Category Archives: Uncategorized

firecracker firecracker

Boom boom boom, as Half Japanese said. Hi. The fireworks are going off, there’s a singer/guitarist on the other side of the lake with a loud amplifier and a middling command of the Beatles catalogue, there’s the lingering scent of corn-on-the-cob in the air: it’s summer.

This coming Tuesday is a bit of an event for me: the release of [*Smooth Sounds: Various Artists Play the Future Hits of WCKR SPGT*](, one of the four times I can think of that a recording I performed on has been released by somebody else. WCKR SPGT wrote a whole bunch of songs specifically for their admirers to perform; I got one called “Kurt Cobain Will Have His Revenge on the City of Los Angeles,” which I arranged in a style I like to think of as “Ned’s Atomic Dustbin outtake.”

A few things I’ve written lately: on Jesse Reklaw’s [*Ten Thousand Things to Do*](, [comics that should run forever](, Alan Moore and Alan Davis’s [*D.R. and Quinch*](, [what digital comics are worth](, and [supervillain comics](, all over at Techland; on [Konono No. 1](, the [Television Personalities](, and [Tender Trap](, over at Pitchfork; on [a bunch of recent graphic novels](, for the *New York Times Book Review*.

And that’s not counting the project that occupied a lot of the last month, which should be surfacing sometime later this summer. Details when they’re public.

k.t. cruet

So this is springtime, and what have I done? April consisted

of a lot of running around, mostly: Seattle, where I gave a talk and appeared

on a panel at the Experience Music Project’s Pop Conference (respectively on

the future of the technology of listening to music and on indie music in the

’00s); White River Junction, where I got to meet with students at the Center

for Cartoon Studies; New York, where I appeared on a panel at the MoCCA

festival; and Seattle again for a DJ gig, and remembering that I don’t get to

DJ nearly often enough. Mostly, I’ve been in Portland, where… I hung out with

my family and sang a bit of karaoke.

Otherwise, the last couple of months have involved a lot of

writing, of course: always writing. The 25th anniversary issue of SPIN had a piece I wrote about the relationship between

’80s music zine culture and contemporary music blog culture (it’s not online,

as far as I can tell). Over at Salon, I wrote

about the new gay character in Archie comics; at Time, I interviewed

David Byrne about Here Lies Love;

at eMusic, I wrote about the lost soul hits of the ’60s and ’70s; at Hilobrow,

I wrote a brief

appreciation of Agnetha Faltskög. For 48HR Magazine, or whatever the youngsters are

calling it these days, I wrote about James Brown’s uncomfortable

intersections with the Hustle. I also wrote a ton of stuff at Techland,

including an interview

with Grant Morrison about his current Batman-related work. And I scratched

my head about the very enjoyable “Exit Through the Gift Shop” at

the NAJP’s ARTicles blog.

April’s Emanata columns at Techland included a guide

to where to start with Love & Rockets, an appreciation

of Brendan McCarthy’s recent Marvel comics, a look

at flash-forwards, a piece

about sense-of-place in S.H.I.E.L.D. and

Market Day, and an expression

of irritation at the end of Blackest Night. May’s were an essay

on the relationship between the future of digital comics and the past of

digital music, an assessment

of Brian Michael Bendis’s wrap-up of the last few years’ Avengers titles, a guide

for prospective Final Crisis

readers, and–I was particularly happy about this one–eight

questions for comics creators.

Next month, of course, I’m hoping to get some actual work

done. I’m giving a lecture

at the Portland Art Museum on the 13th; I’ve also got a massive assignment on

an undisclosed subject that’s due right around then, so I may be going into a

hibernation-like state. I have no idea whether this means another extended

absence from this blog or a frantic burst of activity. I’m hoping the latter. 

march, forth

Updates here continue to be infrequent and not-really-news-filled. That will change, for the better, sooner or later. But here’s my monthly what-I’ve-been-up-to check-in:

A *New York Times Book Review* [piece]( on a handful of vintage-comic-strip reprint books

A bunch of columns and features at Techland, including pieces on Jason Shiga’s [*Meanwhile*](, on [*Punisher Max* and *Cry for Justice*](, on [*Siege* and *Krazy Kat*](, and on [music in comics](

A couple of features on eMusic: on [the Chills’ *Submarine Bells*]( and on [a bunch of Sub Pop albums](

A few reviews at Pitchfork: the [*Nigeria Afrobeat Special*]( compilation and [the Kleenex/LiLiPUT live album](

A quick review of Jules Feiffer’s memoir [*Backing Into Forward*]( over at the Barnes & Noble Review

