Saturday, July 30, 2005
We took an hour to get back to Tualatin, then after checking them into their hotel, we sat and talked for awhile about how my father lived in Tualatin as a kid. He had an afterschool job as a caddy at the Tualatin Golf Course! Then it was off to find a place to eat. We did the Tualatin Outback restaurant, a place Jean and I have never eaten at despite living in Tualatin for several years. Food was pretty good, but way too much, too late in the day. We dropped the folks off and retired.
Now I'm just waiting to contact them before starting the day. Plans include the Beaverton Farmers Market and grocering, but as for what next, who knows? I don't know when I'll post next, be patient...
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Now normally, I'd stay out after the meeting, either taking in a movie or going out for a snack with my friends. This particular evening, I had to take a pass on that, as Jean was having mother pangs. "What if they call?" she asked. "Then they'll call," I said. "Call me on my cellphone if you want me to go pick her up." But no, Jean was too nervous, so I came home after the meeting. To make up for my short evening, I stayed up til midnight watching anime. So there!
It's too bad, too. Saturday was the night that Tom was hosting a showing of Leadfinger. This movie was made by a highschool friend of Heather Hewlett, who is the daughter of Tricia, who is the sister of my friend Dan Baxter.
Heather offered to lend me a copy, but I told her that I only wanted to see it with some of the gang. She was annoyed, I think. She is proud of her friend and his film, and her role in it ("starring ... Heather Hewlett"), and wants everyone to get a chance to enjoy it. But I don't think I would if I was sitting in the family room alone watching it. These things take the synergy of a friendly crowd to really gel.
I did get to see Yakitate, my second favorite anime right now, and of course my fave, Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex, Second Gig. In addition, John Jackson loaned me his copies of Onmyouji, I & II. I look forward to watching those soon. Alan returned a bunch of DVDs I'd loaned him, and I promptly lent out A Touch of Zen to John!
So back to the sleepover. Emily's mom returned Kelly to us around 10am, a little the worse for wear, but happy. I asked if Kelly had behaved and she said "pretty much." "Pretty much?" I repeated. "Expectations were pretty low with these two together." So I don't have any details, but apparently they were bad, but not too bad. And in the tradition of sleepovers, I'm told they didn't really sleep an awful lot.
So now Kelly is resting in the living room, and I'll be scooping her up and taking her out for a promised viewing of Madagascar in fifteen minutes or so. Later in the day I'll be trying my hand at pot stickers, though nearly half the ingredients vary from the recipe, so I'm crossing my fingers mightily. Wish me luck!
The pot stickers were a big success, to my palate and Jean's. This even though I used different ingredients, wrong ingredients, too much of one and not enough of another. Seems potstickers are a pretty robust foodstuff.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Thursday, July 21, 2005
One Nite in Mongkok is about exactly what the title suggests, a night in Hong Kong's most densely populated city blocks, where myriad people and circumstance crop up every two or three feet.
Love HK Film.com
This was our second feature last night. It stars a large ensemble cast, with star turns by Daniel Wu and Cecilia Chung as a yokel hitman and green card prostitute who are flung together by circumstance one night in Mongkok. The story is fast, varied and at times confusing. The ending is bleak and uncompromising. This movie won a Best Director and Best Screenplay award, and was nominated for a slew of others, which is why I bought it. If I'd known how it ended, I honestly might have given it a pass. But in retrospect I'd have to recommend it to my other Asian movie watching friends.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Come Drink With Me stars Cheng Pei Pei as the daughter of a provincial governor. Blood will tell, and she is gifted with the almost magical martial arts powers that only manifest in these movies. She has been sent by the governor to rescue her brother, another official, who has been captured by bandits as a hostage. They want their leader freed, but Cheng Pei Pei has no plans to comply.
Throughout this movie, I was silently comparing it to A Touch of Zen, the only other King Hu movie I've seen. Overall, ATOZ is a better film. The story has more depth, and the atmosphere seems more genuine. Frequently I found myself criticizing the movie for all the conventions it displayed. Then I realized that many of these conventions originated with King Hu, and probably in this very movie. The teahouse ambush for instance, is a classic of wu xia movies, but here it is possibly realized in film for the first time. It is a charming scene.
So while I'd say that CDWM is the lesser of the two movies by King Hu I've seen, it is still better than many other wu xia movies I've sat through, and was definitely worth my time.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
In the last year, a production company shot a pilot for a television series based on the graphic novels. This pilot was used as the basis of a sales pitch to the WB television network, and it seemed that they would pick it up, as chronicled here. Unfortunately, the network passed on the pilot, and the show was doomed to lapse into obscurity.
Then the pilot was leaked, by someone, onto the Internet. Recently I heard about it, and decided to play the outlaw and grab it. I just watched it tonight. Verdict: why on earth did those network suits pass on this show? It's cheesy science fiction, but I could name two or three of those on the WB alone, so that couldn't be the reason. The characters behave in implausible ways now and then throughout the pilot, but again, I can name names if I have to.
