Previous Posts: Uncategorized / General: April 2009

Stand Up And Be Counted Dept.

Amazon.com: Vote For the Next Criterion Collection Blu-ray ReleaseTogether with the Criterion Collection, we're offering customers the unique opportunity to select an upcoming Blu-ray release from the Criterion Collection. From now until May 25th, select from Au Revoir Les...


Amazon.com: Vote For the Next Criterion Collection Blu-ray Release

Together with the Criterion Collection, we're offering customers the unique opportunity to select an upcoming Blu-ray release from the Criterion Collection. From now until May 25th, select from Au Revoir Les Enfants, Down By Law, Howards End, Kwaidan, and Picnic at Hanging Rock. The winning title will be released later in 2009.
I voted for Kwaidan, natch!

Tags: Amazon.com Criterion


Think Tanked Dept.

Op-Contributor - End the University as We Know It - Op-Ed - NYTimes.comThere's a lot in this piece which is pure wishful thinking (end the tenure system, what?!) but I liked the bit about doing things with the teacher's...


Op-Contributor - End the University as We Know It - Op-Ed - NYTimes.com

There's a lot in this piece which is pure wishful thinking (end the tenure system, what?!) but I liked the bit about doing things with the teacher's wisdom that the teacher himself could never have imagined.


Tags: education links


What Next Dept.

And so now the list of NaNo '09 candidates is at four.4DW II: RPG Boogaloo (not the actual title)Frozen Corpse Stuffed With Dope (yes, the actual title; the name itself is indeed homage to Agoraphobic Nosebleed, who I cannot deny...


And so now the list of NaNo '09 candidates is at four.

  1. 4DW II: RPG Boogaloo (not the actual title)
  2. Frozen Corpse Stuffed With Dope (yes, the actual title; the name itself is indeed homage to Agoraphobic Nosebleed, who I cannot deny know how to come up with a great album title)
  3. the "samurai story", which plays out sort of like GoodFellas meets Gohatto, only not exactly
  4. another piece that is to paganism and "new religion" what 4DW was to otaku-dom, only in a much more serious vein.
The more I try to condense these things, the sillier they sound. Or at least funnier. Deliberately funnier.

Tags: NaNoWriMo writing


Crosspost To LiveJournal Updated

My Crosspost to LJ for Movable Type index template is now at revision 0.4. I added some features, cleaned up a few things, and am in general trying to make it as functional and convenient as possible.Future versions will, I...


My Crosspost to LJ for Movable Type index template is now at revision 0.4. I added some features, cleaned up a few things, and am in general trying to make it as functional and convenient as possible.

Future versions will, I hope, include slick stuff like automatically popping up the page when you post. So far the only way to do this seems to be to edit one of the templates within MT itself but that's only because I'm a n00b at actually hacking MT innards.


Tags: Movable Type programming technology


Cryptic Dept.

Here's an experiment for you: I'm going to solicit feedback about two potential works-in-progress without talking about them in detail. Or, rather, without spoiling anything. (It's still early. Forgive me.) The first is a sequel -- not a planned sequel,...


Here's an experiment for you: I'm going to solicit feedback about two potential works-in-progress without talking about them in detail. Or, rather, without spoiling anything. (It's still early. Forgive me.)

The first is a sequel — not a planned sequel, but sequels are like kids, I guess: who plans such a thing? — to The Four-Day Weekend. There was no sequel originally planned, but it looks like I have enough material for that, and maybe one more book, without the whole thing degenerating into a grinding wheel of repetition.

The problem: There is another story I'd very much like to write, a completely different one. It deals with a fellow who drifts by degrees into a syncretic religious community which turns out more and more to have the makings of a cult. As with 4DW, some of this is based on my own experiences but a good deal of it comes from observing folks around me.

Now: This other story could very well be absorbed into this 4DW sequel — made a fully-functional part of it. I'm tempted to do that for the sake of killing a whole flock with one AirSoft BB (okay, strained metaphor, I know), but I'm also not sure that's the wisest approach. It might be best for each story, on its own merits, to get the full telling and complement of conceits that each deserves — even though that means writing two entirely separate books with what might amount to a fair deal of crossover (shilling for repetition) between them.

