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The Other Guy

John Christy, co-recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize(!) with Al Gore and member of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, comes out swinging on Gore in this interview.

To be sure, he’s always been a contrarian on climate change. He’s no lightweight, though. And he’s no mouthpiece. Reminds me, a bit, of Bjorn Lomborg. There seems to be a growing movement of middle path environmentalists, but they appear to be squelched and/or drowned out by the scorched-earth tactics of people like Gore.

- 10/28/2007 10:43:57 AM | link

Good grief

Bill Watterston, creator of Calvin and Hobbes (my favorite comic strip of all time) comes out of his self-imposed hermitude to praise the quiet sadness behind the genius of Charles M. Schulz.

"Lucy, for all her domineering and insensitivity, is ultimately a tragic, vulnerable figure in her pursuit of Schroeder. Schroeder’s commitment to Beethoven makes her love irrelevant to his life. Schroeder is oblivious not only to her attentions but also to the fact that his musical genius is performed on a child’s toy (not unlike a serious artist drawing a comic strip). Schroeder’s fanaticism is ludicrous, and Lucy’s love is wasted. Schulz illustrates the conflict in his life, not in a self-justifying or vengeful manner but with a larger human understanding that implicates himself in the sad comedy. I think that’s a wonderfully sane way to process a hurtful world. Of course, his readers connected to precisely this emotional depth in the strip, without ever knowing the intimate sources of certain themes. Whatever his failings as a person, Schulz’s cartoons had real heart."

In another older piece in the LA Times, Watterston marked the end of the Peanuts comic strip.

"By now, "Peanuts" is so thoroughly a part of the popular culture that one loses sight of how different the strip was from anything else 40 and 50 years ago. We can quantify the strip’s success in all its various commercial markets, but the real achievement of the strip lies inside the little boxes of funny pictures Schulz draws every day.

Lucy yelling with her head tilted back so her mouth fills her entire face; Linus, horrified, with his hair standing on end; Charlie Brown radiating utter misery with a wiggly, downturned mouth; Snoopy’s elastic face pulled up to show large gritted teeth as he fights the Red Baron--these were not just economical drawings, they are funny drawings."

- 10/14/2007 8:03:38 AM | link

Going, going, gone

Stephen King is the guest editor for this year’s anthology of short fiction, "The Best American Short Stories 2007." He name checks American Short Fiction(!) in this New York Times essay while bemoaning the half-beating heart of the short form and the good read in general (hat tip to Bearden).

"What I want to start with is something that comes at me full-bore, like a big, hot meteor screaming down from the Kansas sky. I want the ancient pleasure that probably goes back to the cave: to be blown clean out of myself for a while, as violently as a fighter pilot who pushes the eject button in his F-111. I certainly don’t want some fraidy-cat’s writing school imitation of Faulkner, or some stream-of-consciousness about what Bob Dylan once called ’the true meaning of a pear.’"

Fuck straight.

- 10/11/2007 9:02:35 PM | link

Don't call it a backlash

It seems Wonder Bread fiction and preciousness in general have it coming to them. Ever since I saw Jonathon Safran Foer give a tepid, Sufjan Stephens impersonation at a New Yorker reading, I knew these guys were going to get a Texas-sized ass-whupping at some point.

The wondrously-named Melvin Jules Bukiet takes down the whole of Brooklyn and its peddlers of "wondrousness" in his "you’ll-never-work-in-this-town-again" essay in American scholar, while, Jonah Weiner (again, these names have to be made up, don’t they?) skewers Wes Anderson for his precious handling of race (and all matters PC for that matter).

Take that you wusses!

Too bad it’s not Robert Stone sticking it to them.

And, also, too bad some of this art is actually worthy of more than trivial PC oneupmanship.

Too bad Wes Anderson is pretty damn funny and at least a damn slight more glorious for having singlehandedly revived Bill Murray’s career.

Too bad McSweeney’s just about jumpstarted literature when it was deader than a limp dick in a Philip Roth novel.

But, mostly, too bad, life surprises you and traumas can occasionally be overcome. It would be so much easier for the self-appointed "realist" critics were this not true.

- 10/1/2007 7:06:36 PM | link


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