July 12th, 2005

flavored with age

You are not the kind of person who quotes Jay McInerney novels

You're awake. It's past midnight. You can't sleep a jot or tittle and you don't know why. You can't do any packing for fear of waking your roommate, and you're too frazzled to do any decent writing. Your girlfriend is asleep, you're broke, and it's hot as hell. What can you possibly do?

What, indeed, other than futz with your LJ interests list in order to fully rather than partially transform it into an endless agglomeration of pointless in-jokes and meaningless pseudoreference?

- "Annie Bridget McKenna": That's my girl's girl, and I think she's swell.

- "bad wushu dialogue": Like, for instance, when two people are sitting around a campfire, and they start talking about some arcane plot point involving characters we have never seen before in the film, and discussing a situation the details of which we, the viewers, are entirely unaware. And then one says "So you know what I'm talking about?" And the other says "Yes." And then the first says "Good. Then we don't have to discuss it any further." And that, apparently, is that.

- "being boring": A lot of people have this as a reference. I can't help it, myself, but I guess it's all the rage with the young kids today. What's next, deliberately contracting multiple sclerosis? Is such a thing even possible? I'm sure I don't know.

- "believing in things" and "not believing in things": Both equally pointless activities, to be sure, but they pass the time.

- "bitin' like Rich Kiel": This was a line in a freestyle rap I composed yesterday while carrying heavy boxes around a wearhouse. The full four bars went "bitin' like Rich Kiel/livin' in Litchfield/makin' your bitch feel/bad like a Hitch spiel", and it was about sucka MCs.

- "breaking kayfabe": Written to read "breaking kayfabe for no reason", but LJ imposes a length limitation on interests.

- "Catantrums": A word that rum_holiday, her husband and I use to describe a fit someone throws when things don't go their way while playing Cities & Knights of Catan. Another Catan slang we use is "newspaper game", which is one where you're so out of it, with so little chance to win or make any progress, that you might as well just read the newspaper.

- "crying Vegeta": God, I miss him.

- "doin' it": I can't believe no one else has this listed as an interest. Come on! Who doesn't like doin' it?

- "eating beyond my means": How did you get to be such a fat guy, sometimes people ask me. The truth is, because I've always been a fat guy, and I eat too much crap and don't get enough exercise. But a more elegant answer, which is only partly a lie, is that I may be an impoverished urbanite, but I have the tastes of a grand gourmand. Thus, I do stuff like eat homemade French cuisine, prepare elaborate five-course meals for small, brief dinner parties, and spend money on premium ingredients for meals that might otherwise go to, I don't know, paying bills, or not dying in a gutter. I eat beyond my means. Thus, happy fat guy!

- "getting defensive about postmodernism": Sure, I do this, and I'm not proud of it, but the amazing thing is that it coasted in under the length requirement.

- "idealized ratedness": Everything is either overrated or underrated. I'm interested in coming up with a critical approach that ensures that everything is rated exactly right, to end all this a-fussin' and a-feudin' so we can all live together in peace, hey.

- "saying 'you're funny'": I love it when you're having a conversation with someone, and you say something funny, and then they say "You're funny!". So now we both know!

- "Shauna Lynne McKenna": That's my girl, and I think she's tops.

- "zombie irony": It keeps dying and then coming back to life again and then dying and coming back to life. Clearly, irony is a zombie. (Actually, "comic book supervillain irony" works even better, but it's too long and lacks a certain punchiness.

I have many more interests that seem to make no sense. And in fact, they do make no sense, except to me, but this is the place to ask if you want me to try and make them make sense to you. Also, tell me about your interests that don't make sense. What, you're too BUSY? Please.
flavored with age

Co Micks

In between cleaning, working, writing, apartment-hunting*, and all the other stuff I've been doing lately, I've been re-reading Gaiman's Sandman.

Heresy this is to a lot of comics fans, especially the moody goth kind, but you know what? It may well be one of the greatest comics ever, but I'm always going to think of it less as a great work of art and more of a book that wasn't as good as it should have been. (See also: Maus.) And I realize this is unfair; in any creative field, especially one with as great a paucity of quality writing as comics, work should be judged on its merits rather than on its failure to live up to an impossible standard of perfection. It's not entirely just to be disappointed that Sandman wasn't as good as it could have been, when it was, to be honest, pretty damn good in its finest moments. But, revisiting it now after not having read it for quite a long time, that's the impression I'm left with: an ambitious and often excellent book that nonetheless set its own bar too high and failed to live up to its own ambition.

What works: the literary allusions. The seamless incorporation of diverse mythologies. The peripheral characters (the Endless always strike me as pretty intensely unlikeable, but that's probably by design). The outstanding structural work -- Gaiman crafts really intricate plots and then calls them back perfectly when the time comes; as unfocused as the series seems at times, it reads much better as a whole than I remembered. The ability to tell an elegant story with the feeling and tone of a dream but the craft and skill of a novel.

What doesn't: the characterization (Delirium in particular is a complete botch-job, and while Dream is meant to be something of a moody prat, that doesn't make it any easier to be around him every issue). The pandering way that women are written. The rotating art staff, which undercuts the consistency of the storytelling (not Gaiman's fault, of course, but still a flaw). The dialogue; sometimes it's pretty good, but other times it reads like Stephen King when he's trying to be 'relevant'. The inconsistent use of Dream as a framing device, which sometimes works but more often doesn't.

Don't get me wrong: I like the series. I own it. I just reread it. It did something to comics that desperately needed doing. It created a precedent for more experimental, ambitious, artistic work in mainstream comics. It launched Gaiman's career, which has been a mixed blessing, but a blessing just the same; better an inconsistent Gaiman any day of the week than a consistent hack like Dixon. And it's still plenty rewarding to people who give it a close reading. But the collected TPBs have introductions from some pretty heavy literary hitters, and I just don't think it deserves their repeated claims of being the best comic of all time. The difference between Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman has been addressed by a lot of people in a lot of ways: their gap in age, their handling of women (Gaiman is always cited as the better writer of female characters, a claim I find completely bewildering), their common themes of horror and transcendence, their opposing degrees of optimism and pessimism, their sense of the mystical. But when all is said and done, I think the biggest difference is that Moore is simply a better writer.

*: By the way, we finally looked at this apartment right down the street from us -- I mean, like, four doors down -- and...well, I mean, okay, we haven't looked at many places. And maybe this is just settling or wishful thinking or something, since I'd as soon have the move over and done with. But MAN! I really like the place. It's a nice-looking building, the apartment is big, it has a big patio storage area, it has a sun room, the bathroom is bigger, the kitchen is huge, it has central air and heat, and even more amazingly, the landlord seems really cool. We're still gonna look at more places, but wow, I like this place.