Sunday, January 30, 2005

Pao was at least good for one thing: he brought to my attention that I haven't name-dropped Haruki Murakami in a LONG time. And you know why? Because he hasn't been putting out any books! Well, maybe in Japan. And that Birthday Stories anthology. Anyway, his "new," translated-into-English novel is out: Kafka on the Shore. And here's his new website. Wow! Author as rock star. I love the Music section, and am particularly happy with the Art section. Neva actually saw this in Singapore (she's back, btw), but it was about P1600 so we decided to just wait until Powerbooks gets it, where it'll likely be cheaper (I've read that there are already copies at Fully Booked, but don't know how much). She's glad to report that it's nice and thick (like Jonathan Strange thick), which should help make up for the long months of no new Murakami goodness. Actually, I just wish they'd get to work on those translations. He has a book that came out recently, After Dark; I wonder when I'll get to read that? And I remember Jenny saying that he still has a couple of untranslated novels/stories from the early years in his career. This reminds me: when I saw Vintage Murakami in PowerBooks it was frustrating that there was a story there seeing print in English for the first time ("Ice Man") when everything else was just excerpts from novels I'd already read. So, I did what any other fan would: I stood there and read the whole short story. I'm not paying 700 bucks for that one short. Also went through 3 essays in this book, Prime Times: Nick Hornby on The West Wing, Douglas Rushkoff on MST3K, and new fiction from Mark Leyner on Hawaii Five-O. Now there's another favorite writer of mine who hasn't put out a book in YEARS.

February is Francois Truffaut month at Alliance Francaise's Video Club, whose screenings are now back to being free (and have been moved to Saturday since I was last going). March is Jean Renoir. Check 'em out.

A Volkswagen ad that was completed but never aired.

Are you a good tracer? Wanna move to Austin and work on Richard Linklater's first post-Before Sunset film, an animated adaptation a la Waking Life of Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly? Check out the information below this article. Well, I'm sort of excited for this, it looks very interesting and I'm becoming a Dick fan, but part of me will always wonder how this would've looked if Charlie Kaufman penned the script. A Scanner Darkly was his dream project.

Finally, don't click on this.

UPDATE (A FEW HOURS LATER): Kafka on the Shore is at PowerBooks for PhP1299. Good thing I dropped by on the last day of the sale!

Sunday, January 23, 2005


Tim Burton's Corpse Bride! Yeah! I'm more excited about this than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, to be honest.

The trailer for Crispin Glover's What Is It? is insane! Like a Troma film from the New Wave! Like when other films make fun of "experimental" cinema (Ghost World's "Mirror, Father, Mirror," anyone?)! Is that not the perfect title for this movie? Warning: boobies!

Teri Hatcher has a problem that I'm sure many of us generous manfolk would volunteer to help her out with.

Hey Ciudad! And any other band who might be reading: Myspace now have this feature where, if you're a musician, you get a special page with a built-in mp3 player and you can stream your music, and offer it for download if you wish. You know, might be an interesting way to get the word around.

Perhaps the best music video I saw last year: Kings of Convenience's "I'd Rather Dance." Even if it may be old. Reminded me somewhat of Jared Hess's Napoleon Dynamite, and speaking of, he did the video of The Postal Service's "We Will Become Silhouettes."

The new ipod shuffle looks mighty tempting. I wish I could afford an ipod. But even if I could, I don't have a computer that would maximize its potential. I mean, we're still using a PC that has a Windows 98 OS (from when it was NEW, so this thing's about 7 years old) that has, uh, 11GB of hard drive? That and I'm still kind of waiting for Microsoft to launch their own MP3 player and start dem wars (but there's STILL no schedule on that, and their informal ceding of the videogame platform wars to Sony isn't an inspiring sign). Creative's Zen players get a lot of good press but just don't have the marketing oomph of Apple. But the shuffle looks interesting... I'm just wondering why, when flash drives now have a capacity for 4GB, they didn't come out with a 4GB model? Did they think it would cannibalize ipod Mini sales?

