If you're in Maryland this weekend, it's probably because you're going to be at the Small Press Expo, which is at a hotel called the Marriott. (Or you live in Maryland?) If you're not too busy looking at comic books you'd like to buy, but not really, maybe someday, for free, when they're as good as Blackest Night: My Erect Penis, you should check out this panel that Tucker Stone will be moderating called "Humor In Comics". Not because Tucker's on it, but because Matt Furie (Boy's Club!) is on it. And Emily Flake (The New Yorker! Lulu Eightball!) is on it. And Lisa Hanawalt (I Want You! Stay Away From Other People!) is on it. And Sam Gaskin (Fatal Faux Pas! Sugar Cube! Call All My Dogs!) is on it.
One of those four is worth your time. All four at once?
That's like, four times worth your time.
*There's also a comics criticism panel with Jog (awesome!) Chris Mautner (holy shit!) Douglas Wolk (he wrote a real book!) Rob Clough (also a big deal!) Sean Collins (he likes Beyonce!) Gary Groth (wait, seriously? That guy doesn't even have a blog.) and Bill Kartaloupos (this is all his fault). Tucker is on that too, but only because none of those other dudes have the Fucking Courage to read Tyrese Gibson's Mayhem, and there's a rule about that kind of stuff.
If you want a taste of the Tucker's written word, but you can't handle the magic of this site and you like spending money on pretty books filled with pretty pictures, than you'd best spend seventy-five dollars and buy a copy of this, otherwise known as the first full-on monograph for seminal fashion photographer Bob Richardson, who was, and due to his impact, still is, a big fucking deal. Even though he is Totally Dead. Another Dead Hero to people with too much disposable income, and little interest in super-heroes? Well, that would have to be Andy Warhol--coming in less than a month is Ron Gallela's latest monograph: That's Great! Tucker handled some of the heavy design lifting on this one, so don't expect it to read like a Jeph Loeb review. Do expect it to be lots of pictures of sexy people who are now dead. No, he doesn't get paid extra if you buy these books. And for the win, you can catch up with Tucker and super-hero babblings at his comixology column, which now includes extra sass.
Link: You Will Need Some Time
For those who don't know the music of William Basinski, this is not a recommendation that you go running to check it out. Not because you won't like it, but because you Probably Won't, as Basinski's work isn't much like anything else out there. For those who do, all his work has recently been added to the catalog of mp3s at emusic, which, since Emusic operates under a fixed price for a fixed number of mp3s, regardless of length, means it's a ridiculously cheap way to pick up a lot of the dudes work. So, if you're in need of hour long tracks exploring the soundscapes of disintegrating tape loops, then this is the cheapest way you're ever going to be able to do that, short of stealing it. (Which you could do just as easily, but William Basinski isn't exactly the face of evil corporate music. He's a dude who makes hour long drones of disintegrating tape loops. Help a brother out.)
Link: The Gay Utopia Part Deuce
Obviously, you've already gone to the Gay Utopia, as it's still as great as the last time we linked it. And although it's a great source for smart-y pants-y articles, you're not really culturally in the know until you take another look at the team-up between Noah Berlatsky and Johnny Ryan, which resulted in something like this. Did you click it? It's called "Alpha Male...In Don't Be Gay!" You should just click it. Again.
Link: The Return of the Nabin
The world cried some tears earlier this year, when the AV Club's Nathan Rabin finished up his magnum opus "My Year of Flops," but he's happily started up a new feature, which is almost as good, and just as funny. I Watched This On Purpose Go. Justice Served.
Link: Totally Inside Baseball
Postmodern Blarney is that site you wish you'd thought of yourself, while being reminded you're just not that fucking clever at the same time. While you might not know exactly who's he joshing on here, it'll probably still make you chuckle. Either way, the Man of the Moment is always pretty hot.
We don't have a blogroll here--not out of dismissal of those who have us on one, solely because we don't want anything to detract from the hours our dear, dear readers should spend staring at Bert as he eats that babies head. Eat Bert. Eat the baby. That being said, we'd be remiss if we didn't point the dear reader in the direction of some other quality places to spend the lunch break, the morning coffee, or the late night pause between video loads at your local churches website.
