Non-Fic

I’ve written a lot of non-fiction and essays over the years (it keeps my critical faculties sharp). I’ve penned  book, movie and music reviews for a variety of publications, from genre magazines (The N.Y. Review of SF and Necrofile) to daily newspapers. I’ve posted a selection of my reviews and commentaries below—this is a representative sample but by no means all of it.

Those interested in reading more film-related writing should check out my blog Cinema Arete.

Somewhere down the road there might well be a compilation of my best reviews and critical essays but nothing is envisioned along those lines at this time.

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I’ll start off with a link to an essay that appears on Cinema Arete.  I’m a huge fan of western movies, have watched them since a kid. Shoot, I’m so crazy about the Old West, I actually wrote a good old fashioned cowboy tale, The Last Hunt.

“Why Westerns Still Matter” is my take on the enduring appeal of those bygone, frontier days…and my defense of the genre, its many virtues, what it symbolizes and why it still retains a special relevance, despite the passage of the years. Enjoy!

Burning Moonlight I:  reviews of The Futurist (James Othmer), Rant (Chuck Palahniuk), An Iliad (Alessandro Baricco) and After Dark (Haruki Murakami).

Download your free copy here…MoonlightI

Burning Moonlight II:  reviews of Dimestore Alchemy (Charles Simic), The Falling Man (Don DeLillo) and The Pesthouse (Jim Crace).

Download your free copy here…moonlightii

Burning Moonlight III:  reviews of Twilight (William Gay) and Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu (Laurence Bergreen)

Download your free copy here…burningmoon_

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booksthumbnail.jpegThe Solace of Fortitude” (print version solace.pdf) was composed out of sheer frustration and rage. It gives you a sobering and depressing look at what the writing life is really like for indies and freelancers. Not surprisingly, this piece was rejected by the folks at Writer’s Digest and Poets & Writers (they prefer to preserve the illusion that you can become a famous writer by subscribing to their publications and following their “20 Easy Steps to Becoming a Bestselling Author”–Jesus Christ!).

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“In Praise of Men in Rubber Suits” (print version rubbersuit.pdf) originally appeared on the website scifidimensions.com. It is a fond look at the sci fi films that preceded the digital revolution which has reduced the genre to mindless pap and CGI-enhanced comic book adaptations. I don’t mind if the wires show sometimes and the special fx aren’t ILM quality. SF films used to be fun, centred around character and story. A nostalgia piece for people who’ve seen three too many “Spiderman” films.

boyd.jpegAnd then there’s “The Prometheus Mission” (print version prometheus). Can you say “mockumentary”? This is an article I wrote on a science fiction series from the 1960’s that never was. Imagine if Gene Roddenberry and Rod Serling had collaborated on creating the ultimate show for sci fi fans…this is their bastard off-spring. Written with love for an era that, sadly, is no more. I sent it to Harlan Ellison and was surprised when he called me at home about ten days later. He liked it and says to pass along to you that he gets the joke…and he hopes you will too.

 

“On James Frey (& Other Beautiful Liars)” (frey.pdf) reflects my absolute disdain for the memoirs and whinging “tell-all’s” currently popular with editors. Look at me, I’m a junkie, a drunk, a victim of abuse with a good agent and six figure advance. Pardon me if I reserve my pity for the real victims out there…

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Contemporary Movies (A Rant)

Warning:  Not Suitable for Adults (Reader Discretion Advised)

This past week I was fortunate enough so secure a copy of Jacques Tati’s “Mon Oncle”. I’m a big fan of Tati’s Monsieur Hulot and I would have to agree with Monty Python’s Terry Jones who states (in his introduction to the film) that “Mon Oncle” is the best of the Hulot series. For those of you who can’t make head or tail of these references, I’ll make it simple by describing Monsieur Hulot as a more benevolent version of Rowan Atkinson’s eternally childlike Mr. Bean.

mon_oncle_hulot.jpg

Tati conceived and created a number of memorable productions involving the Hulot character but the quality and popularity of the series declined and filmgoers gradually lost interest. Tati’s last years were sad ones as he struggled to secure financing for his projects. His notorious perfectionism was part of the problem, insisting on multiple retakes until he had the timing or composition of a scene exactly right. That didn’t endear him to his cast and crew and certainly didn’t earn him brownie points with the people putting up money for his ventures.

