Showing posts from June, 2010

Author on My Radar: Peter Kuper

Peter Kuper’s on my mind today (the visual imagery of that line is crushing-hahaha).  Like I do with many authors, artists, creators, etc, I stumbled upon him a few different times before realizing it was the same person and then proceeded to swallow up as much as I could and find out more about him.

The first time I encountered him was with the publication of Give It Up and other stories, which was a series of comic adaptations of Kafka’s work.  Later on, I would read his adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle (before going on to read that actual book) and that I was reminded of Kuper recently when reading The Jungle while at the same time a friend had recently purchased a comic adaptation of Kafka’s The Trial (not by Kuper, but the overlapping moments converged into one of those universal conflagrations that demand action be done or else the universe will implode:  see Star Trek—any Star Trek—I’m sure it will make sense).
Speechless Thus, with my interest sparked in Kuper, I proc…

Vacation of the Mind Part 5: The Most Stimulating Airplane Ride Ever

As the trip came to a close, I became fixated on my next endeavor: prepping for a class on Love and Erotica.  To get to teach the class was pretty exciting; but I also had to think about solid and interesting material to use for the class that could effectively communicate the complex thought for a younger audience (read: first year students).  Like a variety of courses I teach (like comics and cultural diversity), it has the possibility of going drastically wrong.  So my mind reeled with ideas but being away, I had little material to directly depend upon.
The Delta of Venusby Anais Nin  So I did what seems to be the best course of action to start the train of thought; I asked for recommendations from friends and colleagues on Facebook.  And got some good ones.  One, in particular, was Anais Nin.  I had heard (vaguely) of her but never explored her much; but then a few people highly recommended her.  I figured I had a good few leads for when I returned home.  But low and behold, on my …

On Borrowed Tales

I should posit that I haven’t actually read Kill Shakespeare yet.  I’ve checked out comic’s website  and read this post in the Globe and Mail.  I will most likely read it in the future and provide an addendum either reiterating my dubiousness or reiterating the fact that I’m an idiot (or both—quite likely).   The series like a mixture of fan fiction, intertexuality, meta-fiction, tempered with perverse comments in iambic pentameter and epic action.  That does actually sound like Shakespeare.

But I’m dubious about a venture that sets out from the beginning to compare itself to the Lord of the Rings and other highly epic and influential material.  I also found the comment that if Shakespeare was alive today, he’s be doing comics.  Those comments seem to undermine the ability to think creatively and perform some amazing linguistic and psychological feats with characters that represented Shakespeare.  I’m not positing that Shakespeare is the end-all be-all, but he did some amazing feats, …

The Sequel, Remake, Redux Edition

So often I hear a great many people complain about “Sequel-Mania” or the number of remakes being made of movies that aren’t even old (at least to the person making the statement).  Even the Washington Post wasted ink on the subject ; believing it is detrimental to the creative world.  The elitism can be heard in a great many of these arguments.  People just don’t have fresh ideas and aren’t as creative as they “used to be.”

Bahhh.  I don’t buy it.  In fact, I remember watching the first X-Men movie when it came out and I knew that I only enjoyed it as much as I did because I knew there would be sequels.  If X-Men 1 was all there would be, I would have been deeply disappointed.

As Thomas Foster  reminds us, there is only 1 story it and keeps getting retold time and time again.  So the fact that sequels are abundant is not entirely surprising.  More importantly though, I think the Washington Times and others miss the point.  Yes, studios and even publishers look to launch series and a s…

Enlightened Evil...Definitely Maybe

6 Enlightened Ideas Brought to You by Evil Empires is an interesting entry from  It reveals as the title indicates compelling ideas that we generally appreciate in the modern world from some rather unlikely sources.  Thus from Nazis we get anti-smoking campaigns, childhood education from the Aztecs, egalitarian society from the Mongols and the Soviets, cultural diversity from the Akkadians, and essential elements of modern government from the Persians.  

