An Interview with Dan Wilbur

Some of you may or may not remember Dan Wilbur from my past post about Better Book Titles. Aside from his literature parody blog, his writing can also be found on Collegehumor.com, McSweeney’s, and The Onion News Network. If you like his blog and other articles, chances are you will like his first humor book, “How Not to Read”. In this interview at the 2013 Ohioana Book Festival with Douglas Dangler he talks about his book and how his blog helped him produce the book.

Shakespeare and Batman pt 1

“Read any Shakespeare lately? No Didn’t think so.
I guess you’re going to see a lot of blood in that cave over the years…
you look like a Titus to me.”-Damian Wayne

https://i1.wp.com/media.dcentertainment.com/sites/default/files/gn-covers/2012/04/978-1-4012-3487-4.jpg?resize=301%2C441Many things have been exciting readers since DC Comic’s New 52 launch. I’m particularly interested in what the “Batman and Robin” series has to offer readers under the guidance of writer Peter J. Tomasi. In case anyone who was interested in reading the Volume 1: Born to Kill, but has yet to do so, take heed of my warning. I will be revealing certain details regarding the story that may or may not spoil your enjoyment.

Of the several allusions made throughout the graphic novel, my favorite one is the one of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus. What makes the allusion to Shakespeare significant in the story is its thematic parallelism to Tomasi’s “Batman and Robin” story. For those of you who are not familiar with what’s current in the Batman universe, some important facts to keep in mind is that Batman has a son, Damian Wayne, who fights along side him as the current Robin (the 4th generation of Robin).

A Modern Translation

This Summer I’m taking a class called The Comic Spirit. Aside from learning about comedy, what makes the class enjoyable is that the professor makes the course very engaging. It helps that the class size is small, but I’m sure even during a regular semester the class would still be as engaging. We take the time to find and share a few clips online pertaining to the material we’ve covered thus far and mull over how the comedy works. Being a comparative world literature course, we are also required to read selected pieces of literature, including some of the classics. This is where I run into an impediment of sorts.

Poem Paintings

Frank O’Hara’s work at the Museum of Modern Art, as well as his poetry and art criticism, made him central to the New York School. What he called his “I do this I do that” poems often featured glimpses of his adored New York City or anecdotes about friends, most of whom were themselves poets or painters. His verse recounted conversational tones and flickered with casualness and spontaneity.

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Back Table at the Five Spot: Frank O’Hara, Larry Rivers, and Grace Hartigan

O’Hara’s association with the painters Larry Rivers, Grace Hartigan, Jackson Pollock, and Jasper Johns, also leaders of the New York School, became a source of inspiration for his highly original poetry. He attempted to produce with words the effects these artists had created on canvas. In certain instances, he collaborated with the painters to make “poem-paintings,” paintings with word texts.

The Cartoon History of the United States

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I would like to pose a question regarding the legitimacy of alternative educational practices: does content retain its value or does it lose legitimacy depending on its medium? For example, if one were to learn about United States History from reading a text book, watching television, using the web, or reading a graphic novel, would that knowledge lose its legitimacy depending on the student’s choice? Maybe, maybe not. People learn differently than each other so as long as the facts are correct it shouldn’t matter, right? I don’t think it does and I don’t think it matters to Larry Gonick either.

The Art of Letter Writing, Part 1

I don’t have the privilege to be able to say “I remember the days when  everyone used to send each other letters to communicate.” I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Technically, if I wanted to, I can still write a letter and mail it to a family member or a friend. Unlike email (even those are starting to dwindle amongst the younger generations) or social networks, a response would not be as fast. Yet, I would like to do that, either by handwriting a letter or typing one, to send letters and be involved with the experience of sharing ideas with friends and receiving their deepest thoughts and feelings in return and to share the art of writing.

Keith Sharon, a writer for the OC Register and supporter of revitalizing the art of letter writing, wrote about his recent experiences of letter writing in the article “Lettering in futility: the art of being ignored.”

Jeffrey McDaniel at the Soroptimist House

Jeffrey McDaniel at the Soroptimist House

Jeffrey McDanielBack in March, I saw Jeffrey McDaniel read a few of his poems at the Cal State Long Beach Soroptimist House. He’s not a performance poet, which is to say he is not theatrical, but one does not need to be over the top in order to read good poems.

He controlled his breath and took the time to let his words resonate throughout the hall. His poems had a narrative quality and used images to blend the personal with deep thought and humor. A line that comes to mind from the night is: “complaining is like sex for old people,” but there was so much more, not of old people, but of defining abstractions using concrete images, of “love…a dog from hell.”

Rafael Zepeda at Gatsby Books

In the the last few days of February, Rafael Zepeda read at Gatsby Books in Long Beach. The bookstore reserved the night for an open-mic poetry night in which he was the featured poet. Before he read, others in attendance were invited to come up on stage and read their own poetry. Rows of white light bulbs webbed the edges of the bookstore and dangled on the stage behind the poets.

I don’t remember much from that night, at least not from the others who read. I didn’t arrive at the bookstore early enough to get a seat, so instead I stood in the back.  It was very difficult for me to pay attention when someone read their poetry. Not because I had to stand, Gatsby Books is small enough that I was still able to get a good view from where I stood, but because quite a few people near me and even others further in the back were having conversations. Also, since the bookstore was still “open” for business an occasional customer would happen to come in and add to the already annoying commotion at the cash register. Despite all that, when the time came for Rafael to read, everyone respectfully listened in silence.

Kill Shakespeare

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The other day, during that precious time between school and work, I decided to spend a few minutes in one of the local comic book stores on my way to work. I didn’t plan on buying anything, just browse through a couple of boxes of back issues and check out the new issues that had been released earlier that week. Nothing in particular sparked any interest, that is until I drifted into the abyss of the indie section and found a single issue of Kill Shakespeare.

I had no idea what this comic book was about, nor did I know what to expect from it. Shakespeare Comics. It only took that one quick thought for my instincts to urge me to purchase it immediately. Soon after I would come to find out what I was really in for, don’t worry only good things, trust.

Better Book Titles

Have you ever picked up a book and wished you knew what the book was really about just by looking at the cover? Or after reading a book have you ever thought that it could have had a better title? Comedian, writer, and performer Dan Wilbur shares his ideas for better book titles on his tumblr site betterbooktitles.com He features book covers of bestsellers and classics, and gives them a title that’s more revealing and simply humorous.

“This blog is for people who do not have thousands of hours to read book reviews or blurbs or first sentences,” Wilbur writes on the site. “I will cut through all the cryptic crap, and give you the meat of the story in one condensed image. Now you can read the greatest literary works of all time in mere seconds!”

Wilbur’s blog is definitely worth checking out. Here’s a few of my favorites from the site:

plus Battle RoyaleSuzanne Collins: The Hunger GamesReader Submission: Title by comedian Tyler Snodgrass The Hunger Games