The term most often applied to the character of Hulot is “bewildered” but I don’t think that quite apt. He’s more oblivious than anything else, unaware of the chaos he trails in his wake. Hulot is most endearing (and hilarious) when he is completely out of his element–that is never more apparent than in “Mon Oncle”. An older but no wiser Hulot finds himself trapped in a world of sterile modernity, a man out of synch with soul-sucking technology and labour-saving gadgets.

Which, in a roundabout way, brings me to the essence of this rant.

Increasingly, like Monsieur Hulot, I am feeling like a fish out of water. It probably has something to do with demographics—I’m in my early 40’s, trying to exist in a universe where popular tastes are dictated by/or directed at the 14-18 year old set. I hate the music I hear on the radio, the movies I see advertised hold no attraction to me, most new books leave me utterly cold, I never watch television…

A trip to the video store is enough to send my blood pressure soaring. As I walk up and down in the “New Release” section I see:

-200 copies of the latest comic book adaptation (crap)
-100 copies of the latest installment of a slasher/horror/snuff film franchise (“Boogeyman VIII”, “Hacksaw VI”, etc.—utter and complete crap)
-100 copies of the latest romantic comedy starring the latest pretty faces (crap)
-20 copies of the latest indie film about twenty-somethings looking for love or meaning in a world largely indifferent to their angst and vulnerability (crap)

So, inevitably, I skip “New Releases” and wander back into the stacks, hoping I’ll spot some Walter Hill actioner I haven’t seen for awhile or grabbing a full season of “Deadwood” on DVD or “South Park”, if I’m feeling particularly frisky. I also look forward to our family’s monthly trips to Saskatoon (the nearest population center of any size) so I can pillage the shelves of that city’s Central Library, securing as many of the movies on my “Wish List” as I can find. Our last excursion to Toontown was particularly rewarding; I brought back the aforementioned “Mon Oncle” along with Nicholas Ray’s “In A Lonely Place”, Georges Henri Clouzot’s “The Wages of Fear”, Chaplin’s “Limelight” and a couple of films in Val Lewton’s weird oeuvre. Not one movie was more recent than 1956. Fuck it, what’s the point?

CGI (computer graphics) has taken over the world. Now you can shoot movies without sets, without a coherent script, without expensive crowd scenes and there is no limit to what you can portray. You can propel your audience from one end of the universe to the other, from the far future to the distant past.

Take “300” for example. Yes, take it and stick it up your ass.spartan.jpeg

I know, I know, it was #1 at the box office for three weeks and everybody and his kid brother was telling you what a brilliant film it was. Funny thing that: you had high school students lining up at the movie theatres, inflating its gross earnings…and yet the film was supposed to be “18A”, wasn’t it? That means there were a whole lotta theatre owners looking the other way as pimply faced kids with fuzz on their chins ponied up the dough and went inside to see one of the most ultra-violent shows since Leatherface strapped on a chainsaw and went looking for fun. Where were the folks who are supposed to be guarding our kids against such smut…more to the point, where the fuck were their parents?

I think one reviewer put it best when he said the target audience for “300” was “emotionally disturbed fourteen year olds”.

You know, of course, that “300” was based on a comic book by Frank Miller. That’s right, comic book. Go ahead, defenders of so-called “graphic novels”, take me to task. I’ve read plenty of ’em (including offerings by Miller, Grant Morrison, Joss Whedon, etc.) and it’s my contention that the basic level of writing hasn’t much improved since I was a tweenie devouring Batman and Spiderman comics by the pound.

But the comic book/graphic novel is the perfect format for brain dead twerps who are daunted by all those words in traditional books. They need purty pictures to keep their attention. Ritalin, apparently, isn’t doing the job.

gates.jpg

The sad thing is the story of the Spartans is one of the greatest ever told. I urge you to find a of copy of Stephen Pressfield’s amazing account of the battle of Thermopylae, Gates of Fire. You will be absolutely blown away. (Amazon.com)

The makers of “300” utterly fail to capture the human drama, the scale of the sacrifice, opting to slavishly adapt Miller’s comic book, subjecting every frame to computer tweaking, creating lovely, eye-grabbing tableaux…with nothing at the centre. “Visually stunning” is the term I’ve read over and over again in almost every review. Okay, it’s nice to look at but what about the stupid script, the histrionic over-acting, the inaccuracies? Mere quibbles, supporters sniff dismissively.

