My mom, nurturing soul that she is, nearly always passes along something for me to read when we get together. Sometimes it's a book, but more often than not it's just a magazine article that has caught her eye. More often than not, it's meant to stimulate critical thought. So it was, on the first morning of our family reunion this week (perched on a mountain high above Gatlinburg, TN) that she
"Okay, so we're not going horseback riding OR rafting now...so instead we're going to go on a big hike. So will you still be able to watch the boys?"Friday
"Thursday. After our most-of-the-day trip to Cades Cove on Tuesday, and spending Wednesday shopping and prepping for our night for cooking for everyone, you'll be able to watch the boys all day Thursday, right?"
So it was, this past Monday morning, that she pointed me toward the cover story in the latest issue of World magazine, "Left Behind: Are Christians Missing the Graphic Novel Craze?" I was immediately piqued; I didn't know there was a graphic novel craze, let alone
SUBJECT: He Said/She Said
Russ: We changed our mind, and need your article on reubens in ASAP. When can you get it to us? You're fantastic!!
I didn't know there was a graphic novel craze, beyond the rack of manga that had popped up in our neighborhood library. But as a long-time comics fan, I was curious, so I started
"I've gotta run out and get Mom a birthday present, can you watch the boys?"Monday
"I shouldn't be too long. Whatcha doing?"
"Trying to write my Intrepid column."
"Well, we'll be out of your hair tomorrow."
"I've got jury duty tomorrow."
"Oh, yeah. I keep forgetting. Hey, you finish the reuben thing, yet?"
But as a long-time comics fan, I was curious, so I picked up the issue. But before I could get to the cover story, I was sidetracked by an interview with Andrew Stanton, one of the Pixar whiz-kids behind their latest flick, "WALL-E." I've been dying to see it, but
"May I have your attention please? When I call your number, please have a seat behind the court clerk's desk at the head of the room. Number 349. Number 1257. Number 55. Number 878. Number..."I've been dying to see
"May I have your attention please? When I call your number, please have a seat behind the court clerk's desk at the head of the room. Number 688. Number 33. Number 1066. Number 903. Number..."I've been dying
"May I have your attention please? When I call your number, please have a seat behind the court clerk's desk at the head of the room. Number 418. Number 9. Number 9. Number 9. Number 670. Number..."Tuesday
"Bye, honey. We'll see you Sunday evening. Get lots done!"I've been dying to see it, but getting out of the house for a couple of hours to see a movie isn't always easy with two young kids arou
WOOO! Iron Man was SWEET.Tuesday Afternoon
But before I could get to the cover story, I was sidetracked by an interview with Andrew Stanton, one of the Pixar whiz-kids behind their latest flick, "WALL-E." Stanton's a whip-smart guy, and in a nutshell, he explained Pixar's flawless record at creating amazing movies: they put the story first.
That guiding principle stuck in my head as I moved on to the cover story, which
SUBJECT: Big Game Hunter
Russ: We need a promo sheet for a client company. Last year we did a rock star theme. This year they want to do something like big game hunters. Come up with some graphics and see if you can wordsmith all the rock star stuff into something big-gamey.
That guiding principle stuck in my head as I moved on to the cover story, which wasn't quite as engaging as I'd hoped. The writer made the right acknowledgements to all the big graphic novels of the past 20 years or so -- Maus, Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns --
TO: firstname.lastname@example.orgWednesday afternoon
SUBJECT: Deep Sea Fishing
Russ: Okay, the client would rather go with a deep sea fishing theme, so table the big game hunter stuff. Hopefully you haven't gotten too far with it yet.
-- but generally it was just to hold those up to show how the decidedly few "Christian" graphic novels suck by comparison. Well, yeah. That should come as no surprise to
SUBJECT: hunting and fishing
Russ: Actually, could you do BOTH workups?
That should come as no surprise to anyone; most so-called "Christian" media (novels, music, films) in general sucks hard. It's the equivalent of caffeine-free diet soda. The people who eat this stuff up want to feel like they're just as cool or edgy or whatever as
TO: email@example.comThe people who eat this stuff up want to feel like they're just as cool or edgy or whatever as the rest of the world. They're only deluding themselves. It's pretty much all crap, but since it's crap in the name of Jesus, they're oblivious.
SUBJECT: Cafe Pro
Cafe Provencal is having a Bastille Day dinner and a wine tasting tonight. Want to come with us?
