A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Thursday, December 31, 2009


* Tim O'Shea included You Have Killed Me on his top 10 of the year list, alongside books I also really liked, such as Roger Langridge's The Muppet Show, Greg Rucka's run on Detective Comics, Matt Kindt's 3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man, and Evan Dorkin and Jill Thomspon's Beasts of Burden.

See Tim's list, alongside the rest of the lists from the Robot 6 crew, here.

By the by, I think it's all kinds of wrong that Joëlle Jones' amazing cover for You Have Killed Me, designed up nice by Keith Wood, hasn't been making the lists of the best covers of the year. That's all kinds of wrong.

And speaking of wrong...

* Depeche Mode should maybe be awarded the song of the year, as this more than any other summed up the zeitgeist of 2009 for most of the people I know:

According to my LastFM account, the band was my third most played of the year, too.

1. The Beatles
2. Morrissey
3. Depeche Mode
4. Lily Allen
5. Leonard Cohen
6. Brett Anderson
7. Dot Allison
8. Asobi Seksu
9. Pet Shop Boys
10. Elbow
11. Scott Walker
12. The Trash Can Sinatras
13. Franz Ferdinand
14. Moby
15. Mareva Galanter

Current Soundtrack: Depeche Mode, Sounds of the Universe


A couple of things for the last day of the year.

* First up, a new review of the Love the Way You Love: Side A trade paperback over at the "I Just Read About That..." blog.

"I’ve always liked Jamie Rich’s stories. He’s written some full-on fiction in addition to his comics. And they’re both solid, romantic works. Ellerby’s drawing style is rather cartoony (big eyes and often outlandish hair, but it works in context). This is especially so since this story is about teens/post-teens and rock bands....

Rich makes his characters full, with a wide emotional range. The secondary characters are also quite good, especially Lance, Tristan’s younger brother, who wears a cool hat and has some of the best lines in the book.

Not bad! I'll take it. (More, obviously, in the link.)

* Second, in case you're not sick of best-of lists yet (I've avoided most, and it's still like a lot of white noise to me), here are a few more after someone's ingenious mash-up of the movies of 2009. It's like a trailer for the whole year.

* DVD Talk's writers voted on their Top 20 DVDs of 2009, and this is what we came up with. I wrote the blurbs for Wings of Desire, Up, and The Human Condition. I should've staged a walk-out, though, when Watchmen's name even came up.

* Jason Bailey posted his Top 10 Theatrical Releases of 2009 on his Fourth Row Center blog. Note how great his first 3 are, though a little backwards. (Compare to my list, in other words.)

* Christopher McQuain has added his Best Films of the Decade to Facebook. (Why not your own blog, hepcat?)

Current Soundtrack: The Raveonettes, In & Out of Control

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2009 Jamie S. Rich

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


This lovely Audrey Hepburn drawing showed up in my inbox today:

It's by my talented friend Kimball Gray Davis, who did the awesome colors on the cover for the first volume of Spell Checkers.

Check out Kimball's other work over at Deviantart.

Thanks a ton, Kimball!

Current Soundtrack: Alicia Keys, Unplugged

Friday, December 25, 2009


More Christmas art.

I commissioned this Notorious-themed bottle from Kelley Seda to give to Joëlle. It's tough to give a talented artist artwork, you have to find an equally talented artist. Kelley did such a phenomenal job on this, it would be a crime not to share and show it off. Also, check out Kelley's adorable Christmas card at her blog.

In return, Joëlle gave me these super awesome cuff links!


Current Soundtrack: Venture Bros. Xmas songs

Thursday, December 24, 2009


The super-talented and way-too-adorable Natalie Nourigat gave me this awesome Audrey Hepburn drawing for Christmas. It's good to know cartoonists!

Audrey Hepburn by Natalie Nourigat

See more of Tally:
Her blog
Deviant Art
He webcomic "Between Gears" (a.k.a. "Between Updates")

Current Soundtrack: PSB & Rufus Wainwright, "Casanova in Hell"


I had every intention of avoiding the list-making impulse again this year. Every time I see one of those lists of lists, the ones that bloggers like Largehearted Boy make gathering together every "best of" they can find in one place, I disappear to some kind of quiet happy place. There are just too many. What does it all matter anymore? And this year it goes double, since we're also getting decade round-ups.

But then I was out the other night having a drink with Joëlle and she noted that based on the Golden Globes, it seemed like a bad year for movies. I said I didn't think this was true, and she challenged me to come up with my top 3. I vacillated a little, came up with a basic top 3, but said I really needed to look at everything I saw. Which I did, confirming that the guesses I made at the bar were, in fact, my faves. Once I started looking, though, it was all downhill, I couldn't stop.

There are a few movies I haven't seen. Crazy Heart, for instance, has not shown up in Portland yet (though, check Jason Bailey's review). It's one of the few I can think of that might have a slight chance of cracking this block, but I feel pretty confident that I've got a solid list here. All of the links go to my reviews of the films, so no real need to write short blurbs.

Okay, without further ado...

Jamie S. Rich's Top 15 Theatrical Releases of 2009

1. Where the Wild Things Are

2. Up
3. Up in the Air
4. An Education
5. The Informant!
6. Inglourious Basterds
7. A Single Man

8. The Fantastic Mr. Fox
9. The Hurt Locker
10. A Serious Man
11. Moon
12. The Messenger
13. The Brothers Bloom
14. Star Trek
15. Treeless Mountain

If I had to give out a special award this year, it would be to Steven Soderbergh, who entertained me not once, but three times. Though Che was technically a 2008 starter, I saw it in 2009, and alongside The Informant! and The Girlfriend Experience, the filmmaker delivered a lot of entertainment this year.

