Saturday, December 31, 2005

Damn. I forgot about Broken Flowers and Howl's Moving Castle. Years are too damn long.

Okay, the revised list;

1. Munich
2. A History of Violence
3. Broken Flowers
4. Serenity
5. Sin City
6. Brokeback Mountain
7. Grizzly Man
8. Revenge of the Sith
9. Howl's Moving Castle
10. Batman Begins

So now it's an even ten. Okay.
At last, a day stretching before me with almost nothing I need to do. I've been itching to post about movies I've seen lately, but Christmas put me quite behind on Boschen and Nesuko, so I've been drawing like mad all week. I'm nonetheless basically happy with the chapter as it stands, even though I changed it significantly as the week progressed. Sometimes I wonder if I oughta settle down on Boschen and Nesuko and simply write it as one of the sorts of stories it seems to be in certain chapters, but I get a certain glee from watching it hop genres.

Anyway, Caitlin posted a list of her favourite movies of 2005. Here's mine, of what I've seen--though it ought to be noted that I still have not seen King Kong;

1. Munich
2. A History of Violence
3. Serenity
4. Sin City
5. Brokeback Mountain
6. Grizzly Man
7. Revenge of the Sith
8. Batman Begins


Rarely have I left a movie theatre feeling more pleased. This is the most unsentimental Spielberg movie I've seen and I love it.

It's also the second best spy movie I've ever seen (Notorious is still #1). Mainly because it never falls into the two big spy movie traps--it never gets the dry bird's eye view of the political world and it's games (like a Tom Clancy movie), and it never treats itself like it's fake (like a James Bond movie).

Spielberg shows that the biggest influence on him as a filmmaker is probably Alfred Hitchcock, whether he likes it or not, because the main reason this movie works so well is that we see everything from Avner(Eric Bana)'s point of view. The stuff about Israelis and Palestinians is interesting, and always played intelligently without Spielberg giving a heavy hand to either argument, but instead allowing things to sit out in the light; cold, bloody, and tragic. But the presence of those details is important mostly because they enhance Avner's story;

Munich is about rationally deciding to kill for something you love, and then continuing to kill because it continues to seem like the most rational course action, and then waking up one day and realising you're a creature whose entire life is wrapped around killing others and avoiding getting killed yourself. The movie shows the strange deletion of beautiful, seemingly integral parts of the human perception. There are some critics saying this movie has a lot of fat to be trimmed, but I wouldn't remove a single thing. The reviewer at CHUD claims there's too much of the business of killing in the middle, but what I saw was a movie seamlessly moving through amazing action sequences to create the feeling of Avner's mind realigning to the new conception of life. Not just becoming good at killing but learning how vulnerable everyone is to a bomb under the bed, or in the telephone.

Here's a movie that says we've lost innocence and goodness, we're probably never gonna get 'em back, and no-one knows any solutions.

A History of Violence

I thought of this movie a couple times while watching Munich. They're both brilliant movies about the function of violence on our world, the effects it has on our lives, and whether or not it's worth those effects.

I talked about the movie in this post.


I talked about it here.

I've since watched the first five episodes of Firefly and, while I love the Joss Whedon written episodes, the others are only good. There was a ballroom scene in the episode called Shindig where Inara really didn't come off but Kaylee was adorable and it was somehow fun seeing everyone playing with what was essentially a standard ball from a 1930s or 40s Western.

Sin City

I talked about it here.

I've since gotten the extended edition, which is really nice, since it isolates the stories as their own short films. Now I can skip That Yellow Bastard with a clear conscience. I'm finding The Big Fat Kill has grown on me quite a bit, especially since I've read A Dame to Kill For. Really looking forward to the next movie.

Brokeback Mountain

Gorgeously shot, with Crouching Tiger-ish views of vast, mist shrouded mountains. Well acted with an endearingly subtle, grumpy performance from Ledger, and a charmingly Marlboro-ish Jake Gyllenhaal.

The premise of a love that everyone in the world forbids, yet persists anyway, is obviously the makings of a great tragic romance. Or a cheesy one. It's to Ang Lee's credit more than anyone else's that it is definitely the former.

The characters are real and complex and the movie, though it looks beautiful, never goes for the decadent and operatic, choosing instead to seemingly allow the real feelings speak for themselves.

Of his motivation to make movies of wildly different subject matter, Lee often says that he's mainly attracted to stories of people trying to adjust to a world changing around them while not accepting them. And that was one of two things about Brokeback Mountain that reminded me of John Huston's The Misfits. The other thing being that The Misfits took place in relatively the same period in relatively the same society. It's not hard at all to imagine Gyllenhaal's Jack Twist competing with Montgomery Clift's Perce Howland at the rodeo.

And while The Misfits is about free spirited cowboys being broken by capitalism, and a divorcee being broken by the impermanence of love, Brokeback Mountain is about two men being gay in the middle of what could be one of the worst possible cultures to be gay in. And that's made clear by a flashback Ledger's character has of an old man being beaten to death for just maybe being gay.

It's a good, beautiful film. And yes, damnit, it's a little sad. Why is it I feel like I'm the only person I know who likes sad movies? Anyway . . .

Grizzly Man

Talked about it here. I gots to see more Herzog movies . . .

Revenge of the Sith

I still like it, bitches. I talked about it in this post.

Batman Begins

I said things about it in this post. For some reason I don't feel much like getting the DVD. I'm not sure why. You know, I don't get a hankering to re-watch Memento very often, either.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Don't eat lasagne before, while, or after reading the new Boschen and Nesuko chapter.

Ah, and, again, I recommend signing up for Caitlin R Kiernan's Sirenia Digest. It'll knock your socks off.

Friday, December 23, 2005

I feel like someone's scrubbed behind my eyes with a dirty little mop. Because Christmas day is all about frantic, tight schedules wherein many are angered if I fall out of step, I've taken the sleep upset Thursday and used it to quickly alter my sleeping schedule--I went to bed at 8am or so on Thursday, as usual, and then got up three hours later for the maids, as usual. Only this time I didn't go back to sleep when the maids were gone. Thus enabling me to go to sleep at around 8:30pm Thursday, and awaken to-day at around . . . 3:30am. Well, it was the best I could do. It just feels so strange sleeping at night; however sleep deprived I was, every time I woke up, I felt like I ought to leap out of bed and do something.

So I wasn't good for much that was very complicated yesterday. The two pages of Boschen and Nesuko script I wrote only demonstrated to me how boring I am when I'm sleepy. So I have a lot to do to-day, particularly since I wanna get ahead a bit.

Anyway, Merry Cephalopodmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I've seen The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. And there's a very simple way to tell you why this movie doesn't work:

To-day's audiences are too jaded and emotionally atrophied for the real The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It's my belief that everything that's wrong with the movie--say, 81.7% of it--can be traced back to that problem. This was not the time for The Chronicles of Narnia to be made major motion pictures.

It's really too bad, too, because, at one time, Disney would've been the perfect studio to make The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Imagine if the folks that made Snow White had done this? That might have been beautiful.

I will say I liked this movie a lot more than I thought I was going to. I mostly liked the actors, and I was particularly surprised by how much I liked Lucy, who is very good, except when she cries, but I won't moan about that as it's probably hard to get convincing crying out of child actors, even generally good ones. I liked Edmund and his perpetual frown that reminded me of Melanie Lynskey in Heavenly Creatures. I liked the beavers--they were fun and engaging, almost exactly like they were in the book. I adored Tilda Swinton as the witch--she was threatening, beautiful, and cunning. I bet a lot of people left the theatre wishing she'd won (I know I did). I loved the design of the armour and costumes. Richard Taylor's team prove once again that they are brilliant at crafting these things. The colour schemes are very different from the Lord of the Rings costumes, with silvery armour and bright red, blue, and green tunics. It reminded me a lot of the Technicolor Robin Hood starring Errol Flynn, which, to my mind, is the absolutely perfect note to strike with this material.

But my absolute favourite part of the movie was when Lucy came across the lamp post and met Tumnus. It was the only time in the movie where I actually sort of felt like I was looking at Narnia.

And the interaction between Tumnus and Lucy is, I suspect, one of the few pieces of the story that Andrew Adamson was able to connect with enough to actually put some heart into. It's also why the beavers worked--these were both Shrek-like bits; animals and mythical creatures talking absurdly like familiar humans, to humorous effect.

As for what I didn't like, I'll start at the beginning;

I'd heard a long time ago about Adamson deciding to make the opening scene be the bombing of London by Nazi Germany during World War II, even though this is not in the book, nor does the book begin on even remotely the same foot. When I first heard about it, I thought perhaps Adamson was trying to suggest that Narnia was in fact a means through which the children are coping with their experience of real war, with real death. I don't know if I'd necessarily mind such a story, but such a story is not The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The book's a fantasy, yes, but such a manoeuvre with the movie would be to make a fantasy within a fantasy--essentially, it would be assuming the audience is too jaded and emotionally atrophied to take fantasy at face value. They'd need it justified with a reality check, a VH1's behind the scenes this-is-what-we're-literally-saying device, nothing so eloquent as actual art, thank you.

Now, having seen the movie, I'm not sure Adamson's intent was anything so complicated. What the opening scene actually felt like was a sucker punch. Like Adamson felt the movie needed a big opening, and he needed to throw in the trauma of the childrens' separation from their mother, which we get in the following scene where they part at the train station. It felt like a cheap trick to get us emotionally involved, but it didn't work at all because we don't know the characters yet, and the shots of the bombing are terrifically dull. For one thing, it begins in the air with the German planes, then cuts to the interior of one of their cockpits. Since the shots aren't particularly interesting, and look fake, and the pilot is pretty anonymous in his mask, we don't really have a point of view yet, so the effect is somewhat inferior to what stock footage of actual WWII planes might have been.