Douglas Coupland's next book is a sequel to Microserfs. There is a part of me that thinks this is a bad idea, that good works should be left alone, but there is also a part of me that is curious about what's happened to the characters, who I love (it's my favorite of Coupland's novels). The rumors of a Taxi Driver sequel, on the other hand, inspires nothing but revulsion in me. And while I'm at it, Martin Scorsese is directing the US remake of Infernal Affairs with Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon taking over for Andy Lau and Tony Leung. At first I groaned when I read it, but thinking about it, Scorsese could really do something with the subject matter. It's all in the handling, so fingers crossed. Another remake, with less potential this time, is Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow) doing Oldboy with Nicolas Cage.

Hey, hey! The Da Vinci Code is being made into a movie: Tom Hanks is the lead, Jean Reno is whatever French character, and it looks like Audrey Tautou's in the cast too... in a film directed by Ron Howard and written by Akiva Goldsman! Hahahaha! Sorry, guys.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Neva is in Singapore right now. Alexis is in Indonesia for 2 weeks. And I think Quark and Lia are in Bangkok right now. Weird that suddenly they're all out of the country at the same time. With Chris likely busy at AIM (being their poster boy and all), am I doomed to stay at home watching DVDs of The OC?

And yes, I am actually watching The OC. A show I would ordinarily never even go near. I remember it being on my radar only as "that show produced by McG and Doug Liman," but everything about it screamed Dawson's Creek. Or, as someone else mentioned, "this generation's Beverly Hills, 90210." I'm glad to say that it's neither of those things (I mean, there are common elements, but quality and execution-wise they are far different. I hope it stays that way, too). I only gave it a chance because Steven Grant loved the second season. And he's a guy who hates most things. Our tastes might not always link up, but he's a damn good writer so I tried and, thankfully, chanced upon the first two episodes of the first season, getting to start off at the ground floor. It helped that the first 2 episodes are helmed by Doug Liman himself. So anyway, yes, it's a soap, but what began as a guilty pleasure is now something I just can't stop watching. It's interesting to watch such a dialogue-driven show emerge as a hit in the landscape of American TV, which mostly sucks. The OC deserves props if only for one thing: reviving the career of Peter Gallagher. He was born to play Sandy Cohen. Who knew he'd be so good in this kind of role? Without him and Adam Brody's Seth I wouldn't be watching the show. Well, maybe for Samaire Armstrong I'd stick around for a while, but after she's gone I'd split. I damn near fell out of bed laughing when Peter Gallagher went "Mad props, son," pumping his chest and pointing to his kid. Oh yes, and "Yogalates," which I rewound and rewound, much to Neva's annoyance.


UPFI sent in their next month's schedule and I've updated the box to the left. It looks like I'm a shill for them, don't it? But what are you gonna do when they show a lot of stuff I like? In the Mood for Love! Happy Times! 2046, for those who missed it! The Last Wave, which I've never seen! From out of nowhere, A Hard Day's Night! I'm really tempted to watch Eternal Sunshine, Before Night Falls, and Amelie on the big screen again. By the way, I don't just throw stuff up there; only stuff I recommend. There are other screenings I don't give a toss about; check out their website yourself in case there's something you like that I don't.


In recent months I came across two terms that somewhat apply to me: Brinksman (which I'm trying to slowly move away from, I swear) and Sniper (though I haven't even looked at an online auction site in over a year).


I am now good friends with Neva's dog Mittens (who has moved in with her), when before we just kind of tolerated one another. It sometimes feels like I'm cheating on my own dog, Marla.


Watch this. You can read about it here.

There is the Fantastic Four trailer, which looks like a cheap cash-in to The Incredibles. Looks like a bad year for Marvel, as Elektra is a flop and a critical corpse. And there is the full trailer of Hideo Nakata's The Ring 2. Section Eight production The Jacket looks pretty interesting, and the trailer for the Lars Von Trier-written Thomas Vinterberg film Dear Wendy is up at its website. As expected, it looks to have controversy written all over it.

And check out the video for Charlotte Hatherley's "Bastardo," directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) with cameos by Simon Pegg & Lucy Davis (The Office).

