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What I’m reading – Jack the Ripper: The Facts, various magazines

I try to do this weekly, but it’s not always possible. But I’m back this week with more reading selections!

Yes, we’ll get to Ms. Wilde in a second. Mainly I’m wending my way through Paul Begg’s tome about everyone’s favorite prostitute-killing, kidney-harvesting, Alan Moore-inspiring serial killer, which is … exhaustive, to say the least. It’s a new version of the 1988 book, Jack the Ripper: The Uncensored Facts (apparently the “uncensored” goes without saying these days), which I’m fairly certain was one of the many, many sources Mr. Moore used in his masterpiece about the Ripper, From Hell (really, you ought to read it if you haven’t yet). It’s not the best-written book (waaaaay too many unnecessary endnotes, for example, which is annoying because you have to keep flipping back and forth), but it is riveting, mainly because Begg really knows the subject matter, so he goes over what seems to be every bit of minutiae about the crimes. He has a wry sense of humor, too, which doesn’t come out too often, but when it does, it’s appreciated. (One lengthy endnote ends with this paragraph: “All of which doesn’t detract from the fact that a man ran through the Tower Subway wearing false whiskers. Why? One cannot sometimes escape the feeling that Victorian society was distinctly odd and that at least these days television keeps such people indoors.”) I have just reached the chapter in which Elizabeth Stride dies, and there’s a lot to get to. One horrific aspect of the book is the photographs of the victims Begg includes. It’s difficult to imagine seeing someone butchered like that in person, and I’m glad I haven’t seen it in my life.

I’ve also been trying to get through a bit of a backlog of magazines. I have three months of History Today to read, I just buzzed through the latest issue of mental_floss and two issues of Sports Illustrated (I used to subscribe years ago to SI, then dropped it, but when the Phillies won the World Series and they offered that Championship package that they have whenever a team wins a title, I had to subscribe again, didn’t I?), but I still have the latest issue of Spin to read (which I only bought because they have an “oral history” of the making of Purple Rain; in fact, it’s the only part of the magazine I haven’t read yet), and of course there’s the July issue of Maxim. The only time I ever buy “men’s magazines” is when I get on a plane by myself, and then I curse myself for buying them because they’re so very, very stupid. This year I bought Maxim when I was flying back to Pennsylvania last week, and I still haven’t read the confounded thing. I’m not even sure if I will. I just find it curious that Olivia Wilde appears topless in the magazine, because you can clearly see the areloae through her rather short hair that covers her breasts. You don’t actually see the nipple, but I just wonder what constitutes “nudity” anymore. I personally don’t care, but it seems we’re getting close to the point where toplessness isn’t even that big a deal, and bottomlessness becomes the final frontier, at least in magazines that don’t come wrapped in a plastic bag and hidden behind the counter. Also: Olivia Wilde kicked ass in Turistas.*

What’s on your bedside table these days?

* I’m totally joking. God, that movie sucked.

(Oh, and I rarely plug my own blog, but when I was back in PA, my mom had dragged out a bunch of old photo albums, and I brought some old pictures of me back to AZ to post. Here’s the link if you’re interested, and there really is a special celebrity cameo in the post, I swear!)

11 Comments

Do not read the Maxim, because if doing so lends your support to Wilde’s House character Thirteen, then that’s letting the terrorists win.*

( * ” Terrorists ” in this case being ” writers who hijacked the show further away from good characters in favor of a ” slutty bisexual ” drama bomb. )

FunkyGreenJerusalem

July 6, 2009 at 6:42 pm

I read all of the Sinestro Corps trades this week, More BOP!, Wagner’s Zorro collection (that kicked way more arse than I expected), and Shortcomings.
Shortcomings was probably the best, although I enjoyed them all.

You don’t actually see the nipple, but I just wonder what constitutes “nudity” anymore.

I don’t understand when it was decided that the nipple was the naughty part of the breast, and any part that was flash toned could be shone, as long as that tiny little bit was covered.
Seems really odd to me.

I’m working my way through the complete plays of Sarah Kane. So far I’ve only read Blasted, which is also the only Kane play I’ve actually seen performed, so it’ll be interesting to see where she goes from there. I’ve heard that the plays only get more shocking and experimental after this one, which is a little hard for me to imagine right now. (For reference Blasted is a play that features numerous onstage rapes and a scene of cannibalism.)

Still, it’s raw, powerful stuff so far. I’m gonna try to get started on Phaedra’s Love tomorrow.

” I’m working my way through the complete plays of Sarah Kane. So far I’ve only read Blasted, which is also the only Kane play I’ve actually seen performed, so it’ll be interesting to see where she goes from there. I’ve heard that the plays only get more shocking and experimental after this one, which is a little hard for me to imagine right now. (For reference Blasted is a play that features numerous onstage rapes and a scene of cannibalism.) ”

I had to read that for a Shakespeare seminar last semester ( as it informed the reading of King Lear ), without seeing a performance. I’m not sure if seeing stage actors eating dead babies instead of just reading the play text would be easier to handle, but reading it straight was too much for me; brutality heaped upon brutality.

Final Crisis, The Soddyssey (Wolff and Byrd), LOEG Century: 1910, and What We Leave Behind by Derrick Jensen.

Tom Fitzpatrick

July 7, 2009 at 5:32 am

Well, I’m definitely going to pick up MAXIM ‘cuz the opportunity to see Thirteen (everyone’s favorite bi-doctor) is just too tempting to pass up.

;-)

Tore through a stack of singles — including but not limited to Batman and Robin, Detective Comics, Dark Reign: Young Avengers, Dark Reign: Zodiac, Runaways, Olympus, and Viking — this morning, and I’ve been working my way through the various StormWatch trades that collect Ellis’ run. I’m currently about three quarters into volume 3, Change or Die.

Nitz, Blasted was definitely harder to watch onstage than it was to read, at least for me. On the page, the two successive rapes of Ian by the soldier are two lines of direction. When it’s actually performed, it lasts about 5 minutes with the actors grunting, groaning and crying the entire time. I personally think it’s a phenomenal play, but that doesn’t make it any easier to take.

I’d put it on the same level as Funny Games or Irreversible in terms of it being not even remotely enjoyable to watch, but absolutely blowing my mind at the same time. After finishing Phaedra’s Love, I’d love to see what Gaspar Noe could do with a cinematic adaptation of one of Kane’s plays, as her work is already so visual to start with.

I haven’t been reading a thing in the last week, but it’s time to re-examine Seaguy 2. And also start reading this textbook. Sigh.

GENGHIS KHAN AND THE MAKING OF THE MODERN WORLD by Jack Weatherford

Maybe it got published after the success of the many HOW THE ____ DID SOMETHING FOR CIVILIZATION books (the Irish,etc.), but so far very worthwhile. I must do more reading about the ancient “Secret History of the Mongols” manuscript it discusses, which sounds like something out of Dan Brown but is quite real.

THE COMIC-STRIPPED AMERICAN: What Dick Tracy, Blondie, Daddy Warbucks,
and Charlie Brown Tell Us About Ourselves
by Arthur Asa Berger

Well, it’s from 1973, so many of its insights are colored by the era (it’s really a Sixties kind of book, ending with underground comix).

FunkyGreenJerusalem

July 7, 2009 at 7:10 pm

this morning, and I’ve been working my way through the various StormWatch trades that collect Ellis’ run. I’m currently about three quarters into volume 3, Change or Die.

I love those first three.

Probably more than I did The Authority.

Easily his best ever superhero work – it’s a creator finally being given free reign and learning what works as he goes.

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