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Monday, August 30, 2010

Stealing Glimpses of Nara

The Rule: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Nara.

New York, August 25 – Yoshitomo Nara (奈良 美智) held a five day open studio for the reconstruction of his large-scale installation Home. It was a jointly sponsored event by the Park Avenue Armory and the Asia Society Museum. The reconstruction site was located at the Wade Thompson Drill Hall of the Park Avenue Armory.

The armory was being heavily renovated, and the guests had to have to follow strict rules. The first requirement was a dress code. Everyone had to wear closed toe shoes and sleeved shirts. The construction site also issued hard hats to guests, and they had to be worn. This is clearly a safety guideline. The second rule was no photography. No photography?

Guests with Hard Hats.

When I saw the “no photography” sign at the entrance of the drill hall, I asked one of the staffers about it. He said, “There is no photography inside.” For the sake of clarification, I also asked about the photography policy in the outer foyer area near the front door. He replied that, “It’s okay out here.”

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Satoshi Kon: The Dreamer


New York, August 24 – On August 24, 2010, Japanese Animation Director Satoshi Kon (今 敏) died of pancreatic cancer in Tokyo.

At the age of 46, Kon left behind an amazing body of work including five feature length films and a thirteen episode animated television series. His innovative storytelling and imaginative animation is unparalleled in complexity and creativity.

As evident in his films, Kon’s imagination and creativity operated on a completely different level from other contemporary animation directors. He constantly blurred the lines between memory, dreams, and reality. In his award winning Millennium Actress (千年女優), the narrative interweaves the colorful flashback segments with the movie’s seemingly mundane plot. The result is a multilayered film seamlessly transitioning back-and-forth between memory and the present reality.

Millennium Actress

Most anime fans of my generation were first introduced to Satoshi Kon through the home video release of Perfect Blue (パーフェクトブルー). The animated feature was about the deceptively innocuous topic of Japanese pop idols that evolved into a serious examination of identity. The film was an innovative work that really opened people’s eyes to the unlimited storytelling potential of 2D animation.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Healthy Food & Green Festival: Japanese Street Fair

New York, August 22 – The JapanTown festival organized a street fair to celebrate Japanese cuisine and the culinary arts. This late summer fair was named the Healthy Food & Green Festival, and it was located on Madison Avenue (between 43rd Street and 45th Street). I don’t know about the healthy and green elements of the street food, but there was a lot grilled red meat and seafood.

It’s technically a Japanese matsuri, so there are fun games for kids. But, we’re here for the street food. Lining the streets of Madison Avenue, there were at least twenty blazing grills and several steaming hot plates.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Alfa Garcia Experience

(Right to Left) Jon McElroy, Zach Jones, and Alfa

New York, August 18 – I’ve seen Alfa Garcia perform at several venues in New York City, and they were all solo efforts. However, her performance at the Living Room included a three piece band. Band? This was an interesting turn of events. I’ve never heard the entire band perform live before tonight.

What’s the name of the band? The name on the venue’s bill was “Alfa Garcia”. So, is the band named “Alfa Garcia” too? “The Alfa Garcia Band” sounds too plain. I was just brainstorming names for her band, and I came up with a few suggestions.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

NYAFF 2010: Photographic Evidence

New York, July 8 – During the 2010 New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), I took hundreds digital photographs and several digital videos. I promised the Subway Cinema guys to post them, but my life got really busy. The images just sat on my hard drive for nearly a month until I could find the time to sort them. I compiled best ones for this photo essay post.

Except for the photographs attached to other blog posts, these are some of my favorite photos from NYAFF 2010: [Click Through Image for Higher Resolution]

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tze Chun's Children of Invention DVD Release Party

New York, August 14 – Giant Robot New York held a DVD release party for Tze Chun’s Children of Invention. It attracted a decent crowd of indie film fans and New Yorkers.

The film is his first major full length feature garnering 17 film festival awards and an official selection for the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. It tells the story of a single mother who is drawn into a Ponzi scheme. She is arrested, and her two young children are left to survive on the streets alone.

Regarding his future projects, Chun is set to direct a segment of the film adaptation of Will Eisner’s A Contract with God.

Tze Chun talking about James Jean's prints. Cindy Cheung, lower left.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

SDCC 2010: Last Minute Heroics

Pink Hello Kitty Assault Rifle with folding Stock

San Diego, July 25 – After four days of convention madness, the weariness began to show on the faces of the exhibitors and guests. I could see it in their eyes. They had the thousand yard stare. We braced ourselves for the final day of total geekery. Some poor souls had to buy overpriced coffee from the Starbucks stand. Others just toughed it out without caffeine. Go forth, brave soldiers of love.

Comics and Piracy Panel

Right to Left: Jake T. Forbes, Deb Aoki, and David Steinberger

The Digital Piracy Panel was one of the few panels that I actually attended. They covered most of the major arguments concerning comic books and intellectual property rights. The discussion was very timely due to the recent anti-piracy efforts of many American manga publishers.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

SDCC 2010: Con Survival, Pop Candy Party, and Boris

San Diego, July 24 – I always assumed that con survival guides were weak veiled attempts at comedy. Come on… Do you really need someone to remind you of basic human functions like hygiene, hydration, and eating? It’s basic common sense. Even mindless Sims sprites know when to use the bathroom.

Then, the unthinkable happened. There was geek-on-geek violence in Hall H of the San Diego Comic-con. Stationed at the plushy table of the Giant Robot booth, I watched two squads of local police quickly marching across the convention center.

I’ve read quite a few con survival how to’s, and I don’t recall any lessons on self-defense (the zombie apocalypse ones don’t count). I guess it’s time to add some basic self-defense tips to those guides.

There were many rumors circulating in the exhibitor’s hall. The initial story described a confrontation ending in an attendee stabbing another one with a replica light saber (the geek’s weapon of choice). It’s perhaps the geekiest personal assault in history. When I read the actual news coverage, the victim was stabbed by a pen near his eye. He went to the hospital with minor cuts.