Tag Archives: Peanuts

I Need a Copyedit, Charlie Brown!

 

 

Yes, this is real. Normally I wouldn’t bother posting something like this, but it’s sad to see everyone’s favorite beagle can write a la Edward Bulwer-Lytton but struggles with the greengrocers’ apostrophe. It happens to the best of us, little guy!

As of press time, no statement on the issue had been released from Snoopy’s spokesbird.

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Comics

Over the past several months I’ve noticed that comics and graphic novels are becoming a significant part of my reading list. Part of me wants to argue that it’s not really reading at all, since it’s fun and I can get through a whole book in just a few hours. However that part of me usually gets stuffed into a dark closet by the other part, which is having a lot of fun discovering all this great work that only takes a few hours to read.

One of my favorite recent reads has been Hark! A Vagrant, a compilation of the best web comics by Kate Beaton. One of my favorite comics looks at the Brontë sisters. Brainy, witty, and starring many historical figures, I feel like if I was a comic, it would be this one. Dani, one of my MPub classmates, turned me on to the series. And then she went on to intern for Drawn and Quarterly, the book’s publisher!

Since 2004 I’ve been reading The Complete Peanuts, an ambitious series released by Fantagraphics in Seattle. They’re publishing two volumes a year (in May and November), each of which contains two years worth of Peanuts strips by Charles Schulz. I fell behind in reading the series for a couple of years while I had a stressful job and no downtime, but just a couple days ago I finished the most recent release, 1983-1984. One of the things I enjoy about reading the series is to see how the strip evolved over time—how characters were drawn differently in the early years, reading the first appearance of things closely associated with the strip (football, anyone?), and encountering really obscure characters like the kid named  555 95472 (“5” for short) or tennis rivals Molly Volley and Crybaby Boobie. Now and again the books also give just a glimmer of the immense amount of historical research that has gone into producing the series, and of course that fans the flames of my heart almost as much as Snoopy does.

Another delightful read recommended to me by my friend Dana was Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle. This is another Drawn and Quarterly title, of course, it is exponentially easier for Canadians to get into North Korea than any American. In the book, Delisle offers up a travelogue that communicates his alienation while in North Korea, while he was almost never alone. He mediates on North Korean culture, pointing out amazing things—some that strike awe in the reader, some that leave us to chuckle. Reading this book showed me what I’d like to do with the Canada zine I’ve been quietly percolating about the last year—but given how poorly I draw, I suspect there will be no wildly popular Bookish Comics in my future. (Although I suppose if I could draw one thing and just recycle it, I’d be in business, like Dinosaur Comics.)

Here are a couple more random comics I’ve enjoyed quite a bit as of late. Today’s Sheldon Comics features an infographic about why novels are the size they are. An older comic that I’ve seen circulating around the internet quite a bit this week about lesser-known editing and proofreading marks was drawn by someone I know. And of course I love Roz Chast, who had a piece in The New Yorker this week about life before the internet.

Given all these great discoveries, I’ve also put Persepolis on hold at the library, and hope to do the same with The Zen of Steve Jobs, which I noticed earlier this week when inside a comic book shop.

It seems that many of my discoveries have been through recommendations by other people. So, reader, tell me: which comic do you think is worth a read?

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Dog Sees God: GO SEE IT.

College made me pretty cynical about theater.

It was all about heady dissection of the theatrical elements. What worked? What didn’t work? What did you think of the director’s interpretation of X, Y, and Z? Were the actors effective in creating an effective show arc? And so on. Whenever we theater students would see a professional production (okay, most often just with Portland Center Stage, and mostly with Liz Huddle-directed shows), we would always analyze it as coming up way short by our beautiful, perfect, theoretical, academic standards. Ah, to be young and cocky!

Something that was rarely discussed between us theater majors was how it made an audience feel. If Peter Brook defines theater (The Empty Space) as anything with a performer and an audience, isn’t the audience’s role just as key as the performance? But in college, a thought-provoking piece was considered way cooler than an emotional one. 

Which is just one part of the reason college put the hard wax seal on the bottle I had stuffed all the feelings into.

Since graduating from college, I’ve been slowly recovering from all the damage. And the wax seal has shown increasing signs of near-failure the last few months.

A month ago I went to see Grey Gardens at Portland Center Stage. Essentially a story about the complexities of mother-daughter relationships, the last moment in the show features a Brechtian moment when the daughter decides to stay living with her mother despite her personal best interests. I related heavily, and a few days ago when telling someone about that moment in the show, tears came to my eyes (crap!), although I was mostly still able to hold it together.

DSG.Final.Draft_Small

Then tonight, I went to see a piece directed by my friend Brian Allard, called Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead. The show assumes common knowledge of the “Peanuts” canon as a springboard to a more modern, realistic plot.

At first I was really pissed off. How dare this production make me get all verklempt in the very first scene, as the death of Snoopy–er, I mean “anonymous dog of main character named C.B.”–by rabies is described in graphic detail. How dare they kill the dog! In the first scene! How dare they kill Snoopy!

After this initial scene, we start meeting the rest of the characters in their teenaged state, as C.B. questions them about death. Pig Pen (now Matt) is now a rather scary dude with OCD, Schroeder (now Beethoven) is a loner whose father was very publicly arrested for sexually molesting him and who now carries stigma among his peers, and Tricia and Marcie are catty cheerleaders who talk about how Frieda is just enormously fat. I consider myself a significant fan of “Peanuts,” and have even been faithfully re-reading The Complete Peanuts as it has been released over the past several years. So while most audience members laughed at these modern interpretations of pop culture icons, I was just shocked: How dare they defile Peanuts this way!

Then, two characters consistently had scenes taking place within hitting distance of me, and I was really tempted as they made fun of “fat” Frieda. They were not only the least empathetic characters I’ve seen in a show in recent memory, but who evoked primal feelings of hatred I haven’t experienced since 1996 when I graduated high school. How dare they not have any redeeming qualities!

It was around that time the plot around the school’s homophobia started congealing. And if you know me, I have some pretty seriously strong feelings about homophobia. Mostly based on (you guessed it!) how I saw many of my suburban high school classmates dealing with it–the football players in physics class calling each other “queers” and goofily laughing and punching each other, as my closest friends silently struggled to accept themselves in the writing class next door. How dare they go all Brokeback on me and start tugging on one of my most sensitive heartstrings!

THEN! The play that had started as a bit of a gimmick started saying some pretty big things about high school, and life, and becoming seriously elegant. C.B., ever the “everyman,” starts wrapping up the show with the close of his letter to his pen pal. But this time, the pen pal writes back, offering reflection and caring to C.B. on his situation. In the final moments I was struggling hard to keep from crying, while listening to sniffles all around me. When the lights came up, I slunk out to the safety of the street, where I took a deep breath of fresh air and retreated in safety to start processing all I had just seen.

Stupid emotional truth in theater! Stupid awesome director! Stupid perfect casting and really-well-acted show by young actors!

Those frakkers! They almost made me cry!

The point is, unless your heart is two sizes too small like The Grinch, you will be moved by this show. So go see it, will you?
 

Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead

July 10-August 1
Thurs-Sun at 7:30pm, Sun at 2pm
Show Blog 
Buy Tickets Here

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