Sunday, June 27, 2004

THE BEST KIND OF BATHROOM BOOK: Is the book that is durable, and high on page count while being, and can be stopped and started at any point. Much like the act of defecation itself, in an ideal world. The Complete Peanuts, Volume One, is such a book. I take in the can with me and open it at random, much like Augustine did with the book of Romans at the moment of his conversion. Except he didn't convert on the crapper, and all you're doing with the Complete Peanuts is reminding yourself of how great Charles M. Schulz was, and how different Peanuts was in the early days, and how strange it is that this comic strip became a cultural force.

As has been mentioned in many reviews of Volume One, these are not the Peanuts you're used to. The characters are built a little lower to the ground, and are not as expressive as they would become. Some of the gags are really bad, the kind of thing Ruben Bolling makes fun of sometimes when he turns his whole Tom the Dancing Bug panel into a mini comics section. And Sparky at this point had a real thing for making the third panel the punchline--usually a putdown--and the fourth panel the aftermath of the punchline: a character chasing another out of outrage, the character being chased running out of perverse joy. Saying, "It's risky, but I get my laughs" as Charlie Brown does, running away from Patty in a panel inside one of the front covers. But the heart of Peanuts is there: the philosophy, the insults, the precocious little children. There's one of the all time great Peanuts lines: Charlie Brown's "What a beautiful gory layout!" as he stands before the huge rack of 1950s comics with titles like GOUGE and STAB! and KILL and even HATE, which is completely appropriate since Peter Bagge is the only true heir to Schulz.

The book is designed by Seth and it seems like an attempt to reinvent the Peanuts franchise. Or at least to take it as far as possible from the greeting cards and other Hallmark pick-me-ups where these character currently resides. Those things have their place, but not in the early era of Peanuts where the characters were really insulting to each other. I applaud the attempt to do something different with Peanuts, though there's something art-comics-esque of this Seth-designed volume that will take some getting used to. I think Sparky would whack you with a hockey stick if you said Peanuts was art.

The first ever Peanuts set the tone, by the way: "Well! Here comes good ol' Charlie Brown! Good ol' Charlie Brown....yes sir! Good ol' Charlie Brown...

"How I hate him!"

Moving on here: Bruce O'Flit gives you the true historical metaphor for current-day Iraq. Hint: It isn't Japan and Germany, 1945. It is, in fact:

At the moment, the Iraq adventure is more or less where the Philippine adventure was in March, 1900; the open rebellion has calmed down a bit, there is a parallel civilian power struggle in the offing, and the Americans are changing leadership. (McKinley didn't have Kofi Annan back then, so he had to invent the Taft Commission to fill its place, but other than that we're pretty close.) That puts us about one year from the popular Aguinaldo figure's (Sadr's?) end, a year-and-a-half from a bloody American defeat that outrages the home front and leads to American reprisal atrocities (Balangiga), two years from the "zones" policy (what they called the Philippine concentration camps) and a decade away from the end of the still-to-come Moro (Kurdish?) rebellion. If everything goes according to precedent, Iraq will be a fully sovereign nation again no later than 2050.

What, you thought it would take less somehow?

On the NBA front: I dig the Sebastian Telfair conspiracy theory:

A report in the New York Post last month suggested that adidas would pay off the Trail Blazers to take Telfair in the draft. In exchange for the purchase of luxury suite seats and a marketing campaign around Portland, the Trail Blazers would guarantee the pick.

Trail Blazers general manager John Nash denied that such a deal was made and Wulff told that despite the team landing Telfair, that no agreement was ever made.

"As we understand, the story came from a former disgruntled adidas employee," Wulff said. "To suggest that we agreed to give the Blazers some $200,000 to do this is borderline ludicrous. We do some things with them, we will continue to do things with them, but there have been no marketing conversations about next year as of yet."

Conspiracy theorists could come back with the fact that Telfair's shoe, designed before he was drafted, was silver and black -- two of the Blazers' principal colors.

It explains so much more than the standard "high school senior Telfair had more upside than college senior Jameer Nelson" theory, doesn't it? Via SportsFilter.

Summer physics begins tomorrow. Pray for my weary self, my friends.

Oh, and one more thing: FULLERTON~!

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