When I first saw the promo ad for “300” I was, alternately, enraged and amused. The “Matrix”-like choreography was ridiculous…but the Scottish brogue of the chap who was cast as the Spartan king Leonidas was hilarious. I mean, this fucker sounded like Willie, the janitor from “The Simpson’s”! I was soon entertaining friends and family by re-enacting my version of “300”: “Lissen, laddie, we Spartans are mighty tough people and dinnae think you Purrsian gits are gonnae walk over us…”

“300” is a movie made by people raised on video games for gamers whose brains have been devoured by years of hours spent battling virtual ogres, their thumbs swelling to an unnatural size (frontal lobes shrinking commensurately). If you liked the movie, you’re a moron; if you bobbed your head in eager agreement when that fathead Richard Roeper called Miller’s comic book the “Citizen Kane”(!) of graphic novels, you’ve obviously no idea what film he was alluding to. Mentioning “300” in the same breath as Welles’ masterwork is like comparing an “Archie Digest” to Moby Dick. So fuck you very much, Richard Roeper.

welles.gif

In “Kane”, Orson Welles revolutionized an art form and created a landmark film that sixty years later still tops critics’ polls as the greatest movie ever made. How will posterity treat “300”? As just another mindless blockbuster, a manufactured, computer-simulated experience in the tradition of “Titanic” and Peter Jackson’s overblown take on “King Kong”.

These films have no heart, no brains and, in the final analysis, none of the gripping human drama that makes great art resonate down through the ages. They are fluff, confections, deserving nothing from serious film mavens but our contempt and vilification.

“300” is cinema for the lobotomized.

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“Play it fucking loud!”mouth11.jpg

(A Rant on Writing, Music, Free Expression and Kissing Ass)

God, I love Bob Dylan.

I just finished watching No Direction Home, Martin Scorsese’s brilliant documentary and I’m an even bigger fan of the man than I was before (and that’s saying something). At one point in the film, Dylan is being heckled by folkie purists for “going electric” and he turns to his backing band and snarls the quote found at the top of this page. No apologies, no backing down. You gotta love it.

Frankly, I put folkies on the same level in terms of general intelligence with your average lake trout and people who watch reality TV.

In keeping with the spirit of the man from Hibbing, Minnesota, I’m going to take a moment or two to vent on a variety of topics near and dear to my heart. I’ll write at length on some of these points at a later date but here are some of the pet peeves on my mind at the present moment:

1) Any writer who pays an entry fee to a contest sponsored by a magazine is an idiot. I’ve got news for you, boys and girls: editors and publishers are supposed to pay authors, not vice versa. Don’t subsidize these shitty little magazines with your hard-earned dollars. If they wanna survive, they should print better material (preferably by someone not on their masthead).

mouth31.jpg 2) Hey, Canada, you can’t socially engineer a national literature. The publishers who are dumping money and resources on authors based on their postal code (“Oh, goodie, another writer from Cape Breton!”), gender or ethnic background are doing a great disservice to Canadian readers. The fact that many of these publishers receive big chunks of change from lottery dollars, grants and the public purse makes their attitude doubly galling. If these people were forced to practice their brand of political correctness at their own expense, they wouldn’t last six months (and they know it).

3) Art. This is the most overused word in the English language. If you make a doghouse out of popsicle sticks, you’re making “art”. Kids who smear a reasonable facsimile of a rabbit out of fingerpaint are making “art”. Folks, Art is a special designation that should be reserved for people like Michelangelo or Sam Beckett. Art is created by an elite group of individuals who by dint of natural talent and years of perfecting and developing that talent have achieved a level of excellence far beyond that of the vast majority of people on this planet. Period. You are not an artist just because you paint a really nice tree or can put together a half-decent sentence.

