Friday, April 02, 2004

I kinda feel bad for Dave Sim. Here he is, having just released the 300th issue of his long-running comic book series Cerebus, a title he's been doing with a near-monthly regularity for almost 30 years, finally reaching its point of culmination, and it seems whatever press he gets these days half talks about his "reputation" as a misogynist. Cerebus first came out in the '70s, and began as a Conan spoof. Then somewhere, somewhen, Sim decided he'd do 300 issues, on a monthly schedule, and in the last issue Cerebus, an aardvark, would die, alone and unloved. It holds a record of some sort: longest sustained narrative, if I remember right. By a single author (he had a guy, Gerhard, who helped with backgrounds, etc.), no less. Some people opined that Sim would commit suicide upon publication of the 300th issue. Cerebus is one of those series that I always read about, was usually mentioned by a creator I like, and I thought that I'd get to reading it someday-- maybe when all 300 issues are done and the whole run is in big fat trade paperbacks. Which they now are, with the exception of the final volume. He was the first comics creator to devote a massive 500 or so pages to a single story ("High Society"). His "Church & State" took twice as long to complete. Cerebus has been mayor, pope, a bartender, a mercenary, all manner of occupations, and the title has largely been Sim's outlet of opinion and expression.

But in an issue of Cerebus, in the back pages where he usually prints fan mail and opinion essays, he published a long essay called Tangent, which dealt with the "feminist and homosexual axis," announcing his fervent anti-feminism and such. I don't really know the details; I never read the essay in question, just read things about the aftermath, the storm of controversy it caused. Other stories came about: he insulted Jeff ("Bone") Smith's Indian wife Vijaya and Smith challenged him to a fistfight; his longtime editor Diana Schutz resigned, supposedly due to his views on women. I don't particularly have anything against what Sim has to say (I couldn't, I haven't read it), but reading this interview at The Onion AV Club, it just strikes me that the man is an asshole. Which he doesn't have to be. His opinions might mystify a lot of people, but he himself should comport himself in a better manner.

I'm not so sure if I want to read his books now. I mean, the older ones I might still take a crack at, they're considered landmark works. But his recent stuff, post-"cracking up," as they say, maybe I'll pass. But even the older stuff that I did want to read, I'm hesitating now just because he's an insufferable boor.


Went to a wake the other day in my mom's hometown of Tanza, Cavite. My lola's brother had passed away. Got introduced to a lot of relatives, and it's a little sad that there's still so many relatives I haven't met. Their facial features betray our bloodline, though: one of my elder uncles even rubs his stomach the same way my mom's brother does.

Heard some interesting stories, too. Like how my lolo and lola met: they had relatives who lived across one another, and met when both were vacationing with their respective relatives (my lolo also comes from Cavite, but from Imus). And one of my uncles told the tale of how he smuggled in 4 baby birds from Canada in his pockets, occasionally going to the bathroom to let them out, and keeping them in a small perforated box in his hand-carry when he went to sleep. He used to breed fish but since that incident he's been breeding birds. I remember his house, we used to visit it often during my childhood: there were around 6 aquariums, and a fishpond, and we would watch prusisyons and santacruzans from his second-floor window that overlooked the main street.


I love the video of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Maps." It's a kind of cross between David Fincher's "Judith" video for A Perfect Circle and Mark Romanek's "Rain" video for Madonna, both of which I also love. All the videos are basically performance videos, except the videos reveal the people working on the video. So they're self-referential. In "Judith" this is played very subtly; you see some people at a monitor playing with audio levels, in silhouette, and that's it besides the fucking up of the gate and film negative. In "Rain" it's more elaborate: there's people watching, and the director (who I think is Ryuichi Sakamoto?), and different sets and producers. Where "Judith" is more of a kick-ass performance video, "Rain" is more of a statement about video-making, the glamour/artifice/commercial aspects, with a bit of performance thrown in. What I love about "Maps" is that there's this constant push-and-pull between reminding you that this is a music video and the fact that it's a genuinely emotional song. I love the shot that just holds on Karen O's face for a while, to the point where Karen starts looking around, not sure where she's supposed to be looking. There's shots of the lights changing gels so that the colors change; there's people out of focus in the background moving things, seen in mirror reflections. There's one long dolly shot showing the entire crew and some visitors (including one kid) watching the band perform, one person singing along, another with his head bobbing. I love when the video uses slow-motion; it's unexpected and near-invisible. At the end the camera tracks away, and the lights turn up revealing the set and warehouse they're shooting in; perfect.

Best of all for a music video-- it elevates the song. You know how a song you like becomes even better, becomes a song you LOVE because it's got a kick-ass video? That's how "Maps" is for me. Same thing with "Judith"-- I'm not really a Perfect Circle fan but I love that song.

Saw some Yeahs performances on video; they have an interesting dynamic, performance-wise. Their drummer looks so-- well, normal and clean-cut, like Max Fischer from Rushmore, or a young Max Weinberg. Nick Zinner is like the skinniest vampire, with a hairdo that's the rebellious teenage son of Nick Cave's, but he doesn't move around too much, seems to just spin slowly (but he throws his guitar like Melissa Auf Der Maur), and Karen O is a whirling dervish of energy. She's the Tasmanian Devil as vocalist. Her facial expressions change and twitch into caricatures of themselves, and she has this dance that she naturally reverts to at times that is charming.


Will be out of town until about Monday or Tuesday. Everyone stay safe and healthy.

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