Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #80

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Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #80 by Drew Barth

I Won’t Make a Duran Duran Joke

Graphic memoirs are one of the most important genres within comics. The interplay between memory and picture can resonate immediately with readers and allows them to better witness the past. And recently, no other graphic memoir has worked with the idea of memories and pictures together quite like Cecil Castellucci’s Girl on Film. As a memoir, it is an unrelenting look at how memory and creativity work together to build the foundations for who we are as creators. As a piece of comic nonfiction, it is one of the most interesting takes on utilizing graphic narratives to create different aspects of the past to paint Castellucci’s life.

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What makes Girl on Film so fascinating is that Castellucci is not alone in creating her journey—she is joined by artists Vicky Leta, Melissa Duffy, V. Gagnon, and Jon Berg. The entire memoir centers on two ideas: memory and art. From a young age, Castellucci wanted to be a filmmaker and have her life continuously steeped in art. But wanting to be an artist and becoming one is precarious—her own path is a winding thing that takes her across North America and parts of Europe before figuring out who she is to become. During all of these moments taking place in the past, she also splices in conversations with her father on the nature of memory. Does Castellucci remember the past correctly? For her own memoir, should she represent things exactly how they happened or how they had felt in her memory? She treads the line well by acknowledging that the past is a nebulous thing and representing what she can to the best of her abilities.

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What makes Girl on Film such an interesting graphic memoir is what its art is able to do for it. The artists create distinct periods and aspects of Castellucci’s life, from infancy to now, represented by their different styles. Melissa Duffy and V. Gagnon expertly capture those feelings and moments from middle school through the beginnings of college where the world still feels like it’s something you can survive. Jon Berg’s lines create a starker reality as Castellucci’s dreams start collapsing and rebuilding and collapsing again. And it is Vicky Leta that begins and ends the story with the meta-narrative woven throughout—Castellucci’s introduction and afterward to her life as well as the conversations with her father concerning the memory of a memoir. These different artists’ styles create the tone and act as a signal flare to readers to show them the ways the story is changing as they read.

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Due to Castellucci’s experiences and relentless commitment to creating art, her voice is something unique to comics. She is able to transfer that love for film to a love for comics—namely when looking at some of her fiction in The P.L.A.I.N. Janes and Shade, the Changing Girl—and that continues in Girl on Film. This is a work that continues the tradition of graphic memoirs becoming some of the most significant works in the graphic canon and, even now, there’s very little else that will ever be like it.

Get excited. Get your memories together.


drew-barth-mbfiDrew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.

Episode 429: Lindsay Ellis!

Episode 429 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

Ellis.2.credit Emily VanDerWerff

Photo by Emily VanDerWerf.

In this week’s show, I talk to novelist and video essayist Lindsay Ellis about science fiction; the structure of novels; exploring character interiority; alien invasion narratives; Chomskyian linguistics; the joys of making academic arguments about pop culture outside the academy; Transformers; and author platforms.

TEXT DISCUSSED

Axiom's End

NOTES

This episode is sponsored by the excellent people at Scribophile.

Scribophile

TDO Listeners can get 20% of a premium subscription to Scribophile. After using the above link to register for a basic account, go here while still logged in to upgrade the account with the discount.

Check out Lindsay Ellis’s youtube channel!

Or these vids.

The music for today’s show is by Modal Plane, used by permission. Check out more of his music over at Circuit Church.

Modal Plane

Check out my literary adventure novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.


Episode 429 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

 

The Diaries of a Sozzled Scribbler #13

The Diaries of a Sozzled Scribbler #13

Transcribed by DMETRI KAKMI

17 July 2020

Recently the Canal+ TV series, War of the Worlds has been labelled alienist, a piece of hate, and cultural appropriation on social media. The respected broadcaster has been described as part of the earthling supremacist system, provoking riots in the US, England, and Australia. In all other countries governments just shot their citizens.