4) We need more “Dick Lit”. Writing by and for and about men. Right now, most of the editors who respond to my submissions (see: below), either at publishing houses or magazines, are women and they clearly have an aesthetic that is totally different from mine. And I’m not the only one who’s commented on the sea change that’s taken place on the writing scene. Here’s an excerpt from a recent article by Tom Junod on Norman Mailer in Esquire magazine:

“Manhood, and the courage necessary to attain it, were once the great subjects of American fiction, or at least the American fiction written by men. Now they aren’t even considered operative concepts, much less subjects suitable for great work.”

I find it interesting that there is an increasing level on concern out there that boys aren’t reading as much as girls. Educators and librarians are sitting up and taking notice. Let’s hope publishers will too.

5) Over the past 20+ years I’ve spent at least thirty grand submitting stories to publications.mouth22.jpg I’m finished with it. Done. It’s a waste of time and money and the actual odds of my actually being published in one of these fucking rags is next to nil. Again, there are too many arseholes being published who are friends of the editors or are listed as “Contributing Editors” on the masthead. These people should have their hands cut off to prevent further contagion. They are contemptible, no-talent scum.

6) If you have a choice between watching TV and reading a book by Louis Ferdinand Celine and you choose the former, never step into a back alley with me. You won’t be coming out with all your limbs attached.

7) If you buy a book because it has a sticker on it that identifies it as the winner of some kind of Canadian literary prize, you’re as dumb as a poodle and shouldn’t be anywhere near this blog. If you claim you’ve bought a book because it won a regional literary prize, you’re either a liar or you were dropped on your head as an infant.

8)  If you’re a twenty-five year old shopping a memoir around, please wait for me in the same alley as the guy in #6.

9) If any of this offends you, too fucking bad.

10) So there.

Want a print version? rant.pdf

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Rant from the Archives

March 29th, 2007—Cormac McCarthy appears on The Oprah Winfrey Show:


I just read that Oprah Winfrey’s next pick for her “Book Club” is…drumroll, please …Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Oh. My. God.

Okay, God bless Oprah for using her, ah, influence, to get people reading but I would prefer she stick to Oprah-type books. You know, novels about a woman in an abusive relationship over-coming great odds and…a crippled sharecropper with an orphan daughter overcoming great odds and…a junkie’s phony memoir about overcoming great odds and…etc. Leave real writers (like McCarthy and DeLillo) to critics and commentators who have the intellectual capacity to appreciate and discuss the complex narratives, word choice, symbolism and so on. McCarthy is far beyond the usual fare she highlights (I suspect she’s taken a crack at a “difficult” author to prove she’s no mental lightweight–you go, girl!). While McCarthy’s agent and publisher are likely exchanging high five’s right about now, the man himself won’t be much impressed. He rarely gives interviews and evinces little interest in his sales or public profile. I expect most of Oprah’s fan base (over-40 women who find Dr. Phil insightful and witty) will be lost when confronted by McCarthy’s dense prose and bleak worldview. Redemption for him means coming to terms with man’s evil and depraved nature. That’s not gonna go over well with the Oprah gang.

Postscript: (A confession). I watch next to no television. In our house, we get two channels…and the reception on one of them renders it almost unviewable. Over the course of my life I’ve tuned in to “Oprah” exactly once. I happened to catch the episode where she had Tom Cruise on her couch. Rather than asking him something pertinent like “What’s with Scientology and how could you possibly base your faith life on the teachings of a dingbat like L. Ron Hubbard?” she came up with: “When did you first realize you were cute?”

That was enough for me.


22 comments

  1. Laird

    Now that’s the Cliff I know and love. Keep it coming guy!
    As you know Cliff, I do like folk music. I do take exception to the Lake Trout analogy, always considering myself more of a pike. While Blowing in the Wind is a song I probably don’t have to hear much more often in my life, I do listen to “contemporary folk music” (Stephen Fearing is a genius, as an example) and I do get Bob’s Greatest Hits #1 out occasionally for a go. But when I get out #2 and Quinn the Eskimo comes on I shake my head in amazement and wonder at the wild, drunken, electric guitar soaked brilliance of it.
    And imagine, I actually listen to and enjoy TOOL. And of course, TOOL only sounds good when you “Play it fucking loud!”