And beginning the movie with emotional trauma is just a bad idea, as I think Lewis could have pointed out. He didn't begin the book that way, and with good reason--kids are resilient and not usually accustomed to grief and horrific stress. You really have to take them through it; you can't just drop them right in, particularly when your uncommunicative filmmaking style isn't helping.

The professor's house is introduced decently enough, and at this point in the movie, I was making a concerted effort to not be bothered, since I wasn't sure yet whether my chafing from the opening wasn't due to preconceptions. I was really watching Lucy because I remembered not much liking the look of her in the trailer. What's interesting is I don't feel like I actually got a look at her until after she went through the wardrobe. The scenes of the children in the mansion involve some sub-par dialogue and some very quick cuts, which reminded me of a quote I'd heard of Sergio Leone saying about the movies he saw in his youth never giving you time to actually look at the stars' faces. Leone, of course, was known for his long close up shots, so maybe his perspective was peculiar, but it's movies like this that give me an idea of how he must have felt.

The introduction of the White Witch was good--as I said, Swinton was a goddess on screen. But her dwarf henchman, described as hideous in the book, was far too cute, and made the audience giggle far too much.

It was nice seeing the kids deliver Lewis dialogue at Tumnus's house, where Edmund argues that Tumnus was a criminal, and we know why he would say that, and it's subtle character stuff. But those spots dissolve far too quickly into dumbed-down one liners.

One of the movie's biggest problems is that Aslan aggressively doesn't work. He looks very cartoonish, is introduced rather off-handedly, and we never sense the grandeur of Aslan as we do in the book, mostly because I don't think Adamson even began to know how to pull it off. I feel bad for the lion during the stone table scene, but only because I wouldn't want to see that happen to anyone, and absent is the shock of seeing the mighty Aslan so dressed-down. It made me a little uncomfortable, as though I was sitting through the funeral of a complete stranger.

The battle sequence at the end fails miserably, as Adamson attempts weakly to find a middle ground between modern, action war epics, and the unabashedly fairy tale quality of the story. It could have worked, but what it needed was a new vision, one that could interpret the fairy tale battle to moving pictures, instead of imitating Braveheart and The Lord of the Rings. There are several shots that are almost replicas of ones from Lord of the Rings, such as a minotaur standing on a rock, waving his hordes forward. Or the first clash of the armies, which looks identical to the warg battle in The Two Towers.

Again and again, I was impressed by the fact that Adamson wasn't up to this. There were too many obvious day-for-night shots, which Peter Jackson doggedly avoided, going so far as to do a month of night shoots for Helm's Deep. It's particularly bad in the stone table scene, where the table is obviously on a sound stage, with complete darkness outside the ring of torches, while Susan and Lucy are clearly looking on from a completely different, outdoor location, which glows blue with the lens filter. When the girls are finally at Aslan's side, on the table set, green screen is used to put the location shot in the background.

I was astonished by how many obviously artificial backgrounds there were in this movie, where there very clearly didn't need to be. One shot had Peter artificially placed in front of his tent. I mean, just a canvas wall, for gods' sakes! Adamson, if you can't plan ahead properly, then at least have the mivonks to do proper pick-ups once in a while.

Anyway, it was, after all, Adamson's first live-action movie, and only his third movie of any kind. All he'd done before were the Shrek movies, the success of which, of course, brought him this project.

I've only seen the first Shrek, and I liked it. But what made that movie good? Sly, post modernist humour. The sort that connects with--yes--a jaded and emotionally atrophied audience. I'm not suggesting it's bad. Not at all. Merely that it's almost the polar opposite of the unabashed, earnest fantasy of the Narnia books. Which also makes Narnia the polar opposite of what audiences these days are open to.

So. Maybe we can try again in twenty or thirty years . . .

Monday, December 19, 2005

Oh, yeah, and now guys can see if they measure up to Heath, penis-wise. This'll be the last genitalia related post for a while, I promise.
So, the other day I was craving vagina and a visit to Innsmouth. A few minutes ago, reading issue # 1 of Caitlin R. Kiernan's Sirienia Digest, I just about got all I wanted. Beautiful words conjuring sex, surgery, and strange sea things. That's what I call an evening well spent. If you're looking to have good evenings, I recommend subscribing.

Actually, I suppose it's morning for most people, now isn't it? I suppose I ought to make some attempt at sleeping earlier since I have about four Christmas presents left to buy.

In the real evening of . . . what day was it?--Sunday! On Sunday night I read this interview with Richard Taylor of Weta workshop--those of you who've watched the special features on the Lord of the Rings disks may remember him as the New Zealander with the peculiarly monotonous voice and Harry Potter glasses. Sounds like he's really eager to make an Evangelion movie, and he's eager to get the right director *cough*Peter Jackson*cough*.

I do believe it's possible for the Evangelion story to be made into a great live-action movie. But I think it'd be extremely easy to screw up, too, so I hope Taylor's earnestness has sufficient influence over ADV. Yes, I advocate influence, hahahahaha!

You may've noticed that Adult Swim's been showing Evangelion lately. Part of me's happy that the show might be getting a bigger audience, but another part of me resents that so many people'll be seeing the show for the first time in its English dubbed format. Like all anime series I've ever seen, Evangelion is horribly dubbed. I don't know what the hell the problem is, except every show seems to be dubbed by the same four or five reekingly incompetent actors. My guess is some translation studio executive is pocketing money that could be spent on a better dubbing budget.

On another subject; what do Mulholland Drive, King Kong(2005), and Ellie Parker all have in common? They all star Naomi Watts as a struggling actress. Think about it, won't you?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Don't be influenced, bitch!

Some people are so fucking stupid, they do shit like putting their fists into their mouths and letting their friends dress them in different outfits. How fucking dumb, man!

How about you? Are you a brainless fucking idiot? Well, are ya? Are you fucking high right now? You spineless little shit!

Why can't you be Above the Influence! Right now, there's a league of strong, clean, magnificent boys and girls. Their hair is shiny and blows freely and gracefully in the winds of the strong Utopia. For they are strong men, and strong women.

Do you wash your genitals in marijuana soap? Now, I know that ain't how your mommy and daddy showed you to wash.

At Above the Influence, our mission is not to pressure you, merely to teach you how to be clean and strong, like a Super person.

Friday, December 16, 2005

A new Boschen and Nesuko chapter is up. I coloured the last five pages to-day. That was a lot of hours. I really need to stick to colouring every day . . .

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Damnit, my hopes just shot way up.

At the very least, Studio Ghibli will treat Earthsea better than Sci-Fi channel. And, you know, if Goro's style is anything like his father's, this could be a perfect marriage. Earthsea could do with the slower, more contemplatively beautiful style.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Ah, back on the old schedule. I didn't manage to get to sleep until 7:30am or so.

Instead of counting sheep, I like to play a variation of Degrees of Separation in my head--I pick two seemingly wildly disparate names from the movies and connect them. I went through several this morning, but I was proudest somehow of connecting William H. Macy with John Gilbert.

William H. Macy was in Fargo with Steve Buscemi, who was in Big Fish directed by Tim Burton, who directed Jack Nicholson in Batman. Jack Nicholson was in Terms of Endearment with Shirley MacLaine, who was also in The Children's Hour with Miriam Hopkins. Hopkins was in Trouble in Paradise, directed by Ernst Lubitsh, who also directed Ninotchka starring Greta Garbo. Greta Garbo starred in Queen Christina with John Gilbert.

There're probably closer connexions than that, but I like to think of interesting ones. I did think of some nicer ones, like connecting Selma Blair with D.W. Griffith (Selma Blair-John Hurt-Anthony Hopkins-Katharine Hepburn-John Huston-Marilyn Monroe-Billy Wilder-Charles Laughton-Lillian Gish-D.W. Griffith).

I've been listening to a lot of audio commentaries while drawing lately. A couple days ago, I listened to Brian Singer and Newton Thomas Sigel's (cinemtographer) commentary for X-Men 2. It's a sad thing to listen to as they discuss quite enthusiastically some of the things they hope to do with X-Men 3. Oh, why did Superman have to come along? And why did the people at Fox have to be such dicks?

So when I finished drawing last night, I watched X-Men on the big 42-inch television. I'm pleased by how rewatchable those movies are--the actors and sets all work together so well, it feels like returning to a favourite television series.

I've mainly just been rewatching movies lately, mostly because VHS tapes don't seem to work on the flat screen television. I finally got around to buying the Indiana Jones collection on DVD. It'd been a long time since I'd watched any of them in any format, especially Raiders of the Lost Ark, which I don't believe I'd watched since I was age 15 or 16. There's such a natural flow of action and fun and danger in that movie that it is, when you step back from it, awe-inspiring. When you're in the middle of enjoying it, of course, you just feel happy and absorbed.

I think I enjoyed the second movie almost as much, although in different ways. But I was surprised and dismayed by how disappointed I was by the third movie. It's as though invention ended with the poor reception of Temple of Doom, replaced by a desire to produce a Well Made Indiana Jones movie. And to be sure, The Last Crusade is well made in a lot of ways. There's definite evidence of a more technically adept Steven Spielberg than the one who directed Raiders of the Lost Ark. I sense the earlier Spielberg probably couldn't have handled the Venice boat chase. And yet I never felt as engaged by any of the action sequences as I did by the ones of the previous films--though, make no mistake, I did enjoy them. In fact, the boat chase and the motorcycle chase were two of the highlights of the movie for me, in no small part due to John Williams' score. I love the theme he composed for "Chasing after the Joneses." And I admit I didn't like the overuse of the Raiders’ march at the beginning of Temple of Doom.

