Previous Posts: Uncategorized / General: September 2008

The Long And The Short Of It Dept.

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...


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.


Tags: conventions epic win Hideyuki Kikuchi travel Yoshitaka Amano


Writer's Unblock Dept.

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...


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:

  1. Free-write every day. This is the same advice that Peter Elbow gave his students through Writing Without Teachers: if you are in the habit of sitting down and writing freely — not diary entries, not letters to Mom, just writing — then you will become that much more accustomed to sitting down and writing something specific on demand.
  2. Do not substitute anything else for free writing. In other words, don't write a LiveJournal post and call that your daily free-writing allotment (unless, of course, you're using LiveJournal as the repository for same or something like that). This part is critical, if you ask me — because if you don't practice free writing as its own animal, unhindered by anything else, you tend to think about writing exclusively as something where you have to produce something coherent instead of just producing. Which leads us to:
  3. Do not worry about quality. This is the toughest hurdle to get over, but one way to get over it is to simply not show the results to anyone else. They're not meant to have an audience in the first place, no more so than anyone needs to watch you working out in order for you to get the benefits of the exercise.
  4. The most important thing is to cultivate the right state of mind. Don't use free-writing time to produce something of "quality"; use it to learn how to put yourself in the state of mind that you will use later to produce something of quality.
  5. In time you can indeed replace regular writing with free writing. I know this breaks rule #2, but that's kind of the point. Once you get the tap opened up and discover the state of mind you need to be in to write freely, the exercises required to get there may not be needed anymore. (Once you get to the other shore ... ) And then you can start thinking about what stories you want to tell, now that you've given yourself freedom of speech.

Tags: dharma writing


A Fuller Criterion Dept.

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...


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.


Tags: Criterion movies


Finite Jest Dept.

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...


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.


Tags: links


Categorically Speaking Dept.

I've created a separate writing category for Tokyo Inferno, this year's NaNoWriMo project, and appropriately updated the pinned messages in each section. What I may do this year is file excerpts from the ongoing NaNo on a daily basis --...


I've created a separate writing category for Tokyo Inferno, this year's NaNoWriMo project, and appropriately updated the pinned messages in each section.

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.)


Tags: Movable Type NaNoWriMo writing


Backup Dept.

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...


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.


Tags: Movable Type movies NaNoWriMo


These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things Dept.

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: If I told you what my favorite movie was right now, I'd probably be obliged...


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:

  1. If I told you what my favorite movie was right now, I'd probably be obliged to give you a different answer in five years, because I wouldn't be the same person in five years.
  2. I have different criteria for what movies I like vs. what movies I would recommend to others. This isn't an attempt to mislead — just an acknowledgement that I need to balance my own tastes against what I feel are things that are best for a movie in general.

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.

  1. * The Seven Samurai. Yes, but for all the little touches as well as the great big ones: the way the eldest samurai has his head shaved before he does battle with the criminal in hiding (and rubs the close-cropped head throughout the film); the moment where the villager recognizes his wife has shacked up with the bandits; the amazing Toshirō Mifune monologue where he berates the other samurai for the villagers' plights; and endlessly on. I don't think I've seen the movie without discovering something new in it or having something new about it pointed out to me. (And look fast for Tatsuya Nakadai in a walk-by shot!)
  2. * Blade Runner. No other film before or since seemed better at being about the future, in the future and of the future — certainly not all of those things at once. Even my first viewing of it, crammed onto a tiny 14" TV screen, was an eye-opener, and watching the recent 5-disc ultimate restoration was like finally being able to enter and claim a castle you always knew was yours but couldn't find on the map. It is one of the few films I have owned in just about every video format I had access to, and probably always will.
  3. * Oldboy. Hitchcock would have been damned proud of this gloriously black-hearted thriller, where human emotions are just so much silicone putty to be shaped and squeezed in the fists of the gods. It's one of the best examples I know for how the movies are essentially empathy machines: the film works because we are put through the same wringers as the hero. And the "side-scrolling" corridor fight scene is already the stuff of legend, but anyone with access to YouTube knows that already.
  4. * Gojoe. A criminally-underrated samurai movie, not just for its phenomenal imagery but its remarkable use of Buddhist moral and eschatological conceits on top of a twisted retelling of one of Japan's most shopworn warrior legends. Fans of Tadanobu Asano who are just coming off Mongol, for instance, will want to loop back and check this one out.
  5. * Spirited Away. Picking only one Miyazaki movie is like picking only one of Shakespeare's plays: of the ones that are good, they're all so good that narrowing it down to a single choice feels criminal. This one is at the same time the most accessible and fanciful, starting on a very concrete note (little girl at odds with her parents in a new neighborhood) and mutating by degrees into something so grand and wild with imagination that the corners of the frame can barely contain it.

Tags: best-of links movies Roger Ebert


Orpheus Descending Dept.

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...


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...


Tags: Criterion movies


Lost And Found -- Mostly Lost

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...


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!


Tags: AnimeFest conventions lost and found travel


What's A Few Missing Frames? Dept.

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...


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.


Tags: Criterion movies


Don't Mess With Texas Dept. (AnimeFest 2008)

About time I got caught up, hm? This is a long one, so I'll put everything after the cut....


About time I got caught up, hm?

This is a long one, so I'll put everything after the cut.

Read more

Tags: AnimeFest conventions travel



About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Uncategorized / General category from September 2008.

You can see alphabetical or chronological listings of all entries in this category.

Uncategorized / General: August 2008 is the previous archive.

Uncategorized / General: October 2008 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

About Me

I'm an independent SF and fantasy author, technology journalist, and freelance contemplator for how SF can be made into something more than just a way to blow stuff up.

My Goodreads author profile.

Learn some more about me.

My Books

Coming Soon

Out Now

More of my books

Search This Site


Other People We Like

Fandom

Archives