So, really, that's what this comes down to. Do I tell two separate stories that might well fuse into one, or do I fuse them into one at the risk of being better off writing two?

I hate being vague, but I also hate ruining the fun.


Tags: dharma future projects question for the readers writing


Mutable Type Dept.

Work (both the paying and the other kind) have left me with less time than I'd like to just blog about casual subjects, but here's some musings about Movable Type:My kingdom for a decent rich-text editor. Unfortunately, the only way...


Work (both the paying and the other kind) have left me with less time than I'd like to just blog about casual subjects, but here's some musings about Movable Type:

  • My kingdom for a decent rich-text editor. Unfortunately, the only way to do this reliably seems to be to use Flash. One thing I hate about the RTE is my cursor keeps vanishing for no particular reason; maybe that's a Firefox bug (I'm using a nightly). And why is it so damn hard to insert a simple <P> tag in the RTE? Hit Enter and you get <br>, but hit Enter twice and you get <br><br> instead of <p>. Maybe I'll have to hack this behavior into it directly. Blech. (I've found I can cheat by switching into HTML mode first, inserting a <P> tag in the head of the post, then switching back — but that's, again, retarded. Less brain-dead workarounds are welcome.)
  • I'm looking into a couple of different plugins to do auto-linking to pre-existing lists of links — something Windows Live Writer does — but it would be great if one of them worked in the rich text editor itself. That would mean one less program for me to use, but I'm betting that would be more work than most people would want to undertake.
  • Customizing the fonts in the RTE and some of the behaviors therein was a terrible pain. I could do it, but the elements are all over the place — I had to edit a file here and a file there, with no rhyme or reason as to why things are so scattered. I'm betting the reason is not something that presents itself on a casual glance — I didn't develop the program, after all — but it is kind of bewildering to have to bounce across so many different files and directories and repositories to edit the behavior of what from the outside is one thing. (Again, maybe this just says more about my perceptions than anything else.)
  • I've been thinking about creating an actual paper book for it, perhaps something to go with the inevitable 5.0 version when it comes out. Consider that to be a "when I get my pension" type of priority, though.

Tags: Movable Type technology


Sleepy Eyes Wide Shut Dept.

Raizo Ichikawa as Nemuri Kyoshiro, the sleepy-eyed killer from a long-running series of novels in Japan, finally hits American video thanks to the good folks at AnimEigo.I'll see about working my way through this one when it comes out.Lions Gate...


Raizo Ichikawa as Nemuri Kyoshiro, the sleepy-eyed killer from a long-running series of novels in Japan, finally hits American video thanks to the good folks at AnimEigo.I'll see about working my way through this one when it comes out.

Lions Gate is also bringing us Hideo Nakata's period horror piece Kaidan (cf. Kwaidan).

Vertical, Inc. had to shelve their anthology of Oniroku Dan's S&M stories until next year, but for now there's at least one of the movies scripted from his stories: Secrets of a Desperate Housewife (nice title).

After Seijun Suzuki got blackballed for making Branded to Kill, he spent ten years in self-imposed exile. When he came back out, he made Story Of Sorrow And Sadness (no Amazon link yet), which was either a triumphant return the screen or a total cock-up depending on whose word you take. I'll have to find out for myself.

And just when you thought there wasn't enough Meiko Kaji to go around, Synapse rooted around in the vaults and came up with two, two, TWO from her catalog! Wandering Ginza Butterfly and Wandering Ginza Butterfly 2: She-Cat Gambler (god, what a title) both come out this May.

Annnnnnddddd ... AnimEigo's long-awaited domestic DVD edition of Yawara!, all in one set, comes out this may. This from Naoki Urasawa, the creator of Monster and 20th Century Boys and Pluto and so many other good things.


Tags: Amazon.com Hideo Nakata Japan links Meiko Kaji movies Naoki Urasawa Nemuri Kyoshiro Oniroku Dan Raizo Ichikawa Seijun Suzuki Vertical Inc.


Chip's Challenge Dept.

Nice piece in the Philly Inquirer about Samuel R. Delaney:To sci-fi and beyond | Philadelphia Inquirer | 04/05/2009Dhalgren marks a transition between Delany's earlier and later works, which deal more directly and aggressively with social power. Myths, Delany believes, are...


