Thursday, July 31, 2008

Groovy Things

Tomorrow is Irish Fest in Waterloo.

Neil Gaiman is writing a 2 part Batman story for the comic series next year. Apparently it will bridge the gap between the current R.I.P. storyline, which I'm lost with, and the future of the character, which seems destined to be different than the status quo. The only thing cooler than this is if they found water on Mars.

Oh, yeah. Water exists on Mars. Also, liquid (not water) is flowing freely on Titan, Saturn's enigmatic moon.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hell No, They Didn't Just Cut Emily

Season 5 of Project Runway just got WAY less interesting for me. Okay, so the dress didn't really work. But why must they always cut the cute ones? Sigh. I think I liked her so much because she reminds of two friends who have somehow been genetically spliced together in a seamless, beautiful fashion.

Auf wiedersehen Emily.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Who's Up Next?

So given the Dark Knight's insane run at the box office (the 'will it beat Titanic?' murmurs have begun) it's inevitable there will be a third. The big question is who the big bad will be. It seems from the film they intended for Heath Ledger to reprise the Joker in some capacity next time around, but as we all know, that will (probably) not be the case.

Geoff Boucher writes an open letter in the LA Times today to Chris Nolan offering some advice. Some of it is good. By process of elimination, he id's Catwoman as the only logical choice. I agree with this. Harley Quinn might make some sense if they attempt to follow the Joker thread (recasting just doesn't seem proper), but of all the Batman's rogues, she is the most sensible in Nolan's realistic concept of the character. However, Boucher's choice of actress (I'll let you click the link to see) doesn't do anything for me. Not that she's a bad actress, but what Catwoman needs, like the Joker, is someone who approaches it with a take no one ever considered. Give it a read, it's interesting, and so are the comments.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

We're Going To Be Doing This For A Long Time

SPOILERS follow for 'The Dark Knight'

Right now there are a lot of hyperbolic reviews and commentary swirling around The Dark Knight, and specifically Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker, to the extent that you wonder how any film could possibly live up those kind of expectations. This movie does. You're never left wondering how, or why; it is grand cinema, from artists in their prime, and in one tragic case, the final furious statement of a gifted actor. TDK is not the Citizen Kane of comic book movies; to call it a comic book movie, or place it in that context is diminishing it. The film actually operates primarily in the crime movie genre, and has more in common with films like The Godfather, in its bredth and scope (a staggering cast of characters, multiple plot arcs, the city as a character - and Chicago - I mean, um, Gotham - has never been so interesting) and also Heat, which it actually has the most in common with.

TDK is also not the Empire Strikes Back of modern movies. That is primarily because its predecessor, Batman Begins, is not Star Wars. Begins was a great movie, hampered by certain comic book conceits that this movie does away with entirely. This movie, TDK, is Star Wars. It changes your head, and makes everything from here on out - its successors, both imitators and its own sure sequels - tethered to its accomplishments. One can't help but think that Christopher Nolan will find himself unable to top this; you won't fault him for it, because Heath Ledger sets such a high bar that all anyone else can do is stand there and look at it. I could go on about the intricacies of his performance - the manic tongue, the voice, electricity he generated anytime he's on screen - but it's simple enough to say he is the Joker, and his Joker is the strangest, scariest and funniest of all of them.

He overshadows many other fantastic performances, Christian Bale of course, but more importantly, Aaron Eckhart, who is actually the focal point of the movie as new Gotham DA Harvey Dent. We all know Harvey's future, but it's no less tragic to watch a good man brought so low. In TDK, good men do the wrong things for the right reasons. They spy. They kidnap. They take money from the mob to pay hospital bills. They lie. They fake their deaths, even to their own families. They take the fall for someone else. We live in a world where good men have been doing bad things for years now. You reap what you sow. In TDK, all that Batman has wrought, for good, and for bad, comes due and he reaps the whirlwind.

I haven't yet mentioned the action sequences. Normally in summer movies that's the first thing out, and that tells you what kind of movie this is. There is one stunning one, a chase between a semi and cop cars and eventually the Batmobile. The Batpod, the bike you see in the trailers, makes a stunning debut and does some gravity defying things that will please your geek soul. Also, enjoy the IMAX eye candy, which even in regular 35mm invites vistas you've rarely seen. Bravo.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Kansas City

In all the excitement of June, with the floods and other distractions, I never got around to sharing some photos of the trip my brother Aaron took to Kansas City early in the month, to see my aunt Charlene. We were there a very busy 3 days, the highlight of which had to be the World War I musuem downtown.

The dominant feature of the memorial is this 30 story monolithic statue that stands on a high hill overlooking downtown. You can go up in a very antiquated elevator (it dates from 1926) to the top and see an extraordinary view of KC. This image in particular inspired me to relocate my next novel from Iowa to Kansas. It also inspired me to research the memorial, which led me to the only-interesting-to-me bit of trivia that the nuclear holocaust film 1983, The Day After, featured the memorial in its coda. What was left of it anyway. That movie made a huge impression on me as it did most people who saw it, and I found myself remembering all sorts of 80's Cold War trivia - 'This is only a test. In the event of an actual attack...' - and I realized in some way this next novel is about those days, and those demons.

Anyways. The coolest thing about the memorial was not even the tower, but this:

Two of these sphinxes face each other, theirs faces covered by their wings, shielding them from the past and the future. I must have stood and stared at them for like ten minutes.

This is a view of downtown, looking down on Union Station, a gorgeous old train station that is now a musuem. We viewed a bizarre but fascinating human body exhibit there that showcased the preserved remains of people who donated their bodies to science. Hopefully I will get a chance to go back soon; my friend Sugu is coming back from Japan to KC for a few weeks in August. I'd love to go back and visit my aunt, as well as do some more research now I know I'm setting the book here.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

162 Days

I had the strangest dream last night; it went on forever (no doubt a few seconds), the longest sustained I recall having recently. I was in Germany, on vacation or something, with my mother - or my father, I wasn't sure; they seemed to be in between parents and would change with the course of the dream. At the end they were old and unrecognizable. Germany, I can't explain. We were visiting some sort of musuem or gallery. We walked around and someone told us we had spent 162 days inside. A beautiful woman with green eyes said something to me on the way out. She may have been the one to mention the 162 days, but I'm not sure. She spoke with an accent and seemed intent on getting a lot of words in as we left. We went outside, into a cobblestone street draped with banners for some festival, and that was it. The dream has stayed with me all day, mostly because it makes no sense. I used to have very vivid dreams; there is one from when I was 15 that I remember to this day. Not so much anymore. In some ways you feel like you miss something; and in others, you don't. Some were nightmares that followed you around in the day.

Anyways. Gathering lots of bits for the next novel. Soon she will start to coalesce and take form. Maybe this weekend and I can get to the first chapter.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Alchemy of Stone

Good friend Kat's novel The Alchemy of Stone is due soon, so you should go pick up a copy here at Amazon, where she also has a blog. The book is fantastic; it's strange, disconcerting and features weird robot sex. But don't take it from me. Publisher's Weekly gave it a starred review. Scroll down a bit to see it.

Congrats Kat!

Update: Justine Larbalestier has a fun post on her blog about the art of blurbing as it specifically relates to Kat's new book, which Justine really likes.