Monday, February 28, 2005

The Pillows

Good God. Suddenly The Pillows are everywhere. Literally. Physically. Except Tualatin, of course. The above link to SXSW posts Ride On Shooting Star, and since I own the FLCL album, and have it loaded on my laptop, I decided to queue it up. Technology eases my bitter disappointment at not living in a hep locale.

P.S. - I used Quicksilver keyboard shortcuts to insert this tune into my iTunes Party Shuffle playlist, as soon as the urge hit me. More technology giggles!

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Outlaw Sea

I finished William Langewiesche's book last night. Subtitled "A World of Freedom, Chaos and Crime", the book is divided into six chapters, but boils down to "the ocean is big, and it's hard to enforce any laws out there."

I did like reading it, don't get me wrong, but it's kind of a collection of essays (to be expected of an Atlantic Monthly contributor), rather than a tightly themed book. He covers the anarchistic world of 'flags of convenience', where countries supply ship registries to any corporation that can pay, shielding owners from laws and regulations in their own countries.

He shares stories of at least three shipwrecks in massive storms, one in excruciatingly reconstructed detail. And he tells us about the abysmal conditions of the shipbreaking yards in India. I learned a lot, but would have preferred a bit more thematic unity.

President's Day

Now that it's Saturday, I should probably write about what I did on Monday.

As it was a holiday, Kelly had no school, and fortunately my work recognizes President's Day, as Jean had clinicals and couldn't be home. So I stayed home with Kelly. We worked a bit on her school projects (a mystery novel report, and a diorama involving red foxes). I gave Kelly a choice of movies to see and she jumped on Son of the Mask. My, was this a bad movie. The original, with Jim Carrey, was a lot of fun, but Jamie Kennedy has no charisma to speak of, and just couldn't carry it off.

That night, I was tucking Kelly in to bed, and she asked me "did you enjoy the movie, Dad?"

"I really enjoyed seeing the movie with you, Kelly."

(Kelly, not buying it...) "But did you enjoy the movie, Dad?"

So I told her that I enjoyed some parts, with the 'baby mask' and the 'dog mask', but that 'daddy mask' was lame, compared to Jim Carrey. She seemed to accept this.

It's getting tough, when I can't deflect an awkward question with carefully phrased misdirection. Pity me!

Sunday, February 20, 2005

In the Mood for Love

It's Sunday, which means I take Kelly to Sunday school. As usual, I towed along my laptop, and this time began watching another movie I've had in my stack for a year and a half, In the Mood for Love, by Wong Kar-Wai. This synopsis conveys the factual element of the story admirably.

Of course, no Wong Kar-Wai film is solely about the story. 'Mood' appears in the title of this movie, and 'mood' is a major component of each of his films I've seen so far. I first heard of him when I went to see Chungking Express at Cinema 21 with my friend Alan Matzka. More recently I watched Ashes of Time on DVD, and now Mood. I enjoyed this sad character study, and I hope I can get more of his films at Expo this year. I know that his latest film is 2046, so it should be readily availble.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Broken Angels

Sitting in the Irish Dance Class parking lot, before I fired up the laptop, I finished Broken Angels, the second novel of Takeshi Kovacs, by Richard K. Morgan. I finished his first book, Altered Carbon, about a year ago, so I guess I'll have to wait another year for the next one. But it's good Noir Sci-Fi, so I look forward to it.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Szechuan Chicken

We're down to minimal posts here, so I'll just note that this week's recipe was for Szechuan Chicken. This recipe mentions dry sherry and soy sauce without giving any amounts, so I took a guess. In addition, I wanted more, so I doubled the recipe. In any case, it turned out very tasty. Jean gives it the standard "not-as-good-as-Kung-Pao-Chicken" thumbs up.

Monday, February 7, 2005

A Touch of Zen

Yes, Anime Expo is looming on my mind, as I am digging through my cache of Asian movies that I bought at AX2003! I have now finally watched A Touch of Zen, and all I can say is, "wow."

This film is presented in two parts, in the grand tradition of serial adventures. I would not say the two parts stand alone, though each is presented with opening credits as if separate movies. Totalling their run time together, ATOZ clocks in at nearly three hours! I took advantage of Kelly's various extracurricular classes to watch the two parts about a week apart.

The film is often slow, pacing itself in a manner not much seen in modern film. The first forty minutes are devoted to developing the character of Hu, a bachelor artist who lives with his mother in penury in an abandoned fort and resists her repeated entreaties to take the Imperial service exam. A few other characters make their entrance, each adding a new grace note to the slow story unfolding. I was almost disappointed when, three quarters of an hour into the film, swordplay makes a first appearance. But I soon grew used to it, and mark this as a true wuxia movie.

Granted, it is not a perfect film. I'd cut back a number of scenes, and leave a few out entirely. But even at three hours, I was fascinated. The biggest problem with this film is not the pacing, or the story, or the somewhat corny martial arts, where trampolines are used to induce the illusion of flying monks. The single flaw I wish I could correct is the low contrast, murky print which Tai Seng managed to put on DVD. Daylight scenes are colorful enough, but there are a number of night scenes, and I missed quite a lot of action due to the poor contrast.

When the Star Wars boxed set came out, much was made of John Lowry's restoration work, using a phalanx of 600 Powermac G5s running custom software to remove dust and noise from the digitized prints. Each movie took a month to restore, and the personal attention of Lowry and his band of wizards. When I think of what he could do with A Touch of Zen, I kind of tear up.

So that's my wish. Some cineaste philanthropist with too much cash and a serious jones for this 1971 King Hu film steps up and lets loose the dogs of technology on this wonderful movie. I can dream, can't I?

Sunday, February 6, 2005

Weekend Update

So yesterday was a NOVA night, but I did not go. For the next several weeks, Jean is in clinicals for her nursing program, and is feeling a little bit overwhelmed. So I am skipping NOVA to help out with Kelly on those Saturday evenings. I'll miss Tenjo Tenge, but thanks to John Jackson, I have all the Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex - 2nd Gig that I need to fill the gap. I've been grabbing Yakitate myself, so that covers all the shows I regularly watch at meetings. All that is left is the friendship and fun. I miss you guys already! See you in a couple of months!

On the brighter side, Sunday's dish du jour was Chinese Lemon Chicken, and it turned out great. Jean said she liked it, but that it was still not as good as Kung Pao Chicken. Of course! When I go to a Chinese restaurant with my work buddies, I don't even bother looking at the menu. I just get Kung Pao Chicken. Still, it is the hardest recipe to prepare of the ones I've done so far, so it will just have to wait in the rotation.