Then again, Sandra Bullock also made three movies this year, none of which I saw. What happened to you, Sandy?! I used to love you!

For a fantastic summation of 2009, I recommend A.O. Scott's intro to his own list over at the NY Times. He finds the common themes of the year, and I think is very astute. His picks are pretty good, especially his #1. Great minds...

DVD Talk is also currently working on their list rounding up our reviewers' opinions on the best DVDs of the year. This means the best packages of the best movies, not just the quality of the film itself. Below is essentially what I voted for, though I hadn't watched Tora-san yet when I voted. I swapped it with Up, since it had already made the theatrical list.

Jamie S. Rich's Top 10 DVD Releases of 2009

1. Wings of Desire - Criterion Collection

2. Mad Men - Season 2
3. Wendy & Lucy
4. Magnificent Obsession - Criterion Collection
5. The Human Condition - Criterion Collection
6. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Criterion Collection
7. Scott Walker: 30 Century Man
8. Harlan Ellison: Dreams with Sharp Teeth
9. Funny People - 2-Disc Unrated Collector's Edition
10. Tora-san: Collector Set 1

I believe the full results of the DVD Talk poll will be posted sometime next week.

Current Soundtrack: Pet Shop Boys, Yes: Special Edition

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2009 Jamie S. Rich

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


It's the big holiday weekend, and I can finally post the reviews of all the movies I have been seeing, most of which go wide for Christmas.


* Broken Embraces, the new Pedro Almodovar is the movie for Penelope Cruz fans to see this weekend. Forget the one with the music.

* Nine, the musical remake of Fellini's 8 1/2 lacks the original's creative spark and is really just a snoozer. Second appearance by Penelope Cruz, first by Marion Cotillard this week, both of whom make this at least passable. See my link to a review of the Fellini a couple of spaces down.

* The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, Rebecca Miller's new film. It falls apart in the final third, but the strong start and performances are enough to keep it as a recommended feature. Portlanders, this opens at Cinema 21 on Friday.

* Sherlock Holmes, Guy Ritchie's movie is the worst thing you can do to yourself this Christmas.

* A Single Man, Tom Ford's movie is the best thing you can do to yourself this Christmas.

* The Young Victoria, a lovely historical drama with Emily Blunt as the titular Queen.


* 8 1/2, Fellini's masterpiece on artistic frustration. And how frustrating that they turned this into Nine!


* Public Enemies: 2-Disc Special Edition, Michael Mann's gangster movie is the prettiest nap you can ever take. The second appearance of Marion Cotillard in this week's list of reviews. Between this and Nine, she deserves better.

* Tora-san: Collector's Set 1, the first four movies in the extensive Japanese film series, featuring a charismatic drifter in increasingly addictive romantic adventures.

Current Soundtrack: Rihanna, Rated R ($5.00 download!)

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2009 Jamie S. Rich

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Andrea Speed over at Comixtreme recommends as part of Captain Andy's Graphic Novel Funkapus #3.

You Have Killed Me (Oni Press)
By Jamie S. Rich & Joëlle Jones

This is a piece of '30's style noir mystery, with private eye Mercer hired by the sister of an old flame to find her. It seems she was about to get married and disappeared in an improbable, suspicious manner. Although reluctant to do so, he takes the case, and discovers that his ex-flame's fiance was an inveterate gambler and had ties to a mobster named Memory. There's also a black jazz trumpeter that his ex-flame, Julie, might have been having a clandestine affair with, and may have a very wicked temper. But the more he looks, the more complicated things get, and the more suspicious the sister, Jennie, acts. Mercer could be a relative of Sam Spade or Phillip Marlowe, which is both a good and a bad thing. Good because you can instantly grasp the character and his motives, but bad because he never stands out as his own character very much. Also, Jennie was suspicious right away; she pours on the whole sexy femme fatale thing too much way too early, and by the end I honestly hadn't grasped a single of her motives. Oh, Mercer explains them, but they don't make much sense. Still, it's a solid genre story, and the art by Jones is fantastic. Lots of bold lines and delicate penciling, with a good use of space and artful shading. It's so good that I'd like to see more of her work more often. Anybody hankering for an atmospheric crime noir tale between releases of Criminal will find this a satisfying treat to tide you over. Rating: 4/5 --Andrea Speed

Current Soundtrack: A Camp, "Bear on the Beach"

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Check this out. My friend Terry Blas gave me this killer drawing of Charlie Day in his Greenman persona from "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia." Merry Christmas to me, indeed!

Check out more of the drawings Terry's been doing for gifts at his blog.

Current Soundtrack: Spandau Ballet, True


Hello, all you happy people.

Tonight the Bowens threw their annual Christmas party and once again, they reminded us why this has become the holiday party for me. Great catering, great people, and private karaoke!

Many wondrous performances tonight, but oh, my god, the derby was stolen by a dark horse. Matt Fraction's version of the Kinks' "Lola" is only forgettable because it was sandwiched between his closing number, an on-pitch version of Prince's "Kiss," and his opening nuclear assault, the Pogues' "Fairtyale of New York," perfectly transforming into both Shane MacGowan and Kirsty Maccoll. Lesser mortals would have hung it up around then, but we soldiered on.

Mike Allred and I actually opened the evening with a little Rat Pack, him being the Chairman of the Board to my drunken Deano. He was the first singer on deck with Sinatra's "It Was a Very Good Year," and I was second performing Dean Martin's "Sway." Mike later followed with Supertramp's "Logical Song" and the oh-so perfect "Starman" by Bowie. He rocked so hard during the latter, he broke the mic' stand! I did some kicking and some posing for Spandau Ballet's "Gold," an underrated James Bond theme that never was.

