Friday, March 31, 2006

Boy, have I ever got a lot to do to-day. I really oughta get right to it.

A few things of interest;

U.S. Capitol Police officer calls it assault when a small woman hits him in the chest with a cell phone. The woman's also a congresswoman, by the way, and a Democrat.

The other side of this is that some claim the officer only tapped her shoulder after failing to recognise her when she used the congress member's route around a metal detector. I get the feeling there's a lot more to this than meets the eye. Though that "more" may merely be oversensitive denizens of the White House.

Just as I was starting to like Lou Dobbs, the guy goes stupid about immigration. The Daily Show last night confronted him about his expressed desire for the abolishment of St. Patrick's Day. Damnit, Lou.

And his argument against illegal "aliens" always falls apart when someone mentions we can't simply deport eleven thousand people.

Gods damnit, Lou.

He goes to my hall of pigheaded, yet randomly intelligent, misguided political commentators, right next to Christopher Hitchens.

Speaking of inexplicable pigheadedness, Tony Curtis was one of several Academy members who refused to view Brokeback Mountain before voting for the Best Picture Oscar. The hell? What did he think he was doing when he made Spartacus and Some Like it Hot? Not to mention the actual affairs he had with men, which he has discussed in interviews. Tony, are you another victim of Scientology, or some other, even more insidious cult?

Lastly, you should read Poppy Z. Brite's 13 reasons why New Orleans is not OK.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Thursdays are very strange. I get three or four hours sleep in the morning. Then I have to be awake for three or four useless hours. Then I go back to sleep.

Those middle hours are very annoying. I hate being awake while not having the quality of wakefulness necessary to do anything.

Anyway, a few minutes ago, I became rather angry after reading a post on Poppy Z. Brite's journal about Carlos Mencia making stupid, humourless comments about New Orleans. I like Poppy, and I hate seeing people I like being insulted, especially in such a clumsy and boneheaded manner. But I don't think it would have bothered me too much otherwise as I find myself unable to believe that anyone watches Mind of Mencia. The show seemed to me another corporate attempt at bleating out a provocative, fuckhead show without actually expending the mental powers necessary for making anything funny. They've all kind of blended together into a white noise that I ignore while waiting for The Daily Show to start. Things like Drawn Together, The Showbiz Show, and a hundred other titles that have been gone too long for my complete disinterest in to supply me with their names now.

Poppy was urging people to inundate Comedy Central with mail about Mencia, so I wrote this;

I realise that Mind of Mencia is but another attempt to create a show that will appeal to to-day's increasingly jaded audience, and that you cannot manufacture the natural passion and therefore quality of shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. But I feel I should point out that the problems with Mencia's show extend beyond the fact that his "jokes" are merely clumsy, dull rhetoric crafted by individuals lacking real knowledge or interest in the subject manner. There's also a more significant problem in the fact that he often belittles undeserving groups of people in a manner rivalling Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity. I'm thinking mainly of his suggestion to the citizens of New Orleans that they not rebuild their city, and that they move two hundred miles inland. While it's obvious to me that he wasn't serious, and didn't actually care very much about what he was saying, I think you'd do well to reconsider renewing his contract, if you planned on doing so. Because as a channel that has set an impressive benchmark for social and political commentary with shows like The Daily Show, I think it would be a shame to alienate that same audience with something as witless as Mind of Mencia.

But I don't for a moment think it'll make any difference. And in the unlikely event that it's read on air, it'll be edited in such a way as to completely negate its meaning. It's tossing words into the mindless bog.

You know, it's interesting to note that the network so quick to bend for the delicate sensibilities of Scientologists doesn't bat an eye at the abuse of people who cannot afford to bribe them.

I do like The Daily Show, Chappelle's Show, and, every once in a while, South Park, particularly the older episodes. And I like the The Colbert Report. I recommend watching Colbert's interview with Michael Brown. It was nice to see that Colbert wasn't exonerating Brown as so much of the news media seems to be doing these days.
Baby's babies.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

For some reason I woke up at around 1pm or so to-day. I was still a little sleepy, but somehow I didn't want to sleep anymore.

I guess I felt like being out and about in sunlight. I get those cravings every once in a while. I went to Denny's, 'cause it's been a while since I've eaten out, except for cold zucchini walnut muffins at Starbucks. Which are, by the way, very good, but start to taste like Play-Doh after a while.

I was given a seat near the front, next to the register, and I listened to the parade of strange old men. First was a very old man--he was ninety if he was a day. He was stooped and had that slow, very careful quality in his movements, and he spoke at careful length as he flirted with the twenty year-old waitress.

"Did you hear the one about the Denny's employee who got fired?" he asked her.

"No," said the girl, anxiously noticing the customers piling up by the door as the man detained her.

"There was a fellow who wanted a newspaper, and when he was getting it, he saw an ad for a job at the zoo. The guy at the zoo explained to him that they needed someone to dress in a gorilla suit and sit in the gorilla's cage until they caught the gorilla that'd escaped.

"'What do I have to do?' the manager told him, 'Nothing really, just eat peanuts and bananas, and that's all there is to it.'

I missed part of the joke here but it turned out, "...he fell in the lion's cage. As the lion was coming at him, he grabbed the lion's shoulders and said, 'What're you doing, d'you wanna get us both fired?'"

The girl laughed quickly and said, "That's a good one. Have nice day!" before power-walking into the kitchen.

Later, there was a guy who looked like he was in his fifties and had white, mad scientist hair clumped around his translucent plastic visor. His face was weathered red, and he wore a blue denim button shirt un-tucked. He looked like he'd been up all night in a casino somewhere.

He was asking the manager about a toy machine in the corner. "It's not working right," said the manager. "That's why there's an 'Out of Order' sign on it."

"What's wrong with it?"

"The claw is supposed to drop slowly while the timer's going," the manager started to walk away, "Instead, it doesn't move at all, and then just drops real fast after the timer's run out..."

"Well, that's all I need!" said the man, as though the manager's words had implied that the toy machine wasn't so much broken as waiting for a man great enough to best it.

A little later, the man was explaining patiently to a waitress that, despite what the manager had told him, the claw didn't drop at all after the timer ran out. As he explained the condition the manager had told him the machine was in, he said, "Now, to me, that doesn't fit the definition of 'Out of Order.'" He had a serious tone in his voice, as though he felt he was being denied justice.

He had the girl fetch the manager, and the two men went out of earshot as they went to inspect the machine. I really think the guy wanted his money back.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Not much got done last night. I learned how to draw ankylosaurs, and then went into the other room to watch Mulholland Drive. And I started going insane.

See, there's this clock next to the television that won't stop clicking. Not ticking--more of a rapid click-click-click-click-click-click-click.... And I just can't abide ambient noise like that during a David Lynch movie. It makes me tear my hair out when people say, "Oh, I can tone it out."

