improvised jazz has the ability to grab my mind whole, shake it, and set it back in place. i’m left pleasantly disoriented and mentally exhausted. the convergence of george lewis on trombone, marilyn crispell on piano, miya masaoka on koto, and hamid drake on drums was one of those blissful events.

george lewis does things to a trombone that are quite gross to watch, yet you can’t take your eyes off of him. every few moments he seems to be emptying his spit trap, and between songs he mops himself down with a towel. the man has a great deal of saliva, and he needs it to do what he does. rumbles, moans, squeals, low whistles, and whispers.

patient and adept, lewis has no problems finding his entrance points or knowing when to sit back and groove to what someone else is doing. lewis represents what i love about improvised music. he is jazz.

crispell does fine work on piano. she, too, is a patient player, never forcing the music together. her presence on the stage is understated, though her output is serious.

while we sat waiting for the show to begin i puzzled over the koto on stage, not having a clue what it was doing there. masaoka did things to a koto that i wouldn’t have imagined. i perceive it as such a traditional instrument, and yet here she was thumping on the bottom of it while she forced it to surrender all of its possible music.

i didn’t focus enough on drake’s percussion, unfortunately. it was there and it was fitting. lewis is a captivating figure, and it was difficult to see that there was anyone else on the stage.

june 28th, 2003, 8pm, vancouver east cultural centre

alice doesn’t live here anymore

alice hyatt’s life has gone all wrong. her marriage has collapsed. her son, tommy, is a smartass. her direction in life is all screwed up. and, as if things couldn’t get worse, alice has a sparkle of ambition. the lucky part is that she has the gumption to make it all work out in the end.

ellen burstyn plays alice, one of those rare characters who come to symbolize a certain kind of struggle. alice shows how the single mother can use her wits and talent to push through ridiculous circumstance. she also shows us how we are all flawed in our desperate attempts to find happiness in those around us.

first there is ben (a very young looking harvey keitel), the peppy and ill-tempered guy who patrons the bar she finds work singing at. unfortunately, ben is a sleazebag who likes to break things. alice keeps on trucking.

next comes a small town diner where alice gets a job waitressing. two things come from this – a tv sitcom that spins off of the film, and the strong acting of kris kristofferson as david. david is a bit of a drunk, though he is more kindhearted than the other men in alice’s life. alice wants a piece of happiness, a calm life filled with caring people. this struggle keeps her in the midst of unhappiness.

it’s the dialogue that makes the characters so real. like this one from tommy while he’s unsuccessfully trying to milk a cow under the criticism of david:

“bullchrist! she’s got tits the size of cucumbers. what do you expect?”

martin scorsese’s 1974 film is a real triumph. i’m struggling to think of a film predating alice with a strong female protagonist who goes through real life shit. regardless, scorsese sure knew how to throw them out in the 70s. and the 80s. and gangs of new york was ok.

ellen burstyn manages to make alice believable, charming, funny, and endearing. it’s incredible that this is the same woman who, 26 years later, would play outrageously messed up sara goldfarb in requiem for a dream. it’s no wonder she won the best actress oscar for alice, but i’m still wondering how she was robbed for requiem.

brideshead revisited (1981)

evelyn waugh has a wicked sense of humour, and brideshead revisited is no exception. we picked up the 750 minute mini-series from the local library in hopes of some decent entertainment, and here are the results.

episode 1: et in arcadia ego
we are introduced to charles ryder (jeremy irons). wow, young irons. he is in the military, suffering the idiocy of powerfreaks. we learn he is a painter, and quite sensitive to the social sufferings of his fellow officers. soon our characters wind up outside an estate known as brideshead. ryder has been there before. and so begins a journey into the history of charles ryder and how he came to know brideshead.

charles attends oxford and is one of the good boys. soon he winds up hanging out with the dandies, developing a reputation with a certain sebastian flyte (anthony andrews). sebastian is a chap who insists on carrying about a large, stuffed teddy bear named aloysius with him.

school ends, charles ends up at home. blast. boring. however this is probably the most amusing bit thus far. john gielgud plays his father, edward, an eccentric fellow who appreciates imaginary constructs and torturing the young charles with condescension. gielgud is hilarious here. alas, the fun must end as charles receives a note that sebastian is hurt and he must rush off by train to brideshead at once.

