I'm revisiting Larry Marder's Tales of the Beanworld, a weird yet accessible comic originally published in the late 1980s. Beanworld is hard to describe. It's black-and-white with bold graphics and simple drawings, yet features an oddly compelling story that's part satire and part ecological fable. Hell, I'm not really sure what it is! Beanworld is populated by the likes of Professor Garbanzo, Mr. Spook, Gran'Ma'Pa, the Chow Sol'jers, Beanish, and the Boom'r Band. They live between The Legendary Edge and The Proverbial Sandy Beach, above The Thin Lake and The Four Realities. Below that is the Bone Zone, the Hoi-Polloi Ring Herd, and Der Stinkle. And a bunch of other stuff that makes sense when you are there. Highly recommended--pick it up in digital or hardcover.
We recently watched the excellent 1996 film The Whole Wide World about Robert E. Howard and his ill-fated romance with schoolteacher Novalyne Price.(It's based on her memoirs.) Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian, was the biggest thing in the pulps yet lived with his parents in a small town in Texas and was viewed suspiciously by the locals for his eccentricities. It's a sad tale, of course, but an uplifting story, mostly because the actors (Vincent D'Onofrio and Renee Zellweger) are superb and bring the characters to life. Add it to your next batch from Netflix, you won't be disappointed.
I came across a very nice used copy of A.E. Housman's A Shropshire Lad in a Mt. Shasta book shop. His poems are real gems and can be read again and again. His style comes across as quaint and old-fashioned but the insights are deep and thoroughly modern. His images are both dark and playful, and you seem to teeter on the knife edge in every stanza, never knowing which way you will fall. Like all great poets he turns the simple into the sublime with seeming effortlessness. Beautiful stuff--read it out loud during the holidays.
Finally, I just finished Pete Townshend's Who I Am (a birthday present!). The old rockers are cranking out the tell-alls these days, it seems to be the new thing. I suppose they are all of that age where they can relax and reminisce. I loved The Who and was a big fan of Townshend's music, especially Tommy and Quadrophenia. The first 300 pages (yes, it is a huge book) are interesting, he's a candid and straightforward story-teller. I liked learning about the band and how their sound came together, and about "the scene" that spawned so many great acts. I also liked reading about Pete's musical influences and about some of the things that inspired his work. The final 200 pages are harder going, too much "and then this happened" that many autobiographies suffer from, which is why I generally avoid them. But it is still Pete, and his mates Roger, John, and Keith, and that's all good. I first saw The Who in 1976 when I was still in high school and they made quite an impression on my adolescent mind.
That's not all I'm reading or watching these days, just the highlights, but it's enough to write about. So, tell me, what are YOU reading and watching these days?
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