"Don't you get it?!" I want to scream at those people, "That's the point! The silences between cuts, the squish noises of shoes on wet asphalt...Sounds contrasted with absence of sounds, different uses of silence--Lynch is hitting what's under what you're toning out."

So I finally decided to unplug the clock. But that proved a complicated endeavour.

The widescreen television is bolted to the wall, because it's all modern and convenient and stuff. Unfortunately, that left empty the large, square shaped cubby in the wall, designed specifically for a television. It's impossible to dress it in any way that doesn't make it look like a television's supposed to be there. But my grandmother tried.

The clock, an old analogue gold and white thing, sits atop the DVD player. Behind the clock are four small Christmas trees, an unused desk lamp, and two crystalline candlesticks holding thin red candles. Tightly packed these things are, so I had to gingerly remove each one before I could get to the surge protector against the wall. Though I carefully felt down the length of the clock cord, I somehow accidentally unplugged the DVD player, losing my place on the paused Mulholland Drive disk, which has no scene selection menu.

By the time everything was back in place, it was already 4am, and I realised I wasn't going to be able to watch the whole movie. Irritating.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Nuts to Robin Meade. Give me Lara Logan.

And I wonder how many American officials can appreciate the irony in that, having supposedly gone to Iraq to remove a cold-blooded military regime, Iraqi officials are now asking us to leave because of our own cold-blooded military personnel.

The buggery goes to all corners of reality. You oughta see this 60 Minutes piece on how the Bush administration censored warnings about global warming if you haven't already.

Ever do I watch the fucked up little piece of gore called the human heart.

Last night, I watched the 1944 version of Gaslight. This being the version starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. Apparently there's a 1940 version starring Anton Walbrook. I liked Walbrook very much in The Red Shoes, and as the film has an otherwise entirely British cast, I'm very interested in seeing it.

Because, you see, though the story takes place in London, the 1944 version does not contain a single British actor in a lead role, or a foreign actor using a British accent. I can forgive Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman (hell, I can forgive Ingrid Bergman anything). It's not impossible that their characters are foreigners settled in London. But Joseph Cotten as a member of Scotland Yard? Please, can't we try a little harder than that?

The movie was directed by George Cukor, and he doesn't do a bad job. Hitchcock, Welles, or Huston may've been better for the material, but Cukor was a good director, even out of his element. And he certainly made sure we saw how absolutely gorgeous Ingrid Bergman was.

The story is of Paula (Bergman), married to Gregory (Boyer), who's trying to drive her insane. We're tipped off rather early to the fact that Gregory killed Paula's aunt in an attempt to steal some extremely valuable jewels. There's no real mystery here, as this information is made very obvious to us. But Bergman, whose POV we mostly follow, doesn't seem to catch on.

I think a lot of viewers might be annoyed by how gullible Bergman's character is in the film. But I think it's important to view the story in the context of the Victorian world in which it takes place; Paula is meant to be an exemplification of the virtuous Victorian woman, whose faith in her husband is so absolute that she's willing to doubt her sanity entirely at his behest.

While my heart goes out to poor Bergman as she struggles with her nightmarish little cage--and Bergman, apparently, spent some time in an asylum as research for the performance--I'm inclined to think this was meant as a criticism of how women were expected to behave in Victorian England. It leads to a rather satisfying reversal at the end of the movie, but that reversal may come too late for some viewers.

Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion is, to me, a far more sinister story in a similar vein. It successfully brings us along with the woman's perspective as we can see why she fell in love with the guy, we agree with her, and our suspicions are at all times about the same as hers. It's a far more insidious statement on the nature of human affections.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Finishing the Boschen and Nesuko chapter earlier than I expected yesterday, I went over to Tim's house to watch him play Oblivion.

What an impressive game. From the little I saw yesterday, it looked like it had everything Morrowind had, but with about 95% of all Morrowind's problems fixed, along with several completely new things.

Once again, the game is set in an enormous, meticulously detailed, totally open world. That may not seem impressive to some of you, especially those who play MMORPGs, but what sets the Elder Scrolls games apart is that every inch of the world is traversable. See a mountain in the distance? You can climb it. A forest across a river? You can swim across the river and explore it. There are no invisible barriers or isolated sectors of land as there are in Guild Wars. The landscape isn't as bland as in Lineage II (speaking of Lineage II, feast your eyes on this. Why can't I meet girls like that?).

And the landscape is even more beautiful in Oblivion than it was in Morrowind. There're realistic looking trees and grass that sway with the wind. Realistic, dynamic lighting effects.

Perhaps one of the biggest improvements over Morrowind, though, is the AI. The world is filled with people that can literally think for themselves. Instead of characters idly standing about town, or moving on rigid, scripted paths, characters in the towns all have motivations. Characters will, if upon finding themselves hungry, look for food and eat it. They'll hunt for deer in the forest. They may try to steal food, and they might get caught--if one of the guard NPCs sees them--and get taken to prison. Or they might even hatch a plan to frame someone else.

Stable boys can be seen tending to horses--or watching you if you go into the stables without any apparent reason. Monsters will hide and stalk you in the forests, instead of bounding heedlessly towards you.

The AI seems to be more sophisticated than that of The Sims, though I bring that game up because the character creation mode for Oblivion is very similar to The Sims. Instead of a few head models to choose from, as in Morrowind, you here have a column of sliders that can determine the shapes of individual facial features, as well as age and colouration.

I only hope Tim let's me play at some point, 'cause there's no way my system can run it...

Friday, March 24, 2006

New Boschen and Nesuko for you. Especially for those of you who've been enjoying it okay so far, but have been rather miffed by the lack of Seven Samurai references. Well, to you, I say, "here."

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Snakes on a Plain

"I've had enough of this ennui, Cyril."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Again, I'm pressed for time. On Monday, Mella noted that it was Post a Pretty Picture day. I'm a little late, so here's several;

Robin Meade, from CNN Headline News' very early morning show. She's not extremely attractive, and she has a bubbling, cloying naiveté. And yet, something about the fact that she's on when I'm up really gets me.

Debra Lafave, the 23 year old teacher who had sex with her 14 year old male student. Several times. And yet the kid's "traumatised". Bullshit. His mother's traumatised.

Where was Debra when I needed her? Debra, if you're reading, I may yet have a nice juicy apple for you.

Anyway, for those of you worried about me now, it's okay, I do still remember that beautiful women are more beautiful when they're naked.

Monday, March 20, 2006

I'm unreasonably sleepy right now. I got about eight hours, so I don't know what it is, exactly. Maybe I'm missing some kind of vitamin.

For some reason, the black text is really pretty against the white background...

Er, I'd better crack down on Boschen and Nesuko more to-day. But I'll tell you about some dreams I had last night.