Joëlle Jones and I also did what I think was our first duet, pairing up for a fun romp through the Human League's "(Keep Feeling) Fascination." She also performed "All My Lovin'" by the Beatles and two of the night's best performances, Radiohead's "Creep" and Bonnie Tyler's "Holding Out for a Hero," dedicated to all the comic book folks in the crowd. They were transcendental moments.

I had a couple of accidental duets. Mike Oeming had been abandoned by a partner for Eddy Grant's "Electric Avenue," and so I jumped up to bail him out. He didn't need it, he had it down, but we had fun. I was also enlisted to be the David Bowie in a performance of "Under Pressure," but my Freddie Mercury was nowhere to be found, so Mike Allred jumped up. We never figured out who was who, but it was marvelous! One of my best karaoke experiences. We had so much fun. (If only we had convinced Laura Allred to sing "Downtown" by Petula Clark, it would have been perfect.)

Other performance highlights were Kelly Sue DeConnick's adorable and demure "There are Worse Things I Could Do" (from Grease), and Steven Birch singing Badfinger's "Come and Get It" and the Cars' "Just What I Needed."

I could go on and on. Tons of great songs. Alisa Bendis, David Hahn and his wife (they dueled with our Human League, singing "Don't You Want Me"), David Walker, Daria and Dallas, Taki Soma, our hosts the Bowens, our pal Andy on Bowie's "Modern Love" and James' "Laid," Randall C. Jarrell singing Springsteen's "Badlands"--too many to list. My memory can't make it!

What a night! What fun! Christmas Day, you have some amazing competition.

Current Soundtrack: Theaudience, "I Got the Wherewithal" EP

Thursday, December 17, 2009



* Avatar, the James Cameron blockbuster makes up for its lackluster script with truly stunning effects

* Up in the Air, Jason Reitman and George Clooney deliver the true winner of the season. I loved it!


* Beautiful Losers, an interesting documentary about a group of contemporary artists who came up through NYC in the 1990s.

* The Hangover is still funny despite the 2-disc unrated edition being kind of a disappointment.

* Lion's Den, one of my favorites of the year is a little-seen prison drama from Argentina. Martina Gusman is fantastic.

* Rescue Me: Season 5, vol. 2, the stretched-out season of Denis Leary's firefighter dramedy runs out of sizzle in the second half.

Current Soundtrack: Starsailor, "Some of Us;" The Jam, "To Be Someone;" The Clash, "Gates of the West;" Cool Kids of Death, "Disorder (w/ Process Plus);" Oasis, "Hello;" The Verve, "Come On"

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2009 Jamie S. Rich

I almost took a picture of myself with a bloody mouth this week and was going to pretend that I had gone out on Halloween as Ed Helms from The Hangover, but then decided I would just rather go to bed.

Long story short, I am a bit of a dental mutant. I was born with an extra tooth, the eventual removal of which resulted in two dental surgeries before the 4th grade and weekly visits to the dentist all through 5th. Understandably, I hate dentists, and throwing away my retainer before the job was done, after several years of retainers and braces, was a huge existential moment in my life, the equivalent of rejecting God, country, and family all at once. Last time I went to the dentist was...well, I don't remember. But I had my wisdom teeth out and they found I had two extra wisdom teeth, little tiny ones that looked like dog's teeth. To counterbalance, apparently, it turns out that my other teeth have abnormally long roots--some of which my last dentist left behind in my gums. He was pretty horrible. I was awake the whole procedure, I could see my mouth reflected in his glasses, he cussed whenever his pliars slipped out of my mouth, and he refused to believe me when I told him I was in pain. He also gave me crappy drugs afterward that didn't help at all.

Earlier this year, I had a cavity in the very back tooth on the bottom left that eventually led to the front of the infected tooth falling off. I was eating a Little Debbie's Peanut Butter Bar and felt something give way and before I realized it, I swallowed the tooth shards. I know, I was like the Goofus side of some dental cartoon. Having no insurance, I decided to ride it out. I had good days and bad days, but the pain was always manageable with Tylenol or aspirin or whiskey. Weeks went by with no pain, some weeks were awful. Some may even recall my using my broken tooth as fodder for my review of The Hurt Locker.

After some bad times this fall, I made a plan to get the tooth fixed after the end of the year. I had learned that OHSU had a dental school where patients are helped for a fraction of regular prices, it just takes a little longer than normal. Sounded good to me.

Only, I woke up this past Sunday in screeching pain. I spent the whole day trying to dial it down, and nothing worked. I made myself sick with aspirin, bought a numbing agent, and could only find temporary and incomplete relief. Woke up Monday and tried to find some urgent care. Unfortunately, OHSU only books a day in advance, and fifteen minutes into their Monday, Tuesday was full. They gave me the number of SafeNet, an Oregon program that connects patients to services. As luck would have it, they had a clinic with a Tuesday afternoon opening. Apparently patients in emergency situations usually have to fly standby, but I was in.

Cut to Tuesday. I am amazed by the service I received from the Multnomah County Health Department. Efficient, friendly, and conscientious. Not bad for a bunch of socialists! I was in and out in 2 hours. They pulled the tooth, and it only cost $200. The doctor and nurse were very communicative and talked me through everything, and when I complained I was in pain, they gave me more anesthetic. No argument. No "that doesn't hurt."

