might recall my cat Artemis, whom I've posted about here from time to time. Some of you were kind enough to help me financially to get her to a vet during my long period of unemployment a little while back. (and again, thanks to each of you)

So I should tell you that last Monday, Artemis died after a month's illness, starting with a mysterious lump appearing suddenly on her head. She soon after stopped eating--she had an appetite but threw up if she tried to eat, so would only go to her dish, think about it a moment, then walk away sad, getting thinner and thinner. I had to put wet food in her mouth myself for the last 3 weeks. She'd eat it then, but wouldn't on her own.

The vet was still putting her through tests when she eventually dehydrated last Monday, going into gasps all morning.  I stayed home from my day job, trying my best to comfort her. The only thing she liked at that moment was being brushed, so I just kept brushing her. I don't think her fur was ever smoother. She would take no food at all. But she still hung on.We already had an appointment for her later that day, but had managed to move it up.

She tried. She fought to the end. There had been more than a few scares with her over the years, some (most, really) very recent, and she'd said "fuck you" to death each time. Artemis was the Cat That Wouldn't Give Up. She had just recovered all her weight and fur from last year's illness, and had never been so happy and content in her life. Then one day, a lump out of nowhere at the base of her poor little skull, because if there's a god he's pretty damn cruel, I guess, and all that soon went away.

The damndest thing can change in an instant.

We put her in the carrier to take her to the vet. And then she suddenly died, just like that, when I left the room a few moments to visit the restroom before we left. And so the stupidest thing possible kept me from being with her when it happened.  She didn't even really look dead. I had to keep checking that she had really stopped breathing.

She just looked confused that her body had given up. There was so little left of what had once been a very big and healthy cat. We buried her next to Sunny. It was one of the worst days I remember since...Sunny died, really.
Artemis when she was still big and healthy, late 2012, Berkeley CA.
And so, along with Sunny just a little over a year ago, both the cats I came here with, who have been with me for years, are dead. They were just about the only friends I had in my five years in Seattle, and Artemis had been with me since 2006 in Chicago. Sunny was somewhat old, older than I had known. But Artemis wasn't even ten. 

And she was the most devoted, loving cat I've ever seen. An ex-girlfriend once remarked, "Artemis doesn't 'love you.' She's 'in love with you.'" I used to call her my little stalker.

The one-year-old Charlie is still about, of course. And he's pretty sad. I tried to stop him, but he saw Artemis' corpse and sniffed at it before we could cover it. I don't know how a kitten takes such a thing. I'm hoping he's still young and shallow enough to let it pass. They had gotten very close.

I still expect to keep seeing her.

She was the sweetest, bravest and gentlest cat I ever knew and I don't feel I ever appreciated her as much as she deserved. And I'll miss her, hard.

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  Just Remember

Right before it collapsed, each and every time, people said we had entered a new era where we could only go up. 

And then.

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  Why You Like Zombies

Zombies are just one of our many ways of avoiding the fact that a dead body is nothing, just an inert fleshbag of garbage. 

To confront that fact forces you to create a meaning and shape for your life. And what could be more terrifying than that? 

By contrast to the yawning abyss of being, walking corpses eating the living is positively amusing.

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  Your Random UK Comedy for Today #18: Beyond the Fringe (Cook, Bennett, Miller & Moore, 1964)

"I want you to lay down your life, Perkins."
"Right sir!"
"We need a futile gesture at this stage. It will raise the whole tone of the war."
"Get up in a crate, Perkins."
"Pop over to Bremen."
"Take a shufti."
"Right sir!"
"And don't come back."
"Goodbye, Perkins. God, I wish I was going too."
"Goodbye Sah! – Or is it au revoir?"
"No, Perkins."

The single most influential piece of British comedy, as close to complete as you'll ever see. Enjoy, and have a happy weekend.


