Letters to Holly

Tuesday, May 30

Memorial Day

The weekend was productive. I mowed and weeded the lawn. I cleaned up the barrier strip between the driveway and the runoff. I trimmed the shrubs on the walkway. I started the package design for Travis's mash-up CD. I fed the pets-in-law. I bought new shoes. I finished the X-Men videogame and started a Hulk game (crafted just like Grand Theft Auto, but you throw people instead of shooting them). I made wings and fries for Travis and Your Sister for the wrestling show. And I drew a bit.

We also watched some films.

Elizabeth: This was Cate Blanchett's first big role. It's not a great film; in fact, it's weirdly boring. It shows us the events without allowing emotional investment. Instead of telling the story, it shows it. Only Blanchett makes it noteworthy at all, as Elizabeth is despised by her court on religious grounds and assumes a throne beset by France and Spain. The composition of camera shots is top-notch.

Amelie: An utter charmer of a film, and I wished I had seen it before. Your Sister said she saw this with you in Chapel Hill but dozed off. Shock. She enjoyed it much more this time having seen the whole thing. We watched this from our TiFaux archive, but I'd like the DVD. This might be one of those perfect films to run in the background while working around the living room.

X3: I talked about this already, but I'm stunned by the virulent reaction by comic fans. The majority of online X-fans hate this film with a personal indignance. I'm left wondering another matter: Is Ian McKellan the most bankable movie star in the busuness? With two hugely successful geek franchises (Lord of the Rings and X-Men), he also stars in the Da Vinci Code which, I understand, is based on a some book by the same name. He's had some Oscar nominations and even directed a killer version of Richard III. If you needed an older white guy to bring heft to a role, wouldn't he be in the top three candidates?

I started both Saved!, a satire on Baptist high schools, and City of God, the Brazilian gang film. I'll watch them in chunks as time permits.

Picture of the Day
There may be two men who crafted and defined the style of comics and cartoons since 1960: Jack Kirby and Alex Toth. Toth died over the holiday weekend. He's not a name many know, but generations have seen his work. He provided many of the designs and model sheets for Hanna-Barbera cartoons for shows like Jonny Quest, Superfriends, Space Ghost, and Herculoids. He also drew comics and his work on "Zorro" may have ben his best. While Kirby was all about hyperkinetic body positioning (while co-creating the Marvel Universe of heroes), Toth focused on light, line weight, and simplified depiction. Toth didn't waste lines. When a new editor for the East Carolina University newspaper comics page took office, he assigned the cartoonists to bone up on Toth. He was the inspiration to follow: clean lines, strong composition, and clarity of depiction. Look at the third panel on the page below. No one did the light tricks like Toth.

In the news
The new treasury secretary candidate is the first major appointment by the administration that doesn't elevate a crony or policy parrot. Henry Paulson comes from Goldman Sachs.
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A riot in Afghanistan after an U.S. truck accident. A car bomb hits a prominent network news team in Iraq. The Marine slaughter-coverup scandal isn't helping our public image. We're distracted by Iran. I don't really have a point here. I just wish the adults who are supposedly in charge would show up and fix things.

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