episode 2: home and abroad
brideshead. charles and sebastian spend many days wandering the estate and drinking vintage wine while sebastian’s foot heals. we are introduced the rest of the brideshead clan, and wander through much discussion of religion, specifically catholicism. we get to see jeremy iron’s scrawny white ass. a boring episode, really, compared to the first one.

suddenly i realize that the figures of charles and sebastian in venice is very reminiscent of the talented mr. ripley, and that if they ever redid brideshead the character of sebastian would undoubtedly be played by jude law.

episode 3: the bleak light of day
a decline episode. charles and sebastian begin strongly together, and through the episode they grow apart. as charles notes, while moving closer to sebastian’s family he floats farther apart from sebastian.

after a proper function they get royally drunk, go for a ride in a motor car with some ladies, and sebastian ends up facing drunken driving charges. they are saved by the quick thinking rex mottram, who contrives a plot in which the crown is convinced that sebastian had just come down from oxford and was not at all accustomed to wine. rex is played by a youngish charles keating, whose presence immediately dredged up childhood memories of watching the american soap another world as a boy, during summers away from school. charles keating played that rascal carl hutchins, who i quite liked.

the significant event this episode of brideshead is the mysterious disappearance of dear aloysius. his flightful air and benevolent manner is missed gravely. i suspect the remaining episodes shall not be the same without him, as sebastian continues his decline into drunken adulthood. if only our brave aloysius were there to support him through these troubling times.

episode 4: sebastian against the world
the fall. sebastian’s drunkenness reaches new lows. his depression and alcoholism are brought into the open through several unbecoming incidents. sebastian is sent down from oxford, and he goes abroad for travel with his caretaker. charles is simply crushed by this news. while charles is packing up after his term at oxford our old boy aloysius makes a guest spot. huzzah aloysius! i hope he doesn’t turn into a drunkard like his friend sebastian.

charles’ father approves of him quitting oxford to take up painting. his father that this should be done “abroad” if at all possible. more gielgud. huzzah again!

it is painful, however, watching charles skirt around the edges of a family collapsing in upon itself. they want to pull him in and reject him all at once. poor charles. for fans of jeremy irons’ physique, there is more of it in this installment.

episode 5: a blow upon a bruise
charles and sebastian spend a holiday together at brideshead by chance. the bottles are initially banished, but sebastian is a fiend on the prowl. eventually the family lets him at the drink and he obliterates himself. there is talk of an intervention.

the title of this episode says it all. a very sad affair. charles is away crushed. we now understand the sadness he faces in episode one when he first sets eyes on brideshead after so many years.

looked on the back of the video and realized we are not yet at the halfway point. this is fine by me, as it is turning out to be an admirable series. we acquired these from the library, so i’m hoping i can find the other 975 episodes haven’t been rented by someone who’s died or absconded with them when they fled the country. worse yet, we’ll find all the episodes are viewable except the last half hour of the series which is garbled in some way. that’s the risk of mini-series by library.

about two months in which the middle episodes in the brideshead series are rented from the public library by another individual, as i feared would happen, causing much irritation and waiting. and waiting. and waiting.

episode 6: julia
where were we? ah, yes. sebastian has disappeared, with 300 quid, though he was left under the watchful eye of rex. but this episode of brideshead, as titled, is about julia. it begins with memories (note: things that happened in the past must be remembered in sepia). then it moves on to the roots and development of the relationship between julia and rex. perhaps the most memorable part of this episode involve rex’s attempts at converting from protestantism to catholicism. he approaches the task with the logical mind of a businessman, thinking he can simply sign a form and be done with it. his character infuses much needed wit into this episode. nonetheless, this digression from the primary plot is a welcome narrative, and amusing unto itself.

episode 7: the unseen hook
charles learns of the whereabouts of sebastian. upon the request of lady marchmain on her deathbed, charles goes to fez to convince him to come to england.

what charles finds is a broken man, withered by drink and having taken up with a nasty german fellow. this is the last we will see of sebastian, broken and pitiful.

