Soundtrack — Kill Rock Stars Anthology, 1991

Christine is shedding her 25ness as we speak–Happy 26th, My Sweet!!!

I would write on the lintels of the door-post Whim

In the interest of striking while the iron is hot, I’m going to let my discussion of Emerson & Spider-Man slide (but it’ll return, as will the above quotation from “Self-Reliance”) and focus on the world outside of my brain!

1 — Neilalien discusses his feelings for Rintrah, Doctor Strange’s chucklesome–and now barbecued–apprentice. I’m with ya all the way on this one Neil! The green bull was one of the things that made the Sorceror Supreme so much fun, back in 1989-90, until those Infinity Gauntlets got a chokehold on the series, and commenced squeezing. In his second shot at the Doc, Roy Thomas tried something completely different, and it was working really well, I think–a mix of truly disturbing stuff like Vampire love, time-honoured stuff like the confrontations with Mordo, Satannish, Mephisto and Dormamu, interesting experiments like the “tabloid issue” (#9) + a more extensive cast than the Doc usually had, each of whom (and Rintrah was notable here for doing stuff like transforfming into Fred Astaire and delivering a few lines from Irving Berlin’s “Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails”) made important contributions to the atmosphere–humorous, but still serious (i.e. not like the DeMatteis/Giffen Justice League Whatever). Anyway, I’m here to say right now, I’d pay good money to see Rintrah live again! (perhaps a petition?)

2– Speaking of Roy Thomas, Kevin Melrose has posted a brief, qualified ode to the Earth-2 books of the early-to-mid-eighties, notably All-Star Squadron, which I’ve always loved. In fact, there’s not much that Thomas has done that I haven’t liked (Conan stuff excepted–I just can’t get into sword & Sorcery), and it’s nice to see a knowledgeable comics fan praising the Rascally One for a change! I think the 1960s Avengers are legitimately great, as is the 1968-69 Dr. Strange–and X-Men #20-38, with (mostly) Werner Roth pencils and John Tartaglione (RIP!) inks, are, if not great, then at least wonderful…

Unfortunately, as this article makes clear, Roy the Boy is no more, and a doddering old duffer has taken his place. Sad…

3– Forager disputes my contention that Frank Capra’s films belong in a discussion of an eye-level aesthetic. Well folks, this is where the subjectivity comes in, big time! As my dad likes to say, I have a sickness when it comes to Capra, and It’s A Wonderful Life, Meet John Doe, The Miracle Woman, The Bitter Tea of General Yen, and Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (along with the more universally accepted It Happened One Night) are pretty much the most important works of art in the whole world to me (along with Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance)… I think part of the problem with Capra is that people read his book (The Name Above the Title) or they watch those parasitic Frank Capra Jr. commentaries that mar the DVDs and they actually start to believe that the films offer nothing more than all-American wholesomeness. But Forager, let me ask you a question–if these films are preachy, what are they preaching? I don’t see what it could be–other than the gospel of human personality. I can see that you might feel buttonholed or harrasssed by a Capra movie, but preached to? More than any other director, except for Cassavettes, Capra just let his actors super-nova on screen, and it can be disconcerting if you’re not in the mood for it–but if you are, you will find that his people (especially Stanwyck and Stewart) are staring straight at you… (and sure, they might be riding some socio-political hobby-horse or other, but the context in which these pleas are uttered always works against them!… Nothing ever gets solved in a Capra movie–what kind of preaching is that?)

Capra’s oeuvre really explores the problem of endings, which, obviously, fascinates a proponent of “seriality” like myself… Basically, I don’t believe in endings, so I don’t have a problem when an artist creates an unbelievably tight knot of human joy and misery, pulls for as long as his/her medium comfortably allows, and then just gives up and, in Capra’s case, throws a “wrap party”, films it, and then calls that an “ending”. In this respect, Meet John Doe is possibly the most interesting film ever made, because it is absolutely impossible to imagine even a competent way to write finis to it…

4. Eve Tushnet thinks I’m taking ethics too lightly!! Believe me Eve, I wish it were true–I really miss Ovaltine (is there an eggless version out there?) For me, “God” is a metaphor for whatever it is that allows me to interact with other people, and I decide on how to relate to them on a case by case basis–I’m with Kant, base your ethics on the need to treat every person (and animal) as an end in him/herself–it’s the only way out of solipsism/pantheism… And it is pretty simple–until you bring this stuff into the political sphere–and there, I agree, it gets pretty crazy! Oh yeah, Eve, I think Madison is great too!

Something further may follow of this masquerade

Good night friends!


  1. Here’s a question: you seem to be drawn to works of art (like Charlie Brown, the Capra movies, etc.) that deal with a lot of dark and disturbing subjects and yet aren’t themselves typically thought of as dark and disturbing, so much so that it often seems, talking to people, as if they haven’t noticed the darker elements of the work.

    My question: how does that work? What is it about these works that leads us to think of them as happy, or even sappy, when the events in them are so full of despair?

  2. Josiah,

    You are absolutely bang on about the stuff that I love– and my imminent Christmas barrage was conceived, in the main, to help me to try to articulate the reasons for this preference… The short answer is that, I think, people often mistake a work that is grounded by a commitment to the proposition that other people are absolutely real–and more important than the perceiving subject–for some kind of sappy attempt to “uplift”.

    At this point, people are so used to “cosmic pessimism” or cynicism (which is really just the flipside of the “empowerment” coin), that any time they experience a work of art that refuses to whine, they peg it as corny sentimentalism, when in some cases (preeminently Capra) it is anything but…

    So what is it?

    Well, at the very least, by the end of December, I–and every reader of this blog–should have an idea of what I think it is!

    Thanks for the perceptive comment!


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