So strong is the voice for reform about how aliens are depicted in film and television that it has created the #alienlivesmatter movement. To help Earthlings understand what is going on, I invited the creme de la creme of off-world actors to have their say.

S.S: Welcomes Klaatu, Uncle Martin, Davros, Predator, Doctor Who, The Thing and Ms Xenomorph. Have I left anyone out? It’s hard to distinguish some of you from a chair or a pot plant.

[A cacophony of horrendous screeches, clicks, and unearthly squeals follows.]

S.S: Why do you call filmmakers ‘earthling supremacists’ and accuse them of being mean to those who come from another planet?

Davros: Look at the way we are depicted. Cliches and stereotypes abound. It’s absolutely appalling. And we are usually killed off at the end.

S.S: By Pan’s beard, you can actually speak in coherent sentences, without shouting.

Davros: That’s what I’m talking about. Stereotypes, cliches. I received a sound education at Oxford. But nobody knows about that. All they’ve got me saying on his ridiculous show [gestured at Doctor Who] is EXTERMINATE, EXTERMINATE in a hysterical voice. I’ve been doing it since the 1970s and I’m sick of it. I want to play Othello or Hamlet.

Doctor Who: You’re not exactly love interest material, Dav.

Davros: How dare you! I don’t look like this all the time. I’m wearing make-up for your stupid show.

Klaatu: What do you really look like?

Davros: A baby squid.

Doctor Who: I rest my case.

Ms Xenomorph: [Knitting.] That’s easy for you to say, Doc. You and Klaatu and Uncle Martin look human. You can pass. The rest of us can’t. I can’t even get my feet into a pair of Manolo Blahniks while I’m chasing that skinny bitch Sigourney Weaver on set. People must think I’m a lesbian or something. Always chasing chicks and hissing in their faces. Prometheus help me if my parents ever saw those films.

S.S: Can we bring it back to #alienlivesmatter please?

Predator: This is a righteous movement, long overdue. Tear down human society, destroy the nukiler family, I say.

Davros: I don’t mind being the tough guy in TV shows, but let’s not confuse that with real life. I was taking a self-isolation trundle through Clapham Upon-Upper in London the other day when a bunch of kids mugged me to prove they can beat the leader of the Daleks. And then a policeman kneeled on my tentacles.

Uncle Martin: Testicles?

Davros: Tentacles, tentacles!

Ms Xenomorph: Tisk, tisk, that’s sort of behaviour is unacceptable in civil society.

S.S: If the entertainment industry didn’t cast you in these films, you’d all be lining up for the dole.

Predator: You say that again and I’ll rip your head off and shove it up your ass.

Ms Xenomorph: Ignore him, Pred. He’s just trying to provoke you. Don’t play into his hands. You’re better than that.

Predator: No, I’m not.

S.S: Statues of prominent humans have been torn down by enraged aliens and their human supporters. Do you think that’s right?

Predator: You bet. Down with Earthlings. Up with aliens.

S.S: Doctor Who, as a proud Gallifrey man/woman/thing and one of the planet’s most important actors—even if you do have an eye for young gals—what do you have to say about this?

Doctor Who: We need to remember Canal+ and many others champion the work of diverse filmmakers, who do not fit easily discernible categories.

Uncle Martin: Granted we are usually cast as brutes out to invade the planet, impregnate nubile women and give unwary men anal probes. But so what? At the end of the day, as Mr Sozzled says, it is money in the pocket.

Predator: You would say that, you preening old queen. How’s pretty boy Tim O’Hara? Must be expensive keeping a dimwitted human in the lap of luxury for 60 years.

Uncle Martin: Watch it, Pred, you won’t like me with my antennae up.

Ms Xenomorph: [Continues knitting.] Hmm, is that what they call it nowadays?

Predator. Oh, I’m scared. Why don’t you get Ms Xeno to lay an egg in little Timmy’s chest? Then you can start a family, you conformist.

The Thing: Something is dangerously askew in the way that we are talking about aliens in the arts, and I feel like that it’s time we spoke up.

