Catching Up – The Comics

5 06 2007

As has become our habit when we re-animate LitBlogs yet again (monotonous, isn’t it?), we will begin our newest round of documenting literary blogs by returning to the sites we’ve already reviewed and marking any changes. And believe me, have there been changes. Some are wonderful, even inspiring. Others are downright depressing.

Like the number of brilliant bloggers we’ve lost in this past year. The comic blogosphere has been particularly hard-hit. Two of the three funniest net-exclusive bloggers have vanished without a trace.

Chris, who was responsible for the satiric genius and laff-out-loud gut-busting of the Fafblog!, hasn’t written a post since July of ’06. That doesn’t mean he and his crew of space-light alien-cookies won’t be back at some point – after all, if Shakespeare can return (more later), there’s hope for everybody – but it’s not looking good. One longs to hear Giblets defend Libby while Fafnir taste-tests various PopTart frostings and then goes into paroxysms of delight over the comparatively high food-value of the cardboard container they came in. Brad Delong called Fafblog! a “national treasure” and somebody has clearly looted it. (Now, who could that be?)

Admittedly a poor second but amusing in its own right for totally different reasons is an homage blog – no, I’m not kidding – called I Miss fafblog, Spot! by a group of otherwise-bloggers who have appropriated fafblog‘s template in toto and attempted to foist upon it their own version of wit. Sometimes it works…and sometimes it doesn’t. From a post of “awards” for – well, I’m not exactly sure what they’re for.

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Raymi the Minx

29 05 2007

(Originally published Feb 21, ’05)

minx: (mingks) n., a cheeky or mischievous girl
–The Oxford American Dictionary

And Raymi the Minx is all of that. While you’re at it, you can add irreverent, scatological, self-obsessed, insecure, arrogant, discumbobulated, opinionated, compassionate, intense, distant, exhibitionist, funny, hip and clueless, sometimes all at once. That will do for a start, but understand: it’s just a start. Raymi is one complicated individual, but then so aren’t we all, and isn’t that the point?

Raymi’s blog, which today is called either soon i will hit the ground and explode or when the peanuts wept (she changes the title several times a week and the title on the banner is often different from the title rendered by your browser), is a Mulligan’s Stew of stream-of-conscienceness patter that veers from the unexceptional to the trivial to the poetic, post-to-post. Raymi writes about everything and nothing in a semi-free-form ramble that sometimes sounds like Kerouac on crack and at other times like a whiny teenager afflicted with petty obsessions and neural diarrhea. That most of it is tongue-in-cheek, so to speak, saves the worst of it from maudlin excess and lifts the best of it into Walt Whitman/Charles Bukowski-Land, where it twinkles like a pearl necklace in a junkyard. Read the rest of this entry »

The Wooden O: Bard-Blogging

16 08 2004

Ever wonder what William Shakespeare would have to say about today’s world? No, me neither, but that’s an oversight that can be repaired with a single click. Through the miracle of cyberspace (which appears to have more dimensions than we thought), Master Shakespeare has returned to us–sort of–in the form of a disembodied voice at The Wooden O, his own personal blog.

I kid you not.

Will isn’t exactly a prolific blogger. There have been as few as two entries in a whole month, and long lags between them (as I write this, there hasn’t been a post since July 20–nearly a month). Yet what they lack in frequency, they make up in piquancy.

Master Will seems incredibly well-informed on current events, despite the excessive time he spends carousing at The Staggering Seraph–‘for those who would know, ’tis an inn on the borders of this world and the next, whither the best brewers of strong drink do repair on their death’–with the likes of Ben Jonson, Kit Marlowe, Larry Olivier, Peter Ustinov, and many other famous theatrical personages who have shuffled off this mortal coil. (As we shall see in a moment, Will is an inveterate and positively shameless name-dropper.) For instance, in ‘The Most Lamentable Comedy of King George II’, Master Will ruminates on what a fine–if dark–comedy Bush’s ascension to power would make.

