Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2006

Amazing Movie--Go See It

Long time no blog. More on that another time.

Felt I must write to say that The Children of Men, the new movie from director Alfonso Cuarón of "Y Tu Mama Tambien" and "Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban" is amazing. Rush to see it. It's based on a novel by British myster writer, P.D. James. It is, to my knowledge, her only science fiction novel. I read it about 12 years ago, and from just glancing at it last night after I got home, they changed it radically, but in many ways for the better. James has always suffered from a distance from her characters, similar to what I described below in Margaret Atwood. There is an intellectual coolness there which limits how emotionally involved the reader can be. This movie had none of that. It was visceral, and angry and agonizing and painful. It was also funny and tender. My husband and I both sobbed and very nearly whimpered towards the end it was so well made. Unfortunately, it is not a movie that everyone will get as it …

"Why does there have to be people like Heather in this world?"

That's a paraphrase of a line from Blue Velvet. I’ve changed it to Heather because of the movie Heathers. In case you don’t know Heathers is about the destructive power of a high school click. Three of the members are named Heather. They are cruel and manipulative and arrogant. I was thinking of this in regards to a couple of Blogs that I’ve read in the last few weeks.

Part of the reason I haven’t posted for over a month is that I was both in a play as an actress and designing sets and costumes for the same play. The play closed last night. About a week or so before we opened, a very young reviewer for a local free, “hip" rag posted the blog below on the webpage of the magazine (not a personal blog).

Now it is in fact a criticism of a line in our promotional material, which she has used to take all of Boston Theatre to task, but of course, as the prodigious comments beneath it indicate this i…

On self-editing

Realized a few posts ago that I mispelled the word pedantic. Now that's comedy!

Too busy to do this--designing and acting in a show. The show is very hard on the actors--feeling very overwhelmed. Want to write about it and don't have time... Blech.

Valentine, George Sand

In light of all the fantastic fiction I'd been reading I decided to read something guaranteed to have nothing supernatural about it. I picked Sand because I've never read her, only seen Impromptu. I'd heard both that she was the French Austen, and that she wrote bodice rippers for her time. Well, both are true. Underneath the flighty romance is a keen observation of French social structure post Napoleon. What I loved was that the observations could be identical to observations today--the young hero is described as having a particularly new ennui of over intelligence. She despairs of it--as we do today. The love story is interesting in contrast to English novels in that it is in fact consummated (discretely), lips meet, passions so long denied could no longer be ignored, yada, yada, next sentence is the next day, while Dickens had real trouble with actual sex. If two people were known to have had sex it would always be revealed that they had been secretly married. However o…

Three Days to Never--Tim Powers

Speaking of writers who write best in certain landscapes. Tim Powers writes most strongly about LA and the outlying towns, which is not to say that he can't write about other locations, my favorite book by him, Declare, is set in Europe before the second world war, but LA is where his strongest stories are set. This however is not one of them. It's not a bad book, it's just a little simple for him. Tim is another writer who writes about a world alongside this one. His world is inhabited by ghosts and the people who manipulate them and those who would live forever whatever the cost. Famous people routinely wander in and out of his novels--Shelley (The Stress of Her Regard), Guy Burgess (Declare), Edison, Einstein, Bugsy Siegel. Unlike your Dan Brown he actually does a lot of research and makes his explanations fit the facts, not the other way around. In the afterward to Declare he states that the times and incidents he mentions all happened to Burgess--he just puts a supern…

Perdido Street Station

A month ago, when I read this series of interesting "Fantastic" books I was all set to write long and lovingly about each of them and Fantastic Fiction in general, but now time has passed and the need is no longer there. Just in passing this is a very good book. He creates a completely new world where science and thaumaturgy run side by side, where our rules of evolution do not apply and chaos apparently runs through uninhabitable regions, possibly because of the actions of the inhabitants. Yet, like all good fiction, it is in some ways our world. The rich and powerful get richer and more powerful. The slums exist to catch the dregs. Good works give way to squalor because the inhabitants are too tired to care and the higher ups use that as an excuse not to bother. Central to the story is the partnership between big crime and politics and how a quest for power and money leads to a very dangerous creature being set free. The ideas are soaring--great bat like beings that mesmer…

