Friday, June 30, 2006

The Platypus Calls in Reinforcements

Well, things are finally looking good for my poor little ear. After the world's longest running ear infection I've finally been able to get in touch with a specialist. Turns out the problem is not my ear, but my sinuses. Loads of drugs later, my ear has finally drained and I'm feeling a heck of a lot better. I have a follow-up visit on Wednesday and I'll be on super-drugs through the end of the month just to make sure I don't have a relapse. Praise God! Oh, and the 300 Spartans from Frank Miller's "300" are just there for moral support.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Strange Platypus(es)

What is it about secrets that's so appealing to us as human beings? Why do we need to keep repeating the cliche that "curiosity killed the cat." The Da Vinci code, a piece of pulp fiction, makes a bunch of farcical claims and millions of people take them for gospel. Hidden knowledge. Dark secrets. Ancient wisdom. The whisper, the temptation is power. To know a thing is to have a certain power over it. It becomes possible to manipulate it or predict how it will act. To know a thing is to flirt with a powerful illusion: the illusion of control. When we know more, when science has advanced, then, then we will have control; then we will be able to. We're like wizards in Ursula Le Guin's "Earthsea" thinking that if we know the true name of a thing then that gives us power over it. During the renaissance, we are told that science triumphed over magic and alchemy because science could produce quantifiable results. The more I consider the nature of the human heart, the less I believe that this is true. Our wizards don white labcoats and share their magiks not in antique grimoires but in quarterly periodicals. Strange Places.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Platypus Returns (sorry, no pancakes)

I was looking at some of my Dad's old comics today. He found them in a box while preparing for a move. One in particular caught my eye: "The Incredible Hulk." I had just read a comic staring the Hulk that can't have been more than a year old. Since 1969 Bruce Banner hasn't aged a day. He's still a few years out of grad school, still has all his hair, still young and hip and powerful. So are our heroes. Theirs is the glory of Achilles: to remain forever young, forever the best of the Achaeans. But every Achilles must have his Odysseus. That reminded me of the preface Alan Moore wrote for Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns." The genius of the work, as Moore points out, is that here alone are we allowed to witness the twilight of a hero. Through Frank Miller's story we see the unthinkable in our youth-worshiping society, the decline and slow death of a cultural icon. He faces all the things we dread: the dying friends, the whitening of the hair, the slowness and creeping frailty of the body, the knowledge that the earth is passing beyond our control into the hands of a younger generation, and the fear that things are only getting worse. "The Dark Knight Returns" is a story of Odyssian proportions: the return of the aged hero to fight a final battle for order against the forces of anarchy and a rising generation bent on squandering and wasting all that their fathers worked for. Of all the many comic books written, that makes it truly unique.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Platypus of Three

I just found out that the final prof has signed off on my thesis. This means that I can pick up the paperwork next week and send it off to the university thesis reader! The reader checks for spelling and grammatical errors and for conformity to the university thesis format. Once he/she signs off on it, I have it printed on rag cotton paper and hand it in to the bookstore by August 11th as the final step to completing my degree. Oh, and the picture's of Xenophon A.K.A. "I sold my discourse for Spartan gold and all I got was this lousy tunic."

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Bureau for Platypus Research and Defense

Much speculation has revolved around what exactly is wrong with my left ear. After consulting with Prof. Bruttenholm (pronounced "broom"), speculation has increasingly pointed to it becoming a focal point for the Ogdru Jahad, an ancient, evil being of unimaginable and apocalyptic capability (see picture). Second opinions are in the works...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Platypus News: We Report, You eat pancakes

I received an email this morning saying that the final member of my thesis committee will be signing of on my thesis tomorrow or Wednesday. Once that's done, I can begin the final process of sending it off to the university reader for editing and then filing it with the bookstore as the last hurdle to clear so that I can get my degree (M.A. History).

In other news, I have temporarily run out of comics. Entertainment now consists of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein." It's quite good and nothing like the movies. I've just finished another round of treatment for the world's longest running ear infection with to no avail. Reports that it has been infested by an alien slugbeast or the Ogdru Jahad are greatly exaggerated...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Platypus Reads Comics (and eats pancakes)

Comic Books. Not my all time favorite form of amusement, but I certainly can't knock them; especially after the semester is over and I can barely read. When you've seen a quarter of a century pass by though, it's hard to find something that will satisfy your maturing tastes. I mean it's not like it was in Junior High when all you wanted were cool super powers, trite dialog, spandex, and lots of flash. A brain that's been wrestling for the past two years with post-colonialism and French structuralism 24/7 has a hard time slowing down to the level of "pow," "wham," "zot," even when it's fried and trying desperately to detox. Fortunately, it seems that as the comic readers of yesteryear have grown up, so has the target audience. So what have I been reading?

Hmm... good question.

Frank Miller's "Batman: Year One" and "The Dark Night Returns." Dark, brooding, and gothic, Miller reaches into the heart of what makes Batman compelling and recreates him as a character of mythic power locked in the steps of Aechylian chatharsis between the human desire for justice and the rule of law. Also an interesting, if grosely orientalist and unhistorical, read is "300," based on the battle of Thermopyle between the Spartans and the Persians.

Mike Mignola's "Hellboy." Mignola combines an encyclopedic knowledge of folklore and myth with all the fun grit of a Film Noir. Where else can you get such snappy lines as "Ok, bub. I was going to spare you, seeing as you're kindof a major mythological figure and all, but now you've made me angry!" Not to mention it's got everyones favorite villians: Nazis, vampires, wolfmen, changelings, and Gregory Rasputin.

Marvel's "House of M." Ok, so this brings us back to the world of yellow spandex *shudder*. But hey, it's all your favorite marvel super heroes, X-Men, Spiderman, Hulk, and Fantastic 4, sucked into an innovative and compelling plot!

Neil Gaimann's "Sandman." Interesting, gothic, totally unparalleled, and very, very dark. I'm not sure what my overall feeling is on this one, but it's definately read at your own risk. On the otherhand, every page of it is startlingly profound. It has some of the best exposition of Shakespeare's works that I've ever found and actually has G. K. Chesterton as a character. Like I said though, the content leaves the jury out on this one. A definate masterpiece, but read at your own risk.

Doug Tenapel's "Creature Tech," "Tommysaurus Rex," and "Earthboy Jacobus." No super heroes here. Tenapel can't really be explained, he can only be experienced. Weird, wacky, hilariously funny, often profound, deeply religious. If your looking for a rollercoaster ride that's completely different, Tenapel's your man.

So there you go. Balance it out with a little of Genndy Tartakovsky's "Samurai Jack" and you've got my recent sources of post-semester entertainment!

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Platypus Marches On

My second thesis committee member emailed me today to say that he has signed my thesis and is passing the forms on to the final member. Hurray!!! Two down, one to go!

In other news, the doctor has just fired off a perscription for my ear. This will be really high test stuff, so hopefully it will knock out the little puddle of stagnant fluid that's left in my left ear.

That's the news. My brain is too fried for musings right now. The Platypus has a few of his own, but right now I think he's taking a nap. Platypi are nocturnal, you know.