Nice piece in the Philly Inquirer about Samuel R. Delaney:

To sci-fi and beyond | Philadelphia Inquirer | 04/05/2009

Dhalgren marks a transition between Delany's earlier and later works, which deal more directly and aggressively with social power. Myths, Delany believes, are "committee constructs" written by many hands and approved by the powers that be, which means they tend to be a conservative force. "Myth is what society can bear to tell about itself," says Delany. "But usually, what's far more important is what the myth leaves out, the things society can't bear to talk about or face."
That last bit stuck in my head as potential hero story material. I have not been actively working on that project since Tokyo Inferno kicked off, but it's still in the back of my head, annoying me as it must.

Tags: hero links Samuel R. Delaney science fiction


Sundown Dept.

J.G. Ballard, ‘Empire of the Sun’ Author, Dies at 78 - Obituary (Obit) - NYTimes.comBallard was one of my favorite examples of a "difficult" writer -- difficult in the sense that he dug up all the things about life...


J.G. Ballard, ‘Empire of the Sun’ Author, Dies at 78 - Obituary (Obit) - NYTimes.com

Ballard was one of my favorite examples of a "difficult" writer — difficult in the sense that he dug up all the things about life in the here and now that made him squirm, and made you squirm along with him. I can't say I ever read any of his books for pleasure, but that kind of wasn't the point.


Tags: links writing


Upstream Dept.

Bandai's Sword of the Stranger gets a domestic BD release. I think they have something like four SKUs of this coming out. Ditto Mamoru Oshii's Sky Crawlers, which if we go by his pedigree, is going to either be great...


Bandai's Sword of the Stranger gets a domestic BD release. I think they have something like four SKUs of this coming out.

Ditto Mamoru Oshii's Sky Crawlers, which if we go by his pedigree, is going to either be great or unbelievably boring with zero middle ground.

The movie that goes to 11 is now the BD that goes to 11. Come on, it was only a matter of time.
Everyone reading this knows I had my issues with Advent Children, but I can't deny it looked great — and so a fully tricked-out BD edition is on its way.
If we get a BD of Rockers, then I'd love to have one of The Harder They Come as well.

Tags: Amazon.com movies preorder


Unreality Dept.

I normally don't pay attention to reality TV (isn't that an oxymoron, anyway?), but this is worth talking about.You've probably seen the clip of Susan Boyle on "Britain's Got Talent" by now (linked in the article below), but Jim Emerson...


I normally don't pay attention to reality TV (isn't that an oxymoron, anyway?), but this is worth talking about.

You've probably seen the clip of Susan Boyle on "Britain's Got Talent" by now (linked in the article below), but Jim Emerson (in "Reality: What a concept") has seized on it as a way to talk about what he sees as the hollowness and hypocrisy of trying to extract heartwarming moments from shows fundamentally based as much on ridicule as they are anything else.

The whole thing is worth reading, but I'm chomping out this quote from the comments for discussion:

... the people who made ridiculous assumptions about Susan Boyle based on her appearance in a TV reality show contest are congratulating themselves on Learning A Lesson — and are lecturing others about it.
I brought this up to a friend who replied "Well, what if they really did Learn A Lesson, and they're just being clumsy and tasteless?" My answer to that was, we have no way of knowing whether or not they were sincere about such a thing — because in order to know that, you have to see what people do when no one else is around to keep score. And that's not something you can fit into the context of a reality TV show, and maybe even TV period.

But above and beyond everything else, the lady has a fantastic voice.


Tags: dharma links


Fundoshification Dept.

Loincloths hot among Japan woman | Video | Reuters.comThe latest in "women's liberation" is a product making a comeback in Japan that makers claim allows women to ditch tight-fit underwear -- loincloths....


Loincloths hot among Japan woman | Video | Reuters.com

The latest in "women's liberation" is a product making a comeback in Japan that makers claim allows women to ditch tight-fit underwear — loincloths.

Tags: Japan links


I Just Drifted Into This Dept.