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  Mystery Equals Power: A Couple of Thoughts on Sexism Watching Terry Jones' MEDIEVAL LIVES

Watching Terry Jones' MEDIEVAL LIVES, a particular fact in the "Damsel" episode (here's the video cued up to the pertinent bit, but I recommend watching it all afterward below, embedded) I was struck by:

So to recap: if a husband was unable to perform for his wife, his frustrated wife could in turn seek redress in court, and the husband would be subjected to examination--of whether his member could function--by "respected women."  (before you start panting, this would generally mean "quite aged")

This implies an openness and matter-of-fact attitude about discussion of sex. Rather than some untouchable mystery, it would be treated as something as normal as eating or working, and to be dealt with as practically. Indeed, the medieval era has always been known to be relatively open on the subject, certainly far more so than the Victorians or even the Renaissance (who, Jones reminds us, were the ones who gave us witch-burning, and mostly as an overt means of destroying women's status in society). And--partly due to a shortage of labor for a long period after the Black Death--women had greater rights at that time than they did at any point afterward until very recently.

In times sex can be discussed openly and freely, women usually have more rights than in times it cannot. In times when women's rights are ebbing, it tends to be fiercely repressed: the Victorian era would be a particular example. 

Possibly because if talk about sex is freer, the possibility of men being criticized for their sexual shortcomings is also greater. And going with that, the lessening of an inherent assumption men should be in charge. 

The subject of sex is censored in societies only to tighten the hegemony of men.


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12 July 2014
  Printing the Legend is Lying: A Small Rant About 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE

I happened by chance to come across an old Guardian article that kind of annoyed me. Or reminded me of an annoyance, when I first saw 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE. Tony Wilson, remarking on the film: "It's all true, it's all not true. It's not a fucking documentary." And even in the film this attitude is directly expressed, to favor "myth" over facts. The "print the legend" quote from MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE--one of the most deeply cynical classic films ever--is used as justification.

Now, I don't mean to pick on a dead man here. But I guess I will, because this reminded me of  some problems I had with this when I first saw it in 2003. One major one is: of course you would favor the myth, Tony, because it makes you look like such a damn hero, walking around as handsome and witty Steve Coogan in those lovely coats and scarves. These bands never would have made it but for you and the story of Manchester music is all about you even though it doesn't include the fucking Smiths. (whom I don't like, but I certainly don't deny their importance) Which is even mentioned at the end. Just the same, the sense is given throughout the film that somehow what you're seeing is the dominant current of What Was Happening In Manchester In That Heady Time. So it has its cake and eats it too. It leaves one with the impression this is THE story, while excusing itself for its many lies.

It's all about just Wilson, Joy Division, and the Happy Mondays who nobody cared about five minutes after they crashed and burned and whose music (unlike Joy Division) has influenced absolutely no one in the long run. And there's nearly nothing about New Order, who MADE Factory Records. I don't care for them either, but I recognize that, as with the Smiths, I'm in the minority--they were and are huge.

Wilson is portrayed as the dashing hero/martyr/fool for Manchester music. You'd almost think he was its mayor.

Bullshit. Joy Division was made by themselves and Martin Hannett. If it hadn't been Wilson it'd have been another middleman parasite. Wilson was important and was good to his bands, but let's remember the film is a self-admitted prolonged piece of egomaniacal puffery, and, like all Michael Winterbottom films, is shallow as a puddle while posing as intellectual and postmodern. It's not a bad film, as a film, if you're just looking for something entertaining. But it poses as more.

I would also venture that the myth is what people already know. Why not surprise us instead with what happened? Surely that was sometimes interesting.


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26 June 2014
  Your Random UK Comedy for Today #17: Peter Cook/Dudley Moore- "The Making of a Movie" (1970)

A classic parody of just about every British period drama film of the late 60s, including BECKET, ANNE OF A THOUSAND DAYS, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, etc. And a rare clip, because this is the little that survives from Peter Cook & Dudley Moore's show NOT ONLY...BUT ALSO, most of which was erased by the BBC, along with a lot of other archive material, for reasons too low for understanding.


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