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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

J LHLS Archives: May 2004

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Mortal Evidence: The Forensics Behind Nine Shocking Cases
By Cyril Wecht, M.D., J.D., and Greg Saitz, with Mark Curriden
315 pages, $26.00
Published by Prometheus Books

Reviewed by Laurel Sutton

Summary: The subtitle pretty much says it all. Here are the really famous cases: OJ did it but he had help; JonBenet Ramsey’s parents were involved; Sam Sheppard did not murder his wife; Tammy Wynette probably died of natural causes; Amy Grossberg and Brian Peterson probably didn't murder their newborn child.

I’m a sucker for true crime books – or rather, for true forensics books. It’s not the crime parts I dig, it’s the science. Sure, I just told you what Wecht, the author, thinks about some of the cases he discusses, but that's not the important part of this book. It's how he came to those conclusions – not through intuition or psychic visions or even the jury verdicts – it's Science, man, the kind you do with measuring tapes and labs and DNA analysis.

Posted by Laurel Sutton @ 10:10 PM PST [Link]

Wordcraft: The Art of Turning Little Words Into Big Business
By Alex Frankel
Published by Crown Publishing Group
241 pages, $24.00
ISBN 1400051045

Reviewed by Laurel Sutton

Very few books have been written exclusively about naming, so it's a pleasure to read a book so concerned with our little corner of the branding industry. Wordcraft is not a how-to guide, but rather an insider's look at how naming gets done by the pros. Author Alex Frankel was a freelance namer for a while and helmed the short-lived naming firm Quiddity at the height of the Internet boom. For the most part, Frankel knows his stuff, and in the course of his research, he was granted unprecedented access to the innermost workings of naming firms like Lexicon and Wood Worldwide. These chapters are the best thing about Wordcraft, as we get to see firsthand the methodology involved in creating the names BlackBerry and Viagra. The quantity of work that went into creating, refining, and researching these names is a testament to the difficulty of creating new names that are appropriate and available; it may therefore be something of a surprise to the layman (but not to me) that both names were originally created for different products. But that's the way it is in the naming biz - you never know where the right name will come from.

Frankel also investigates the stories behind Porsche's Cayenne SUV (there was no story), Landor's involvement with the creation of Accenture (submitted by an Andersen Consulting employee), and the promotion of IBM's e-business concept (five billion dollars later, it's their brand). The book suffers from Frankel's infatuation with Lexicon, his shallow discussion of linguistics, and his tendency to wander away from naming into elliptical branding discussions. It's also clear that Frankel included a lot of padding to make this book 241 pages. And don't books include separate bibliographies anymore?

Wordcraft is an excellent introduction to naming, despite its flaws, and seems to be generating a lot of interest in the media. Perhaps one day people won't look at me so quizzically when I tell them what I do for a living.

Posted by Laurel Sutton @ 07:04 PM PST [Link]

Thursday, May 27, 2004

True Porn
Edited by Kelli Nelson and Robyn Chapman
Distributed by Alternative Comics
224 pages, $14.95
ISBN 189186758X

Reviewed by Laurel Sutton

Another APE purchase; I think this was the most expensive thing I bought that day. But it was well worth the money. First, though, I have to argue with the title – sure, it's catchy and daring and all, but heck, this isn't porn as I would define it: it's not the kind of stuff that makes you want to have sex right away, either by yourself or with someone else. In fact, the two stories in here that I would call porn – very detailed drawings of people fucking – come across as sterile and blasé. Boring. Not erotic. Not even emotional.

Posted by Laurel Sutton @ 10:05 PM PST [Link]

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Excalibur #1
Forging The Sword, Part 1 of 4
Story: Chris Claremont
Art: Aaron Lopresti
Publisher: Marvel

Reviewed by Chad Denton

The new "Excalibur" is somewhat the odd duck in the new x-Men line-up launched under the heading "Reload" (yes, this is about the fifth 'revamping' the X-books have gotten in the past decade, although, after the experimentalism of the past few years that's now coming to a crashing halt, "Reload" is more properly described as an 'un-vamping'). True, it's written by Chris Claremont, the writer who helped make Uncanny X-Men a Marvel flagship title back in the 70s and who established the notorious, soap opera-esque formula that would be followed faithfully for about the next three decades in team superhero books across the board. However, first off, it has nothing to do with the original "Excalibur," a superhero team title started in 1989 by Claremont and Alan Davis that, depending on what year you were reading it, was either a British superhero title that just happened to have a few members of the X-Men roster starring in it or was an X-Men satellite title. Despite the title, though, this book is actually about Professor Xavier, who has, despite being a key element to the X-Men mythos, has always been a bit of a peripheral character, when writers weren't sending him off into extended vacations in outer space (and who can blame them? It can't be easy to write a character who's both a supreme pacifist and a near omnipotent telepath.) Finally, the premise is rather unusual: so far it seems it's going to be about Professor Xavier's efforts to rebuild the mutant nation of Genosha, which was obliterated during the course of Grant Morrison's "New X-Men" run.

Posted by Chad Denton @ 11:55 AM PST [Link]

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Cats Don't Exist
by Jis, aka Jose Ignacio Solorzano
90 pages.
Published by Fantagraphics Books.)

Reviewed by Tom Good

In "Cats Don't Exist," Mexican artist Jis offers up a hallucinatory world filled with oddities, from furry demons playing ping-pong to ten-armed mermaids. Humans turn into rats, snakes, and toads, while animals are consumed with strange thoughts and dreams of their own. Though it is hard to describe just how weird this book is, it is also quite entertaining, playful and funny. The art work alone had me laughing out loud at times, because Jis draws some of the most amusing exaggerated facial expressions I've ever seen.

Posted by Tom Good @ 04:00 PM PST [Link]

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