Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

Pokky Mash

Now that Classics Mutilated is in print, Anna Tambour has posted a quite Tambourian look at “Pokky Man” at her blog, Medlar Comfits.  Anna was the first reader of the story, and a staunch champion who convinced me not to rewrite it into paste, but to leave some lumps in.  It is an honor to think she spent so much of her intense intelligence on this odd little story.  But Anna likes odd things.

PS: If you buy the Kindle edition of Classics Mutilated, you’ll get two extra stories that aren’t in the paperback.  But the bound volume is hefty and beautiful, and the illustrations by Mike Dubisch are fun in any event.

Pokky Man, A Film by Vernor Hertzwig (Excerpt)


In 2004 I was contacted by Digito of America to review some film footage they had acquired in litigation with the estate of a young Pokkypet Master named Hemlock Pyne. While I have occasionally played boardgames such as Parchesi, and various pen and paper role playing games involving dwarves and wizards, in vain hopes of escaping the nightmare ordeals that infest my soul, I was hardly the target audience for the global phenomenon of Pokkypets. I knew only the bare lineaments of the young man’s story—namely that he had been at one time considered the greatest captor of Pokkypets the world had ever known. Few of these rare yet paradoxically ubiquitous creatures had escaped being added to his collection. But he had turned against his fellow trainers, who now hurled at him the sort of venom and resentment usually reserved for race traitors. The childish, even cartoonish aspects of the story, were far from appealing to me, especially as spending time on a hundred or so hours of Pokkypet footage would mean delaying my then-unfunded cinematic paean to those dedicated paleoanthropologists who study human coprolites or fossil feces. But there was an element of treachery and tragedy that lured me to look more carefully at the life and last days of Hemlock Pyne, as well as the amount of money Digito was offering. I found the combination irresistible.


To be a Pokky Captor was for me the highest calling—the highest calling! I never dreamed of wanting anything else. All through my childhood, I trained for it. It was a kind of warrior celebration…a pokkybration, you might say, of the warrior spirit. I lived, ate, breathed, drank, even pooped the Pokky spirit. Yes, pooped. Because there is dignity in everything they do. When it comes to Pokkypets, there is no room for shame—not even in pooping. In a sense, I was no different from many, many other children who dream of being Pokky Captors. The only difference between me and you, children like you who might be watching this, is that I didn’t give up on my dream. Maybe it’s because I was such a loser in every other part of my life–yeah, imagine that, I know it’s difficult, right?–but I managed to pull myself free of all those other bonds and throw myself completely into the world of Pokkypets. And I don’t care who you are or where you are, but that is still possible today.


Hemlock Pyne’s natural enthusiasm connected him ineluctably with the childish world of Pokkypets—the world he never really escaped. The more I studied his footage, the more I saw a boy trapped inside a gawky man-child’s body. It was no wonder to me that he had such difficulty relating to the demands of the adult world. In cleaving to his prejuvenile addictions, it was clear that Pyne hoped to escape his own decay, and for this reason threw himself completely into a world that seems on its face eternal and unchanging. The irony is that in pursuing a childish wonderland, he penetrated the barrier that protects our fragile grasp on sanity by keeping us from seeing too much of the void that underlines the lurid cartoons of corporate consumer culture, as they caper in a crazed dumbshow above the abyss.

(I will post details on the full story’s publication when I have them.)

Another Game Gone Hollywood

I found this conversation in a recent movie and painstakingly transcribed it.   It’s by one of my favorite directors, and I’d put off watching this film for a long time.  I think far more people will recognize the game than they will the movie.  Can you name the film?


“I conquered Thebes.”


“Two weeks ago.”

“How’d you do it?”

“Well I got a little more than that actually…I ruled this land for 97 years and uh…and uh…I had like…I had all the sanctuaries built and then the uh…this hot lava leaked out of a volcano and half destroyed one of the my sanctuary to uh Demeter I guess it was and uh…but I didn’t have the marble to rebuild like the sculptures and to fix the sanctuary.  But I already had all these um docks to like Calydon and Argos and I had everything…I was trading to like twelve cities.  And uh I had a I had a really good army but um the river the river had just flooded and it flooded out like four of my docks and I couldn’t import the marble to rebuild the sanctuary and she got Demeter got really pissed off and so she made my fields infertile and so I couldn’t grow the grass I couldn’t grow the wheat to feed the horses and there was nowhere for the sheep to graze and the goats, and then the people were getting hungry and restless, and I couldn’t trade because the rivers had flooded.  So Knossos, one of my vassals, got really upset with me and turned against me and they uh attacked me and because I couldn’t train any sheep because I didn’t have the wheat, I didn’t have the uh, I didn’t have a uh…”

“You couldn’t train any sheep?”

“I couldn’t train any horses because I didn’t have the wheat…and so when they attacked me I just got they just dogged me, and I actually went to send my army out to defend the city, and like you can only send them out if you have twelve trained horses and I had eleven.  So I was one horse shy of saving the city.”

“So then you didn’t really…”

“Well I had conquered—I had just conquered Thebes when that happened.”


By the way, I really, really, really liked this movie.  A few days after watching it, it’s still with me.

The Street: The Best TV Show You Never Saw

There is precious little information to be found about The Street at this late date. I am the only person I have ever met who saw even one episode. I watched about a dozen on late night TV, when I was living on Long Island in 1988. It was raw and funny, brilliant dialog, and looked like no cop show I’d ever seen at that point. Imagine Adam-12 filmed by Weegee with a handheld camera. It followed cops on their beat, but resolutely refused to get involved in their cases. It predated Cops, so that the first time I saw that I thought it was surely a ripoff. It prophesied Homicide. I would have thought it influenced a huge number of shows that came after it…except that apparently nobody ever saw it.

According to this NYT article, they filmed 40 episodes before releasing the first. It’s screaming for a DVD release.

Or anyway, I am.

”This show is the ne plus ultra hip show,” said Mr. Korris. ”We’re talking about urban hipsters watching this show. It’s for people on the cutting edge. I think it’s the first sitcom of the 1990’s.”