Sunday, October 09, 2005

October 9, 2005
This morning’s Arizona Republic held a nice surprise. The Viewpoints editor, Phil Boas, led with my History of Violence piece on the front page of the Viewpoints section. It’s actually a rebuttal to a column that ran this past summer on the “myth of violence” in the Old West. My scratchboard of the Hamlet inspired Ranger holding the sombrero-clad skull and pointing a pistol at it, is quite humungous. A very nice editorial plug for the magazine and the artshow still hanging up at Cowboy Legacy Gallery in Carefree is included. Dan Buck and Mark Boardman were quite helpful in getting the inside skinny on the author’s dubious claims.

If you’d like to see the piece it’s at

And speaking of scratchboard, here’s the final three images documenting the progression from total blackness to some semblance of Chief of Scouts Al Sieber’s visage. One of the tricks I’ve learned is to feather in the mid-tones with the sharp point tool, then get bolder with the mutli-toothed wire brush, and then for full-on high-lights, use the brush hook (sorry, I don’t know what these individual tools are called and this is an old surveying axe-like tool term we used when I was a rear chainman in the 1970s). The brush hook, when used properly, clears out dramatic whites for a bold emphasis.

Yesterday morning I drove down into the Beast to see The Last Mogul at the Fifth Annual Scottsdale Film Festival. It’s a documentary on Lew Wasserman, the agent turned movie mogul who was a dominating force in the entire entertainment biz, raking in fees with rumored mob-tinged percentages for a good half century (he died in 2002). It was quite good, but the doc tried to paint him as somehow tragic, fragile and unfairly dethroned at the end but it’s hard to feel sorry for a guy who made hundreds of millions of dollars in a fifty year career, then sold out to the Japanese for billions, with Lew’s personal take-home check a cool $300 million. The doc showed Suzanne Pleschette and others crying, so this diminished clout evidently passes as human suffering in Beverly Hills.

After that film I went outside, met the girls, Deena and Kathy, and got in line to see the next film, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. Wow! I really liked this film. It’s about two young intellectuals who are sent to the Chinese countryside for “re-education” during the Cultural Revolution in the early 1970s. The title refers to the two boys stealing a trove of “forbidden” books, including Balzac and Victor Hugo and educating the beautiful, but ignorant rural seamstress, who is a teenaged naive peasant. Of course both boys fall in love with her, but the enlightenment and influences from the reading of the books does not result in the effect the boys expected, nor does the film follow a typical Hollywood plot point of expanded love with a happy ending (see today’s quote, below). The “postlude” is both painful and truthful. We had ballots and I gave the film five stars. It is wonderful.

Afterwards we drove over to Grand L’Orange (or is it L’Orange de Grande?) for lunch. Big pizza-deli deal at 40th Street and Campbell. Nice talking to the girls. Had a BLT with guacamole and an iced coffee ($27 cash, I paid. deli-style counter service, but no tip for you! service was awful).

We going back down today to see Machuca, a Chilean film.

“Great writers are always evil influences; second-rate writers are not wicked enough to become great.”
—George Bernard Shaw

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