Predator: [Throws claws up in air.] Not you too!

The Thing: We are sick and tired of being depicted as ugly and nasty. I mean look at me. Am I like ugly? Am I like mean?

Predator: You are fucking hideous and there’s no two ways about it, Thing. Accept it. Don’t conform to beauty stereotypes perpetuated by Ella Bache.

The Thing: I’m a victim of hierarchical oppressive systems that marginalize and oppress creatures of no discerning form.

Predator: Come on, kid, keep it together. You’re not a victim. They want you to believe that so they can control you.

S.S: Who, pray tell, is they?

Predator: Those giant non-binary ants that appeared in a film back in the 1950s.

S.S: That was Them!

The Thing: Flash in the pans. Nobody remembers them but everyone remembers me.

Predator: Atta boy, Thing! You’ll pull through.

E.T: Hold on a minute. Spielberg did his bit with Close Encountersand with my memoir, which he unimaginatively called ET.

S.S: Oh, you’re here too ET. I thought you were an old cushion.

E.T: Well, I never. I go out of my way to appear on your show and all I get is insults. [Waddles off in a huff.]

The Thing: The Spielberg love-fest is like a drop in the ocean. The rest is a deluge. It’s like so depressing. I’ve been like living on Zoloft for so long I can barely shape shift any more, which impacts the parts I’m offered.

S.S: The correct word is affects. Not impacts.

Predator: How dare you impose your imperialist dialectic values on him.

S.S: Thing, your last job was in 2011 in the Norwegian version of The Thing, wasn’t it?

The Thing: No, I played a blancmange in a Japanese ad last week. So like humiliating. I’m scared my agent’s gonna like dump me. [Starts to cry.]

Predator:  [To S.S.] See what you done!

Ms Xenomorph: I want to play a Bond girl before I die. Extend my range a little.

S.S: Is the current focus on public shaming and burning down the industry misguided and ahistorical?

Klaatu: It started as an attempt at genuine critique but it descended into online bullying. The activists accusing the content creators of being part of earthling supremacy are not taking into consideration the long history of ground-breaking, intergalacticly recognised alien and culturally diverse work, much of which has been supported by the film and television industries.

Uncle Martin: Equally, they have not understood the history of struggle against alienism on Earth, which has established structures that have enabled alien actors to assume their current positions within mainstream media, and to provide ongoing opportunities for others.

Doctor Who: In painting the industry as ‘all human’, they fail to acknowledge the changes already happening, driven by the hard work of aliens and sundry monsters who have come before them. The most powerful TV executive in England, Nyah, is The Devil Girl from Mars, for heaven’s sake. She has a lovely BBC accent.

Predator: She’s one hot bitch. I wants to shag her while she pulls my dreadlocks and calls me names.

S.S: Get a room why don’t you?

Predator: Fuck off, you old prune. When was the last time you had a root?

Klaatu: And let’s not forget Netflix just hired a man from Uranus…

Uncle Martin: Really? What’s his name when he’s on Earth?

Klaatu: Calm down, Uncle Martin. You know people from Uranus cause a stink when they’re propositioned.

Doctor Who: We must remember that many of the most significant creatives in the industry are from another planet or from a dark pit at the centre of the earth—Harvey Weinstein for instance.

Predator: Yeah, the real world is becoming more frightful every year. We need to celebrate that.

Ms Xenomorph: Just because I incubate my babies in random chest cavities doesn’t mean I’m not nice. I’m at an age when I can play the parts previously played by Sharon Stone, but are producers calling me?

Uncle Martin: We recognise there is a lot more work to be done, and that we can never rest on our larvae. However, we believe in constructively changing the system, rather than burning it down.

Klaatu: Well said. I believe in having strategies and policies, informed and researched targets, open and safe debate.

Thing: I’m sick of earthlings appropriating our stories to portray the growth of human characters. It’s like no, okay Just no.