First, I dreamt I was floating above the city before zooming in like a camera on a high-speed chase on the freeway. It was a single police car chasing a van with faded and cracked tomato-red paint. The freeway was down to two lanes and there were normal, ugly residential areas on either side--backyards with dead lawns and torn, old clothes swaying on clotheslines.

The van finally stopped, squealing as it skidded around in a fish tail manner. A large man got out, holding a child. The man was tall, about six feet; he had green skin, messy black hair, and an enormous gut under his denim vest. He had a pistol he was waving in the air.

The child was a little square-headed blonde boy with black t-shirt and jeans. I think maybe he was Mormon.

The cops got out of their car, propping their gun arms over the roof as they shouted the usual cop things; "Drop the gun, sir!", "Let the child go!"

The man shot the cop on the right, a plain shaped white guy, so the cop on the left, a skinny black woman, shot the man in his big denim gut. She walked around the van to get a better look at the green skinned guy on the ground. But she didn't see the child climb into the van and start shooting at her.

The kid missed, but while she was looking at him, the green skinned man had gotten up and climbed into the van, too. He shot the child three times and drove away, leaving the policewoman alone.

See, that's the movie Crash ought to've been.

Next, I dreamt I was at the mall, heckling a woman working at a jewellery store. I have no idea what my beef was, except for some reason, I really hated jewellery in the dream. Finally, the woman offered me a job, and I was so flattered that I took it. I woke up feeling very charismatic.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

It seems I spent all day yesterday reading, writing, and thinking about V for Vendetta. I started the day by digging around in my closet like mad or it--it was one of those infuriating situations where you can swear you'd just run across it several times in the past month. I finally found it buried under Comic-Con bags, school text books, and other comics.

Anyway, I got behind on my own comic yesterday, and I've a lot of catching up to do to-day. I fear I'm a little too casual about it because it looks to be a much easier chapter to draw than the previous. I need to remind myself of all the new colour palettes I need to make for it, and so on.

I may be scarce on this internet to-day . . .

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Well. Beauty and the Beast movies. Why does it seem as though reality bends to the course of my blog?

I wasn't planning to, but, since scads of people were having interesting discussions about it last night, I went off to see V for Vendetta.

The comic book, V for Vendetta, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd, is not a Beauty and the Beast story. The movie, directed by James McTeigue, is.

To put it simply, V for Vendetta is about someone in a Guy Fawkes mask, overthrowing a totalitarian British government in a future world that has been horribly ravaged. In the comic book, the use of nuclear weapons has unforeseen effects upon the world's climates and Britain is brought to a state of desperate, vicious disorder before a group of conservative parties band together. They place the populace under the control of a fascist, but far more secure, regime. In the movie, Britain's ecological woes are brought about by that same conservative party, as a supremely underhanded means of taking power. Robyn pointed out this is likely meant as a reference to the Bush administration's involvement in 9/11.

I came out of the movie feeling good. Like I'd had a good time. For a few moments, I may have even forgotten that what I felt after reading the comic book a year ago was more like awe, mingled with sorrow and love. And it was also a lot of food for thought.

It's hard to know where to begin here. I was excited by the movie, by the fact that it had wordy, lovely dialogue spoken, seemingly at every turn, by yet another great British actor--look, there's John Hurt. And wouldn't you know, Stephen Fry's in this too! And of course Hugo Weaving . . . You don't get dialogue like that in your average big, blockbuster special effects film. And boy, I was grateful for it. And the scenes left essentially intact from the comic were tasty explorations of morality, or simply beautiful. I was very pleased that the story of Valerie, the woman incarcerated and tortured for being a lesbian, was taken almost verbatim from the comic.

There were things during the movie that rang false, or too easy, though. Even though my memory isn't the most reliable, and a year between me and the comic had gone some ways to making detailed recollection foggy (though I've been poring over it this morning). For example, in the movie, John Hurt was apparently directed to play Chancellor Adam Sutler (Leader Adam Susan, in the comic), as a two-dimensional, hateful caricature. While the people of London were shown as apparently oblivious, amused, or barely tolerant of this silly tyrant. In short, it seemed everyone in town not working for the government wouldn't have minded the people up top getting toppled--they just hadn't quite gotten around to doing it themselves. Furthermore, the meagre, broken-down dystopia of the comic book is replaced by something that looks very like a modern movie metropolis, filled with a hiply dressed middleclass in decent jobs. Basically contented. Occasionally, perhaps, they ponder why the man in charge is so silly and angry.

It is made clear that homosexuals have very good reason to fear this government. But no mention is made, as it is in the comic, of the fact that the government also exterminated all non-whites in the country. Perhaps because this would imply some complicity on the part of the populace in this barbarism, and would tarnish the angelic image of them we're given by the movie.

Actually, the difference between the movie and the comic can be perhaps most simply stated by saying that the comic was, in part, about the moral complexities involved in the change of social order while the movie was almost completely unmitigated propaganda. That I happen to agree with this particular propaganda allowed me to enjoy the movie.

But now I come to Evey, the other central character of V for Vendetta. In one of the starkest examples of the difference between the society of the book and the society of the movie, the movie Evey is a reasonably well-off intern at a television studio, apparently in her early twenties. In the book, she's an impoverished sixteen year old who, as the story opens, is attempting to become a prostitute, as her living situation has seemingly left her no other recourse. You may wonder what difference this could really make.

Well, this is where the movie is the Beauty and the Beast story that the book is not.

Movie Evey is a sort of everywoman who's there at first to be the avatar of reasonable reactions to extreme circumstances, particularly those initiated by V. But in another stark deviation from the book, she also becomes V's love interest. V is her somewhat monstrous protector, who sees it necessary to be a sort of beast in order to ignite a necessary revolution. But he cannot be this beast, who is meant to be an animated ideal of freedom, while also loving her in the traditional romantic sense. He must shed all aspects of personal identity and become the face of the human heart, and its need to violently overthrow those who would numb it to death. But his mortal love for Evey sees him slipping.

This dichotomy is complicated a bit when he creates a simulated environment where Evey believes she's been captured by the government, tortured, and is made to realise that the "last inch" of her, her integrity, is more important than whether or not she lives or dies--here, by the way, is another key difference between movie and comic, as the Leader in the comic is a man who believes suppression of freedom is preferable to death and V believes life in security is meaningless without freedom. The Chancellor of the movie doesn't seem to have anyone's interests at heart but his own.

Sore kara, in the movie, when Evey discovers V is actually responsible for her suffering, he pleads with her to understand that it was so she could reach a point where she could live without fear--though, it's interesting to note that, in the movie, she'd never seemed a particularly frightened person before, and after this experience does not seem to be an especially different person.