Books of The Times - Manifesto of a Comic-Book Rebel - Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s ‘Drifting Life’ - Review - NYTimes.comTatsumi is of course the man behind The Push Man, Abandon the Old in Tokyo and other works....


Books of The Times - Manifesto of a Comic-Book Rebel - Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s ‘Drifting Life’ - Review - NYTimes.com

Tatsumi is of course the man behind The Push Man, Abandon the Old in Tokyo and other works.



Tags: Japan links manga Yoshihiro Tatsumi


I Talk In Pictures Not In Words Dept.

Art Review - A Ukiyo-E Master in the Art of Subtle Protest - NYTimes.comWell worth a read for the historical context as well as the art....


Art Review - A Ukiyo-E Master in the Art of Subtle Protest - NYTimes.com

Well worth a read for the historical context as well as the art.


Tags: art Japan links ukiyo-e


Atomu Powered Dept.

A new trailer is up for the CGI Astro Boy movie. Look fast for the cameo of Osamu Tezuka (sort of)!...


A new trailer is up for the CGI Astro Boy movie. Look fast for the cameo of Osamu Tezuka (sort of)!

2389-01.jpg


Tags: Astro-Boy / Tetsuwan Atomu Osamu Tezuka


Stark Horse Dept.

THE BEAT » Blog Archive » Some trimming at Dark HorseRob Simpson was recently laid off at Dark Horse. Simpson, an industry vet who formerly worked at DC, was the Senior Editor in charge of Dark Horse’s prose books...


THE BEAT » Blog Archive » Some trimming at Dark Horse

Rob Simpson was recently laid off at Dark Horse. Simpson, an industry vet who formerly worked at DC, was the Senior Editor in charge of Dark Horse’s prose books line, which includes original novels, nonfiction, a series of Playboy Interview collections and various fantasy novels...
Among the fantasy novels was the Vampire Hunter D books (I think); I hope this doesn't mean D's headed for scanslation limbo.

Tags: Dark Horse Comics Vampire Hunter D


Eisner's Folly Dept.

AICN Anime made mention of the Eisner Awards for 2008, with some manga-themed material: Best U.S. Edition of International Material—JapanCat Eyed Boy, by Kazuo Umezu (Viz) Dororo, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical) Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, by Naoki Urasawa (Viz) The...


AICN Anime made mention of the Eisner Awards for 2008, with some manga-themed material:

Best U.S. Edition of International Material — Japan
Cat Eyed Boy, by Kazuo Umezu (Viz)
Dororo, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, by Naoki Urasawa (Viz)
The Quest for the Missing Girl, by Jiro Taniguchi (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)
Solanin, by Inio Asano (Viz)

The one that people seem to be most hung up on is Cat-Eyed Boy, possibly because it's one of those titles people were not all that fond of to begin with. I know it's a "roots" title, but that doesn't mean it'll automatically garner an audience — but the award is about the quality of the adaptation and isn't strictly about the underlying material.

One could argue that it would be better to give recognition to better titles overall, but then you get into the more difficult question of what the award category is really for. I like the fact that at least one of the Tezuka / Vertical reissues made it to the list, since just having his stuff in English at all is a blessing.

I plan to check out Cat-Eyed Boy at some point; for all I know the conventional wisdom about it could be completely wrong.


Tags: Jiro Taniguchi Kazuo Umezu manga Naoki Urasawa Osamu Tezuka Vertical Inc.


Never Sleeps Dept.

I spent Saturday with my folks in Jersey, celebrating the birthday of a family friend, and then from there swung quickly through Manhattan to test out a theory I had about whether or not Google Street View was any good...


I spent Saturday with my folks in Jersey, celebrating the birthday of a family friend, and then from there swung quickly through Manhattan to test out a theory I had about whether or not Google Street View was any good at helping me find curbside parking in a given neighborhood. The short answer: Yes, but bring change anyway, just in case. (Free parking on weekends is not totally dead in the city; it’s just one of those things that I’ve come to not count on at all.)

I swung through Book-Off — saw that one coming, didn’t you? — and nabbed a few goodies, among them the original novel of The Year of Living Dangerously.