Link: Noah Berlatsky Edition:
Chicago readers of the Chicago Reader already know of the Noah, as do those of us who keep with his inspired rants courtesy of the print edition of The Comics Journal. For those of you who are yet to experience the glory! the glory! of Mr. Berlatsky, you can either start at his blog and work your back through the ether, or go directly to a classic: his notorious take on Art Spiegelman's In The Shadow Of No Towers. Now that you've caught the bug, the worst possible thing this editor should do is hook you up with The Gay Utopia. Worst, you ask? Because it is bad, you query? No dear reader. Because it's chock full of poetry, artwork, comics, personal essays, reviews, fiction, drama, slash, and more by Ursula K. Le Guin, Jennifer Baumgardner, Dame Darcy, Johnny Ryan, Ariel Schrag, Julia Serano, Michael Manning, Matt Thorn, Neil Whitacre, Edie Fake, and a host of other contributors. And if the editors of the Factual are linking you to a website that includes poetry, otherwise known as the mortal enemy of all things Factual Opinion-related, then you know that this website, we worry, may end up taking up all the free time you've been devoting to hearing us tell you of bad comic books while you wait for us to tell you the top five albums of 1983. If a random link to the masthead brings you fear, then begin your Gay Utopia focus here, with Mr. Berlatsky's look at some of the finest excursions into horror ever captured on film, including two of our personal favorites: John Carpenter's The Thing and David Cronenberg's Shivers. There you go, dear reader. The brainwaves are in sync. Go. Do Justice.
Link: Sean Witzke Edition:
Sometimes one hesitates to share their joy, remembering how special it was to be one among few at the club, preparing to leave after the opening band. That's the case with the Witzke, probably the only pop culture blog that one needs keep up with: besides it not being an irritatingly omnipresent blog run by faceless hordes who seem to like everything, like a Pitchfork or a Stereogum, Witzke, completely by himself, happens to cover all the things that should fill up ones time when not contemplating how easy it might be to figure out where Jeph Loeb lives. Simply put, he talks about The Wire, makes you a desktop image featuring Omar, posts all the youtube links you need to see featuring things that interest you (as opposed to ones about children biting other children), and fills the gaps in the music collection you like to pretend was birthed out of your own taste. On top of that, he's extraordinarily funny. Sean Witzke--we couldn't talk him up more without having to pay a sailor to blow him. Just don't share.
Link: Dirk Deppey Edition:
Ok, no bullshitting. At least 50 percent of you are here because of Dirk and His Journalista, so how much of a probing should we give The Dude? (The rest of you are Marty's friends wondering how often he posts.) Safely put, if you're one of that ever-dwindling group who's never gone to Journalista, and yet are still one of the Factual's Dear Readers, then make your way to his Monday-Friday odyssey through the world of the Comics News (don't worry, it's not about Robin's clothing choices) and make your necessary atonements. Then hurry back to hear about Tony Bedard and what crime he was convicted for in Maine last June.
Marty Brown is certainly no stranger to those who have hit upon these pages before, and for the more discerning reader, nor is Andre Harris. (If by more discerning one implies "those who read the comments left by others." We do mean that, so good for you. Of course, considering Marty Brown is, at current, the only other writer for these pages, should one discontinue with the usage of "we?") Many things to consider, none of them as interesting as the recent weeks theatrical performance of Athol Fugard's Blood Knot.
