17 August 2005

The REAL Opiate of the People (CS)

We've been slacking, i know it. But here's an item i thought i'd throw up to try and get back into the swing of things.

Thailand (largely the Buddhist portion) has tried development aid, martial law, and even an airdrop of millions of paper birds (bizarre, kitschy, but i think kinda nice) to appease, subdue, and just generally stop the violence coming out of the Muslim provinces (I admittedly know very little about the issue and I even checked good ol' wikipedia to no avail).

But now they're pulling out the big guns..... Television. I actually think free cable TV works damn well to sedate a people and/or, when you're pumping in western television, as a means to get a people to reject autocratic rule (read: strict fundamentalist Muslim law). Or perhaps they intend simply to mindwipe an entire generation (and perhaps an entire people) by providing Bravo's new Battle of the Network Reality Stars.
Have I mentioned that i don't get cable TV?

09 August 2005

Paint the Planet (CS)

When it comes to the world of art, i'll be the first to admit that I don't know that much. I know what I like (and what i don't like). It takes me some time (or a decent explanation) to "figure out" most modern art.
I certainly don't have much of a grip of what's "new" in art, either. It does seem, however, that a lot of people i know are quite taken by this Bansky fellow. I first heard of him as the "British pensioner" who managed to hang up his own work alongside originals in The Museum of Natural History and the British Museum.

This guy certainly has some skill as an artist. He also has some skill at slipping in and out under the noses of authorities unnoticed. But it would take all that plus a real set of brass balls to pull off putting up the work he did on the West Bank barrier. I like what he did there a lot. Perhaps the people living there don't agree. Or perhaps they don't see the point. Or perhaps I don't see the point (as i've already admitted is apt to happen). But I think we can't deny giving the guy credit for managing to put up artwork on what was otherwise just an ugly, grey, mean wall at the risk of getting killed by the Isreali army... and coming away unscathed.

I wish graffitti weren't such an issue. It'd be nice to let some great grafitti artists loose to paint the town red... green... black.... you know what i mean. But i guess the defiance of authority and the norm is part of the fun. The art is in the act, they say. Either way, Kudos to Bansky and his ilk.

04 August 2005

Comics Roundup 8/4 (CS)

I was pleased to see the A/V section of The Onion carrying an interview with Brian K. Vaughan last week. I've mentioned Vaughan in the past as the author of my current favorite monthly, Ex Machina. And now you have to put up with another love song to him from me. But I feel it's only fitting since i just discovered that he's a fellow NYU alum (which probably goes towards explaining how he writes NYC issues so well).

Two points that Vaughan made in the interview that i found particularly interesting:

1. Vaughun points out that he doesn' t think about "writing for the trades" at all. The big companies make major money when they collect issues in a series and sell them in one bound book, a trade. Decompressed stories that play out with a trade in mind have become popular partly for this reason. Vaughan seems to be of the old school though, having a large story in mind (of course) but concentrating on an issue per issue basis. And I love it. It's probably this mentality on Vaughan's part that makes this book the one I usually enjoy the most AND look forward to each month. Comic books will never recapture the glory days of being sold on racks within supermarkets and the like (as Geoff Johns harkens to) if they don't have books that not only hook you with any given issue, but also leave you thirsting for more at the end of every last page. And in the end, i'll pick up the trade anyway.

2. Vaughan admits a lack of action in his books, saying that artists who illustrate his stories (and fans that read them) might complain that "[his] comics are too much people going back and forth." Some people think that what makes comic books succesful is a fun sluggfest. While i'm all for the fun, what's wrong with "talking heads" when it's executed properly? Major complaints about DC's Identity Crisis and especially Marvel's Avengers: Dissassmbled (and Bendis's writing in general) has been about the anti-climactic rounds of talking, particularly at the end of a series. But what's wrong with the "people going back and forth" if it's executed properly? Are we supposed to sacrifice good storytelling for entertainment churned out mostly in the name of the dollar? I think Vaughan, especially in Ex-Machina, exemplifies a great storyteller who cares for his craft and his story and executes both with a precision that gets results.