I'm back from NYAF. It was magnificent. A big part of that was due to Hideyuki Kikuchi and Yoshitaka Amano being there — both of whom I was able to greet, although not sit down in detail with. There's a longish discussion of the Amano panel here at AMN, although I'll chomp out the best bit here.
At the end of the panel the moderators unveiled a goodie: four Vampire Hunter D T-shirts designed by Amano himself. Rather than just chuck them into the audience at random (hey, it worked for Del Rey and those compulsively squishy gavels), they elected to pick people, have them stand up, say why they were an Amano fan, and have the best responders picked by Amano himself.
In the end we had to play jan-ken-pon with Amano to determine the winner.
The responses were wide-ranging and perennially enthusiastic:
"It makes you want to be an artist yourself!"
"You are contemporary Art Nouveau."
"When I was little I used to copy Final Fantasy art all the time; I owe myself to you as an artist."
"I went to art school because of you."
"This is the only reason I'm here for this convention. There's no limit to what you can do with your imagination and he's proof of that."
"Amano has created some of the greatest watercolor work that I didn't even think could exist."
"Amano made sure Final Fantasy is never final."
"To me it's more than just artwork; it's the one thing that brought me and my brother together, looking at the artwork for Final Fantasy and playing the games. We're both in our 20s now, and we come together for Final Fantasy, still."
"I don't care about the shirt — just, thank you for being in New York, you've ben an influence, And thank you for signing the book earlier!"
My own answer:
"Your art makes me feel like I'm dreaming even when I'm wide awake."
I guess he liked that one.
There's little that's more frustrating and saddening to see than a writer hung up on their own ability to just write. The pressure to produce something, anything is so strong that, in the end, nothing comes out at all. The internal censors are too loud and too strident, and the pencil ends up meeting the page maybe once. It's doubly frustrating when you are barely able to eke out a couple of pages at a time, and then you know people who can sit down and hammer out thousands of words as if they were turning a tap.
It isn't hard for me to just sit down and write, partly because I've made a career out of doing it (albeit not writing fiction). But I'm close to a number of people who are not like that, and they are deeply frustrated by it. To them, I can only share the advice that I took to heart which, in time, helped get the tap opened up:
Criterion did it again. Namely, they rescued a movie that's been out of circulation since it was filmed: Samuel Fuller's controversial White Dog. Previously only available in (bad) import editions and (even worse) bootlegs, this didn't even make it into theaters when it was first filmed. Nifty trivia: Curtis Hanson adapted the story from Romain Gary's novel, which was based on his own experiences with a dog he picked up.
The sudden death of David Foster Wallace prompted me to check out the commencement speech he delivered. The whole thing is absolutely worth reading; it's a wonderfully Dutch Uncle-esque talk about the value of being the master of your own mind.
What I may do this year is file excerpts from the ongoing NaNo on a daily basis — nothing major, just little teasers here and there to keep people curious. They will probably be enormously different from the finished product, mind you, but I love teasers regardless.
I'm also in the process of straightening up the way the archives are organized, especially the categories, which are still a little messy and have a bit too much of the stock Movable Type feel to them. I've also been making aggressive use of SSIs and other mechanisms to minimize the amount of rebuilding that needs to be done. (I toyed with the idea of using dynamic pages a la WordPress, but for now I'd like to see how far a static page mode can carry me.)
You probably noticed I posted a bunch of new stuff in the Movies department — it's actually backlog that I had piling up and wanted to get published before it got too stale.
Much of the tinkering that has been going on behind the scenes here at Genji Press has been about making it easier to post things like that. It used to be a terrible pain to get movie reviews formatted and posted, but thankfully I've streamlined things enough to remove most of the gruntwork. (The slowest part is dealing with the images, but Irfanview helps with that a great deal.)
One interesting trick I've found is to pick a movie (or a book, or what have you) and write one paragraph per day for it. Since such things don't tend to weight in at more than a thousand words tops, I can usually crank out one or more a week by following this method. That was, in fact, what I did this time out and it worked spectacularly well.
Some of the other stuff floating around in various stages of completion that I'll turn back to: The Face of Another, Shinobi no Mono, Space Is The Place, the recent live-action Sukeban Deka remake (there's no way I couldn't talk about that after doing Machine Girl!), Death Trance, and all the stuff I finally have time for from my NetFlix queue: Zebraman, Seijun Suzuki's Taishō Trilogy (pretty fitting considering this year's NaNo project), and maybe some of the "pinky violence" movies that I never got to in my queue.
I'm also throwing in the BD versions of Sarah Connor Chronicles and Heroes Season 1 (yes, I'm horribly behind), since the former isn't available as Watch Now and the latter will be well worth it in HD. I don't think I'll be writing those up, just watching them, but they'll be well worth the time either way.
After reading Ebert's wonderful essay on his favorite movie, I had to ask myself: What is my favorite movie? I don't know, for several reasons:
But that doesn't mean I can't try, and to that end, here's a quick rundown, right now, of some that I love the most. They are the movies I can put in every day of the week and feel excited about, that if I'm channel-surfing and I come across one of them I'll stop right there and watch them through, even if I came in somewhere in the middle.
In no particular order, here are the first five. I'll post more in the days to come. Click the star for my review.
Breno Mello, the star of the enchanting Black Orpheus (available domestically from Criterion), died earlier this year at the age of 76. He had been in a number of other films in his native Brazil, but eventually opted for a career in soccer. It's single performances like his that often capture my attention far more vigorously than a career — but then again, along comes someone like Tatsuya Nakadai to prove me wrong...
Attention everyone who was at AnimeFest 2008 and came my way:
Sometime between 2PM Sunday afternoon and the following Monday, my camera went missing. The camera in question was a Canon PowerShot A560, with a small silver "REWARD" sticker on the side. The sticker has a serial number (which I will not reveal here to avoid abuse).
I have already talked to the convention staff, the hotel management, many of the people I dealt with that evening (including the folks who were up in my room that night and might have mistakenly packed the camera in with their things), the trash cans in the room, the restaurant we ate at that night, etc., etc. Nothing has turned up.
I am not as upset about the loss of the camera as I am the pictures that were on the memory card — I had shot quite a few photos and videos that day, and would have liked to include them in my collection.
If you have any ideas, information, leads, what have you, please get in touch via the feedback form for this post. There is a reward for the return of the camera, so if you are aware of its location, please keep this in mind.
Thanks to everyone who might be able to help!
So what's the deal with Criterion's new edition of Salò missing a few seconds of footage as opposed to the BFI UK version? The whole story is far more interesting than you might imagine. My original theory was a permissions issue with the poem, but apparently the sequence doesn't appear in the original Italian vault-master interpositive at all. The link has video clips from both Criterion's edition and what appears to be the Region 2 PAL BFI edition, and even despite the tiny window sizes you can still see a marked difference in quality.
I should also point out that the BFI is bringing out its own 2-disc Blu-ray edition (and conventional DVD) of the film, with markedly different extras than the Criterion edition.
About time I got caught up, hm?
This is a long one, so I'll put everything after the cut.Read more