the one bright spot in this episode is the appearance of charles’ father and his brutal wit and harsh honesty.

episode 8: brideshead deserted
charles is commissioned by bridey to paint the house, which charles gladly does.

now this is where things became confusing for me. perhaps i blanked out or the series is simply confusing. charles, seemingly out of nowhere, is married. he returns from a two year trip through south america and mexico and we find out that he has a wife that he had left behind. say what?

the notable bit in this episode is the awful looking beard that charles emerges with. fortunately, he will soon have it removed. only a ghastly moustache shall remain, a reminder that the series soon draws to a close and we near the time whence the drama began so many episodes ago.

episode 9: orphans of the storm
or, the charles and julia get it on episode.

after much coo-cooing charles and julia come out in the open with their love, and both charles’ wife celia and julia’s husband rex are well aware.

this episode also contains the brief return of the absurd anthony blanche. it is difficult, really, to describe how absurd the man is. he made me think of tim curry.

episode 10: a twitch upon the thread
bridey is engaged, and will eventually lose his virginity (there is a great joke about this made in the final episode by lord marchmain, bridey’s father).

as well, cordelia returns. she was in spain helping the wounded during the civil war.

everyone seems pleasant enough and the sight of charles and julia being close has grown commonplace. this is a sad episode, in some ways, as we know our tale will soon wind to an end. we can sense the threads of closure sewing shut the grand narrative of brideshead.

episode 11: brideshead revisited
war looms. lord marchmain returns from abroad to brideshead, displacing bridey, largely because he has come home to die. the episode begins with a great deal of wit by lord marchmain, but quickly dissolves into a struggle over religion. the children are all aghast that their father has repelled the priest and the concept of a religious death. charles is in complete accord with lord marchmain and this is the cause of certain strife with the family. the theme of religion and morality strung throughout the episodes reaches its apex here.

father mackay is brought in for absolution while lord marchmain seems to be at death’s door. there is a scuffle, charles vehemently arguing that the father should not be allowed in while lord marchmain is still alive as the shock may be enough to kill him.

these are the final turns around the noose that charles ties for himself. you had the lady! you had the house! and you flushed it, charles. his cynicism towards religion and belief in truth get the better of him and he forces himself out of julia’s life.

it is all little more than a memory now. charles goes off to war, and brideshead represents a fond but depressing reminder of yesteryear when he comes across it one cold day in the course of duty during the war.

the house is empty, save for a few serving girls, much military equipment, and old nanny hawkins in her room. charles takes tea to old nan and gets the goods on the recent history of the marchmains. nan reminded me of a delightful nanny i once knew, the grandmother of family friends, the kind of elderly lady that outlives most of her children, grandchildren, and possibly great-grandchildren.

later, a young soldier says to charles, “you said you knew this place before.”

“yes. it belongs to friends of mine.”

charles still has his sense of humour when he jokingly says “i’m homeless, childless, middle-aged, and loveless.” after a bit of cheering he makes his way to the chapel, kneels, and says a prayer.

what is to be said? a thousand other shards of narrative than i have given here. this is a slow moving story that is filled will countless touching, humourous, and intriguing moments. it leaves you feeling complete and tired, having traveled the long journey through charles’ life as a young man and into middle age.

although the sheer size of this series is daunting, i encourage you wholeheartedly to take it on one wintry week when you are well stocked with bombay sapphire tonics and your heart is open to the world of evelyn waugh’s brideshead.

newspapers and journalism

apparently someone in our office reads business in vancouver, as it came in the mail with a magazine of lists. there are lists for everything imaginable, but the one that caught my eye was for biggest newspapers in the vancouver area. they listed the top 20 vancouver area newspapers (by circulation), and here are the highlights with a few notes below.

