A recap of all of the posts that comprised Crushing Krisis: Blog of Tomorrow (a Patreon launch event) [Read more…] about November Recap: Blog of Tomorrow
Archives for November 2016
What a month!
This is the final post of my “Blog of Tomorrow” event, where I blogged as if it was my full-time job for the entire month of November. The event celebrated the launch of a Patreon campaign to offset the costs of running CrushingKrisis.
I enjoy both dreaming up big, seemingly insane projects and participating in big, seemingly undoable events. That’s how I got myself into things like recording a song an hour for Blogathon, volunteering with Blame Drew’s Cancer, and participating in National Novel Writing Month.
I knew that launching a Patreon for CK had to be accompanied by one of those big, insane, undoable things. Thus, the content overload this month. Seriously, it was an epic, unwarranted amount of content. Writing it may have been the single most difficult thing I’ve achieved in life. There were points where I just hated words. And comic books. I definitely spent some time hating comic books.
I also proved to myself that I really do have the energy, inspiration, and focus to create the kinds of content I’ve wanted to feature on CK for so many years. All I’ve ever lacked was time.
All of November’s content was written between October 12th and this very moment, with the exception of the skeleton of the Ultimate Comics Guide, which I started researching in September, and Friday Fiction, which was originally written over the past six years and edited for this month. Since linking and editing takes time, I’m still including them both in the wordcount.
That content totals 133,746 words, or about one adult-lengthed paperback book. That was split between 109,944 words in 92 posts (including this one) and 23,802 words in 4 new pages.
While 92 posts could maintain daily posts on CK for an entire quarter, an average month of CK content is historically only a little over 10,000 words, which means this month contained the effective content of an entire average year of Crushing Krisis.
This month represents 6.33% of CK’s total word count in .5% of its lifetime, 2% of its 16 years of posts, and 3.45% of its total pages.
The material took 182 hours to write, edit, and illustrate with media. Had I done it all in a single month, it would have required 42.5hr work weeks.
Spread across the days since October 12th it represented 25.5hr work weeks. That doesn’t include time I spent on any of the content on Patreon itself, time spent on social media posts to promote CK, or time spent setting up and playing the streaming concerts. And, aside from calling in Mother of Krisis for a day and a half of relief over the course of the month, I spent all of that time doing my typical amount of parenting.
So, to answer my own question: yes, I really could turn CK into a full-time endeavor. In fact, I’d be happy to, if if that’s what my Patrons wanted – but, that’s has never been the goal of this month.
If you’ve found this month entertaining, or interesting, or useful, please consider contributing to my campaign.
If you have a suggestion for a pledge goal content reward or a pledge level reward that would make you want to pledge, please comment to let me know.
[Patreon-Nov16-Post-Bug][/Patreon-Nov16-Post-Bug]This is actually a post about the 36th song from 35 years of my life.
I’ve never understood how “Best of the Year” lists can come out in December. There’s a whole extra month of things that might be the best! There’s more year – more context – that hasn’t happened yet!
The lists should come out in January. I blame Christmas. Some might say I have declared a war on it.
I think “Best of Year” lists should come out in the following January, or maybe even March or April. Who can even know the shape of the year without a little time and hindsight? How many of these 35 songs would I have chosen right at the end their years rather than after? In many cases, I hadn’t even heard them year.
I don’t know what hindsight will tell me about 2016. It was tempting to pick “Blackstar” or “Lazarus” as a reminder of those brief first 10 days of 2016 when it seemed everything was possible before the sad, awful mess of this year set in. Maybe in hindsight one of those will be my song of 2016.
For now, my pick is a song from just two weeks later. Actually, it was the first thing I heard other than David Bowie after his death. The song is “Mountains” by Dirty Holiday, a moniker for one of the many projects of Philly singer-songwriter Katie Barbato.
It also happens to be EV’s favorite song of the year.
