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Our Last 50 Referrers

« Immigration and America's Working Class | Main | That Mel Thing »

August 03, 2006


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* If you can't find Francis Morrone at 2Blowhards, then go read him where he currently is. Francis introduces us to the Roccoco sculptor Clodion, and to another fascinating character too: the intellectual/comic-book artist Pierce Rice.

* Listen to a touching live recording of Townes Van Zandt. I wrote gushingly in praise of Townes and his music here.

* Kirsten has been making her way through some very long books.

* Anne Thompson thinks that Time's Richard Schickel should hang up the film-reviewing spurs.

* Crisis time: Chelsea Girl's b.f. wants her to get rid of a piercing that she's very fond of.

* Somebody has scanned a copy of Raymond Chandler's classic and essential essay "The Simple Art of Murder" and made it available -- PDF alert! -- here.

* The Patriarch confesses that he's incapable of refusing free food.

* Caleb Stegall makes the case for what he calls "folk populism."

* Yahmdallah has been thinking about actresses, and recalling the early days of MTV.

* James Panero urges everyone to make it to Tanglewood before summer ends.

* There were certainly some zany architecture experiments happenin' in the 1970s ...

* New interviews with comix guru Scott McCloud can be read here and here. McCloud has a new how-to-make-a-comic-book book coming out in September.

* Well, if you're going to be famous for anything ... (NSFW)

* Neil wallows in the glamor that is L.A.

* Dave Munger has some sensible advice for blogging newbies.

* The adventures of Chad Vader, Darth's not-too-successful brother.



posted by Michael at August 3, 2006


Thompson writes, "Yikes. Like, he entirely missed the point of why Depp's sparring with the movie's ingenious effects might wow enough people to stay number one at the boxoffice for three weeks running. This is not a question of age. It's a question of sensibility. Some people stay tuned in to the zeitgeist and some don't."

Thompson measures everything by boxoffice criteria. Pirates mints BO gold, therefore it is a great film. Shickel's disagrement makes him an old fuddy duddy.

Over the years Thompson has written for Film Comment, The LA Weekly and now the Hollywood Reporter what is little more than a compilation of box ofice tallies with precious little analytical insight.

I've read and enjoyed Shickel's reviews of books about Hollywood over the last few years and wish he'd do more of them. I find it telling that I agree with the quotes from Shickel Thompson used in her piece and not her.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on August 4, 2006 6:03 AM

Thanks for the link, Michael.

I took the cure for the Seth yesterday: "Don't Look Down" by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer :-)

Posted by: Kirsten on August 4, 2006 9:26 AM

Peter -- I like Schickel's film-history stuff too -- he's done some TCM (I think) movie-history docs that I got a lot from. But as a reviewer ... I could be wrong, but I think what Thompson is saying is that if you've fallen completely out of synch with the direction an art form is going, then being a reviewer of the current products of that art form doesn't really make sense. But you've got a point. There's always room for one or two people who face things and say "No" in thunder. I wonder if Schickel imagines he's being the Robert Hughes of movie reviewers ...

Kirsten -- My pleasure, great to get to know you, looking forward to reading more of you. Jennifer Cruisie should certainly be an antidote to Vikram Seth!

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 4, 2006 10:19 AM

Ta, Michael.

Now if only your readers would leave advice.... Or perhaps they haven't been in similar circumstances?

chelsea girl

Posted by: chelsea girl on August 4, 2006 11:26 AM

Dear Michael:

There are conservatives who like to say they used to be Democrats but they didn't leave the Democratic Party, it left them.

Similarly, I think a good argument can be made that the movies have left Shickel (and me). I feel the same way. Movies descended into infantilism after the success of Star Wars, Close Encounters, etc.

Maybe Thompson genuinely likes Pirates 2. Obviously large numbers of people do. Does that make it good? Pirates 2 has probably made more money than my ten most favorite films put together, but I don't think that means anything about whther it is or isn't a good film. I wonder if Thompson would be criticising Shickel's review of Pirates if the film was a flop?

She's a business journalist. She's there to cheerlead success.

I don't read Time or Newseek and don't even know which one Shickel reviews films for, but I'm pleasantly surprised that he can still speak his mind, despite the considerable editorial pressure to get on the bandwagon.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on August 4, 2006 8:54 PM

It might be useful to find out just how long Pierce Rice actually drew comic books. When he died a few years ago and his obituaries mentioned that he drew comic books, only a very few people in the comic fan community had even heard of him, and then only as an obscure "Golden Age" artist (i.e., World War II era) who did not stay in the field long. My impression is that comics were something he did as a young artist, and he did not make a lasting career of it. But for the brief stint it must have been, it certainly turned up decades later in his obituaries. Even that "Classicist" website you link to, which has nothing but praise for Rice's book, "Man as Hero," says bluntly he made his living drawing comic books, with no elaboration, as though he spent his whole life at it, with a cover illustration of a wartime comic-book cover over sixty years old.

Posted by: Dwight Decker on August 5, 2006 4:07 PM

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