Tuesday, August 3rd, 2004
Where Is My American Splendor
Is it troubling that I was able to relate a little too well with Harvey Pekar in American Splendor? Sure, I have better posture, a fuller head of hair and aren’t nearly as smooth with the ladies, but seeing this cranky, obsessive-compulsive, socially maladjusted character chronicling his day-to-day life for the consumption of total strangers hit a little close to home. But besides being a bit of a cautionary tale (yo Letterman, call me!) it was pretty damned entertaining as well. For those unfamiliar with the film, it’s basically a biopic of Mr Pekar, creator and writer of American Splendor, a long-running independent comic that chronicles his life as a file clerk and professional curmudgeon and illustrated by a rotating stable of artists. I’ve never read the comic myself – I have always preferred the more conventional mainstream comics – but have always been very aware of the esteem with which the book was regarded.
The movie is an interesting mix of live action dramatization with actors, some animation and documentary-style interviews with the real Harvey Pekar and his cast of characters. Paul Giamatti does a terrific job in recreating Pekar on-screen, more impressive when you consider that you get to contrast his portrayal with the genuine article over the course of the film. Using the original Letterman footage in the context of the film was also an inspired touch. It’s odd to consider this a comic book adaptation but I suppose it can’t be all costumed crimefighters and such. The balding social misfits need their day in the sun, too.
Stylus has gotten a facelift. It looks nicer now but the usability is still pretty crap, unfortunately. For example, their lead piece is The Producers, Part 2 wherein they profile some of the legendary (and not so legendary but still important) figures behind the scenes. Great idea, nice read. Where’s part one? No fucking idea. (Actually, I did find it here, but it wasn’t easy. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to link it off of part two of the article instead of having me dig through the entirety of the 2004 archives? I certainly think so).
I’ve been commenting on The Toronto Star’s series about growing up in various regions around Toronto, and for the third week in a row I have some connection to the city in question – this week, Scarborough. Scarberia. Land of strip malls and inspiration for Wayne’s World. I lived there from age three to ten and I moved away just before it began its ‘decline’ and earned its rough reputation, so I really don’t have any memories to speak of. I did move back for a four-month stint in 1995, though, and it wasn’t quite as I’d remembered it – hell, I remembered half of the city as it is now being farmland. I used to watch Breakfast Television before I left for work and make a mental note of where all the shootings and stabbings from the night before were in relation to my route to work. Okay, that’s an exaggeration – Scarborough isn’t that bad, I don’t think, though in relation to the rest of Toronto I suppose its earned it’s reputation as “the hood” of the city. Either way, I’m glad I got out when I did. If I was going to be bored out of my mind as an adolescent, I’d choose Oakville over Scarborough.
I spent much of yesterday afternoon playing with a couple of dogs at my brother’s fiancee’s sister’s house, one a corgi-lab mix and the other a hyperactive Jack Russel-chihuahua sorta thing. Talk about your pet therapy – there’s something immensely relaxing about just petting a dog for a while.
Wilco tonight. Am I excited? Yes, I think that I am.
np – Wheat / Hope & Adams