And yet, it really didn't bother me because the beginning of Temple of Doom is so damn wonderful. One spectacular surprise after another is pulled out of a hat. And then, it gets better because the movie gets grim. I mean, it's Temple of Doom that most gives the feeling of Indy-as-unlikely-hero. You're talking about one little archaeologist up against a big, really menacing Kali cult, and he's not just trying to get away from them. No, he's going to steal diamonds and try to save a bunch of brutalised kids. It could easily have felt sappy and fake, yet you really get the feeling of a big damned Temple of Doom casting a shadow.

Now, again, there are elements of Last Crusade I like. In spite of the fact that I think bringing in Indy's father was a bad idea, and that Indy essentially becomes a different, less interesting character around his father, I do like the dialogue they have on the airship; "We never talked." "Well, I'm here now . . . what do you want to talk about?" "heh . . . I can't think of anything . . ." "Than what are you complaining about?" Much better than just a few minutes later when Indy, after revealing his limited knowledge of flying, is startled to find that his father thinks he's talking about time when he yells, "Eleven O'clock!" Oh, that old chestnut. Did we have multiple, un-credited writers for this movie? Yes, we did.

But what really bothers me about the third movie is the last act. Suddenly it's about whether Indy believes in Santa Claus and Angels and love and it just soggily sucks. I mean, the Ark in the first film worked on God juice and I didn't care. It was great--melting faces, physical peril, and MacGuffin. It's a good show, because what's interesting is whether Indy and Marian escape and get the MacGuffin and what and how. Not whether or not Indy can bring himself to believe in God.

Even invoking Siiva in the second movie, it was fine because it was bloody cool.

Anyway, all this has made me lot less eager to see the fourth movie, if they ever do get their act together on it. And my belief that Schindler's List and Jurrassic Park ought to've actually been back-to-back Indiana Jones movies has sort of been reaffirmed.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

I was looking at the top 100 lists of the highest grossing films of all time, adjusted and unadjusted for inflation, and I noticed that in the unadjusted section, Return of the Jedi beats The Empire Strikes Back, while in the adjusted section, it's the other way around. There are some other, even more severe examples than that. Number three seems to be the weird one on both lists; Shrek 2 and The Sound of Music? And where the hell's Casablanca? And what the hell's Sergeant York doing on that list?

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving, people. At dinner last night (I had two Thanksgiving dinners!), everyone said what they were thankful for. The only thing I could think of was, "The internet."

So now I'm strangely sleepy. I may stop making sense, because I'm so sleepy, or because I've been reading Robyn's Evil Podiatrist.

This evening was spent with my sister decorating my mom's white Christmas tree with Fruit Loop colour lights. My mother wanted a tree different from every previous year. Personally, I still prefer green trees with red and gold decorations. Call me old fashioned. In fact I am.

Oh, yes, I like Christmas. In fact, this year promises to have a more Christmassy Christmas for me than usual. Because somehow, Christmas for me has always felt connected to vacuous, unknown territories, perhaps with tall robed figures chanting in the shadows.

I saw Walk the Line to-day. Joaquin Phoenix did a good job, especially considering he really didn't resemble Johnny Cash, particularly not in the late 1960s. But he did a good job emulating Cash's voice.

The story goes through the usual rock star biography waypoints, without ever truly painting complex people on its canvas--some childhood trauma, surprise success, divorce, drugs, love affair, getting clean . . . etcetera. The movie went to some pains to explain and make excuses for characters' motives. Sometimes I tried figuring out how the true events differed from the fiction, as when Cash's young children walk in on him screaming at his first wife wall pinning her on the floor. This was preceded--out of the children’s' view--by a standard sort of yelling argument. I had to wonder if maybe the movie version is a child's glossed-over memory of seeing her father rape her mother.

Robert Patrick was good as Johnny's father. Although the filmmaker's reticence to use age prosthetic makeup was a little disconcerting as everyone looked the same age from 1945 to 1970, except when Johnny was played by a child actor. This means that Johnny looked older than his mother in the scene where he was leaving home to enlist in the Air Force.

Time for more coffee . . .

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

On C-SPAN, there's a Catholic Priest, Rev. George Coyne of the Vatican Observatory, speaking against Intelligent Design and speaking in favour of keeping scientific theories unfettered by religion. He's showing some slides about evolution, and said at one point, "There are some who would draw their own conclusions. I prefer to draw my own ignorance." Amen. What's so hard about that? If a Catholic Priest doesn't have to bring his god into science, why the hell must our schools?

So here I am back in San Diego. I've been back a few days, surprised at how odd it feels, and at how much I need to regain the sea legs for my familiar vessels. There're some tumultuous things going on around here. My parents' house seems to be falling apart. More could be said about that.

I'm supposed to get to work on the new Boschen and Nesuko script to-day, which means I'm going to need to reign together the fifty or so ideas I feel compelled to pummel the reader with in this chapter. But I'm sort of looking forward to the challenge. What I'm not looking forward to is figuring out how to colour it. Some of you may've noticed that the new chapter is coloured darker than any previous--and many of you may have found it to be the first that didn't look somewhat washed out. This is because of the aforementioned monitor problem--on my big, boxy CRT, the new chapter's hard to see, but all previous chapters look richer and more nuanced than they do on the new flat panel monitors everyone else in the world apparently has.

I'm a little at a loss how to proceed in the next chapter. I'm thinking I might raise the brightness in the gamma correction menu, but doing that seems to give everything a green tinge that I can't seem to neutralise by adjusting the RGB values--sometimes I think I get it, but then look at something and realise it's suddenly completely the wrong colour, both for my customary monitor setting, and for what I remember of Trisa's. I may do a page and then see how it looks on Tim's monitor. It could be slow-going on a chapter that already promises to be complicated.

Anyway, if anyone has an opinion on this, do speak.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Hoy. A new Boschen and Nesuko chapter is online a day early. Again. Don't get used to this.

Really, I'm very amazed I actually got through it. Working on it was ridiculously difficult with all the sneezing and other allergy related things I was kept busy doing. Ugh. So I'm going back to sleep . . .

Monday, November 07, 2005

I finally saw the 1983 version of Scarface last night. And, I must say that, although I liked Brian DePalma's version, I much prefer the 1932 Howard Hawks version.

To those of you who know my preference for pre-mid 1960s aesthetics, that's not a surprise. But there were other things, besides the sets and costumes, that I felt were superior in the original version.

For one thing, Hawks simply had a better instinct for setting up shots. The DePalma version has a number of good shots, but in between them there're mostly just good-enough compositions.

But, more than any thing else, the ending of the original version was terrifically superior. And I'll tell you why I think so, so there be spoilers ahead.

For one thing, the sister lasts a little longer in the original version. She and Tony actually make up, which, coming right after he's murdered her new husband, seems to better underline the subtly incestuous vibe between the two. That it happens while they're both under fire from the police, that she's furiously helping him reload his weapons, adds to a sort of flames of hell atmosphere.

The way Tony's killed in the 1932 version also packs considerably more emotional punch. To be fair, it wouldn't quite have worked in 1983, because the original version's ending hinged more on the audience being unused to police being portrayed as fallible in drama. When Tony's gunned down by cops, it gives you a subtle feeling that, underneath, maybe no-one's really "right" in this world.

Tony being killed by his rivals in the drug trade is simply what one would expect to happen. Moreover, the final scene feels as though it would fit comfortably into Die Hard, or Predator, or another psychologically light 80s action flick. It is fun, but doesn't feel half as tragic as the 1932 version.

Pacino gives a great performance. He exudes an authoritative menace, even when he's still small time. Muni did, too, and actually I wouldn't say that one performance was better than the other. They were both very good.

Anyway, there's a kitten sleeping on my lap right now. adopted her a couple days ago and, after more that twenty four hours of deliberation, has named her Beatrix. A very sweet, well behaved kitten, too. She gets rambunctious, but has thus far not destroyed anything. She likes to crawl on top of my head while I'm watching a movie, but she's discovered that I'm a hard man to distract from a movie.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The November 5 chapter of Boschen and Nesuko is online to-day, a day early. Just because I wanted it to be.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

So here I am at Trisa's. I've been here since Sunday and it's been a generally nice visit so far.

Unfortunately, there wasn't much for us to do in regards to celebrating Halloween. Neither of us had thought to get candy for the Trick-or-Treaters that showed up. We had to turn away a polite little girl dressed as a princess, a little girl dressed as Harley Quinn, and a bunch of noisy and annoying little boys. But Trisa did have some Halloween ravioli in her freezer, which was dyed with squid ink, which I had not known was edible. I'd now like to try a bowl of it.

I managed to do a Boschen and Nesuko page here yesterday, dispelling my fears in that regard. The only problem I can see so far is that the pages all look a lot different on this monitor--much, much brighter. They look brighter and sort of washed out, as they also look on Tim's monitor. It leads me to think that perhaps the monitor I've been working with is too dim, and I find myself thinking about strangely dark pictures I've seen friends post in their blogs.

Personally, I think these flat screens are showing far less subtlety. The careful texturing I did for Nesuko's hair is almost completely invisible on some pages now. And panels that I had coloured thinking that they would be almost entirely black are now easily discernable greyish blue shapes.