newspaper circulation paid/free # employees
vancouver sun 203,101 (daily avg) paid 1,000 (pacific newspaper group inc.)
province 167,565 (daily avg) paid 1,000 (pacific newspaper group inc.)
vancouver courier 132,650 free 41
georgia straight 120,000 free 60
now newspaper 110,000 free 40
surrey/north delta leader 82,300 free np (40 last year)
north shore news 64,255 free 79
newsleader 61,863 free 15
the now 52,500 free np (last year 25)
tri-city news 52,296 free 65
north shore outlook 50,279 free np
burnaby now 49,000 free 26 last year
westender 46,250 free 17
globe and mail 48,245 (m-f)
68,763 (sat)
paid 30
richmond news 46,137 free 16
national post 45,923 (m-f)
46,611 (sat)
paid 7
richmond review 45,500 free 32
abbotsford news 44,223 free 125 fte
abbotsford times 42,175 free 26
advance news 38,750 free 20

and now for some basic observation:

  • of the 20 papers listed, only 4 have paying readers
  • 11 of the papers are owned by canwest global communications corp.
  • 7 of the papers are owned by black press
  • the 2 remaining papers owned by vancouver free press corp. and bellglobe media
  • 6 of the papers have less employees than they did last year, 3 have more, and the rest were the same or didn’t report
  • the national post dropped 6 positions from last year, while the globe and mail dropped 5. the paper rankings are based on circulation, so it appears canadians are reading the ‘national’ papers less. my guess is that they go online for this info. or they get enough canwest reprint in the local rags so they don’t bother with a national.
  • there are probably many other observations the acute could draw, but i am not on the ball this morning.

my conclusion is that i would never, ever get into journalism. i’ve met a few journalists and none of them seem very happy. the newspaper business has too many power games, too few resources, and too much frustration.

and the jschools keep pumping these poor kids out at a steady clip.

journalism is a profession that has many similarities to the tech industry. tim bray posted some interesting comments lately, and i think there are strong parallels.

gastown sightseeing

we’ve moved offices, and now i find myself on the corner of abbott and water, staring at the harbour centre, waterfront station, the vancouver sun building, the rail yards that i’m next to, and a big crane that is helping in the demolition of the water street parkade.

it is a fabulous view, and if i had a digital camera at my disposal at the moment i would take a photo for you.

perhaps the most wonderful part is being near the rail yards, which i love. while the sound of railcars being joined together is a bit loud, i like looking at graffiti that has made its way here from all over the country.

as well, i’m currently considering working on a monograph on the mating rituals of the common pigeon. i can see onto the roof of the building next to us, and get to watch the curious behaviour of pigeons in love (or whatever it is pigeons fall into).

while moves are never stress free, it has been a joy to move back into a busier area as opposed to the quieter industrial zone several blocks to the east we previously resided in.

perhaps one of the best parts is that i can now get to work in just under an hour, a travel record for this weary commuter.

the prime of life

this is as open a book as a 1960 publication date would allow simone de beauvoir. in it is an insightful and honest exploration of self and society through the 1930s up to the liberation of france in 1944.

the prime of life covers an enormously influential and developmental period for beauvoir, and goes into great detail about her relationship with sartre, camus, and many other french intellectuals of the time, as well as her close relationships with less famous friends and family.

beauvoir documents the growth of her independence in thought and spirit, sharing intimate details about her misgivings and epiphanies. she is an admirable figure, one that courageously sets out on a path of the understanding of self and other.

she documents with detail what life was like during the german occupation of france during the second world war, and shares diary entries from the period. we learn about sartre’s enlistment to the military, his capture by the germans, and his subsequent escape. the reader gains an appreciation of the difficulties facing the intellectual left in france at that time period, and how they worked together.

i simply cannot say enough about this book. while i always have enjoyed learning about beauvoir’s life (largely through deidre bair’s biography), it was a friend that gave me the prime of life as a gift. this is one of the most remarkable books i’ve had pressed upon me, to which i am most grateful.

simone de beauvoir is a writer with clarity and humility that fully expresses the struggles of the individual during this socially difficult and intellectually explosive period in french history. whether it is due to the numerous anecdotes, the enchanting philosophizing, or the brazen honesty, this is one of those few books i recommend with insistence.

nicholas nickleby and much gushing over dickens

my love of dickens goes back to high school. in grade twelve we read the mystery of edwin drood, dickens’ last unfinished novel. our task was to write an ending to it. what a strenuous and rewarding task. how rich the language, how thick the social commentary. regardless of the predictability of a dickensian plot-curve, i cannot help but feel enveloped by his sense of narrative and his striking turn of the phrase. he is a social satirist without equal, and i readily admire his prose. take the opening of bleak house – there is nothing its equal. if you disregard dickens completely, at the very least read the first few paragraphs of this masterwork. you cannot deny the brilliance. i am a terribly cynical and sarcastic man, and i unabashedly adore dickens.

