There’s No Time Like “Hometime”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Everyday life is weird enough, but it’s also nowhere near weird enough — and that’s where Stella Murphy’s cartooning comes in, specifically her 2019 Caboose-published collection Hometime, which defuses the tension inherent in much of what passes for commonplace domesticity by operating on it like a surgeon. Her humor is her scalpel, and she utilizes it with precision, but she confines her cuts to the margins and then stands back and allows the fissures to spread and grow.

It’s an approach that works — hell, it works spectacularly and consistently — but it takes an awful lot of nerve and an awful lot of trust. And in order to be effective, of course, trust has to be a two-way street, so Murphy places as much of it in her readers as she does in her own abilities. Where other artists go for the obvious, then, she goes for…

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Filling In The Blanks Of Sean Christensen’s “Performance Video”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

As far as thought-provoking and challenging exercises in formalism and sub-minimalism go, they don’t come much more formalist or sub-minimalist than prolific cartoonist Sean Christensen’s 2019 self-published mini Performance Video, an admittedly curious contemporary artifact that’s as notable for what it does as what it is — although by the end, whether or not there’s any distinction between the two is very much an open question.

And, in fairness, open questions are rather at the core of what Christensen is getting at in this work, for which the antiquated term “avant-garde” is woefully inadequate. Christensen starts and ends with the most basic of basic linework that wordlessly refers either forward and backward to the text, respectively — but that text is the backbone of the project, blue-rendered hand lettering split, like the art, into six-panel grids on each page, with four lines of wording per panel being the standard…

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Threesome (1994, directed by Andrew Fleming)

Due to the type of administrative mix-up that always happens in the movie but rarely in real life, a college has assigned female student Alex (Lara Flynn Boyle) to share a dorm room with two males, Eddy (Josh Charles) and Stuart (Stephen Baldwin).  Stuart is an outwardly obnoxious jock while Eddy is a sensitive and gay film student who is obsessed with Jules and Jim.  It does’t take long for Alex to fall in love with Eddy but Eddy is in love with Stuart while Stuart is in love with Alex.  See where this is leading?  The three of them become close friends, to the extent that they actively drive away anyone else who shows any romantic or sexual interest in either one of them.

The title is not a lie.  There is an eventual threesome, though it’s a very tastefully shot threesome and it only happens once.  After all, this was a studio film, not a late night, direct-to-video Cinemax offering.  Unfortunately, things fall apart for the roommates after their threesome, as they are forced to reconsider all of their previous feelings towards each other and one of them is driven to a melodramatic breakdown.  The film’s story would work better if we cared about the characters but they’re all so shallowly written (and Eddy’s overwrought narration doesn’t work) that it’s hard to care about them.  They just come across as being three snobs.  Eddy may be obsessed with Jules and Jim but he doesn’t seem to have learned much from watching the movie.  As for the cast, Josh Charles and Lara Flynn Boyle are both likable but too bland to really hold your attention.  (There’s a reason why both of these actors found more success on television than on the big screen.)  Stephen Baldwin actually brings some depth to his character though I doubt he spends much time bragging about starring in a film called Threesome nowadays.

Threesome is a film that seems to think that it has much to say but it’s impossible for me to think about it without being reminded of the Menage a Trois episode of Seinfeld and Jerry’s plaintive declaration of, “I’m not an orgy guy!”  With those five words, Seinfeld said more about the reality of threesomes than Threesome does in its entire 93 minute running time.


Music Video of the Day: Counting Blue Cars by Dishwalla (1996, directed by Chris Applebaum)

“It was a conversation between myself and the child within myself, but it was sparked by having a conversation with someone who was really young and around that time thought about God and those kinds of things, and just being really curious about it but hadn’t been taught to think a specific way. I just loved the innocence and honesty of having that conversation with someone who didn’t care either way how you would describe this or that – they were just curious.”

— Dishwalla’s JR Richards on Counting Blue Cars

If you were, for some reason, challenged to come up with the epitome of a generic 90s alternative band, that band would probably look a lot like Dishwalla and the song that they sang would probably sound a lot like Counting Blue Cars.  That doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily bad song.  It just means that both the band and the song definitely belong to a very specific era.

Counting Blue Cars may have been their only big hit but, for a period of time, it was inescapable.  You could not turn on the radio without hearing that familiar chorus of Tell Me All Your Thoughts On God.  The song also received attention because it described God as being female.  According to Wikipedia and Songfacts, that made the song controversial.  I can’t remember any controversy about it at all.

The video also feels like the epitome of a generic 90s alternative video.  You would think that the video would at least feature a child asking questions or maybe a blue car but instead, it’s the band playing in some sort of new age trailer park.  New age trailer parks were very popular in the 90s music videos.

What kind of weird child asks for all your thoughts on God?