Archive for June, 2009

Twilight 1Because it is vitally important to me to see what the “kids” are “down with,” I watched Twilight. This was, quite possibly, a huge mistake.

We’re gonna get into this, with three caveats: A) Being as I’m not a teenaged girl, I know I am not the target audience for this movie; 2) I am talking from here on out about the immensely popular movie, and not the big fat-ass book it was whittled down from; and III) I KNOW I AM NOT THE AUDIENCE FOR THIS MOVIE.

That said, I am speaking as an utter expert on this teen-culture phenomenon. So I can say this: Twilight is one fucked-up piece of teen-culture phenomenon.

Allow me to summarize the film’s plot, omitting remarkably few details:

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Okay, so there’s five blind men, right?  And they go into this room that has an elephant in it.  I guess someone who isn’t blind told them there was an elephant in it, so that’s how they know.  Anyway, they go into the room.  The first guy touches the elephant’s tusk, and says to himself, “Hey, an elephant is like a spear.”  The second guy touches the elephant’s side and says, “Hey, an elephant is like a wall.”  Third guy touches the leg, says and elephant is like a tree.  Fourth guy touches the tail, thinks an elephant is like a rope.  Last guy touches the trunk, concludes that an elephant must be like a snake.

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Then again, it’s Michael Jackson – all his days were strange.Michael Jackson

Like (I imagine) most people, I have some mildly conflicting feelings about Michael Jackson’s death. I do respect the impact he had on pop music and nobody with at least one good ear can tell me his 70’s-80’s output wasn’t awesome. But I’m not terribly broken up by the death of – come on, let’s face facts here – a child molester. Or, if you would like to ignore the many horrible accounts to come out of his civil trial and just focus on the documentaries of the 90’s, at the very least a deeply disturbed man no parent in their right mind would allow their child to spend  unsupervised time with.

But mostly, I feel some sense of relief, both for the ultimate legacy of the man, and my own mental health for not having to sit through what would have been next sad phase of Jackson’s life – the one where he ends up penniless and friendless, pathetically attempting comeback after diminishing comeback.

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Trivia night had been pushed back because of a leadership rhinomotivation seminar called “Rhino Living,” held in our usual spot. So when we were finally allowed to file in, we were privy to the instructional materials. Which were enough for me to come to this conclusion:

Successful people get to be that way because they don’t let nonsense buzz-words like “internal logic” or “situational reasoning” get in the way of their goals.

How else to explain the central question posed by the seminar: “Would you rather be a rhino, or a cow?” (Which has not yet been made into a special on Spike TV, but just wait a few seasons  for the premiere of their sure-hit show, “Nature’s Most Unlikely Grudge-Matches.”)

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Zen and the Art of Being Chris Braak

Posted: June 24, 2009 in Braak, poetics
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I am, and have often been, fascinated by the idea of self-improvement.  I know what you’re thinking, obviously.  You’re thinking, “Chris, that’s nonsense!  How could you possibly need to improve yourself?”

And you’re right, of course.  But that doesn’t stop me from thinking about the idea of self-improvement in a sort of abstract way, the way I might think about what it would be like to have my own spaceship, or to be a velociraptor (answers:  more trouble than it’s worth; awesome).

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I have watched with joy and dismay as my friend Joe Laycock, with whom I attended Hampshire College, by dint of research and training, rapidly exceeded my own ad-hoc and eclectic folkloric knowledge.  Joy because it’s good to know a guy that knows about this stuff; dismay because I hate the idea that people are better at things than me.

Joe’s book, Vampires Today:  The Truth About Modern Vampires, is a piece that I could have never written.  It is an ethnographic study of modern, self-identified “vampires,” and it is exhaustive, clear, intelligent, and wholly non-judgmental.

[UPDATE:  Another review about the book, this time from a community insider, here.]

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Comic ConWelcome to the first-ever Threat Quality Day Trip, to the Wizard World Philadelphia comic convention, hosted by the sadly faltering Wizard Entertainment. How faltering was it? It took me a while to feel out why the place felt so…low-rent, until it dawned on me: there was no presence by either Marvel or DC Comics at the event. Turns out, the Heroes World convention in Charlotte was the place to be this weekend, and you can read all about the Big Two’s major announcements (okay, mostly just Mark Waid writing a Dr. Strange miniseries) at Newsarama.

Without the relative respectability major publisher presence gives to a convention, WWP brought me back to the rinky-dink Holiday Inn conventions of my youth. This isn’t a complaint, really – I have fond memories of my first forays into comics fandom (which is mostly populated by sickly and/or overweight die-hards – if you ever want a confidence boost, go to a convention; I’m not overstating it to say Chris, Friend of TQP Matt Burns, and I were among the handsomest people there).

Anyway, allow me my disjointed impressions of the show: (more…)

Holland and I are going to Wizard World Philadelphia today, where we will walk amongst our people and permit them the joy of our collective visage.  Also, I bet that I will spend, like, ten bucks on a hot dog.

Holland will probably take pictures, we’ll probably post them at some point.  I COULD take pictures, if I’d ever figured out how to work the camera on my phone.  But I didn’t!

Reading ComicsOr, comics reviews!

I’ve been looking around lately for the next “representative” comic series for some time. Now, this does tend to tie into how the story ends – a book could have a great first year, then veer wildly off-course, hurting its chances of long-term respectability – but hey, you gotta start somewhere.

By “representative,” I’m talking about longer books you can easily pass on to a casual comics reader without reservations. I’m thinking of series like Sandman, Preacher, or Transmetropolitan - all long-form stories with a clear beginning, middle and end – and all pretty firmly tied to the previous decade. So my interest has been in this decade’s contenders:

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Who is Chris Braak?

Posted: June 17, 2009 in Threat Quality

fancy man

He is the fanciest man IN THE WORLD!