Monthly Archive for October, 2008

Heavy on the Castanets

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Michael Chabon frustrates me. He’s obviously talented, smart and knows how to tell a good story in the old school way. Even if he suffers from the classic problem of providing his stories with endings as memorable as what went before. (I remember a lot of cool things about Kavalier and Clay, but how did it end, again?). What I have a problem with, however, are certain mannerisms in his fluid, elegant language that have always been there, but which one hoped would dissipate, rather than consolidate themselves, with experience. Continue reading ‘Heavy on the Castanets’

Defending the Herd

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As so many before me, I recently took umbrage at some of Domingos Isabelinho’s rather categorical views on comics, as expressed on his new blog The Crib Sheet. This time it was a curt dismissal of the majority of Hugo Pratt’s work as being superficial and hollow that got me out of my chair. For the record, here’s my short, rather extemporal take on what makes the best Corto Maltese stories great, formulated in response to his assertion that Corto is an unknowable, romantic stereotype, a ‘sailor who doesn’t sail’:

Corto is not meant to be a realistic character — he’s an engine for our imagination. Pratt’s genius in those stories, and I mean right up to the very end — or at least until the penultimate Corto book, Elvetiche (the last, MU, is coasting a bit) — is to engage our taste for adventure in unexpected, almost dreamlike ways. Continue reading ‘Defending the Herd’

Picks of the Week

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The picks of the week from around the web.

Just returned from Venice; pardon the lateness…

  • The Little World of Harvey Kurtzman. A new blog showcasing the amazing work of Harvey Kurtzman, apparently run by his estate. So far, a healthy selection of material from his classic humour magazines, Humbug and Help! are up. Not to be missed. (Thanks, Tom).
  • Shephard Fairy for Obama. Short video feature on the independent graphic artist behind those spectacular Obama posters, stickers and other promotional material that has become the primary graphic ID of the campaign.
  • The Archive. Short documentary on Paul Mawhinny, the owner of the world’s biggest record collection. Fascinating, if a bit sappy. But really, if you’re a vinyl enthusiast you will want to check for this. (Thanks, Lars).
  • No Architects

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    In which I go to the Venice Architecture Biennial, so you don’t have to. Continue reading ‘No Architects’

    Hype: Majors — Suckers Never Play Me!


    Danish rap supergroup Majors have just dropped a new single, reprising “Suckers Never Play Me,” arguably the best track on their fine, eponymously titled album, released earlier this year. It’s available for free download from their website, and is well worth it if you’re into traditional hardcore hip hop. Continue reading ‘Hype: Majors — Suckers Never Play Me!’

    Klodsen Kommer

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    De fleste københavnere, og sikkert også de fleste danskere, har nok allerede hørt om ‘Store Roberts’ kommende entré i Københavns havn, så jeg vil undlade at komme ind på de triste detaljer her og blot eklære mig enig med de efterhånden mange stemmer, der synes at det er en meget dårlig idé, og i øvrigt udtryk for eklatant mangel på dømmekraft fra Overborgmesteren og borgerrepræsentationens side, at dette længe syltede projektet igen er blevet taget op.

    Man kan selvfølgelig sige, at det ville være et ganske repræsentativt monument over den talentløshed med hvilken størstedelen af Københavns havn er blevet udviklet over de sidste 10-15 år, men det er næppe et argument i klodsens favør. Ikke alene vil den være fatalt ude af skala i forhold til sine omgivelser på det sted — den lader også til at være det med sig selv. Continue reading ‘Klodsen Kommer’

    Walls — Bassano

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    I was in Bassano del Grappa today. A beautiful small Medieval/Renaissance town scenically situated in the foothills of the Dolemites, it’s well worth a visit. Palladio’s famous pontoon bridge is elegant, almost timeless in its grace, and the collection at the city museum of pictures by the town’s greatest artist son Jacopo del Ponte, aka. Jacopo Bassano, is both grand and moving. His best work is earthy and rustic, yet possessed of a luminous spirituality that transcends the profane. Continue reading ‘Walls — Bassano’

    Hype: Super16/Black Heart


    If you’re in Copenhagen and looking to do something on Thursday, go to the opening of this year’s crop of films by the Super16 group of independent filmmakers. It’s at the Dagmar Theatre and runs from noon till midnight.

    The usual full disclosure: the director of one of the films — Black Heart — Ada Bligaard Søby, is a friend of mine. But that doesn’t prevent her from being incredibly talented. Really, go see for yourself. I’ve just watched Black Heart (produced by Morten Kjelms Juhl), and it’s a both ominous and touching piece of documentary reconstruction. It’s hampered somewhat by it’s use heavy handed allegory, but it never becomes a real problem — this is acutely poetic filmmaking in the tradition of the French New Wave. Don’t take my word for it — go see for yourselves!

