There are many divides among people: one race or another, one creed and another or a creed and no creed, female or Neanderthal, fruit on the bottom or mixed in. But the abbreviated title, which means ‘too long; didn’t read’, outlines a whole new division for me.
There are still those who like to read. They appreciate all the time, effort and craft it takes for words to be strung together in intelligible, entertaining and delightful ways. Definitely my camp.
Then there are those in the sound bite set who don’t read. There is no patience in these people for the effort reading exacts. And I’m not being a snob here about certain types of reader. It doesn’t matter whether you’re turned on by romance, science fiction, medieval mysteries with monks or Literature with that snooty capital ‘L’. No. The group I’m thinking of doesn’t read a thing.
Everything is tl and so they dr anything. And these are a growing demographic. For them video did more than kill the radio star: it killed art. For some even a two hour movie is too long. They are the twittery generation where what you have to say must be clearly evoked in 140 characters or less.
We are being précis-ed out of meaning.
Am I among the few who finds this sad? Who among the reading crowd also thinks these poor illiterates are doomed to be forever out of the depth that the human experience and condition will inspire if they manage to live it?
And I don’t mean to say that truth and beauty is only to be found in literature. I think all the arts and the sciences and other fields are being diminished by those who want their knowledge served in meager morsels.
Think of all the great films that have been inspired by books. We hear the phrase ‘it’s nothing like the book’ all the time and many nod and agree and then don’t bother to pick that book up. Perhaps I shouldn’t quibble about that: they are getting something in that tiny portion for their abbreviated attention span.
And if that sounds harsh or elitist or snobbish then let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear about any contrary views. But, sadly, by the very medium this message is coming to you right now all these thoughts are restricted. This is a blog and so entirely tl.
But what kind of life is that? Never mind a glass half empty, there’s barely a drop to be had. Is it a 21st century malaise? Just too much information in the world so it has to be cut down to fit it all in if you want to be well rounded?
I think it difficult, though, to imagine what is worth while in an info bite. So little to savour. Not enough to digest.
Yet the time is taken by those in the other camp to type those five characters.
Well thank you for not wasting my time. You’ve summarized your view, ideas and personality so succinctly. So well. That’s all I need to know.

Cute Father’s Day Card

Father’s Day has never been a big deal to me. In fact, sometimes I think we have too many of these days and should be happy with birthdays and statutory holidays. At other times I’m struck that time spent bringing the family together should be fostered especially when there are so many pressures tearing families apart.
So it was with mixed feelings that I found a Father’s Day card from my son as I was cleaning a portion of the basement. I think the card was made at school since it was done on material which was cut up into a mosaic and pasted onto construction paper. It made me smile and laugh so I figured I should scan it in and share it with you.

More Kazu Kibuishi

My posting about graphic novels in January mentioned some of Kazu Kibuishi’s work as did my review of The Amulet. I borrowed Flight Volume 2 and purchased Book 2 of the Amulet since.

Flight Volume 2
Kazu Kibuishi is the editor, of the Graphic Novel potpourri that is Flight. But readers are still lucky enough to be treated to his excellent work too. Kibuishi’s The Orange Grove is wonderfully touching; its uncluttered and clear style draws you in.
My favourite story, though, is Ghost Trolley by Rod Sechrist. Eerie artwork and an interesting story.
I also enjoyed Destiny Express by Jen Wang and Monster Slayers by Khang Le.
I’ve read three volumes of this series and have enjoyed them all. Recommended!

The Amulet Book 2
The Stonekeeper’s Curse (Book 2) is an excellent and exciting sequel to The Stonekeeper (Book 1). The story is a compelling young adult story (that’s still good enough for adults too) with a complex cast of characters and intricate plot. All that and it still manages to enthrall. I especially liked the talking trees! I will likely buy the entire series.
Very highly recommended.