Don't get it twisted, though. The experience was excruciating. You can be as numb as you want, and you can still feel the pressure of a guy drilling, pushing, and pulling inside your mouth [insert rent boy joke here]. The cavity had gone all the way down below the gums, and the whole thing had to come out. They broke it into four pieces. The doc asked me if I knew about my long roots, and I said yes, and told him the last dentist had left some men behind. This new fellow said he wasn't going to let that happen. "I love a challenge," he said. Errrr, okay, hot shot.

Well, he didn't lie. He got the whole thing out. I saw the fragments. My roots were at least 1/2" long. I wish I had gotten a picture of them next to a piece of rice or something. The nurse laughed when I asked if they were normally so big. "No, they are usually tiny," she said. The worst part of the procedure was actually getting the roots out of the socket. It was like Satan was pitchforking me from underneath my jaw. I was sweating and gripping the arm rest and I am sure I bent the bite tool they gave me to keep my mouth open. Ugh.

Again, public dentist put me on three meds as opposed to private dentist's one, and for the last two days I haven't had an ounce of pain. The only inconvenience was the first several hours of swapping out bloody gauze and the fact that I can only eat soft foods until Sunday. But, concentration was an issue prior to the operation, and I lost three days of work. Watching DVDs in bed post-op has allowed me to get some reviews in the can, including The Hangover on DVD. Expect that update when my theatrical reviews go live later today. Thanks for nothing, public health care!

Oh, well, one tooth less and hopefully I'll lose some weight from all this oatmeal and yogurt. (Plus, Joëlle's chicken soup!) First thing I'm eating on Monday: Little Debbies!

And I share this because it made me smile...

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

Current Soundtrack: The Raveonettes, In and Out of Control; Alicia Keys, The Element of Freedom

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2009 Jamie S. Rich

Friday, December 11, 2009


Oh, man, am I behind this week. Two reviews?! Really? Well, to be fair, I saw six movies in the theatre between Monday and Thursday this week, starting with Broken Embraces and ending with, yes, Avatar, and I have written reviews for all of them, I'm just not allowed to post until things open in Portland. So, expect plenty more in the coming weeks, especially as I get back to my DVDs.


* The Princess and the Frog, Disney's fun-filled return to classic animation is a winner.


* Spectacle: Elvis Costello With... - Season 1, a show where Elvis sits and chats with other musicians about music. Its brilliance is equal to its simplicity.

I'd love it if Mr. Costello had Mr. Hannon from the Divine Comedy on.

Current Soundtrack: Erasure, "Stop," The Lodger, "A Year Since Last Summer," Stereolab, "The Noise of Carpet (US Single Version);" Elvis Costello & Allen Touissaint, "On Your Way Down"

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2009 Jamie S. Rich

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


I think we've broken Nico. He is so lost in Spell Checkers, he's drawing comic strips where he and one of the characters are hanging out. By a bunch of lockers. This book has so many lockers!

Read it in French on his blog if you're fancy.

Current Soundtrack: Ocean Colour Scene, Anthology...and I think I hear the kitty purring over there, and the coffee percolating over there

Saturday, December 05, 2009


Thanks to the folks who came out tonight to hear me program an evening of music and dancing. They know who they are. We had fun, yes?

For those who didn't come to the second official DJ Icky Animal excursion, here is the set you missed:

Mareva Galanter, "7h du matin"
The Monkees - "Can You Dig It?"
The Jam - "In the City"
Wire - "Three Girl Rhumba"
Elastica - "Waking Up"
Cornershop - "Lessons Learned from Rocky I to Rocky III"
Janelle Monae - "Violet Stars Happy Hunting!!!"
Irma Thomas - "Break-A-Way"
Marvin Gaye - "You're a Wonderful One"
Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings - "Take Me With U"
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - "Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! (single edit)"
The Horrors - "Who Can Say"
The Cure - "A Few Hours After This..."
Bloc Party - "Ares"
Jarvis Cocker - "Fuckingsong"
Ride - "Twisterella"
The Dandy Warhols - "Welcome to the Third World"
Prince - "No More Candy 4 U"
Alicia Keys - "Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart"
Space - "Female of the Species"
Blur - "Popscene"
Nancy Boy - "Johnny Chrome & Silver"
The Brian Jonestown Massacre - "Servo"
The Olivia Tremor Control - "I'm Not Feeling Human"
The Jesus & Mary Chain - "Far Gone & Out"
Muse - "I Belong to You (New Moon Remix)"
Morrissey - "You Have Killed Me"
Suede - "Metal Mickey"
Adam & the Ants - "Physical (You're So)"
Duffy - "Rain on Your Parade"
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles - "I Gotta Dance to Keep From Crying"
Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames - "Yeh Yeh"
Baby Washington - "Hey Lonely"
France Gall - "Poupee de cire, poupee de son"
Lily Allen - "Not Fair"
Dizzee Rascal w/ Lily Allen - "Wanna Be"
Estelle - "Wait a Minute (Just a Touch)"
Saint Etienne - "Boy is Crying"
Suede - "Love the Way You Love"
Newcomers - "Martian Hop"
New Order - "Regret"
Mystery Jets & Laura Marling - "Young Love"
The Pipettes - "It Hurts to See You Dance So Well"
P.M. Dawn - "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss"
Rihanna & Justin Timberlake - "Hole in My Head"
Dr. Teeth & the Electric Mayhem - "Tenderly" + Animal Sings Gershwin

In keeping with songs that area also titles of my books, I think next time we'll start with some My Life Story....

