A bunch of great items, mostly from the NY Times:

1. A fascinating review of the new Basil Wolverton exhibition in Chelsea. Just so happens that the gross-out king, nicknamed the “Michelangelo of Mad Magazine” was a devout churchgoer, [who] hoped to be remembered for his Bible illustrations, not his cartoons.” His Bible illustrations were collected last year in The Wolverton Bible (ht Liz Moore). But be warned:

“Several of his end-of-the-world pictures are in the show, and they’re wild. Plagues descend on the sin-ridden human race. Bodies break out in disfiguring boils. Faces burn, shrivel and stretch into masks of fear.

In those profoundly and ingeniously disintegrative images, everything inside the body — viscera, muscles, mucus, bones, brains — moves to the outside. Heads multiply; tongues turn into noses; hands become feet. Figures become dripping, leaking containers of crude matter, like the figures of sinners and saints in Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment,” who scowl and weep and pout as they float above the pit.”

2. An article called
“Love in 2-D”, reporting on the latest developments in otaku culture in Japan of radical fandom (ht AZ). Basically, more and more men are opting out of the dating world and pursuing “real” relationships with body-pillows of their favorite animated characters. The judgment & love implications here are obvious (see Lars And The Real Girl), and it’s hard not to have some compassion on these guys. But still… it’s pretty creepy:

“In Japan the fetishistic love for two-dimensional characters is enough of a phenomenon to have earned its own slang word, moe… In an ideal moe relationship, a man frees himself from the expectations of an ordinary human relationship and expresses his passion for a chosen character, without fear of being judged or rejected.

“I still like human women better,” [one of the self-described otakus] said, a wide grin forming. “But there are many men who are on the opposite side of the scale. I understand their feelings completely. These guys don’t want to push ahead in society; they just want to create their own little flower-bed world and live there peacefully.”

3. Speaking of expectations and the desire to get out from under them, “Terrible End For Enfant Terrible” gives us another sad parable about the destructive power of the Law, this time in the life and death of artist Dash Snow. New York City never delivers what it promises. The key passage reads:

“Mr. Snow’s demise could also be read as a story about New York and the tribal immobility that undercuts the city’s reputation as a celebrated home for self-invention.

“The facts are pretty simple,” said Javier Peres, Mr. Snow’s art dealer. “Dash, as a child, rebelled against his family. There was a lot of anger and unresolved baggage with the family — especially with his mother. There might have been a blanket there at times, but he thought about himself as basically being alone.”

Being alone, of course, is not the same as being free. And after the drugs, the sex, the squats, the art, the casual stance toward hygiene and formality, some basic questions linger: Did Mr. Snow ever escape the East Side pedigree that caused him so much anguish? How long does someone have to live their life before they fully possess it? Was he on an inevitable crash course from the start?”

4. As a follow-up to John Stamper’s wonderful post below about children’s movies, be sure to check out the gorgeous pictures on the new Fantastic Mr Fox website and the new featurette with Maurice Sendak about the upcoming Where The Wild Things Are film. USA Today of all places also has a couple of interesting articles about the former project: here and here.

5. Last but not least, something very much worth ranting about over at internetmonk.com (ht JDK). Run don’t walk!