  2. gord

    Re: #6
    I still have the Penguin ed. of Journey to the End of the Night that was lying on the floor of a hippie hovel I moved into in the early 70s.
    My buddy found a $50.00 bill cleaning under the bathtub that day,but I think I had more fun with my prize.
    Keep the spleen flowing,mister.
    Like you have a choice…

  3. Elaine

    Hey Cliff – I wish you would give your opinion once in awhile… From your Oprah watching, over 40 (although non-Dr. Phil liking)know you would kill someone for me if needed FRIEND! I really like your site! Love ya, Laney

  4. Kathy

    Hey Cliff, As usual your thoughts leave me by turns entertained, bamboozled and provoked – always a good thing. As my kids often here me say, “different but good!” But did you know that most of the women you know and love and even inform some of your sensibilities (despite your best attempts to paddle against the sway of that current) are likely to a degree disciples of the great O. Fight on. We need your voice.

  5. TheBrummell

    Well said! I’m looking forward to the promised additional spleen-venting.

    I find it interesting that there is an increasing level on concern out there that boys aren’t reading as much as girls. Educators and librarians are sitting up and taking notice. Let’s hope publishers will too.

    My sister just qualified to teach here in Ontario (by way of Australia). She describes classrooms in Melbourne of 12-year-old girls who read, on occassion, and boys who do not. Not read? Yes, I mean completely zero – no books, no magazines, no newspapers, not even the subtitles on a movie. El zilcho.

    I imagine 12-year-old boys might actually read Dick Lit. I would. Are you familiar with the work of Tucker Max? Not really Dick Lit, since he claims to write non-fiction; more “Lad”-ish, I suppose. Anyways, portions of your tone reminded me of portions of his stuff. Er, probably not appropriate for 12-year-olds, either.

  6. El Condor

    Re-Posting as my original long response was mysteriously lost in cyberspace (I may have over-run some internal word/time limit or censorship demon?). So what I’ll do is multi-post to the various topics and I hereby apologize for being a blog hog. (if the original lost text does show up and is posted then sorry for the repition.)

    Hulot and bewilderment: Thanks for the tip and I will be seeking out that series. Personally I’ve always envisioned you as more of a Chauncey Gardiner (aka Chance) character from Kosinski’s novel and the excellent film version starring Peter Sellers… But while in some ways you are benignly ‘oblivious’, you are also possessed of an acute awareness to your inner and outer world that is manifested in your writing and your personality.

  7. El Condor

    ‘300’ etcetera: To further paraphrase/quote from The Simpsons, films like ‘300’ (and the general ‘disneyfication’ of history or canonic literature which makes me pine for the hand-drawn cartoon cells of old which if not historically accurate at least demonstrate artistic originality and insouciance) demonstrate the “Dumbening” effect that CGI and the general Hollywood/Mainstream film industry has had culturally. Does anyone still read Mary Renault? At least in her historical fiction you can find intelligent characterization, though without the gratuitious blood/gore/sex we desire (even I must confess to enjoy the odd dash of pornographic spice) or read “I, Claudius”. But here I implicitly pierce the heart of the matter, and must note that the sad fact is the general populace is reading less, not more; and the younger generation will suffer for it (so perhaps will we, as octogenarians in our Jetsons Retirement Home being cared for by young orderlies weened on the sticky pap of TV, Video Games, fecal films, and cellular message texting, shoving nutritious green slime down our slack-jawed maws… brrrrr/shiver). I too enjoyed graphic novels – Miller’s work stood out – but only until I turned twelve or so and started discovering ‘adult’ literature. After that there was no turning back. Now we have 30somethings (I am 36) whose daily brain food consists of pulpy graphic novels masquerading as artsy lit washed down with a gulping dose of the latest vid release, who will come across a copy of Moby Dick or the Epic of Gilgamesh and say “Oh, I read the original graphic novel this book is based on…”. More on this topic of reading in my next comment.