LONDON. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow-flakes — gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. Dogs, undistinguishable in mire. Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. Foot passengers, jostling one another’s umbrellas in a general infection of ill-temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if the day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest.

Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards, and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little ’prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon, and hanging in the misty clouds.

Gas looming through the fog in divers places in the streets, much as the sun may, from the spongey fields, be seen to loom by husbandman and ploughboy. Most of the shops lighted two hours before their time — as the gas seems to know, for it has a haggard and unwilling look.

how can one not disappear, consumed by the wealth of detail and voracious quality of such writing? i always have the sense that great art should invoke in me a feel of hunger, and dickens does not fail to provoke such ravenousness.

the 2002 film version of nicholas nickleby manages to succeed at bringing to screen dickens’ thick and thoughtful prose. it captures the melodrama, while honing in on the nuances that mark dickens’ writing. jim broadbent (as wackford squeers) and christopher plummer (as ralph nickleby) inspire in us such loathing, such depraved insolence, that their performances are worthy of nothing less than standing applause. they play horrible men wonderfully.

charlie hunnam embraces the righteous and loving character of nicholas nickleby in a way that has us all yelling in moral indignation. and, perhaps most brilliantly of all, jamie bell shows us the agony of young smike, a boy bashed down by both disability and love. if bell’s performance does not make you feel, then you have no heart.

while the period pieces of m’lady jane austen make us pleasantly euphoric, the social satires of dearest dickens leave us somewhat weary and warmed by the success of his protagonists and the degradation (or death) of his evil capitalists and cruel imprisoners.

this is a wonderful film to press upon anyone (especially your children), and a great success by its director douglas mcgrath and multi-talented cast. equally importantly, you witness the annoyingly adorable alan cumming do a scottish dance, timothy spall as a tenderheart, and the irrepressible (who else can own that title?) nathan lane as himself.

kingdom of fear

if you’ve read one hunter s. thompson book you have an inkling of what he’s all about. agitated, reactionary, hyperbolic. and entertaining.

kingdom of fear traces a goulash of events in thompson’s life, primarily looking at the period between the late 1970s and 2002. he rambles endlessly about various adventures he wound up in, peppered with a sense of the ridiculous and a lust for outlandish behaviour. thompson is one of those rare characters who seems to have a monstrous ego, refined eccentricities, and yet remains amusing. even when hunter lands himself in the middle of some deranged situation that appears to be entirely his fault i find myself sympathizing with him. partly because he is self-conscious of his antics, reputation, and mandate. partly because he doesn’t know how to say just say no. he knows he is absurd and likes to do dangerous things that he discourages others from trying. the very fact that he doesn’t recommend his hard-drinking, drugging, and fast-driving lifestyle is what makes him attractive to many readers. he is a self-constructed outlaw figure. he lives his own legend, while at the same time continuing to cultivate the cult of personality that surrounds him.

as a book, though, this is a mediocre document. there are some extraordinarily funny moments, such as when he starts off making an interesting point, becomes aware of how great is writing style is (thinking that he is in a groove), and then he blows it with his mind wandering into a method for killing charles manson in the instance that someone’s daughter beccame messed up with his type. this piece is brilliant in its comic buildup and hunter’s awareness of his own unraveling narrative.

largely, though, this book feels like a justification for much of his behaviour and a defense against the various allegations made against him over the years. there is much talk of god, with hunter waffling on his faith throughout. in some ways this book has the feeling of atonement, with hunter trying to shrug his shoulders with an “awe shucks” attitude.

for all the glorious moments in kingdom of fear, i would still recommend fear and loathing in las vegas for anyone trying to get hunter at his gonzo height. hell’s angels is also a great book, though written with a different purpose. hunter’s ego is in hell’s angels, but he was feigning more journalistic objectivity. it is a fun book that hints at what is to come.