    Picks of the Week (American Politics is Weeeeird)

    The picks of the week from around the web.

  • Al Smith Dinner 2008 (above). It took me a while to believe this was recent, and for real. But it was. McCain is actually funny!! Obama tries. And the atmosphere is congenial. A weird moment in the exciting — and on the Republicans’ part — farcical presidential campaign. Oh, and Obama mentions Jor-El, so there’s your comics link for the week!
  • Other hilarious, related moments from the past few weeks: The Daily Show on casting Obama as a terrorist’s pal, Chris Rock/Bill Maher on the first debate, and Jack Cafferty on the almost surreal Katie Couric interview with Sarah Palin.
  • And then, of course, there’s this. Which just boggles the mind. Not to mention this, which is your hip hop link for the week.
  • These have been your picks of the week. I’m sorry :)

  • Oh, wait a minute, there’s also this.
  • The Metabunker Open for Comments!

    Just finished this article that Tom linked to (thanks, Tom!). It’s by Andrew Sullivan, a former editor of The New Republic, and it’s on blogging as a way of writing and creating a community. It’s rather utopian, but in that good, inspirational way, and it’s made me return to these thoughts I’ve been having about blogging the Bunker. Basically, I don’t do enough of it.

    Sullivan argues strongly in favour of the instant quality of blogging — the live writing — and distinguishes between that and more considered, formally judicious, as well as longer, writing. Thing is, I kind of like the latter, even on the web, despite being aware that most people don’t have the patience to read at least longer pieces. At any rate, I don’t do enough of the shorter, more instant kind of writing here and will endeavour to do this more in the future, all the while maintaining the more traditional pieces as a central element of the blog.

    Another thing Sullivan extolls are the virtues of keeping one’s writing open for instant commentary. I have resisted this because I used to run and moderate a discussion forum at the now discontinued Danish comics site rackham.dk and that eventually soured me on the whole exercise. I’m afraid this kind of thing almost invariably means diminishing returns. But Sullivan has me thinking I should perhaps try it again, in this slightly different form, so from today I have opened this site for comments on a probationary basis.

    So, you know, feel free to comment!

    Alton Ellis RIP

    alton_ellis.jpgA true legend of Jamaican music passed away last week. Alton Ellis, Mr. Soul of Jamaica, the King of Rocksteady, is gone after an extended bout with cancer that had been in remission for a while, allowing him to return to the stage as late as last year. I never got the opportunity to hear him perform live, but sure have appreciated his records for the last few years since I got into ska and rocksteady for real.

    What an amazing singer. He doesn’t have the rudeboy charm combined with occasional, dreamy vulnerability of a Desmond Dekker, but he makes up for this with sheer confidence in his delicate, unadorned voice, bordering on the nonchalant, hitting the occasional note off key for emotional resonance, and he conveys pain and heartbreak much more intensely. Few singers sound as earnest as him, and in this he touches upon the power of soul. Continue reading ‘Alton Ellis RIP’

    Efterklang (Better than That)

    natasja_shooting_star.jpgShooting Star — Natasjas posthumt udgivne engelskprogede album — er resultatet af en række uheldige sammenfald, ulykkeligt tynget af hendes tragiske død sidste år.

    I modsætning til hendes ligeledes posthumt udsendte, mesterlige dansksprogede album fra i fjor, I Danmark er jeg født, var Shooting Star åbenlyst ikke grydeklart som album, og det kan mærkes. Det består af en skønsom blanding af ældre numre, tre af dem endog gengangere fra hendes første engelsksprogede skive, Release fra 2005, lidt nyere materiale hentet andetsteds fra, og sidst men ikke mindst en håndfuld spritnye skæringer.

    Producenterne, Pharfar og Peter Skovsted, har gjort deres bedste for at få en helstøbt plade ud af det forhåndenværende, og der er for så vidt ikke noget at udsætte på deres indsats, der skaber en vis sammenhæng i en samling numre af ganske forskellig karakter. Problemet er — desværre — hovedsageligt materialet selv. Continue reading ‘Efterklang (Better than That)’

    Richard Wright (1943-2008)

    Richard Wright (1943-2008)
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    Read the Bunker’s obituary of the Pink Floyd founding member.

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    The Financial Crisis 101

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    For those of us who have a hard time wrapping our heads around what exactly the underpinnings of the current financial crisis are, I will continue my recent spree of linking to the New York Times (yeah, I know, not exactly the best kept secret when it comes to sources of information, but anyway). This introduction is quite good.

    And for comics fans who read Danish and aren’t already aware of it, daily newspaper Politiken‘s most recent and rather promising new cartoonist, Philip Ytournel, did a delightful summary in comics form last week.

    Venice at Night

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