This will forever go down as the first song I discovered and loved at exactly the same time as EV. She was sitting at our dining room table the first time I played it from my laptop, and as she requested Dirty Holiday’s Nobody’s Sober EP again and again it grew to be our favorite song amongst a strong crop.
There’s something about how the song picks up from a bluesy, acoustic strum to something larger .The arrangement and production is a perfect fit for this tune. In particular, I’d describe those organ parts as “lurid” – so swirling and colorful that there is almost something prickly and sinister about them, lending a different meaning to Barbato’s tossed off “da dut da” above them.
One Wednesday over the summer I brought EV to the Academy of Natural Sciences to see the dinosaurs for the first time. However, in documenting the story on the blog this summer, I skipped my favorite part.
EV and I reached the intersection of 19th street and Walnut, where 19th is interrupted by Rittenhouse Square. As we crossed from the west side to the east, we very literally bumped into Katie Barbato and her husband Matt. We hugged hello, and then I leaned down to introduce EV.
“EV, this is Miss Katie.” Then, it dawned on me that EV knew exactly who Miss Katie was. “EV, it’s Katie Barbato.”
Here is an artist’s rendering of EV’s face in that moment:
Katie, Matt, and I chatted about Katie’s record and my purple hair for a few minutes while EV hid behind my legs in awe. There we were in the middle of Center City, and her papa was talking to A ROCK STAR FROM THE IPOD. She did not say a single word to Katie or Matt, but as soon as we said our goodbyes the only thing she could talk about for the rest of the day was, “Did you know that I met Katie Barbato?”
Requests for “Mountains” saw an uptick after that, which I didn’t even think was possible.
You can buy the entire Nobody’s Sober EP at BandCamp for $4. It is five songs long and each song is way better than a dollar, so that is a steal.
[Patreon-Nov16-Post-Bug][/Patreon-Nov16-Post-Bug]It’s the grand finale of my daily read of the first three years of WildStorm Comics – WildStorm Rising!
WildStorm Rising is the first direct crossover between any WildStorm books. Just like here at CK the WildStorm crew doesn’t do anything halfway – their first crossover hits every one of their eight ongoing titles, adding a prologue and a pair of bookends for 11 total issues:
- Team 7: Operation Hell #1
- WildStorm Rising #1
- WildC.A.T.s #20
- Union (1995) #4
- Gen 13 (1995) #2
- Grifter #1
- Deathblow #16
- Wetworks #8
- Backlash #8
- StormWatch #22
- WildStorm Rising #2
The crossover is really only meaningful to a trio of them – dual flagships WildCATS and Stormwatch, and the debut of Grifter. Everyone else is merely a bystander in the culmination of a year-long plot launched in Stormwatch to alter the struggling status quo in WildCATs.
There are pros and cons to any linewide crossover, and WildStorm Rising is no exception.
On the pro side, the event manages to accomplish something that few Marvel crossovers could manage back in the 90s (and still can’t today): Each chapter worked well as an issue of its own book advancing some of its own themes. That’s despite the fact that many books weren’t written by their typical authors and many of them continued directly to the next title in the crossover sequence.
Plus, we really do get a new status quo for several books, none more so than WildCATs!
On the con side, WildStorm Rising squanders Defile’s long-running infiltration of Stormwatch in favor of him chasing a McGuffin of power just inserted into Team 7: Objective Hell. Many of the pillars of the crossover were built from Defiles machinations, but it still feels like a massive cheat to see his master plot lose steam just as WildCATs and Stormwatch come to blows. He almost literally says, “Screw my plans that have been built up in Stormwatch since issue #6, now I’m going to focus on this other thing.”
Even worse, it turns out the McGuffin has no real meaning in a hairpin final turn – it was merely a red herring to bring back a fan favorite character squandered too early in the life of the line!