You know what isn't such a great album? The Mars Volta's Frances the Mute. I mean, what the hell, guys? A little over 70 minutes long, track 2 is the most "conventional" at 5 minutes. Tracks 1, 3 & 4 are 12 minutes long, and track 5 is 30 minutes. Who do they expect to listen to this?

Over on the other end of the spectrum, Bloc Party's Silent Alarm is the first GREAT album of 2005 (also one of my favorite album titles in a long while). It hasn't left the car's player since it got there. And "So Here We Are" is such a wonderful, wonderful, anthemic song. A great way to start the year. It's a little strange that that's the song I've attached myself to because it doesn't sound like the songs that made me like the band in the first plce. I've actually been listening to it on repeat while cobbling this post together. The video's here (one of 'em's wearing a Pretty Girls Make Graves shirt!), listen to it and hear how great it is. It's so nice. I love it. It's so good. It's so good it makes you want to do something with your life. Or embrace sad-faced strangers in the street. Or eat sandwiches with a friend you haven't seen since grade school. And this is a song without even a chorus, mind.

They're offering some mp3's on their website. All good, but try "The Answer" & "Staying Fat" particularly. Especially since they're not on the album.

I also enjoy the fact that the singer is black but doesn't sound like it, and the drummer's a freaking tall Asian. Most. Multi-Cultural. Band. Ever.

Mad props, guys. Mad props.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Who has a Paypal account?

Wanna help a brother out?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

We interrupt this blog to provide 2 images of startling power:

"Get me out of here."


Regular programming will resume shortly.

Monday, January 10, 2005

The Onion AV Club have put up their Will Eisner interview in his memory, and while you're at it, check out their quasi-year-in-review while you're there.

O: Speaking from a purely idealistic plane, where would you like to see the industry go from here?

WE: I would like to see more sophisticated material. I would like to see the comics industry reach a point where good comics material is reviewed in The New York Times and treated at a level equivalent to oil paintings and good literature. I'm hoping we'll see more of that. I believe it will happen, and I'm hoping to be around when it does.

You can find Will Eisner's biography here.

In other depressing news, the film adaptation of V For Vendetta is progressing, with Joel Silver as producer. The good news is, the Wachowski Bros. aren't directing it. The bad news is, they wrote the script, and it's being helmed by a first-timer, their AD James McTigue. Natalie Portman has been cast as Evey, which, for some reason I can't pinpoint exactly, doesn't sit well with me. I mean, there's already a teaser image. Notice how it implies that it's all a creation of the Wachowskis?

Vanity Fair's last Star Wars feature for a while has a gatefold cover that made me smile, even if Lucas has dashed his franchise's brains on a jagged rock like a baby seal.

Oh yes, Kate Bosworth and Kevin Spacey join Brandon Routh in Bryan Singer's Superman as Lois Lane and Lex Luthor. You can figure out who's who.

I was disappointed with Kung-fu Hustle. I was so looking forward to it. I wanted lots more: more Stephen Chow, more story, more development, more humor. The fight scenes were terrific, but at what expense? There were no characters to love. And he's becoming lazy by relying too much on special effects. Another thing is the tone seemed inconsistent. I thought he'd try to make his most accessible film yet, but there's death galore, characters coming in and out, and some scenes would be genuinely scary and violent, but then leavened with an out-of-place joke or cartoony CG. Excellent casting, though.

Ocean's 12 could never've lived up to its expectations (especially with a different writer) but it was still supremely satisfying, and was a con instead of a heist. Also, as a cinephile I loved all the nouvelle vague influences. The worst thing I can say is, as expected, it was unable to consistently maintain the energy/fun level throughout every solitary second of its running time like its predecessor. Excellent turns by Vincent Cassel and Catherine Zeta-Jones, too. Even the cameos are cute, and there's a specific moment that's almost a beyond-the-4th-wall nod to the very first, Rat Pack Ocean's where even the filmmakers just let everyone in on the joke that they're just having a good time.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

One of my personal heroes has died.