A pair of brief appreciations for Hilobrow: [Lady Gaga]( and [Rick Rubin’s Queen remixes](

My first post at the NAJP’s blog ARTicles, on Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez’s outstanding [*Perfumes: The A-Z Guide*](

So: a reasonably productive month word-count-wise. Not as productive in other ways, maybe, but that’s what April will be for, right?

shaking like a willow or a daffodil

Things I’ve done in the past month:

*Reviewed the Canadian hardcore band Fucked Up’s Couple Tracks over at Pitchfork

*Wrote a couple of pieces over at Thought Catalog, on The Magnetic Fields’ Realism and Spider-Man’s search for a father substitute (and also covered a Magnetic Fields show for Vulture)

*Visited New York City and had a whole lot of meetings with people and saw Saffire, not the “uppity blues women” Saffire but the “awesome very young women who blew the roof off the Willie Mae Rock Camp benefit” Saffire

*Wrote a bunch of pieces for Techland, including an ongoing weekly column on comics that’s going by the name “Emanata”: on The Question #37, on DMZ, on DC’s new top dogs (plus an interview with them), on Kick-Ass, on the sources of Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, and on Batman and Robin. And I wrote my first-ever piece in Time proper: a very, very short blurb on the excellent new Joanna Newsom album.

*Interviewed the great Kevin O’Neill at length over at The Comics Journal

*Saw Richard Thompson play a two-set show here in Portland that was being recorded for a live album: one set of unreleased new material, one of old faves–his songwriting’s in steep decline (I was kind of boggled that he wrote a song about Burning Man, and wondered if he’d actually been there), but his guitar playing is actually still getting even better; if there are 24-year-old guitarists who are even vaguely in his neighborhood I’d love to know about them

*Discovered that chatroulette is much, much more fun if you do it with a) friends and b) multiple singing puppets

I’ll keep up more if you keep up more, how’s about that?

a strong beat to step to

It’s hard to post something without spilling the beans when there are beans to be spilled. But the good news is that I’ve joined the team over at Time’s Techland blog–I’ll be writing about comics for them! My first piece for them just went up today: it’s on “Wizzywig” and “Footnotes in Gaza.”

Other recent links with my name attached to them: I wrote about Rakim for Hilobrow, Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary for Barnes & Noble, Siege for the Savage Critic, and a bunch of stuff for eMusic, like this piece on Loveless and its antecedents.

Also, I’ll be in this book, and maybe another one…!

At some point, I plan to develop an interior life, too. My new year’s resolution of drinking three glasses of wine a week (this represents a drastic increase, not a decrease) might help with that, I’m thinking.

ten manifestations of culture that got me through the 2000s

For those of you who’ve asked for a list of some kind:

The iPhone

M.I.A./Diplo: Piracy Funds Terrorism, Vol. 1

Arrested Development

Alison Bechdel: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

The New Pornographers: Mass Romantic

Katamari Damacy

David B.: Epileptic

“The Beast”

Grant Morrison et al.: Seven Soldiers of Victory

Kelly Link: “Catskin” (in Magic for Beginners)

And now: ONWARD!!

same riff, no apostrophe

The most successful thing I’ve helped introduce into the kid’s life recently: a pair of Mollie Katzen cookbooks, “Pretend Soup” and “Salad People,” which are set up so that small children can do most of the cooking themselves and occasionally ask a grown-up to serve as their sous-chef. He made miso-almond dipping sauce (to go with raw vegetables) and popovers for dinner this weekend. They were delicious, and he was very proud of himself.

Otherwise: just luxuriating in the end-of-year slowdown, taking care of some tasks that have been waiting to get done for a while, slowly reading through the San Francisco Panorama, prepping a couple of projects that might go live in the new year, and listening to an enormous number of old instrumental soul hits for a secret project. The days are a little too short and dim to be merry and bright at the moment, but I’m working on it.

more activity updates

Over at the Significant Objects project, I’ve written a short-short story about a travel hair dryer. Go have a look! You can even bid to win the early-’80s-model Conair dryer itself on eBay!

Otherwise: I’ve been writing about comics a lot lately. I did a roundup of some good ones over at the New York Times Book Review last weekend, and picked some of my favorites of this year for the Barnes & Noble Review.

And I wrote the liner notes for the excellent Daptone Gold compilation of music from the Brooklyn soul collective Daptone!

Also, I apparently have a (tiny) record review (of the Annie album) in the San Francisco Panorama, although I haven’t seen it yet…