Current Soundtrack: The Slickers, "Johnny Too Bad;" Johnny Hartman, "Charade;" Elvis Costello & the Attractions, "Really Mystified;" Johnny Boy, Johnny Boy

Friday, December 04, 2009


Or, at least, that's what it feels like.

Busy weekend, including a couple of public events.

First up is tonight, when I will be making my second appearance as DJ Icky Animal, "spinning" from 11 to 1 a.m. at the Fez Fez Ballroom in the downstairs bar, 318 SW 11th Ave, right across the street from Powell's, above Buffalo Exchange. If you're wondering what kind of stuff I play, you can look at the set list from last time. $4 at the door.

Second, tomorrow night, Floating World is hosting a party to celebrate the release of One Model Nation, a little project under the guidance of Mike Allred, written by C. Allbritton Taylor and drawn by Jim Rugg. All three of those folks, plus editor Joe Keatinge, colorist Jon Fell, and historian Donovan Leitch--yes, that Donovan Leitch--will be at the store from 6 to 9.

Here is more specific info.

Plus a preview of the book.

And the website for the band One Model Nation.


onemodelnation | MySpace Music Videos

By the way, the Portland Mercury is running some charity auctions right now. They have two comic book packages, one of which contains a place on the Oni Press comp list in 2010, which means a copy of Spell Checkers in amongst there. Bid on that here. The other auction is a pack of Dark Horse comics, and it includes an original page of Joëlle Jones' artwork from Dr. Horrible. At the moment, the price is insanely cheap, check it out.

Joëlle's site should also have prices for other Dr. Horrible pages shortly.

Current Soundtrack: Sandie Shaw, "Maybe I'm Amazed" & "I'll Cry Myself to Sleep;" Beautiful South, "Blackbird on the Wire;" Stars, "The Big Fight;" The Charlatans, "Muddy Ground"

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2009 Jamie S. Rich

Thursday, December 03, 2009



* The Messenger, the hard-hitting drama with Woody Harrelson, Ben Foster, and Samantha Morton. Portlanders, it's finally here.


* A Christmas Tale - Criterion Collection, Catherine Deneuve and Mathieu Amalric in Arnaud Desplechin's take on The Royal Tenenbaums. (Cross-posted with Criterion Confessions.)

* Fraggle Rock: A Merry Fraggle Holiday, three episodes of the classic Jim Henson show, though only one is really holiday-themed.

* The Golden Age of Television - Criterion Collection, a wonderful boxed set of live TV dramas from the 1950s. (Cross-posted with Criterion Confessions.)

* Johnny Mercer "The Dream's On Me", a TCM documentary about the amazing songwriter who co-wrote "Moon River."

Current Soundtrack: The Charlatans UK, self-titled

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2009 Jamie S. Rich

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Housekeeper and the Professor: A Novel The Housekeeper and the Professor: A Novel by Yoko Ogawa

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been a fan of Yoko Ogawa's since some short stories I read in the New Yorker, and this is her first novel to be translated into English. Her prose is simple and elegant, and the story here reflects that. Actually, it's as unassuming as the title, and yet it is surprisingly deep and affecting.

The basic story is that the Housekeeper is a single mother who works as a maid to care for her ten-year-old boy. One day, she is assigned to a difficult case: a mathematics Professor with special needs. A car accident in 1975 left him with a short-term memory that resets every 80 minutes, so for him it is always the day before the accident. Yet, his mind is still sharp, and his stories and explanations about math reveal to the Housekeeper a whole new way of looking at the world. Numbers connect everything, and they explain everything. The way the math is presented in the story is easy to understand, even to a dunderhead like me. Ogawa makes sure the reason for any particular theorem is clear to the reader. Each idea is essential to the story.

When the Housekeeper first brings her son to the house, she discovers the Professor has an affection for children. The young man and the old man bond over baseball, and there is a particularly good chapter where they take the Professor to his first ever game, a uniquely problematic thing, he rarely leaves his house for a reason. Plus, they have to concoct explanations for why his favorite player won't be pitching that day, because they can't tell him he's retired.

The main throughline of the book is the connection between these people, of the family they form, and the transience of their bond forcing them to savor every moment. Ogawa avoids Western pitfalls--there is no romance, there isn't a cataclysmic accident that transforms them all suddenly--life just eventually takes its course. The difference for them is that they have now become constants, they are corresponding numbers. It's a shame Yasujiro Ozu is no longer alive, he could make a hell of a movie out of The Housekeeper and the Professor.

View all my reviews >>

Current Soundtrack: new Timbaland, specifically "Can You Feel It," featuring Esthero & Sebastian

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


A photo from last June, featuring the Walter Chiari backdrop for the current tour

What? Morrissey, how could you come to Portland and not play You Have Killed Me? You know Joëlle and I live here, right?!

Okay, okay...so a minor complaint for an otherwise stellar night. Of my top-three-hoped-for songs, you only played one ("Don't Make Fun of Daddy's Voice"), but surprising me with "Death at One's Elbow" and "The Loop" went a long way to making me forget. And you got to play "First of the Gang to Die" in the one town in America where it actually sounds tough, so kudos to you. The fact that you layered in "Swing on a Star" was also brilliant. On-stage mash-up!

Yes, folks, last night I got to see Morrissey for the first time in, I think, 7 years, when I saw him on the "Oye Esteban" tour. Funny thing is, I am pretty sure I was sitting in just about the same seat this time as last time. I pulled out my concert ninja skills and went down to the Roseland early and sat outside and read so we could be the first into the bar area and sit at the very front of the balcony. No squishing against saddoes for me. Gimme a chair, I'm old!