[T]his same great fool of America maketh me much to wish that old Will Kempe were yet here to play him.Think on it, gentles: Bottom, in his dream, made an emperor! Or Dogberry, from police constable, become a great man, prince of a nation. Such a play I could make! Being no longer living, I need fear no Master of the Revels to stay me: but alas, being dead, my playmaking days are done.

Perchance it is for the best. For though this same Prince Shrublet is himself excellent matter for a comedy, yet ‘twould be a marvellous dark one, and some years must pass before the tragedies he hath wrought be not felt so near.

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Nonsense Verse: Very Little Verse But Some Inspired Nonsense

13 08 2004

Jennifer Balderama is a professional journalist on the business beat, but she’s also a real writer. Real writers are rarely satisfied with developing only a single aspect of their talent, which is why I assume this one created Nonsense Verse–to have a place to ply her comic skills. They don’t give you much chance to be funny in business journalism, and Jennifer is a very funny writer when she wants to be, although she is more likely to provoke sly, behind-the-hand chuckles of recognition than outright belly-laughs. Not that she won’t get those too, but Jennifer–or ‘J’, as she refers to herself–specializes in a kind of humor we might call ‘oblique’.

To get belly-laughs, you usually have to come straight at your reader, like Wodehouse or Fafblog. Jennifer doesn’t often do that. Her humor comes more from the odd angle, the surprising POV. It’s almost like she’s sneaking up on it–and you–from behind some trees, and if she doesn’t play it soft she’ll scare you both away. That approach requires a lot of understatement, and understatement is usually the enemy of B-L’s. B-L’s come from slapstick, from overstatement (but not too over–a fine line), from direct confrontation. Jennifer’s style is not to confront but to slip up on her subject when it’s not looking. Like this:

That’s ‘The Boy’, as Jennifer unfailingly refers to her Significant Other, caught at a moment he would probably rather not have been. There you have a graphic depiction of Jennifer’s thang–Do what they’re not expecting, and do it when they’re not expecting it. In the matter of the cicadas, for instance. Read the rest of this entry »

The Mermaid Tavern: Benchley Re-Born?

7 07 2004

‘indiejade’ of The Mermaid Tavern (Born Feb ’04) is helping to redefine the blog by exploring its creative possibilities. Forsaking the standard socio-politico-cultural-personal rant/analysis format in favor of humorous or satiric monologues and set-pieces on the vagaries and anomalies of everyday existence, she uses her own life as a launching pad for exploring all the stuff we only notice when it drives us nuts. In the process, she dedicates herself to providing potential solutions to problems or answers to complex and difficult questions like ‘What’s the deal with shampoo?’ Asked by a supposed reader, ‘Do you believe the “repeat” part of the directions is a ploy by the shampoo companies to sell more shampoo?’, she answers:

Congratulations on bursting the bubble. You have inadvertently destroyed $1.4 trillion dollars worth of potential profit for the shampoo companies with your discovery. And now it is time for the truth to come out.The first part of the truth is that the shampoo companies are actually fronts for the National Committee of Librarians against Harry Potter.

The National Committee of Librarians against Harry Potter believes that there is a direct linkage between the number of bottles of shampoo sold and the amount of sorcery that occurs at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This linkage has actually been prove[n] in a complex algorithm that nearly shut down the Internet and mysteriously caused the pine tree needles of the world to stand on end. The algorithm has since disappeared.

The second part of the truth is that the shampoo companies have been deceiving consumers for years. Most people do not know that shampoo is simply a by-product of a chemical called “air” that has the amazing ability to purge itself of toxicity.

Or trying to explain one of THOSE days:

*the sky turns dark and thunder crashes*Do you know what I mean? THOSE days are days that you wish you hadn’t gotten out of bed. THOSE days are days when absolutely nothing goes your way. In the morning, you burn your bagel, pour orange juice into your coffee (instead of milk), and accidentially lose your keys. Later you realize, halfway through the day, that you are wearing your shirt inside out. Your shoes keep coming untied. You cannot remember where you parked your car. The deli has run out of smoked turkey breast, when, that’s all you really feel like eating. Rush hour traffic is at a standstill (ironic that they call it “rush hour” while everyone is stuck going nowhere, eh?). Your dog has had a heyday while you were away — taking every single pair of underpants you own and decorating the living room.