Anyway, how would you feel about a person who has romantic feelings for you deciding to imprison and torture you? It just might get in the way of the lesson he's trying to teach you.

Actually, those reading who aren't familiar with the story may be wondering how in the world that could work in any case.

This brings me to what I believe is the biggest and most tragic difference between the comic book and the movie--the character of V.

In the movie, he's a disturbed, fascinating, and charming character, due in large part to Hugo Weaving's performance and dialogue taken from the comic.

In the comic, he's something much more interesting. The idea in the comic seems to be; what if the man responsible for the changing of the world were very like a writer or artist, and the country like his canvas? V of the comic has from the start already become the walking abstract, the representation of ideas at work. He's a mutant, who's been experimented with by the government--the movie mentions this, but never explains exactly why that makes him different. I believe in the comic, Alan Moore means to suggest that V's superpower is that he is a sort of genius who is removed from human connections as no normal human brain is capable of being.

So Evey the child, the would-be prostitute, is frightened and looking for a father. And V, like an artist, thinks; what would make this character become the great, independent and strong adult I need her to be for her part in this tale? And like a writer, he draws from personal experience to create a situation for her that might do this.

V, you see, is not Zorro. He's more like Gandalf. And he is that way not only with Evey, but with the society he's trying to save. In the movie, he hijacks a television station to talk with the people about how there's something wrong with the government, how the government needs to change. When he hijacks the television station in the comic, he talks to the people as though he's talking to all humanity. He adopts the manner of a boss talking to an employee about his poor service record. He mentions human accomplishments like the wheel and agriculture, but says these are contrasted by horrible crimes, not only on the scale of nations, but also domestically, in the form of spousal abuse.

He says, "and it's no good blaming the drop in work standards upon bad management, either...though, to be sure, the management is very bad."

He goes on to say, "But who elected them? It was you! You who gave them the power to make your decisions for you!"

It's not the sort of character a popcorn chewing audience is probably interested in having as a movie's central protagonist.

As an action oriented comic book movie, it's pretty good. V looks great. The final battle is a curious fusion of the climactic fights of both A Fistful of Dollars and Yojimbo.

The sound design was a little dull.

But overall a fun, and at times beautiful movie. But the comic book was brilliant.

Friday, March 17, 2006


I've had it with these Thursdays.

So, yesterday, after returning here and going back to sleep at around 2pm, I rewrote the first half of the new Boschen and Nesuko script, then went to Tim's to play Final Fantasy X. Yes, I long ago beat the game, but suddenly I decided I wanted everyone's ultimate weapons. I've already unlocked Rikku's and Auron's, and, gee, it's satisfying seeing them hit for anywhere between 30,000 and 99,999 points of damage, after they'd been capped at 9999 for so long.

After that, I came back here again and wrote the second half of the Boschen and Nesuko script. I find I'm sort of a different person at different times of the day, and it can be helpful to coordinate that with what sorts of scenes I plan to write.

I watched Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast again last night. I wanted to after Wednesday night, when I watched the Francis Ford Coppola Dracula. That latter movie often has me thinking about what an underestimated influence it's been on media since it's release, and also of what a collection of influences it itself boasts.

I'd frequently noticed the many allusions to previous Dracula movies, but the other night I was noticing the influences from Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast in particular. The obvious thing is Dracula turning Mina's tears into diamonds, which is directly from Beauty and the Beast. But then there are similarities in the stories that make me wonder if Bram Stoker didn't have Mme. Leprince de Beaumont's original tale in mind when he wrote the book. In fact, I bet I've read about it somewhere before, but have forgotten.

It's too obvious--man is forced into a deal with a beastly lord while staying at the lord's castle . . . The deal ends up endangering man's beautiful girl back home.

But there are things about the Cocteau movie that are visible in the Coppola movie that aren't found in the original Beauty and the Beast story. Not only do the films respective castles bear striking resemblances, but I'd say there's a similarity to the main romantic relationships of both movies--and some interesting contrasts. Both movies feature the woman pitying the beastly qualities of the beast character--I mean, loving the beast not because of a perceived buried humanity, but loving the beast as beast. Though in the Dracula movie, Mina seems more interested in becoming a beast herself, which makes her character curiously more sympathetic.

One thing I like about both movies is that the beast tries to make the case that he's really as human, at heart, as the next Joe, but in reality clearly perceives himself as a beast. It's especially nice in the Cocteau film, as it seems as though the beast is essentially giving the story's traditional climax right in his first conversation with Belle. It leads you into wondering where the hell things could go from there. Where they go, of course, is into a more complex and interesting relationship. And it's much better than the Disney film where he needs Belle's love to fix his curse. In the Cocteau film, he needs Belle's love because, well, he needs love.

That's one of the reasons I greatly prefer It Happened One Night over Roman Holiday. They're both essentially the same story, except in the former, all the cards are on the table and we get to see an actual relationship. While in the latter, it's a silly game, and we can't imagine it amounting to more than lust.

Anyway, I'd better cut this short as I've a lot to do to-day.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Not much exciting happened yesterday. I went to Tower Records last night and bought Touch of Evil, and came back here to watch it. The stark, jagged black shadows were great on a large television screen. The movie's so good that it overcomes the fact that Charlton Heston stars in it as a Mexican. My favourite parts of the movie, though, are the brief scenes between Orson Welles and Marlene Dietrich. In the moment she tells him his future is all "used up," you get the clear impression of what this guy was, and the tragedy of what he's become.

For dinner, I went with my family to a little restaurant called Mimi's, which is done up in a cutesy cottage-motif, looking a bit like Geppetto's restaurant at Disneyland. As we sat down, my mother immediately noticed her plate was dirty, and gave it to the waiter. I laughingly observed that she and my sister always complain about the restaurant, that we always got dirty plates or cutlery, that our orders were frequently screwed up--and so why were we even there? Then I noticed a waitress in earshot a few feet away. I'm not sure what special sauce may've been in the vegetable quesadilla I ordered, but I had trouble finishing it.

I suppose I better get to the things I gots to do . . .

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Annie Proulx going on about how much Crash sucks.

Gods, what an unenviable position. First your movie loses to one that sucks a big fat one, and then you can't complain about it without being labelled a sore loser. Well, hell, who wouldn't be sore?

I first read about the article on Huffington Post, which only links to an article about the article. My link up there takes you to the real thing on The Guardian's website. Why Huffington Post didn't simply link to it is beyond me.

Anyway, speaking, to segue weakly, of moving pictures involving homosexuals, I last night watched the first episode of Iczer One, an anime OVA series that Owl pointed me towards.

Hot damn, was it ever a lot of fun. It's about an alien race of lesbians called--get this--the Cthulhu. And yes, tentacles are involved. I can think of at least one person who'd seriously dig this (Caitlin, I'm looking directly at you). I mean, it's not a series to passionately clasp to one's breast on cold nights but, jeez, it made me smile.

