Utilitarian LIVE at C2E2

I’m going to be part of a panel on Old Media, New Media, Comics Media at C2E2 in Chicago, April 16, 7: 45:00 PM – 8:45:00 PM. Heidi McDonald is moderating, and other panelists are Brigid Alverson, Johanna Draper Carlson, Ron Richards and Lucas Siegel. It’s in Room E352.

This will not only be my first time on a con panel, it will be my first time at any sort of con ever, to the best of my recollection. So do come by if you’re not watching the simultaneous Dr. Who screening — or if you’re not seeing my cousin Ben Winters, author of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters who is also, and improbably, on a different panel in the same con at the same time.


I didn’t like the Tintin adventure The Castafiore Emerald very much.

VM was confused by Song of the Hanging Sky vol. 2.

Richard wondered if comics can be scary.

Caro criticized Chris Ware for his poor handling of criticism, leading to a massive comments thread (some of it critical.)

And finally I killed off Music for Middle-Brow Snobs.

Utilitarians Everywhere

Kind of a ridiculous number of publications this week.

On Splice Today I have a long discussion of Terry Eagleton’s new book On Evil

Eagleton’s objection to the use of “evil” to describe Islamic fundamentalists or Mao or bank robbers seems, in the end, more pragmatic than theological. The word evil, he says “is generally a way of bringing argument to an end, like a fist to the solar plexus.” Eagleton, for reasons which aren’t entirely clear, (his Catholic upbringing? His own common sense?) doesn’t want to chuck the word entirely, but he does want to bracket it off. Evil does have “an intimate relation with everyday life,” he argues, but when it comes to defining what that relation is, he more or less punts, offering a laundry list in place of an actual mechanism. Envy, he says, is kind of like evil, schadenfreude is kind of like evil, Freud’s death drive is kind of like evil, and, hey, by the way, Adolf Eichmann looked like a bank clerk. Evil … it has something to do with us. But not much. Can we talk about something else please?

On Comixology I had an extremely snide review of Grant Morrison’s Batman and Robin.

What Morrison understands, through a Jungian intuitiveness born of years of intensively soldering corporate slogans onto the sacred flesh of his unnameables, is that crazy throw-off moments from the past gain weight and profundity by being repeatedly embalmed and disinterred. Every time Bob Haney hawked up a loogie, Grant Morrison was there, mouth open like a baby bird, ready to ingest, digest, and re-emit it for the sole purpose of waddling his sublimely stained Bat underoos over to the nearest university English Department for professional sterilization and veneration.

At the Chicago Reader I review Diane Ravitch’s new book about school reform.

Everyone knows that teachers have class—but which class that is, exactly, isn’t clear. As educated people working with brains, pens, and paper clips, they look white collar. Those indicators are superficial, though. In most ways that matter, teachers are working class. Charged with controlling a potentially dangerous population, they toil through a regimented workday at the butt end of a faceless bureaucracy. A teacher is a prison guard disguised as a college professor—a combination that gives nearly everyone some reason to despise them.

Again on Splice Today I talk about the confused class politics of the TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory.

The Big Bang Theory isn’t alone in pretending that brainworkers are evolutionarily disadvantaged beta-males. Everyone knows that Bill Gates is (a) happily married, and (b) the most powerful person on the planet, but no one seems to want to generalize from there even a little bit. The fact is, though, that scary-smart geeks are not just smarter than folks like Penny—they’re also in a higher social class.

I have an interview with mashup artist DJLobsterdust over at Madeloud.

Do the mashups have to be songs that are popular, or do you try to put together things that are less well known?

In the beginning I really didn’t care and I’d just use songs that I like. But since I find myself playing in front of crowds…I do mashups for myself, songs that I like, and at the same time every couple of weeks I put something out there that everybody knows just so people don’t forget about me. At the same time — I do this because I like pop music. So I have no problem mixing anything with anything.

I have a short review of the Numero Groups Good God: Born Again Funk compilation over at Metropulse.

And I have a review of the horror/fantasy manga Dorohedoro over at tcj.com.

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