January 12th, 2003


Sarah's Blog, The Impending Singularity, and Shaw Brothers releases

Those of you who haven't checked Sarah's journal of late would do well to click on the handy link provided, she's been blogging some very interesting stuff, on NPR's manga coverage, a new business phenomena called category marketing, and this dumb woman whose dog we found. She's also plugged our friend The Lawgiver's new singularity page, his journal on the coming societal collapse and various stupidites.The link to the Singulairty page is too much for me to type, and I don't know how to do swell little links with the name of the page rather than the http crap, so use Sarah's link on her latest blog or go to the front page of the site -- http://www.fightlikeapes.com/

The Lawgiver has also promised to e-mail me some solid information you Hong Kong action film fans might be interested in. Said Lawgiver now owens over 600 (!) HK flicks on DVD, VCD or the dreaded VHS, and the Apes regularly get together to watch two films from his collection once a week over soft drinks, junk food and hurled insults. This past week we watched two really nifty 70's Shaw Brothers films directed by Chu Yuan based on write Gu Long's novels -- , Killer Clans and Clan of Intrigue. Both have a fable-like quality, epic action and betrayel-type affairs that have more in common with King Hu's films (alos coming out on DVD and VCD at last, Touch of Zen, Come Drink With Me, etc) than the cheaper set-bound action films. Killer Clans was really cool but Clans of Intrigue was the real surprise, a crazy and entertaining mix of fantasy, swordplay and court intrigue. Shaw brothers films are being released on DVD and VCD in Hong Kong, a bunch a week, and the day after their release copies go on sale in New York's Chinatown (and I'm sure elsewhere and obv on-line). If you're interested in this stuff, I'm hoping to have more info from The Lawgiver asap. I'm far from an expert on HK cinema, I know more than the average bear and have seen quite a few films now, but I can't retain the filmography information or keep the films straight. But if you're at all interested in HK films, this is a great time to have a DVD player that sidesteps regent codes. The release of all these vintage Shaw Brothers films is really exciting after years of crappy tapes and lousy prints, the films look crisp and bright and the subtitles are usually really good. HK Eltingville-types apparently have gripes with all the transfers and prints and releases, but these sorts crab at everything and lose sleep at night over pixels and percentages of clarity the average, semi-stable viewer won't ever notice. So, anyway, I hope to relay some HK info on films, places to get them and whatever. The Shaw releases aren't just covering action, but musicals, dramas and comedy films. And supposedly, there are plans to release the Golden Harvest library as well.

Two plugs I keep forgetting to mention

Time was the House of Fun was swamped with fanzines and niche magazines, many of which we purchased at See Hear in NYC, most of which people sent to us. One of my favorites, which I've plugged in Dork, was Roctober. Roctober is the brain/lovechild of Jake Austen, and is one of the few heavy hitters to survive the zine collapse/emigration to the internet. The magazine continues to dish the goods on Jake and company's interests in music and pop culture, with a heavy emphasis on the obscure, the discarded, the forgotten or the misunderstood or mistreated denizens of the music business. The Sammy Davis tribute issue (#29) was a monster highlight which resparked my respect for the Sammula, and the current issue (#31) is a massive compendium of one man bands, including bedroom studio practitioners, studio wizards, human beatboxes, DJ's and classic one man cymbal knee-slapping harmonica and guitar juggling impressarious. More entertaining than you'd think, exhaustive (as are all Roctober articles) and fascinating. Roctober likes old bluesmen, howling madmen like Hasil Adkins, the Rat Pack, punk rock, new wave, Klaus Nomi, Devo, monkey, masked and midget rocknroll, and they run comics in almost every issue (with some issues being comics-centric). The layout and style is old school semi-ratty and I hope it never changes. Check out the Roctober site at http://www.roctober.com for old articles, a cover gallery and info on how to obtain this necessary magazine.

You might be familiar with Giant Robot, the magazine of "asian pop culture and beyond". If not, get thee to http://www.giantrobot.com to check their webstore out and get a grip on the magazine which does the best job ever of covering asian culture and pop culture (and some non-asian stuff as well). The magazine goes beyond the usual manga and anime and covers music, art, design, toys, skateboarding, politics, trends, lifestyles and just plain goofy stuff like reviews of asian health and power drinks. The latest issue (#27) covers the art of Barry McGee, an interview with cartoonist/artist Junko Mizuno, Thai horror poster art, Pakistani truckers, Thailand scrabble players, competiitve eating champ Takeru Kobayashi (Nathan's hot dog eating champ). Also, Drunken Master comic/zine's Kiyoshi Nakazawa critiques a fake I.D. and there's a great rundown of Filipino superstitions like, "If you cut your toenails at night, one of your parents will die soon" (how mnay people would cut their nails every ding dong night if that were true?). Anyway, seek out Giant Robot, it's a slick, beautifully-designed magazine, as with Roctober they're comics-friendly (with nice illos by folks like Jordan Crane and David Choe and comics by Brian Ralph). As with Roctober they also review tons of stuff.

Please, go and enjoy these two wonderfully cool magazines. They are muy keen and HOF-approved.