June 15th, 2011


Second Skin.

I had a very lovely day yesterday, unexpectedly. It started with lunch at Azuki, a little celebration for Brian's birthday, featuring the usual suspects; Jocelyn, Kat & Matt. A rousing time; I kept laughing hysterically at everything. Like an insane person in an insane asylum...except I'm not a person at all! Ha ha ha! After work, the gym, for a nice little interlude of cardio & machines, then at home Jenny & I watched Porco Rosso which is amazing. I really like Miyazaki's early works, because he doesn't feel the need to make concessions to...well, plot, or narrative structure, or anything at all, really. Like...My Neighbor Totoro is about...some children, who move into a new house, & meet the spirit of the wood, & ride a weird bus, & the little kid gets lost but he's fine? What. That isn't a plot, that isn't even a series of vignettes! It is just one big art installation that the camera moves through. Porco Rosso similiarly doesn't care for your puny expectations of a "climax" or "closure" or "a third act." The story is set in a fictional period between World War One & World War Two when pontoon planes ruled the seas & the skies. Our hero? Is a pig. The Crimson Pig, Porco Rosso. This isn't a world of anthropomorphized animals-- Porco Rosso is the only pig. He was turned into a pig by a curse. This curse? We'll never have it explained. We don't see who put it on him, or what he did to deserve it. So great. Also, voiced by Michael Keaton-- I have always liked Keaton, ever since I saw Mister Mom in my formative years. The bulk of Porco Rosso is an extended scene where a young girl engineer & the women of an Italian village build an airplane. In any other movie, this would be a montage, or happen off camera. There other characters in the film beside Porco are Fio, the young female engineer; Gina, who is the Rick of an island Casablanca; Curtis, the brash American pilot, & sundry sky-pirates. I really like when foreign films portray Americans. Like in Dracula-- the sort of terrible sort of wonderful Americans, with their brash swagger & their guns. Anyhow, it was wonderful-- there was a bit where the American is wooing Gina & says something in a serious tone of voice along the lines of "'The solitary rose is the most beautiful flower.' That is my favorite line from a screenplay I wrote!" & it is just so hilarious.

We ordered food from Brooklyn Pub, & it was pretty great. I've never heard of them before, but we had...some really solid food. Meatball sliders, a pulled pork sandwich (how Jenny judges places) & a cheese steak sandwich (which Jenny pointed out is a thing I like). I will be hitting them up again. & then to bed! I had a dream about the mansion I've been dreaming of lately. In the dream, I was renting a wing of the mansion-- or living there, anyway-- & a girl I used to know & her boyfriend were living in the other wing. Jenny had died, but I knew better-- she hadn't died, she'd been shanghaied to another dimension. I was all deep into black magic, whiskey & tomes. The black kind, too; not just left hand or Secrets Not Meant To Be Known but hardcore stuff. At one point the girl & her boyfriend came over to try to console me, but to no avail, & the girl made it clear she wouldn't stick around because I was too much of a black hole, by nature. Fair enough; I didn't need sympathy. I had my black magic to get the job done, & once I'd finished covering the outside courtyard in seals & glyphs, I'd be ready to get Jenny back, no matter the cost. So that was the night time-- then in the morning I ran into Belinda, who I haven't seen in a zillion years. We used to flirt all the time, when I worked at Kit Marlowe & Co. We did catch up for a few stops & that was that. & today-- today, lunch with Pamela. I think we're finding our rhythm-- it is weird to get to know someone again, someone from once upon a time, but I think it is ultimately rewarding. We just have to negotiate all the buoys of banality, the maze of mundanity, the persona & personality that have accreted over the last ten years, that is all. & then to now. Some gossip with Sherene & nose to the grindstone, back to the saltmines.
forever sleep

No More Mister Nice Guy. (61)

The Returning by Christine Hinwood.

The koi in the pond
Swim round each other, Blue Prince
smiles, chases Old Man.

In summary: I liked the middle act of this book, & thought the last act was fine if predictable, but the first act was not my cup of tea. Or as I paraphrased-- "Sad, sad, sad, sad, why must I be sad?" Oh alright, it is a novel dealing with the aftermath of war, so I guess that is why, but I just found the first third of the book to be a little relentless in tone. Sure, sure, he's come back from war, can't relate to his family, his family can't relate to him, the community is in shambles, betrothals dissolving...but then you cap it off by killing a dog? Listen, that is a brutal first couple of chapters. The middle though is really great. Cam isn't exactly our protagonist, but he is the MacGuffin that the rest of the book happens around-- once he enmeshes himself with the Uplanders, things start moving along tickety-boo. On the subject of worldbuilding; the clash between the more Japanese Uplanders & the more Puritan Downlanders is very well handled. I don't mind a sot of "pan-Asian" approach to fantasy fiction-- I mean, "traditional" fantasy is usually "pan-European" so I call it a wash. & was happy about "yaddle yaddle" as the way to describe Uplander language-- compared to the Greek's "ba ba ba" & the modern "chink chonk," it sounds plausible without being offensive. That being said-- I find it hard to believe that two such distinct cultures-- separated by custom, language, & visible ethnic traits-- aren't more distinct. Uplander & Downlander? I don't think it would be that simple. Still, that is just a world building quibble about nuts & bolts, from one gearhead to another. The last bit of the book is more like your usual YA fare-- a whole lot of troubles caused by misunderstandings that could be solved with better communication. At least the barriers of communication are a theme of the book-- I'm not complaining, but I found the middle bit of the book the most profound by a wide margin. I picked this up because Jenny, Marie & Megan Whalen Turner recommended it, & I trust their judgement-- they weren't wrong, but I didn't unreservedly enjoy it.