Ah . . . c'est la vie. At least it doesn't look silly. For consistency's sake, I'll adhere to the old colour palettes, but it's going to be a little tricky with this monitor.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Last night, I saw a promo for the new crappy children's movie, Zathura. The promo was using music from Requiem for a Dream. Some incongruities just tickle me. True, Requiem for a Dream music was used for Two Towers promos, but this is much better.

I see from the imdb entry that Zathura is distinguished by having yet another shitty David Koepp screenplay.

So, Trisa and I are leaving in an hour and a half. I'm a little worried about Boschen and Nesuko, as this'll be the first time I've had to work on an update at another location. Hopefully no unexpected calamity shall arise.

I was captivated last night by this Off to War show. It seems to be a reality series about American soldiers in Iraq. I say reality series instead of documentary because it seems somewhat aimed at the Real World crowd, with its interview style and unfortunate John Mellencamp theme. Probably an admirable attempt to reach out to the young people, but it's already doomed in that regard by being on a Discovery Channel.

Anyway, it was fascinating to watch soldiers on a daily routine dealing with traffic jams, wandering Iraqi merchants trying to sell them porn, and the hospital situation. Gods, the hospital situation--American soldiers standing around in a small cluster, handing things out to aggressive and desperate Iraqi women. And I was quite struck by the fact that the American soldiers were trying to speak English to them. In fact, I didn't once hear an American soldier say anything in the native tongue. That seems to me a lapse in training and I wonder if the culture clash would be as severe otherwise.

It was interesting that each of the soldiers interviewed seemed to feel that they were sent to Iraq for no good reason. One sergeant said that, after what he'd seen, he couldn't imagine democracy as we know it emerging in Iraq. Just a little of Off to War makes that clear to the viewer, too.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Damn. 4:40am. I guess you can't teach a dog new tricks. He has to have chains nailed into his limbs so's he can be a living marionette.

I'm trying to adapt my sleeping schedule to something closer to Trisa's, who I'll be staying with in San Jose for some time starting to-morrow. Yesterday, I managed to wake up at 11am after having gone to bed at around 2am or so. I was quite proud of myself. Guess I got too comfortable--now I can't sleep.

So I ate some oatmeal and watched some 100 Scariest Moments show on Bravo featuring various celebrities and critics talking about said moments. I was intrigued by the presence of Peter Jackson, Rob Zombie, John Carpenter, Clive Barker, a couple Buffy cast members (Tara and Drusilla), and Jennifer Tilly, among others. I was a bit thrown by the presence of the Coors Light Twins, but, still.

They were talking about The Exorcist, which, if I remember, was at number four (entire movies seemed to count for "moments" somehow), and they were all talking about how that movie absolutely gets you. That it's so unpredictable, that it crosses boundaries that you would've never expected it to. It was when John Landis was saying how you completely bought into the girl floating off the bed that I recalled seeing the movie in the theatre a few years ago and noticing how the entire audience seemed completely unaffected, half-bored even. There was frank laughter whenever the little girl cussed and, yeah, that sort of thing is played for laughs in modern movies.

More and more, I think people are going to see movies for self-contained realities that have no intimate relationship to their lives--at best, they can jive with the opinions in the movie.

I went to see A History of Violence again on Thursday and my love for it increased greatly. Because this time, the only people in the theatre were me and a perfectly quiet old man sitting in the back. The first time was on a Sunday night with a young El Cajon crowd that sounded as though they clearly belonged in the Deuce Bigalow theatre. You know homophobia's bad when guys in the crowd are referring to a sex scene between a man and a woman as "gay."

Without those chattering voices around me, I was able to settle into the movie and approach it on its own terms a lot more easily. The wall with multicoloured light cast on it was now a clear window to a reality, playing in my senses.

When I was telling my friend Marty about my experience first viewing the movie, and the assholes in the crowd, he said, "Where's the bomb when you need it?" It was such a perfectly Morrissey thing to say, and he was right. You know, I spent a good part of my adolescence wondering about how Stormtroopers might be real, complex souls, only to find out now, when I'm older, that they may have been soulless clones all along.

It always feels like a misfortune on so many levels when I notice that a large group of humanity living nearby is hopelessly stupid. Bill Maher mentioned on his show last night that only 15% of Americans believe in evolution.

And every day is like Sunday . . .

Sunday, October 23, 2005

I love David Lynch.

Discussing his newfound love for digital video, the man says, "Some would say it looks bad. But it reminds me of early 35mm, that didn't have that tight grain. When you have a poor image, there's lots more room to dream."

That's what I call an exquisite attitude (you can read more here).

But I've been neglecting another of my favourite Davids, namely Cronenberg, as I've not here discussed my feelings about

A History of Violence

Not Cronenberg's best, far from his most ambitious, but probably the best movie in theatres right now (I feel I can safely say that without having seen Capote, partly because I'm a smug bastard).

Viggo Mortensen is well cast as a man who, when we first meet him, seems an ordinary denizen of a small American town, but who is eventually revealed as having a sinister, bloodied past. It's the same qualities that made him ideal for Aragorn, actually--he can be the dangerous, wild-faced Strider, but also the good and noble Aragorn.

His Tom Stall at the beginning of A History of Violence seems basically an affable, decent, if quiet, man, but there is a subtle, buried fierceness you can see in his eyes. I'm sort of reminded of the opening shot of Blue Velvet, where David Lynch showed that even under an idyllic, suburban setting, there're vicious insects scrabbling under the grass. In Cronenberg's new film, even in the ostensibly normal, peaceful atmosphere of the beginning, there are harbingers of a violent reality kept at bay; the strange anecdote from the cook in Tom's diner, the juxtaposition of Tom's daughter screaming about imaginary monsters at night with the film's opening scene, and, well, Mortensen.

The very first scene is two thugs lazily committing horrific crimes. A subtle, somehow perfectly Cronenbergian touch I noticed was that one of these thugs bore a resemblance to Mortensen. Cronenberg relies on people knowing Viggo Mortensen's the star of the movie, so that one or two people in the audience might be saying to themselves, "Looking for Viggo . . . Looking for Viggo . . . Looking . . . Wait, is that him? I know he looks different without the Aragorn makeup so maybe . . . I don't know--no, no I don't think it's him." So already there's a little shadow of Tom's duel life.

Maria Bello's good as well. She has the task of conveying the horrified disorientation at learning her husband of fifteen years may not be who she thought he was, an idea audiences are largely too jaded for. And she's good in the movie's two sex scenes, which are both very different in tone and are both instrumental in conveying the nature of hers and Tom's relationship. The second scene in particular was terrific for conveying her internal conflict.

Daily life, sex, violence . . . The film does a wonderful job of showing that these are all, in fact, part of the same fabric, and that one of the biggest tasks we may face as human beings is holding all three in the same perception of the universe. This is almost the opposite of what most films seem to do these days, which is to perceptibly switch modes between violence, dialogue, sex.

The violence in the movie is sudden and terrible, and lingers as something you're still trying to understand moments after the action has passed. In that way, it was somehow Kurosawaian. And unlike many directors of late, like Chris Nolan in Batman Begins, Cronenberg does not use quick cuts and manipulative editing as a crutch to make up for the actors' inability to perform the stunts. Instead, Cronenberg uses quick cuts and expert editing as an enhancement for the violence. Godard said, "the cinema is truth 24 times a second, and every cut is a lie." So, like everything in the medium that the audience is hip to the artifice of, the presence of these cuts has to be justified by artistic brilliance. Cronenberg succeeds. Baz Luhrmann ought to be taking notes.

Friday, October 21, 2005

A new Boschen and Nesuko is now online. And I'm long overdue for another cup of coffee . . .

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Oh, Thursday, you are a harsh female thug. It's like you crept up behind me and hit me with a blackjack. But otherwise, the day hasn't been so bad, really.

I almost didn't wake up in time to leave for the maid, but a nightmare about 8 1/2, which I'd watched last night, woke me just in time.

Here are some signs I didn't get nearly enough sleep;

1) I settled for a muffin at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf for breakfast.

2) I almost banged up my car pretty good in the Hillcrest Landmark parking garage.

3) After purchasing my ticket, it took me a couple of minutes to figure out which of the five, clearly marked theatres was screening Mirrormask.

4) As I was leaving the parking garage, the lady I gave my parking validation to asked with a thick accent, "Where did you go?" ME: What? HER: Where did you go? ME: Who? HER: You! ME: Oh. The movies.

5) I found my way back on surface streets. On one street, it was clear that I was going to need to U-turn at the next intersection, and I couldn't remember whether or not one was allowed. I made a mental note to check when I was in the left turn lane. About fifteen minutes later, I reminded myself. ME: To do what? OTHER PART OF ME: To check to see if you can U-turn! ME: Why? Where? OTHER PART OF ME: Why, over . . . wait, why're we moving in the other direction already? ME: We're going home. This is the way. OTHER PART OF ME: Yes, but we needed to U-turn. We must have U-turned to have been moving in this direction. Why can't we remember--oh, never mind . . .

Anyway, here's some more on movies I've seen lately;


First of all, Roger Ebert's review is retarded. Ebert himself admitted on Ebert and Roeper that he was biased against Fantasy movies, which was pretty clear to me from his Lord of the Rings reviews. You could tell he really hated to admit that those were good movies.

But, fortunately, albeit quite against my will, his review lowered my expectations, so I was partially pleasantly surprised--and partially I got exactly the good movie I was expecting.

I went to Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's panel on Mirrormask at the Comic-Con a couple of years ago, which would have made anyone excited to see the movie. Even Tim, who was with me at the time and has little interest in that sort of movie these days, seemed somewhat engaged by the presentation.