Waiting outside, I actually got to listen in on the soundcheck, hearing a few instrumental versions of songs, as well as a couple with vocals. The band did a run-through of Bowie's "Rebel Rebel" on their own, which was pretty cool and made me hopeful a full cover might emerge that evening. It was not to materialize, alas.

The show was opened by Doll & the Kicks, who I had heard good things about. They are like Siouxsie by way of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs by way of Blood Red Shoes. In our group, the opinions were split, with the boys seeming to like them more than the girls, which was interesting. The musicians in the band were good and clearly have skills, but right now, I think Doll is a little more advanced than the guys, and when they catch up to her, that's when the band will take off. Though, that's also when I am sure we can expect some No Doubt-style infighting. Do bass players still get upset when the pretty girl out front gets all the attention?

Here is the band covering the headliner:

Morrissey and the lads took the stage not long after, following a compilation of clips by the likes of Sparks, the New York Dolls, and Nico. The lead song was "This Charming Man," and it was pretty obvious from the start that the Mozfather was rarin' to go. The set was built with faster, rockier numbers, and so it was a noisy, energetic night. "Ganglord" was a pretty hefty standout for me, and the ramped-up version of "Ask" came off really well. Morrissey was joking a lot between songs, and seemed to be enjoying himself. There was a roughness to the performance that gave it an edge that I recall lacking on some late '90s tours. Thankfully, there was also an absence of stage invasions, which meant no interruptions or interference. I know we fans like to think it's all about us, but I had about enough of "us" in line and I paid to see the show, not you tackling the singer.

In the "We're All Human" Department, it was amusing to see that not even Morrissey's quiff can survive a night onstage, and Morrissey ripping his shirt off at the end of "How Soon is Now," followed by a quickly timed exit, was pretty funny. The man has a fairly solid barrel chest for being 50 years old, but it was probably for the best for him not to stand around preening. Plus, very happy to see him back to being fit and decked out in dapper dress after the chubby T-shirt tours of the early '00s.

I've no greater insight to offer. I sang along and sang loud and hopefully did not annoy those around me, and I had a blast. It's always a nervous proposition seeing someone you so admire in the flesh, and with so many cancellations and odd goings on with his tours over the last several years, I was fully prepared for Morrissey to bag out or disappoint. He did neither. There is nothing quite like the charge you feel when a performer of his type steps out on the stage. It's electric and chemical, the sense that you're seeing someone who has been anointed, who is different. There are tons of singers putting on shows all around the world every night, but not many who are this special.

Here is one tiny clip from last night's performance that has surfaced on YouTube:

Full Set List
This Charming Man
Irish Blood, English Heart
Black Cloud
Don't Make Fun Of Daddy's Voice
Death At One's Elbow
When Last I Spoke To Carol
One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell
Is It Really So Strange?
I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris
Cemetry Gates
Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself
If You Don't Like Me, Don't Look At Me
The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores
Teenage Dad On His Estate
The Loop
How Soon Is Now
I'm Ok By Myself

Encore: First Of The Gang To Die / Swinging On A Star

I was glad we got a less hits and more odd tracks. "Why Don't You Find Out for Yourself" is always a favorite, and given how long it has been since last I saw him, I loved that I got to hear so many b-sides like "Teenage Dad" and strong album cuts like "One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell" and "I'm OK By Myself," which was a brilliant way to shut things down. You ended on a bass solo? Nice!

Current Soundtrack: Morrissey, Swords

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2009 Jamie S. Rich

Monday, November 30, 2009


Today is Morrissey day here in Portland. The man plays the Roseland tonight. It's been, what? Seven years since his last stop in our rainy city? Bastard.

To commemorate, I took part in the regular blog feature run by the Portland Mercury and Floating World Comics recommending comics a visiting band might consider buying were they to stop in the store. (It's two blocks from the Roseland, so it's been known to happen.) My recommendations for Moz were:

* Weird Fishes by Jamaica Dyer

* Beast by Marian Churchland

* Breakfast After Noon by Andi Watson

Read my reasons for these choices here.

He should, of course, buy a copy of You Have Killed Me, too. If I were there, I'd sign it for him!

Current Soundtrack: I am also currently listening to Morrissey on BBC's Desert Island Discs, and you can too.

Both collected volumes of Love the Way You Love are listed alongside 12 Reasons Why I Love Her in Diamond Previews this month, part of an Oni ad campaign to push their romance comics for February and Valentine's Day. If you've been putting off having your comic book shop reorder these books for you, it's never been easier than right now:


Note that You Have Killed Me is also relisted this month. This ad here is on page 258 of the catalogue, and Killed Me is the top of 260.

My partners on these comics have things going on, too.

Joëlle Jones continues to get good reviews for Dr. Horrible, from the likes of Comixtreme:

"...the art plays a huge role, and Joëlle Jones manages to bring a look to the characters that is both its own thing--they look and feel like comic characters--and yet captures a look that evokes the appearance of the actors that played the live-action versions."

And Mondo Magazine:

"Jones’ art is utterly fantastic. She just nails facial expressions and the comedic timing of the show. Surprisingly awesome, a definite buy."

Marc Ellerby is selling the second issue of his awesome Chloe Noonan, Monster Hunter series and a new set of buttons/badges at his site. The Space Between Panels thinks you should buy the comic.

"If you've ever read Ellerbisms, you already know that Ellerby has a knack for bringing instantly likeable, warm and real characters (OK, people in Ellerbisms) to the page. The inhabitants of Chloe Noonan: Monster Hunter are no different. I'm already pretty scared that if I ever meet Chloe's mate, Zoe Fox, her teeth will do something bewitching to me and I'll find myself listening to My Chemical Romance and crying at teatime.