Also snagged the first few untranslated Guin Saga books:

IMG_4636

I’m planning on filing the originals next to the U.S. editions and using them as self-teaching tools, along with my copies of the Oldboy manga and a few other items that aren’t exactly classics (Sakura Taisen, cough cough) but are fine for the sake of readability and comprehension-building.

Another thing I stumbled across was — okay, nostalgia time — the soundtrack to the anime version of Peacock King. It's all hard-driving guitars, smoldering ballads and Emulator / CMI synth sounds, all guilty pleasures of mine. (They even made a live-action version of the story in Hong Kong, which I should cover one day if I can ever find a decent DVD of it.)

IMG_4644

On the way back to the car ....

IMG_4602

IMG_4615

IMG_4628

IMG_4622

As the Beatles once said, "A fine time was had by all."


Tags: anime Book-Off family Guin Saga loot NYC travel


Inner Ear Dept.

Thought I'd quiz people about what music to look at next... Another Lustmørd side project,Terror Against Terror, which I hinted at in my Isolrubin BK review. Geinoh Yamashirogumi's Ecophony Rinne, the first installment in the trilogy that included the soundtrack...


Thought I'd quiz people about what music to look at next...


Tags: 9353 Chico Magnetic Band Geinoh Yamashirogumi Lustmørd music noise psychedelia


Sonatine Dept.

Ebert gives Kiyoshi Kurosawa's new movie Tokyo Sonata 3 1/2 stars: Tokoyo Sonata :: rogerebert.com :: ReviewsWhat we seem to have are the outlines of a traditional family drama, in which tensions are bottled up, revelations will occur and a...


Ebert gives Kiyoshi Kurosawa's new movie Tokyo Sonata 3 1/2 stars:

Tokoyo Sonata :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews

What we seem to have are the outlines of a traditional family drama, in which tensions are bottled up, revelations will occur and a crisis will result in either tragedy or resolution. But that's not what we're given by director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, best known for upscale horror films. He almost misleads us in the early scenes, by framing the family dinners in sedate and orderly compositions. We believe we know where "Tokyo Sonata" is going. We are wrong.

Tags: Japan Kiyoshi Kurosawa links movies Roger Ebert


Blotchy & Ebert Dept.

Thoughts on Bill O'Reilly and Squeaky the Chicago Mouse :: rogerebert.com :: News & commentDear Bill: Thanks for including the Chicago Sun-Times on your exclusive list of newspapers on your "Hall of Shame." To be in an O'Reilly Hall...


Thoughts on Bill O'Reilly and Squeaky the Chicago Mouse :: rogerebert.com :: News & comment

Dear Bill: Thanks for including the Chicago Sun-Times on your exclusive list of newspapers on your "Hall of Shame." To be in an O'Reilly Hall of Fame would be a cruel blow to any newspaper. It would place us in the favor of a man who turns red and starts screaming when anyone disagrees with him. My grade-school teacher, wise Sister Nathan, would have called in your parents and recommended counseling with Father Hogben.
There are many reasons I am a Roger Ebert fan. This is one of them.

Tags: epic win links Roger Ebert


Eyezapoppin' Dept. (Guin Saga Anime, Anyone?)

The Guin Saga anime has appeared. And from what I can tell, it is good. I don't think an American licensing deal has been set up yet, but I'd bet the phone lines between the U.S. and Japan are burning...


The Guin Saga anime has appeared. And from what I can tell, it is good. I don't think an American licensing deal has been set up yet, but I'd bet the phone lines between the U.S. and Japan are burning up right about now for the sake of one. For now, we have the novels to keep us busy (and the untranslated manga, too), but I'm already filling a jar with change for when the DVD / BD comes out domestically.

That said, the show looks a little something about like .... this: Read more


Tags: anime epic win Guin Saga untranslated


Moth To The Lightbulb Dept.

Roger Ebert's Journal: ArchivesOne of my editors at the Sun-Times once asked me, "Roger, is it true that they used to let reporters smoke at their desks?" This wasn't asked yesterday; it must have been ten years ago. I...