Anyway, as the movie started, I sort of regretted having watched 8 1/2 the night before, as it was suddenly clear to me that Mirrormask was, in some ways, a similar animal, only not nearly as good. And I became a little frustrated with the beginning of the movie, which was awkward and laden with some too obviously expository dialogue. I began to wish actually that the movie was more like what some of the negative criticisms about it said it was; a confusing and nonsensical ride.

I didn't really get into the proper mindset for the movie until the character Valentine started talking about his tower. His tower, his tower--kept mentioning it until finally the pervert in my brain woke up and said to the rest of me, "Oh, I get it."

Valentine is for this movie what David Bowie's crotch was in Labyrinth. Or, really, where Jareth's relationship with Sarah was meant to deal with a teenage girl's emerging sexuality in Labyrinth, so was Valentine's relationship with Helena in Mirrormask.

Mirrormask, in the early stages where Jim Henson Co. was just approaching McKean and Gaiman about it, was meant to be a sequel to Labyrinth. So I can very easily picture the two sitting at a table and tossing about what they liked about Labyrinth. And, personally, the sexual undertones would have been pretty high on my list, so I just about fell in love with Mirrormask at that point.

McKean's imagery is wonderful, and his stylistic use of cuts at times made me wish it were more of a Dionysian film. Gaiman, though, is the most Apollonian of writers. And perhaps that's why Ebert didn't get it.

Gaiman carefully crafted in little fun and interested ideas in bits of dialogue that contribute to a whole that generally mirrors those little bits. And the detours are nice and welcome--like the floating giants, which was a sweet, sad moment.

I think the only thing I'd really change is that I'd remove the very last, one-word line in the movie.

Stephanie Leonidas, who plays Helena, looks like a young female Cary Grant.

8 1/2

Now this was brilliant. And no, can you believe it, I'd never seen it before!

It starts with an easily interpretable dream sequence; Guido, a film director, is stuck in oppressive traffic. He struggles out of his car to then float away . . . only to be pulled down from the clouds by his producer.

What follows is Guido's wanderings through a life cluttered with a wife, mistress, producers, a cardinal, a difficult writer, anxious financiers, and an assortment of more difficult to label others.

The movie's about truth, and the usefulness of truth or the truth in lies . . . among other things. Mainly the movie is itself. That's one of the marks of a great movie--it doesn't need to be reduced to what its themes and plot are. It is it's beautiful self, and that's enough.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Okay, now I'm gonna talk about movies I've seen recently . . .

Corpse Bride

Eh. A decent way to spend a couple hours. A pretty movie, with a couple of palatable songs. I recognised the voice of Danny Elfman himself as "Bonejangles." Not as good a tribute as Fred Astaire in Swing Time, but they don't make Fred Astaires any more. Or Bojangleses, for that matter.

I was surprised we didn't get to hear Johnny Depp sing, since all this time he's been talking about how his first love is music. I wonder if he has a really bad singing voice and everyone's afraid to tell him? It's funny, but in a so-called musical, the only of the principal characters who gets to sing is Emily, the corpse bride herself, and even she has to share her song with two of the more cartoonish supporting characters who otherwise dominate the musical numbers.

A lot of the visuals recall earlier Tim Burton movies--the opening shot of the bleached 19th century city was reminiscent of the one in Sleepy Hollow, where we see Depp's similarly dressed character peering out the window in a similar fashion. Also, the corpse bride's entrance is shot almost exactly like Beetlejuice's.


The film's about as good as Donnie Darko and ends on the same note. What's with all the noble sacrificing, anyway? Not that I mind, really. I mean, it is admirable and all. Though mainly what it reminds me of is the scene in Amelie where Amelie's watching television and imagining herself as some sort of tragic saviour. But I like Amelie Poulain, and if you're like her, then I like you too.


AH. This was a very satisfying movie. I was saying to Trisa afterwards, "I feel very satisfied right now." It felt good. There was a huge amount of non-bullshit in the movie that more than made up for the two milligrams or so of bullshit I detected.

I've never seen Firefly, but now I very much want to. Serenity was good, uncompromising movie-matter from beginning to end. I mean, yes, compromises were made, but never with the result of damaged goodness. Most everyone talked like grownups, too! In the tracking shot where we meet the crew, two unruly children sitting in front of me decided to leave the theatre when they realised they couldn't follow the dialogue. That is plain great. And it felt great.

Man, I don't think I'm very articulate right now. I feel like a jazz DJ. Isn't it weird how all DJs on jazz stations seem to have inordinate difficulty expressing themselves with words?

Er, that's a digression (obviously). Anyway . . .

Robyn's been complaining that the movie isn't as much of a Western as the television series is. Not having seen the series, I'd say overtly Western qualities (i.e. those not normally shared by space operas anyway) were limited to superficial details; dialects, sets, weapons (Captain Mal's cool quick-draw pistol), references to pioneering, and heists. The personalities of the characters are, for the most part, in wide-open violation of typical Western personalities, and anyway, Whedon's trademark catty dialogue is about as far away from John Wayne as you can get. Which makes me wonder how Western the series can really be.

Actually, the only thing that really bugged me about the movie was all the Galadriel shots of River's feet. I mean, sure, I like her feet, but I got bored by what was being said with them. Again and again, "Oh, poor vulnerable little River nonetheless steps boldly into dangerous/dirty situations/places!" Oh, that River! Where will she get to next? Of course, mainly I liked River. One shot of her holding a bloody sword and hatchet reminded me somewhat uncomfortably of Nesuko. But, hey, Nesuko has a kukri, so she's completely different, right? Right.

Oh, and a lot of people are upset by a certain character's abrupt death. Maybe I'd feel differently if I'd seen the series, but personally, I loved Whedon for it. One of the things about death that's always struck me as particularly bad is the fact that it's a barrier placed between yourself and the deceased that you can't be prepared for. So it seems something of an insult, to me, that characters are constantly given really long, drawn out death dialogues that last comfortably as long as it suits the audience. Sometimes, that does work. But it is overdone. I love Farscape, but one of the most irritating few minutes in my television-viewing life was watching Zhaan bid her personalised farewells to each member of the crew. I was left feeling not so much that Zhaan had died as Virginia Hey was leaving the show.

Er, anyway, I deeply loved Serenity. Sorry Robyn and Moira. I cannot share in your disappointment.

And now it's 6am and I think this is getting long anyway (it's kind of hard to tell since I write my first draft in notepad with the word-wrap off. Weird, huh? Yeah, I've only been doing it the past couple months . . . Don't know why but I like it.). I guess I'll talk about the rest of the movies in my next post . . .

Monday, October 10, 2005

Hurray, I made a banner! See;

Boschen and Nesuko

There's a whole new focus on banners on my links page now. It's like I'm trying to work my brain on the whole linking-structure-web-philosophy thing. Rather far from my forte, or so the dim feeling in my skull informs me. I intend to make more, big, sweeping changes on my site this week, but I probably won't, because I'm like that.

See, I'm not even feeling up to talking about Serenity and History of Violence yet, both of which I've now--finally!--seen.

*. . . yawn . . . * maybe I'll post about them to-morrow . . .

Friday, October 07, 2005

The new Boschen and Nesuko chapter is up. And it's only 7pm (here)! That's the soonest I've gotten a chapter up in a long time . . . Now maybe I'll go see one of those movies I've been wanting to see all week.

Monday, October 03, 2005

I've decided to go cold turkey on sweets. That's right folks; I don't like sugar. It sucks. Sugar can suck my ass until it's retrieved all it's foisted on me.

A chocolate pudding and whipped cream pie at my mother's house last night pushed me over the edge. I couldn't even finish it for how gross I felt.

Meanwhile, one grandmother gives me banana cream pudding and a huge bag of caramel brownies, while another wants me to eat a huge bag of chocolate muffins, bearclaws, and scones. And it's like this every gods-damned month. I know they mean well, at least I think they did the first couple months I was telling people I want to lay off sweets. But I'm through being polite. I'm upset that the very thought of sugar makes my stomach turn. I have a feeling it didn't need to be this way. I fondly remember being able to enjoy mocha or flavour syrup in my coffee. Now I can't. Not even vanilla.

I think I'm gonna eat a lot of plain oatmeal from now on. Gods, that actually sounds incredibly appealing. Yeah. As Wilfred Brimley says, when he thinks he's alone, "It's the right god-damned thing to do, and the right fucking way to do it."

In other news, I felt all lazy and sleepy yesterday, in a somewhat entrancing way that never happens to me anymore, so I didn't feel very guilty about not starting the Boschen and Nesuko page until 11:30pm or so. What surprised me was that I pretty much finished it by 7am, except for the last panel which I decided to leave for to-day since it uses the same colour palette as to-day's page. A complicated page--not page 228 complicated, but very complicated--yet it charmed me in an unexpected way, which I think helped a lot. Now for page 236 . . .

Saturday, October 01, 2005

What happens when a repressed Westerner's sexual fantasy about Geishas is purchased by Steven Spielberg, who loses interest, and gives the project to the almost-competent but celebrated Rob Marshall(Chicago)? Why, an American movie in English starring Chinese actresses--who speak that English with Chinese accents--about Japanese culture in the early twentieth century. With very silly looking blue contact lenses. And I shall likely be the only person who's bugged by it all.

But I bet Japanese audiences will be amused.

Monday, September 26, 2005

After last week, gods, I cannot even begin to say how good it feels not to have to do anything this weekend. I feel like my whole structure is sagging down into melted Hutt, though. I almost went to bed at 1am--I couldn't believe it, but I actually felt rather sleepy! I think all the nights of only three or four hours sleep were stacking up again. The main trouble with that is, unlike many of you, my online friends, I'm not an insomniac. I'm a good sleeper. I love sleeping, and I'm brilliant at it.

