Monday, June 09, 2008

When I was taking out the trash a week ago, I opened the door to find two cats sitting close next to each other on the fence behind the trash cans. One of them was the white cat who only just recently let me pet him, the other was a striped grey I'd seen before. I immediately started petting the white, scratching her whiskers and chin, but the grey took a few steps away from me, I guess preferring to watch me and her boyfriend get it on. That was the night I saw The Cure and when the band played "Love Cats", I thought of them.

To-day, they remind me of a scene from Eat Drink Man Woman where some loud, lovemaking cats outside the Chu household prompts Jia-Chien to casually joke, "At least someone's having fun around here," and in the process deeply offend Jia-Jen, who's never had a boyfriend and is very defensive about it. It goes to show, I guess, no matter how innocent a remark seems to you, there's always a chance of hurting someone with it.

I didn't get the right pen yesterday. This is the second time now I've failed at pen buying in the past couple days. First I bought some 0.5mm rollerballs, but they proved wider than my normal 0.5s. I looked more closely at my old pen and saw what I needed was a uni-ball, which looks more like the company name than type of pen. Maybe it's both.

So yesterday, I bought some uni-balls with 0.5mm tip, only they bleed far too much. I looked again at my old pen, and saw that the only difference between the old and the new is that the new is waterproof and the old has the word "Grip" written on it, which I'd always assumed referred to the pen casing itself. Hopefully not. I always used to buy these pens by their familiar shape which seems to've been discontinued. I hope there's no conspiracy at play to prevent artists from achieving thin lines.

Lately while inking and colouring, I've been listening to the original Shadow radio serials, beginning with the 1937 shows. I'm enjoying it quite a bit; I'm finding the Shadow to be a remarkably sinister and sadistic--perhaps innocently sadistic would be the best way to describe it--superhero. Half the time it seems like he's only using crime-fighting as an excuse to manipulate people into bizarre and elaborate deaths, some of which are truly cruel. In one episode, the Shadow uses hypnotic suggestion from the backseat of a car to make the driver believe there's an oncoming truck, forcing him to swerve. The Shadow informs the driver of his trick, and then tells him there's a man in the road the driver needs to avoid. Of course, now the driver doesn't believe his own eyes and kills the man . . . And all this is followed by the Shadow's great, mean cackle. And this guy's a crime fighter! From the 1930s!

But what impressed me most about last night's episode was the perhaps more overt introduction of moral ambiguity as the Shadow is pitted against a shell shocked sniper. The episode explores the psychological destruction war can inflict on a soldier's mind and also asks us to see it as a tragedy when someone is on death row--previous episodes tended to portray villains as somewhat more two dimensional.

I've uploaded the episode, called "The Silent Avenger", here. It's from 1938 and features Orson Welles as the voice of the Shadow. There are more episodes for download here.

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