The Cthulhu have some kind of design on Earth, but they must get through Iczer 1, a warrior girl, and her friend, a human schoolgirl named Nagisa. There's some nice little horror scenes as the Cthulhu infiltrate Nagisa's reality, giving her disturbing visions and changing her family and friends into gruesome monsters. Plus there's gratuitous nudity and meka.

Mind you, I've only watched the first episode so far, but it's reminding me of what I love about 1980s anime, when the perverted and inventive side of the genre really started to take off, before it was corralled and reformed into the more assembly line product it too often is to-day.

It also broadened my appreciation for GAINAX. The meka fight scene at the end of the Iczer One episode seemed a clear influence on Evangelion, and I noted that all the GAINAX series frequently refer back to the classic perverted and demented anime tradition, using those modes to actually tell more complex stories.

Iczer One, at heart, is really candy, and it's not surprising that it's creator went on to do Magic Knight Rayearth. But what great candy!

And Owl and Robyn have barely talked about it in their blogs at all. How the hell do you ladies keep stuff like this in your bonnets?

Monday, March 13, 2006

I believe I fell asleep last night at about 4am. I got up at 8:30am to give Tim a ride to work, as his car's in the shop. I figured it's the least I could do, after he last night gave me a single disk containing the entire Iczer 1 series, as well as what remains of this season of Justice League.

Tim's job has apparently moved to a place in National City, which is a little ways south of downtown. After I dropped him off, I explored for a little while, as National City is not a part of the county I've been to very often. I've been curious about it, since it's where Tom Waits grew up. It was a nicer part of town than I was expecting, but still full of neighbourhoods of ratty, little cube shaped houses, looking like prototypical ghettos. These were interspersed with very clean, polished looking commercial zones. An alien visitor could, I think, easily determine who the ruling class was.

I wandered until I reached Euclid Avenue, which I recognised from occasions when I took the trolley downtown. It passes a new looking shopping centre with a Starbucks, major Supermarket (I don't remember which), the whole bit. But it's always struck me as resembling something painted by an army of angry toddlers--someone thought it would be a good idea to paint the place with bright purples, oranges, and yellows, in a sort of jigsaw puzzle fashion. It's evident that the surrounding community is rather poor, so this seemed a rather cruel joke on the part of some planner. Standing among those walls must make one feel as though joy itself is a hollow illusion.

I'm not sure what I'll do with to-day. I may write the new Boschen and Nesuko script, or maybe merely decide how to begin it. I may work on another project. I'll probably find out.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

I'm feeling pretty foggy this morning. Maybe because I'm out of coffee, and had to suffice with a cup of Earl Grey this morning. I need to go out for my fix.

Though, while I was in the middle of typing that, my aunt knocked on my door and handed me a bag of coffee beans. So, yes, I shall definitely have to go out, now to get this ground.

I'm feeling very lazy this weekend. I could have spent all night watching movies last night. I watched Sense and Sensibility for the first time in a long time. What a big difference from that new Keira Knightley monstrosity; actors actually sounding as though they understand the words coming out of their own months! No arbitrarily placed, overwrought wide-shots and crescendos! Plus, the disk has two separate commentary tracks, one with Ang Lee, the other with Emma Thompson. I'm looking forward to those.

Afterwards, I watched the first episode of the original Gunbuster or Top o Nerae. Tim was unable to find subtitles for it, so I was watching it in Japanese without any English aid. I wish I knew more Japanese, but apparently I knew enough, combined with the expressive visuals, to figure out what was going on. I'd seen the series in High School at some point, but my memories of it were pretty dim. I certainly didn't remember it having such great animation.

But, yeah, I need to work harder on learning Japanese. It's the grammar that's really difficult for me now. Constantly saying to myself, "Subject, Object, Verb, Subject, Object, Verb," doesn't help my ears to actually untangle the sentences. Of course, I know it ought to be more a matter of taking the ball of twine as is, rather than a matter of untangling.

I closed the night by reading one of the Sirenia Digest vignettes, called "Bridle". It seems Kelpies are quite sexy. It's a nice story of dangerous nature and eerie sex. That's not a terribly good description, but the best part of all these vignettes is settling into their indescribable atmospheres.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Here're some of the reasons I love Jedi Academy, with a little help from various mods I downloaded;

Here Dooku faces off against Jack Skellington. Who won? Well, who's the Pumpkin King in the picture? Count Dooku don't hold a candle. Especially when he's only got one and Jack's got two.

The Predator makes a beeline for Boba Fett. The Predator model was stolen by some modder from one of the many Alien vs. Predator games. Which is something that guys in business suits talking on their phones while driving frown upon.

At long last, Ewan McGregor Obi-Wan versus Alec Guinness Obi-Wan. They square off here in the Emperor's Throne Room from Return of the Jedi.

Things look grim for Ewan.

. . . but he turns it around. "Face against the wall, old man!"

Now it's getting nasty. Notice the burn marks all over their clothes.

Alec; "I already figured out this alternative to fighting, actually."

A courtyard from Hogwarts Castle. You can barely see Asajj Ventress down there.

Me using a sexy goth Twi'lek--one of the game's default models, actually--versus Anakin Skywalker at Hogwarts.

Inside Hogwarts. Anakin's trying to figure out how to approach me without letting me crush his windpipe.

Jack versus Luke in the Bespin carbon freezing chamber. Luke doesn't think the children of Bespin appreciated their Life Day presents this year. He knows who's responsible.

Me choking Mace Windu in the Japanese garden from Kill Bill volume 1. Or shall I call him Rufus? No matter; I shall rule this yakuza galaxy.

Yep. Mon Mothma versus Predator. The leader of the Rebel Alliance squaring off against the universe's ultimate sport hunter.

Then, when I'm fighting him, the ultimate hunter does a smooth back-flip into one of the Death Star's many bottomless pits.

Samus Aran versus Jack. It's just cool.

Back at the Japanese garden, Mace takes out his frustrations on Indiana Jones.

A chance closeup on this amazing, amateur-made Indiana Jones model. Much better looking than any of the models from the actual Indiana Jones games, in my opinion.

The House of Blue Leaves from Kill Bill volume 1. Here Yuna from Final Fantasy X-2 asks Boba Fett if he really thought it was going to be that easy.

Yuna chases Fett down the hall.

Oops. It seems Yuna overshot her quarry.

I was admiring myself in the bathroom, when the mirror tipped me off that Yuna was gunning for my be-tentacled scalp.

A modder named Sith-J-Cull created an amazing model of the Millennium Falcon;

The cockpit interior can be seen from outside.

Inside the cockpit.

Looking left reveals part of the Falcon's exterior--something they never managed in the movies.

