Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just released today. Pencils by Paul Smith, a great favorite since my mid-teens. Inks by Terry Austin. Words -- lots of them, as usual -- by eternal X-scribe Chris Claremont. Smith draws really well; his spare, open compositions are totally unlike what passes for comics at the moment. His best work reminds me of Steve Ditko, c. the mid-1960s, in its unpreposessingness and good design. The same Claremont/Smith/Austin team also did X-Men Forever #6, also recommended. I'm not claiming that either issue is as good as Waiting For the Barbarians or Asterios Polyp, only noting in passing that they made me happy in small ways.
A black squirrel scales the big sunflower in the community garden downtown. The stalk sways under his weight and bends, gently depositing him ass-first on the ground.

He shakes himself and tries again. Same result.

WTF? thought-bubble clearly visible above him.
Saturday, October 24, 2009

ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO Home Video, Seasons 1-7)

Waste My Time, Please

Hands down the stupidest meet-the-public conversation I've had in almost ten years of bookstore ownership:

Young Female Hipsters #1 and #2 enter the shop. Handmade accessories, nice shoes.


CJB: I don't think so, but I might. Check in two places. [GIVES DIRECTIONS]

YFHs #1 and #2 head into the stacks. CJB carries on receiving new books, ringing up sales, etc. After a few minutes, YFH #2 wanders up and stands opposite the desk, observing him.

YFH #2: Is this your place?

CJB: Yup!

YFH #2: Don't you ever feel guilty about it?

CJB: Guilty? No.

YFH #2: Really? Not even for a moment?

CJB: Why would I feel guilty?

YFH #2: Because of how environmentally unfriendly your business is? [Gesturing] All these cut-down trees?

CJB: What should we do instead?

YFH #2: We could read less. We could share. Or we could use computers.

CJB: Computers powered by electricity?

YFH #2: Sure.

CJB: Electricity produced by coal-fired plants and hydroelectric dams?

YFH #2: I read on a website that if wind farms covered Nevada they'd produce enough electricity to power all of North America.

CJB: Nevada, eh? I wonder how the local flora and wildlife would like that?

YFH #2: Now you're making fun of me. Nevada's just a flat desert, there's nothing there. [Pause] You're pretty arrogant when your fixed ideas are challenged.

CJB: I sure am. Making fun of you, that is. You seem to be talking without thinking, without any first-hand knowledge of the subjects you're discussing. Your pose of "environmental consciousness" seems rooted in a self-righteousness and arrogance that puts mine to shame.

WFH #2: Well I won't be shopping here.

CJB: You sure won't. Get outta here.

Three days later I'm still mad at a consciousness -- no matter how young; no matter how naive -- that can dismiss Nevada, one of the loveliest places I've ever visited; one of the only places I've ever felt at home -- as a relative of Stein's Oakland, no there there. This is at its heart a conservative, colonial worldview, one that finds surprising parallels with Allan McEachern's racist description of British Columbia as an unpopulated "vast emptiness." And as Chris C., the shop's manager, points out, the book is one of the most environmentally friendly technologies ever devised. When a book wears out, it goes in the blue box. When a computer (or a Sony e-reader, or a Kindle, or an iPhone) wears out, it goes to a special segregated recycling facility, where its plastics, heavy metals, lithium batteries, etc. are contained and only partially recovered.
Saturday, October 17, 2009

Chris Jordan's Midway

"These photographs of albatross chicks were made just a few weeks ago on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific. The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.

To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way. These images depict the actual stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world's most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent."
Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Friday, October 09, 2009

Monday, October 05, 2009

A Glorious Dawn (ft. Carl Sagan)

(courtesy JT)
Sunday, October 04, 2009

"Private equity" at the trough -- must-read article from the NYT. My version of capitalism doesn't include sweetheart deals for folks like the outside investors profiled in this piece, who profit regardless of the health of their underlying "investment."

"Thomas H. Lee Partners of Boston has not only escaped unscathed, it has made a profit. The investment firm, which bought Simmons in 2003, has pocketed around $77 million in profit, even as the company’s fortunes have declined. THL collected hundreds of millions of dollars from the company in the form of special dividends. It also paid itself millions more in fees, first for buying the company, then for helping run it. Last year, the firm even gave itself a small raise."

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, The Forge, c. 1815-20. Frick Collection, NYC.

Eugene Atget, Pavers (Bitumiers), 1899-1900. Collection MOMA, NYC.
Saturday, October 03, 2009

All Day Saturday (& Holidays Too)!

ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): PIZZA CAKE, by Vancouver artist/baker Lyndsay Sung (with tutorial)

Further to Wednesday's photographs of eastern Garibaldi Park under the snow: I've been begging off rainy hiking and climbing trips since last year, owing to a lack of proper gear. Last Monday Dru sent me to the Arc'teryx outlet store, in a nondescript industrial storage park just east of the Second Narrows Bridge, where I found a long-sleeved knit wool shirt, and a cosmetically flawed candy apple red Gore-tex jacket, and then, later, at the North Vancouver Mountain Equipment Co-Op, a pair of black Gore-tex pants.

Tuesday morning set rainfall records all over the Lower Mainland. Mad Owl Woman and I drove up the retooled Sea-to-Sky Highway in my Taurus wagon, its ancient wipers scraping furiously away at the mixed rain and sleet battering the windshield. Out of the car in the Cheakamus Lake parking lot, the rain a little lighter now, struggling into our boots and gaiters and Gore-tex, and then off down the trail.

Nine and a half hours later we were back at the car, the last forty-five minutes in the dark. Mixed rain and snow the whole day. I was mostly dry and warm in my new outfit, and oddly content: happy that my new gear had performed as advertised; happy that we had gotten out despite full-on winter conditions; happy that the next six months are not going to involve sitting at home staring at the window at the fog-bound North Shore mountains, dreaming of spring.
Friday, October 02, 2009

Expedition 21 Soyuz rollout

CJB [via email]: Hey L.! What's your address up in Cranbrook? I have a gift to send you.

L.: Your fine-ass self?

CJB: No, it's a book.

L.: Oooh, oooh, is it the new autobiography Walt: My Life In Dildos? Or The Other Guy: I Wear My Sunglasses At Night (On Stage)? Do I have to read them before the 12th to get the context of their music?

CJB: Aw damn, it's Todd Sweet's critical biography, Steely Dan: Reelin' In The Years. You got me. What could be better bedtime reading than track-by-track accounts of the recording sessions?

L.: The Law of Vendor and Purchaser?

Starhawk: A Prophet In the Kitchen? (learn to make your favorite soul food!)

I Was a Teenage Sanitary Engineer?

Paris: the Life and Loves of a Stupid Spoiled Whore? (the autobiography)

An 1892 census of Sault Ste. Marie? (without illustrations)

Kid Charlemagne: 50 Botany Professors Discuss The Inspiration For Their Work?

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