And the dialog in the pilot was nifty! I just loved the throwaway lines they gave to the central characters. Okay, I'm a fanboy, but I enjoyed Buffy, Angel and X-Files (not all the same creator, I know), and this show resonates with that sort of cheerful noir, to coin a phrase. Anyway, I have hopes that some other network will pick this up, as it would have a guaranteed place on my ReplayTV schedule. And yes, I've added the first graphic novel to my Amazon wishlist.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
These are a pair of cheesy fantasy action movies starring a couple of cute pop stars and their male counterparts. It's funny that I watched these so soon after New Police Story, as it seems that the stable of 'actors' in all these movies came from the same pool, the Emperor Entertainment Group, a multimedia conglomerate that is pushing it's pop stars into movies as fast as it can.
I won't be doing this sort of gathering in another blue moon. I was only able to do it this time as Jean and Kelly are in Michigan visiting Jean's parents. On the plus side, I have the flexibility to go to an all day impromptu film festival. On the minus side, I dropped them off at the airport on Wednesday, and I miss them a whole lot about now. And there's five more days to go!
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Does this mean that specialty ketchups are inferior to mainstream ketchup? As a condiment, perhaps. If you think of them as sauces, they stand on their own, like a spaghetti sauce. But since we almost exclusively think of ketchup in the condiment role, specialty ketchups labor under a handicap. In fact, when considered solely as an artisan food, some of these ketchups seem quite appetizing. Consider Gladwell's signal example, World's Real Ketchup:
[..] He starts with red peppers, Spanish onions, garlic, and a
high-end tomato paste. Basil is chopped by hand, because the buffalo
chopper bruises the leaves. He uses maple syrup, not corn syrup, which
gives him a quarter of the sugar of Heinz. He pours his ketchup into a
clear glass ten-ounce jar, and sells it for three times the price of
Heinz, and for the past few years he has crisscrossed the country,
peddling World's Best in six flavors--regular, sweet, dill, garlic,
caramelized onion, and basil--to specialty grocery stores and
supermarkets. [...] The ratio of tomato solids to liquid in World's
Best is much higher than in Heinz, and the maple syrup gives it an
unmistakable sweet kick.
I might not drop several bucks having a jar shipped to my doorstep, but it does make me want to try cobbling together an artisan ketchup myself! Since Gladwell mentions a renowned tomato historian who also has written books on tomato cooking, I looked him up at the library, and found Pure Ketchup: A History of America's National Condiment, with Recipes by Andrew F. Smith. So look for my experiments in the near future!
There are two kinds of Jackie Chan movies. Serious and comic. In both veins you'll see stunts and martial arts to one degree or another. The Police Story movies have been Jackie's big 'serious' works, and feature drama, stunts and some martial arts. This is not so say that humor is banned from these films, as Jackie Chan made his name with his signature humor. But he tried to establish himself as a serious actor as well, here.
Nailing down a filmography of Police Story movies is difficult, as Jackie Chan and others freely relabel his cop movies, both into and out of this franchise. So it's hard to say how many are 'really' part of the Police Story universe. But the Love HK Film review of the original Police Story links to four films, not counting New Police Story. While hardly definitive, I pretty much agree with this list:
- Police Story (1985)
- Police Story 2 (1988)
- Police Story 3: Supercop (1992)
- Police Story 4: First Strike (1996)
- New Police Story (2004)
To date, I'd have said that Police Story and Supercop were the two best movies in the cycle, and I haven't seen anything to change my mind. New Police Story is entertaining enough, to the mind of a Hong Kong action movie fan like myself, but it is not a sterling example. Read the linked reviews for more detail, but I think Jackie is finally stepping back from his stuntman, martial arts glory days. The movie is as much an ensemble cast as any he's ever had. True, some of his early work with Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung depended on teamwork, but here, the reliance is on pretty faces and hammy pose striking.
Interesting, though not surprising after all these years, were the behind the scenes documentaries showing Jackie wearing harnesses for every stunt (which were then digitally removed from the film). Jackie works with a net! Now I'm feeling my age.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
Who got the Anaheim Convention Center for 2007? According to a post on the Anime News Network forums by someone claiming to be on the SPJA staff, nicknamed xstylus [okay, a little Googling turns up:Troy Williams (XStylus) -AX2004 American VIP Relations Mgr. - firstname.lastname@example.org], the Shriners booked the ACC for 2007 as early as 2003. So the message is "don't mess with the Shriners."
Thursday, July 7, 2005
And while I have a few other pictures with Adam, they are not with "hottie chicks". That would be a job for his "official biographer". <smirk/>
Wednesday, July 6, 2005
Jean, I thank you for all the hard work you've put in, and I'm immensely proud of you!
- The Brave Archer 1-3. There are supposed to be four volumes to this series, but this box set seemed pretty nice, so I went for it anyway.
- Come Drink With Me. This is a movie by King Hu, who also created A Touch of Zen, which I've raved over before. This is considered his other masterpiece.