Roger Ebert's Journal: Archives

One of my editors at the Sun-Times once asked me, "Roger, is it true that they used to let reporters smoke at their desks?" This wasn't asked yesterday; it must have been ten years ago. I realized then, although I'm only writing about it now, that a lifestyle had disappeared. When I entered the business in the autumn of my 16th year, newspapering seemed the most romantic and exciting thing I could possibly do with my life. "But honey," my mom said, "they don't pay them anything." Who cared? It involved knowing what was going on before anyone else did, and putting my byline on top of a story telling it to the world. "Roger Ebert" is only a name. "By Roger Ebert" are the three most magical words in the language, drawing my eye the same way a bulls-eye attracts an arrow.

Roger got paid, all right: in experience, the kind of thing you can't buy anyway.


Tags: links Roger Ebert


A Pox On Both Houses (Of Parliament) Dept.

On why Japan is a wreck: Op-Ed Contributor - Japan’s Crisis of the Mind - NYTimes.comPretty biting stuff, and I suspect it'll ring plenty of bells with those who have been disappointed with Japan's idea of progress being apparently synonymous...


On why Japan is a wreck:

Op-Ed Contributor - Japan’s Crisis of the Mind - NYTimes.com

Pretty biting stuff, and I suspect it'll ring plenty of bells with those who have been disappointed with Japan's idea of progress being apparently synonymous with pouring cement over things.


Tags: Japan links politics


Treasury Dept.

Art Review - 'Art of the Korean Renaissance' - Korean Treasures at a Crossroad in Metropolitan Museum Show - NYTimes.com...


Art Review - 'Art of the Korean Renaissance' - Korean Treasures at a Crossroad in Metropolitan Museum Show - NYTimes.com


Tags: art Korea links museums travel


Keep Back Six Shaku Dept.

The geisha are apparently on the way out, too. In Kyoto, a Call to Not Trample the Geisha - NYTimes.com...


The geisha are apparently on the way out, too.

In Kyoto, a Call to Not Trample the Geisha - NYTimes.com


Tags: Japan links travel


Phew Dept.

A good weekend was had by all. Went down to my friend Sarah's house for her birthday, enjoyed games and good cooking, Chinese buffets and Japanese import PS2 games. It's taking more time than I thought to get caught up,...


A good weekend was had by all. Went down to my friend Sarah's house for her birthday, enjoyed games and good cooking, Chinese buffets and Japanese import PS2 games. It's taking more time than I thought to get caught up, but I should be completely back to business by tomorrow. Look for some new material by then, in a couple of different departments.


Tags: reading travel


Exhale Dept.

Deep breath out … The last few months have been horribly busy -- work, writing, some new projects started and old ones finished -- and one of the consequences of that has been a little less activity here. But some...


Deep breath out …

The last few months have been horribly busy — work, writing, some new projects started and old ones finished — and one of the consequences of that has been a little less activity here. But some good news came my way (a king-sized tax refund, among other things), and I also have some new material in the pipe that's definitely worth talking about (Bashing being one of the first).

  • Natsume Sōseki's Ten Nights of Dreams, both the book and the movie. The latter features, among others, Yoshitaka Amano.
  • The second new anthology of Edogawa Rampo's work, courtesy of Kurodahan Press. Plus one or more of the movies made from stories in the book: Daydream, Watcher in the Attic, etc.
  • Go Shibata's startling Late Bloomer, which came to my attention thanks to Ebert's review. (Ebert himself no longer being capable of speaking, I imagine the movie had particular resonance for him.)
  • And the next Guin Saga manga, which cannot come out fast enough.

Also, courtesy of Subway Cinema:

"Krazy! The Delirious World of Anime + Manga + Video Games" is on display at Japan Society until June 14 and this brain-blast of an exhibit includes several anime screenings. Go to their site for the somewhat complicated screening schedule - it takes a minute to figure it out, but since they're screening films like PAPRIKA, MIND GAME (don't miss it!) and PATLABOR 2: THE MOVIE (amongst others) it's worth the brain power you'll spend.

They're not kidding about Mind Game, by the way. That gets my marks for being the best animated film not currently available in anything other than an import edition.


Tags: anime Edogawa Rampo Go Shibata Japan Japan Society Kurodahan Press manga movies Natsume Sōseki writing Yoshitaka Amano



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This page is an archive of entries in the Uncategorized / General category from April 2009.

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