Charles Schulz’s 100th Birthday

Yesterday would have been Charles Schulz’s 100th birthday had he not passed away in February of 2000, the night before his final comic strip ran in the Sunday paper.

Charles Schulz comic strip “Peanuts” has always been a part of my life. When I was a boy I always gravitated towards the comic page and my first two stops were always “Peanuts” and “Garfield”. It was a while before I realized that the comic strip wasn’t called “Snoopy”. As a child I could not comprehend why it was called “Peanuts”.

When I went to college I fancied myself a serious intellectual. I was very arrogant and while I still found enjoyment in comics it was only if they were dark, serious, and “intellectual”. I rejected “Peanuts” and it’s simplistic sophistication, much to my detriment.

After I got out of college and recognized my arrogance when I found myself sifting through my grandfathers recyclables to find the Sunday comics pages to read the comic strips. My friend Mike, another “barn dad” and avid Batman and Peanuts collector gave me all of his paperback Peanuts collections as he was buying the new hardcovers that were being released. It was a great windfall.

In honor of Charles Schulz’s birthday, here is a link to a really nice article by NPR: ‘Peanuts’ still brings comfort and joy, 100 years after Charles Schulz’s birth

Here is my “Blockhead” comic strip from a few weeks ago:

Claude-a-saurus Wrecks “Based on a Book”

Click here to read a review of “The Hell We Create” by Fit for a King.

Amazon’s “The Rings Of Power” was a weird show to watch. On one hand I really enjoyed the visuals and the storytelling, on the other hand it was a poor interpretation of Tolkien’s work. I chose not to watch either of the “Game of Thrones” shows because of the rampant graphic sexuality that is on display in them. Because of that choice I found myself without any live action programming to watch in the fantasy genre. I was very much looking forward to “The Rings of Power” and not having an encyclopedic knowledge of Tolkien’s work actually benefited me here. Even though there were parts of the show were dialogue was written poorly, character motivations didn’t make sense, or the show was insulting to Tolkien I found myself looking forward to the next episode. That being said when I watched through season one when it aired I found myself watching some episodes multiple times. Sometimes because something would happen in the show and I didn’t understand why so I assumed I missed something and would re-watch an episode to be sure. When season two is released I will watch it, but in the meantime I don’t see myself going back and re-watching any of the episodes of season one again now that it is over. The best part of season one is by far the DWARVES.

My wife and daughter went to Massachusetts for the equine related trade show and event called Equine Affaire. Before they came back my daughter made sure that she got to go to thrift and antique stores. My daughter found herself a Norwegian Barbie doll that she was very excited about. She also found me this copy of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie novelization. It’s very cool. Growing up I never got to see either of these movies in the theater but I did have a copy of the novelization of the second Ninja Turtles movie, “The Secret of the Ooze” which I read several times. I have always been rabid in my fandom of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Claude-a-saurus Wrecks “Confession”

Read a review of “On The Ranch” by Emily Nenni here. Review by the ever trust worthy savingcountrymusic.com.

New to Claude-a-saurus Wrecks? Read this!

This comic was written almost three months ago and has been sitting in my journal since then. I knew it was a confessional type of comic and that I wanted it to have the type of background that looks like a old yellowed newspaper. You’ll notice that around the same time that this comic was written was around the same time that I started trying to sell off my comic book collection. A few of my friends, out of concern, questioned why I was selling my comics and I had been evasive with my answers but I came to realize that I had been depressed. I’ve sold off large portions of my comic collection before but this was the first time that I had parted with any of my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stuff. I do not regret selling any of my comics even though I did it when I was depressed at the time. I took an realistic look at my collection and questioned which of these comics will I realistically ever read again. There were some that even though I thought I would never sell I knew I would never read them again. They weren’t worth anything to me. It was just something that I was storing. Plus, I used the money to fix my roof.

Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon

Today is election day in America. I had some thoughts about that yesterday, but here is the deal, we still have to carry on. So cast your ballot and leave the outcome to God. Let’s think about something that will bring us joy: a very cool movie!

Last year I was really excited about the C.S. Lewis movie “The Most Reluctant Convert” (and that excitement was justified) and this year I’m really excited about this Johnny Cash movie. It’s a three night engagement through Fathom events.

Claude-a-saurus Wrecks “Chocolate Lab”

Read a review of “The Final Battle” by Stryper here.

New to Claude-a-saurus Wrecks? Read this!

Nate and I (mostly Nate) wrote a review of album “The Bad Plus” by The Bad Plus. You can read it here. It fulfills one of the earliest objectives of Claude-a-saurus Wrecks.

I’m selling some things on eBay. You can check the listings by going here.

I do have a chocolate lab named Gwen. She loves her behind-the-ear scratchies.

She also thinks she’s a lap dog.

So, tomorrow is midterm election day. I posted this comic two years ago for the 2020 presidential election, which a few hours after scheduling it to post on this site I knew I needed to go back and add some context because regardless of which way the election went there was bound to be some anger.