  8. El Condor

    On Cormac McCarthy and Oprah: First, never in my worse nightmares did I imagine to write or utter those two names in the same breath … For the sake of Oprah fans I’ll tone down any criticism of her self-congratulatory, gold grabbing, lowest-common-denominator, cerebral-virus dulling TV show and persona. Shit stinks and tastes horrible (so I recall from being 2 years old) whether it’s shoved down your throat at a German Scheiss-Hausen or served in a fancy restaurant on 24-inch square porcelain plate (or subliminally fed into your consciousness from the lcd/plasma screen/boob tube panel). To admit we are taking literary advice from a bloated, maggot spewing, talking automaton like Oprah is bad enough, but now one of my favourite authors somehow finds himself on her prestigious list (or allowed himself? Shame on you Cormac, or to paraphrase Krusty the Clown did they drive bucket-fulls of cold, hard cash up to your door and you couldn’t refuse?). I didn’t buy the hardcover version of The Road simply because I was waiting for the economical paperback version. Now I am ashamed to buy the book with Oprah’s effluent stamp of approval printed on the cover (yes, printed, so not even a sticker I can gleefully peel off later and preserve some dignity). This novel greets me at my grocery check-out stand at half the listed price, and sharing space with other books the equivalent of novelistic toilet paper … tempting, but if you’ve read Dr. Faustus then you know a deal with the devil is contractually binding. So the good side (and there is always a positive slant somewhere, right?) is that I can look forward to buying The Road for dirt cheap at the bargain bin of my local second-hand bookstore, once Oprah’s Zombie Legions realize it’s a real book and their brains short-circuit like lab rats overdosing on clinical cocaine. I am also appeased by the thought some of these people might seek out McCarthy’s earlier works like Blood Meridian (or Outer Dark and Child of God), and after dusting off their unused dictionaries to look up every second word (even I did that the first time I read it) vomit when the true meaning is realized and subsumed. Well, I guess I didn’t really take it easy on the big O…. My last words for Cliff is to seek solace in the recent episode of South Park that crudely but smartly lambasts Oprah as she adds Towellie’s new book “A Million Little Fibres” to her list, where her true nature is exposed, and war between her vagina and anus ensues – the South Park creators were still too kind in the end.

  9. El Condor

    Final Post (today): sorry for the huge brain dump. First i misspelled ‘repetition’ but am not sorry since i proudly don’t rely on auto-correct.
    For those of us (and I am only a recently departed SK boy) who must sadly rely on Saskatoon as a cultural metropolis, I highly recommend an online video/dvd service out of Winnipeg (cinemail.ca). For a reasonable monthly fee they will send you up to 4 or more films at any given time, with unlimited rentals, via Canada Post. Once you get a hang of the system then you can auto-return online the movies you are sending back in real life that day, and you will get a nice turnaround on the movies on your list… The have a huge range of titles, both new and old, and in particular odd cult films, artsy stuff, trashy, foreign, etcetera…

  10. Gilding

    As you promised, I was most definitely NOT bored. I don’t even know where to begin. I understand your dislike of “300”, and with movies that are being produced these days. I have to say that it has been a long time since I have looked to any movie produced from the film industry to evoke thought from me. For the most part I watch film for the sole purpose of allowing my constantly active brain to go braindead for just a little while wilst my eyes watch pretty, meaningless images.

    I am a reader. I prefer the images a book conjures in my head to that of movies most of the time. Pans Labyrinth is the last film that I watched that sent my mind racing with creative ideas as well as thought provoking ones, and encouraged my imagination to play in its fields of cinematic imagery long after my eyes had taken it in. It is the first movie in a long time to evoke such. And I will admit upfront that I was and am a fan of LOTR. Including its CGI.

    My husband and best friend are artists, both of them prefering the cartooning world of art to that of traditional. I am the writer of the group. We have long collaborated together on creating comic books, an art form near and dear to our hearts. Yes, I said art form. I agree that there are many comics out there, especially the over production of classics into fifteen hundred series running all at the same time in the hope to catch some sort of audience with one of them, that has helped to deepen the cheapening of comic books as an art. Manga has gone the way of many imports into the U.S. and that is “spoon-fed” which irritates me to NO END. But I have always believed that great writing can be combined with great art. I personally prefer collaborating my writings with my husband’s and best friend’s art into series of large graphic novels, while my best friend prefers writing shorts and publishing them into streaming pages within collections of “books.” I whole heartedly believe that it is corporate America that cheapens the art that comics used to be and can be. This in no way means that I believe that comics are equal too or should replace novels, quite the contrary in fact. I am a writer of novels. Always have been, always will be. But I believe that there is a whole other level of freedom that I can play with when producing these graphic novel collaborations that I don’t have with simply writing a novel.