The other thing I would say is that the polish Ellerby delivers is impressive. I see a lot of small press stuff that looks... I'll say 'rough around the edges' - not this, though. The printing and overall presentation of the issue - like in the one before it - are on a par with what you'd expect from one of the bigger indie publishers like Oni Press.

So, there.

Current Soundtrack: Bloc Party, Silent Alarm

Friday, November 27, 2009


Bleeding Cool began a...well, a bleeding cool feature yesterday. For Thanksgiving, they ran one exclusive peek an hour. Some kind of exclusive view into a comic, something unseen, be it an art tease or a sketch or what have you.

I went with the closest thing I have to a deleted scene from You Have Killed Me, a part of Mercer's voiceover. It's a flashback, one that never ended up fitting and maybe was also too literal. It would have been later in the book, somewhere in the final third, and I am sure I would have considered using it as dialogue, too, but it just never came up.

It begins like this:

The last night Julie and I were together--as a couple, I mean--isn’t one I like to think about too often. We were at a party together. We went to a lot of parties those days. That’s what kids our age and from our kind of families did...

Click through for the rest.

Thanks to Rich for letting me be a part of it! Be sure to dig through the other posts. There's some neat stuff on there.

Current Soundtrack: Robbie Williams, Reality Killed the Video Star

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


It's time to catch up on my movie reviews. Some good stuff heading into the Thanksgiving weekend...


* Fantastic Mr. Fox, the awesome realization of Wes Anderson's childhood.

* Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire, a melodrama that gets by on the strength of its acting, but the script's contrivances aren't quite up to the hype. I actually really liked Alison Hallett's review at the Mercury. You should read it.

* The Road, John Hillcoat's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy.


Ooops...I've been forgetting about this section.

* The Friends of Eddie Coyle, a 1970s crime picture with Robert Mitchum.

* Gomorrah, the electrifying, complex portrait of Mafia society centered around an Italian slum.

* The Hit, Stephen Frears' chilly road picture with Terence Stamp as a criminal condemned.

* Mayerling - Essential Art House, Anatole Litvak's 1936 costume drama based on a real-life murder/suicide.


* The Barbara Stanwyck Show, vol. 1, an unearthed television show starring the great actress. A little disappointing, but worth a look.

* Funny People, the Judd Apatow drama was lost this summer, but proves an excellent DVD.

* Gilda Live!, Gilda Radner's live show from 1980.

* It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - A Very Sunny Christmas, a new special from the gang at Paddy's Pub.

* Lemon Tree, an effective Israeli drama about one woman's fight to protect her heritage.

* The Limits of Control, Jim Jarmusch's latest, a challenging and misunderstood journey through the artistic process.

* Margaret Cho: Beautiful, the latest stand-up concert from one of my favorite comedian's is too inside baseball even for me. I actually think Jason Bailey's review of this does a much better job of getting at what's wrong with it than mine.

* Toi & Moi, a romantic comedy starring Marion Cotillard that fails to generate any heat.

* However, there is plenty of sizzle in the kitchen on Top Chef: New York.

Current Soundtrack: The Muppet Show record album; Morrissey, Swords

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2009 Jamie S. Rich

Another nice review of You Have Killed Me this morning. Jim over at Comics And...Other Imaginary Tales really seemed to get the intention of the book, and I encourage you to read the whole piece.

His summation:

Overall Grade A – You Have Killed Me is a wonderful throwback to an era where the private eyes were dicks and the women were dames. A noir book at its heart, taking the familiar and making it new and fresh again.

Current Soundtrack: Rihanna, Rated R

Monday, November 23, 2009


It's sweeps week on the Internet. Borrowing from that notion that the pre-Thanksgiving viewing in November is important and TV networks roll out big shows and pull stunts to get ratings, I guess web comics are also obliterating all the stops.

Hence: a Jamie S. Rich visit to EmiTown! (And, yes, I've had my shots.)

Bet Emi beats all of those other webcomics this week! Though, if Between Gears were up to date, Tally could have totally used me and told everyone about drunken phone calls...Apparently if you tweet about her, it freaks her out! It'd be the best comics crossover ever, where girls of the comics universe team up to destroy me.

Current Soundtrack: Luke Haines, Achtung Mutha

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2009 Jamie S. Rich

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Brett Anderson has been fairly prolific since he disbanded Suede. He is currently on a self-imposed "album a year schedule." Freed from the commitment of a band and just being content to make music however it strikes his fancy, how and with whom being up to the moment, it appears he can come and go in the studio as he pleases and not contend with any democratic process. His initial reasoning for dumping Suede was that he had lost his passion for writing and was going to go out and "get his demon back." This was a rather Anderson-like announcement, the kind of "psycho for sex and glue" provocation that had made his band a tabloid darling and then quickly became the albatross by which those tabloids hung them.

Ironic, then, that this demon, as revealed on his third solo effort Slow Attack, is such a placid fellow. The songwriter has been quite forthcoming in identifying what is a fairly obvious trajectory in terms of creative development over the last three discs. The self-titled debut was his groundwork, a comfortable if underwhelming pop-rock starter kit; last year's Wilderness saw him struggling to shed the conventional and find something more classical. Pastoral. Yet, the final disc was tepid, never quite gelling. It almost seemed like a stopgap, what with two of its nine songs being retreads of material that was already out. (One of those, "Clowns," stands taller as a B-side from "Love Is Dead." In a rather Morrissey-like turn, the stuff Brett ditched from his first album was better than most of what was on the record proper.)