What's in a blog

Several people in my life seem to be examining things--what blogging is, why we do things (like go to college), what is meaning in life, what is purpose--in interconnected ways. Which has led me back again to what am I doing here? What do I want from the blogosphere? A few good correspondents. I'm not really looking to get thousands of hits, because I can't discuss with a thousand posts. Also you run into the bitter who are out to argue. I'm not out to argue. I'm not out to be pedantic--you get a few facts wrong about things I'll let it slide, because I get sloppy and make mistakes too. I sometimes correct people, but only if I think it's relevant to the discussion at hand. One of the posters on the Vietnamese adoptee network wrote a post that seemed to indicate that she thought that Tarzan, The Rescuers and others were Disney stories instead of stories that Disney appropriated. My gut instinct was to write and say, "Excuse me, Tarzan is by Edgar Rice Burr…

The end of Cloud Atlas

Feel I must write this--promised it to myself, can I finish before midnight (when I said I would go to bed at 11)?

Where was I?

Oh, yes, section 5, where it gets interesting--because it's the future, at least 25 years, hopefully more. I say hopefully, because I don't want to be living in this future. The section is called "An Orison of Sonmi-451." An Orison (I had to look it up, proving I don't remember my Shakespeare) is a prayer, but in this future world where language has taken as many turns as in Orwell's 1984, it is more a confession or final statement. Sonmi-451 is a clone (as the name might suggest). The section is not entirely original. It owes much to Brave New World and Phillip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (made into the film Bladerunner). I find it interesting that 40 or so years ago--when Dick wrote his book he believed that future slaves would be Androids, replicants. Now we are much more likely to presume they will be clones,…

What's in a date indeed...

Haven't blogged anywhere in over a week and one friend called to ask if I was Ok. Fear you may be my only reader, Red Queen. So why do I blog? Back to that question again. Is it just to get me writing? As a more positive alternative to game playing in the hopes it will lead to real work? I do feel more verbally grounded (as opposed to visual where I start to be aphasic) when I'm trying to write more--and I think of things to write 2 or 3 times a day and write most in my head, even if I don't get the down, a good, I think. And yet, I would like readers who question and discuss--not sure what to do about that. Fear I have too little time to see the few close friends I have let alone write long conversations with people I will never see who could just be yanking me along for their own enjoyment. Hmmm...

What's in a date?

Worked late last night, and now things are too slow.

A friend wrote in July about the Tanabata Festival in Japan. One celebrates by tying wishes to Bamboo and then burning them or floating them on the water (the Japanese are all about burning and floating on the water--preferably together) after the festival or the next day. Now the difficulty lies in the fact that this is supposed to be celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th month or July 7th, right? But, NO! The Japanese Lunar calendar is closer to the Gregorian calendar and therefore a month off, so August 7th, but if fact, being Lunar is slightly different each year, so this year is closer to July 31st. So different towns in Japan celebrate it on different days. I found out about this last week and meant to remember not to forget to do it on the 7th, but instead remembered yesterday. So the question is, can I still celebrate this holiday since I would only be celebrating it with my husband and the day is clearly not the issue?
What is…

As Advertised--David Mitchell

Finally, time to write about some amazing books that everyone should read who enjoys good fantastic fiction or even good fiction.

David Mitchell, author, two time Booker Prize nominee. British.

I can't remember how I first picked up his first book, Ghostwritten. I really thought it was an advanced reader's copy but I have it in front of me and it clearly isn't, so either I got it from the library and then picked up a copy, or I bought it in one of my rare random buys from a bookstore. I read so much and in so many varied genres that I become overwhelmed in bookstores. So much sounds good; I can't afford much so I buy nothing rather than choosing and then run to the library with a list so long I can't carry it. What I do remember is that about half way through I looked at my husband and said, "This belongs on the shelf," and "You MUST read this."

