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Archive for September, 2008

Sonnet. LXXV

One day I wrote her name vpon the strand,

but came the waues and washed it away:

agayne I wrote it with a second hand,

but came the tyde, and made my paynes his pray.

Vayne man, sayd she, that doest in vaine assay,

a mortall thing so to immortalize,

for I my selue shall lyke to this decay,

an eek my name bee wyped out lykewize.

Not so, (quod I) let baser things deuize

to dy in dust, but you shall liue by fame:

my verse your vertues rare shall eternize,

and in the heuens wryte your glorious name.

Where whenas death shall all the world subdew,

our loue shall liue, and later life renew.

 

 

Edmund Spenser (1552?-1599)

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So I went to the Free Library today and for .25 cents I picked up a good paperback copy of Edmund Spenser’s Poetical Works published by Oxford University Press. What serendipity! I had just purchased a train ticket and had a couple quarters left in my pocket which I though I would buy a bag of Doritos with. Instead I happened upon one of the greatest poets in the English language.

In college I stormed through the Faerie Queene at a tremendous pace, so fast I don’t remember all that much of it except its’ beautiful tone and style. Anyways here is an opportunity for me to keep a copy at work and one at home. Too Cool!

 

Peace,

 

Michael Evan Kerry McCullough

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R. Crumb

So an R. Crumb exhibition blew into town the other week and a friend and I went to see it. I have always admired Crumb from afar, hell I even bought a couple Zap and Mr. Natural comix a few years back. But I have never truly thought of Crumb as a serious artist. That is until his series of Early jazz, blues and country greats came out.  Even though we might only have a single picture or two of an artist, for instance Robert Johnson or Charlie Patton, Crumb, who is quite an avid 78rpm collector, really gets at the essence of the performer.  Oh and he is one hell of an artist when it comes to these portraits.  But as far as his underground work I am not all that interested in what he has to portray. Especially the late 70’s weirdness where he tries to squeeze everything into a single panel and then the next panel is just as cramped for space. His proportions are good and his lines express the right things at the right times but his content seems to be lacking a certain something.  I can understand the weirdness coming from the times he grew up in but I don’t know if Crumb’s work has enough lasting qualities to make it to the 22nd century.

Something else I liked about the exhibition was the early comics that Crumb did with his brother.  There was a Donald Duckyness or a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfism about them that was pretty cool to reflect on, considering his current work and style never really deviated from the peak underground years of the late 60’s. Overall the show was fascinating because of the glimpse of Crumb’s working methods and all that good stuff, and it is always good to see the originals of artists who have been mass produced.

If you are interested please check out the ICA’s website for the event info:  http://www.icaphila.org/exhibitions/crumb.php

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Flying Crooked

The butterfly, a cabbage-white,

(His honest idiocy of flight)

Will never now, it is too late,

Master the art of flying straight,

Yet has-who knows so well as I?-

A just sense of how not to fly:

He lurches here and here by guess

And God and hope and hopelessness.

Even the aerobatic swift

Has not his flying-crooked gift.

 

Robert Graves                                             1931

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In this short comic novel we find a number of characters centered around Tony, the Fifth Earl of Droitwich.  After some comic interludes we find that there is a fundamental problem to his claim to nobility.  The Cockney Syd Price, barber at large, is the real Earl of Droitwich. Hilarity ensues and P. G. Wodehouse has another novel notched up.

To say it very simply: just because your characters are high-class doesn’t mean your book is high-comedy. If there isn’t such a thing as high-comedy please inform me,> evankerry@yahoo.com or feel free to comment below.

Wodehouse’s book kind of limps along like Ma Price, the woman who shares the secret in the novel. It reaches its zenith, and is the one really memorable bit of prose, when the butler Slingsby is caught in an episode of deception:

“Having known the butler hitherto only in his professional capacity, with the suave mask of office concealing anything in the way of the more tempestuous emotions, he found matter for astonishment in this new Slingsby.  He had not supposed that a butler could get off anything half as snappy as that last crack: and he was impressed, as one always is when one’s fellow-man reveals unsuspected depths.”

If you can’t sense it from the excerpt you should pick up If I Were You and find out for yourself about its’ sentiments for the different classes of society.  I just might have caught Wodehouse at low tide, but since I don’t have any context for the books’ publication history and critical reaction, what has been recorded here will have to do for now.  Don’t worry intrepid reader I am not in the least daunted by one mediocre novel. I will soldier on and attempt some Wodehouse in the future, probably in the Jeeves series.

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Ogden Nash

The Turtle

 

The turtle lives ‘twixt plated decks
Which practically conceal its sex.
I think it clever of the turtle
In such a fix to be so fertile

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With the release of the two recent Batman movies I have developed an interest in the graphic novels by Frank Miller.  The same graphic novels that have supposedly informed Christopher Nolan and his dark take on the Batman.  First I would like to say that The Dark Knight Returns kicks ass. Ahem. What I mean is that it is an engrossing ride and a thrill to read.  Like the History of Superglue I couldn’t put it down. Waka waka waka.

I enjoy Frank Miller’s fervent conservatism and patriotism, which doesn’t inform me on anything, it only serves to further the comic book tradition of let’s say Superman and Captain America and even Batman.  The evil in the book must be destroyed and Batman and Superman are there to take it out of the picture.  The only problem is that Batman has become an enemy of the people and himself.  Gordon isn’t there to fight for him anymore. So he must fake his death in order to survive. One of the reasons I dig the whole thing is because of this undercurrent of evil which strikes Batman to the core every so often. He murders the Joker and uses guns on policemen. What is cooler than a 50 year-old man coming out of retirement and fighting crime? Not much else.

The coloring and sketchy style of the novel are illuminating.  Gotham has never been rendered more noirishly beautiful.  Batman never looked better and in some spots worse because of his constant mash-ups. What else can I say but go out and get a copy for yourself.

 

A word on graphic novels:

What is the difference between an illuminated manuscript and a contemporary graphic novel from the likes of Frank Miller?  I would argue that there isn’t much of one. Sure one is religious and the other is mild escapism. But in the coming years couldn’t these things merge together and then where would we be? Or are we already there?  But what about the web press, a large type of printing press, and the work done by hand in the thousands of illuminated manuscripts, books of hours and devotionals that are extant? Surely crass commercialism can’t be afforded the museum space and rare book shelflife of the divine? I don’t pretend to know the answer to these questions, but I do believe they are good questions to launch into the blogosphere. Here’s hoping that The Spirit is as good as Sin City. In the key of Monk I’ll say, Bye-a!

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