Wednesday, 09 March 2011

The unintended consequences of partying with tea SEK is at the Norco DMV in the "appointment only" line after having stood at an unmanned counter with the word "appointment" over it for much longer than he'd like to admit. He blames the mislabeling, but that's beside the point, which is that a woman who looked an awful lot like this, only older, cut to the front of his line. ANGRY WHITE PATRIOT LADY: I DON'T HAVE AN APPOINTMENT! DMV EMPLOYEE: Then I'll have to ask you to step to the back of the line. ANGRY WHITE PATRIOT LADY heads toward the end of the "appointments only" line. DMV EMPLOYEE: Ma'am? The other line. DMV EMPLOYEE points out the window to the line that's snaking from her counter and around pretty much the entire building. ANGRY WHITE PATRIOT LADY: YOU WANT ME TO WAIT THERE! DMV EMPLOYEE: That's the line for people who don't have appointments. ANGRY WHITE PATRIOT LADY: THEN I HAVE AN APPOINTMENT! DMV EMPLOYEE: (issues a blank, well-practiced stare) ANGRY WHITE PATRIOT LADY: I'M A PROUD WHITE AMERICAN! YOU CAN'T MAKE ME WAIT IN LINE WITH THEM! EVERYONE ELSE IN THE ROOM, THE MAJORITY OF WHOM AREN'T WHITE AND CAN'T BELIEVE SHE JUST SAID THAT: !?! To placate ANGRY WHITE PATRIOT LADY, DMV EMPLOYEE gives her a ticket and tells her to sit down. ANGRY WHITE PATRIOT LADY sits down visibly satisfied in her exercise of X-treme privilege. SEK, whose ticket reads "B 047," is called to Window 12 after about another an hour. SEK: (to DIFFERENT DMV EMPLOYEE) Why'd you give that lady a ticket? DIFFERENT DMV EMPLOYEE: Oh, we gave her a ticket. She's T 099. When they pull that, they all are.
Enid and Rebecca aren't winning Ghost World Given that I already related my attempt to make the final day of my "Slow Horror" course memorable, it only makes sense to do the same for the "Confessional Narratives." The final works we studied were the print and film versions of Daniel Clowes' Ghost World, both of which I hate with a pre-critical vicerality that—to pat myself on the back for being responsible—doesn't prevent me from acknowledging their importance and teaching them anyway. That said, I find the book far more unlikeable than the film. Consider the scene in which Enid and Rebecca first meet the waiter they dub "Weird Al" in the novel: It's not that they mock the decor of a restaurant they patronized solely to patronize, but the manner in which they treat Allen. Enid responds to his "Hi! My name is Allen" with "Hi, Al!" If he had wanted to be called "Al," presumably he would have introduced himself as such. Enid renames him on the spot, and without getting all pop-philosophical about the significance of the act of naming something, her behavior here is indicative of her general belief that she's superior to people who look and are employed like him. But Rebecca's response is even more indecorous: the insult that had been implicit in Enid's renaming is explicit in Rebecca's question, "Can we call you 'Weird Al'?" That she asks whether "we" can call him "Weird Al" is significant, because throughout the book she's only emboldened to behave in this manner when Enid initiates such encounters. In short, then, Enid's culpable both for her own statement and for Rebecca's, because Enid's responsible for the dynamic that makes Rebecca feel perpetually, if not always consciously, egged-on. At this point in the analysis, it's possible for readers to attribute the pair reveling in their unearned sense of superiority to an authorial critique, i.e. that Clowes is representing their reprehensible behavior, not endorsing it. But as I noted in my earlier post, Clowes' own—albeit earned—sense of superiority infects most of his work, in this case in the fifth panel above. Despite my formalist tendencies, I don't normally place too much stock into matters like the placement of speech bubbles, but between teaching this and Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, I'm compelled to ditch my insistence that where the text is placed on a page matters less than whether readers can quickly ascertain the manner in which it was intended to flow. So, for example, in the second panel above Enid's conversation-stopping "Whatever" is separated from the mock-Fifties banter not only for the pragmatic reason that it wouldn't fit, but because it's meant to indicate a distinct break in the established conversational rhythm. Clowes could've drawn the panel in a manner that placed it immediately beneath Rebecca's question, but that would suggested that Enid responded immediately; instead, placing it beneath the table suggests that she paused a beat before humiliating Rebecca for playing the language game Enid herself had initiated. Apply the same logic of placement to the...

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