June 22, 2007

Something New...

I'm working on something new right now... something I've signed non-disclosure agreements for, so it will remain a secret for the next six weeks or so. At which point it will go public in a big way. I can say that it's very collaborative, exciting and most importantly a lot of fun. So far.

The Project in question came about sort of out of the blue, but because of and in part due to, much of the work I've been doing in relative anonymity over the last, oh I don't know, five years or so.

But I should leave it at that. This is all, quite deliberately, to say check back soon, and all will be revealed...

In the meantime, why don't you go and watch a short film? There's a new one every day, brought to you by the IFC. Yesterday's film, Ha Ha Ha America, was very entertaining. I laughed out loud a couple of times. A great example of a smart, simple concept done on the cheap to great effect.

June 12, 2007

What I'm Reading

Last night as I sat down on the couch under my favourite new lamp with the pile of books I'm currently working my way through, it struck me as kind of an odd group. Normally, I try not to read more than one thing at a time, but lately my interests seem to be expanding and my reading list widens daily. And the books pile up. Here are a few of them.

The mainstay of the pile is The Yiddish Policeman's Union, the
latest novel from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon. It's a fun, hard-boiled detective story which takes place in an alternate history where the State of Israel collapsed following WWII and European Jews fled to Sitka, an outpost settlement in Alaska. I've been following Chabon since Wonder Boys, reading back to his earliest work, Werewolves in Their Youth, and forth, and was eagerly anticipating his first full novel since The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, (which won the Pulitzer in 2001). The thing I like best about Chabon is that he seems to believe that reading should be fun. In between novels Chabon's been writing short stories, comic books, children's fiction, editing for McSweeny's and a whole bunch of other cool stuff, most of which seems to have a decidedly pulp-fiction (not the movie) bent. All good stuff.

Next up is The Losers, Ante Up the first in a series of graphic novels (long comic books, but usually with more R-rated themes and content). It's about a crack team of black-operatives who take on the CIA after being betrayed and targeted for elimination by their superiors after witnessing something they shouldn't have. The Losers is everything I always wished and hoped comic books would/could become. The art is great, very cinematic (it is, of course, being developed as a feature film in Hollywood, slated for release in 2009). The writing is spare and terse and visceral. Without being, dare I say it, as cheesy as the comics from the golden age, which, lets face it, haven't aged very well. A number of modern comics seem to be going in this direction, like my beloved Amazing Spiderman.

And finally, the biggest book on the bottom of the pile (separated from the others by various comic books) is Garden in the Wilderness, Mennonite Communities in the Paraguayan Chaco, 1927-1997. This is an engaging historical account of the exodus of the Mennonites, my people, from Europe against the backdrop of the two most devastating wars in history, detailing their journeys and travails as they try to find a place where they can live out their lives, and more importantly their faith, unmolested by governments. And even though the book focuses on the Paraguayan Mennonites and how they transformed an inhospitable wilderness into a prosperous region, it ties all of the migrations of this stubborn, determined but humble and pragmatic people together nicely, including my own ancestors who came to Canada in the late part of the nineteenth century. Fascinating stuff.