The Blog of Chloë and Pete  

Two characters (that would be Chloë and Pete) looking for love, safety, and Krispy Kremes. A book looking for readers and a publisher. An author (Jessica) looking for an agent, a life, and a region-free DVD player.

email: jessica_lynn -at- watchmail.com

About Me 23.07.02

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The WeatherPixie


 

YES!



  posted by Jessica @ 11:01 |


26.6.03  

 

While writing a memo for work I came across "The Lessons of ValuJet 592," a really thoughtful and interesting article by William Langeswieche; it mentions The Challenger Launch Decision, which is still under my bed, waiting to be finished.

For what it's worth, the article didn't sour me on flying AirTran. Or flying generally. I can see how it might -- Langeswieche discusses the level of "acceptable risk" that emerges in increasingly complex organizations, and how there's only so much built-in safety procedures can do. But I just bought AirTran tickets last night. The cheap-and-cheerful model that Langeswieche decries at ValuJet has meant a lot to me over the last five years -- I wouldn't have been able to see friends in DC and Boston in April if not for AirTran. The relationship that just ended wouldn't have had a prayer of lasting as long as it did without AirTran. RyanAir, cheap in every sense of the word, allowed me to see Scotland for the first time in October 2001.

(That said, having read several interviews with RyanAir's founder over the last few weeks, I'd be wary of flying them again. That airline's motto is definitely "Safety first" or even "Customers first", and, well . . . it's part superstition on my part, I suppose. Still, the cheap-aggressive-cheap atmosphere Langeswieche describes at ValuJet reminds me of RyanAir.)

For balance, here's a memorial website to the victims of Flight 592. The site's writers, unlike Langeswieche, don't accept the NTSB's verdict that improperly stored oxygen canisters caused the fire that downed the plane.



  posted by Jessica @ 12:41 |


25.6.03  

 

Note to Michelle: The store where I play board games every Sunday night makes a profit by doubling as a comics and games store -- left side for comics, right side for games. The comics draw people in but I think the owner makes more money off the games (I don't know what the markup is for imported German board games, but it's not uncommon to pay $40 for a decent game). His manga section is decent, though a little wacky. The first volume of the Battle Royale manga has been calling my name for about a month now and I keep telling it I have no money.

It is also, probably not coincidentally, the cleanest, best-lit, nicest comics and games store I've ever been in.

Speaking of manga, why, in the name of all holy, are Junko Mizuno's works printed on such crappy paper? Every time I want to buy Cinderalla or Hansel and Gretel or both, I pick up the book and flip through it and note that sort of grainy, dark paper that six-year-olds' pencils tear through as they're practicing penmanship. So I'm holding out in hopes that the two stories will be published together in a book that won't threaten to disintegrate in my hands every time I pick it up.

I usually don't buy comic books or manga, though I own the first book of the Preacher series (intended as a gift for the now-ex, who's from Dallas, but he'd already read the series), and a couple scattered manga books here and there, some translated, some not. (No, I can't read Japanese.) Oh, and I own From Hell. Every time I pick up From Hell, two things happen: (1) I don't put it down for two hours; and (2) I spend half the time going, "But the Stephen Knight royal conspiracy theory was put to rest a long time ago! And Abberline didn't have any crushes on East End prostitutes! And . . . and . . . " which is not the way to approach the book. I can say I'm a member of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, though I'm behind on my membership dues.

When Free Comic Book Day came around in May I picked up a bunch, including one on how to get people who don't currently read comics to read comics, which I gave to Hannah Beth. And I'm going to have to get her something else, because that comic, in all frankness, was terrible, as an introduction to the genre. The author/artist, a woman -- I didn't keep a copy for myself, and I forget who she was -- was bound and determined to explain, in roughly 6,000 word balloons per page, Why Women Should Not Be Afraid of Comics, and to prove the point used a bunch of clichéd illustrations (her example of how comics could deal with "serious issues" was a small two-pager of a girl getting beat up by her boyfriend, complete with cries of "No! Don't!"). The only bit worthwhile was a list in the back: "If you like ____, you'll like ___ comic book series." I'm half-afraid I've turned Hannah off of comics forever.