You know, a significant part of me wishes I was a gorilla, living in some secluded forest unknown to man. That would be the way to go. Because it's much harder to be a hermit human, what with all the ridiculous particulars humans need to survive. As a gorilla in a good location, I'd likely only have to worry about food, shelter, and occasional territorial disputes, but I imagine, in my imaginary locale, that there'd be plenty of space for all the gorillas--oh! I'd want some fine female gorillas around as well, jiggity-jiggity.

Anyway, that line of thought sort of begs the question; why the hell do I seem to be revelling in my capacity for abstract thought, so to speak? Why all the words and representative images, like this one you're looking at now? I guess my fervent belief that there's more to life than living comfortably has sustained my utter disbelief, lately, in the spiritual and supernatural. Don't know why. Maybe I feel that a spiritual achievement counts more if you don't believe in spirituality, or some fool thing.

Sunday, I watched Final Fantasy: Advent Children. Released just a couple months ago in Japan, this is a cgi direct to video movie sequel to Final Fantasy VII that is, among other things, a better movie than Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.

Most reviews insist that Advent Children requires you to have played Final Fantasy VII all the way through in order to have any idea what was going on. However, even though I have beaten Final Fantasy VII, I even still found Advent Children to be rather muddled and perplexing at times, in a variety of ways. The action sequences, while consisting of beautiful characters in beautiful surroundings using amazing uber-martial arts, were nonetheless difficult to follow at times as the director frequently seemed unable to find a focus and displayed a bad sense of timing with his cuts between close-ups and wide shots. And then the dialogue was bizarre and, at times, laughable. As when the villain says something to the hero like, "I'm going to find out what you care about most and make you suffer!" and the hero replies with something like, "You're pathetic! I care about everything!" before launching into his ultimate attack. The movie’s filled with exchanges that seem like, at some level, they do have meaning, but that meaning is rendering insubstantial by lines that seem more like isolated statements floating on the surface of the same pool rather than exchanges of words.

But, there are some definitely good things--the characters look really good. The Japanese voice acting is nice, and the movie has a number of amusing Japanese gangster types, going so far as to promote thugs Reno and Rude--minor characters in the game--to two of the foremost stars of the movie.

The environments look wonderful, and the internal conflicts of the characters were even emotionally resonant, when you can get past the dialogue. Final Fantasy VI's darker, somewhat more melodramatic story was partly inspired by the death of the directors' mother and so, to a lesser degree, was Final Fantasy VII's story. Final Fantasy: Advent Children took that little seed and ran with it until it was a full blown main theme and it's clear throughout the movie that both the heroes and the villains are looking for their mothers without ever finding them.

So, it's a decent couple hours of cgi.

Ah, good, I've made it to a healthy 4:30am. Now I'll sleep.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I've finished the somewhat over the top new Boschen and Nesuko and it's online. There's blood and nudity on every page, and that's a guarantee. How many people can promise you that? Why, anyone who's read the new Boschen and Nesuko of course!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

I just heard someone on BBC News refer to the bombings in London a couple months back as "7/7". Am I the only one who thinks our current era's inability to properly name days, ships, and military campaigns is to do with homophobia?

I've started using FireFox after having used Internet Explorer for many years. There's some new spyware infecting my Internet Explorer that seems to be undetectable to Adaware and Spybot. It's extremely frustrating. I hate the helpless feeling it gives me. And even though it doesn't effect FireFox, I'll always have the knowledge that the spyware is somewhere on the computer, lying dormant . . . It's not something I'm accustomed to tolerating.
To put it simply, "ugh." I will be very happy when this week is over. It's a thought I had on Sunday, and it only continues to resound in my thinky bits.

I was on schedule with this particularly complicated and gratuitous Boschen and Nesuko chapter until this very evening--or, until last night for all you human day-measuremently aligned people. I got so dispirited and mudded trying to draw something perfectly simple that I realised I had to stop. It's that weird, crushing, amorphously hopeless feeling that's like the psychological equivalent of a mild cold.

It has partly to do with this bloody week. For various reasons, I won't go into details, although I sort of wish I could. I already unburdened on Trisa over the phone, but I didn't quite hit on the real atmosphere in my brain. I keep thinking about the Werner Herzog movie I saw a couple weeks ago, about Timothy Treadwell. The real life former human being who met his doom for the folly of believing in a universe that is based on harmony. Herzog says it's based on chaos, and I think he has a point.

To-night, I concluded the only really good thing in life is art. Everything else can be put down to confusion or randomness. Which is not to say that things other than art can't be enjoyable. But enjoyable things that aren't art shall always be a little suspicious in my eyes.

So let's see. I have to get up early to-morrow to clean up my room for the maid to vacuum 30% of the floor, dust three small surfaces, and change the sheets. Then I need to come back here, do two, hopefully three pages of Boschen and Nesuko, so's I can upload the chapter Friday or Saturday, feel pleased if people enjoy it, feel somewhat dismayed that things I feel most passionate about may turn out to be my doom, start it all over again, and then, sooner or later, I'll die. Yay.

Friday, September 16, 2005

And so, another Thursday comes to an end. Like every Thursday, the day was a unique blend of bad and good elements, colliding with one another in an obnoxiously gooey alchemical reaction. What is left, in the end, is a dubious entry in the saga of my week, with mysterious consequences.

The previous Thursday was preceded by four hours of sleep, but this new Thursday was underway after a mere three. How solemnly I promised myself I'd finish the new Boschen and Nesuko script by Wednesday night, finish the storyboards on Thursday!

Alas, an epileptic asteroid field of pop rocks was my vista of story ideas, so that only three pages were written by Wednesday night. And so dizzyingly zombified did I feel on this Thursday that I despaired of getting anything done.

But, as if they've a stupid mind of their own, my fingers began typing away at a script that pulled from me intermittent and confusing giggles. It's not really a funny chapter, nor do I think it shall feel it was meant to be, but it filled me with an unaccountable mirth. Which is one reason I think I'm going to need to proofread it carefully after I've gotten a decent amount of sleep.

Let's see . . . My grandmother's gotten some new, 40-inch flat, widescreen television, and so far I've been watching only perfect movies on it. That is, two--Vertigo and Fargo.

It got me thinking about what I consider to be a perfect movie.

Roger Ebert frequently quotes Howard Hawks' belief that a good movie is three good scenes and no bad scenes.

A perfect movie, I feel, should be all good scenes, and several great ones. And all scenes must tie together in a variety of ways without you realising immediately that they're tied together, thereby subverting your awareness of the natural artifice of movie.

Now, a perfect movie need not be technically perfect--I'm not speaking to perfect continuity between actors positions at different camera angles, or that sort of thing. Although outright sloppiness in that regard is a disqualifier. Which would disqualify Return of the King, for example--but, before anyone rolls their eyes at Setsuled needlessly ragging on Return of the King again, let me state that I watched the movie a short while ago and remembered that I absolutely adore it.

But this reminds me of another requisite for a perfect movie--the greatness of the film should not be subject to your personal taste. It's a movie where you can watch it and, even if you absolutely hate that sort of movie, you admit at the end of it, if you're employing your objective mind, that it is brilliant.

No. Greatness of art is not subjective. You may enjoy a movie most other people don't, just as you might enjoy the sight of specific tree other people don't. Someone might enjoy the sight of a tree more than any sort of art, in fact, which in itself demonstrates that fondness is not the determination of artistic quality.

Now, take an obvious example of a perfect movie--Citizen Kane. You have a billion things working in tandem all throughout the movie to establish beautiful things about specific components at the same time they're contributing to a whole. Bernard Herrmann's score is always perfect for what's going on and is collectively a magnificent, monolithic thing. Orson Welles as an actor conveys each situation well while adding up to a single story of a man.

But these are obvious examples and maybe not so illustrative. I've implied already that I consider Fargo to be a perfect movie. A while ago, I think it was Robyn who mentioned that a lot of people consider the Mike Yanagita character to be a pointless detour from the plot. To which Robyn pointed out that he was a contributor to Marge's decision to check in again with Jerry Lundegaard--but more than that, there is a perfect strangeness about the interlude that to me is a contributor.

One of the most distinctive good aspects of Fargo is its use of a setting a corresponding group of characters that are unusual for a movie about murder. But at the same time, those elements make sense with a story of murder--from the perspective of real life where we know, yes, a murder could happen somewhere other than New York or Los Angeles--and help to communicate it, by forcing us to make observations of the movie based on our conceptions of reality, and not of movie reality. And so Mike contributes in that he is a slight detour from things, because things often happen in life that don't seem to have any relation to anything else. But the brilliance is that, while capitalising on that, his scene still is a contributor to the fabric of the movie as a whole, simply by being an interesting and believable scene. And by making sense in mysterious ways that may not be explainable to ourselves.

Anyway. I ought to sleep now.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Last night, I watched the 1918 version of Stella Maris. It's a good movie--an engaging melodrama, which pleased me after having watched Vincente Minnelli's disappointing The Clock, which was such a drab, predictable and commonplace waste of Minnelli and Judy Garland, that it had me wondering if I've simply seen too many Hollywood melodramas, and I was quickly seeing patterns fresher eyes might not.