2020 was a rough year with the fear surrounding Covid and government seemingly eager to exploit the uncertainty and chaos. Then with the death of George Floyd being broadcast on social media and the chaos that followed as violence and protests consumed cities with some politicians eagerly donating money to bail out violent rioters and encouraging the violence that plunged cities into a hell scape. Regardless of your opinion of the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election it was a referendum on the current president. The chaos, the violence, the deaths happened on his watch and regardless of whatever forces worked against him, it happened on his watch and he couldn’t control it. He had picked a side in a partisan battle and he rode with that side and didn’t the job that he as the elected leader was responsible to do, unite a country and be a leader for everyone. So of course his opponent ran with a message of unity and that he was the man to unite the country and to help rebuild from the chaos of 2020. The current president has done nothing to unite the country. In fact he has done more to push the the partisan divide than his predecessor and his parties cronies have pushed the same message. And so here we are. We have people talking about partisan political violence and open calls for civil war. We have elected politicians saying on one hand that if their party loses then voters are voting for the democracy to die and then they are also saying that if the other party wins then it’s likely the other party cheated and the results should be contested… So, if the one party rule in Washington, which had failed spectacularly for the past two years, is voted out of office on Tuesday it’s the fault of voters and/or the fault of the other party… Sounds to me like more gas lighting and manipulation of Americans like when inflation was blamed on American workers being lazy… At the same time we have politicians blaming inflation on corporations having record profits from price gouging.

It’s hard to know who to vote for in this election because it feels like neither party really has my best interests at heart, but at this time it seems that the incumbents do not have my best interest in heart, so I feel compelled to vote for the challengers. Either way pray before you vote tomorrow and ask God to guide your vote.

Anyway, this comic, Screwtape & Wormwood, is still one of my all time favorite comics I’ve ever posted. I still have very fond memories of doing this class even though it was a challenge to manage it for 31 mostly consecutive weeks.

The Bad Plus – “The Bad Plus” Album Review

The Bad Plus “The Bad Plus”

Edition Records

2022

What is radical in jazz? In 2001 the Bad Plus’ answer was wielding acoustic jazz as a  legit rock weapon. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” wasn’t so much a Nirvana cover as it was a master class in timbre, pulling Cobain’s soft-loud ferocity out of the polite confines of piano, drums, and bass. Their answer has evolved over 18 years – and might be most articulate on their 15th album, which shakes things up, firstly, internally: no piano, and instead a guitar and a saxophone. Ethan Iverson, core songwriter of their early days, jumped ship after 2016’s It’s Hard. The composing became more evenly distributed when Orrin Evans briefly stepped in on the ivories for the Never Stop II – and for this 15th album is solely in the hands of the rhythm section. Is this still really the Bad Plus? 

Why the f**k not, they seem to say, as the other radical turn here is not just invoking the power of rock but literally playing rock – that’s a 4/4 beat in “Not Even Close To Far Off,” and damn if Ben Monder’s fuzzed-out chords wouldn’t make J Mascis proud to lazily drawl over. Chris Speed’s sax hugs the progression closely, sidling in the coda in Monder’s warm pocket of reverb, and in his only solo, choosing bare bones coloring over blues searching. This, like the other three compositions by drummer Dave King, arguably have little to do with jazz at all – sure, those splashes of cymbal play in “The Dandy” dance atop the kick with athletic Max Roach fluidity, and his skittering floor in “Sun Wall” has some Paul Motian in its kinetic-but-melodic lilt. One is reminded of Motian’s Black Saint era particularly, when he and guitarist Bill Frisell worked alongside saxophone and bass, just like this incarnation of The Bad Plus – but where that interplay was committed to long lysergic explorations, Monder and King and company generally choose to focus on the rhythmic point, rock-style.

Bassists Reid Anderson composed the other half of these songs, and serves as the pensive foil to King’s tension, favoring calm, almost minimal refrains whose energy is in the details. “Stygian Pools” strings a chorus of just seven notes over a 1-2 kick-tom beat and a slowly ambling structure. Dig the way he cascades around Monder’s arpeggios like ink diffusing in a glass of water, and slides effortlessly back to the refrain, an old Dave Holland trademark in the 60s that is reimagined here without soloing or “free” excursions. 

There’s a sense of timelessness in the way Anderson alternates between reflection and articulation, bringing longish lyrical thoughts home with warm choruses that tug at you a bit. This is particularly true in the poignant “You Won’t See Me Before I Come Back” – the best track on the album, but also a fitting description of the metamorphosis on display here. The Bad Plus’ first self-titled album marked an unknown band who would explode two years later on the buzz of the Nirvana cover. It is a safe bet this effort marks a similar precipice for the band – on the strength of its own writing, and its own enduring audacity. 


Review written by Nathan Turk and Claude Walrath.