Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Jeff Mangum Last Night in Baltimore

In the car, my friend Jonathan and I talked about my kids, and his job, and how we feel old all the time. He’d come up that morning from North Carolina, where we once lived together, to come to the concert with me; now we were driving together from Arlington to Baltimore in a CRV whose backseat was dense with child-safety seats and princess books.

Jonathan recalled how he’d once received a mixtape from a girl he thought might be interested in him, only to discover that it featured “Song Against Sex,” which he took as a poor omen. Our friend Ehren gave me a song by the band on [...]


"Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart"

Yesterday morning we woke up here on Earth and got dressed for church. Our youngest daughter, who is in year two of a dogged princess phase, wanted to wear a particularly awful pair of costume shoes, hot pink heels with little tufts of fur at the toes. “I think you should wear other shoes,” I told her.

“Mommy said I can wear these!”

“It’s true, I did,” Alia said.

“I just don’t think she should wear h-o-o-k-e-r shoes to church,” I groused.

“I’m trying not to fight with her about this on weekends,” Alia said.

“I know, I know.”

“It’s not the end of the world," she said.


'Jane Eyre': Does It Totally Suck? An Argument

Dan: Claire Jarvis! I really liked Cary Fukunaga's film of Jane Eyre, starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. But I know next to nothing about Brontë, having read maybe one-fifth of the novel in 11th grade. You're an assistant professor in the English department at Stanford, a Brontë scholar and a superfan. Tell me why I'm wrong to like this movie so much!

Claire: Dan Kois! I really suggest you read this novel. But, right away, I don't know if I'd say I was a Charlotte Superfan. I'm more of an Emily girl.

Dan: See, whereas I am like "Oh right, there are TWO Brontës."

Claire: More, even.

Dan: [...]


When "White Folks' Bay High School" Did 'The Wiz'

When the choir director, Mr. Swiggum, announced that the spring musical my senior year at Whitefish Bay High School would be The Wiz, it seemed an absurd choice. Our northern Milwaukee suburb was already colloquially known as "White Folks' Bay," and the preceding year had not done much to improve the community's image in a city that studies have suggested is America's most segregated.


Flicked Off: 'Toy Story 3' Provokes Mass Audience Sobbing

After we watched Toy Story 3, my wife and I ate dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. Why did we do this? Well, Wisconsin Avenue, near Mazza Gallerie in Chevy Chase, has some pretty slim pickings, restaurant-wise. Also, we did it because the Cheesecake Factory is fucking delicious. I got some kind of fried-chicken pasta in cream sauce, no lie. Just for the hell of it they laid two wide slices of prosciutto atop the whole shebang. None of it was exactly right; the pasta was a little mushy, the chicken was a little greasy, the prosciutto was sub-Boar's Head quality. But all together, drenched in butter and cheese, it was [...]


Graphic Imagery: Pluto and Learning to Love Astro Boy

It's April 7, National Pluto Day! All over America, schoolchildren are fleeing the classroom, workers are ditching the office early, hobos are tossing aside their bottles of grain alcohol, and housewives are ignoring the laundry. Instead, they're all lining up at their local comics store, B&N, or otaku emporium to buy the finale, Volume 8, of Naoki Urasawa's unbelievably enjoyable manga series Pluto. Soon the gorgeous spring weather will help pack our parks and playgrounds with happy readers feverishly turning the pages of Volume 8. Happy Pluto Day!


Graphic Imagery: Vodka and Fate From Russia to Brooklyn

Are you looking for an authentically grim Russian culture experience, but don't have 12 hours and ferry fare to Governors Island to spare? A new graphic novel by Kevin Baker — the historical novelist behind such Brooklyney favorites as Dreamland – brings an ex-Russian soldier to Coney Island and gets him wrapped up with the local mob. It also calls to mind a recent, similar, much better comic, which was mostly ignored when it first came out but is finally available in collected form.


Church: "Boring"

"Why is church so boring?" asked my daughter on Sunday morning.

"You really think it's boring?" I said.


Church: Prologue, "This Is a Song"

On a Sunday last fall, I was working downstairs with the space heater on and the office doors closed when the phone rang. The caller ID read DAN KOIS, which meant that it was my wife, upstairs, calling our home phone from my cell phone. As is often the case on weekends, we were trading carefully-negotiated Work Periods. I was writing while she looked after the children; later, I would take the kids while she worked. Later still, we would maybe eat dinner together and then put the kids in the bath.

I answered the phone. In the background I could hear crying. Alia said, "You have to come [...]


Graphic Imagery, with Dan Kois: Cooking Comics, From Sushi to Space-Nymph

Seems like a lot of people are up in arms / delighted / annoyed / enraged by this week's Top Chef finale, in which hateable [WINNER'S NAME REDACTED, DVR WHINERS*] defeated two dudes to win whatever it is you win when you win Top Chef. (Whoa! $125,000?) If you're looking for some more cheftastic action, here are a couple of cooking comics that will detonate in your mouth. One's stately and respectful, like a perfectly-cooked sea bream; the other is ridiculous and over-the-top, like a vegetable-stuffed iootle antler from planet Doofu Prime.


Flicked Off, with Dan Kois: Tom Ford's 'A Single Man'

You should know that this exchange on the topic of 'A Single Man' contains vague but vigorous discussions of the endings of both the film and the book on which it is based. This semi-spoilery stuff, if it can be called that, is noted below in bold, before it occurs. There are also vague discussions of some plot points. (If they can be called that.)

Choire: Dear Dan, I have asked you here to discuss with me the issue of the new Tom Ford movie, "A Single Man." Actually, I'm lying! You totally asked me here!

Dan: Nay, I DEMANDED it! This movie made me so angry that I needed [...]


Graphic Imagery, With Dan Kois: Three Comics to Make You Fall in Love with Comics

How do I convince you, most likely a non-reader of comics, to read not only this post about comics, but the actual comics themselves? Or any comics? How do I convince you to stop right now with the noogieing and start reading some comics? A certain editor of this site-this very site!-agreed to let me write about comics, but characterized his own reaction to the idea as "Ew, nerds." How do I convince him, much less you? An appeal to your shrinking free time? Maybe! HEY YOU THERE, once-avid reader! Remember how you used to read books all the time and then talk about them in person with people or [...]