Thursday, September 27, 2007

"That's Right, FM Doesn't Draw the Fucking Thing at All!

When you have a moment check out the funny, furious little article on the supposed "Fall of Faye" (or is that "Faye of Fall"?), courtesy of Righteous Dudes and Cats with 'Tudes.

Also, take special note of the very "old school" Sally Forth above (courtesy of same web site, click on to enlarge) in which Hil appears to be a towheaded homunculus, Sally is inflicted with achondroplasia and both adorable dwarves are just a missing panel away from being hurled down the length of a bar thanks to some Cooper's-swilling Aussies.

Oh, and note to the site: Craig MacIntosh illustrates Sally Forth. That's his signature ("MAC") featured at the bottom of the daily strips.

"Mother, Oh God, Mother! Blood! Blood!"

Ever since it became apparent that Sally's Mom Laura might be spending some time at Casa Forth, the emails have been pouring in. Some are rather enthusiastic:

"Sally’s Mom is moving in!!! Yes!"

Others not so favorable:

"Don't let that bitch step into their house."

Unlike the initially abrasive Faye--who most readers welcomed with open arms because she gave voice to their own problems with the characters and strip--Sally's Mom has proved a far more divisive character. Detractors feel her presence lessens Sally and Ted's stature as adults, makes the Forths come off as helpless and reminds them of their own unpleasant interactions with their folks. "Friends of Laura" (F.O.L.) liken her withering remarks and "in-your-face humanity" in an otherwise genial strip to that of a nice, bracing shower of pure acid and regard Laura as proof that they're not the only ones who can't get through a phone conversation with their parents without screaming into the palm of their hand or hammering their own knee to divert the anguish. The end result is a significant readership schism, one so troubling and unsettling that it can only be resolved with the aid a quickie online poll.

So, dear reader, I ask you, "How should the current story arc play out?"
1. Laura moves into the apartment over the Forths' garage, starts referring to Ted and Sally as "Mr. and Mrs. F" and--during a very special week--manages to completely reassemble her motorcycle despite being completely blind.

2. Laura moves in to help the Forths raise their new child, a caricature of Jonathan Winters that ages backwards.

3. Laura gets shot at a gas station while waving to her grandchild seated in the Forths' SUV. Laura drops to the pavement and the car rolls over her head.

4. Laura moves in with the Forths and proceeds to close-out each week's story line with a Groucho Marx impersonation, telling some old joke about yet another uncle and complaining to the constantly visiting "sweathogs" about Sally's "world famous tuna casserole."

5. Laura moves in with the Forths only for us to learn that not only was the entire comic strip the product of a mentally-handicapped child's imagination, but that the mentally-handicapped child was, in actuality, a character in the alternate-universe diary Roseanne was writing in the final episode of her series, only for Bob Newhart to wake up from that dream next to Suzanne Pleshette...who was, in truth, time traveler Sam Beckett, who sadly just had found out that not only was he never going to leap back into his own body but that he was, in fact, Number One.

Remember, your decision could impact tens of readers (20 is a plural of "ten") in over three (but under five) newspapers across the globe (by which I mean Baltimore and Reykjavik). So choose wisely!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Autumn, What Took You So Long?

Fall has finally opted to make an appearance in Manhattan, a completely unscientific conclusion I draw in part from the chillier mornings--recalling elementary-school daybreaks I spent freezing at the bus stop, only for this eight-year-old fatass to wind up sweating to death outside during gym class three hours later--but mostly due to the single red leaf currently hanging over my backyard patio.

Of course, in addition to school, autumn immediately brings to mind R.E.M. For several years the guys from Athens released an album every fall like clockwork, providing the soundtracks to my sophomore, junior and senior years in college. This seasonal malady began innocently enough when I overheard a friend's copy of Life's Rich Pageant back in September 1986. From the opening chords of "Begin the Begin" I knew I had found the music with which I would inadvertently drive my remarkably forgiving roommate Drew--and frankly, anyone in earshot of our dorm room--batshit crazy for the remainder of the school year (actually, for several school years, until I practically brought next-door doorm-mate Dan Gezelter to tears from overplay). To this very day I still consider Life's Rich Pageant to be R.E.M.'s greatest work (with the possible exception of Murmur) and fondly recall seeing Michael Stipe accidentally fall off the stage at Cameron Stadium (and then dive off a few seconds later) during that album's tour (complete with Stipe yelling "Hello, South Carolina!" in North Carolina and opening band Let's Active, which was essentially Mitch Easter and whatever two women he was dating at the time). And to this very day I strongly feel that no introduction to this season would be complete without hearing the extraordinary Fall on Me.

So to help you ring in autumn the only proper way possible (at least according to this 40-year-old geezer), I give you the video to R.E.M.'s Fall on Me, complete with spelling error. See if you can spot it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Just How Many 11-Year-Olds Would Cite a 22-Year-Old Movie?