He did and was as blown away as I. It's a first novel which is so confident and sure of itself it…

Three Chinatowns

Above--Chinatown, San Francisco
I've been in three Chinatowns in a month. Pretty cool. Went down to NYC yesterday to see a show that I designed in the spring be part of a Play Festival. So I've had costume design in NYC--Woohoo! It's my set too, but they really couldn't take many pieces so it wasn't really much of a set by the time it got there. One of the actresses had strep this week and I wondered if they might ask me to step in (I did once before for a read thu, and I know they respect me as an actress), but she took antibiotics and recovered and I'm glad. It's her role and she's fantastic in it, plus I'd have to still be there and not getting back until midnight tonight and I have a mammogram in the morning--blech. TMI, TMI! But still, I'd have been acting in NYC. Once upon a time (at about 18 or so) I thought that would be my life, but in college I realized I couldn't live with that poverty and constant uncertainty so instead I've v…

The things I promise

Ah, I said I'd write about the magical books I've been reading, didn't I? And here I am out of time--though I have had a pretty productive day for me.

Somerwhere in May I jotted a note to myself to read some Lessing; went to the library and found a new Doris Lessing that was a sequel to Mara and Dann, so had to read Mara and Dann first. After I tried to read the sequel immediately, but a major character DIES about 15 pages in and that was so heartbreaking to me I couldn't continue for a while and read some other things in between. Among them I read A Call for the Dead by John LeCarre because we had gotten the old BBC series of Smiley's People from Netflix. I was going to write about that too at some point--this was in that strange, sad draught of mid to late June where I stopped posting. I was going through a video game addiction at the time. They wax and wane with me depending on how much of life I can face. Anyway when we watched Smiley and then it's PREQUEL T…

More on Crash

The morning after, I think it is somewhat manipulative and the cuts (one character going through a doorway to another character coming through a doorway) quickly became annoying. We were set up to feel, as it were. Which is not to say that it is a bad movie, just that one should be aware of being manipulated.

The Shelf! or how our books are arranged

Recently read a very funny passage about the overuse of the ! in films of the 60's (Hitari!) and how obviously today's audiences are not going to go see "Million Dollar Baby!" Anyway, I've been meaning to write these comments on some books I've read recently for awhile and this is the best way to start.

I've been reading a lot of books from "The Shelf" lately and it's making my head hurt. First, you should know that my husband I have a lot of books. A LOT of books. As in I had quite a few books when I met him and he had a staggering amount and now we have more books than some branch libraries. I'm not kidding. Friends are boggled. We once passed on an apartment because there wasn't enough wall space for the bookshelves. Our dining room is really just a library with bookshelves all the way round. Two of the walls have brick and board that H (Husband) constructed so they go up to the ceiling. We moved 51 banker's boxes of books when…

Crash and Syriana

We watched Crash tonight (the 2005 Crash--not to be confused with Croenenberg's film of the Ballard novel). Wow! I see why it won the Oscar, though I have friends who disagree. It felt like a very good novel. Actually, what it reminded me of was the short lived TV show Boomtown, also about interlocking lives in LA. (Yes, I know I never link things and that's frustrating to readers, but I barely write here at all--to look for and add the links is more than I can manage now). I screamed, I cried, I shouted F*&K! I felt for these people; I knew these people. Saying that, it also felt like a fairytale in some ways. I was prepared for it to be unredeemably bleak, but it was hopeful--that people can make the right decisions in the wrong moment even when bad decisions have been made before. Film wise it was a little choppy--felt like a first film, too much slow mo', too many lingering shots, or blurred shots, and just a hair's breadth (is it breath or breadth? English lit…

Red Queen's Blog

My friend J, Red Queen, wrote this and I am crying. I wanted to link to it to share it, although it's rather a closed circle as Red Queen is one of my few readers, but perhaps I'll get others, and perhaps I'll send some to her as well. It's just lovely writing and some of the things she says about her father could describe mine to a t (what does that mean, to a T--another time). She and I have talked a lot about our mothers, daughters and mothers, and some about our fathers. She met mine a year before he died at my wedding 10 years ago. In my father's euology I spoke of how he was (paraphrasing George Elliot's Middlemarch) a man not much noticed and yet for those who knew him, a remarkable unsung man, like so many in the world. It sound like J's was too.

