When I was a freshman in high school, my social studies teacher, Mr. Stiegler, recounted a story to our class about lifelong sports fandom triumphantly rewarded. For years, including every pathetic campaign during the 1970’s, he placed a five-dollar bet on the 49ers to win the Super Bowl. It was a symbolic gesture: he rooted for the team, and naturally wanted to see them win the title, even if in his heart he knew the gesture really only amounted to flushing an Abe Lincoln down the toilet every August.
When Bill Walsh, Joe Montana, and Dwight Clark stunned the country in 1982, Mr. Stiegler was five hundred dollars richer.
The story was inspiring. My good friend and classmate Nelson Wong was likewise intrigued, so as soon as we turned twenty-one, one of us, sometimes both, would place five bucks on the San Francisco Giants to win the World Series. On occasion the bet was a bit more (we were both in possession of five-dollar heartbreaks in 2002, but Pudge Rodriguez’s ’03 fistpump in my face cost me twenty bucks and a shot at two hundred), and the bet location often had a lot to say about the odds. Most of my money was dropped in Tahoe, but the odds were generally better during Nelson’s formerly regular treks to Las Vegas. Continue reading The Sportsbook Dilemma→
Texting “redcross” to 90999 is certainly an easy way to donate ten bucks to the American Red Cross and its relief efforts overseas. As Stephen Colbert pointed out on his show last night, however, iPhone users need to prevent the overzealous autocorrect function from turning the well-intentioned “redcross” into the somewhat snide rejoinder, “reactors.” Colbert: “In which case I believe all the money goes directly to the radioactive leaks.”
The community-driven online t-shirt company, Threadless, in addition to being responsible for a good portion of my wardrobe, offers a chance to help the cause and promote awareness at the same time. Jason Yang’s design, “Rebuild Japan” is just twenty bucks and 100% of the net proceeds goes directly to the Red Cross.
Snag one for yourself and one for your significant other. The only time wearing matching anything isn’t tacky is when it’s all about solidarity.
It’s the signature Idle Time event, the annual tradition that started this whole beautiful mess: The List. After deliberations and discussions, roulettes and rancor, The Institute is happy to unveil our Favorite Forty for 2010.
This is a bit of a first for our collective. Since 2002, the year-end Best Of has always been shared primarily via print media, whether in jewel case booklets or the short-lived Idle Times zine. Now the rankings and rambling blurbage are presented online first, which means the requisite what-we-missed and what-were-you-thinking comments can fly unfiltered straight from your keyboard to our ears. Feel free to call us assholes if you’re still into that; but rest assured that our calloused hearts have long ago been rendered immune to insults. Besides, anything rude you have to say about our musical tastes (I’m looking at you, Dizza), has more than likely already been exchanged amongst the five of us.
On behalf of Will (WH), Isey (MI), Rex (RF), Donno (DH), and myself (MDG), thanks for humoring our obsessions all these years. Or thanks for checking us out for the first time. Let’s make some mixtapes.
Beginning January 2011, DC Comics will implement a line-wide pricing adjustment, lowering the prices of all standard length 32-page ongoing comic book titles currently priced at $3.99 to $2.99.
“This announcement reaffirms DC Comics’ commitment to both our core fans and to comic book store retailers,” said Jim Lee, DC Comics Co-Publisher. “For the long term health of the industry, we are willing to take a financial risk so that readers who love our medium do not abandon the art form.” Continue reading Bravo, DC→
Originally published in Justifications on December 10, 2007:
This past Saturday night I was huddled near an electric spaceheater in a makeshift room of a live/work loft in the Vulcan Studios community in Oakland, just off San Leandro. Charlie was clinging to a vanishing pang of nostalgia, something he remembered loving about being a boy… something about growing up and the way things were. Unable to properly recollect the memory, he resorted to a description of a typical day growing up with two brothers and a sister: wake up, fight, read comics, fight… “it was so great.”
He asked me if I read comics growing up. Sherice: “He still does.”
My love affair with comics is similarly rooted in those carefree days of youth. Both of my parents worked when I was growing up, so, during my elementary school years, my grandfather would often pick me up after school and take me to his house in Cow Hollow. At least once a week we would walk down to Chestnut Street – a place decades removed from today’s trendy nightspots and Apple stores – and wander into Jack’s, a magazine and tobacco store between Scott and Pierce. Nonno would set himself up in the back, elbows on the counter, and talk to whom I can only imagine was Jack himself, leaving me at the entryway of the store to peruse the comics racks. Continue reading Loving the Funnybooks→
Other websites and magazines have published their year-end best-of lists already, but faithful members of the Idle Time collective know that these are all just prelude to the real List.