The lift for the top hatch moves about as slowly as it did in The Empire Strikes Back.

But it gives you easy access to the dorsal side of the ship.

Cull also filled in a lot of the areas unseen in the movies, possibly using some of the semi-official schematics. Here're Han and Chewie's bunks.

Even the head.

Close inspection reveals Boba Fett toilet paper. No wonder he hates Captain Solo so much.

Hmm. Someone left the chessboard on.

A moment after Chewbacca ran Han through with an orange lightsabre. You don't play this game for sense.

I close with cheesecake; Yuna on the left and Leia versus Jack on the right;

I found most of these mods at PC Game Mods.
It's a rainy Saturday here. There was an actual storm last night, with lightning and everything. Big flashes of blue light and rumblings while I was trying to watch a movie.

I was cloistered in here all week as I worked on Boschen and Nesuko, but, of course, I had to be out for three hours in the dead centre of the day on Thursday. I bought four things, each for ten dollars; Mazzy Star's Halah, Oingo Boingo's Dead Man's Party, Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility, and Anthony Mann's Bend of the River.

That last was one of Mann's Westerns to star James Stewart, which Robyn had recommended to me. It was pretty good, though I didn't enjoy it as much as The Naked Spur.

Stewart plays Glyn McLyntock, a former bandit who's now looking for a better life by leading a bunch of settlers through Oregon. Stewart excels here at playing essentially the same character as Gary Cooper's in Man of the West. And this is a much better movie being, again, better written. It stays unpredictable while still remaining true to the characters.

Stewart's performance isn't as exciting as his manic, emotionally ravaged bounty hunter in The Naked Spur. Here he's playing a man whom you can sense all along really does have what it takes to be a reformed man of the community. This movie was made before The Naked Spur, but I greatly prefer its night scenes to the latter film's. Sure, it looks artificial as hell with lighting that makes locations look like sets. But it had more style, and I could see everyone's faces.

I barely recognised Arthur Kennedy as McLyntock's fellow man-with-shady-past, looking like a reduced Van Heflin. In sort of the way Rock Hudson--also in the movie, in a bit part--looked like the poor, dim, dim shadow of Cary Grant that he was. In Bend of the River, he has this helpless dopiness about him that makes it all the more amusing that he's supposed to be some kind of shrewd gamblin' man.

But aside from being an exciting and well written adventure, it has plenty of Mann's trademark beautiful shots of American wilderness. It's a kind of filmmaking that, I think, Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings harkens back to, in parts.

So it's a very good movie.

There was one thing I bought on Thursday that cost more than ten dollars--The Ditty Bops' debut album, which is good, very fun, and . . . I seem to have lost it already. Huh. I'm sure it's . . . around here somewhere. It came in this damn skinny sleeve. It probably slipped between the molecules of the carpet.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The new Boschen and Nesuko's up. It'll look like crap if your browser automatically downgrades image quality.

Like most difficult to draw chapters, it's a quick read. Sigh.
I'm tired.

Wednesday night and Thursday night, the question that keeps resounding in my head; "What the hell have I gotten myself into?"

I suppose it's not difficult to figure out from the previous Boschen and Nesuko what happens in this upcoming one. What I didn't anticipate was how damned hard and time consuming it was going to be. I mean, the last two pages I did demanded twelve hours each. Thank the gods I didn't get behind this week.

And I've still got the last page to do. I just hope there're some good autopilot programmes hidden in my brain somewhere, 'cause standard cognisance routines are getting spotty.

I suppose this bitching is just wasting time I could be using for sleep. Who knows but that fifteen minutes may mean the difference some way or another?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Um, anyone know why there are only three Representatives, all women, on the floor of the House of Representatives right now? Look at C-SPAN right now to see an interesting reflection on Women's History Month.

Gee, they're all Democrats, wow . . .
Last night I watched the Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice with my sister.

I haven't read the book. But I think I can safely say this new movie doesn't do it justice.

We begin with the first of several too-precious tracking shots as Elizabeth Bennet(Keira Knightley) moves through her household, wherein her mother, father, and sisters are busy doing business for the camera while the music and lighting are of sorts most bulimics would find serviceable.

Throughout the film, sweeping vistas and pummelling crescendos are employed by director Joe Wright to continually remind us what a great and rousing adventure this is. Occasionally he feels forced to acknowledge that Pride and Prejudice is actually an intellectual domestic drama. You can taste the fervour with which this guy wanted Nazgul put in the movie.

He also seemed dissatisfied with the un-operatic nature of the dialogue. One senses an alternate script was written up, and that he asked the actors to deliver the lines of one script with the emotions of the other. What else could account for a moment in Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth's dance, where, upon discussing Mr. Wickham, Darcy suddenly becomes Hannibal Lector to Elizabeth's Clarice? Or Elizabeth's strange, sulking interludes?

Sometimes it seemed more like Wright wanted to direct a series of music videos, as we're given shots of Elizabeth standing on cliffs or trudging through countryside that often seem completely unrelated to the narrative or anything the characters could reasonably want or do.

The only other version of Pride and Prejudice I've seen is the version with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier. Which was an infinitely better version, much less concerned with being a Glorious Beauty unto the Eyes of the Adolescent Goddess. They had good actors, good dialogue, and didn't seem to feel much else was really needed.

And what a miserable failure this Matthew Macfadyen guy was as Mr. Darcy. Dull as dirt, and he constantly seemed bewildered by his surroundings. This guy needs to be playing office interns and waiters in dull John Grisham movies.


I almost forgot to mention the time-lapse shot of Elizabeth staring at a painting or something; day turns to night while she stands there, until Mr. Darcy walks in behind her. I half expected him to say, "Oh, Ms. Bennet, you seem to have an awful mess there about your ankles."

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

See the human Simpsons. A strangely invigorating video, that.

I didn't realise until last night that Stephen Colbert was five for five on his Oscar predictions, using his DaColbert Code. Weird. But that man's happiness is infectious. I have to wonder if he was somehow tipped off, since his Executive Producer, Jon Stewart, was host of the Oscars.

I've been hearing some pretty widely varying opinions on Stewart's performance as host. Roger Ebert seems to feel he did perfectly fine. While over at MSNBC, , Stewart's labelled an "Oscar failure."

Some people are saying Stewart was funny, but the crowd didn't get it. Some are saying Stewart wasn't funny at all. Sometimes I think the comedic languages of individual television hosts and comedians are a bit rarefied, that you need to come from certain dialect groups or something. I know I'm a little mystified as to why Bill Hicks is considered funny. I agree with just about everything he says, but he just sounds to me like a guy expressing some views. Yet there're several people I respect who think he's dynamite. So I don't know.