Will Eisner passed away on Jan. 3, after complications from a quadruple bypass heart operation. He was 87.

Most of you haven't heard of him, which is a bit of the sad part of all this.

Will Eisner was, as Alan Moore put it, "the single person most responsible for giving comics its brains."

He is often called the father of the American graphic novel, for his A Contract with God, published in 1978. I'm not exactly sure if he is (there have been works/creators vying for the title recently), but it doesn't really matter. Eisner is the man who unapologetically, unabashedly saw the potential in comics as an art form, a medium, a way to tell stories. He always treated it with respect, as a valid form of literature, even when everyone else around him sneered or made light of his efforts, sometimes even his peers and co-workers. He started his own studio of artists, giving people like Jack Kirby and Jules Feiffer their first jobs. He was one of the first people to really examine the form and craft, why this works and that doesn't and what this change will result in, and he put this knowledge to use as a teacher and in his essential books of instruction that he published himself under his imprint Poorhouse Press. He is the man who always believed that comics wasn't JUST for children, and didn't ALL have to be about superheroes. He's the man who gave the world The Spirit, which was published weekly in major newspapers, a strip aimed at adults with mature themes and bravura invention in storytelling. He's the guy who, unlike most of his contemporaries (like Bob Kane), adamantly refused to sign away the rights to his creations, a pioneer for creators' rights before there was any widespread knowledge in the industry that it was even an issue. He's the man who stopped the lucrative Spirit series to go do his part in the War, where he used his knowledge to make instructional and technical manuals for engineers in the infantry. He is the man the comics industry's equivalent of the Oscars-- the Eisner Awards-- are named after (and he's handed each award to its winner since the beginning). Perhaps most amazingly, he is the gentleman who never became a cynic through all the decades comics has seen, who was supportive of all endeavors and especially loved it when young people took an interest in making their own comics.

When he died, he wasn't just "continuing to work in the medium he so loved," he was an engine of creation. He was damn prolific for an 87-year-old. He had a graphic novel come out last year, Fagin the Jew (a biography of the character from Oliver Twist), he has a book of conversations between him and Frank Miller entitled simply Eisner/Miller coming out in April, and he had just completed what will now be his final book, to be published posthumously (obviously), entitled The Plot. In between all that he was making appearances at conventions and speaking/lecturing at universities and conferences.

He was an inspiration to most everyone he met, and millions more he didn't. At the least, he has entertained many more millions of readers through his works.

He will be missed by us all. The world is a poorer place without him. But he left it a better place than he found it, and his contributions to this world will far outlive anything we will make. In fact, the debt we owe him-- not just us fans, but the medium, the industry, and everything he has influenced-- can never truly be repaid. And you know what? He never meant for it to be a debt in the first place. He always gave freely of himself, because he loved and believed in the medium, the fans, the industry.

That's just the kind of guy he was.

DC have The Will Eisner Library, which includes The Spirit Archives.
Dark Horse have a sketchbook, Last Day in Vietnam, Shop Talk, Hawks of the Sea, and the forthcoming Eisner/Miller. They'll also publish his official biography in the summer, called "A Spirited Life."
NBM have his adaptations.
Fagin the Jew was published by Doubleday. The Plot will be published by WW Norton later this year.
His seminal books of instruction: Comics & Sequential Art, and Graphic Storytelling, published by Poorhouse Press, should be available in any good bookstore (I know they're in both Powerbooks and Fully Booked).
I just want to call attention to the fact that there are a lot of great films playing at the UP Film Institute this month. I have the ones I’m interested in listed in the remember box to the left, but you should go to the website for the full schedule, in case there’s something I missed that you would like to see.

Did you know that in the months after 9/11, poetry books saw a massive spike in sales not seen since, well, decades? Almost as much as religious books.

Wired’s interview with Nintendo’s Hiroshi Yamauchi must be read to be believed, I shit you not. "HEY, BALLMER, WHY DON'T YOU SUCK MY TINY YELLOW BALLS?" Hilarious.

Ricky Gervais is going to write an episode of The Simpsons. :)