Posts from 6th August 2003

Aug 03

You May Have Missed This…

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 350 views

You May Have Missed This…

…but the selling of a comic intended for an adult readership to its target audience is now an illegal act in the US. Those who’ve been following the Jesus Castillo case will have a clearer idea of what I’m talking about. The Supreme Court yesterday turned down Mr Castillo’s appeal after a truly mind-boggling closing speech by the prosecutor, essentially telling the jury to ignore the evidence in favour of their own prejudices.

Be frightened.

Introducing — Commentary Conundra

Do You SeePost a comment • 242 views

Introducing — Commentary Conundra

*camera pulls in closely on tuxedoed figure* Greetings, my friends. We are all interested in mass media, for that is what you and I are going to be observing for the rest of our lives! And remember, my friends, future home video rereleases will affect you in the future. You are interested in the unknown, the mysterious, the catering — that is why you are here. And now, for the first time, we are bringing you the full story of what happened in that one director’s living room. We are giving you all the evidence — based only on the well-publicized testimony of the agent-ridden souls who survived this one hot afternoon before going out clubbing. The incidents, the places…my friends, we cannot keep this a secret any longer! Let us punish the guilty, let us reward the innocent. My friends, can your hearts stand the shocking facts about…DVD COMMENTARIES?

More to the point, heya. It has been alleged I apparently hate many things, including movies, but this is in fact a fib, I lurve ’em. And I lurve DVDs and I especially love commentaries, from directors, actors, key grips. Sometimes I find myself waiting for movies to end so I can actually get around to the commentary. I think it’s partially because it’s such a wonderfully disconnected medium — you don’t have to be watching the movie to concentrate on the commentary, necessarily, and usually some of the best commentaries ditch talking about it all together to yak about other things, and we’ll yet see a few of these examples.

So the idea is a (hopefully) weekly installment of commentary reviews — forget the quality of the film, although sometimes that will inevitably (and perhaps hilariously) be a factor. New, old, in between, doesn’t matter. No ranking per se but I will try at least to tell whether or not it’s worth it for you to be slogging through the movie a third or fourth time on your rental just to hear the one guy who worked in the sub-mud-creation department talk about how long it took him to animate the piece of slime in the corner. Because who knows, maybe it is?

Kicking it off:


Commentators: Weird Al Yankovic, Jay Levey, Emo Phillips, Michael Richards, Victoria Jackson

I figure the best commenting is a matter of combining information with sheer BS — not necessarily falsehoods but the type of random folly that just happens. This doesn’t quite actually hit that mark because the folly is a bit preplanned, but such are the ways. It’s mostly Yankovic and Levey — who besides being the film’s director turns out to have been his manager for about twenty years now — and of that it’s mostly Yankovic, who merrily details everything from stories of rotting fish to extremely specific street locations in Tulsa, where said film was made. Somehow the whole thing seems to suit Yankovic’s general persona as the guy who has faced celebrity with no more worry than that whole Coolio thing, and even that was a hiccup. Levey does have some things to say here and there and there’s a bit of behind-the-scenes ‘we did this to do this and have this happen’ stuff as well, but mostly this is about random memories and why Yankovic is tossing the grapes to the one guy and that Joel Hodgson auditioned for Anthony Geary’s role and things like that.

So it’s where it tries to have conscious fun with everyone else is where it succeeds and falls down a bit. The other three folks all put in obviously preplanned cameo appearances, but whether or not they’re done awkwardly enough is the question. I’ll buy that Victoria Jackson may have (supposedly) just been called up on the phone briefly towards the end of the film to talk a bit about kissing scenes and all that, she actually sounds a touch flustered. Emo Phillips suddenly saying to Yankovic after the man wonders where he is “I’m right behind you” is great but please — at least have him open the door or something (but the reenactment of the cut opening intro to their respective joint bit in the film is pretty damn funny). Michael Richards, to his credit, does not barge in a la Kramer, and sounds a bit distracted enough about his car being parked in the wrong place outside to offset his deadpan and low-key weirdness. There’s enough…not pauses, but moments where you want to see the stares that you’re somehow hearing. And who wouldn’t?

The Japanese are great smokers

Do You SeePost a comment • 258 views

The Japanese are great smokers (both in number and quality). I think I have found the iconic Japanese smoker though, Machiko Kyo – in her role as slightly long in the tooth actress in Ozu’s Floating Weeds. The film looks oddly anachronistic now – we are told early on that it is set in 1957 but this tale of itinerant players in a small town looks preserved in historical Japanese aspic. Only small hints bring us back to 1950’s Japan (itself a place of much turmoil) and the rampant smoking is one of them.

Kyo as Sumiko is the champeen smoker in this film, particularly for the way she disposes of her butts (a flick of the wrist sends it unerringly into whatever tin or box she has decided to use as an ashtray at the time). The defining moment though here is halfway through the film when her machinations have been discovered and she has been physically abused and sent packing by the Master of the troupe. She settles into the bar seat, orders a sake – hot as you can – then ruefully pats the fag out and takes it in her mouth. Taking a match from the box she lights it in one deft move, sending the dud match back into the box without looking. Two long drags tells us all we need to know about recovery from despair. She maybe at her lowest ebb – but she still does cool.