What is this amazing McGuffin? It’s both a key and a symbol. It’s about the balance of power in the ruling class of Daemonites. When they arrived on a space ship chasing the Kherubim, there was a natural division of power between politics, military, and (sort of) transportation. A representative of each held a key to the ship that also signified their unquestionable ruling power. All three would need to align their keys to activate interstellar navigation technology so none could shift the balance of power too far towards government, military might, or (one would imagine) commerce and colonization.
The transportation key was lost in the ship’s crash, which left the political and military arms of the Daemonites stuck in a two-party struggle for planetary power for 2,000 years with no means to escape. Now, the two pieces of the lost key have showed up in possession of a rogue Daemonite and a member of Team 7, and both sides of the Daemonites are racing to collect them – while the assembled might of our heroes try to defend them while resolving their inter-squad squabbles.
Is WildStorm Rising worth a read? As a self-contained event it’s nothing special. However, if you plan to read any other WildStorm books from 1995-1997 – like Grifter’s solo series or Alan Moore’s WildCats – it’s a good primer. It’s far back enough from Ellis’s takeover on Stormwatch to be relevant there.
The rest of this post is split into two sections. The first reviews each issue of the crossover (w/links to purchase) with relatively few comments on plot. The second second offers a plot recap of each issue so you can fill in the gaps of your read.
[Patreon-Nov16-Post-Bug][/Patreon-Nov16-Post-Bug]Today is the fifth installment of my “From The Beginning” read of Dr. Seuss’s entire bibliography. Last week I reviewed the slightly odd, lesser-known Horton book Horton Hatches the Egg.
Dr. Seuss followed Horton with another silly rhyming tale, recycling Marco the protagonist of And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street and his wild imagination. However, this time around Marco didn’t seem to capture my toddler’s imagination.
CK Says: – Consider it
Reading Time: 5-8 minutes
Gender Diversity: Marco and the farmer are male; some fisher are gendered as male. The one named women is out hanging her clothes (as most of Seuss’s early women are)
Ethnic Diversity: None
Challenging Language: pasture, croquet, connecting, whoofing, friskers, kangaroo, gristle, acrobat, thrashing
Themes to Discuss: imagination, littering, evolution
McElligot’s Pool reunites us with Marco, the imaginative star of Seuss’s debut And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. On this occasion he’s not walking down a busy city street, but sitting at a fishing hole out in the country. His vivid imagination is not only intact, but it has grown.
That means the same is true for Marco’s author, Dr. Seuss. His fifth book is the first to dive deeply into his fanciful world of ridiculous made up animals – here represented in meter by all the unusual fish that Marco can possibly dream up.
McElligot’s Pool is a really just an overgrown puddle, a hole-in-the-ground filled with water and people’s junk. A local farmer says Marco couldn’t possible catch a fish there even if he fished for fifty years! Even without the junk, I’m not sure that any fish would want to live there.
Marco is undeterred, imagining the pool as an underground river that runs out under his little town to the sea beyond. And, while there might not be any interesting fish in McElligot’s Pool, the sea is full of them! He starts out picturing real (or, at least, realistic) fish he might catch, but escalates quickly to picturing rooster fish, cow fish, downhill skiing fish and people fish. (It’s pretty gruesome to imagine catching some of them with a hook!)
All of those fish are the reason Marco keeps fishing, even if they might not really exist to be caught.
Seuss feints in the direction of an environmentalist tale with the initial focus on all the junk littering the pool, but the theme doesn’t linger after its initial mention. Once the underground river flows out to the sea, the story is like an underwater adaptation of Mulberry Street fueled by extra imagination.
I found the book full of silly fish to be charming, but from the first read the toddler had found it to be boring. I wasn’t sure why at first. It has colorful illustrations and zippy, easy-to-read language. After negotiating with her to read it a few more times, I think her disinterest is the result of McElligot’s Pool lacking the progression of Mulberry Street. Though the fish do get slightly bigger and more unusual as the story continues, there isn’t a clear “this replaces that” theme nor a sense of reaching a destination. It’s just a list of silly fish.