Blood Knot is, at it's heart, one of those sort of stories that the stage is probably best designed to hold. Trying to recreate it's immediacy in film would probably come across rather sensationalized, yet presenting the stories nuance would become sparse and less complex on the page. In a way, Blood Knot is similar less of the type of African pieces of literature by authors like Chinua Achebe and J.M. Coetzee, closer instead to (no surprise) Sam Shepherds seminal brothers work, True West. It's not to say that Fugard is less "African" a writer than Coetzee or Achebe, but that this specific work is less interested in what race does to a nation than it is in what race does to brothers. Whereas Achebe and Coetzee often dally in the worlds of the individual, they are nearly bereft of the type of focus that Fugard places on the ever slippery relationship between the two brothers that Blood Knot has at it's center. To find someone that interested in Cain and Abel stories, one has to leave the apartheid behind--which, excitingly and surprisingly, Fugard chooses to do. It's so rare to see a play set in a place with the problems that this era of South Africa has that doesn't focus exclusively on those problems, it causes Blood Knot to become compelling by default. These two brothers, while certainly not in ignorance of the hideous nature of the society they live in, harbor no open desire or ambition to change it--and Fugard is skilled enough to hide his own feelings from the type of explicit condemnation other playwrights are often guilty of. At no point in Blood Knot is the audience treated to a preachy monologue decrying the lack of rights in the land: no, Fugard is full aware that any sane person already grasps the inadequacy of the law, and he chooses instead to leave the sentimental claptrap out. Instead, we're treated to an examination of two brothers separated not by the line of poverty (they both suffer on that front) but instead by the possibilities that their skin tone offers them. Here, the man named Zack (played by Andre Harris) and his brother Morris (Marty Brown) don't look very much alike. In fact, Morris can easily pass for white, if he so chooses (and apparently, he has.) Through a relatively simple piece of plot mechanics, Morris and Zack go through the regular motions of stage work: the arguments, the monologues, the credibly built but still cliched "dramatic arc." By the close of the show, which admittedly left this reviewer craving a bit of bloodshed, very little has changed--the brothers carry ill will towards one another, but they're not about to change things very much.
One of the more complicated aspects of this performance of the show, and one someone with more intelligence might want to examine, is that Marty Brown is not black--not half, not a quarter. Mr. Harris is--so when the late stage role playing begins in the second act, what the audience experiences is not a black man pretending to be a black man who's pretending to be a white calling a black man pretending to be a black man a "nigger," what you actually have is a white man pretending to be a black man who's pretending--c'mon. Go with it. Although it's neither offensive, nor difficult to swallow or accept, it does add a certain additional layer to the plot, one that was probably just as present in the play's Broadway premiere (which had a white man in the Morris role as well.) It makes for compelling work, especially in the hands of someone as skilled as Marty Brown: and here's where one has to get a bit personal. Marty's skills are most blatant in work like this--talky, emotive work that would get bogged down by someone trying to suppress writing with their own personality. It's not mentioned enough when actors decide to take the mature road and allow writing to shine through--Marty could just as easily tried to show off and distract, but he doesn't, and that's commendable. Even now, a few days after watching the show, what stands in memory is less his "performance"--one instead focuses on who the person Morris was--where that man is now, and what his relationship is now like. Yet Morris isn't real--he's just words on a page, and the only reason we know him is because he was so effectively brought to life by Mr. Brown.
Andre, with apologies to Marty Brown, has a somewhat more difficult task to attempt: after all, Harris is, by his own nature, a rather sweet and gentle young man, and no accent is going to conceal that effectively. And while Zack can be sweet, there's a hard edge underlying most of what he does, and it's in capturing that where Harris has his largest challenges. Happily, he succeeds in doing so, and he hits some incredibly fearsome moments due to that. Although the ending of the play seemed somewhat neutered, with it's "all things go around again" conclusion, it seems more to me that the reason it was hard for this writer to buy the lack of murder was due to the earlier sequence in act one where Zack, by Andre's brutal force of personality alone, makes Morris write the second, implicitly sexual letter to his new pen pal. The scene is a nasty one, and when Zack restrains himself from fratricide at the close of the show, it's more than a bit jarring--but not for the reason the writer probably intended. It's difficult to watch because (despite an excellent performance) Zack's restraint doesn't flow out of any specific motive. He doesn't kill his brother...because the writer didn't want him too. This audience member felt differently.
Sadly, this performance of Bloodknot was also it's farewell to the stage for it's superb cast. Hopefully, Mr. Brown and Mr. Harris can be persuaded to bring it out again at a later date. If and when that happens, you're recommended to remedy the mistake of not seeing it when you had the chance. Neither of these gentlemen can be expected to work around your schedule.
-Tucker Stone, 2007
While The Factual Opinion is rarely, if ever, interested in any "news" that does not correlate to an increase in our finances and a decrease in our fiscal responsibility, it has come to our attention that quite a few of our readers, and our readers extended network, are operating under the assumption that the Oscars mean, well, anything in relation to the actual quality of last years films. That being said, here are some inarguably accurate responses to the latest Oscar Nominations. These are only the acting nominations. More responses may be provided, depending on reader response.