Predator: [Stands.] No more compromise. I’m for tearing down the house, sowing the seeds of discord and relishing chaos. Come on Ms Xeno, Thing, let’s go for a drink. Leave these turn-coats to discuss strategies. You want to join us, Dav?

Davros: No, thanks. I’ll go home to read Shakespeare’s sonnets.

[Ms Xenomorph and Predator depart with their arms around a sobbing Thing.]

S.S: [Looks at remaining party.] Gentlemen, thank you for joining us today.

Klaatu: We propose the best way forward is to create a safe forum with all players, that offers solutions to lift up and not tear down.

S.S: Yeah, whatever… Get out of my penthouse. I’ve got martinis to drink, freaks to insult.

Until next we meet. Cheerio!


people-2570596_1920 Sozzled

The Sozzled Scribbler was born in the shadow of the Erechtheion in Athens, Greece, to an Egyptian street walker (his father) and a Greek bear wrestler (his mother). He has lived in Istanbul, Rome, London, New Orleans and is currently stateless. He partakes of four bottles of Bombay gin and nine packets of Gauloises cigarettes a day.

Dmetri Kakmi, is a writer and editor. His first book Mother Land was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premiers Literary Awards in Australia, and his new book The Door will be released in September 2020.

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #79: Take It To the Banks

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Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #79 by Drew Barth

Take it to the Banks

I’ve mentioned them briefly before, but TKO is doing something different with monthly comics. Instead of waiting for trade paperbacks while a monthly series comes out, they opt to publish the entire story at once either in a collected edition or as a box set of six issues. As readers, we can binge our way through a series right as it begins, no waiting required. And if we’re going to talk about binging an entire series, we have to talk about a new crime family story courtesy of Roxanne Gay, Ming Doyle, and Jordie Bellaire: The Banks.

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The Banks centers around three generations of the Banks family—Clara, Cora, and Celia—and their family’s legacy as the best thieves in Chicago. Celia, the youngest of the Banks, rejects her mother’s and grandmother’s professions, opting instead to work in the financial sector. But even here she is surrounded with thievery of a different kind and this brings her into contact with the man who killed her grandfather. And this could just be a heist story with a touch of revenge, but Gay, Doyle, and Bellaire are the kinds of storytellers that push a medium. These women know the best stories come from the best characters and the Banks as a family feel superbly realistic in their desires, their disappointments, their quirks, and their squabbles. A heist story is good, but a heist story with characters we can connect with on a personal level is even better.

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The ways Ming Doyle is able to convey complex montages and play with how weird time can be in comics is just another aspect of how goddamn good The Banks is as a comic. A two page spread can encompass Clara Banks and her husband’s entire courtship and marriage before we’re brought back to the present. What Doyle does so well here is showing the past only when we need it and not a moment more. At times, we’re provided the same kind of information and backstory as Celia—we’re in the dark as much as the main character. And, in a family who has been known to hide pieces of the past from one another, this method of storytelling only works to further bolster this idea of only getting a portion of the story at a time. This allows for the story of the Banks family to unfold with a slow determination that builds upon the foundation of the past without ever being trampled by details.

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Works like The Banks, Far Sector, and The Low, Low Woods are easily some of the strongest comics to come out in the past couple years and they’re also all comics written by some of the best authors alive right now. It’s a trend in comics that should continue. There are voices in monthly comics—or in the case of TKO, seasonal comics—that have long been underrepresented. Women, especially women of color, aren’t as large of a portion of this comic writing world as they should be, but hopefully with such prominent authors working in the medium, we can start to see a shift toward having those voices being represented even more.

Get excited. Get more.


drew-barth-mbfi

Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.

 

Episode 428: David James Poissant!

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Episode 428 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

David James Poissant

In this week’s show, I talk to my friend David James Poissant about novel-writing, sex scenes, The X-Men, graphic art, focus, and many other things.

TEXTS DISCUSSED

Lake LifeThe Heaven of Animals


This episode is sponsored by the excellent people at Scribophile.