Creating Sense Memories


Wetware is here, apparently. My husband and I have a long standing debate as to when wetware will hit--both in terms of the technology available and the public's willingness to use it. Wetware is a term in sci-fi for direct interface with technology--wet human brain straight to silicon one--eliminating that annoying gap between brain and fingers. (According to Wikpedia it's also a jokey term FOR the human user already, as in, "Oh, you got yourself a problem with the wetware." Or, "It's not your computer or your software, idiot, it's you.") I think the term has been around since at least the mid-80's (though the concept may predate it--we've always known that to maximize computer use we would need to maximize us) and I've been aware of it since the early 90's. So listening to "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," today one of the questions involved a new system for direct interface to increase the human ability to recognize image…

Kurosawa's "High and Low"

Just watched this. WOW. It's almost two films in one. The first is like a play, all set in a living room where the amazing Toshiro Mifune (many have commented on how weird it is not to see him in samurai garb) must come to a difficult moral decision. He has just mortgaged everything he has to buy controlling rights in the company where he works when he receives a phone call that his son has been kidnapped and the ransom is almost the same amount as the cost of the shares. Then he finds that the kidnappers have mistakenly taken his chauffeurs's son, not his. If he pays the money he's ruined. If he doesn't... The police are brought in and stand impotently like some Greek chorus while Mifune struggles with the decision. The most agonizing character is the chauffeur himself. He brought in his son's sweater before they realized that he'd been taken and he stands helplessly clutching it. His body language conveys such grief and defeat. Mifune (I read after) was 5'…

Bread and circuses

Tonight I did something I'm ashamed of: I watched two episodes of Project Runway. Well, I read while they played on the TV, but I looked up a lot. Bless me, Readers, for I have sinned and I feel unclean. I hate reality television, even something as "positive" as this, someone will get a lot of money and a start in fashion from it and no one has to eat bugs or cheat on their loved ones or set fire to themselves. For every supposedly positive thing that reality television promotes--rooting for a fan, an underdog, rewarding some talent--there is something dark and horrible, because in the end we are all waiting for someone to crash and burn on national tv, and we all know that the most talented (whatever that means) is not going to walk away with the prize (Clay Aiken, anyone?). I got sucked in because of the first challenge which was to make dresses using only material that they had ripped from the dorms where they are staying. I love a good challenge esp. of materials, an…


Mad random thoughts again. Will I have time to get them down? Will I make time?

One thing that occurred to me while writing the massive post below was tense in English. For awhile I was writing in present tense--I land, I walk, I see--but that becomes distracting esp. jumping about as I do and I went back in and changed it. There are so many tenses in English. It's part of what makes learning English very difficult. Past perfect, past imperfect. Japanese as I recall has only two. How different that must be and how difficult then to try and learn English and get all those strange endings right.

My trip to San Francisco to see Hyde

Travel broadens the mind but thins the wallet.

I love to fly, and yet I was stressed about this trip--perhaps leaving my husband, perhaps such a fundamentally foolish mission; I envisioned earthquakes and plane crashes (seeing X-Men III the day before I left didn't help), but nothing more untoward than extra baggage searches, leading to a last minute dash to leave my multi-purpose tool with my husband before they confiscated it, occurred.

Flying out over Boston harbor (during ascent) I watched the islands recede. Landing in San Francisco and I was again watching the ocean give way to curved shore lines. They are such similar cities after all. San Francisco is still bright and shiny yet sadder too, perhaps because I am older and am seeing it with my own money and my own time--before I was in a comfortable car with my aunt and uncle, on their dime. My hotel was small and neat, as I wanted. I rested briefly in my room and then walked, yes walked, all you fools who attempted to drive, …

The Way the World Works

There's this game I play called "Diner Dash." I'm not sure what genre it would fall under, although I've heard it called an RPG and a point and click, but that makes it sound more complicated than it is. In it you are a waitress (RPG) and you are working towards a goal by waiting on tables. You have to seat customers, take their order, bring them their food, bring them their bill, and bus the table by clicking on things in order (point and click). You have limited time to do this, shown by little hearts beneath them--take too long the hearts go down, seat them next to loud customers, hearts go down. No more hearts and they leave and you lose money. I had played nearly to the end making the standard goal, but never the expert. Now the trick to making the most money is not, as you might think, keeping the heart gage full--thus the happiest customers. No, the trick is to do things in groups. Take all the orders at once, bring all the food at once, give all of the bi…