I'm not sure what to get her to make up for that fiasco. The comics that got me interested in the genre -- the "Tickle Me Hellmo" sequence that led me to blithering idiocy last year, various French bandes dessinés and Art Spiegelman's work, especially Maus and The Wild Party -- might not be the best place to start. I love Maison Ikkoku but it's best consumed in small doses, otherwise the repetition of the plot will get to you. I'm not a big Daniel Clowes fan, and I have learned from experience that trying to start a non-comic-book reader with Chris Ware, as much of a genius as Chris Ware is, doesn't work very well. Love and Rockets, maybe? Jessica Abel? Some of the non-From Hell Alan Moore stuff? Any suggestions would be welcome.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:21 |



 

The two CDs alternating in Gus's stereo right now (Gus being my beloved car) are Silly Wizard's Live Wizardry -- generally not a good idea, as it has been proven impossible for me to listen to "Donald McGillavry" without speeding -- and Rhett Miller's The Instigator, which sometimes makes me grin and sing along and sometimes makes me cry: Can I kiss your furrowed brow / and calm your nervous heart?

Without my now-ex I never would have heard of Rhett Miller. After his brother's wedding two years ago he gave me a CD with a bunch of songs: Old 97's and Jerry Jeff Walker and Austin Lounge Lizards (authors of some of the best song titles ever: "Teenage Immigrant Welfare Mothers on Drugs" and "Jesus Loves Me, But He Can't Stand You") and I think there was a little Buck Owens thrown in for good measure. So I can listen to Rhett Miller's voice now, but I'm strenuously skipping past "Oppenheimer" on my mp3 player -- and any David Grey right now is just a bad idea.

These things happen, you know? I'm doing okay. Just preoccupied, and choosing my music carefully.



  posted by Jessica @ 17:15 |


24.6.03  

 

Maynard Jackson is dead? Well, I shouldn't use a question mark; the man apparently died in Washington over the weekend. But it seems almost unbelievable. The man was Atlanta politics for nearly four decades. He was the city's first black mayor; he more than anyone shaped the black political elite (including Sister Shirley, the current mayor) that has dominated city politics since his election in 1973. For both good and bad, really -- Jackson and Andy Young laid the groundwork for the metro area's explosive growth in the 1990s (Jackson was mayor when we won the Olympics, for example) but he also helped create the cronyism that dominated Bill Campbell's administration and left the airport, and all the airport contracts, a sticky mess, as you can guess well enough from the Journal-Constitution's obit:

    Of historic import, Jackson instituted a controversial affirmative action program that elevated the percentage of city contracts awarded to minorities in Atlanta from less than 1 percent in 1973 to 38.6 percent five years later. He applied his program of "joint venture," which brought together white and minority-owned firms, most promiently at the Atlanta airport.

    Years later, Jackson would crow, "We built the Atlanta airport, biggest terminal building complex in the world, ahead of schedule and within budget -- and simultaneously rewrote the books on affirmative action." He also would boast that, under his watch, joint venture produced about 25 new black millionaires, most as a result of the airport.

Don't get me wrong: as airports go, Hartsfield is pretty nice. And Jackson recognized that it would have to be if Atlanta was going to be the "world-class city" that could host an Olympics and so on. That said, the airport commissioner got convicted during his third term.

Jackson's main accomplishment, and the AJC's obit doesn't really do it justice, was his pragmatism. He could have taken Atlanta down the same path Coleman Young took Detroit, but he did help cement Atlanta's image as a business-friendly place. In truth he probably did more for Atlanta the metro area than Atlanta the city, which looks better than it did in the 1970s, but is still extremely poor in places and generally dysfunctional. It's striking that the AJC doesn't mention the low point in Jackson's tenure as mayor, the Missing and Murdered Children of 1979-1981. Whether or not Wayne Williams was actually responsible for the 30-some-odd deaths -- and there are still people who believe he wasn't; see, for example, the arguments presented in the novel These Bones Are Not My Child -- a lot of people at the time were unconvinced that Jackson could actually take care of Atlanta the city.

