Abstract Number One, March 2021

 



This is the raw scan of an abstract I did in March. Here it is with some editing and color balancing.


White Blossoms

 


You know, we had good weather for about a minute and then the snow, sleet, and hail hit today and I just said to hell with it.

Blown Glass Installation

 


This is a blown glass installation in the Delaware Museum of Art and it reminds me of some really great work that is being done, especially in Wimberley, Texas. I love this stuff. 

Nancy by Olivia Jaimes

 


The revitalized and updated Nancy comic strip, as done by Olivia Jaimes, is a revelation. It is well worth the time to explore. It's hyperbole-proof genius.

Vain and fussy, yet honest and true to herself, we all have a little bit of Nancy in us. Originally written and drawn by Ernie Bushmiller, Nancy debuted in the newspaper in 1933 as a character in “Fritzi Ritz”. And the comic strip has only been drawn by men up until 2018, where Olivia Jaimes became the latest and first female cartoonist in its history. And she has now given the spiky-haired a new voice to walk the world. 

And there you have it. A strip that has existed for most of the last century has been repurposed into an examination of anxiety, loneliness, and technology. It is as if someone said, "let's just throw all of the Humanities in there and see what comes out."

Charles Schulz looked at the way loneliness could be used to connect with people as a recurring theme. He populated Peanuts with a cast of characters who were forever at odds with one another, struggling to make sense of the way the world works. Jaimes has picked up the ball and has run it further. 

There's no stopping to see if Nancy and Sluggo are going to have a Charlie Brown and Lucy moment of import. The dialogue is too wry for that. This is how you move past all of that nonsense and live in the modern world. Why are we here and why do we do what it is we do? That's all you need to start with. Glorious fun.

People Need Libraries

 


Critical resources can be found at any decent library in this country. Sometimes, the only way for people to get to those resources is through a well-run library that has been closed for the last year. We need to reopen these facilities safely:

The last time I saw the inside of a library was the afternoon of March 12. Crocuses were peeking out of the ground. The neighbors were out for a stroll, the sidewalks strangely dense with pedestrians. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think it was a holiday.

The looming pandemic had propelled me out of Brooklyn and back to my hometown of Seattle. Mask wearing was underway, though it all still felt a bit hypothetical. It wasn’t until I walked into the library that day—the same stately, brick Carnegie library I grew up around the corner from, a branch I’d been going to since I was in grade school—that it hit me.

I walked inside and smelled the air, the scent of old pages from my childhood. And then it dawned on me—if I could smell the books through my mask, what other particles were also floating in? All of a sudden, paranoia. I sensed germs everywhere. Right next to me, over across the room, on the book of essays I was holding. There was a dispenser of hand sanitizer at the front—a comically puny intervention, when you think about it, against the manifold surfaces of a library book, an object defined by its passage through countless, anonymous fingers. I asked a librarian if I could use the restroom to wash my hands. Sorry, she said. Restrooms are closed. The next day, Seattle’s chief librarian announced the closure of all branches.

If we can reopen restaurants, we should be able to open up libraries. If it takes emergency funds, let's figure out a way to make it happen.

Superman

 


This is what you find in the category of, "hey, we have a serious problem here..."

Deadline has just announced that Ta-Nehisi Coates will be writing the screenplay for the latest Superman reboot. J.J. Abrams is producing, and Henry Cavill will reprise his role as the Gap sale section of superheroes.

Though the very subject of Hollywood’s love affair with endless superhero reboots it tedious at this point (so we reboot on, boats against the current, etc., etc.), the idea of what Coates can do with the world’s most vanilla superhero is nevertheless intriguing.

In addition to his widely lauded works of non-fiction and Oprah-approved novel, Coates has previously written both a Black Panther and a Captain America series for Marvel Comics, so he’s no stranger to the genre. As to whether he can breathe life into Superman, the superhero equivalent of those styrofoam cups of vanilla ice cream they used to serve in elementary school cafeterias, remains to be seen—but if anyone can do it, he can.

I can't think of anything else that could be more out of ideas and more irrelevant to our current situation in this country. The problem here is that there's money to make this movie but there's no compelling reason why it has to be made and then seen. It's like a contractual obligation and nothing more. Here, we need to throw shit at the wall. Here's some shit. Now, we can go throw it at the wall in the Summer of next year or the next, cross that off the list.

Did anyone wake up demanding to know if there was anything else that could be wrung out of something that's been done to death? What if we make Superman evil? There you go, reboot it, flip it, kill someone off who you don't care about, got it. On to the next atrocity.

You don't make a Superman movie because you want to tell a story. You do it because there's a market for a blockbuster movie aimed at a certain audience that will earn x amount of dollars in ticket sales. You can do whatever you want and convince yourself that it will be artistic and groundbreaking and fascinating but, really, by the time skittish film company executives get done with it, all of those pieces will be completely sanded off.

No one reboots a film that has been rebooted three times already and then deludes themselves into thinking that everyone has to see it, right? Can you imagine the mentality of someone who is shitting themselves with excitement over something that will roll into the popular culture and take up the space that five or six legitimately original but smaller films would have taken up? There's a reason why everything sucks and that's because you're not seeing any gems out there anymore. The oxygen has already been consumed. That great script that so-and-so wrote that has a promising story in it? Not getting made because you can't explain the plot to a teenager in such-and-such place.

We've seen eight or nine or twenty versions of this already. No one is interested in it for the story at this point. It's been done.

You don't hire J.J. Abrams to make a new movie. You hire him to make a new version of the old movie you really liked. Let's not kid ourselves.

Don't hate on Coates for wanting to make a living as a writer. Some gigs you take because they'll support the fifty other things you want to do. 

Oh, it'll be the greatest thing ever. You'll see it on free cable and you'll really feel bad that you missed it. Can't wait to see how they market this. Maybe there will be a fake controversy about how it's your fault no one cares.

Honestly, a Superman movie is like waking up to find someone didn't shovel the walk after a snowstorm. You can't even get mad about it. All you can do is pick of a shovel and try to clear a path through something you didn't want to see.