Time for some personal stuff (gasp):
1) My 13th wedding anniversary was this past Tuesday. Huzzah! There are people who don't make it a quarter of that length, from everything I've seen — there was a friend of the family who got married the other year and didn't even make it to 11 months, which made me wince.
2) The Four-Day Weekend is very, very close to being done for its first draft. I know I have been saying this for what seems like forever and five weeks, but the closer I get to the end, the more it turns into the literary incarnation Zeno's Paradox. Those of you who are on the early-bird reading list will get copies as soon as I have something complete and reasonably well-edited, possibly by early June but don't count on it.
I also want to have the website for that moved over and made public before then. The excerpts I published there have been totally rewritten; they're nothing like what's in the final story, so don't rely on them for a sense of what the end product will be like.
3) Trying out FF 3 release candidate in various environments. It runs beautifully; I just wish they'd update Flock to use 3. They're working on it, but that can't come fast enough.
4) Reviews of new Merzbow (Green Wheels), Gavin Bryars (The Sinking of the Titanic), Noise/Girl (Discopathology), and a bunch of other albums ought to be along when I can find the time to bang them out.
5) A-KON next week. Good grief, I'm so not ready.
I also did one of those "ten random song" things for someone else's blog, and this is what came up:
... This is, indeed, about as crazy as many of my playlists get.
It wouldn't be a month without a set of Criterion releases, would it?
First and most controversial: their completely revised edition of Pasolini's Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, the movie that "burns a hole in the screen" (as one wag put it). The original Criterion version was pretty sad by current standards, and it was eventually pulled from the market due to a dispute over the licensing of the film. The new version will feature some intriguing documentary material, although I'd've liked to see Whoever Tells The Truth Shall Die as part of the bonuses. (One wonders if this will eventually be a Blu-ray release as well; a number of people on various forums have already started asking that question.)
On a completely opposing note, also look for Twenty-Four Eyes in August, Keisuke Kinoshita's adaptation of the novel of the same name, something I need to get around to talking about one of these days. The only previous editions of this on DVD have been from Hong Kong and have looked pretty weak, so I'm looking forward to a remaster. Also coming soon is Brand Upon the Brain!, a title I'm not immediately familiar with but which Ebert wrote about glowingly a while back, and a Powell / Pressburger title, The Small Back Room.
The official website and trailer for the U.S. edition of Vexille has gone online. I was pleased with the CGI Appleseed movie, so this promises to be worth it as well. Both DVD and Blu-ray versions are promised for later this year.
This last item revolves around a concept I've warmed up to over time myself, although I think it can be heavily misinterpreted: for instance, if the idea of the self is essentially a delusion, why do anything directed towards preserving that self, or any other selves? The answer is that just because any one of us individually might realize this, other people need to discover that realization in their own way — so in the interim, we need to act as if the "delusion" has weight, because it does. (An extreme parallel: Yes, we're all going to die, but that doesn't imply that our lives are worthless as a result of that.)
Had a splendid Mother's Day outing with both sides of the family. This may be the last time I see the in-laws for a bit, as they're headed off on a cruise (lucky them!), and my own folks are contemplating a visit to Ireland, where my brother lives. There's something to be said for living overseas if you're a travel buff, as it's tremendously easy to go and see what to us are "exotic" locales like Rome or Berlin. (A trip to Berlin, along with a tour of Japan, are both on my to-do list for the future.)
My copy of Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit arrived — this is getting a major writeup over at AMN, as it's one of my most hotly-anticipated releases for the year. The book is actually a bit different from what I was expecting; I'll have more to say about that when the review hits.
The title should tell it. Criterion is preparing its first wave of Blu-ray releases for this coming October. Here's the list:
The Third Man
The Man Who Fell to Earth
The Last Emperor
The 400 Blows
The Complete Monterey Pop
For All Mankind
The Wages of Fear
Last Emperor is almost certainly getting snapped up on this end, but I'm faintly startled that no Kurosawa made the list. I suspect they're going by what sells best. But my god, the fun has just begun, people.
Iron Man was everything I had hoped it would be and more.
A more coherent discussion of it will have to wait until I have a disc of the movie in hand, but
a) go see it now; it works beautifully on a big screen
b) Robert Downey, Jr., is only one part of a wonderfully-composed cast (Jeff Bridges and Gwyneth Paltrow rounded out the chemistry)
c) the special effects, as spectacular as they are, are never less than completely convincing, which is really saying something these days.
As I told my friends, "I still can't find my butt. I think it was blown through the back wall of the theater."
The one-two punch of work and real life has left me without a great deal to talk about as of late, but here's some tidbits.
My last bit of foraging at Book-Off turned up a fun new manga: Batten, the adventures of Tsubaki Seijuro, a flamboyantly-dressed samurai who walks around in geisha getup and dispenses justice with both his sword and his mega-stacked platform geta. I don't expect to be seeing this in translation anytime soon, so if you know any Japanese at all you might be inclined to snap up a used copy and check it out if the material sounds like your sort of thing. (I'm a sucker for goofy period stories, so this was a natural.)
Vertical sent me a preview copy of the about-to-be-released paperback edition of Parasite Eve, inspiration for both the video game and the J-horror movie of the same name (available domestically thanks to ADV), although the game bears almost no resemblance to the story. I'll be posting a review of this sometime in the coming week.
A snippet from the Paper Cuts blog, from the perspective of two writers who have had to go into hiding or receive police protection when they came under fire — literally — for their work. One of them, as you can well imagine, was Salman Rushdie. When his fatwa was first handed down, a whole slew of writers showed their support in the book pages of the Times, with the best one being: "Death threats are some of the best reviews possible." I wish I could remember who said that.
Finally, I'm going to be seeing Iron Man this coming Tuesday. The buzz from everyone has been through the roof and up somewhere in geostationary orbit. Heck, my mother wants to see it, and she's about as far removed from being a comic-book fan as I am from being an Anatolian shepherd. (Wait — given that I'm of Anatolian descent, maybe that's not the best analogy...)