It's a strange town, Atlanta. It's a troubled, careless, forgetful, fast-changing, eternally hopeful, money-obsessed town. It's the most capitalist town I know, which is part of the reason why I find it so interesting. White, black, Asian, Latino -- almost everyone here is united in the pursuit of the dollar. Jackson knew that and ran with it, and in doing so helped make Atlanta as successful and as schizophrenic as it is now. Save William Hartsfield, he may have been the most important mayor Atlanta has ever had. He may be gone but the city is going to bear his mark for a long, long time.



  posted by Jessica @ 11:30 |


23.6.03  

 

Last night:

Incredibly Suave Voice: Is this Jessica, Author of Much?
Me: It is.
ISV: This is Pejman.
Me: (swoons)

Well, it didn't go exactly like that -- there was some Alterman-bashing included. But, yeah. Y'all envy me. I know you do.

In other good news, Miss Hannah Beth has not only dug out her digital camera (go on over to her site and see what I mean) but has promised me time to veg out and eat cookie dough at her place while I recover from the Personal Issues I mentioned last time. Or maybe I'll just hop a flight to Los Angeles. At any moment now AirTran and JetBlue will start bidding for me. Maybe they'll merge seamlessly into one big airline, AirBlue, known for leather seats, really good snack mix (at least, AirTran used to be known for really good snack mix), domination of Concourse C, and service to Moline-Quad Cities whenever you want it.

I tried to calculate the number of airlines I've flown on the other day, while cursing Lester B. Pearson International Airport and the gods that have not yet seen fit to strike it down with a bolt of lightning. (An international traveler's idea of hell is a constant round trip between Pearson and Charles de Gaulle, landing at a different terminal each time.) It's up to: Eastern (way back when), Delta, Continental, Air Canada, Virgin Atlantic, US Air (which I used to use between Atlanta and Philadelphia for school, until they infuriated me), AirTran (of course), Air France, United, American, and . . . hmmm. Maybe Northwest, once? Never Pan Am, I don't think, though they used to have a large Atlanta presence. That makes me sad. I'm not even sure I ever flew TWA, for that matter. No British Airways, no Southwest, no JetBlue as of yet.

I'm babbling. I have a cold, and Personal Issues, which are, it should be added, largely my own fault. Y'all can deal.

If ever there's a Ten Good Things About Capitalism list, one item ought to be "The possibility of flying to Moline-Quad Cities in a leather seat." Granted, it's not necessarily a given that AirBlue would make money on said flight, or that cows should be slaughtered for the comfort of visitors to Moline-Quad Cities, or that AirBlue might have to pay certain people on the Moline-Quad Cities City Council to overturn that pesky 1935 anti-leather-seat law -- but the fact that the possibility exists, that someday people can settle into a nice comfy leather chair and say, "Ah, Moline-Quad Cities, I've missed you" -- that deserves some cheers, I think.

Now I feel obligated to link to the Quad Cities' Chamber of Commerce. I've never been. Been to London, been to Paris, to Montréal and Madrid and Venice and Milan, not to Quad Cities. Which in a weird way seems very provincial.



  posted by Jessica @ 13:33 |


19.6.03  

 

I was under the impression that Stanley Kwan directed He's a Woman, She's a Man and Peter Chan directed the similarly-titled Who's the Woman, Who's the Man. Ian Hamet says otherwise, and the Hong Kong Movie Database is down. So I'll defer to Ian; go over there and let him tell you why you absolutely must see Comrades: Almost a Love Story.

I've got the day off today, after traveling for work for the last two weeks. That's part of the reason posting has been light. That, and Personal Issues I Don't Really Want to Discuss on the Blog, thank you. Suffice to say that, unlike a certain person who never friggin' posts anymore, I'm not getting married anytime soon.