Scribophile

TDO Listeners can get 20% of a premium subscription to Scribophile. After using the above link to register for a basic account, go here while still logged in to upgrade the account with the discount.

Check out my literary adventure novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.


Episode 428 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

The Curator of Schlock #326: Underwater

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The Curator of Schlock #326 by Jeff Shuster

Underwater

It’s like The Little Mermaid only totally different. 

I like to think I’m not a difficult house guest, but Grantchester is back on Masterpiece Mystery and I will not miss a single episode for anything! Unfortunately, we had quite a storm this past Sunday and I had to send my manservant Jervis out into the thick of it. I asked him to keep the satellite dish steady so I wouldn’t have to worry about getting those nasty digitized bits while I find out if the dashing Will Davenport can repair his strained relationship with his mother. Jervis got a bit drenched and seemed to be working through a fever while cooking my eggs the next morning. He made them over easy instead of sunny side up, but I didn’t say anything because I’m a good guest.

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Tonight’s movie is 2020’s Underwater from director William Eubank. We get flashes of news headlines in the beginning stating something about a drilling station deep at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Kristen Stewart plays Norah Price, a plucky and nihilistic engineer/computer wiz. You remember Kristen Stewart. She played Bella Swan in those Twilight movies. I’m a bit of a Twihard myself. Team Jacob for the win! Am I right? So Norah is busy brushing her teeth when the underwater bunker begins to shake and the computer is rambling about structural integrity or something to that effect. She runs into another employee of the drilling company, a young man named Rodrigo (Mamoudou Athie) before the two of them decide to seal their part of the station off before their section gets flooded..They watch in horror as other crew members run for their lives only to get obliterated because they couldn’t reach safety in time.

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The two of them run into other survivors as they climb through the rubble of the station. These include Paul (T.J, Miller), a funny crew member that won’t be the first to die, Lucien (Vincent Cassel), the French captain of the station, Liam (John Gallagher Jr.), a manly engineer, and Emily (Jessica Henwick), the station’s biologist that loves corgis.

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They need to get out of the collapsing part of the station and don’t ask me to repeat all of the scientific doublespeak spewing from their mouths. The gist is they have to put on these heavy and dangerous high-tech scuba suits that allow them to walk on the surface of the ocean.

UNDERWATER

A crack forms in Rodrigo’s helmet once underwater and he can’t handle the pressure. I’m not talking about psychological pressure, but the physical pressure of having no protection from the water at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The rest of the crew move on and gradually learn the cause of the station collapsing. There be monsters swimming around under the sea, squid-like creatures that most likely came through the surface when the drilling crew drilled vin the wrong spot. It’s basically Alien underwater, but it’s better than Deep Star Six. There are worse ways to spend 95 minutes.


Jeffrey Shuster 1

Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #78: Looking Inward

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Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #78 by Drew Barth

Looking Inward

There is absolute precision in Gabriella Giandelli’s lines. When we look at a work like Interiorae, we find the best of Giandelli’s aesthetic: panel by panel of precise lines and a focus on compassion unlike anything else in comics.

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Interiorae is about a single block of apartments. Inside this building is an old woman and her friend, Irina; various children and teenagers; a couple on the precipice of marital collapse; a voyeuristic businessman who watches people through binoculars; a family who had died in the 70s and never moved on; a humanoid rabbit who observes all of these people; and the Great Dark One who lives in the basement and feeds on the inhabitants dreams. There are stories woven throughout the apartments: from the unnamed businessman’s various affairs to Irina aiding an old woman’s dying mind to siblings arguing in the way siblings argue. What Giandelli provides for us is a snapshot of realism seamlessly combined with the fabulist—the rabbit who jumps through walls and windows to feed the Great Dark One more dreams every night.

