I briefly discussed Cex recently after revisiting his ep “Maryland Mansions”, and I thought I should have another listen to “Being Ridden”, the album which made me a sort-of fan of Cex in the first place. When this album came out I was just starting to get comfortable with the fact that real hip-hop was no longer the sole domain of, well, black people, especially since most popular rap music had little artistic merit or anything particularly meaningful to say. If it’s about guns, drugs, partying, driving, drinking, sex or nothing at all, I probably don’t give a crap. It dawned on me that since I grew up and adored what’s now coined as “consciousness hip-hop” that so too did thousands if not millions of other kids of all religions, races and social classes, so it’s only natural that a diversity of people would start cropping up wanting to perform in this style. I’m not a studier of the EmCee and I don’t profess to know who’s a good one, who’s a bad one and why, I just know what I like, and Cex, frankly, has something to say, he’s got flow, and, something key to any good EmCee, a sense of humour. He may not be the most inventive or fastest or fluid rapper, but mixed with his electronica smarts, a sense of adventurousness with sound and styles, he created an album with Being Ridden that is at times exciting, catchy, innovative, and relatable. He deals with subjects both light and dark, painful and playful, and 5 years later, it still sounds pretty fresh, mixing DJ-less electronic beats and sounds with traditional instrumentation that few artists ever manage to negotiate fully. It’s not a brilliant album, but it’s solid and engaging. A keeper.
Or, “how I suck at the delicate art of negotiation”
Someone came by to look at the dishwasher. He called me (from his cel phone) and said that he’d have to come all the way from scarborough to pick it up and something about “how much was it listed for? $100?” and moved onto asking directions before I could even say $150. He showed up with his wife and three kids in a mini-van and they filed into the house to have a look. When they did, I noticed the Jet Dry nozzle wasn’t staying put properly and realized that it was broken. So much for $150. I had already said $120 if he helped me up the stairs (but then he reiterated that the ad was for $100, when I corrected him at $150, he looked solemn, stating his budget was $80 and that was it). Well, my negotiating skills suck, a part on the dishwasher broke right before my eyes, and I just wanted it out of my basement. So I took the $80, got the thing up the stairs, out of the house and into the van.
Another biter on the Hotpoint washer/dryer who wants to hook them up and give them a go. Maybe today, probably tomorrow. I’m tossing those out the door for $80 a piece, so we’ll see what happens. Hopefully they’ll get gone and by the end of things I’ll have over $200 towards the new BBQ. Getting rid of the Spacemaker is going to be a challenge it would seem. Of the $510 I was hoping to collect, I’ll be lucky to wind up with $400. Thankfully the BBQ I’m eyeing is only about $369.
+Ceres’ “Medley of Fruits” juice
= not bad at all
I’m a sucker, a total sucker. I paid almost $25 for this book when I could venture over to the strip’s website and read all the material for free.
But, you know what, I already did. Well, not all of it, but a lot of it, more than enough to know that Nicholas Gurewitch’s Perry Bible Fellowship is not only hysterically funny, but often ingenious and frequently brilliant. I knew after venturing through only dozen of his strips, one day, months ago, that I needed the Perry Bible Fellowship on my bookshelf. For some reason, nothing legitimizes a comic strip, whether newspaper or on-line (and the PBF was both) like a proper collected edition, something you can hold in your hands, something you can stare at and appreciate for a long time without a screen saver popping up or bring to bed with you without the batteries dying.
If you’ve never read The Perry Bible Fellowship, well, there’s no time like the present to correct that mistake (just head over to the website and peruse). Of course, humour is very subjective, and a matter of personal taste, so it’s not like PBF will be for everyone. It’s certainly not all-ages friendly (sexuality and violence are frequent topics/punchlines), and so many of Gurewitch’s jokes require a moment of processing (on more than one occasion I found myself staring at the page, like those old maddening “magic eye” pictures, waiting for the joke to reveal itself), but each and every gag is rewarding, most in fact becoming more entertaining upon repeat visits, like any truly great pop-culture contribution.
Gurewitch mastered a number of different comedy techniques through his strips, ranging from the pull-back (starting in on a tight shot, and continuously pulling back to reveal more of the scene), the time jump (from panel three to panel four, a length of time passes) and the pop-culture reference (playing with inspirations like the Far Side, Muppets, Transformers or even Super Mario Bros.). Gurewitch is also a brilliant artist, varying his style with every cartoon, from simplistic, detail-free figure in a nominal setting, to incredibly ornate cartooning, to photo-realism, to comic book or pulp magazine textures. Though there’s a lack of uniformity to the visual flavour of PBF, the tone of its humour unifies the strips.
Beneath a textured cover, the hardcover “Almanack” collects the entirety of Gurewitch’s PBF strips, one-per-page, extra-sized, and in glorious colour reproduction. It also features incomplete strips, sketches and alternate takes, as well as highlighting with commentary some of the strips as they appeared differently between the web and newspaper. There’s also a fantastic interview with Gurewitch by David Malki discussing in depth Gurewitch’s style, inspiration and growth. These “added features” are great, but the beautiful presentation and the quality of the strips alone makes the collection worth owning… even in spite of it’s free availability elsewhere. Hell, at about $25 it still feels like a deal.