In the meantime, check out this excellent piece by Timothy Garton Ash on "the banality of the good" in Europe. It's all about trans-continental sex, unabashed consumerism, and hope, with a special cameo appearance by your favorite Eurogreen ex-hothead and mine, Joschka Fischer! It'll probably go behind a pay barrier soon, so go quickly.



  posted by Jessica @ 14:58 |


18.6.03  

 

Men kissing each other on stage. Drag queens. Children. It's a perfect world. As it should be. -- Michelle Pawk, accepting an award at the 2003 Tonys.

For the record, my favorite Tony acceptance speech is still Stephen Spinella thanking "the husband of my heart" after he won an acting award for Angels in America: Millennium Approaches.

Joe Mantello, who was also in Angels in America and whom I have loved ever since just for being in Angels in America, won the Best Director of a Play award for Take Me Out this year. And let me say, the man looks good. He does not look ten years older than when I saw him on stage. (We had seats very close to the front -- I think this was for Perestroika -- and I remember writing enthusiastically in my diary that night that Joe Mantello looked right at me and smiled! With multiple exclamation points, probably.) Are he and Jon Robin Baitz still together, and happy? I hope so.



  posted by Jessica @ 07:02 |


10.6.03  

 

Dear co-worker, who has actually known about this blog for a while,

There is more to the blogosphere than the Kaus-Sullivan-Instapundit axis, I promise. You'd probably like the Sexy Scourgers, Caracas Chronicles, and Sofia Sideshow. And I'm doing those links from memory, so they're probably wrong; check the column on the left, if they are.

Name recognition is more difficult now than it was a year or so ago; industrious bloggers like Megan and Brooke got in at the right time. Now everybody and his ex-girlfriend has a blog. Still, a well-crafted personal site will turn the right heads. It seems to me there are two ways to get noticed: the post-lots-of-new-stuff all-day-every-day-route (Instapundit is the champion of this, and Vodkapundit used to be on his heels), or write longer, thorough, knowledgable posts, which is the route Eugene Volokh and Steven Den Beste have taken, to give two prominent examples. Since you're not a big fan of praying to the porcelain keyboard, as it were, you'd probably want to go the latter route, which is probably the wiser one. I also think that the more personal a blog is, the less staying power it has, which has been something of a problem for me. I don't have a good niche -- I could be "the Asian film blog," only I don't write exclusively about Asian films. Or being bisexual. Or the joys of the World Cup. Or the &$&%*! novel. Et cetera.

Anyway. I suspect if you get started, you'll have a fan base in no time. The really fun part is getting a person or two who cheers you on even when you're utterly convinced everything you do is crrrrrrrap.

Give the tyke a kiss for me,
Jessica



  posted by Jessica @ 12:53 |


6.6.03  

 

I have seen, actually, a lot of movies in the last month or so, both in theaters and on VHS/DVD, and looking back I'm surprised by how many of them I didn't like. I used to be extremely reluctant to go to movies; my parents once had to bribe me to get me into a matinee screening of Patriot Games. So because I only attended movies I was almost certain I would like, my success rate was much higher.

But I had a few disappointments in the last month or so: The Matrix Reloaded, Over the Rainbow, The Quiet Family, Resurrection of the Little Match Girl, The Killer, and the jury's still out on Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, Hard Boiled, and Just One Look (it wasn't bad, and Anthony Wong in particular was excellent, but I fell asleep for twenty minutes in the middle and did not miss a thing). On the other hand, the list of movies I've enjoyed is pretty long: So Close, Nights of Cabiria, Ping Pong, My Left Eye Sees Ghosts, The Chinese Feast, Space Travelers, and Secretary.