The Professor’s Daughter

The Professor’s Daughter published in 1997 by First Second (New York, NY) was drawn by Emmanuel Guibert and written by Joann Sfar. I didn’t find it delighted me as much as Gene Luen Yang’s books from the same publisher. This is a more whimsical topic, of course, and I did enjoy the drawings and water colouring. But I found the story too disjointed: it hopped from point to point with little to connect it or to motivate the reader to care about the urbane protagonists Imhotep IV and Lillian Bowell. Even the very beginning was rushed into from my perspective as reader.
Although very pretty I find this work too frustrating to recommend to anyone but those who appreciate comic drawing and don’t overly care for story.

Gene Luen Yang

I found two graphic novels by Gene Luen Yang at my local library and thoroughly enjoyed them both. They were:

  • American Born Chinese, 2006 First Second, New York, NY
  • The Eternal Smile by Yang and Derek Kirk Kim, 2009 First Second, New York, NY

American Born Chinese is really two stories intertwined in a coming of age tale. The first is that of adolescent Jin Wang growing up in America and, the second, the cultural story of Monkey King and Wong Lai-Tsao. As the title indicates, there is a meeting of America and China in these pages.

The Eternal Smile is three stories assembled together:

  1. Duncan’s Kingdom is about Duncan and his struggle to extricate himself from fantasy.
  2. Elias McFadden’s Gran’Pa Greenbax and The Eternal Smile is an intriguing moral and ecological tale. It reminded me of Scrooge McDuck stories. It was sad what happened to poor Filbert and the twins Polly and Molly were interesting characters.
  3. Urgent Request is quite a different tale involving Nigerian Prince Henry and the resilient Janet. I just wish I could have seen something bad happen to Mr. Hoffman.

Both books are quick reads and recommended, especially the first!

The Tale of Despereaux

This animated ‘new’ fairy tale is from the book by Kate DiCamillo and is beautiful to experience. The Renaissance art influences are wonderful to simply bask in as you watch. I won’t dwell too much on historical inaccuracies like some since, after all, it is a fairy tale. I thought the plot elements involving the serving girl Miggery Sow (Tracey Ullman) were weak and didn’t especially add to the flow but that isn’t nearly enough to keep me from enjoying and buying this DVD.
I have placed Kate’s book on hold at the library as I want to see the source for this interesting story. I’m especially interested in seeing how she treats with Despereaux since he seems ultra brave and incapable of cowering at the beginning (like Reepicheep in the Chronicles of Narnia) but seems to change quite a bit when confronted with the nasty cat in the Rat Dungeon.
Still, very worthwhile.

1000 Journals

I really enjoyed this documentary about Someguy (an artist in San Francisco who preferred to remain anonymous) distributing 1000 blank journals in random places around San Francisco and to people who requested to write in one over his website. There were few rules: only a request that the journal be returned at some point. What an interesting and hopeful idea and one with results no one could have expected. Here’s the stamp that accompanied each journal.
The Producer, Writer and Director was Andrea Kreuzhage, and director of photography was Ralph Kaechele. These two really provide an intriguing glimpse into this unique story about what can happen with an idea. Someguy wanted his brainchild to travel the world for him: and it certainly has.
Not all have returned to him but such is the nature of such an organic idea: perhaps they’ll come home to roost sometime in the future if they aren’t forever lost. It’s very exciting, really. The person who lead the discussion after this film was shown in the Alma Gallery said that Someguy has received 40 of them back to date. He’s scanned them and has made some available on the website and has even put together an exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art showing some of the entries (November 01, 2008 – April 05, 2009) and a book.
Another interesting consequence is the emotional attachment to the material by people who have poured a little of themselves into one or more of the pages. For some it took a long time (years in probably more than one case) to figure out exactly what they wanted to put down and others only minutes. And it extends beyond the time they have it too. One woman who was interviewed after comments made by another person to her entry was extremely upset about what she considered a personal attack. Such investment in something that transcends ownership. And yet, at the end of the documentary, there was a cathartic moment when she was on again and indicated how important the project was to her.
In another case the documentary focuses on several pages that were defaced (often literally) by another entrant. Even when blank pages were available. That brings up questions of artistic freedom, ownership (again), loss and, perhaps, the inability for some to do their own original thing.
The project continues anew at the 1001 journals site.
Highly Recommended!