But Stella Maris, having been made in 1918, and having been a very popular movie when it was released, handily defied the notion that it might not have anything of interest. I'm not entirely sure what it was--maybe it was simply Mary Pickford's astonishing duel performance as both the orphan Unity Blake and the titular Stella Maris. The studio boss was apparently unhappy with Pickford as Unity Blake, since she played the role with unattractive makeup and wardrobe. But aside from making Unity look like an entirely different person from Stella, I must say she comes off as a far more attractive creature, a fact that I can't think escaped the notice of the filmmakers.

Stella starts the film off as a cripple who's shielded from all unpleasantness in the world by her parents. So she's pretty and sweet and innocent . . . Meanwhile, Unity is taken from a harsh orphanage by a savage alcoholic woman who, in one rather brutal scene, severely beats Unity with a metal rod of some kind.

Anyway . . . I'm not feeling particularly talkative right now. I slept twelve hours yesterday--from 6am to 6pm. I would've done the same to-day if not for an effort of will. I think it must have to do with all the days of only four hours of sleep last week. It's for that reason that I'm hoping this week I can get a head start on Boschen and Nesuko. But I'm having difficulty deciding how the next chapter ought to go. I have a feeling it's something that'll come to me if I just sit and do nothing for a while, like a mollusc. I was watching a documentary on Greta Garbo last night, and one of the people who knew her said she once, in her years after retiring, compared herself to a mollusc. "You know what a mollusc does? They do nothing." I may be getting the quote slightly wrong . . .

Friday, September 09, 2005

The new Boschen and Nesuko's up. I had to do the last three pages to-day--I can't believe I finished by 10pm.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Someone Bush'll probably want to see arrested.
In a post last week, I said, about Katrina, "It's very easy to feel angry at people, but there is no convenient idol for this."

Well, turns out I was wrong. As rather eloquently pointed out, there're lots of people deserving lots of ire over what happened in Louisiana. Not that you or I or anyone with a brain fragment had to be informed at this point. Although some of us need to be told . . .

I don't know. I'm not good at being seriously angry. I think it goes back to my Donald Duck complex--I really identified with Donald Duck as a kid, but I was always afraid of being like him, finding myself impotent in my anger. In those cartoons, you can sense how the universe respects Donald's anger--it's always met with the humiliation of Donald.

A part of me, I guess, feels that that's how the real world does work. That all the anger in this country at Bush's, to be sure, horrible crimes is dismissed by the opposing ideologues as a form of extremism.

Which, I know, is stupid. Tens of thousands of people dead, and it's rude to get angry at the killers.

I am angry. And it has little to do with whether or not I want to be. I'd feel inhuman if I wasn't. But at the same time, there's a proportionate sadness--a helpless feeling that rational, good, human anger will be met with us being in the stocks with pie on our face. The last election does much to fortify that feeling.

When I saw the video of Aaron Broussard, and heard the story of his colleague's mother drowning five days after the hurricane, it touched the central feeling of horror I felt about the catastrophe. It's the perfect snapshot, the perfect single story to suggest the thousands of others wrapped up in this thing. I wanted to tell people about it, only to find other people were telling me about it before I could open my mouth.

But what does that community mean? "We are the dead," as Winston said in 1984? That we'll be the building blocks of an eventual definite structure of humanity, centuries down the line? Or is that too much to hope for? Nixon taught us nothing about George W. Bush, for example.

Well, I've had a hard time concentrating on Boschen and Nesuko this week, and I've only managed to make progress by concentrating on laying very small stones.

So therefore, I say to you, George W. Bush . . . I hope someone feeds you your own cock. Maybe then you'll stop killing innocent people just so's you can cum.

Monday, September 05, 2005

A dismaying dispute at Wikipedia.

And to think, Wikipedia had been giving me hope that it might be a truly impartial compendium of information . . .

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Someone on The Agonist posted some interestingly relevant quotes from The Grapes of Wrath.

And Britons in New Orleans, it seems, were expected to survive on British-ness.

A few days ago, Moi posted this link to a descriptive listing of charities.

Every now and then, I manage to get my mind off of New Orleans. I'm obsessive, I know. It's only through the metallic realisation that me worrying about it isn't in itself going to accomplish anything that I'm able to divert myself at all.

I was pretty behind in getting the script written for the new Boschen and Nesuko chapter. I'd only written three pages of it by Saturday morning. But I managed to finish yesterday at some point. I've drawn and inked one page, so I've two to do to-day. Maybe that's a good thing.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

I woke this morning and looked at news sites and looked at friends' blogs. On Caitlin's journal, there was a link to some numbers I'd been looking for in vain last night.

The site also answers the question as to why it was so difficult to find those numbers--the media, the government, most everyone can't believe them. 41,000 people, at the very least, are dead and more are likely to die because there's not enough help available.

I am glad to see Poppy Z. Brite is safe, but mainly I feel horrible.

Make donations if you can. I can't; I'm broke, wishing I was in the place of one of the rich bastards who're doing nothing right now.

It's very easy to feel angry at people, but there is no convenient idol for this. I'm sick of hearing people saying "it's their own fault, they were told to evacuate." I'm sick of listening to myself think, even though I stayed up hours doing it.

This sort of reminds me of the Great Depression--large amounts of people, bereft in the middle of the country. Sudden refugees.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I feel sort of like I shouldn't say anything because it would be kind of a blasphemy to so implicitly ask for attention in the face of what feels like a big strange shadow. But then again, it's things I've read that have communicated to me this impression of wide disaster.

Once again, I'm thinking on how frail and naive the human posture is. I mean, you can't go around assuming disaster will happen to-morrow. But it does seem our intricate infrastructure of operating systems is based on dreams that are old and invisible until they're knocked out from under us.

Natural disasters like the recent tsunami and Katrina, juxtaposed in our media with disasters wrought by human action, emphasise to me how much these things all end up being about tending to the injured and rescuing survivors. It seems we're being reminded again and again that we are mere sacks of flesh and bone.

I seriously hope that changes one day. Until then, from sunny and discordantly calm San Diego, I'm going to be making some decidedly useless, non-corporeal things . . .
As news from New Orleans continues to be bleak, it feels strange to be here in a city that's cloudless and still. It's eerie not knowing what sort of condition a prominent portion of the country shall be in next week at this time.

Meanwhile, George W. Bush continues to infamously demonstrate his inability to grasp a serious situation at any level. Amidst even some normally conservative pundits' criticisms, I was sort of amused by this little MSN headline meekly attempting to gloss the President's conduct;

"President vows aid to storm-hit area."

Oh yeah? Gee, I was expecting the government to shrug its shoulders and try not looking in direction for a few years you damned putz.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Caitlin keeps linking to the Red Cross to encourage people to donate. It's a good idea, if you can.

I hope New Orleans comes out of this one.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Katrina has me worried about several friends and acquaintances. But fortunately, they all seem capable of getting out of harm's way.

However, articles like this suddenly make me feel I may never be able to visit New Orleans, or what is recognised as New Orleans, in my lifetime. I'm getting foolish, queasily sentimental feelings about Poppy Z. Brite's Liquor and various movies depicting the city.

Anyway, I hope things turn out better than expected.

Friday, August 26, 2005

The new Boschen and Nesuko is up. All kinds of things happen.

I feel like maybe I forgot to include someone though . . . hmm . . . I'm sure it'll come to me . . .

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I've been watching all these Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movies lately, and then I see this on Dark Horizons--a little story about Hugh Jackman wanting to employ an Australian dance competition winner, Tom Williams, in his new Wolverine movie. The article provides a link to footage of the winning dance and, boy, do I ever miss the days of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly.

Am I crazy or can this guy barely dance at all? He's hardly keeping time with the awful music, forgoing any steps in favour of rickety poses that aren't even particularly attractive or interesting. And the gracelessness of the dancers' movements is mirrored by their pathetic clothes. The girl's only sexy because she's almost naked. Which is nice, but actual nudity is too readily available in this world for it to mean anything.

One of the cool things about these Astaire/Rogers disks is that they all come with vintage shorts and cartoons, so you can somewhat simulate the 1930s moviegoing experience. Swing Time has a short called Hotel a la Swing that features a segment with a hell-themed floor show. They were studio dancers--no big names. But with only four cuts (each shot longer than Tom Williams' whole routine), they managed with dance and costumes to not only out-dance this Williams mug, but also to be sexier.

We are living in the Hanna Barbara era of sexiness. Mass-produced images of scantily clad crashing bores bully their way into the limelight, while only the lucky find out about quality art and porn.

All hail the lazy, horny prude.

Friday, August 19, 2005

There's an interesting article on Roger Ebert's web site right now. It's Ebert's response to the makers of Chaos, who wrote Ebert a letter in reply to his review.

Reading over this discourse, I was reminded of, "it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." If the number of reviews of Chaos I've read are at all accurate, the famous quote might well be applied to the film. But Macbeth was talking about life and, so, his sentiment is not dissimilar from that of Chaos' makers.

I've not seen Chaos, and I probably never will, because it sounds like it's probably not very good. So I won't say I have anything against the movie as, not having seen it, I don't feel qualified to form an opinion. But what does irritate me is the apparent attitude of its makers as expressed in their letter to Ebert.

That Bernheim and Defalco's stance echoes that expressed by Macbeth is hardly an endorsement of their views, when considering an argument Ebert made, "As the Greeks understood tragedy, it exists not to bury us in death and dismay, but to help us to deal with it, to accept it as a part of life, to learn about our own humanity from it. That is why the Greek tragedies were poems: The language ennobled the material."

The position that life has an underlying meaninglessness is a valid one. But you need more than a position to make good art. And saying that you have a position doesn't invalidate someone finding your movie to be an unpleasant experience.