SUBJECT: RE: Cafe Pro
Thanks, but I'm trying to keep my spendy habits under control this week. Have fun, though!
So then I flashed back to the Stanton interview, and that guiding principle again. And I realized that the problem with all that "Christian" media is that they've got the wrong
TO: firstname.lastname@example.orgAnd I realized that the problem with all that "Christian" media is that they've got the wrong guiding principle. Not that God is a bad guiding principle, of course. But these people are concentrating so hard on being righteous and inoffensive and sanctified, they lose
SUBJECT: RE: Cafe Pro
If you can cover your dinner, we'll pay for the wine tasting part.
SUBJECT: RE: Cafe Pro
No, really. I'd just as soon work on cleaning out the fridge. And I've got a column I gotta get done.
Hello? Hey, Dad.But these people are concentrating so hard on being righteous and inoffensive and sanctified, they lose sight of the fact that they're supposed to be telling a story. If they'd stop being preoccupied with working the God gimmick into everything, they might end up with
Okay, if you insist.
I'll see you then. Bye.
Booked up? Well, like I said, I've got plenty to eat...
Well, I was thinking about going to see a movie. "WALL-E."
The next screening at the Chase is in 30 minutes... Yeah.
Okay, see you in a few."
If they'd stop being preoccupied with working the God gimmick into everything, they might end up with something worth reading. Or hearing. Or listening to. Because it would be something that stands on its own merits first.
So I dropped the magazine, and got on with the more substantive reading I'd taken with me on vacation. I hadn't been to the library in awhile, so I picked up three paperback novels that appeared
SUBJECT: Film Screeners
Russ, I need you to come pick up the DVDs for the films for the filmmakers' showcase. I'll wait in the theater lobby. Are you coming to the screening?
Who am I kidding? Dark Knight FTW!Saturday
so I picked up three paperback novels that appeared interesting. Within a handful of pages, I was exasperated with each one. The first was akin to a literary collage, hunks of prose blended with "chapters" consisting entirely of haiku, or song lyrics, or a (fake) historical documentary. Another was nothing but interoffice e-mails that somehow constructed a narrative. And the third was just
SUBJECT: RE: the briny deep
Russ: Sorry to bother you on the weekend, but they've decided it's going to be just fish. And now there's a second side and a Powerpoint template we need you to build, all thematically linked to the fishing stuff.
And the third was just unreadable. And it all boiled down to the same thing: eschewing the story for the sake of
"Hi, honey, we just left Watertown, we'll be on the highway in about 20 minutes. Just wanted you have an idea when we'll get in. See you around five!"gimmickry. As if somehow, their oh-so-clever approach to novelizing would gloss over all their shortcomings as writers. Apparently it was
"Hey, it's me. We're just above...Rockford, I think. We're not moving. Just wanted to let you know."enough to dazzle their editors and publishers, because this dross made it to the page. Who's to blame, here? The talentless hacks
"Hi... we're holding up. It's just about 5 now, and we're in Bloomington. So it's gonna be about three more hours... and there's no way I can go without dinner, so don't sweat that. We'll see you around 9, I guess."who churn it out, or the people who should know better and still greenlight
"We're going to push on through! We should be there in about an hour. Hope you've got something we can eat when we get home, because we're gonna be ravenous!"it.
If the media is the eye on the world, Russ Carr is the finger in that eye. Tune in each month to see him dispersing the smoke and smashing the mirrors of modern mass communication. The world lost Russ on 2/7/12, but he lives on.
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
7.23.08 @ 12:44a
And so many similar reasons why, as of tonight, I don't have my column done yet either.
Good thing I didn't set my sights on coming down and fooling around.
7.23.08 @ 10:07a
Well done. A perfect profile of working from home. In an office, the level of interruption is almost the same--the content is different!
7.23.08 @ 2:30p
Russ, this is awesome.
7.24.08 @ 1:45a
Jesus would suck as a super-hero, mostly because Pilate was a weak-tit villain.
Now, the Jews, they got something with Moses going up against Pharaoh. "Let my people go, asshole, or I'll slam this mighty staff on the ground, fry your ass, and then sic my frog army on your ass to hop around and chew up whatever's left!"
But back to Jesus, what would that graphic novel be about? A bunch of starving people wandering around the middle east and he makes bread and wine.
P.S. Are you retired or not? You're like the Brett Favre of Intrepid...