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by shathley Q

4 Jun 2009

Morpheus, the eponymous Sandman, has died. The anthropomorphic manifestation of hopes, fears, dreams, and storytelling has passed from perception. As they sleep, dreamers have gathered in wake, mourning this passing. In this panel, Dream’s familiar, the raven Matthew, responds to an offer of some wine. Off-panel chief librarian for the Dreaming, Lucien confirms Matthew’s sobriety with an enigmatic quotation.

In more than one sense, this panel marks a moment of realization for readers. After this panel, there is no going back. Morpheus will not be returning. The last moments of his story really have played out on the final pages of issue #69. For regular readers, in a very real sense, the Dream has died.

But in a wholly other sense, The Sandman marks a point of no return in comics publication. Writer Neil Gaiman brought a literary quality to the series that along with such works as Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen and Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer winning Maus brought critical acclaim to the comics medium. At the height of this critical and commercial success however, Gaiman petitioned publisher DC to terminate the series. Agreeing to this, DC prioritized artistic creativity over commercial concerns. This decision would have lasting ramifications for both mainstream publisher-owned and independent self-published comics series. Almost from this moment, comics stories could end, something that had never happened before. There would be no going back.

But this panel also offers a secret betrayal of the “mature readers” project. The quote offered by Lucien comes from writer Alan Moore’s run on another DC publication, Saga of the Swamp Thing. More than a decade before “The Wake”, Moore kills off a Swamp Thing supporting character in a drunk driving incident. Consumed by fear and frustration, Matt Cable steadily turns to drink. When he finally decides to face his frustrations, he grabs the car keys and braves the night. As the car swerves, hitting a tree, Moore offers the sobering thought, “The night can make a man more brave, but not more sober”. In finally revealing the dependable raven Matthew to be none other than Matt Cable, Gaiman offers Moore’s character a redemption. But with redeeming the ghost of Matt Cable, Gaiman also gestures at DC’s mainstream superhero continuity. In the era of creator-owned, terminable series that Gaiman helped usher in, such gestures become increasingly impossible.

by Sarah Zupko

4 Jun 2009

PopMatters is 10 years old this year and we’re celebrating all year by remembering the culture of the year we were born. Look for a special music of 1999 special section in just a few weeks. In the meantime, we’ll start kicking things off here in Mixed Media.

The Dixie Chicks released their sophomore album (Fly) in the current incarnation with Natalie Maines in 1999 and “Goodbye Earl” was clear highlight, giving voice to female rage and empowerment. The video is pretty great too with Jane Krakowski, Lauren Holly and Dennis Franz.

by Sachyn Mital

4 Jun 2009

Though unable to attend the event as a member of the press, I was lucky enough to win two contests (from 101.9 RXP and Moby’s Twitter) to get me into the Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium for a listening party for Moby’s new album Wait For Me (out on Mute on June 30th). I missed out on the free booze and the schmoozing unfortunately, and as Moby was there, a chance to speak to him. But for the 250 people, press and contest winners alike, gathered within the gorgeous Rose Center, the listening party was an utterly unique event; the entire album played with accompanying visuals from our solar system selected by the resident astrophysicist for the evening.

The venue could not have been more fitting given Moby’s fascination with space. He titles songs “We Are All Made of Stars” and his ‘Little Idiot’ alien is often a lonely space oddity across many music videos. Snippets of “Pale Horses” playing in the lobby show the alien crafting imaginary friends on the moon or in the older “Why Does my Heart Feel so Bad” he feels excluded after he floats to Earth in a wheelbarrow. And Moby has another direct connection to the Planetarium; it is home on weekends to SonicVision, a mix tape he selected accompanied by visual effects of an abstract universe and giants robot dancing.

Moby humbly introduced the event, noting that the sound system was not operating at 100 percent but thanking everyone for coming. Wait For Me, a more ambient electronic album than his most recent works, has a very cohesive sound though the dynamic changes quite a bit. Some tracks featured the distinctive gospel vocal samples in rotation since Play, at least two tracks had contemporary vocals from Moby and a female friend, and surprisingly one song in the middle had a danceable four-to-the-floor beat. But the majority of the record is rich and lush instrumentals, similar to Little Idiot, the bonus disc to Moby’s 1996 album Animal Rights. And to experience all of this while traveling through the universe, pulling back via the Milky Way, plunging close to the mountaintops of Earth and amidst the rings of Saturn was a grand experience. What a way to introduce a great album to the terrestrial world.

by Sarah Zupko

4 Jun 2009

Twenty-five years ago this week: Bruce Springsteen released the seminal album Born in the U.S.A., which spawned seven singles and becomes one of his biggest commercial successes, having sold more than 25 million copies worldwide.

 

“Dancing in the Dark” [May 4, 1984]

by Bill Gibron

4 Jun 2009

With Land of the Lost slinking into theaters like the dying 800lb $100 million gorilla it is, the Kroffts better take stock of their entire creative canon before another high concept idea comes along to destroy their nostalgia heavy cred once and for all. An oeuvre as tenuous as the one the puppeteers crafted during the ‘60s and ‘70s can’t survive another smart-assing at the hands of Hollywood talent that believes anything coming out of their craw is uproariously irrelevant, and with the beloved psychedelic kid crack known as H. R. Pufnstuf next up on the remake/revision/reboot chopping block, there’s much more than trouble afoot. The aging brothers had better be careful, less they turn over their story of Living Island and a young flute-playing boy named Jimmy to Shawn Levy, a solo Jonas Brother, and a dragged up Eddie Murphy as Witchie-Poo.