Best Actor In a Leading Role:
Leonardo DiCaprio in Blood Diamond--While it's certainly possible that Leo's performance in this wasn't as god-awful as any of his other non-Departed performances in his depressingly long and irritating career, that doesn't mean you give him an award. That's like being proud of a child molester for not slitting the throat of his latest rape victim.
Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson--Ryan Gosling gave an intensely intelligent and eminently compelling performance in one of the best films of the year, a film that was not only complex and complicated, but completely devoid of sentimentality and cynicism. He has no chance at winning an Oscar from the people who picked Crash as last years best film.
Peter O'Toole in Venus--Not only did no one watch this movie, no one should have, and yet O'Toole has an excellent chance merely because he refuses to die until he's done voice-overs in a Shrek sequel.
Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness--Liking Will Smith, wanting him to win, is like joining hands with those militant Evangelicals that preach the murder of abortion doctors. It's a filthy, disgusting thing to do, and it's proof that, once again, valuing everybody's opinion as having possible validity is about as useful as getting an associates degree.
Forest Whitaker in The Last King Of Scotland--While Half Nelson is the best movie of these five, Whitaker's performance outshines even Gosling. He is able to unflinchingly recreate Idi Amin, making the man so alive that the film would have been believable if it was shot in the janitor's closet of an elementary school. He should win.
Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine--Take Little Miss Sunshine and shove it right up your ass.
Jackie Earle Haley in Little Children--We'd like to believe that the Academy has enough courage to give the award to a man who so courageously played a child molester. Then we remember Sean Penn and I Am Sam. Courage and Oscar haven't held hands in a long time.
Djimon Hounsou in Blood Diamond--Single-handedly setting back the entire movement to convince young acting students that Audiences Hate Characters Who Scream All The Time.
Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls--Daddy Day Care, Metro, Vampire In Brooklyn, Pluto Nash, Norbit, Shrek, Shrek 2, Shrek 3, Holy Man, Dr. Doolittle and Haunted Mansion. It's been twenty years since Axel Foley--Fuck Eddie Murphy.
Mark Wahlberg in The Departed--One hopes that this joke of a nomination will result in a win, just because it will mean an increase in usages of the f-word in all movies.
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Penelope Cruz in Volver--If you saw this, you're probably pulling for her. You should try to remember how full the theater was when you were there. Oh. Wait-a-second.
Judi Dench in Notes on a Scandal--At what point does Judi Dench stop getting a free pass due to her storied career? Before or after her lesbian stalker movie? I guess after.
Helen Mirren in The Queen--Mirren is well-loved here, and she will win, and she should. Too bad she had to hang out with Stephen Frears to do it, but life goes on.
Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada--Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep will hopefully team up before too long--they could have a long conversation about taking a steaming dump on their careers. If they included Goldie Hawn, maybe they could redo Witches of Eastwick.
Kate Winslet in Little Children--Nothing like padding a category, huh? Are we ready to come up with decent roles for women yet? Next year they'll find some loophole and nominate Juliana Marguiles for the first season of ER.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Adriana Barraza in Babel--I liked her better on that X-Files episode where she wouldn't shut up about the goat-sucker. Was she in Babel too?
Cate Blanchett in Notes on a Scandal--I can't keep up-is this the lesbian one or the one where she pees on a plate? Oh wait, that's the Brad Pitt one.
Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine--Why don't they just give it to Dakota Fanning and call it the People's Choice Awards?
Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls--Interesting fact: If you tip Jennifer over, her brain runs right out of her nose, like a strawberry milkshake. If the award was for that, that would be okay, we guess.
Rinko Kikuchi in Babel--Americans should know that there's actual pornography with Japanese schoogirls everyday. They don't have to watch Cate Blanchett pee onscreen just to see a nubile Asian girl swish her way around. Try Ninja High School--it's pretty hot.
The Factual Opinion is glad to announce that following an extensive search of the most revered global hotspots, we have taken on a new writer. Starting today, Labor Day 2006, The Factual Opinion is proud to supply you, dear reader, with all-new reports courtesy of Marty Brown.
Mr. Brown will also be prominently featured in The Factual Opinion's upcoming Point/Counterpoint reviews and the postponed "Best Music of 1992." Please give him your warmest welcome as The Factual Opinion enters into it's second month.