- Eight Diagram Pole Fighter. A classic Shaw Brothers martial arts film.
- Infernal Affairs. A cop drama, supposedly one of the best in years.
- New Police Story. Revisits Jackie Chan's classic police character, though relying on a younger cast to carry the story.
- One Night in Mongkok. An award winner this year.
- Throw Down. Another award winner. Funny story: I had this and another movie in my hands, and was trying to decide which to get (both! nope, stick to the budget). I asked the grey-bearded gent who runs Drunken Master, the store I always buy from at Expo, what he thought. He said, "well, I did the commentary track on the English track of the DVD of Throw Down, so I gotta go with that."
- The Twins Effect II. I was trying to buy Twins Effect, but in the hustle and bustle of the convention Dealer's Room, I was handed the 'sequel', instead. I'm gonna borrow the original from Alan, and let him borrow this one...
- A World Without Thieves. One more award winner...
For myself, I also got a Gankutsou T-shirt and mug. For Kelly, aside from all the Dealer's Room freebies, I got her the T-shirt, a baby-doll T with a cute picture, and a manga, called The Wallflower (which I guess I already mentioned).
Tuesday, July 5, 2005
Dinner was at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen, and that was excellent. My meal, from the menu:
Paneed Chicken and Crawfish Cream
"Thinly pounded chicken breast dusted in breadcrumbs, herbs and parmesan cheese, paneed and served with mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables and a Lousiana crawfish cream sauce"
Monday, July 4, 2005
We attended the charity auction, where James won two bidding wars, spending way too much money on a couple of Gundam character sketches. The record bid of the auction was for a sketch from Howl's Moving Castle, for $13,000!
We spent the evening at California Adventure and Disneyland. We all went and ate at Ariel's Grotto, but Ariel wasn't there! In fact, she no longer works there! Excuse me? Ariel's Grotto??!!?? In any case, I still took some character photos.
Afterwards, Dan wanted to try to experience a bunch of rides, and hijacked me as his 'guide'. We did the Maliboomer and California Screamin', and were fortunate to get four rides in a row on The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. We then crossed over to Disneyland. We rode the Matterhorn, the Teacup, Pirates of the Carribean and the Haunted Mansion. Finally we'd had enough and headed back to the room.
Sunday, July 3, 2005
By that time it was time to go stand in line, forever, for the Maaya Sakamoto concert. It was a slow, mellow concert, and I bought a CD of Maaya's songs, again for Kelly. Then we ate at the Hilton restaurant, and now we're just sitting in the room. Alan is going totally nutso with faux accents, doing his best to annoy me, and not yet succeeding. We are waiting for the masquerade to finish so that we can go out and photograph the cosplayers, so until then we're gonna watch a Hong Kong movie on Jeremy's laptop computer.
Oh, and the last two nights we ate at the Naples restaurant in Downtown Disney, and at Tiffy's next to Coco's. Just for the record...
Saturday, July 2, 2005
Alan and I did a tour of the con looking for good costumes to take pictures of. Alan has been doing that at several conventions over the years, and he is very blase about it. I just followed him and 'parasitically' snapped photos. I'm going to go out today and try to take some photos on my own. I havve trouble asking folk to pose. I guess I like candid photography because I don't have to talk to anyone.
One series of photos I took Friday may not look impressive, but they're pretty cool to me. I was in the dealer's room, where all the anime companies hawk their wares. I was quite impressed by the size of the place. It just gets larger every time I go. So I noticed that AD Vision had a skybox at their booth location, and asked one of the AD Vision folk "what would it take for me to get up there and take some pictures?" The guy told me they were having a meeting up there, but if I came back in ten minutes, he'd walk me up himself. So I did a round of the floor, and when I came back, he escorted me up. The resulting photos are on my Flickr page, but the banner photo is one of the better crowd shots.
Today the gang took a lazier approach to getting started. We lounged around in the room in the morning, then wandered over to catch the Geneon panel. This is a company that is making deals for some of the more popular anime, so we went to catch the clips. After that, I went to see the live action movie version of Tetsujin 28. This is the origin of one of my childhood cartoons, known in America as Gigantor. I even wore my Gigantor T-shirt.
After that, I walked upstairs to the KOTOKO concert. She's an idol singer being promoted by Geneon. It's been years since I've been to any sort of concert, so I thought it would be fun. She opened with some techno-beat J-pop, moved on to basic J-pop, and transitioned into a ballad. Around this time, the whole front section started waving light wands and glow sticks overhead. It appeared as if they'd all brought them, or been given them before the concert. Not to be outdone, other sections began to wave their cellphones and PDAs around with the backlights on. I looked around, and this was happening all over the room! I don't know if this is common practice now, but it was new to me.
I'm back in the room now, writing things up for a break. Next it's off to try to snag a photo or two. Bye!
Friday, July 1, 2005
I'll let you know if this stupid wristband survives two evenings in bed and two showers before the concert.