I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. - Groucho Marx


by Jake Goldman
May 19, 2015

If you trace the history of comedy across American television, you will find more than a few oversights and blunders in programming. Gigantic television networks are at the mercy of advertisers, and the people doing the advertising care, not about a show's content, but the numbers it produces. Got a impossibly huge audience in the coveted 18-49 demographic? You'll get the shiniest, most precious time-slot available. And, who cares if your show is filled with the same inane, recycled story-lines, with the same, neatly categorized characters you've seen a million times: the chauvinistic husband, the jolly-yet-stupid fat guy, the angry wife in high heels and on and on and painfully on. Who cares? You're pushing Pepsi and Pepto Bismol. You're moving mounds of Mounds and scads of Skittles. You're spoon-feeding America what they want to hear; you're doing the work for them, letting them kick their feet up and sit back, only moving when they laugh, on cue, with the fake audience that's also laughing. What a deep, Pavlovian mindfuck.

I've gone off the rails. What I'm trying to say here is: often times shows that take risks and go against banal convention are not rewarded. And it's a damn shame. There are many egregious examples: Arrested Development, Freaks and Geeks, Frank's Place, The Ben Stiller Show, and, case in point: The Dana Carvey Show.

Jake Goldman is a writer and a teacher. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.  Occasionally he writes songs.  If you are so inclined, check out Internetdogfist.com for words and Otsego.Bandcamp.com for music.

by Pat Kirkham
May 10, 2015

When Saul Bass (1920-1996) died these tributes were among the many sent to his wife Elaine with whom he collaborated from 1960 onward on film titles and on a series of short films. I knew him in the last five years of his life and came to greatly admire both him and Elaine as I wrote articles about the film title sequences they were then creating for Martin Scorsese. Before he died, Saul was working on a book about his work, including that with Elaine, and since 2003 I have been working with their daughter, Jennifer Bass, on a book (to be published this coming October) about all the main areas touched by his enormous talent and creativity.

One of the most famous, influential and versatile visual communicators of the twentieth century, Saul worked as both graphic designer and film-maker. During a sixty years working life he produced a body of work that is as diverse as it is powerful. He set up his own design office in 1952 and one of the joys of my research has been to unearth many of Saul’s advertisements from the 1950s. They show him developing identities for companies and products just as he did from 1954 onwards for film when the flame around a rose was made to move at the opening of Carmen Jones. It was in the mid-to-late 1950s that he expanded the boundaries of graphic design to include film title sequences, a genre that he transformed...


Professor Pat Kirkham teaches at the Bard Graduate Center, New York, and has written widely on design and film, including Charles and Ray Eames, The Gendered Object, You Tarzan: Masculinity Movies and Men and Me Jane: Masculinity Movies and Women. Among other things, she is featured in the short film Saul Bass: Titles Champ and Contemporary Days (about the British designers Robin and Lucienne Day). Her book on Saul Bass (designed by his daughter Jennifer Bass) will be published in October 2011 (Laurence King Publishing), as will “At Home with California Modern design 1945-65” in Living in A Modern Way in California 1930-65 (Los Angeles Museum of Art). She is speaking on the film designer Natacha Rambova (at one stage married to Rudolph Valentino) at the Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, NY on April 23 as part of a Fashion in Film festival.  

by Jody Elphick
May 10, 2015
There is almost no information about Kousuke Sugimoto in English on the internet. Thank goodness for Google Translate, you might think. After reading such enlightening quotes as “I did finely overstatement (laughs). Chest until the pupil or from internal ones”, though, you might think again. I eventually found a human to help with translation, but some mystery around Sugimoto endures. Therefore I present the following introduction, based on an email interview I did with Sugimoto and an article on the Japanese website White Screeni as a ‘based on a true story’ scenario rather than rigorous fact. At the end of the article you’ll find a brief clip-by-clip run-through of the videos in the reel so you can read along while you watch...

Jody Elphick is an editor and writer who lives in London. Her hibernating blog is at www.guardiangirl.com and you can follow her on Twitter @theguardiangirl, although don't expect any tweets.

by Kollin Holtz
May 10, 2015

Television. The box they buried vaudeville in. It’s an American pastime. There’s a T.V. in every room, especially the dining room if not right on the table. Once, there were only four major networks, and they’d make crap, and we’d watch it because that’s all there was. Since then, television has gotten better and better thanks to a multitude of content hungry cable networks willing to take big risks on original content, and distinct artistic voices in the hopes of a big payoff.

“One of four kids, Louis C.K. was raised by a single mother, and says he felt bad that she had to watch bad television when she got home from work.

‘I remember thinking in fifth grade, “I have to get inside that box and make this shit better,”’ he said, ‘”because she deserves this.” It made me mad that the shows were so bad.’”

Louis kept his dream going. Smash cut to years after the thought, and Mr. C.K. is three Emmy’s deep. One was a writing award from 1999’s “The Chris Rock Show,” and two were earned in 2012 for his FX show “Louie,” and his comedy special “Live at the Beacon Theater.” He has even gone a step further setting up his own online network selling his, and others poignant brand of comedy.

It was, however, a long road to get to where he is today. Louis never attended college, choosing to pursue his comedy career right out of High School. Between anxiety driven jerk off sessions, and a long series of ups and downs, he finally landed a job as a writer on the brand new 1993 late night talk show, “Late Night With Conan O’Brien.” He had just auditioned for SNL, and didn’t make the cut...

Kollin Holtz is a comedian, writer, and filmmaker living in a closet under the stairs in San Francisco, CA. Check out his website,www.kollinholtz.com for updates on his shows, and his podcast “Closet Talk With Kollin Holtz.” You may also follow him on twitter @KollinHoltz if ya fancy.

by Chris Sutton
May 9, 2015
In the canon of cinema verite, Japanese geniuses like Akira Kurosawa, Toshiro Mifune, and Yasujiro Ozu are celebrated not just as giants of Japanese cinema but masters of the art of moviemaking in general. Their legacies ubiquitously influence the entire world of filmakers, actors, and cinematographers. It is possible however, that most of this magic never would have made as large an impact to western eyes and ears without the tireless efforts of Donald Richie, whose championing of Japanese movies and the culture that nurtured them opened the entire world to these great artists. His most famous contribution to the art world was his groundbreaking book Japanese Film: Art And Industry, published in 1959, and is still universally regarded as the bible of the genre as well as over 40 other books about specific directors of note, original fiction, and his experiences as a traveling american expatriate...
Chris Sutton is a musician, writer, and artist who currently lives in Portland OR, and grew up in Olympia, WA. He plays or has played with numerous musical acts including Gossip, The Dirtbombs, Dub Narcotic Sound System, Spider & The Webs, Chain & The Gang, & Hornet Leg. Chris has been so obsessed with records over his life that he writes a vinyl collecting memoir/blog called Record Lections on Instagram and he is often seen Djing his new discoveries in local bars or posting mixes on SoundCloud or Mixcloud. He is also a big fan of visual art with a special passion for African American folk art, Impressionism, European New Wave cinema, and most eras of television. Most of the books he reads, whether fact or fiction, usually have drawings in them. Chris's best friends are his faithful rat terriers Juju and Queenie.