Archive for May, 2007

Review: Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End of The World

Posted in Uncategorized on May 31, 2007 by joshhest
“Euphoria. My erections had been perfect as the pyramids at Giza…”

And so goes the wonderful novel by acclaimed Japanese neo-novelist, Haruki Murakami, noted for his hyperkinetic, blend of postmodernism, cyberpunk, and hard-boiled detective fiction. A couple of things really stand out about Mr. Murakami that make him an almost indispensable writer in these sordid days where postmodern pens are a dime a dozen, and I hope to highlight these in my review.

First off, the novel gives you nothing. At least not easily. The sparse descriptions and odd plot constructions are designed from the ground up to put the reader where Murakami wants the reader to be. He makes your bed lovingly and then demands you lie down in it. From there it’s up to you whether you like it. Chapter titles are not really chapter titles at all, but random associations of phrases that gain importance and meaning as the novel dashes toward its fantastical close (more on this later).

The novel is set in slightly futuristic Japan, when the ultimate currency is information. Though this isn’t so different from today, cryptographic schemes have increased due to the invention of a new method of data encoding known only by its slang term: shuffling. This method uses the human brain as a sort of blind encoding device that encrypts the data using a key that not even the agent performing the encryption is aware of. Clearly, our narrator is one of these agents. And also clearly, not all is well with this ethically-interesting method of encryption as savvy readers may be quick to grasp.

The remainder of the novel is an excellent exploration of identity through a number of different avenues–don’t want to give anything away–that rarely lowers itself to the realm of the pedantic. Murakami knows himself well enough to know that smart readers will reach for a book of philosophy (or Barthelme!) if they want that sort of treatment.

Though Murakami’s style is oft-described as “hyperkinetic” (noted earlier) I have to take a defensive stance against this label, at least in part due to his treatment of the ending. Though he does possess a huge amount of dry, cynical wit that makes itself known through the excellent localization of the book by translator Alfred Birnbaum, his writing is far too deliberate and insightful to give it the intense, caffeine-jacked label that “hyperkinetic” connotes. As an example, take the meeting between the narrator and the thugs in Chapter 15. What we get is a beautiful and loving homage to hard-boiled detective fiction, with each prototypical thug in place during the scene including the smartass, smooth-talking thug and the burly enforcer thug.

There is just too much deliberateness; too much intentionality to call this style hyperkinetic. He is a careful, methodical writer and this strength shows its hand in the end of the novel.

As the novel pushes hard and fast through to its conclusion the reader is given all the clues and the mystery is revealed. Interestingly, however, unlike an O’ Henry story, the weight of his telling doesn’t diminish when his hand is played. Instead, the author manages to pen an ending that is touching, heartfelt, and plays a quietly beautiful counterpoint to the constant thrum of styles and genres that the novel tries its hand at.

And this ability to make the postmodern more palatable–gin with a twist of lime–is a testament to Murakami’s skill as a writer and as a man who deals with big ideas like identity and consciousness.

I look forward to devouring another treat of his very soon.

————————-
Final Score: 93%

————————-


Advertisements

OMG…witness a Guitar Hero GOD

Posted in guitar hero, video, youtube on May 30, 2007 by drtactix

So yeah…..watch this video….this guy gets 95% on Jordan on Expert, and even shows how hw does it via “PiP”.

All I can say is…WOW

Review: The Prestige

Posted in Movie, Prestige, review on May 29, 2007 by joshhest

Can the ever-so-dazzling Scarlett Johannson work a little bit of magic in this tale of dueling magicians?

In short: no.

Though lauded by many critics and playing host to personal favorite Michael Caine this is in the end a movie with too many twists, too little misdirection. Utterly unacceptable in a movie (ostensibly) about men who have mastered the craft of hiding important things until just the right moment.

And Tesla. Tesla! His inclusion in the movie is just so ridiculous and out of place as to jerk the viewer (at least this one) out of the subtly ominous atmosphere that the early portions of the movie seem to work so hard to preserve. A keenly chosen palette of colors along with a suitably drab, unaffected score help to place the viewer in a place where almost anything can, and does, happen with very little psychological backing to place it in context.

Director Chris Nolan does get a chance to strut his stuff as a master of flashbacks and other storytelling tricks, but to the movie’s detriment. The turns and recovered memories, however complex and interesting they might seem, perturb the film’s natural rhythm and create a plodding pace that doesn’t fit with the thriller that the movie begs to become as it rushes toward what is clearly intended to be the big finish–the great reveal.

In the end, for me, this movie devolves into a very basic and uninteresting premise that goes on far too long for my tastes: a clash between two rival magicians.

But instead of grand men with grand ideas fighting for superiority, we have children bickering over whose toy is best.

The acting was fine, not stellar.

Score: 72/100

Jason’s New PhotoBlog

Posted in Uncategorized on May 26, 2007 by joshhest

is located at http://nejimakitori.blogspot.com/

Spread the word!

I’ll double-blog here if it pertains to videogames…or for any other reason I deem meritorious.

Love,

Jason

BLECK!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 23, 2007 by joshhest

So I’m currently playing Super Paper Mario, and although I’m only to world 4 I agree with everything that Jesse wrote. The dialogue is a riot; everytime Bleck speaks it’s priceless. He talks like he’s narrating his own speech. It’s almost worth playing for the dialogue alone. Good thing the rest of the game is good too… but thanks to OCD I find myself flipping about every 5 seconds…. I’m glad I have a reason to turn on my Wii again though!

I am also playing pokemon diamond! I was expecting some more significant changes to the game since it was its first showing on a vastly more powerful system, but it’s pretty much the exact same game with new creatures… as usual… but that doesn’t really make it any less fun to play. I’m still enjoying the game thoroughly even after having beaten it (gotta catch em all or try to at least, you know the drill). I was just expecting something a little more fresh…

The Most Powerful Person in the World

Posted in artsy, video, youtube on May 22, 2007 by drtactix

I found this off of Kotaku…it’s a really cool artsy video about videogames! Hope you all enjoy!

Jalto Is Lazy

Posted in Jalto, Lazy on May 21, 2007 by joshhest

Jalto is at my house. Jalto is still asleep. Jalto is lazy.