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by Matt Mazur

11 Jun 2009

Arthur Miller’s granddaughter has written and directed some unique female-centered stories (Personal Velocity and the underrated The Ballad of Jack and Rose), so hopefully the excellent Robin Wright Penn, Julianne Moore and Winona Ryder can elevate her newest film to another level, because the lifeless trailer makes it look like Lifetime-bound snooze-fest.

by Zane Austin Grant

11 Jun 2009

Nate Doyle and Julia Wertz at MoCCA 2009,

Nate Doyle and Julia Wertz at MoCCA 2009, “Look at these cartoonists”

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art 2009 festival. The annual event is a comic convention that focuses on small press and self-published comics artists and enthusiasts. People from all over the world come to mill about the many booths where creators showcase their works, attend panels on subjects that vary from alternative histories of comics to the current state of the small press publishing economy, and to meet like minded members of the underground comics community. This year the event was housed in the Lexington Armory, a behemoth military structure in Manhattan, originally built in 1906 for the 69th regiment, who shared the halls with this year’s convention attendees.

As I made my way up from the train, I came upon a line of well over a hundred people waiting to get inside. Finding the end of the line down the block and around the corner, I spoke casually with a woman who gave me a self-published mini-comic about her childhood relationships, while another comics artist who was a recent Pratt University graduate showed us his comics about a race of cannibalistic Cyclops. Pretty soon we drew another MoCCA attendee into our conversations, and she told us of her intent of making friends with (or stalking) Randall Munroe, the author of the webcomic xkcd

Once inside, I systematically made my way through the large room of around 200 booths searching out friends to say hello and see their new works before hitting up some panels and lunch. I found most everyone to be sweaty but happy beneath the cavernous and flaking army green ceiling. A lot of people I met up with had finished their work just in time to get it printed for the fest, and their ‘stay up all night for three days’ dedication left me inspired. 

The picture above is one such source of inspiration.  In it we see the always positive Nate Doyle who just put out the fourth issue of his comic Crooked Teeth with a limited run of 200 screen-printed covers and Julia Wertz of The Fart Party, who, like an ‘Eazy E’ of comics, is renowned for her quick temper and street fighting insults. Wertz said, “Don’t take my picture, I look like I was just punched in the face.” When I asked her if she had actually been punched, she responded, “No, not really. Fine, take the picture. Have the caption say, ‘Just look at these shitheads’”.  After drawing an unflattering picture of Nate, she signed my book with the same words.

by Nikki Tranter

11 Jun 2009

Starlog has reprinted a fascinating interview with late fantasy author David Eddings in its latest online edition. Eddings discusses his influences, his Cherokee background, and the fact that he doesn’t read within his own genre.

From the Starlog piece:

Considering the great success that Eddings enjoyed writing fantasy stories, one would have assumed that he was a big fantasy reader, but that wasn’t the case. “I don’t read in the field. I can’t,” he confessed. “I have an unconscious burglar living in my mind: If I read something, it’s mine. I can read Middle English stories, Geoffrey Chaucer or Sir Thomas Malory, but once I start moving in the direction of contemporary fantasy, my mind begins to take over.”

From Eddings’ obituary in Thursday’s Guardian:

Prolific and bestselling, Eddings was the author of more than 25 books, many of them written with his wife Leigh Eddings, who passed away in 2007. Best known for his Belgariad and Mallorean series, which follow the adventures of the orphaned farm boy Garion as he fulfils an ancient prophecy, Eddings turned to fantasy after he spotted a copy of The Lord of the Rings in a bookshop, and saw that it was in its 73rd printing.

by Adrien Begrand

11 Jun 2009

Over the last three decades, not much has changed in the way of heavy metal music videos. While cutting-edge filmmakers like Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, Chris Cunningham, and Jonathan Glazer created innovative pieces in the pop, electronic, and indie rock realms, metal videos, on the other hand, have been merely content to stay the course, opting primarily to please the fans as opposed to trying to break new ground in the medium. There have been exceptions, of course, Tool being the most obvious, but for the most part, metal clips tend to fall into three categories: a deliberate showcase of a band’s latest stage show, a straightforward clip of a band performing among its rabid fans, and conceptual stories intercut with simple performance footage.

The latter category has yielded extraordinary results in the past, but it’s been a long time since we’ve seen a metal band embrace the music video quite like Mastodon has done this year in the wake of the release of their excellent album Crack the Skye. Enlisting director Roboshobo, the man behind last year’s spectacular clip for Metallica’s “All Nightmare Long”, Mastodon’s video for “Divinations” involved a caveman trapped in ice, a Yeti, and cannibalism, and the partnership’s follow-up “Oblivion” delves into far more cosmic territory. Typical of the band’s tendency towards rather outlandish, convoluted concepts, the storyline centers on the foursome on a space rescue mission, the sudden appearance of vegetation and butterflies outside of the craft, and the mysterious, blissful deaths of Troy Sanders’s crew. What it all specifically means is open to interpretation (goodness knows Mastodon’s explanations of their concepts tend to complicate things even further), but the joy with which the band throws themselves into the whole video making process, coupled with some actual major label bucks, makes for a terrific visual complement to one of the year’s better hard rock singles.

by Jason Gross

11 Jun 2009

One great thing that I’ve loved about the Net is that we can not only connect again with old chums but we can relive old memories and sometimes get a jolt to recall them. 

One of my favorite destinations was at Facebook, which had a great application called ‘My Restaurants. which let you chronicle all the places you’ve eaten at around the country and which ones you’d like to try one day.  I found out that there were dozens of NYC restaurants I liked and would return to, plus places in Boston, L.A., Miami, Memphis and Austin that I wanted to go back to or try some day.  I was having a lot of fun with this- not only could I remember where to go but I also had a great list of places to recommend to friends and to go try out one of these days.

And then the application died.  I was heart-broken.  All the hours and days I slaved away on it, noting my favorite places and recommending to others and making reminders to go back… All gone.  The page is just a blank, empty space.  I wrote the developer to beg them to get it going again but haven’t heard anything.  All of that work, effort and joy… lost.

And there you have a problem with pouring yourself into a site or an application.  What are you gonna do when it shuts down, malfunctions or just mysteriously disappears?  You’ll feel like a moron for wasting all of your time but you’ll also be devastated that all that info you were hoping to carry along with you is just gone. 

So how are you gonna trust Facebook or other sites that can’t give you any guarantee about the long-term safety of your information? (not to mention privacy concerns)  Do you really wanna get frustrated and hurt again? (sounds like dating, doesn’t it?)  You’d be better off saving your precious info on a word processing file on your own machine and then backing it up on a CD.

That’s why I was both excited and weary when I heard about Songkick.  This site lets you create a data base of all the shows you’ve been to and lets you search by artist and city to help jog your memory.  I was getting all giddy about finding out when I went to this Sonic Youth concert or that Sonny Rollins show or that Al Green show.  Not only that but you can also see which friends were at shows that you didn’t know about before.

But then I remembered ‘My Restaurants.’

What if I go through all this trouble and then it disappears?  Does Facebook have any guarantee that all the rest of your info there won’t disappear one day and there’s nothing you can do about it?  Does Songkick have a guarantee like that too?  Do I wanna be a chump again?  Can’t these programs have some kind of way for you to back up and save all your data so you don’t risk losing all your work and info? 

Unless I can back-up my info at a site or application to my own computer, I’m gonna be kinda of weary of doing that again and so should you.  Why risk the heart-ache?

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