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Hate it or love it …

Posted in 104, blame society, buy pile, comics, comics reviews, fandom, masochism, narcissism, review on September 29th, 2009 by Hannibal Tabu

I love hate mail.

I do. It amuses me to no end. When I started writing professionally, a $5/hour intern at the Los Angeles Sentinel, I was mentored in part by the late, great Dennis Schatzman. Dennis told me that if somebody wasn’t mad at what you were writing, you were doing something wrong.

So when I found this guy, who makes hating my work (and maybe me, I dunno) almost into a cottage industry, it practically made my day. What’s even funnier is that I won’t deny he has some points. I could easily do longer, more in-depth reviews. It’s not what I was hired to do, but I could. Still, his loathing for me is hilarious.

Funniest of all (to me anyway) is his misunderstanding of the “meh” section of my Buy Pile reviews, saying …

He came back to mind because of something said at the Cup O’ Bendis panel this weekend. Jim McCann ranted a bit on how people who comment on or review an issue by simply saying “meh” get him very angry. Bendis chimed in agreeing, but it didn’t seem as possibly pointed at reviews as McCann’s statement did. Bendis did say that having “meh” said about a piece of work is just like a kick in the balls for him.

Believe it or not, it took someone else in attendance suggesting that McCann’s statement might have been directed at Tabu, who probably uses that more than any other reviewers and sometimes leaves that as his only commentary about an issue.

In actuality, it was McCann’s “meh” statements that inspired me to create a “meh” pile, and then email him to give him credit for the creation, to my even greater amusement. That’s just freakin’ awesome.

In comments on another blog he said, “Some say I should do shorter reviews, which I toss aside. I don’t want to be Hannibal Tabu.” That’s fantastic, especially when he added “It makes me glad to know that there’s at least one person out there getting something useful out of my reviews. ;) ” Given that the checks keep clearing in my account and I know this guy’s out there loathing me, I know two people getting something useful out of mine, which makes me all the happier.

Especially the first half of the year, when I was working four jobs, I’ve had to go back in to reviews to catch dropped words, missed links, bad italics tags or times my brain was working faster than my fingers. Now that I’m all day jobbed up, there’s less than that. But again, I love the harshness, because it helps me step up my game. I couldn’t be more pleased to have found this guy.

Random Googling for something else found Whitechapel poster Toriach, who posted, “Well to rip off one of my favorite reviewers Hannibal Tabu (even if I disagree with him 90 percent of the time) here’s a short story about that. No.”

Disagree with me 90 percent of the time, and I’m a favorite? Dude/dudette, thank you. That’s freakin’ wonderful. I’m so grateful.

Don’t get me wrong, I like it when people like what I do too (like Greg Pak extensively quoting my review of Incredible Hercules #129 or getting name checked in a Marvel press release) and I get a fair share of “love the column” stuff from people who meet me or in emails. But for some reason the hate mail just amuses me more. I get frustrated at lots of stuff — the blog is plenty evidence of that — but it rarely turns into a campaign against any one person. While many people wrongly believe that I dislike Geoff Johns or Brian Michael Bendis, I point to Johns’ brilliant work with the Flash Rogues or the Dark Avengers issues I bought and reread regularly.

For me, it’s rarely about the person. It’s always about the work. I once hated Frank Tieri’s work, and now believe he’s grown into a pretty good writer. It’s never personal, despite what so many want to believe in messageo boards or darkened monitor-lit bedrooms.

Hate it or love it, I am grateful for everyone who reads my work (even the ones who can’t spell my last name and put “Tatu” for some unknown reason — fans of allegedly lesbian Russian singers? Admittedly, I am a proud lesbian …), because any passionate reaction is a reaction, any time they can devote that kind of energy to my work, I affected them. I spend my days and nights trying to convert the oceans of silent “meh” into something more, so deeply filled with gratitude when I succeed.

Playing (Music): “Say Hey (I Love You)” by Michael Franti and Spearhead feat. Cherine Anderson

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The Laundromat

Posted in creativity, daughter, family, life, poetry on September 25th, 2009 by Hannibal Tabu

I went to do probably a month’s worth of laundry with the family tonight. My stepdaughter was reading aloud, perched on a counter with one of those rolling carts for a safety net. It made me feel poetic for some reason, watching it all. Here’s the first draft, and I’m working on it.

There is a little girl reading aloud.

Dryers spin with reckless abandon
and a little girl with an afro puff
is sitting on a counter, reading aloud.

A muscular Latino man gestures emphatically
on a twenty seven inch TV screen
while captions run in Spanish
his co-star pouts, endless vistas of hair
cascading down her exposed shoulders.
Below, towels duel with socks
in seemingly infinite circles.
Words of Barbara Park
slowly work their way
through a five year old’s brain,
sitting on a counter
reading aloud.

