This twisty crime thriller from the director of Ring and Ring 2, Hideo Nakana, is a quiet and subtle treat. It’s a kidnapping story that goes through a series of interesting contortions in sort of a halfway-Memento style. A scene unfolds with a surprise, then we go back to see how this got set up, then we return to the next scene in the present with another surprise, and then we go back to see how that happened, and so on. It’s interesting to see just how convoluted the relationship of four people can be. As with Ring, Nakana uses a straightforward style with few flourishes or fancy editing tricks. The pacing is deliberate and builds intrigue, with a steady stream of surprises. And the few creepy moments are handled as beautifully as you’d expect from Nakana. Good stuff. Available on an imported Japanese DVD with subtitles.

I got some good work done on the second edition of Unknown Armies today. I’ve been wrestling with the same damn chapter for several weeks now, since well before the holidays, and today I finally got it nailed down in a form I’m happy with.

It’s frustrating that Greg and I have so little time to get this project completed. We started early, almost a year ago, with a solid design document outlining the changes we wanted to make. Work didn’t begin in earnest until the fall, and then in November we made some radical changes that suddenly increased the workload massively. We’re putting a huge amount of work into the project, but I’m determined to make it the best book we can. At this point we have the core rules chapters in very good shape, and they’re superb. But there’s tons more work to do. Much of it is work we should have done in the first edition, but we just didn’t have sufficient vision to see it all in the way it should be done. And of course we’ve learned a lot about the game in the three years it’s been out. Now there’s nothing for it but to do it.

Fortunately my workload isn’t too bad right now. UA2 and the DG computer game are my two main projects these days, as my work on the Bungie/Microsoft computer game comes sporadically. Though soon I’ll be laying out the next Delta Green fiction book, a novel by Dennis set in WWII that’s quite cool.

As soon as UA2 is off to press next month, I’m getting back to my personal writing. It suffered greatly in 2001, unfortunately, the victim of other demands. I believe my writing project for the spring is going to be My Inner Elvis, a non-fiction book I started work on in 1999. I was hoping to tackle a short film project, but it looks like I’ll be taking two trips to the U.K. with detours to the continent this summer and I need to save money fast. One is a personal trip with my girlfriend in late April/early May for about three or four weeks, and the other is a convention. It seems I’m to be a guest of tarnished honor at Convulsion 2002, which is in Leicester in July. My old friend Steve Hatherley wrangled me an invite, probably through the rigorous use of concrete shoes left over from his work as a civil engineer. Anyway, that means I have every reason to take on a project that won’t actually cost me a lot of money, and that means it’s time to do some writing. Good thing, of course. I keep finding projects to tackle that don’t involve personal writing, or even writing at all.