But one paragraph I think is particular striking here:  " We put this on the list at great risk to our future political careers. You really can't say anything good about the Nazis without it getting taken out of context in a campaign ad, and obviously pointing out that, say, Hitler's soldiers were well-groomed doesn't excuse their many, many, many atrocities.”

Indeed, it’s quite hard to say positive things about a people whom we use as our epitome of “evil.”  You quickly draw the comparison of being a “Nazi…

The Complex Gooey Muck We Call Culture

Michael Kimmelman offers some rather interesting insights into the every elusive and shape-shifting idea of culture.    Of course, the definition of “culture” is 

the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations b : the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also : the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life} shared by people in a place or time c : the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization d : the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic

the act or process of cultivating living material (as bacteria or viruses) in prepared nutrient media; also : a product of such cultivation.” (Taken from Merriam Webster).

And Wikipedia has a rather lengthy …

Letter to the Editor in Salem News

Letter: College degree losing value in consumer-dominated economy

June 7, 2010, To the editor:

Neil Barry's June 4 letter to the editor ("Education can be a liability for some job-seekers") hits and misses with regards to the perception of education within our country.

The U.S. has a history of anti-intellectualism. There's some precedence for fearing the intellectual class; after all for most of history the "smartest" were also the "richest" and went hand in hand with the nobility and religious institutions; exploiting and manipulating the masses for millennia.

Fear of intellectuals is also something the Right strongly courts in many of its messages, particularly with leftist leaders (labeling John Kerry as "French" could be read as his being intellectual or non-masculine).

For the full article, click through.

Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around andcheck out some of my other posts!. You …

Vacation of the Mind Part 4: Fearful Insights

The next book for me to enjoy during my vacation is the only nonfiction book in the lot.  I’m a big fan of nonfiction of course, but I think mostly for this trip, I was looking to step into other people’s shoes.  Not “escape” as we so often refer to the act, but more just enjoy the new vision other authors’ worlds gave me.  However, I did happen to listen to one compelling nonfiction audiobook on my mp3 player that has left me with a better critical angle to approach informational sources (or maybe just refreshed my already developed sense?). The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Shouldn't--and Put Ourselves in Greater Danger by Daniel Gardner The book is a rather interesting look at how our sense of fear is so often misguided.  We get distracted, mixed messages, or not sufficient information to judge something as a legitimate threat while at the same time, rarely take a step back to view the broader context for something we deem a threat.  As Gardner says, our “gut” (or in…

Vacation of the Mind Part 3: The Not So Stellar Bunch

The next three books to have engaged me during my trip were enjoyable but nearly as profound for me.  I didn’t feel as moved or compelled with these but I could still appreciate the pleasure of slipping into and getting lost in the story; seeing the world as the author created it and the characters were sent careening along. 
What’s interesting about this lot is that two of them were audiobooks and the third was a graphic novel, “readings” that some are still suspect of.  The merits of either form will be addressed at length (and most likely ad naseum) in future.  However, their form shouldn’t be indicative of lesser engagement; after all, some of my favorite narratives are best experienced for me in audio form (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy read by Douglas Adams himself) and my GoodReads library is fill with at least 1/3 of graphic novel titles (and another 1/3 is of course, books that I’ve listened to). Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers had its merits for …

Access Unprecedented

The term “awesome” comes to mind (in its original use; not the TMNT/surfer lingo) when I think about the Internet Archive.  In fact, I often have to set a time limit for myself when I visit this site.  Like Wikipedia, one can get lost following the hyperlinks from one source to another or just doing search after search to see what the site has to offer.  
The premise of the site is twofold.  The first is to catalogue the entire internet, day after day, month after month and take a snapshot of all the sites (or as many as possible).  They turn this into a virtual archive of the world wide web.  That in itself is an immense project, and one that is a boon for people curious to look at the history of the Internet or just doing research of one sort another.  At current count, it has some 150 billion (that is 150,000,000,000) sites catalogued.  For instance, one can look at’s site and see how it looked back in October 20, 1996:

Or what it looked like on September 11, 2001:

There’ a…