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Archive for the ‘Hergé’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: March 1, 2022] The Devil Made Me Do It

As South Africa entered the new millennium, things were progressing very slowly (and sometimes regressing).  And Zapiro was watching.

Homophobia was spreading throughout African nations.  There’s a banner that says Queens against Mugabe.  Zapiro ties it together nicely with a picture of Queen Elizabeth with a paper that says “Mugabe lambasts U.K.”

And an anti-rape ad (starring Charlize Theron) was banned because there was public outcry.  Which leads to a later strip in which children learn the rape message: it’s not bad to rape someone in your own family (A lenient sentence was given to a man who raped his daughter); rape is less offensive than an anti-rape ad that offends men; you can get away with rape if you are famous and hire a hotshot legal team.

Apartheid fallout was still happening.

There’s a an amusing picture of Apartheid Hell and the devil is showing all of the people there a video called No person shall be discriminated against on the basis of race, gender ethnic or social origin, culture, sexual orientation….”  Although clearly the powerful men aren’t all getting punished as we see Craig Williamson, a constant figure in these battles, telling the Amnesty Committee to sit, lie down and fetch his amnesty. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: February 20, 2022] Call Mr. Delivery

This is Zapiro’s fourth book and it’s the first time, I think, that he’s put himself into the cartoons.  And it seems like maybe the world is getting to him.

Although his first appearance is in the meta-joke:

“Only one tiny minority welcomes the formation of Louis Luyt’s new political party” : Cartoonists.

But later by March 1999 he is on a therapist’s couch.  The therapist asks “when did you first experience this feeling of uselessness.  Zapiro says “this week suddenly reality seemed weirder than anything I could come up with.” (And the world hasn’t even gotten to trump yet).

It’s the end of the Mandela era and his successors don’t seem to be shaping up very well.

Although Mandela gets one nice shoutout.  He parts the waters for the Lockerbie Breakthrough and Libya asks if anyone ever get blasé about this sort of thing.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report had to have any negative mentions of F.W. DeKlerk removed.  And Desmond Tutu seems under attack from the left, right and centre (PAC, IFP, FF, ANC, NP, TRC). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: February 14, 2022] End of Part One

I’m not sure what the Part One is that this title refers to.  This book picks up where the last one left off and moves on into 1998.

It’s clear that Zapiro is still bitter about the Olympics, as the first cartoon is “For the first time the I.O.C. has awarded the Olympic Games to an African City” (the toon is dated 3004 A.D.

At some point it was imperative that I learn all of the political abbreviations.  And he has a good cartoon that summarizes them: (more…)

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tintinSOUNDTRACK: BECK-Stereopathic Soulmanure (1994).

soulmanureDepending on who you believe, this was Beck’s first or second or even third album.  Certainly it was recorded earlier than the other records but who knows what the actual release date was, or if it even matters (it doesn’t).  This album plays like a demo tape of home recordings of a talented folksinger who doesn’t want to be labelled as a folk singer ans is experimenting with all kinds of other sounds, including tape manipulation, home recording and utter noise (there’s a Sonic Youth sound connection here, before they ever did anything together).

But anyway, that’s got nothing to do with this album.  My version has 23 listed tracks and two bonus tracks.  And since I’ve no intention of doing a track by track analysis of the album, I’m going to group some tracks together.

There are a few styles of music on the record.  There are about a half-dozen noise/nonsense tracks–distorted guitar, distorted voices, sometimes sheer noise–like the “bonus” track which is some ten minutes of just nonsense.  There are about a half a dozen tracks that are basically just talk–old home recordings from when he was a kid, and other spoken tracks.  There are even a few tracks from a guy named Ken who is apparently an older guy singing what sounds like hobo songs (which I suspect Beck does not play on at all).

There are also a number of different instruments which (I assume) Beck is playing. He plays banjo very well, there’s an accordion track, and of course guitar.

