Friday, January 19, 2007


Every Christmas/New Year we've made a pilgrimage to Monterey. We stay at the Carmel Valley Ranch where you can find a decent deal in the offseason. We go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium which is wicked cool. Monterey is a nice town and Carmel, though pricey, is also nice. Since my mom-in-law was in town this past xmas we postponed our trip till this weekend. This ain't much of a post but I've been on a roll so I want to keep it going.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

GNO - Bowling

Every month I try to organize a "Guy's Nite Out" (GNO) for me and my male buds. The first successful congregation was a Thai restaurant in Portrero Hill. The second was the movie "Babel". A few nights ago we went bowling. The above sketch includes the guys who showed up: Ethan, Geoffrey, Mitchell and myself. It's fairly random as to who shows up. But it's good to bond, hang and have a few beers.

I suck at bowling.

First we went to Serra Bowl in Serramonte, but they are closed to the public from 6pm to 9pm Mon thru Fri for League play. The entryway reeked of pot smoke. My friend, Mitchell, ran into a highschool classmate from Little Rock, Arkansas. She introduced Mitchell to her fiance and he, too, reeked of pot smoke. We were on our way to Yerba Buena Bowl instead. The fiance said he used to manage a league there. We asked if they had league night that night, he said no, they're more into the "corporate" thing now. I have no idea what that means.

We liked Yerba Buena Bowl. Small but fairly empty. And they had beer. But instead of pot smoke in the doorway they had cops.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tracing the Progressive Raunchiness in Modern American Television

I start with The Simpsons in the 1980's. Matt Groening's depiction of the American family gripped the nation by the funnybone and never let go. It was accurate, blunt, unapologetic and hilarious. Only in animation could you get the spontaneous timing and outrageous visual gags. It stereotyped and made fun of stereotypes and became its own stereotype. There was subversive content in television before, but this was raunch on primetime television... for over two decades!

Married with Children took the Simpsons into live action but with two twists. First, there was no didactic punchline, nor redeeming quality, nor lesson learned. It was even more bold than its animated counterpart because it just gave a slice of ugly life, let us laugh at it, and left us with the conclusion that that's just the way it is, fugly. The second was sex - and lots of it. Married with Children flirted with cancellation almost ever season but continued to defy the networks it made money for.

And then came South Park. The Santa vs. Jesus tape of South Park made its way around thanks to the internet in 1997, heralding the current age of viral video youtube-ification. And people were just slack-jawed at the boundaries the cut-out kids were crossing, stomping, demolishing. Raunch reached all new levels thanks to Stone and Parker. But in their comedy there was often a point being made if not a moral, illustrating a "Hey look at how ridiculous this is."

Then Family Guy arrived and said, "You thought that was raunchy? I'll show you raunchy." It was cancelled amid controversy and then revived due to rabid DVD sales and audience uproar. There is no moral or point being made other than, "Let me show you how bad we can be on national tv." It's often just plain gross.

Robot Chicken on Comedy Central is nothing less than pure genius. And just plain wrong. It takes Saturday morning cartoons from our childhood, soap commercials, current celebrities and everything under the sun and puts them all together in a stop-motion extravaganza, juxtaposing elements in a way only animation can. It's rude, crude satire and you can't help but gawk at what new stratospheric levels of raunch American television has reached today.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Irene got me this book for the holidays and here's my review.

"Pyongyang: Notes from North Korea" by Guy Delisle
A Canadian animator goes to North Korea to supervise the production of the television animation he's working on and he tells his tale in graphic novel format.

It was good. Pretty straightforward but dry and witty and honest. Nothing glamorous but the honest depiction illustrated the extreme situation in an extremist country.

My mother is originally from North Korea. Just as the Korean War was breaking out her family fled, as many did, to South Korea. She remembers them carrying lots of rice and riding the train with many other people. She still has relatives back in North Korea so whenver there are talks of reunification it's too difficult for her to contemplate. I think there are a lot of stories like hers.

So reading this story made me think a lot about her and the relatives I'll probably never meet.