Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sukeban Boy redux

I promised Ticia and Amy that if Amy wrote her review of Sukeban Boy, I would compose my own. I had originally intended to post the two reviews one after the other, in a sort of Siskel and Ebert move, dueling takes on a seriously twisted little film. The reason I didn't was simple: Amy's review was good enough and reflective enough of my own feelings that I didn't think I had anything to add.

Ticia, though, wouldn't leave me alone. She (correctly) pointed out that I still owed this review. So, blame her for what follows.

As I pondered what new I had to say about Sukeban Boy, I realized that I did have an entirely different angle, one that reflected a question that has lingered in my mind for weeks, one that always bothers me after truly weird films:

What was the filmmaker on about?

I know, I know: why bother to analyze such a wispy, blood-soaked bit of ephemera? That answer is easy: all cultural artifacts, pop or otherwise, may be worthy of analysis and teach us things about both those who produced it and those who consume it.

With Sukeban Boy, we could go a lot of directions with this analysis.

Perhaps the director, Noboru Iguchi, wanted to continue to fuse the ultra-violence and fetish genres of Japanese film, a goal he certainly explored with The Machine Girl. Perhaps seeing the many historical and literary intersections of sex and violence in Japanese (and other) cultures, he wanted us to confront those links in the kind of hyper-literal way that truly bloody special effects can often deliver.

On the other hand, Iguchi may have been exploring the sexual power of women in his repressed culture and the hidden yearning of men to own that power themselves, as Sukeban Boy, by becoming an attractive and powerful girl, does at times in the movie. As scenes meld the power of guns with different female body parts in a run-up to the fight with the witch, where we finally see the sexual power of women for the mystic force that it truly is, the film takes on us on a journey of discovery.

Or maybe Iguchi was just having a great time, turning the knob to 11 every single chance he could and blowing up a lot of shit while showing as much flesh as Japanese law would let him.

Personally, I'm betting on the last one, but it's sometimes fun to find the dusty lit-and-film-crit hat in the corner of the office, put it on, and wax academic.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Julie & Julia

Lest you think I watch only action flicks, I not only went to see this film last weekend, I wanted to go.

And I very much liked it.

All four lead actors did very good jobs, but my hands-down favorite was Stanley Tucci. That man can flat-out act. He made Julia Child's husband so likable that despite his need to play second fiddle to Child/Streep, you simply couldn't take your eyes off him in any scene.

In addition to enjoying the mostly light and fun story, I also found myself appreciating the game the filmmakers were quietly playing with the real present story (Julie) and the cleaned-up, idealized-in-Julie's-mind back-story (Julia). At one point, Julie's husband tells her that what's important is not the real Julia but the Julia in Julie's mind, the Julia that helped Julie save herself. That statement is the proof that we are supposed to understand that the Julia we've been seeing is that same idealized version, which of course it is and has been throughout the film. It's a small thing, and if you miss it you lose nothing, but I still liked it.

If you're into food or simply want to watch some strong performances, don't miss this one.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Come see me in San Francisco on Sept. 20

Out on the other coast, in the mystic city of San Francisco, lives a little bookstore that can, Borderlands Books. (Okay, it's not that little, but the sentence worked better that way.) The owner, Alan Beatts, and manager, Jude Feldman, from time to time take pity on writers and invite them to the store to read, sign, and bask in the adoration of the one or two people who show up for such events. Regardless of the audience size, no signing there can be a loss, because you get to visit with Alan, Jude, the rest of the great staff, and, of course, the many, many books.

I'm going to be one of those signing writers come two weeks from Sunday. At 3:00 p.m. on September 20, I'll be reading there, with luck signing some books, and, if we get enough of a crowd to have good energy, doing some of the Science Magic Sex spoken word show.

So, if you're in the SF area and not doing anything that day, please drop by and say hi, buy a few books, and perhaps learn what happened to the hamsters.

I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bold experiment or big mistake?

Due to SF conventions, I'm rarely home on Labor Day. This year, I will be, so I'm holding a small, extended family cook-out. I'll be grilling my favorite hot dogs (steak dogs from Allen Brothers) and their Wagyu steak burgers, and others will be contributing various side dishes.

For a cook-out near the end of summer, ice cream seemed the only proper dessert choice. I, of course, opted for Jeni's. That's when I ran into these flavors, their current special offer package:

Sweet Corn & Black Raspberries
Carrot Cake
Red Beets with Lemon & Poppy Seeds
Cucumber Honeydew with Cayenne Yogurt

You can read more about these unusual concoctions here.

Was this order a big mistake, or will it prove to have been a bold and wonderful experiment?

I'll know more on Monday and report back then.

Oh, yeah: just in case these flavors prove to be scary, I also ordered half a dozen pints I know we all love. It pays to be careful.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Second printings!

Here's a bit of publishing news that may matter only to me--but that I am nonetheless going to share with you.

The paperbacks of both One Jump Ahead and Slanted Jack have gone back for second printings!

I'm quite excited, because these developments mean that my publisher needed more of the books, which in turn means booksellers needed more of them, which of course ultimately means that people bought a lot (as in, almost all) of the first printings.

OJA took 15 months to reach this stage, but SJ has been out only since May, so it hit the mark much faster.

I assume that such events are common among more established and more successful writers, but for me, this is big and welcome news.

My thanks to all who bought these books. Now, I have only one related request: Buy more, please, especially of the hardcovers. Having Overthrowing Heaven go back for a second hardcover printing, though not very likely, would definitely be a huge dish of heaping excitement.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Jump Gate Twist

is going to be the title of the omnibus volume that will collect my first two novels and some other material, including the first Jon Moore story, "My Sister, My Self."

You heard it here first.

Now, back to my daily ass-kicking by Children No More, which I desperately hope does not prove to be the worst book anyone has ever written.

Yes, I'm well along in it and thus living in The Dread. Lucky me.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

UFC 102 predictions: how we did

In yesterday's entry, Kyle and I gave our best guesses about the outcomes of last evening's UFC PPV. Now, it's time to own up.

First, the numbers: I called six right and blew it on five, which is basically as good a result as tossing coins would yield. Kyle nailed only four and missed seven.

Thus, for the second straight round of predictions, I emerged the victor.

To give Kyle credit, he called the main event almost perfectly. Big Nog clearly won a decision, and Couture looked old and out of his depth.

We split on two other main-card events, with Kyle calling Vera correctly and me proving to be right to believe in Marquardt.

On the remaining two main bouts, we both messed up. We chose Jardine, but Thiago Silva had other ideas and knocked out the Dean of Mean in the first round. We also thought the UFC had finally found an opponent Chris Leben could beat, but it was not to be; Jake Rosholt submitted him. I'm hoping the UFC is as tired of Leben as I am.

So, once again, where I pulled ahead was on the undercard, where my minimal research was apparently better than Kyle's.

Though I'm not a professional financial advisor, I feel safe in offering the following advice: Don't make MMA bets using predictions from either Kyle or me.


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