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Month: November 2001

Oh, my. It’s been a while since I posted here. Busy days of late.

Karen and I went to Memphis, Tennessee, for a week to visit with my parents and other folks. We spent a night at Reelfoot Lake, a massive lake created by an earthquake in 1811 that actually made the Mississippi River flow backwards for a brief time–long enough to turn some lowland into Reelfoot Lake. The lake is only five feet deep, and fringed by swampy zones populated with cypress trees and knees. Bald eagles use the lake as a winter nesting site. We ate catfish, quail, barbecue, and most anything else that wasn’t moving fast enough.

The first installment of my movie column for the local alt-paper Tablet is now online here, and my review of the film The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition is also at Tablet here. Tablet has a new and vastly superior website now, happily. I’ve turned in the second installment of my column and it’ll appear in the next issue. My title for the column was “The Four Somethings,” but it’s been renamed to the somewhat more prosaic but at least comprehensible “Film Frenzy.”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Pitch-perfect production design and solid entertainment made this an enjoyable film. I’ve read all the books and quite like them, so I was game to see this on opening night. We caught a late-night screening bereft of screaming kids, then saw it again a few days later at a kid-friendly matinee. I liked the film more the second time. Karen likened it to a book with a color illustration plate in each chapter; the biggest and boldest moment from each sequence was up there on screen, while lots of in-between stuff was left out. Given the limitations on time, I think director Chris Columbus did solid work. The real stars were the art/design team, who brought J.K. Rowling’s world to life magnificently.

Amelie

One of the most perfect films ever made, with a wit, cleverness, and humanity that is so rarely achieved. Amelie is a delicate young woman in Paris who sets out to change the lives of the people around her through subtle stratagems. Beautiful, charming, intricate, and fantastical in all the right places. It simply is, a flawless jewel of delight.

Monsters, Inc.

Pixar scores again. Not as virtuoso as the Toy Story films, but chock full of fun and good humor. The climactic chase sequence takes place in a stunning environment that just yanks the floor out from under you–a magical moment. So superior to the narcissistic Hollywood crap churned out by Dreamworks that it’s almost cruel. I walked out on Shrek after twenty minutes, disgusted and furious with that particular crapfest. Monsters, Inc. is a much-needed tonic, created by people who are doing the best work of their lives for our benefit.

This week I did a lot of good work on the second edition of Unknown Armies, the roleplaying game I created with Greg Stolze. It’s a heavy duty revamp. The new rulebook is completely reorganized and largely rewritten, and I’m having a blast with it. I’m so determined to make it the book I see in my head that I’m putting about a thousand dollars of my own money into it just to increase the art budget sufficiently to get it the way I want. UA’s sales are low enough that there’s no compelling reason to do a new edition except for our own satisfaction, so I figured I might as well pony up to make it right. Happily, my writing work for Bungie Studios at Microsoft has resumed just in time to help finance this little indulgence. I’m working on an X-Box videogame for them that is coming out in about a year.

Speaking of such things, this week I signed a deal for another computer game project with a local studio. I’ll be serving as co-designer and lead writer, and will also be bringing Scott Glancy and Dennis Detwiller on board for writing and story work. What project is it? Well, we’re not ready to make the announcement yet, but what computer game project would most likely be written by Detwiller, Glancy, and Tynes? I think it’s going to be Deliciously Great . . .

Anyway, enough tomfoolery. If all goes well, I’ll have fine-art prints of some of my photographs available for purchase in time for Christmas gifts. If it works out, I’ll post info here as usual.

This is going to be the first Christmas I spend away from my parents. Ever. That’s a bit of a shock, but I am thirty years old and I suppose I can wrap my own presents now. As compensation, my friends Mike and Jean-Michele Daisey are coming back from New York City for the holidays, then driving back cross-country with the stuff they’ve had in storage this fall since moving out of their Seattle apartment. Mike has finished his non-fiction book based on his Amazon.com stage show, and is now doing edits for the publisher. They’re both enjoying life in Brooklyn very much, now that the planes have stopped falling from the sky for a while.

Tonight Karen and I had dinner with her fairy godfather. That’s what she calls him, at least. His name is Robert Fulghum, and some years ago he wrote a book called All I Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten. It sold gajillions of copies all over the world and changed his life forever. Fulghum was Karen’s art teacher in high school, and has been her mentor ever since. He’s the one that sent Karen to Crete for a month last spring, commissioning her to stay at his house there and paint pictures to accompany his next book. That project isn’t over yet, though. Karen has finished the Crete portion, but in May she’s off to England and France for two weeks to illustrate the next phase of the work–but this time, I get to go along! So we get to play at being a globetrotting writer/artist couple. All we need are proper tennis clothes and a notorious friend to go motoring around the continent with. Fulghum and his wife Lynn were delightful–I hadn’t met them before. We had a fabulous dinner at a Greek restaurant run by a young guy whom Fulghum has known since the guy was a little kid. It was great fun, and I’m looking forward to our sojourn to the continent in the spring. I should have a digital camera by then . . .

Yes, I’m just full of all kinds of good news these days. It’s very, very nice.

My cousin Jeff became a muslim some years ago. Last summer he traveled to Jordan to visit friends from college and ended up staying there. He got a job as a journalist for an English-language weekly paper in Amman. His articles have been all over the map–a trip to the zoo, a fashion show, a film festival. But with the current turmoil, he’s expanding his mandate a bit. This recent article, about the CIA’s history in Afghanistan, was the third in a series of historical overviews about the situation.

Taoism can be a somewhat obscurist belief system–the nature of the tao leads to endless, almost concentric metaphors. I found a pleasant and accessible little essay on taoism that is worth reading.

FLASH: God regains sense of humor

Nine months ago, I lost my Palm Pilot V–a precious gift a friend gave me, with a retail value of about $500.

Today while hunting for spare change, my friends Daniel & Heather found my Palm V buried in the cushions of their living-room couch.

Two weeks ago, I threw away the recharging station, connection cables, manuals, and box.

I’m happy about this. It means that God is feeling better after recent tragedies and is ready to start pulling pranks again. I suggest you be on the alert for stray banana peels, lost socks, and short-sheeted beds.