Whatever Anderson was fumbling for on Wilderness he has now gathered together on Slow Attack. Recorded with Leo Abrahams and a collection of classical performers--cello, bassoon, French horn, clarinet, oboe, and various flutes are listed in the credits--Slow Attack has a lush, classical atmosphere. Its sound is warm and natural, more like landscape than portraiture. Though the record is dedicated to Anderson's wife, I actually hear his father in this more than anything. The famous anecdotes of Mr. Anderson Sr. involve the old cab driver alternating his son's band on the tape deck with his beloved classical music. It also shows the influence of Abrahams, a musician I was unfamiliar with but whose resume speaks volumes--Brian Eno, Bryan Ferry, Marianne Faithfull alongside dance acts like Pleasure and Ministry of Sound and popstars like Annie Lennox and Ronan Keating, a mix of Anderson's heroes and popular, commercial music. Not to mention the snippets of Abrahams' own ambient discography that can be found on his site.

The confident ear that Abrahams brings into the production booth is obvious from the opening track, "Hymn." The song starts out with a prelude of sound that is clear and distinct, warmer and more direct than on any of Anderson's previous records, achieving a beautiful dissonance before giving away to the most quiet, considered piano. "Shining through the plate glass," the opening line as much a descriptive as a lyric. By the time Anderson sings the pseudo-chorus, ""The climbing sun, the fading dawn, like a hymn to love," music and voice are in perfect unison. The aural sunrise comes full glow. I can't put my finger on what this reminds me of, some soundtrack song or other, another invocation of daybreak. It's lovely.

Brett Anderson's voice has matured beyond the nasally whine that defined his early sound. It's become a vibrant, honeyed instrument. Listen to the "oh ohhhhs" on the first single, "The Hunted," and tell me those aren't the most gorgeous tones he's ever committed to tape. He has noted that his goal with Slow Attack was to create an album that could have been an instrumental record, where his lyrical approach was not as direct or as obvious. He has dropped all of his tell-tale language, the glammed-up and drugged-out phraseology that was starting to veer toward self-parody in the late Suede days, and that he even struggled to find a way around in the Tears project. Tellingly, the mixing on Slow Attack gives nearly equal weight to music and voice. The commercial technique normally pushes the singing all the way up in the mix, putting the frontman literally out in front. On a track like "Pretty Widows," Anderson is practically trading off with the piano, engaging in a back and forth where at times one rises and the other steps aside to let it happen, but as the song increases in volume and pace, the pieces fuse.

As narratives, the Slow Attack songs continue the themes that were emerging on Wilderness: love and nature. Like I mentioned, these songs are more landscapes than portraiture. Gone are the lists of crazies and beautiful ones, the city streets all but abandoned for solitary creatures more in tune with a world that existed before man. Anderson has dropped his cleverness and his obfuscation, looking to create open abstracts with more plain language (something he has been trying to do since that last Suede album, A New Morning). "The Swans" is merely a description of what Anderson sees at a lake, set to a loping arrangement that sounds like it could have been lifted from a timelapse sequence in Koyaanisqatsi. While the predator in "The Hunter" could be one of Anderson's characters from days gone by (on, say, the Suede B-side "Killer"), the presentation completely changes the point of view. Old Anderson would celebrate this dangerous woman with desire and scorn, making her into something lurid; the new Anderson celebrates with admiration, longing for the more permanent capture she offers. Love and mortality are no longer transient poses, Slow Attack embraces the forever. In a song like "Ashes of Us," things fall apart only so the pieces can come together again--the true life cycle is death and decomposition giving way to enriching what comes next. The details are both natural and artificial, the plight of modern man. "Falling like feathers, drifting like petals, pieces of paper, the ashes of us; break like bone china, faces in mirrors, piece us together, the ashes of us." This is likely intentional, for as much as this record has warm images of life, songs like "Frozen Roads" or the iTunes bonus "Forest Lullaby" evoke the changing cycles of the seasons and the day to day, of things falling and passing.

If there is any criticism to be leveled here, it's that Anderson is too successful at his goals. In seeking to be less obvious, he has also become less accessible. In pulling back on his persona and folding himself into the music, there is less that stands out and thus less to gravitate to. The appeal of his previous style of writing was its instant effect. Like the drugs he often referenced, the contact instantly made you high. On Slow Attack, Brett requires you to work your way into the songs. He has gotten so specific in his detail--look at the second verse of "Scarecrows and Lilacs," for instance--that listeners have to sift through it to find what makes sense again. The old Suede nonsense poetry was so bereft of meaning, it was universal, it could be anything. Here, it's just as easy to ignore what is being sung, let the voice be just another member of the orchestra. Again, what he wanted, too successful.

At the same time, Slow Attack is like a Resnais film, peopled with distant figures that are beautiful and alluring, and despite the chill, we want to understand what they are on about, where they are going, what they plan to do. "Julian's Eyes" is like following X in Last Year at Marienbad, getting the sensation directly from his mysterious brain.

Slow Attack is not a perfect album, and it may not be the masterpiece that Brett Anderson is working toward. Then again, it may. It could be one of those records that makes more sense over time, when you've listened to it so many times, you've absorbed every nook and cranny and have found all the hidden elements. It's got that lush orchestration that never stops being inviting, something akin to the Style Council's Confessions of a Pop Group
or Elvis Costello's North. I've only had about a week of listening to it, and look at how much I've got out of the disc already; imagine what I might find in a year or two.

Current Soundtrack: Slow Attack

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2009 Jamie S. Rich