Jul. 8th, 2013

roadrunnertwice: Ray pulling his head off. Dialogue: "DO YOU WANT SOME FRITTATA?" (Achewood.Ray - DO YOU WANT SOME FRITTATA)

Alison Bechdel – Are You My Mother?

March 5

What a weird-ass comic book.

At the time, back in oh-seven, I thought Fun Home was an aggressively and compellingly off-balance and anxious and self-distrusting memoir, with its weird epicyclic structure and infinite combinations of artifice and rawness. I had not seen nothin yet. This second book of Bechdel’s diptych about her parents kicks off and wastes ZERO SECONDS in crawling into its own navel.

In case this gets obscured as I try to talk about it, I loved this book. Bechdel is trying to honestly write about how baffling and frustrating her relationship with her mother was, and her way to do that is to baffle and frustrate the reader, and it’s kind of brilliant. She spends or nearly spends more time talking about the history of psychoanalysis and her transference-fraught relationships with her therapists than she does about her mother. It’s peppered with dream recollections that share with Freud’s case studies a certain implausible vividness and coherence and on-the-nose obviousness that makes them immediately and wholly suspect. At every step of the way, the book does its damnedest to rebuff any attempt to sink into a narrative — it rejects emotional readings and demands intellectual ones. But she’s not just trolling, and there’s some really vulnerable and uncomfortable shit in here; it’s just that she’s pushing you to experience it the way she does. It’s super engaging, although it kind of felt like someone had dropped a Mento (The Fresh-Maker™) into the Diet Coke of my brain. Plus she made psychoanalysis interesting to me, and that is no mean damn feat.

This had actually been sitting on my to-read shelf for years, at this point; I’d bought it when it was new and left it for Future Nick. What prompted this reading was that I found a nearly mint (bar unremovable orange sticker) $1.50 copy of it at the Title Wave and figured I would definitely find somebody to give it to. The very next day (I think, he wrote, Bechdelishly), I was having coffee with a close friend who had just gotten back from a really frustrating visit with her mother, and I suggested blah blah etc. you get the pic, and I was immediately curious about what I’d gotten her into and started reading along. We both found it enlightening. (“Existentially useful if your mother is difficult” is a million-seller of a pitch, I dunno why that wasn’t right there in 72pt on the front cover.)

This is the part at the end where I say these two books were so fascinating at least in part because they’re so opposite what I experienced with my own parents, whom I realize more and more as I age just how thoroughly I lucked out on (esp. given the generational shit they were dealing with). Hi Mom!

Hmm, and I just now realize I’ve said nothing about the cartooning. Well, it’s excellent and calmly bizarre. (Get a load of the freehand reproductions of page after page of printed text, Jesus H.) Bechdel’s art is what it always is, and I happen to always like it a lot. Bonus points this outing for Young Alison’s perpetual intense creepy stare. There we go, I think we’ve finally covered this one.

Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain – Fantômas: The Exploits of Juve

April ???

(public domain link, although the PDF is bizarrely huge and you’ll want to run it through a shrinker of some kind if you’re thinking of putting it on your phone or tablet.)

Fantômas! You know, like the Mike Patton band?

OBVIOUSLY THIS WAS WEIRD AS HELL. I’m not convinced I didn’t dream the whole thing. It’s certainly dream-logic that drives it. Disguises come on and off, names change, houses have duplicate rooms, Fantômas is always lurking around the next corner. SNAKES. The thing this most reminded me of was The Man Who Was Thursday, though it drives the same effect toward an opposite destination.

Kind of curious to read more of these. This was the second out of god only knows how many, and it gives the impression that it constitutes a brief period of becoming before Fantômas and Juve ascend to some permanent apotheosis of unreality, becoming a sort of murderous Krazy and Ignatz on whom the changes can be rung ad infinitum. I don’t know if that’s actually what happens with the later books, but I hope it is.

roadrunnertwice: Weedmaster P: "SON OF A DICK. BALL COCKS. NO. FUCKING." (Overcompensating.WeedmasterP - Shitbox)
So I use an RSS reader to keep up with comics, blogs, essays, music, and a certain amount of srs bsns. At some point over the last five years, all RSS readers got eaten by Google Reader, and those that remained all used Google Reader to sync across devices. Then Google killed off Reader at the start of this month and everything was thrown into disarray and all my shit (NetNewsWire across a couple computers and an iPad) stopped working. Booooo.

Now I get to play with a bunch of not-totally-satisfactory newcomers to try and find something I don't mind. Supposedly my formerly beloved NetNewsWire is going to have SOME unspecified syncing solution and new mobile apps at SOME unspecified time, but Black Pixel missed the July 1 bricking deadline. Which kind of blew the goodwill I was holding out for them, and as far as I'm concerned they're starting from square zero with me, since a bunch of other folk have things that actually work today. They could well win anyway, but NNW can't be my path of least resistance anymore.

Anyway, first up is Digg Reader, just because what? Digg? That's a thing again? And because it was free. I've used it for three days or so by now.

I really like the per-article experience in their iPad app; it's enjoyable to read with, and it's easy to move back and forth between the naked feed version and the full website version of a post. And at first, when everything was unread because my shit had been broken for days, the experience of moving between articles was pretty nice too, with that scroll-to-the-bottom-and-keep-scrolling control.

Alas, less so when you have a mix of read and unread stuff. There's no "next unread" control, so you have to go back to the list and search through the haystack when you start hitting repeats. The read and unread articles only differ by font weight in the list view, so there isn't a blue dot or anything I can scan for, and I can't distinguish font weights when scrolling at speed. The unread counts in the source list are kind of wonky and unreliable. And the keep-scrolling-to-next control, which I like when I'm reading a whole list, is kind of crap if you decide to move on without finishing the current article; too much scrolling for what should be one button-press.

The web interface is just like Google Reader, but again, it doesn't let you filter down to just unread articles, so you have to manually search for 'em if there's a mix.

All that's awkward enough that I don't think I'll stick with it. What should I try next?

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