FTPost a comment • 852 views

The Rebirth Of Freaky Trigger

When I was small, one of my favourite TV programs was Blake’s 7. It was a sci-fi series about a group of rebels in space, fighting against oppressive regimes. I liked it for all sorts of reasons: it was exciting; it had a sexy villain; it had a cool computer with a funny voice; it was sometimes shockingly downbeat. Most of all I liked it for two simple, instantly appealing reasons. One of these reasons I could have explained easily, one I could never have put into words. First, the goodies were a team, and second, Blake wasn’t in it.


The Artists of Fitzroy Crossing.

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 313 views

The Artists of Fitzroy Crossing.

The New Yorker last week had a long article on indigenous australian artists, which provided certain cautionary tales about the market, among other things. The aborigines have the longest continuous history of art making in the world, and they traditionally used that art making as extended symbolism, as a pictorial depiction of common stories. So the art was on the ground, caves, bodies and other organic sources, and it was painted using plant dyes, ochres and other natural media. In 1972, they made a rather smooth transition to acrylic on canvas, and these works amazed the west. They had gone from being worth 60 or 70 bucks to worth 100 of thousands. The aborigines get none of the money from secondary sales, they are broke and basically being exploited. Some of the best artists come from Fitzroy Crossing, and they created collectively a series of two paintings that explained all of the symbols of the tribe, (see each citizen of the tribe would get one story, and a way to depict that story, these paintings would combine all of the stories.) They had decided they should sell one or both of the paintings, so they could have money for health care, clean water, new buildings etc. (one artist gets a certain sum for his work, sometimes as much as 60k a year, but he doesn’t keep that money to himself, he gives it back to the community.)

Things I’ve cooked (part 1 of many)

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 332 views

Things I’ve cooked (part 1 of many)

So, last night it was hot, the sort of weather where cooking becomes a chore even for those of us who love it. But for some reason I still wanted to, so made for the quick and easy Squid Salad!

Get some squid tubes, clean dry them. Then, slice the tubes into rings, and their accompanying tentacles in half (making sure you get rid of the inedible beak). Dip these pieces into a mixture of flour, lots of salt, lots of pepper, pimenton and sesame seeds and then fry in a fingers depth of hot oil. This will take about 3 minutes (if not less).

Serve these with some salad leaves that have been tossed with some cold rice noodles and a dressing made from fish sauce, sugar, salt, vinegar (I used cider as it was all I could find), a chopped chilli, garlic and thai basil.

Your kitchen will smell fantastic and your stomach may well thankyou, mine did.

Conduit right

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 212 views

Conduit right: I’m thinking that the Conduit Mandee links to below should perhaps be this Conduit, which I haven’t seen before but which looks at a cursory glance to be flash-heavy and fine.

I am attracted to the thought, though, that each site like, apparently all business and no pleasure, has a hinterland full of fascinating articles or web-based fun, accessible only if you know the secret password. If you have control of your organisation’s web presence, get annexing.

Look, look – Indie is king

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 883 views

Look, look – Indie is king. 28% of platinum albums in the UK last year were on indie labels. Actually further perusal of the story tells you that the true figure is 39% but that included albums which went multiple platinum – which is a distinction which I’m not sure is worth making, but then I don’t work in music sales. Has there ever been such a high point for indie bands like Liberty X, Craig David and…

I know, I know – this argument is about ten years old and thoroughly meaningless. Almost as meaningless as the term indie. Certainly I’ll be glowing when I play Liberty X tonight at the Freaky Trigger Relaunch Party because I manage to sneak some indie under the noses of the pop snobs here at NYLPM. In the end a press release bigging up a trade association – though one that suggests that when the talk is of manufactured pop, we should not always think of the large mill owners. There are cottage industries out there – Will Young is signed to one.

What’s worse

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 238 views

What’s worse than pushing your way through a knot of late-afternoon drunks spilling out of the pub and over the pavement? Being one of them.

Now I make no secret of my loathing for drinking out of doors. Sweating it out on stony pavements or uncomfortable and splinter-making picnic-style tables, breathing the fumes and the cig smoke which hang heavy in the heat (not to mention the contributions of some of last night’s less social pubgoers…) is not for me. But this time of year is my favourite for drinking in London.

While the City roasts, I’m enjoying the wide-open spaces left inside. Last night we were in The Champion: it’s a pub I like with the reservation that I’ve never found myself really comfortable there. I’ve long thought the stained glass in every window in the place to be a bit much. Last night though, the glass looked glorious but kept out unnecessary heat and light. It was cool and shady and my path to the bar was unobstructed. A modern idyll.

Readers of our new sister blog who are concerned that Tom has been neglecting his publy duties will be relieved to hear that he seemed to be enjoying himself too.