Thursday, March 06, 2008

I Drank Japan's Milkshake

Jetlag is a harsh mistress (though certainly not as harsh as it could have been), so right now my trains of thought are truncated, but I'm due to check back in. So forgive the bullet-pointedness & stunted structure of the conversation, but some communication is preferable to none, am I right?

So how can I account for my February?
~I do not recommend spending over 20 hours in airports or -planes whilst burdened by 20kg of audio cables and microphones on your person in an attempt to avoid excess baggage fees. Then again, I've met racketeers less extortive than the excess baggage fees, so it's worth it in the end.

~I happened upon some groovy new tunes.

~I earned a new affiliation, which is rather exciting - if only because now the donkey work is not mine alone to address. Details to follow as they become available.

~The explicit purpose of my trip to Tokyo was a success. I'm currently knee-deep in post-production, but I love the laboratory phase following the field work.

~Connecting the dots betwixt the three previous items! In an odd moment wherein the world shrank, the drummer realized that one of my recent musical discoveries (and now labelmates) recorded their EP with an old friend of his. This planet's too bloody small.

~I visited a wax museum that has figures of both Mishima Yukio and Manuel Göttsching; I purchased some food products with hysterically unfortunate names; I surveyed the latest layers of graffitti shellacked to the streets of Tokyo; and I grabbed a lot of snapshots along the way.

~The absolute coup-de-grace of the whole trip, however, is that I went to Japan to track one record and came back with two: the EP for which I was hired and went, and then a never-before-heard album's worth of my own material. And I can say with no ego that this album is going to melt people's goddamn faces. Ah ha, but I must remind myself: I already have two items in queue. Better to be burdened by too many ideas than not enough.

As predicted in my last post, the actual coming-and-going of my sojourn was the worst of it. And yet even the endless lines and thuggish security officials were made bearable by one feature of my flights: those little TV screens in the back of the chair from which you can select your own entertainment. Hot diggity dog, I've heard of these dream machines for years but had never actually seen one. I was inclined to believe that you were all a bunch of lying bastards trying lump resentment atop the hot rage sundae of negative emotions I ingest during air travel. Turns out that custom-tailored in-flight entertainment and riding a pegasus are in different realms. Consequently, I was finally able to catch up on all those movies I've been too broke or unmotivated to see:
Superbad: Better than I expected, but still a bundle of nostalgic wish-thinking. I'm perennially flummoxed by why North Americans are emotionally incapable of leaving their high school years behind. (And why was this adolescent romp trying to break the Scarface record for per-minute profanity?)

Juno: Cute, clever, achingly hip, self-aware without coming off as smug, and a fittingly funny embrace of unconventional family values (while still reaffirming that abortion is, like, totally not cool). I couldn't stand it, and I think for the same reason that my Dad reviles Wes Anderson: gee, it'd be pretty cool if life was more like this, but sorry, it ain't, so how in the hell can I relate to this contrivedly quirky study in affectation?

The Kingdom: Alternate title - Mad Foxx: Beyond Thunderdome. The bookend hat-tips to liberal critiques of US foreign policy & energy dependence hardly made up for the interim of racial caricatures and mediocre action. I drank myself to sleep on cheap red wine during this one.

American Gangster: This semi-miraculously failed to engage me on any level. The fact that I was voluntarily nodding off on a plane without being plotzed absolutely flabbergasted me. I ended up drinking myself to sleep for this one, too - with white wine. That's some weak shit.

The Simpsons Movie: Eightteen years later, we get a triple-length episode. *Yawn* Lessee, do they have Ratatouille on this thing... ?

I also scored screenings of this year's Oscar-dominating triple-crown of American gothic cinema: The Assassination of Jesse James, No Country For Old Men, and There Will Be Blood, none of which I can say enough good things about. The genuine surprise was that, of the three, my favourite wasn't the Coen Brothers' film - it was the one by P.T. Anderson, that gaseously self-inflated dauphin whose previous work I found beautifully shot but cloying at best. Maybe I'm just a sucker for scenery-chewing and Penderecki-checking string music. But I'll be damned if that movie didn't just drink it up.

Speaking of drinks, more coffee is desperately needed before my synapses misfire. Greater detail and further discussion to follow shortly.

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