What sets this apart from being a simple nonsense album is that there are nearly a dozen “real” songs.  There are a couple of well sung country tracks, with a slide guitar. There’s also some anti-folk, rap and live numbers.  These are fleshed out, proper songs–musically complete.  It’s in the lyrics that you can hear Beck fighting the folk/country pigeonhole.  He has three songs that are more or less rapping (like “Loser”).  There’s a couple of songs that were recorded live (in a club with half a dozen people), and are mostly silly.  And then there’s a series of anti-folk songs.  These are pretty traditional sounding songs, but with layers of noise or weirdness that keeps them from being traditional folk.  Like “Satan Gave me a Taco” which is complete song but is obviously quite silly.  And yet, Johnny Cash covered the song “Rowboat” on one of his Americana albums.

None of the recordings sound more than lo-fi, but the good songs all sound good.   It honestly sounds like a guy trying desperately to show off what he can do–and hoping desperately to get accepted by just about any genre.  Except that he clearly has his own identity (as varied as it may be).  This record is certainly not for everybody (as suggested by the incredibly low sales), but if you like Beck’s early experimental stuff, there’s enough really good stuff here that’s worth checking out.

[READ: March 9, 2014] Tintin: The Art of Hergé

Sarah bought me this book for our tenth anniversary (which is “tin”, get it?).  We’ve both enjoyed Tintin over the years, more as an icon than as a collection of stories (which I believe she has not read and which I’ve read about 1/3 of).  The Spielberg film and subsequent video game are both really cool too.  This book is an amazing look at Hergé as an artist and at the Hergé museum, which looks amazing.

When Sarah and I were in Belgium, we went to an animation museum which featured Hergé heavily.  Since it was a decade ago, I actually thought that this book was about that museum, but no, the Musée Hergé opened in 2009 and was designed by French architect Christian de Portzamparc.  The first chapter of the book is dedicated to the Museum, and do de Portzamparc’s designs and execution in the spirit of Tintin.  And I have to say the building looks amazing.  The facade alone is beautiful, and his explorations light and dark and shape look really awesome. (more…)

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TintinLotusSOUNDTRACK: THE DOUBLECLICKS-“The Internet National Anthem” (2012).

inatThe Doubleclicks are a sister duo from Portland, Oregon.  They are nerdy and fun (perhaps we can think of them as non-accordion, female They Might be Giants?).  Take “The Internet National Anthem”,” a song  with a steady four/four beat, cellos and  a suitably anthemic chorus, that’s all about the internet.

I was introduced to this band from Kid’s Corner, although I feel that perhaps their songs aren’t really for kids (not that they’re inappropriate but they seem more sophisticated than a typical kids song.  Like this song has big words and it is quite funny.  Although in all honesty it’s not laugh out loud funny, just mildly funny.  It’s got the vibe of Garfunkel and Oates, but not the big guffaws.

Check out their albums here .

[READ: February 8, 2013] The Blue Lotus

This third (technically fifth) Tintin book is the continuation of Cigars of the Pharaoh.  One of the characters from Pharaoh returns in this book, despite the fact that it is set in China.  This book also continues with Hergé’s having it both way in terms of other races.  His drawings are caricaturey and depending on your sensibilities/appreciation for drawing skills/tolerance are either really racist or simply in poor taste (although it does seem to be that the bad characters of other races are the most offensive–the good people are less crazy).

But despite the visual insensitivity, there are several section where Hergé explicitly talks about tolerance and understanding between races.  Like when Tintin saves the young Chinese boy, Chang, who says he thought all white devils were wicked.  Tintin explains that white people believe stupid things about Chinese people too  (eating rotten eggs, tons of unwanted babies in their rivers, etc.).  Chang says “They must be crazy people in your country).  As it turns out (quoting Wikipedia ), “The Blue Lotus is a pivotal work in Hergé’s career, moving away from the stereotype and loosely connected stories and marking a new-found commitment to geographical and cultural accuracy. The book is also amongst the most highly regarded of the entire Tintin series, and was the 18th greatest book on Le Monde’s 100 Books of the Century list.”  It’s quite progressive for the 1930s.

The plotlines from the previous book are continued: there is the poison that makes you crazy, the Pharaoh’s logo shows up and there are Indian characters returning as well.  And by the end Thompson and Thompson, the twin policeman who complicate each others sentences and prove to be more bumbling than we originally thought arrive to capture Tintin (although they believe in Tintin’s goodness–they’re only following orders, you see). (more…)

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cigarsSOUNDTRACK: THE BOARD OF EDUCATION-“Why is Dad So Mad?” (2012).

dadI heard this song on Kids Corner and I am frankly shocked that it didn’t make the top ten songs of the year (kids have no taste).  Why is dad so mad?  Because of what George Lucas has done to the Star Wars movies!   “Why does dad get so mad about Star Wars.  Mr Lucas what have you done?”