I don't think a movie with all sorts of bad shit going down needs to have a contrast impression of hope. But I do feel art needs to be entertaining or beautiful, otherwise it's a waste of time. A piece devoted to discussing a new thought or set of thoughts regarding life is a philosophy text. Bernheim and Defalco couldn't have put their thought into that format because it would be achingly obvious that it is unoriginal, which is probably something they don't wish to admit to themselves.

As a number of excellent writers have said, there aren't really any new stories. Chaos is, itself, as several people have pointed out, a retread of Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left, which was itself a remake of an Ingmar Bergman film. What an artist brings to the idea and the story is their style, their craft, and themselves.

Ebert observes, "I prefer that the artist express an attitude toward that evil. It is not enough to record it; what do you think and feel about it?" This in response to Bernheim and Defalco's assertion; "Natalie Holloway. Kidnappings and beheadings in Iraq shown on the internet. Wives blasting jail guards with shotguns to free their husbands. The confessions of the BTK killer, These are events of the last few months. How else should filmmakers address this 'ugly, nihilistic and cruel' reality -- other than with scenes that are 'ugly, nihilistic and cruel,' to use the words you used to describe 'Chaos.'"

There's an implied arrogance in that attitude that really annoys me. It's as if they've seen powerfully disturbing images and wish to somehow elevate themselves by making themselves the generators of similar disgust. Like a monkey trying to force respect by throwing crap at you.

Bernheim and Defalco sort of remind me of Joel McCrea's character in Sullivan's Travels. Sullivan being a Hollywood director who, tired of making screwball comedies, wants to make a truly dismal picture about the ravages of the Depression. Only, in his quest to live as a "common man" he discovers what the people really want from him is more of his screwball comedies--to laugh, to enjoy themselves.

I suggest the next time Bernheim and Defalco want to disembowel us with one their movies, maybe they ought to spend some quality time in Iraq.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

There're children around here to-day. They're annoying. As children are.

I bought the new Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers box set yesterday, and I'm fiercely pleased about it. I watched Follow the Fleet last night, which was almost completely good, except for the "Face the Music and Dance" number, which was brilliant.

I'm starting to hate the automobile again. A little while ago, I received a notice from my insurance company that they were going to cancel my insurance because I'd failed to mail in a set of papers saying I acknowledged my family weren't covered drivers in my insurance. So I called and asked if I could still mail the thing in and, yes, they said I could. I guess it'd slipped my mind, perhaps because when I was getting insurance for myself, I didn't feel like I was getting insurance for my family somehow on the sly.

On Monday, as I spent an increasingly irritating amount of time searching for these papers, I came across my actual insurance policy thing, which clearly stated that I had already clearly agreed that my family wasn't on the policy. So basically Mr. Insurance Company was impatiently tapping its foot at my tardiness in fixing its fuck up.

Well. I suppose it's time I got to writing to-day . . .

Saturday, August 13, 2005

A couple weeks ago, we were sent notice that at 10pm on the night of Friday, August 12th, electricity would be out for the entire neighbourhood for up to ten hours. It was in anticipation of this that I finished the new Boschen and Nesuko chapter on Thursday night--or, Friday morning at around 5am or so, to be precise-ish (this detail shall be important later in the story, friends).

I honestly didn't think I was gonna make it. Thursday was, after all, Thursday, meaning for most of the day I had to be out of the house and therefore couldn't use said daylight hours to get going on the final two pages of twenty-six. It also meant that I got only three and a half hours of sleep for Wednesday night.

I tried to sleep a couple hours after returning here in the afternoon, but, despite two cats hanging about, demonstrating how it's done, I couldn't pull the sleep trick. The invested sum of fatigue therefore transferred itself into the Headache Deposit, which became active at around midnight Thursday, with sluggish interest. I was ready to give up and somehow cram it all into the few electricitied hours of Friday, but . . . somehow . . . slowly . . . putting one line . . . at a time . . . the gradual process seemed to continue itself without my bidding. And a cup of tea helped me along--the first time I'd ever put milk in tea, and it was pretty good.

So I woke at 5pm on Friday, feeling outrageously groggy. I replied to some e-mails and a post on Caitlin's LJ before heading off to the mall for coffee, to try to start feeling like I didn't need to do anything in particular. I knew I was going to need to be in a serious time-killing mindset.

My plan was this--Do what I'd normally do, on days where I'm not working on Boschen and Nesuko or something else; go to Tim's and hang out until 1am or so. After that, if the power wasn't back on, I vaguely planned on reading at Denny's or going on one of my unwisely long night walks. Trouble is, I only do the latter when I have a lot of hard thinking to do and my life seems generally bleak. But I've been feeling pretty good for a long time, now, so I was likely just to be bored by such a venture.

Anyway, I called Tim from the mall parking garage . . . to discover this one night, of all nights, he couldn't have me over.

So what the fuck was I supposed to do from 10pm to 8am on a Friday night? And if you are, as you probably are, more of a people-person than me, you're probably not qualified to give me a valid answer.

Well, first I thought I'd see a movie. On Thursday, when I was forced out and about, I went to see Jim Jarmusch's new movie, Broken Flowers. And it is, by the way, the best movie I've seen so far this year. There's deserved praise for Bill Murray's ability to convey impressive volumes of emotion with little facial twitches. The story of a man searching for a son he may or may not have sounds mundane enough, but what made me absolutely in love with this movie was just the absolute brilliant pacing--which, well, wasn't necessarily brilliant, except it made me think of how I've been inundated with typical-movie, dumbed down narrative. It was nice to see a movie that didn't feel like it needed to hit obligatory plot points, didn't need to tell me something once, then yell it through a bullhorn. There's a quality about this movie where you feel information is being got as naturally as you get it interacting with the waking world, and yet, you know these are all elements of a story the filmmakers are deliberately threading together.

So the story ends up being a man whose life of pleasure and romance has come to a sort of grinding halt as he has a sort of epiphany of knowledge-absence. The film is a sort of rumination on the absence of easy-plot points, actually. It's funny and sweet and sad, but always canny, always fluffless, if you will.

Anyway. So on Friday, I felt I was in a good movie-place, and thought I could pick another as satisfying . . . turned out nothing sounded particularly interesting. There were movies, like The Great Raid which sounded like they might be decent, but I just wasn't in the mood for. Finally, I noticed that Revenge of the Sith was still playing at Horton Plaza, and having been meaning to see it at least once more before it left theatres, I went to the 10:10pm showing.

Horton Plaza is something like in the dead centre of downtown and I drove all the way up to the top of the parking structure. I went up a little ramp that terminated in a short wall, and there was no ceiling. So when I got out of the car, I felt sort of like Batman, surrounded by night amongst the twinkling upper portions of skyscrapers.

The cinema is at the top level, and the theatre Star Wars was playing in was on the second floor of the cinema. Which was huge--an enormous stairway, as tall as this two story house I'm sitting in now, and almost as wide, lit by purple neon, flanked by escalators. At the top, a little plaza of closed concession stands with park benches and potted trees. I was a half hour early for the movie so I sat there reading Gulliver's Travels.

I purchased, in the downstairs concession area, for four dollars, the most obnoxious small Coke I'd ever had in my life. I guess, sensitive to criticism of overpriced food, the cinema had decided to make the "small" so only in height, but its width now need rival that height. It was like drinking from a baseball mitt.

The Soda Jerk (is he yet so named?) tried to mumble out a commercial whilst filling the beverage, but I abruptly interrupted to request that my Coke have no ice. He numbly dumped it out to refill it again.

It was not that I felt I could actually drink so much Coke as I find lately I'm driven murderously mad by the sound of ice clinkling around in a paper cup.

Revenge of the Sith was still a wonderful movie, and nice for the almost empty theatre which meant people couldn't make impatient sounds during the film's lesser moments. And so I discovered I actually don't mind those lesser moments as much now. I even sort of like them.

After the movie, I decided to go to a Denny's I'd never been to before, and so went to Point Loma, an area I often found myself in late at night when I lived in Ocean Beach. But I'd never been inside the Denny's.

The people there were strangely nice to me and even asked if I wanted my own seat, away from the other customers. Sometimes I wonder if my black fedora makes me seem like I might be one of those anonymous restaurant critics.

By the time I got out of the Denny's, it was around 2am, and I decided to see if the power had come back in my neighbourhood. I drove back to Santee, and drove around . . . And the power wasn't back. Everything was eerily pitch dark, and there was a crane in one intersection lit by blinding floodlights.

So I drove to a Longs Drugs I knew was open 24 hours. I wandered about there until the noise of the floor cleaner started to annoy me. I then went to Save-On and found they had a DVD section--all DVDs for 1.99. Most of them were crap you'd expect, but I carefully perused them, trying to take as much time as possible, and found Buster Keaton's College, and a collection of old Superman cartoons. When I left, it was around 3:30am. So I decided to simply drive awhile.

I drove north on the 15, then took 78 west, and came back down 5 south. It took about two hours. I listened to Tom Waits' Real Gone and Ani DiFranco's Little Plastic Castle.

It seemed it took forever for 5am to finally happen, but when it did, I was immediately in a Starbucks, and I stayed reading Gulliver's Travels until sunrise.

When I returned home, the power was still out.

I went to sleep, and awoke at around 9am to discover it was rather hot and the strange silence in the air was making the littlest noises like the vicious stabs of toy soldier bayonets at my temple.

The power came back on briefly at 10am, but in about an hour, there was, as I discovered later, a fire somewhere and power went out again. I didn't get any proper sleep until it finally came on for good at around 1pm.

I feel like having fun to-night.