I didn't realize I talked about them quite so much

This was a birthday present from N, the friend who wanted to see the DaVinci code. She told me she saw it and knew I had to have it. I was opening it in her car and peeling back the brown wrapper. I saw the Folies Bergere part and thought, "Oh, how nice, she knows I like poster art." And then she said, "Did you READ it?" Hoorah! When my husband saw it he just slapped his forehead and shook his head.

Happiness of the Katakuris

Just watched very possibly the most absurd film I have ever seen, and I have seen some strange films. Japanese musical/horror/comedy/family/live-action/clay-animation (claymation is a copywrited term for Will Vinton--geek rant) film. This is from director Takashi Miike who normally does serious horror--well serious splatter. Now I really am taking the Japanese thing too far--I recognized the cop as the actor in a commercial for L'Arc~en~Ciel's Tomarunner game. I can spot actors in 4 languages! Sweetly heart warming, utterly cheesy. Very fun

This has been quite a Japanese week. Watched "47 Ronin" on Saturday. Caught parts of "Kagemusha" and "Rashomon." Watched the last part of the "Hama Mike (Real Name)" trilogy Wednesday and now this. The last part, "The Trap," was actually very hard, very dark and disturbing. I enjoyed the first one the most. There's a dual casting in TT that was so subtle my husband didn't even catch i…

Bubble Tea

I'm posting in the middle of the day! Wahoo!

Totally random post because I'm on lunch break and I feel like it.

Just had bubble tea for the first time. You'd think being interested in Japan I'd have had this before, esp. since I like Tapioca, but it's rather expensive and I was afraid I wouldn't like it. Well, I don't LOVE it, but I don't hate it either. The flavor was Earl Grey and the tapioca was flavored with Raspberries. It gave the tea a milky flavor and it was disconcerting to have the tapioca come up the straw periodically (could have been solved with a smaller straw, I realize), but the flavors worked well together and the tapioca was well done instead of being hard (which I kind of expected. What's funny is it DID NOT go with the crispy eel sushi I was eating for lunch. Fish and raspberries--not so much. Should have had plain flavor, or drunk it after the sushi.

I do love Newbury Street in Boston though. I only work in town one day a week now …

Driving in Boston

Inching along in a log jam of traffic yesterday on the Mass Pike I watched an Audi a few cars in front of me weave in and out of traffic determined to find the lane that was "moving" and yet for the whole half an hour that we sat there he ended up still only a few cars ahead of me. Sure there were times his lane pulled ahead, but then mine would catch up and he would switch back. The only thing he accomplished was to make the line that much slower. There was a great article that a friend sent me years ago on the physics of traffic and it has been determined that weaving in and out of tight traffic will really gain you nothing and in fact cause the very blockages that you believe you are defying. (Sidenote--an unfortunately side effect of so much of interest on the internet is that it is impossible to store all of the articles that interest you over the years in the vague belief that you will someday want to reference them to others) The article also pointed out that if all d…

A Talent for Life

In 15 minutes it will no longer be my birthday (well, I'm not sure it really is my birthday, but I've beaten that dead horse with my friends, so I'll let it lie). Warning this may be a little rambly and it may pass into the next day before it goes up, or not.

I've always felt too old. I was sad at 18 that I could no longer be a child prodigy. At 24 I actually wrote a poem called, "On Turning 24 and Feeling it is Too Old." I looked for it to put it here, but I am glad to say I don't seem to have it on this computer. (Read an amusing line, I think in a link from Mirror up to Life that said that everyone writes adolescent poetry and that bad poets publish it, and good poets destroy it). In it I did berate myself for intellectually knowing that 24 was not too old, or even old, but emotionally not being able to see it, and the last line was the realization that I would probably feel this way for a very long time. And I was right. Every year I try to think, it&#…