Showing posts from February, 2024

The Name of the Flower (1994)

by Kuniko Mukoda There is a fairly silly blurb on the cover of this book taken from a Publisher's Weekly review  that Kuniko Mukoda's stories "mix Eastern tradition with Western values." Kuniko Mukoda  Another reviewer has stated that this short story collection will demonstrate how little Westerners understand Japanese society.   I couldn't disagree more. The late Mukoda wrote closely observed stories about domestic dilemmas set in Japan of the 60s and 70s. Although there are naturally references to Japanese traditions and cultural practices, I did not find them a barrier to understanding--and I don't think that's just because I have some familiarity with the country. Mukoda's characters are typically experiencing a crisis in their family life that is illuminated or complicated by memories of past events. These characters, their emotions, and their struggles are very recognizable to Western readers, not because Mukoda wrote about "Western values&

The Japan Journals: 1947-2004 (2004)

by Donald Ritchie, edited by Leza Lowitz Writer Donald Ritchie, an expert on Japanese film  and a keen observer of that interesting country, has distilled nearly sixty years of life as an expatriate into these fascinating journals. Donald Ritchie  Ritchie emerges as a deep thinker and lover of high culture who derives equal satisfaction from indulging his "taste for the mud" (it sounds much more poetic in French), which takes him to sex clubs, prostitutes, and other similarly disreputable places for which he holds a healthy admiration.   "Japanese Diary: 1947-2004" (Japanese) His endless curiosity about matters and people both high and low is a strong point of this book, providing a well-rounded portrait of both a society and a man's life.  I enjoyed seeing Japan through Ritchie's eyes from his first days in the country during the American occupation up through the years of reconstruction, the boom years of the 80s, and the bursting of the bubble. He notes t

The Dark and the Light (The Mighty Thor #348) (1984)

  Random Marvels Project Dipping my net into the ocean of Marvel and seeing what comes up. Pencils and Story: Walter Simonson Inks: Bob Wiacek  Lettering: John Workman Jr. Thor’s pal Roger disrupts Malekith’s plan to open the Casket of Ancient Winters with a well-placed bullet.  Thor avoids a fiery grave. And Balder the Brave finds the will to live by the grace of the Norns. Meanwhile, the hosts of Asgard prepare for battle with the danger that Odin senses. Thor manages to save the lady to whom he is suspiciously strongly devoted… …but he doesn’t succeed in safeguarding the Casket… …which leads to an unfortunate outcome but a terrific cliffhanger. Someone commented on one of my Facebook posts that no one except Kirby did Thor better than Simonson, and that sounds just about right.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes #6) (1905)

by Arthur Conan Doyle Sometimes, an author's fictional creation proves to be so popular  that it cannot be escaped.  Such proved to be the case for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who killed Sherlock Holmes in an earlier story, only to be pressured by fans into reviving him, first in a novel called "The Hound of the Baskervilles," which was set before the death, then finally in this subsequent collection of short stories that brings him back from the dead.   Arthur Conan Doyle If Doyle was thoroughly sick of writing Holmes stories, he disguises it well here.   The overall quality may be a bit below that of previous collections (the revelation of "The Six Napoleons" is particularly easy to anticipate), but I was still immensely entertained by these tales of Victorian-era detection. "The Return of Sherlock Holmes" (Arabic) "The Return of Sherlock Holmes" (Romanian) "The Return of Sherlock Holmes" (Chinese) "The Return of Sherlock Holmes&

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Director: Alan Taylor Writers: Christopher L. Yost and Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, story by Don Payne and Robert Rodat, based on the Marvel comics by Stan Lee and Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Huddleston, Natalie Portman, Christopher Eccleston, Anthony Hopkins, Jaimie Alexander, Zachary Levi Malekith the Dark Elf (Christopher Eccleston) returns  from suspended animation when Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) inadvertently absorbs a powerful substance (actually, an Infinity Stone) called the Aether.   In the chaos following an attack on Asgard, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) enlists the aid of Loki (Tom Huddleston) to keep Malekith away from the Aether and protect the Nine Realms.   This has a reputation for being one of the lesser MCU efforts, but there is still much to enjoy, especially for a shameless Marvel apologist like me.  The Thor/Jane romance still doesn’t work, but Hemsworth and Huddleston have enough charisma and chemistry for two movies.   Even a