Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Get Me My Flagon of Mead, You Comely Wench

So, like, what's up with Modest Mouse? I never had much use for them before but that new song of theirs seems to be following me around. It's got a nice beat but the thing that throws me is that whenever the guy opens his mouth to sing he sounds like a semi-retarded idiot manchild. Maybe it's just me.

Apparently Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag's recent road trip took her down I-5 through the heart of Northern California. Which would mean she passed through my ancestral home of Siskyou County, where my friends and my parents still reside. If you're driving down 5 just south of the Oregon border you pass within eyeshot of my old high school, and my parents to this day live about five miles east of the freeway, as the crow flies. It's beautiful country but about as depopulated as you can get in California... and seeing pictures of places I remember very intimately from my youth taken with Aquaman is slightly surreal. I've spoken in the past about the fact that I just don't "get" the Aquaman fetish thing, but I realize that my recent voluminous Quasar posts probably mean that I don't have a leg to stand on, "pot" and "kettle" comparisons being somewhat apt. Still, Quasar could kick Aquaman's ass any day of the week.

I can tell you exactly where this photo was taken. My parents still live in Weed, and it's got probably the best view of the mountain in the area. Mt. Shasta itself is too close to the base of the mountain, so it's hard to gain perspective. Dunsmuir is down in a gully and Yreka proper has no view because the city lies just north of a small range of hills which obscure the view (although if you go on the hills just west of Yreka you get a fabulous long-range view). Weed, however, is perfectly placed for a medium-range view of the mountain. The only reason my parents don't have a killer view at their place is a copse of about half a dozen trees. Otherwise, the mountain is omnipresent anywhere and everywhere you go.

You don't realize just how much you take these things for granted until you are gone. I lived in Oklahoma for a while, and they don't have so much as a hillock in the entire damn state. Going home periodically I am filled anew with appreciation for the natural beauties of Northern California. I didn't appreciate it when I was younger as much as I could have, but having lived all across this country in various places, and especially after having endured the almost desolate flatness of the Midwest, I appreciate the splendor of California's natural resources all the more.

I am pretty sure this was taken at a vista point just north of Yreka, where I spent a few evenings in high school just chillin'. I think my buddy D stole a road sign from here, but I can't for the life of me remember what the road sign said. The memory is the first to go.

Finally, a few people have mentioned this.

There's an unwritten rule that says that regardless of who gets what award, in any awards event, there is no bitching by any of the participants. This means that all the losers have to smile graciously and continue to parrot that "it was a pleasure just being nominated" and all that crap. It's silly and we know they're pissed, but its also civil and decent. If you won, you wouldn't want anyone raining on your parade by being pissed, would you? Bill Murray was very visibly upset when he lost to Sean Penn at this year's Academy Awards. It was a telling, very human moment, but it looked odd considering just how robotically gracious most people in entertainment take losing. It's their job to look nice, even when they want to go kick over a vending machine.

But by that same token, there's another unwritten rule about the fact that under no circumstances should the winner ever say anything but the most gracious things about their vanquished foes. Everyone else can bitch and moan all they want about who got robbed or who didn't deserve or whatever... but it's expected that the winners and the losers stay silent on the manner. It's just good form. You don't gloat, you don't justify, you don't explain. You smile.

So by coming out and saying what he said, Bob Greenberger looks very, very petty.

Besides the fact, it should go without saying - even though, if Greenberger's reaction is to be judged, it doesn't - that this is a travesty under any circumstances. I don't put any stock into most awards, and considering the fractious nature of the comics world, I put even less stock into comics awards. But why the hell couldn't we have at least given one of those stupid awards to a book that was unbelievably deserving, just this once? There's not a one of the four other nominated books that would have been unworthy of winning. I have them all on my shelf and they're all beautiful, simply fantastic objects in and of themselves, even without taking the content into consideration. If I had had a ballot, I think that despite my stated affection for Louis Riel, I would have voted for The Frank Book... but I also think I have what you might term an "unhealthy fascination" with that particular artifact. (Let's just say I can stare into its hypnotically brilliant pages for hours at a time, totally oblivious to the world around me. There's a kind of drug in the printers ink, I am certain...)

I can tell you exactly why Batman won: the vote split. Of the four deserving books, there was no clear winner that stood above the others. Each probably garnered a healthy slice of the vote. But given the catholic nature of the Eisner balloting process, there were just enough devoted fanboys who had probably never cracked a copy of Acme Novelty Library or Love & Rockets and voted for Batman out of some sort of deep-seated knee-jerk Pavlovian reaction to spandex stimulus. If there had only been one or two clearly superior products, Batman wouldn't have stood a chance. But since there were four more-or-less equally brilliant competitors in the same field, they deadlocked, and Batman won.

So enjoy your award, Mr. Greenberger. You won it, fair and square. Congratulations. But don't try our patience by defending your victory. Under the best of circumstances it would be tacky. Under these circumstances, you look like a fool.

What sort of a field is this in which we toil? Imagine, if you will, a Pulitzer nomination field including works by Thomas Pynchon, Philip Roth, Don DeLillio and Toni Morrison, but wherein the victorious book turned out to be... the latest novel in The Destroyer series by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir. It could be the best gosh-darn Remo Williams novel in history, but I'll be damned if you're going to convince me, under any circumstances, that it would deserve to win in such a field. That's the equivalent to what we've got here. Pretty damn sad.

Tomorrow will see either a new installment of Travels With Larry or Can't Riel Just Get Along?, which I feel like doing. Until then...

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