An older Chicano boy stomps his feet
demanding a fourth candy bar after
his tired mother finally drew the line
leading to stare-gathering meltdown
raised voices and judgments being levied
by people with no right.
Overhead the Latino actor
sweeps the big haired woman into his arms,
music swelling behind them
in soft focus lighting, irrespective of
dance between delicates and drawstring sweats,
moisture losing its battle against heat
while a little girl adjusts her glasses,
enunciating Junie B. Jones’
tattered talk and mangled messages

It’s Thursday night,
Headlights of busy thoroughfare
blur by outside
like dreams left behind
and sure,
we’d all probably love change
and justice
and maybe, just maybe
for tomorrow to be even a little bit better than today.

But that’s tomorrow.
Tonight there’s tantrums and Telemundo,
towels and t-shirts,
and two eyes
looking through glasses
enjoying newfound power of understanding
what all those funny little squiggles mean
with every syllable
from her sweet little lips.

“The Laundromat”
By Hannibal Tabu
090924

I welcome thoughts and constructive criticism, thanks.

Playing (Music): “Down” by Jay Sean feat. Lil Wayne

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Don’t Worry, Baby …

Posted in awesomeness on September 24th, 2009 by Hannibal Tabu

I am free of worry.

Not for any reason that makes any sense. As noted in Mark Morford’s latest column, all of us can fall victim to slings and arrows of outrageous fortune so far outside of our conceptions that it’d be like a failure of gravity. You can save for a whole lifetime and either have your bank go out of business (FDIC insurance? Maybe …) or your retirement fund get eaten by rapacious corporate fatcats or maybe the employer you gave thirty years to suddenly cuts your health benefits decades after your retirement. Maybe it’s a gun-wielding teenager high on weed and PCP, in Columbine or Compton. Maybe some workday stiff pounded back too many shots at the bar after a long day and accidentally careens into your family of five, heading back from church. Hell, rocks from space can make their way through the atmosphere and smash you into nothingness. Whatever. We live, as the Chinese curse demanded, in interesting times. From a statistical standpoint, there is no absolute safety for anybody, anywhere, and there probably never has been.

I don’t worry about these things.

Part of that, I’m sad to say, has to do with a certain degree of faith. For many years, I said, “faith is for suckers,” and attested to my mantras of personal responsibility and energy manipulation. In the final analysis, I have to admit that “faith” is the final answer, however, because I believe I’m going to be (overall) okay based on my belief that following what I believe to be a path of spirit (with some unfortunate and admitted digressions) sets me apart. True, my belief is so certain as to be virtually indistinguishable from knowing, but there have been things I’ve known before, immutable facts to my father’s father and his father before him — a Black US president is impossible, the Red Sox cannot win the World Series, and so on — that have fallen due to the simple factors of time. Sooner or later, anything can happen, and with proper motivation, it probably will. I have a faith in my “knowledge” which is just as easily, and in the last decade just as often proven fallible.

The bigger part of me not worrying is because I recognize the complexity of the system. To me, with my dangerously limited horizons and freakishly small perception, there seems to be chaos. On a larger scale, that chaos is a song with a melody I can’t even comprehend. Babies are born and old people die. Electrons circle nuclei. Gases combust in the form of stars, spreading light and heat for millions of miles around. Water pushes ever so patiently against the cliff wall, knowing that one day it will join its old friend gravity in victory. Everything works, even if I don’t see it or don’t understand it because on a long enough time scale, I don’t matter and neither does my piddling perception.

This used to manifest in my life through something I said a lot. My old, dear friend and sister Brandi gave me a book when I was in college, Love is Hell by Matt Groening, a collection of his bitter, pre-Simpsons cartoons. On one page there was a line that had on the left end something like “the unknowable mists of the past” and on the other end was something like “eighty kajillion years in the future.” In the middle, very small, was a dot, and an arrow pointing to it, that was labeled, “your life.” The accompanying text said something like, “next time you’re worried about a decision, ponder this question: ‘how long will I be dead?’ With that in mind, you can justify pretty much anything your devious little mind can come up with. Go on. You’re welcome. See you in hell.”

This applies not only to my decisions — should I have that donut? wait for this parking space or pick one farther away — and my concerns. The world my daughters will inherit is terrifying and horrible. But they chose to be born into it, outside of delicate dances between egg and spermatozoa. Or, to go back to Butterfly from Digable Planet, “we’re just babies, we’re just babies, man …”

Maybe I’m too stupid, or too jaded, or too broken, or too tired to know the difference, to not worry where I should. I don’t know, and honestly I don’t care.

So mostly I don’t worry. It never seemed to make much difference. I’m pretty sure things will be, for the most part, okay. Whatever comes up, I deal with it. Really, what choice is there?

Everything is gonna be all right, whether you know it or not. Whether you can understand it or not. It’s okay. Shhh …

Playing (Music): “Why R U?” remix by Amerie feat. Nas, Jadakiss, Cain and Rick Ross

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