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The quiet nature of Giandelli’s story and her almost journalistic eye makes Interiorae so unique. There is no judgment of these characters. In many ways, Giandelli’s panels become the windows in this block of apartments and we simply float past to see the stories happening within. At no point do we feel the same sense of voyeurism as the unnamed businessman and his binoculars. This is a testament to the compassion in Giandelli’s line and characters—a fly on the wall is a pest, but a rabbit sitting on the windowsill is just another part of the scenery of our lives. Her understanding of the inexplicable in humanity, the weird messiness that permeates our decisions and moods, elevates Interiorae into the realm of graphic masterpieces.

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Works like Interiorae and voices like Giandelli’s are what comics need to thrive. Her focus, her precision, her compassion all help to create a work unlike most comics on the shelf now. Using a single building as this focus creates such intimacy.

Giandelli builds characters from single moments and lets them thrive throughout the rest of the book in a way most other creators can’t match. And it is through those characters and her precision in rendering them that Interiorae becomes a necessary work in the graphic canon.

Get excited. Look inside.


drew-barth-mbfi

Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.

The Rogue’s Guide to Shakespeare on Film #86: The Merchant of Venice (1973)

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86. John Sichel’s The Merchant of Venice, 1973.

This isn’t the first made-for-television version of The Merchant of Venice I have reviewed, dear readers. I found it for free in its entirety on Youtube.

I gave this televised antique a chance because this was, I think, Olivier’s only recorded go at Shylock. That this was based on Jonathan Miller’s National Theatre’s theatrical production also whetted my stunted curiosity.

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While I wouldn’t recommend this version as someone’s first foray into Shakespeare or even this play, if you are familiar with the play, this version is a gem despite the washed out nature of this 1973 TV version.

The blocking and cinematography of this modest production are outstanding! Often with television productions, you have actors yelling in wide shots as they stand around uncomfortably. That sort of an experience is like an inoculation against Shakespeare. Not so here. Peter Roden designed the sets, and they form a close, tight setting. The occasional bridge reminds us that this is Venice, but for the most part, the feeling is intimate. John Sichel was the television director, and I don’t know if credit for the superior cinematography should go to him (the IMDB page and end credits are unhelpful, dear readers). What I can say is that the camera moves a lot to frame the actors in these intimate shots that serve the story so well without drawing attention to itself. Maybe the filmmakers had no choice, playing Tetris with bodies and the camera because there was no room, but that choice is charming.

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The setting is the 1880s, which means, blissfully, no codpieces. The costumes make the story feel much more contemporary.

As a Shakespeare junkie, I am often ambivalent about the performances of Laurence Olivier. His Hamlet is somewhat dull. His Henry V begins brilliantly—until he gets to the part that Shakespeare wrote. But his Richard III is an epiphany. And so is his Shylock. This is one of Olivier’s best performances on film, despite almost no one seeming to be aware of its existence.

What is driven home from Olivier’s Shylock is how many chances Shylock gives to Antonio to be treated like a human being. When brokering the mockery of a loan, Olivier takes off his glove to shake Antonio’s hand, but Antonio rejects that offer—and when we next see Shylock, Olivier’s glove is already back on, as if he knew that his goodwill would be summarily rejected.

Shakespeare leans heavily on poetic justice in his comedies, and some plays include apologies for suggesting disruptions of the public order. The Merchant of Venice is no different. Shylock is contractually allowed to remove a pound of flesh from Antonio after Antonio defaulted upon the loan he so contemptuously made with Shylock. The Jew is punished for his hubris, his inhumanity, and his seeming contentment with his outsider status as a Venetian. But what we see before this ending leads us to believe that Shylock, whose house is robbed of his property—a chunk of his wealth and his daughter—is justified in his rage. If he were allowed to carve out his pound of flesh, would the grotesquery of this unnerve him? Shylock’s goal is to show the Venetian order its own logical absurdity—but he fails, tricked out of justice by a willful interpretation of his bond.

Merchant of Venice 1973

This version of justice will feel poetic to anti-Semitic Christians in the audience, but not to those capable of listening to Shylock throughout the play. When Shylock hears the report of his daughter Jessica’s misconduct overseas, he then—listening to the tolling of the church bell—makes the connection that he can revenge himself upon Antonio using the bond. Antonio funded Bassanio’s courtship, and Bassanio is close friends with Lorenzo, who eloped with Jessica.

