When we gaze into our doggy’s liquid brown eyes, our kitty’s crystal green eyes and wonder, “What is Ralphi/Raphael thinking?” and they gaze back at us, which prompts us to begin a conversation with them, a conversation of a kind that can only take place between dog and human or cat and human, are we, the humans, anthropomorphizing? projecting? communicating? And by turn, what is Ralph/Raphael doing with us? Does their gaze really just come down to imploring us for a treat? Animal lovers know better—there’s love in those eyes. They also know that the human/animal companion conundrum is one that may never be solved, and ultimately, as we love and delight in our animal friends, we can only really understand ourselves. These books satisfy that perpetual human itch to know thyself—and to love others. Be assured your animal lover’s furry friend will lay by her side for an occasional pet, as she reads.
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As Japan’s leading absurdist, Kawaski is not beyond having puppets, amusement park like mascots, and inanimate objects carry the majority of his narrative load. With the arrival of Calamari Wrestler on American shores (that’s right - it’s about a grappler who turns into a squid), the unconventional director became a filmmaker to watch. Now, with the release of these three titles by Synapse, we witness the evolution of an artist - albeit one who turns an Australian animal into a serial killer, a policeman’s toupee into a lethal weapon, and the destruction of the planet into a stinging denouncement against the West.
If most Americans too young for membership in the Greatest Generation have any inkling at all who Bill Mauldin was, the knowledge probably comes smeared with a dash of sepia, like some Norman Rockwell of the cartoon world. The actuality of the man and his art, as presented in the fantastic two-volume box set, Willie & Joe: The WWII Years, has quite a bit more of the stink of reality to it. Said reality is accentuated by the olive-drab packaging and old typescript-dossier design. Not someone who trafficked in instant nostalgia (just as, come to think of it, Rockwell wasn’t either, regardless of his current reputation), Mauldin was instead a chronicler of the everyday grime and misery that was the life of the average G.I. The appreciation of the important if common reality of small things—cigarettes, pretty girls, wine, a bath, clean clothes—that runs through Mauldin’s work is a key to his enduring success. Wars, weapons, and causes may change, but soldiers are forever.
Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone charge headlong into their pursuit of celebrity status, following every trend and fad and desperately trying to keep current. Seeing celebrity status more as a state of being (a sort of materialist’s nirvana) rather than recognition of achievement, they strive mightily while doing amazingly little work. They also drink, drug and smoke with complete abandon and one is never sure whether their unflinching selfishness and rampant vices is what’s keeping them from the top or are the only things keeping them in the game. Absolutely Fabulous: Absolutely Everything contains hours of wicked, side splitting tales that are as good as comedy gets. If we are very lucky, a show this funny may come along again in the next 30 years. Until then, we’ll have to comfort ourselves with this set.
1. Erykah Badu - “Honey”
2. No Age - “Eraser”
3. Caribou - “Zoe” (2008 fan video using MS paint)
4. White Williams Vs. TV Carnage - “New Violence”
5. Crystal Castles - “Vanished”
Seeminging no longer available online.