I felt the need to read Haruki Murakami’s Pinball, 1973
since I’ve read pretty much everything else he ahs published in English. It
gives some of the back-story for The Wild Sheep Chase, which I haven’t read in years, but remember
enjoying the series of books with Rat as a main character. I also remember
several references to this novel in Jay Rubin’s study of Murakami’s work in Haruki
Murakami And The Music Of Words. I can see
why Murakami wasn’t so pleased with this early work. Murakami hasn’t had this
or his first novel, Hear The Wind Sing, reprinted in English. I think many authors feel that they usually
don’t find their way until the second or third novel. However, I think they can
be fulfilling for hardcore fans. It seemed like a slight story to me, where
very little takes place.
Here Andrew O'Heir discusses Alex Gibney's new documentary, Casino Jack and the United States of Money, premering at the Sundance Film Festival. Gibney is known for his two excellent previous documentaries, Enron:The Samrtest Guys In The Room and Taxi To The Darkside. It sounds like another fascinating subject, ripe for discussion.
This piece in Slate discusses Salinger's influence to the literary short story with his seminal collection Nine Stories.
Frijoles is a new fast food Mexican place in Azabu Juban, and is seemingly a Chipolte knock-off according to this post. It is very tasty, filling, healthy, and a good value. I wasn't aware of the Chipolte phenomena in America, but since then I saw an ABC News Nightline feature, "You Are What You Eat": Food With Integrity, which was an extra feature on the Food Inc. DVD. Fast food that is transparent: they prepare food in the open with higher quality ingredients, like using free range chickens and grass fed beef. It's good to know that there are people who are able to have a sustainable business model that is better for people's health and the earth. Hopefully more places like these will be created in the future.
At the end of 2008, two of my favorite critics (Andrew O'Heir from Salon and Dana Stevens from Slate) named Arnaud Desplechin’s A Christmas Tale as the best film of the year, and as a result I was very eager to see it. I recently got a copy of the Criterion Collection edition of the film starring the legendary Catherine Deneuve among others. It did not disappoint, however, I might not rate it as highly as those critics. It is the tale of a charming upper middle class family coming together at Christmas. It is not exactly realistic but steeped in realism. I found some of the interaction unrealistic, but entertaining nonetheless. For example, one of the standout performances of Henri (played by Mathieu Amalric) the ne’er-do-well middle son seemed charming rather than malevolent. As did the seemingly cold relationship between Henri and his mother to whom he donates bone marrow for her cancer. It is a beautiful and charming film with plenty of wonderful images throughout. The Criterion Collection edition includes a documentary by Desplechin about the sale of the family home, a documentary about the making of the film, and an essay by critic Phillip Lopate.
J.D. Salinger was one of my favorite authors in high school and early college. I think he was one of the authors that got me interested in literature, which I eventually majored in at the University of Washington.
I think I became aware of Howard Zinn in graduate schhol and vowed if I ever taught history at high school at the very least I would make several chapters of A People's History of the United States, a seminal book, required reading. I vastly respect Zinn's achievements and sense of morality.
I’m planning on doing a research project on Paul Schrader’s
Mishima: A Life In Four Chapters, so I’ve
read another critical study of his work by George Kouvaros called simply Paul
Schrader. I think Schrader on Schrader is the definitive critical study, however, this one had some interesting
insight into Schrader’s themes and his approach to storytelling. It also talks about
a book he writing on the canon of films-the definitive list. Interesting, but probably
only for academics and serious fans.
Food Inc. is a fascinating film about where our food comes
from. The sources range from people like investigative reporter Eric Schlosser
who’s Fast Food Nation exposed the
failings of the fast food industry. There are also extensive interviews with
Michael Pollan author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma that show how corn is increasingly the main source of
food these days. It explores the unsafe food practices that have killed
children in e coli outbreaks, how the poor are victims of the unequal food
quality, atrocious conditions for beef, poultry and pork farms. There are a lot
of issues that are dealt with in the film. However, I like the fact that they
do focus some time on how organic foods are gaining more wide spread acceptance
as they are now included in places like Wall Mart. So there is hope that these
food practices will change if the consumers demand it. Must see viewing for
I recently read one of Ian McEwen’s earlier novels, The
Innocent, and it seems to reflect some of the common trends of McEwan's writing. It is
the story of a British intelligence officer who is involved in a spying project
based on a real life project, which McEwan has meticulously researched to give
proper background details to the story. There’s a sort of looking back that
often happens in McEwan’s work-books like Atonement and On Chesil Beach for example. I was also reminded of those two works
since they include acts that change the course of people’s lives and alter the
reality of people creating longing or a sense what if…? It was a compelling
story with a satisfying conclusion.
This ton katsu shop is the closest restaurant to my apartment (about a block away). It is a little family run place with really fresh ingredients. I had the chicken breaded cutlet set (soup, rice, pickled cabbage, potato salad).