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By the end of the play, Shylock is left with nothing—not even his religion. And Olivier’s chilling performance of this erasure of humanity works every bit as well as Al Pacino’s.

And the play ends with Jessica feeling uneasy about her betrayal of her father—despite her father’s being no fun to be with. She doesn’t feel like she completely belongs with these Christians. And she hears the Kaddish.

There’s the love plot, which is done adequately enough. Joan Plowright plays Portia, who must marry whichever suitor solves the riddle of which of three boxes represents marriage with her best. (One scene has an operatic duet that can render one homicidal. Why is it there? Nothing operatic should ever sound out in fucking English!) There are a few scenes outdoors—and the magic of the cinematography dies. Joan Plowright was more interesting in drag as Balthazar the law scholar.

Merchant Plowright

So the colors are washed out—like an impressionist painting, perhaps—and a few scenes drag, but even Homer nods. Anthony Nichols as Antonio plays a racist cypher remarkably well, and the acting is generally strong. This might be Laurence Olivier’s best Shakespearean performance on film. This retro find is a strong Merchant of Venice.


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John King (Episode, well, all of them) holds a PhD in English from Purdue University, and an MFA from New York University. He has reviewed performances for Shakespeare Bulletin.

Episode 427: Bruce Janz!

Episode 427 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

Bruce Janz

In this week’s show, I talk to my friend, the philosopher Bruce Janz, about how to calm our monkey brains in the time of the pandemic, and what the pandemic can teach us about life before the pandemic.

NOTES

This episode is sponsored by the excellent people at Scribophile.

Scribophile

TDO Listeners can get 20% of a premium subscription to Scribophile. After using the above link to register for a basic account, go here while still logged in to upgrade the account with the discount.

Learn more about Queerbomb over at its Facebook page.

Check out my literary adventure novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.

 

The Diaries of a Sozzled Scribbler #12

The Diaries of a Sozzled Scribbler

Transcribed by DMETRI KAKMI

1 July 2020

J. K. Rowling has been in the news a lot lately—for all the wrong reasons, I might add. As a responsible member of the global community I felt the need to approach this much loved, yet divisive figure, to find out what is going on.

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The interview took place as the famed author dashed across Charing Cross Station’s Platform No 9¾, quaint Louis Vuitton luggage in hand, to escape an angry mob of cocks in frocks.

S.S: May I call you Jo?

J.K.R: By all means.

S.S: That’s a male name, isn’t it?

J.K.R: It’s also a woman’s name. Without the ‘e’.

S.S: Are you giving us a clue?

J.K.R: To what?

S.S: Are you one of those transistors you have been attacking lately?

J.K.R: [laughs] You mean transgender.

S.S: That’s what I said. Transistors are the most voluble—I mean vulnerable—minority in society and you, a privileged white woman, have launched an attack on them.

J.K.R: I’m speaking out for women, not against transgender people.

S.S: You protest too much. I think you are transistor and I think you’re trying to hide it out of shame, guilt, and a poor dress sense.

J.K.R: Absurd.

S.S: Then why does Daniel Day Lewis hate you.

J.K.R: You mean Daniel Radcliffe. He’s playing to the gallery. He, like most celebrities, says what people want to hear. I on the other hand care about the rights of women and I recognise that men are undermining our hard-won rights by hijacking the debate and turning it into a scrum fight.

S.S: I’m the love child of Daniel Day Lewis and Isabelle Adjani. That’s why I’m consistently voted the most beautiful man in the world. I might change sex one day and take full advantage. Do you think the name Seraphina von Schtupp suits me?

J.K.R: [Taken aback.] What’s that got to do with this discussion? Hold on. Lewis and Adjani? Aren’t you older than both those actors put together?

S.S: How dare you. Ageist and transphobic. Now I see why the internet says you are filled with hate.