    I agree that the film industry is just buying out one comic book story after another and turning them into crap adaptations. Everybody is out to make a buck and unfortunately the generations coming up don’t know that they are being fed crap because they never read the original.

    I also believe CGI can be the way to another form of art–true art. My husband–a fabulous artist–was in a car accident right out of graduating high school and computers have allowed him to continue art when for all other intents and purposes would not be available to him otherwise. He is able to create three-D renderings and characters that require more hands-on than he is able to physically do without the aid of computers and computer programs such as Maya. Unfortunately, industry greed and accessibilty to these programs to any hack with enough cash and no morals has perpetuated the low standards of CGI and CGI art as well as given it the reputation you so rightfully point out, as being an overused, over hacked, and uncredible art form.

  11. (S)wine

    Ha. Brilliant.
    I thought Bukowski and I were the only ones who read Celine.
    How lovely to find out I was wrong.

  12. kswolff

    Glad you said it and not me re: “300.” It sure was purty though. Reminded me of gay porn minus the gravitas and snuff films minus the moral decency. If I want to watch a film about Thermophylae, I’ll watch “The Warriors.”

    “Warriors come out and play!”

    Even the Wu Tang Clan are more in touch with the Western Canon than your usual Extruded Fanboy Product(TM). I’ve wasted too much time playing the contrarian to the Gaimanites who gushed over that “Beowulf” movie (featuring Angelina Jolie’s jubblies in CGI) and how it offered the audience a hike through the Uncanny Valley. When I want to see “The Polar Express” with tits and swords, I’ll let you know. For now, I’ll reserve that for my nightmares and when “Eraserhead” isn’t enough for me.

    Then again, debating aesthetics and taste with a fanboy is like playing blackjack with a meth-addled squirrel. (No offense to squirrels or the meth-addled.)

    Fanboy, synonymous with the term: Fucktard.

  13. Cliff Burns

    You’re referring to my evisceration of the movie “300”, which I hated with a vehemence that surprised even me. Only fuckwits, airheads and video gamers (roughly the same thing) would have any respect for a movie so patently godawful. Feel free to reproduce my rant, with my blessings…

  14. Diane

    I think I am in love. The only other person I have heard of that hated “Titanic” was Graham Norton on BBC1. He said you knew from the beginning that the boy dies, so why try to stay awake during that whole long movie? It’s the only movie I have ever paid to see and then fell asleep. Never saw “300” and turned down a gift of the DVD.

    Now if you would please help me try to explain to a girlfriend why computer graphics are not art. So far I have resisted the urge to throw up on her shoes to express my repugnance but it’s been a near thing.

  15. Cliff Burns

    Bless you, Diane. James Cameron has been the recipient of billions of dollars from film-goers and other than a certain visual flair, I can’t understand the man’s appeal. CGI and the bells and whistles of technology have allowed film-makers to abandon stories, acting, sacrificing everything at the altar of Mammon (which looks suspiciously like an XBox or Playstation). Sickening, innit? Thanks for popping in…

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  19. Kwene

    Hello, Cliff.

    I started a website for aspiring writers and illustrators. Would you be interested in being a member and/or providing a word of encouragement or advice for contributors and readers?

    I am working on improving the website to improve functionality and versatility. I am also looking for more contributors and sponsors to writing/art contests.

    Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

    Thanks.

    Kwene Low

  20. Cliff Burns

    Kwene: happy to do what I can. As long as new and developing writers approach their craft with humbleness and reverence and don’t take on self-important airs, I have no problem with encouraging and supporting them. It’s when wannabes and hobbyists start acting like they are God’s gift to literature that I bristle and reach for the nearest machete. Or when they say incredibly stupid things like “there’s no such thing as good writing” or insist that awful, dreadful hacks are their role models or that it’s more important to make money than make art. I made a determination a LONG time ago that I would always set the bar high, push my talent to the very limit and treat my Readers with the dignity and respect they deserve. Drop me a line (blackdogpressATyahoo.ca) and let me know how you think I can best contribute. I usually avoid interviews and such, but enjoy a good dialogue with authors who love writing and the printed word as much as I do. Best of luck with the site, kid.

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