So yeah, it’s been one of THOSE days.

Or commenting on a recent scorpion outbreak in Seattle:

Recently in Seattle (motto: “You smell like a two-day fish”), residents reported an outbreak of scorpions. Perhaps you think there are no scorpions in Seattle. Perhaps you are an idiot.As the French say, au contraire (literally: “Yo momma’s so fat that when she stands on the scale, it says: TO BE CONTINUED!”). I have here on my desk a copy of an Associated Press article sent in by alert reader Ziggy, whose name can be rearranged to spell “ZYIGG”, although that is not my main point. “Ziggy”, by the way, only has the letters “iy” in in common with “Monica Lewinsky,” so there is no other reason to mention Monica Lewinsky in this article.

But her glory is showcased in a 2-part piece titled ‘The Hangover Monster’. It’s a hilarious send-up not just of hangovers and what they feel like, but of why we tell ourselves we do them: ‘Somebody made me.’ The evening starts out reasonably enough–

It was to be a simple gathering with friends . . . well, okay, I lie. It was to be a simple gathering of burned-out college students who may or may not know each other, all gathered in the name of social drinking. The simple gathering of college students milled about, chatting “small talk” while the water cooler bubbled moodily in the background #. The vibrant notes of Erasure pulsed out of the speakers.The philosofairy was proud of herself, for a moment, as she surveyed the scene. She’d actually dragged herself away from the house and attended . . . dum da dum . . . a Social Gathering!

(Please hold the applause)

–but with the arival of ‘Beatrice’ (‘names have been changed to protect identities, affiliates and potential lawsuits’), things start to slide downhill. Mud-slide, actually.

“Yeah,” says Beatrice*, finishing her drink. (Imagine ravenous gulps of alcoholic beverage consumption followed by insane laughter and punctuated by the slam of an empty glass on the counter) “I’ve just been workin’. Goin’ to school. . . .. Girl, you look great! Hey, you need a drink? You look like you need a drink.””I don’t really –”

But by then it’s too late. The philosofairy has a coconut mudslide in her hand.

Fast forward one hour, and the philosofairy is suddenly taking generous shots of tequila, sipping (something) and drinking some more of (something) which is 49.2 percent alcohol, but, for legal purposes, has been spiked with (something) that contains 110 percent alcohol.

In Part II, the predictable results of this behaviour are described with ruthless precision:

Sunday: 10:20 a.m.When she finally has the courage to open her eyes, the philosofairy realizes that the scientists have been right all along. There really are things called “molecules” and “sound waves” swimming in the air around people. Trillions and trillions of molecules and sound waves. The philosofairy knows this because she can feel every individual molecule and sound wave assaulting her poor, bedraggled body. If she closes her eyes and concentrates very carefully, she can feel every molecule and sound wave bounce off her body at speeds of perhaps three hundred thousand miles per hour. She is especially aware of the sensation on her left foot because her left foot has somehow become sockless in the course of the night. She is also aware of the sensation acutely in temples.

It’s a molecular homicide, of sorts, wherein the molecules of the earth have, sometime during the night, conspired with the sound wave of the earth to create a cacophonous symphony of discord. The philosofairy winces when the symphony reaches its crescendo. All she can do is utter a groan which, when she thinks about it, sounds something like a water buffalo giving birth.

And which of us hasn’t been there?

The Mermaid Tavern is Robert Benchley translated for a modern audience, and the good news is: when she’s on her game, indiejade writes every bit as well as Benchley, sometimes better. But even when she’s off, she’s still one of the funniest and most human reads on the net. If she’s not as flat-out funny as Fafblog!, that’s because it’s a deeper kind of funny, the kind of rueful, ‘O jeez, I did that?’ funny that comes with recognition and self-awareness of your own foibles, flaws and weaknesses. You know the ones: those little ones you think nobody notices. indiejade knows all about them and is exposing them for all of us, god bless her.

So read and enjoy. Pretend she’s not talking about you if you have to, but understand this: we know who she’s talking about….