J.K.R: It’s not hateful to speak the truth about sex differences. And it’s not hateful to be concerned about the safety of women and girls in what is supposed to be a single-sex space, like toilets and change rooms, being used by people who are not women. How would you like it if women used the men’s room?

S.S: Fine by me. I don’t use lavatories. I have evolved beyond such animal instincts. You are aware, of course, that nowadays there is no such thing as sex. It’s all…how do you say? Bodily fluids.

J.K.R: [Laughs.] I think you mean sexuality is fluid.

S.S: I know what I mean.

J.K.R: If sex is not real then there is no such thing as same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, then why does a small minority want to change sex? If sex isn’t real then women’s experience is nullified.

S.S: What do you say to people who claim there is no such thing as ‘a woman’, only people who menstruate.

J.K.R: If there is no such thing as a woman, then there is no such a thing as a man.

S.S: Of course there’s such a thing as a man. Someone has to commandeer the ship and keep bleeders in their place.

J.K.R: [Shudders.] ‘Bleeders’, ’People who menstruate’. Such ugly, hateful, terms. Only a man who hates women could invent them. Goes well with TERF, CIS woman, and other words that nullify a biological woman’s experience and make them invisible.

S.S: Is that why you hate Felicity Huffman and Jared Leto?

J.K.R: They are actors who played transgender characters in films. I don’t hate them.

S.S: Do you think people who aren’t trans should play trans in films.

J.K.R: Yes, that’s why it’s called acting. The people who play witches in films based on my books aren’t really witches, you know.

S.S: I’m shocked to the core. That’s trampling on Endora’s inhuman rights.

J.K.R: Sorry to shatter your illusions.

S.S: Why do you hate transistors? All they’re doing is amplify electronic signals across the galaxy to contact aliens, like Gort in The Day the Earth Stood Still. He was trans, you know… A butch, hostile, one. Like a lot of trans activists, come to think of it…

J.K.R: I do not hate transgender people. I have trans friends—

S.S: That’s like saying I’m not racist because I have friends who are marathon runners. Or I’m not homophobic because I have friends who wear Acqua Di Gio.

J.K.R: [Sniffs.] Is that what I can smell on you?

S.S: No, that’s gin. I bathe in it every morning. It keeps me jeune et jolie, non?

J.K.R: Look, all I know is the concept of debate has deteriorated. To question, to critique, is not the same as hate. My life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it’s hateful to say so.

S.S: What prompted you to write a series of children’s books that promote the love that started this brouhaha?

J.K.R: Which books are you referring to?

S.S: The Hairy Poofter* series.

J.K.R: [Laughs.] You mean Harry Potter.

S.S: That’s what I said.

J.K.R: The Harry Potter books are about a wizard who—

S.S: Nonsense. Hairy Poofter and the Chamber of Secrets—if that’s not a reference to anal sex, I don’t know what is. Hairy Poofter and the Goblet of Fire—surely a goblet of fire, in this infernal instance, is the engorged penis, shooting its love juices into the chamber of secrets. Hairy Poofter and the Cursed Child—a reference to someone who doesn’t know if they’re Arthur or Martha. Seems to me your books are full of messages, especially when you read them backwards inside a hexagram.

J.K.R: I’ve been accused of a lot of things, but never that. I’ve a train to catch.

S.S: A final word for your critics?

J.K.R: I am what I am, an’ I’m not ashamed.

Until next we meet. Cheerio!

* British/Australian for Faggot.


people-2570596_1920 SozzledThe Sozzled Scribbler was born in the shadow of the Erechtheion in Athens, Greece, to an Egyptian street walker (his father) and a Greek bear wrestler (his mother). He has lived in Istanbul, Rome, London, New Orleans and is currently stateless. He partakes of four bottles of Bombay gin and nine packets of Gauloises cigarettes a day.

Dmetri Kakmi, is a writer and editor. His first book Mother Land was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premiers Literary Awards in Australia, and his new book The Door will be released in September 2020.