Tuesday, April 15, 2003

I feel strange calling so many things favorites, and yet I’ll find that I don’t remember these same things completely. Or with as much detail as you’d think I would when I call something a “favorite.” I finally got around to getting my own copy of Mr. Punch, a lovely book by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean that came out in 1994, when I was in freshman year high school. I loved the book then, very much; read it numerous times. It had quite an impact on me, and I remember experimenting with some art styles that I had seen in the book; it helped further pique my interest in photography. I remember making cut-outs of people and posing them against bright light so that they’d be silhouettes, and using my dad’s camera to photograph them thinking, at the time, that whatever I saw in the viewfinder was what would turn up when the photo was developed. So obviously I knew nothing about lighting. And the pictures came out horribly. Now you can do it with digital cameras.

But anyway, I’m getting sidetracked. I hadn’t read the book in years, but whenever anyone mentioned it I’d say, “I love that book, it’s a favorite of mine,” or some such thing. And I wasn’t lying. But re-reading it tonight, it struck me how much of the story I’d forgotten. I still remembered the gist of it, the plot; but certain details were forgotten, and I now realized the pictures in the beginning of the book were his two sets of grandparents. Other things, though, I still remembered, even if they’d lost their context; mostly images. The pictures of the boy looking at the camera. The lightning bolt cutting through a window. So I felt sort of guilty for calling it one of my favorite books for all this time. It’s sort of excusable in that I didn’t have my own copy and hadn’t read it in some time, but still.

I never lied about it, though. It was one of my favorite books, and still is. It’s amazing. Read it. Got my copy at Fully Booked, the laughable new name of the former Page One. It’s an easy target for a joke (Fully Priced).

If you’ve not read Philip K. Dick, start. He’s brilliant. It’s been difficult finding books of his in this country, with its bookstores, even the major ones, being woefully incomplete. So much so that incomplete in that previous sentence is an understatement. But recently Fully Booked got some of his novels when they beefed up their Fantasy/Sci-Fi section (I expect this is because of the success of Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings franchises, but whatever gets more books here is fine by me.). They’re part of some science fiction label of books. Over at PowerBooks they’ve got a collection of his short stories, led by Minority Report (probably the only reason PowerBooks even got the book). It has a bunch of his short stories in it, including the ones that inspired the movies Imposter and Total Recall, besides, of course, Minority Report. They’re all great, with terrific hooks and concepts that just string you along until you finish the story. I can see his influence on Michael Crichton, The Matrix, Grant Morrison, etc. The paranoia, the science, the questions of reality, identity, perception. It’s fun to get into short stories again. I’d always wanted to read Dick, since so many of my favorite writers mention him as an influence. Now I see why. Next I want to read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the novel that inspired Blade Runner, and A Scanner Darkly, Charlie Kaufman’s dream project now in development by Section Eight, Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney’s production company.

Been trying to read a lot recently. When I cleaned up my bookshelf the other week I’d realized how many books were still on there I hadn’t read. But also it’s part of the annual tradition of the Holy Week Death By Boredom Avoidance Game.

Am now in the middle of an anthology called Potlatch, and Tatsuo Yoshida’s original Speed Racer manga, which is silly fun. I expect I’d have enjoyed it a great deal as a child.


The Core is so ordinary it’s not even funny. Oh no, wait, it is! :) Phew.

On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoyed Steven Soderbergh’s Solaris, which I saw with Neva. Thought-provoking, quiet, introspective, and elegiac, it’s the kind of film you talk about for thirty minutes after the last scene. His cinematography just gets better and better, it’s effective at creeping the hell out of you and making you ask all sorts of questions.

Usually on Fridays, if there’s no special event, I just stay here at the house with Neva, and we just watch DVDs. This is because I hate going out on Friday nights. The traffic, the people, dealing with parking, etc. It’s just not worth it most times. Last Friday we actually went through 3 ½ films: Apocalypse Now, parts of The Untouchables, From Dusk Till Dawn, and Talk To Her. All very good. I used to hate From Dusk, but know enough about what they were trying to do now to appreciate it in a new light. Apocalypse Now and The Untouchables are just some of the best movies ever made. Exquisite things, rare occurrences where everything just clicked. I realize now that my favorite war films are Apocalypse Now, The Thin Red Line, and following closely behind are Full Metal Jacket, Saving Private Ryan, and Black Hawk Down.

We’ve also been watching the first season of Futurama, which has been great. TV on DVD is great. I also developed a crush on Amy Wong, the Chinese intern on the show, particularly when she curses in Chinese. It’s too cute. And apparently I’m not alone: there’s all sorts of Amy Wong sites on the web, including one that chronicles all her costume changes in the first 3 seasons. Whoa.

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