What interested toddler does have in the book are certainly the illustrations. This book features a fuller range of colors than the last few – delicate watercolors rather than the bold color fills of Mullberry or the flash of red in 500 Hats and King’s Stilts. The fish themselves are quite delightful. Seuss pushes each of Marco’s fanciful concepts as far as possible. Some of them definitely elicit a chuckle from me on re-read, especially the saw fish who can’t get around on his own because he’s poorly balanced and the skiing fish because why would a fish need to ski underwater?!
McElligot’s Pool is a silly book to borrow from a library to spur your child’s imagination, or perhaps a fun read to get them excited about a visit the aquarium, but it’s not a Seuss classic you must own.
[Patreon-Nov16-Post-Bug][/Patreon-Nov16-Post-Bug]”Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.”
I love that quote, often attributed to Elvis Costello but actually the words of actor Martin Mull. He was simply paraphrasing sentiments like this one, from The New Republic in 1918:
Strictly considered, writing about music is as illogical as singing about economics. All the other arts can be talked about in the terms of ordinary life and experience.
I like Mull’s quote better. I don’t think writing about music is illogical, but I do think it is like using art to describe other art. There is an art to finding an adjective to describe a song, a riff, or a voice – waves of sound that speak their own descriptions. I wouldn’t have endeavored to write about music for 30 days straight this month if I didn’t feel that way.
What I do think can be illogical is the taxonomy of music. Litanies of labels and galaxies of genres. They’re used to so careful contain the sound of an artist, but what happens when they write a song that doesn’t fit into the container. When a punk band unplugs, are they immediately folk-punk? When Lady Gaga sings with a Southern accent, is she country?
I sometimes wonder if artists reflect on this stuff as they read what’s written about their work. I probably would. One artist I’ve been wondering about in specific is Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats. They were one of the “Country” artists I was introduced to in the series of song summits a year ago that lead to Smash Fantastic playing tunes like their “S.O.B.” and Eric Church’s “Springsteen.”
I understood why Country fans would listen to “S.O.B.” There’s no doubt that it has a raw, throw-back country vibe with its handclaps and walking bass line. That’s not what I heard. Country isn’t one of my major influences and when I heard the song, I immediately thought, “That sounds like Motown.”
I initially wrote it off, thinking perhaps there was just something about the combination of the bassline and the horns that evoked a certain Motown hit for me. Then I heard the entire Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats LP.
It’s not Country. It’s Motown and Stax Records. It’s The Isley Brothers. It’s Otis Redding. It’s Sam Cooke.
Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats is one of those “every song is amazing” albums that I cherish and listen to on repeat forever. The first tune – “I Need Never Get Old” – might be the best indication of that, but I could have picked any song on the album.
It’s not just that it sounds a lot like The Isley Brothers. It sounds like some specific Isley Brothers song that you’re sure you’ve heard before and loved. It’s aural déjà vu, a sound that can create the memory of having heard it before.
I always try to take note of these songs when I first hear them. It’s like writing down your dreams as soon as you wake up when the details are still vivid. Over time and repeated listens you will subconsciously normalize this special act of déjà vu as just sounding like itself. Sometimes I find little lists of song names scribbled on a piece of paper, my solitaire version of musical $64,000 Pyramid where I try to define a song by all of the little references I hear inside of it.
The entirety of Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats produces that feeling for me.
That makes me wonder: how did Rateliff get filed with Country? The record was released by Stax Records and it absolutely has a classic Stax sound, which was the sound of 60s R&B and Soul.
The truth is that in our illogical modern taxonomy of music, there is no poplar modern analog to those genres. If you write an amazing, earth-shaking album of classic Stax-style tunes in 2015 you’ve got two choices: have close to nobody hear it, or promote it to Country radio because all those real instruments you’re playing will be appreciated there and rack up over 30 million YouTube views in your first year-and-a-half as a big label band.
You should probably choose the latter, because any words that are used to describe your music are just a dance about architecture – one imperfect undefinable art describing another.