In fact, what makes Land of the Lost such an underwhelming pile of junk could have easily been avoided had the Kroffts committed to doing something akin to their old show, only with bigger special effects and less artistic (re: budgetary) restraints. The original series relied on the innovation of Star Trek‘s David Gerrold to guide it in a more serious direction. On the big screen, it was a copy of Jokes from the Dinosaur John that seemed to inspire the screenplay. Clearly, the brothers are caught in a post-modern mainstream conundrum. Stick too close to the original material and people will think you’re merely cashing in - memory lane wise. Go too far outside the reminiscence, and you end up with a flailing funny man, an overused character comedian, and a nubile young Englishwoman running around with a mini-sasquatch acting like an extra from VH1’s Tool Academy - Paleolithic Edition.

So we here at SE&L have decided to do the right thing, and give the Kroffts our unsolicited, and probably unneeded, advice on where to take the remaining items in their catalog. We have purposefully avoided a few shows (let’s face it - nothing could save Dr. Shrinker) and avoided what could best be called the duo’s Love Boat Lite franchises - aka shoddy celeb-athons Lost Saucer and Far Out Space Nuts. No, the best material for a cinematic jumpstart remains the more fantastical shows they forged. Land of the Lost may have tapped into a growing underage fascination with all things…um…Jurassic Park, but for our money, nothing spells mega-bucks like singing animals, talking head gear, and a slimy creature from the deep blue sea bunking with a couple of hormonally uneasy California teens. Cue Johnny Whittaker… 

The Bugaloos


Billed as “The British Monkees” at the time - which is odd, considering what the Pre-Fab Four were marketed as during their brief TV tenure - this tale about talented insects doing battle with a fame-whoring battleaxe who lives in a giant jukebox seems perfect for today’s Hannah High School Camp Rock Musical crowd. Even better, the filmmakers can hand pick a uniformly unknown cast, raise ‘em up Disney style, and the market the crap out of them until puberty - or the lawsuit - hits. For the Kroffts, it could/would their own pre-teen cash machine. For the role of superstar wannabe Benita Bizarre, a failing one time beauty who is desperate to have a few more moments in the limelight, we say stick with what works - Janice Dickenson, or perhaps another certified plastic surgery disaster, Cher.

Lidsville


This will be a tough one, but follow us here. First off, whoever tackles this project will have to clean up the horribly un-PC elements involved in the original series. After all, these living chapeaus used to mimic the kind of stereotypes one expected to wear them, leading to goombah fedoras, hayseed straw hats, and worst of all, a cigar story “injun” stove pipe model. After that, it’s smooth sailing. Do a little motion capture, get an up and coming child star to fill the shoes so ably accessed by one Butch Patrick, and turn this story of a boy trapped in a magician’s hat (and the land of talking toppers within) into a full blown F/X extravaganza. Of course, no Krofft production would be complete without a certified star turn as villain. And who does SE&L suggest for HooDoo, the ‘flamboyant’ evil prestidigitator? John Travolta - he’s great at fey wickedness.

Sigmund and the Sea Monsters


This is the biggest no brainer of the bunch. A young boy keeping an ocean creature as a pet has been all over the Multiplex as of late, what with The Water Horse and…well, The Water Horse vying for quality kid vid attention. In this case, one could skew the material a little older, and go for a couple of Friends of Apatow in the leads - say Michael Cera as Johnny and Jonah Hill as Scott. Grab another Superbad alum - Emma Stone - as the hottie down the street who our hero pines away for (complete with pimply pop love songs) and a gaggle of celebrity voices for the all important roles of CG sea monsters Sigmund, Big Momma, Big Daddy, and brothers Burp and Slurp, and one can’t imagine the cash not rolling in. Perhaps the most important element - no small humans in suits. We were dumb in the 70s. We’d believe anything. But post-millennial moviegoers can sense a little person in a costume a mile away.

Wonderbug


Let’s face it - Lindsay Lohan’s stock and trade in Tinsel Town is at an all time low. She’s so last week that she can’t even get arrested for getting arrested. What better way to start the slow and painful road trip toward entertainment rehabilitation than co-starring in this blatant Love Bug rip-off about a car with a mind of its own. Sure, she’d have to share the set-up with adolescent male buddies Barry and C.C., but she needs to get used to such subpar billing. Of course, as with any animated vehicle…vehicle, Wonderbug and his normative alter-ego Schlepcar would have to be state of the art. Maybe the Kroffts could convince the Wachowskis to step in and handle the directing duties. They probably have a warehouse of Speed Racer leftovers they could retrofit for this project (it’s not like anyone’s calling for a sequel to that notorious, non-starter, right?).

ElectraWoman and DynaGirl


Sincerely, of all the semi-serious ideas being tossed around here, the notion of a big screen Dark Knight like look at two fetching female super heroines has the feeling of Thelma and Louise with less whining and more Electra-powers. By days, these babes work as journalists. By night, they are spandex wearing, take no prisoner bad-asses, cleaning up the violent city streets and looking fab-u-lous in the process. With Hollywood currently going ga-ga over any under 30 waif with a non-existent waistline and an even smaller resume, this would be the perfect vehicle for a pair of our more ‘seasoned’ sexpot performers. Give Quentin Tarantino the greenlight, let him hire his dream duo, and get ready for the real grindhouse experience, comic book Kill Bill style…or something like that.

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