Five or six years ago I attended a Halloween party dressed as good ol' Scott Howard, complete with wolfman costume and makeshift "Beavers" basketball jersey. Being that I'm on the average ten to 15 years older than the people I usually associate with (read into that, armchair psychologists), I fully expected a lot of head-scratching, uncomprehending stares and long-winded explanations on my part about the heyday of late-80's HBO afternoon programming. But much to my surprise and relief everyone got the costume immediately, some even inquiring as to the whereabouts of my enterprising friend Styles.

Hmm, perhaps given the cult status of Arrested Development and the resurgence of its main star this year I'll go as Teen Wolf Too. After all, who could possibly forget that absolutely hilarious scene when he, uh...umm...turns into a werewolf?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Lost Masterpiece Rescued from the Vaults

First, I want to apologize for the paucity of blog posts over the past few weeks. I've been heavily involved in several projects as of late, leaving me little time for this site. But hopefully one or more of those will soon come to fruition and I'll be able to explain more here (including whatever happened to a certain seemingly forgotten comic strip).

Second, I want to share with you one of the most quietly haunting yet critically lionized films of the later half of the 20th century. A celluloid masterpiece that left the Cahiers du cinéma practically grasping for superlatives, as if vocabulary itself had proven an insufficient instrument for emotional and intellectual expression. An exemplar of the art of motion pictures that disrupted expectations, disquieted viewers and displayed a genius that years later Pauline Kael said proved once and for all that "rather than ask the deaf cosmos 'What's the meaning of life?' we should instead inquire of ourselves 'What does it mean to feel truly alive?'" A film titled:

Since the endless merits of Gumby on the Moon (click here to watch) have caused the very shelves of Film Comment to groan under the sheer weight of published praise, it is probably best we focus on the movie's most celebrated achievements:

* No other film has ever been so frighteningly unequivocal in it's simple yet brutal philosophy--the point of life is to keep living. Watch as rather than question how he came to be on the moon, Gumby quickly--almost instinctively--takes to the sole task of surviving on its surfacing, eluding the seemingly unmotivated yet all too menacing and deliberate pylons. In fact, the very battle of wits between our hero and his attackers makes us question if our enemies are the results of our actions or does our very existence begat combatants. In short, are we as individuals in control of anything outside of our desire to see yet another day?

* Around the same time Jean-Luc Godard and Luis Buñuel reveled in what they perceived as the very foundation of humanity--misanthropy--master filmmaker and Gumby creator Art Clokey no doubt realized that while our sole drive and purpose was survival, he by no means considered it a selfish impulse (after all, we all must help the one, for in their endurance we all continue). Note how although abandoned, Gumby is never truly alone but rather under the watchful eye of an attentive, altruistic being--in this case, his father. Now whether we are to take Clokey's notion of "father" literally or as a none-too-subtle allusion to a more heavenly "Father" has long been debated in the halls of film academia and so will almost certainly not be resolved here today. But that very scenario does allow for one of the most oft-quoted and debated lines in movie history--"Yep, he's on the moon all right. I've got to go after him."

* While most film scores try to fill your senses in the hopes of conjuring reality and reaction, the soundtrack to Gumby on the Moon actually seems to create space, allowing for a distance that consequently makes you feel that much closer to the protagonist. This very aural space also permits the viewer to recall their own desires for absolute silence and solitude. As humans we all long for seclusion from time to time but fear that what may at first be an occasion for personal reflection could lead to an extended period of social regression. How much time do we truly require alone? How regularly do we need the company of others? If we often find that we are alone does that mean we are lonely? If we often find ourselves with others does that mean we do not effectively exist as one? These are the questions the score allows us to ponder, with no pat answer ever provided.

* In the world of Gumby reality is the fiction we compose with the tools most immediate to us. Note how the moon is clearly not the moon but rather a model hung by string over a table. Still, as far as the protagonist is concerned is it not just as desolate and true as our own lunar companion? In a sense the movie's art direction is a statement on the act of art direction itself, boiled down to a filmic de glace for a rich, potent minimalist approach that makes the set of Dogville look like Cleopatra.

* The dad's fur astronaut coat is simply to die for.

Well, that is all for today. I hope you found this discussion both enlightening and edifying. Please join me next time when I discuss the conceptual and artistic triumph that is Catch That Pigeon: The Pilot Episode.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

"Um, Okay, So What's the Deal with Today's Punchline?"

Short answer: This.


The drummer for Gang of Four--Hugo Burnham--just requested the original art of the above Sally Forth comic strip from last year.

Let me repeat that: A freakin' member of freakin' Gang of Four asked for a freakin' Sally Forth strip!!!

That's it. I can't do any better than that. My work with the strip is done.

PS: I promise to start blogging again on a regular basis.