in recent years hunter has become a parody of himself. his writing style has become highly repetitive, and his catch-phrases overkilled. i saw an episode of conan o’brien’s late night show a while ago in which hunter was doing his author tour for kingdom of fear. he had trouble walking up stairs, looked very dazed, but still had a great wit. i think we continue to love him because there is only one hunter s. thompson. there are many imitators, but he still exceeds them all and will continue to do so until he is long gone.

age of internet

i used the phrase ‘internet age’ a few moments ago without reflecting on its full implications and it now strikes me that in the future we may refer to the period of time from 1994 – ? as the internet age. if that is the case, what will follow it? and when will that question mark be replaced by a date?

the internet age, in its less public form began decades ago, but i think the term would best fit the era in which the internet received a much-hyped public profile. it is from 1994 onward that the internet has had a tremendous impact on (small parts of) the world.

but what are the characteristics that best represent this age?

  • increased availability and transfer of large quantities of information
  • increased availability of analogue services through electronic means
  • increased instantaneity of information and services
  • increased monitoring of the access and use of this information
  • increased commodification of information and services
  • increased illegal activity stemming from, and relating to, these structures
  • a thousand other things i can’t think of at this moment

my main questions have to do with when this age will reach its apex, what the causation will be, and the social changes (such as infrastructure shift) that will occur as a result.

a guess is that this will happen when the internet is omnipresent on a global scale, with instant access everywhere to both information and services. i’d say we are nearing that age in north america, parts of europe, and the pacific rim due to the proliferation of wi-fi devices and the expansion of broadband (and by this i mean fiber, not dsl). this perception of instantaneity will fully mesh the internet into our lives, with the use of the internet becoming an act that is fluid due to the lack of time lag. by this i mean that a user becomes unaware of their dependence on a resource when its availability is instant. for instance, consider our ability to turn on a tap and have water pour out (or the access to electricity when we plug something in). we take this instantaneous access to resources for granted, marking an age when we seem to have moved beyond it and into another phase. reality is, as with the recent blackout on the east coast, our naïve reliance on technology and infrastructures has created millions of effectively helpless beings (but that is another argument, i suppose).

to return to whatever point i was trying to make, we will be past the internet age when it is absolutely instant, thus invisible to our use of and reliance on.

next question: what will follow this age?

once the internet flows and is utilized like other utilities, that is to say instantly, we will move on to attempt to harness another resource. i would suggest this would be an increased emphasis on the exploration of our boundaries. a greater push to move outward in the solar system, a full study of the deep sea, and more rapid advancements in modifying, maintaining, and extending the biological self. i think the move to instantaneity in regards to biology will be predominant, particularly with epidemiology. this will be exciting and frightening, as disease is destroyed and constructed at a dangerously high pace – dangerous in that fast things have the obvious tendency to spin out of control quickly.

so there’s a look into my cracked and muddy crystal ball. giving any of this stuff serious thought gives one pause as to how our current infrastructures function and how society struggles to transcend basic necessity. however, the thought i always return to is: and millions of people barely have enough to eat, war rages on, and children die due to the lack of basic medical care. perhaps the post-modernized world’s obsession with so-called progress will destroy us, even though we have narrowly escaped death by nuclear age (so far).

if i had the panache of that great social historian eric hobsbawn, i would call this the age of internet.

note: i just did a quick search on that phrase and see that the internet is littered with references to it. i’m completely slow on the uptake.

that’s incredible!

watching a look back at that kooky tv show ‘that’s incredible!’

it is remarkable looking back at the early days of extreme tv. i got to thinking about why this show, while sometimes borderline nuts, never seemed to go over the edge. you didn’t see blood and guts and broken bones. people did crazy shit, such as getting bullets shot at their heads or driving a plane through the arc de triomphe or stuffing their bodies in a tiny box.

the difference between ‘that’s incredible!’ and today’s extreme programs is that the emphasis was on success, not on fantastic failure. television shows these days prey on crashing and burning, rather than on the sheer amazement over incredible acts.

i’d much rather watch a show about human potential than one focusing on the pathetic idiocy of our species. i see enough of that every day.