I can stand disappointments more easily now, I think, so I can risk seeing more movies. It used to be I got very upset at the possibility of spending two hours trapped with a bad movie; even now, as I take my seat, I feel a little tremor that I don't know what I'm in for. But even a movie as bad as Matrix Reloaded -- and it was pretty damn bad, people -- or as excruciatingly obtuse as Pistol Opera (though I want to see it again, my initial response was, "Grinding dull pencils into my eye sockets for two hours would have been more pleasurable") can have its rewards. If nothing else, you get to join in the conversation about the movie afterwards.

The strangest, as it were, movie-viewing experience I've had lately was Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. I'm not kidding when I say I'd been looking forward to this movie for a year and a half. (Song Kang-ho + Shin Ha-kyun + Bae Doo-na = guarantee of a well-acted movie.) Unfortunately I got spoiled for a major plot development long before I actually got to see the film, and knew, to some degree, what I was in for, which I didn't with Joint Security Area (same director -- Park Chan-wook -- as well as same actors in Song and Shin). I'm certain that I would not have enjoyed JSA as much had I known the big twist in advance; I'm not certain I would have enjoyed, or maybe appreciated, Sympathy more had I not been spoiled.

It's a film that is deliberately designed to leave you drained and shattered, and it was odd to watch it and not feel shattered -- or, rather, to shut down, literally look away from the screen, to resist the pressure to feel shattered. (I kept hoping the actors were going home at the end of shooting days to happy families.) Afterwards I wondered: did I watch the film badly, or did it fail in its goals as a drama? L called it "the ultimate sucks-to-be-you film." She and a couple others I've talked to have recategorized it as a black comedy. I'm more reluctant, since Sympathy didn't treat its characters with the same detachment that black comedies (such as The Quiet Family or Humanist, which I liked a lot) often do.

I wonder if I'm starting to bring too much knowledge to a movie. It really shouldn't matter to Secretary that James Spader was also in Pretty in Pink, should it? I keep thinking about the actors, the directors, the offscreen context, and I ought to just stick to the movie.

That said, a good movie will keep even the most filmography-addled brain quiet.



  posted by Jessica @ 08:51 |



 

The scariest headline I've seen on a website this year: "Curzon Soho Closure."

Fortunately, the Best Movie Theater Evah is just undergoing renovations and will re-open in the fall. And its Mayfair cousin is currently screening Chihwaseon (with the charming English title "Drunk on Women and Poetry") and Russian Ark.

I once saw Saffron Burrows posing for pictures outside the Curzon Mayfair, having just introduced a film there. You know how some actors, in real life, are not quite as impressively tall and attractive as they appear onscreen? Saffron Burrows is every bit as impressively tall and attractive as she appears onscreen, and very polite to photographers to boot. (I didn't try to approach her. What was I going to say, that I admired the way she fought off killer sharks?)

Speaking of things that live up to the advance notice, Space Travelers is every bit as good a movie as Ian Hamet told you it was, and then some. And Ando Masanobu is every bit as cute as I told you he was, and then some.

My current fantasy is to get to come back to London in October and see Battle Royale II at the Curzon Soho, where I saw Battle Royale. BRII is apparently being hyped to hell and back in Japan -- Tokyo now boasts a special store just for movie tie-ins -- but from the rumors and Chinese whispers (or, we should say, Sinophilic whispers) I've been hearing, it's best to go in with lower expectations, or at least an open mind: Fukasaku Kenta is simply not going to be his father's directing twin. I'll just be happy if Shugo Oshinari gets more than ten minutes of screen time.



  posted by Jessica @ 06:57 |


5.6.03  

 

My Secret Agent Lawyer Man is 31 today. I am trying -- and so far, failing -- to give him the present of a link to a decent picture of co-birthday-celebrator, quintuple-language-speaker, and multiple-genre-star (King of Comedy, Black Mask, So Close, you get the picture) Karen Mok. Oh, heck, Pej, just get your hands on a copy of Viva Erotica; it's got to be on sale somewhere in LA.

Here's an interview with her, at any rate.



  posted by Jessica @ 09:27 |


2.6.03  
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