Wednesday, April 02, 2003

James Kochalka, whose Fancy Froglin character is the one pointing to his jewels on the left, keeps an online diary, in comic strip form, at his website American Elf. The day's entry is always free, but to browse through the archives you've to sign up; I think it's about a dollar a month. Or you could buy the hard copies, James Kochalka's Sketchbook Diaries, of which there are 3 volumes, published by Top Shelf.


I'm indebted to Lia for lending me The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film by Michael Ondaatje. It's a brilliant, fascinating book with many interesting examples. Murch is one of those people who you think is about one thing, but is in actuality about ten different things, or more. Not only is he whip-smart, he's thankfully quite eloquent; he has a gift for explaining things, or using analogies, that makes everything so clear- essential when you're writing about a craft. Best of all, much of what he and Ondaatje talk about can be applied to other arts, not just film. Writing, in particular. And the title is apt; first time I'd read about this book in Filmmaker I thought it was a bunch of interviews with the master editor, but they're genuine conversations, and Ondaatje gives as good as he gets. Who would've thought he knew so much about film history? I learned so much from this book, I wish I'd read it in college. But it wasn't published yet.

I'm currently going through Dylan Horrocks's Hicksville, and enjoying it.


You can probably tell a lot about a culture by its television. Sometimes, late at night, I catch these strange programs on the foreign networks our cable operator has. One of my favorites is this Spanish show where average people are thrown into a ring with a bull. I assume they're volunteers. Anyway, there's the ring, there's the bull, there's around 7 schmucks, and several obstacles in the ring: boxes, usually. See, if the bull can't see you, he won't chase you. So even if he can break that box to splinters, if you're out of sight, you're pretty much safe. But several of these schmucks like to grandstand, and try to keep the bull focused on them so that they're the star of the show. And so they get gored, or trampled. Or befall accidents when they scramble up the fence too fast. Or crash into other schmucks they didn't realize were behind them (always my favorite). Then the bull gets two for the price of one. The horns must be dulled, because I've only seen massive bloodshed (beyond typical cuts and bruises) once, where fucking moron medical technicians ran into the ring wearing bright white coveralls and immediately attracted the attention of the bull, which then chased them off and trampled the injured guy (lying immobile on the ground) further. Possibly the funniest excerpt is one fool, feeling so smart by doing quick turns when the bull's reallyclose, getting crushed because the bull trips on itself, hits him with its flanks, and lands on him. Another great one is this guy who ran to hide in the water trough, except the bull was closer than he thought, so when he got into the trough and was out of sight, the bull couldn't stop itself in time and destroyed the trough, the four walls falling to the ground like a scene from The Three Stooges and leaving the idiot in plain view, eyes closed because he thinks he's underwater. There's a moment where the bull paused, maybe because he couldn't believe what he was seeing, but he regained his composure and promptly stomped the guy.

I like this French show better, though. I can't remember the name because, of course, it was in French, but it was a game show where teams of contestants are ritually brutalized and embarrassed and humiliated. They go through insane stunts and look like fools much of the time, but they love it and the audience eats it up like crazy (not unlike Takeshi's Castle, now that I think of it, but with much more physical pain). The co-host is hot, too. But the finale's the astounding thing: a water tank about 2 ½ floors high, with your partner chained to the bottom without an air tank. His job is to gather gold coins strewn about the floor, and pass them up to his/her partner, who goes in and out the tank from the top. The only way the two can breathe is strategically-placed mermaids in the tank who have air tanks, but you have to kiss the mermaids. Best of all, the mermaids are topless. And this is a family show, mind you. There are kids cheering in the stands.

I still wouldn't want to be the partner chained at the bottom, though.

Here I would normally go into what shitty shows we have, and how I don't watch anything local except strangebrew, but it's just too sad.


Hmm... I miss my Comm block. Should organize another movie marathon soon...

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