Idle Time’s Favorite Forty has been rouletted and processed. Egos were bruised and epithets discharged. But in the end, we produced a list that we’re all pretty proud of. Before it’s officially published (although internet adventurers with more accomplished navigation abilities than any of us may be able to figure out how to see the list on our site in advance), we’d like all of you to weigh in.
These albums were all chosen by various other media outlets as the Best Album of 2010. There’s a good chance most of them also appear on our list. But which of these did you like best?
In his second installment of This Used To Be My Playground, Uncle Isey comments on the growing pains experienced by the segue period into each new decade. 2010, despite its efforts to kickstart a new era (what’ll we end up calling this? The teens? The tens?) will undoubtedly still bear many distinctive connections to the aughts. And when not locked in this identity crisis, wavering in our future reflections as the Year Without a Decade, it’ll likely be referenced in the history books for things like a Haitian disaster, Icelandic volcano, and a Mexican Gulf tarring.
Being ever the optimist, however, I have quickly pulled together a list of things for which 2010 will be remembered quite fondly, at least in my mind. My Top 5 2010 Highlights.
5. Epic Awesomeness at The Movies
There are certain years that bear rather immediate associations with some of my favorite films. 1977, 1994, and 1998, along with whatever else was going on at the time, will always make me think of Star Wars, Pulp Fiction, and Shakespeare in Love. This year we were treated to not one, but two future classics: Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Worldand Christopher Nolan’s Inception.
Comic books, video games, and rock n’ roll. The only thing that could have made Pilgrim more endearing to me personally would have been folding in baseball and staging it in Sweden. And as much as I enjoyed Bryan Lee O’Malley’s original comics, this film is truly a rare feat: a movie that might actually be better than the source material.
The Institute’s comics department may receive far less attention than its audio/visual brethren, but as department chair I will continue to extol the virtues of the medium to any and all mildly interested parties. When compared alongside music and film, comics does require the most human interaction, particularly in the sharing of discoveries. If Professor Flores was particularly excited about a movie, you might add it to your Netflix queue. If Dr. Howell was adding an LP to the fourth quarter syllabus, you might download it wirelessly to your iPhone. But if I want you to read the new Chris Ware book, you’re going to have to set foot in a bookstore, or, god forbid, a comics store. The twenty-first century has not devised an effective means of disseminating or reading comics digitally. Not to say it won’t happen… but chances are, for the foreseeable future, your best bet is to borrow my copy. And maybe we’ll get coffee too.
It seems rather fitting that the finest graphic offerings of 2010 are all achievements in comics storytelling and craft. It’s hard to argue that comics can accomplish things that other media cannot, especially when comics-in-adaptation are all the rage these days. Scott Pilgrim was one of the best movies of the year; The Walking Dead is a new AMC hit; and Disney’s new Marvel properties are toy shelf gold. These five books, however, need to be appreciated in the form the artists intended.
Call it hubris; to me it’s reorganization. After posting to no fewer than six different blogsites since 2004, I’m settling in here. Isey seems to be doing the same. In the interests of maintaining a proper archival home for our ramblings, here’s a post that appeared in the original Justifications for Idleness in May of 2008. Appropriately, I’m trying to find a home.
I’m lost. I know it’s an increasingly popular sentiment in modern culture to feel at once distant and connected; the dichotomy of shrinking-planet interconnectivity and impersonal digital relationships has fractionated many an able psyche, mine included. Black Francis has been looking for twenty years now. What chance do I have?
If I was to do this sort of thing, I might award this novel by Belgian author Jean-Philippe Toussaint my Book of the Year. In so doing, I’d explain, on behalf of the Institute’s Accolades Committee, how a book originally published in France in 2004 and released in its English translation in 2009, could somehow be eligible to receive so important a distinction in 2010 which, incidentally, if I was to do this other sort of thing, would be on a very short list of nominees for the greatest year there ever was. At least in my lifetime. Two thousand ten.
Running Awayis a frenetic ride from Paris to Shanghai to Beijing to, finally, the island of Elba. The motivations and developments governing each step of the journey are often as cloudy and mysterious as the nameless narrator himself, driven from one page to the next by pure emotion and “dream-like pleasure, distant and hazy” (p. 54). The entire novel zips by in that same haze, the kind of jet-lagged confusion that makes a traveler look back on the last twenty-fours of transit — connections, disconnections, meetings, and meals — as if it happened to someone else, or to a younger you a lifetime ago. The narrator becomes that someone else, and even if we’ve never had similar experiences in our past from which to draw vague recollections (I’ve never been to China, so apart from the cities in Elba bearing sharp similarities to small towns along the Italian coast, I’m in uncharted territory), the emotions are all recognizable. We’ve all felt confusion mingled with fear, sadness drawn from loss, and, most significantly, passion sparked by spontaneity.