I don't have a lot of time to-day. So I leave you with this delicious quote from Werner Herzog, taken from Roger Ebert's "Answer Man" section;

"Sure, centuries from now our great-great-great-grandchildren will look back at us with amazement at how we could allow such a precious achievement of human culture as the telling of a story to be shattered into smithereens by commercials, the same amazement we feel today when we look at our ancestors for whom slavery, capital punishment, burning of witches, and the inquisition were acceptable everyday events."

Monday, March 06, 2006

I see the war on women continues apace.

And speaking of things which aren't exactly celebratory of women, Crash(2004) won Best Picture at the Oscars last night.

I sincerely thought Brokeback Mountain would win. My favourite of the lot was Munich, but I knew that it didn't stand a chance in hell, as directors talented to the point of legendary status are seldom awarded properly, a fact which Jon Stewart alluded to after 3-6 Mafia won for Best Song--"Martin Scorsese: zero Oscars. 3-6 Mafia: one Oscar."

Jon Stewart was a good host. At times it felt like watching a three hour episode of The Daily Show, especially during the hilarious faux-attack ads for Best Actress, narrated by Stephen Colbert.

Anyway, my initial fury over Crash(2004)'s win has kind of diminished to a dull disgust now. For those of you who haven't seen the movie, here's my take on it;

The film begins with soft, colourful rain and sanitised, boring light jazz--a musical sensibility which continues throughout the film to make sure we, as an audience, don't ever get too excited. It proceeds then to employ a lot of actors to give us brief, prematurely birthed stories populated mostly by weak archetypes with weak, tiresome twists.

There's an Iranian couple who own a small store which is robbed because their door won't lock. The Iranian man hired an Hispanic man to fix the door, but the Iranian man was too impatient and irritable, and didn't know English well enough, too understand when the Hispanic fellow told him the whole door needed to be replaced. So the Iranian guy blames the Hispanic guy for the robbery and he goes to shoot the Hispanic guy. Only the Hispanic guy has a little girl who can leap four feet in the air and has a magical, invisible, bullet-proof cape, rendering the Iranian's gun useless. The Iranian guy seems to ponder this, but we never learn how any individual involved processed the episode.

Then, in a hyper-retelling of Driving Miss Daisy, there's a white woman played by Sandra Bullock. She's sort of a bitch, but then one day she hurts herself and realises her Hispanic maid is her best friend.

A cop played by Matt Dillon pulls over a black couple played by Thandie Newton and Terrance Howard. Newton and Howard were having a good time, and she's a little drunk. Dillon's a racist, decides to molest Newton, and later, in a scene I actually thought wasn't so bad, Newton grills Howard about not sticking up for her, in exactly the way I might imagine a slightly drunk person might act after having just been molested by a guy with a gun and authority.

But later, Dillon rescues her from a car wreck. We never find out how the characters feel about the episode. But it was re-enacted on Oscar night by, apparently, the cast of George Romero's Land of the Dead.

Then there's another cop who's not a racist, until, I guess, the end of the movie when he shoots a black man for no apparent reason.

By the time the credits are rolling, you feel like you've seen a slightly above average episode of the latest crappy CSI knockoff, though you sense its logic, in several places, wouldn't hold up under scrutiny. And you also realise that there were episodes of Star Trek that handled these issues better. Perhaps people are racist in ways I don't understand, but which may be exorcised by this movie. I dunno. All I can say for sure is that, forty years from now, this movie will be even more boring than, though maybe not as cloying as, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is to-day.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

I guess I've put the amount of effort I'm willing to put into My MySpace. Now that I've really sniffed around under its skirts, I can more authoritatively say that it is rather third rate. I guess it's a decent little place for advertising yourself, but the deemphasis on the blog aspect is sort of unappealing for me. I guess I feel the content of a person's character is better reflected in blog entries than it is in their photo and list of interests.

I'm not sure that's as trite as it sounds.

I'm using a background graphic I originally made for my blog. Blogger allows for much easier, broader customisation than does MySpace. Blogger actually let's you load the page template and let's you change any piece of HTML you want. With MySpace, you have to do a kind of circumventous hoodoo--which, oddly enough, seems to meet with the administrators' approval, even while they won't provide the most basic of tools with which to do it. So all coding has to go into the "About Me" field, which made me feel like a slave whose master's given him his very own woodshed.

I took a cue from Avarwaen and used mine to advertise Boschen and Nesuko a little. It was very nice of her to include the banner on her own site. I'm always rather pleased and flattered when people use it.

I noticed earlier that, for the time being, Boschen and Nesuko's gotten 200 fans on Online Comics. Which isn't bad, considering that it isn't a studiously homogenous teen romance manga, which is what seems to be the big craze there.

The number may drift in and out for a few days. I notice I tend to lose fans now and then. I can only presume they're people who think, "It's been much too long since there's been any violence! Too much talking!" or "It's been much too long since there's been any talking! Too much violence!" or "Where's the gratuitous nudity these days? I'm gone." or "What's with all the gratuitous nudity? I'm gone." Or just possibly, "This guy can't draw."

I always remember Oscar Wilde saying, "When critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself."

But all in all, I'm extremely pleased with the volume I'm getting. It's a rare day now when I get under a hundred hits, so I don't feel I'm sinking or swimming based on what I get from Online Comics. Which seems to have a very strange popularity system. Boschen and Nesuko moves to and from the popular section with no real particular rhyme or reason. It doesn't seem to correspond with the number of fans it has, though occasionally it goes to the popular section when I receive one positive feedback. Just one seems to do it, which seems very silly to me, as anyone could put a friend up to it and cheat their way in.

It doesn't matter a great deal to me, though, as I don't get any particular increase in hits from being in the popular section. The whole thing's rather useless, if you ask me. Not to disparage Online Comics, which has been by far the single biggest source of hits for me. But its automated and fan bureaucracies are kind of amusing.

I had some perverted dreams last night. First I dreamt that C3PO was using Star Trek transporter beams to molest children, all while Oingo Boingo's "What You See is What You Get" was playing in the background. I know; a Star Wars character using Star Trek technology? I am twisted.

I also dreamt I was reading a comic written by Caitlin and illustrated by Jhonen Vasquez. It was about a skinny blonde Japanese girl having sex with an oversized caterpillar that looked like a hedgehog cactus while being photographed on a polished black square, like the one General Zod was trapped in in Superman 2. When the caterpillar came out of her, it didn't have spikes any more.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

No less than three of my friends were talking about MySpace this morning. "Those suckers," I thought, "I'm not getting into that MySpace racket until I'm 90 and chasing teenage tail."

Then the voice in my head asked, "You're going to let someone else take the 'Setsuled' login?"

So here's my dumb mug.

I hope you're all very happy for getting a man of my sophisticated tastes to partake in such a thing.