 The lyrics are so good I didn’t even really notice the music at first (check out: “and I wonder why it’s so bad that Greedo shoots first at Han.”  “He’s always excited when those yellow words come on, but by the end he’s mad about that new Ewok song.”

But the music is great too.  It has a kind of Ben Folds vibe (in the slow piano section) mixed with a little Ralph’s World, but the whole package is a wee bit heavier–the guitars are a  little distorted (but not very) and the pace is brisk and fun.

The song is also full of cool spacey sound effects (and a nice nod to the soundtrack).  The chorus is catchy and poppy.   A wonderful song.  I’m going to investigate The Board of Education a bit more.  In the meantime, check out Why is Dad So Mad?.

[READ: January 19, 2013] Cigars of the Pharoah

This second (technically fourth) Tintin book was a lot more focused than In America, which, although excellent, tended to ramble all over the country.

This book sees Tintin in the Mediterranean Sea on a cruise.  The action starts right away when a bumbling man named Dr Sarcophagus, an Egyptologist, crashes into Tintin saying that he lost his valuable papyrus.  The papyrus blows out to sea, but the Dr says, that indeed it wasn’t the valuable papyrus at all, which is safely in his coat.  It’s a weird moment, but we slowly learn that the Dr is more than a little absent minded.  Nevertheless, the papyrus has a map on it that he believes will lead to the undiscovered tomb of the Pharaoh Kih-Oskh (nice joke there).

I said that the last Tintin book wasn’t quite for kids and the same is true here.  Two men, Thompson and Thompson (more on them) accuse Tintin of smuggling opium and cocaine (again, did kids read this in the 30s?).  Thompson and Thompson are funny in that they look alike and when one says something the other twists the words slightly to radically alter their meaning while using most of the same words.  Anyhow, they “arrest” Tintin, but as in America, he escapes in an unlikely way and meets up with Dr Sarcophagus.

Tintin, Snowy and Sr Sarcophagus escape some violent deaths in a number of funny ways (like when the sheik who hates Westerners recognizes Tintin from his adventures (he even has a book–although in this later edition it is actually a book that came out after this one.

In another scene, Tintin rescues a woman who is being beaten, only to find out that he is actually on a film set.  Later, he winds up on a ship of smugglers, is forced to enlist in the Arabian army and is eventually made to face a firing squad. (more…)

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tintin americaSOUNDTRACK: THE DIGGITY DUDES-“My Science Project” (2012).

diggityThe Diggity Dudes are getting a lot of airplay on Kids’ Corner on WXPN.  I like them in theory but I don’t really like the style of music they play–it’s a little too generic.  That being said, I do rather like the lyrics of this song.

It’s all about doing, yes, a science project.  “Measure twice or you’ll have a disaster.”  The problem is that the verses are done in a  rap style that’s not very good.  And the rhymes are awful.

I give them credit for writing about cool subjects for kids (like “To the Library” which I would have reviewed but they didn’t have it playing on their site).  But if they weren’t a kid’s band, I wouldn’t like them at all.  Despite that, I imagine they put on a great live show–they seem like they’d be a lot of fun.

[READ: Jauary 10, 2013] Tintin in America

I have known of Tintin for years (Sarah and I even have an inside joke about the boy journalist).  When we went to Brussels, we went to the art museum and saw the history of Hergé’s works (Hergé’s real name is Georges Prosper Remi) and the tons of souvenir Tintin things that are for sale. And yet I’d never read any of his stories.

I saw some in the library and decided to check out volume one.  Interestingly, this volume starts with Tintin in America. While reading it I quickly determined that this was not the first book in the series.  Indeed, America is the third book after Tintin in the Land of the Soviets and Tintin in the Congo (neither of these two are readily available in the US–the first because Hergé later felt it was too crude to redo for collections and the second because the depiction of Africans was deemed offensive).  So, most collections begin with this book (which is only a little odd because he is already well-known and the story seems to start in the middle because he dealt with some of these thugs in book 2).

But on to America. (more…)

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