Now, if you don't mind, I've got scantily clad dames to draw in me sketchbook.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Thursday was rather aggressive. Knowing that I was getting up at 11am naturally these days, it arranged to rouse me at 7am.

I had an appointment to take my car into the dealership to get its brakes fixed. The woman there said it would take until the end of the day and asked if I needed a ride anywhere. "No, thanks," I said. I thought, "I don't need no steekin' automobile anyway. I got two legs, as Terry Gilliam said."

I brought my black bag, which slings over my shoulder and which was a, oh, for these purposes, let's call a purse. I also had the brilliant idea to bring my leather jacket, even though the morning chill shortly thereafter disintegrated like a polar bear in lava. And guess what? I'd run out of deodorant the day before. I only mention it because the exact same thing happened to me last time. The last time I had to take my car into the dealership and then walk for long periods under the blood engorged breasts of our affectionate sun. Both times I said to myself, "I'll just buy some in the morning before I go to the dealership." And of course, both times I didn't have time.

So I walked to a Starbucks a few blocks away, purse flopping on my hip under my heavy black leather jacket. And yet, somehow, by the time I reached the coffee place, I had managed to not sweat even one drop. Mind over matter, I suppose.

I sat there for about two hours reading Caitlin R. Kiernan's The Five of Cups. It's a good book. I read about Gin the Vampire's shenanigans with an interesting priest, an angel, and a bird.

I finally decided to move on to elsewhere in La Mesa. I walked down a fairly steep overpass to the very busy intersection of Baltimore and Fletcher Parkway. As I was standing there, waiting for the light to change, I looked down and noticed a small brown bird, standing in the street, about a foot from the curb. She just stood there, tranquilly watching the car wheels passing inches from her face.

When the light changed, I put my hand under her. She slowly put one foot on my fingers and then the other. I looked closely at her as I walked quickly across the street. She didn't seem to be injured in any way--no blood, no oddly angled body parts. She didn't look sick. She fluttered her wings a couple times but didn't try to fly away. Her beak opened and closed as she looked at me.

On the other side of the street were a couple of middle-aged hippies. "Is it okay?" asked the woman.

"I don't know," I said. "It doesn't look like there's anything wrong with her."

"Maybe it's a baby," said the woman. At that moment, the bird flew away.

"It's a good omen, man," said the male hippie.

"I hope so," I replied.

"It's beautiful . . . God bless you!"

I kind of awkwardly waved to him as I walked away. Of course I thought about the bird all the way to Grossmont Centre mall. I went from wondering if I'd given her the wrong impression of humans, if she was going to fly into some redneck's backyard and get shot. I wondered if she had bird flu, and if I had bird flu all over my hand. Maybe she'd been someone's pet, but she wasn't the sort of bird one normally sees kept as a pet. She looked exactly like all the other little brown birds one sees in the area.

Anyway, I reached the mall, bought a small coffee, put my jacket and bag on a chair, sat tiredly down in another, laid my phone and book on the table, opened the book--and immediately received a call from the woman at the dealership, telling me my car was ready. It was 11am. Apparently "the end of the day" means different things to different people.

So to-day I do the first page of the new Boschen and Nesuko chapter. I'm happy I managed to completely finish the script on Wednesday, and I managed to have enough energy to work on the storyboards last night.

I shall now have at it . . .

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I had what can certainly be described as a good day yesterday. Or evening, really; the day was so insubstantial as to be almost non-existent, like very thin tissue. But the evening just got progressively better, so that by the end of it, I was jittery with happy excitement, far happier than circumstances probably really warranted.

On Tuesdays, I normally eat at my mother's house. There I watch Gilmore Girls with my family, which is an occasionally decently written show, though less so these days. However, my mother and sister were having some sort of "girl's night" with friends at Olive Garden (a restaurant), leaving me alone at my mother's house. I watched my DVD of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' Shall We Dance. I noticed it's not as well written in the first half as it is in the second half, and I wondered why. But already the pattern of mounting happiness was presenting itself in my evening.

Then my sister came in briefly to give me some cheese ravioli from Olive Garden. One of the keenest pleasures of my life is cheese ravioli, and I was very hungry at this point for lunch having been several hours before.

So happier I became, and upon returning here, I discovered Robyn had recommended Anthony Mann's Westerns with Jimmy Stewart, and I got irrationally happy when I found I had one already on tape.

But irrational happiness proved most prudent and wise, as The Naked Spur, the movie on my tape, proved very good indeed.

A movie many times better than Mann's later Man of the West, The Naked Spur is cunningly written. The screenplay was nominated for an Oscar it very much deserved--it succeeds in vividly crafting characters and stringing them through conflicts that are both fascinatingly unpredictable, yet consistently true to the characters and human nature.

James Stewart plays Howard Kemp, who's been provoked into the life of a bounty hunter by a very raw deal. Robert Ryan is his quarry, and Janet Leigh is Ryan's girl . . . You know, as with Match Point, I find myself not wanting to discuss many details of the plot, as one of the movie's joys for me were its surprises.

I'd seen Ryan in only two other movies, Clash By Night, and The Woman on the Beach, the former being a decent, dark domestic drama featuring Barbara Stanwyck with bad hair, and the latter being an American film by Jean Renoir, who seemed with it to be about as far from The Rules of the Game as Marcel Dalio was in Casablanca. In both movies, Ryan was a nearly adequate male lead, but in The Naked Spur, he's quite good at being plain hateable.

All of the supporting players were good and appropriately cast, but the great performance of the movie was definitely Stewart's. Where Gary Cooper was staunchly Nice, James Stewart was capable of injecting a disturbing, dark edge into his performance that contributed enormously to the movie's core beauty. In the midst of the plot's clever workings is a very compelling story of a decent man trying so hard to retrieve his decent life that he's almost ready to commit murder. The soundtrack of the film was quite good--the rough percussion and strings of the opening theme reminded me of Yojimbo, while Stewart's desperate, uncertain justifications and forbiddingly manic pleading for Lina(Janet Leigh)'s affections are accompanied by a slightly soured rendition of "Home, Sweet Home."

The delicious trickiness of the character relationships is perhaps best evoked in the scene of Stewart pleading for a wife who won't abandon him only a few feet from the man he's willing to kill in the desperate hope to ensure that future.

Now, although I didn't think Man of the West was a great film, it nonetheless didn't seem unlikely from it that Mann, with his eye for dusty, American wilderness, was capable of filming a great Western. And his contribution to The Naked Spur isn't insubstantial. Filmed in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, scenery is constantly used to great effect, and the movie seems to have been filmed almost entirely outdoors, with the exception of one scene on a cave set. It gives the movie an air of realism unusual for movies of the period, yet there were times I almost wish he had used a set, as the several very obvious day-for-night shots were a little jarring.

But, all in all, it's a brilliant movie that I only wish was available on DVD.