Ramblings from the Desert

The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. ~Benjamin Franklin

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Location: New Mexico

Author of the urban fantasy novel, The Music of Chaos, and the paranormal romance, The Canvas Thief.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Gasa-Gasa Girl & Underworld: Blood Enemy

Gasa-Gasa Girl by Naomi Hirahara
Grumpy old man sleuths are not my thing. Despite that, I found Mas Arai, the seventy-year-old protagonist in Gasa-Gasa Girl, to be rather charming.

The title is a reference to Mas's daughter Mari, who as a child was always in motion, gasa-gasa. Always a little bewildered by his only child, in the ensuing decades Mas has become estranged from Mari. Naturally, he is surprised when she calls him, asking him to leave California and come help her in New York. Arriving in New York, he finds that Mari and her husband Lloyd are struggling financially, their last hope pinned on a big job restoring a garden for Japanese tycoon Kazzy Ouchi. Recently, vandals have besieged the garden and Mari hopes Mas, also a gardener, can help put the garden in order. Things get complicated when Kazzy Ouchi is found dead, buried under a pile of trash in an empty pond. Lloyd and Mari are soon the police's primary suspects. Mas and best buddy Tug Yamada go into sleuth mode, unearthing family secrets of the sort people kill for.

Mas with his accented English, and subtle Japanese lessons, is charmingly grumpy. Though a man of a few words, Mas is possessed of a wry and very dry sense of humour. Unable to bridge the generational gap between himself and his daughter through words, he handles things the only way he can--through action.

Recommended for fans of "cozy" mysteries or anyone with an interest in Japanese culture.

Underworld: Blood Enemy by Greg Cox
I liked Underworld the movie. Not great cinema, but entertaining. Seeing Blood Enemy on the "new arrivals" shelf at the library, I picked it up, hoping for more of the same.

Unfortunately, it was typical of many media tie-in novels--uninspired. Described as the prequel to the movie, Blood Enemy is more of a long prologue, constructed of some tantalizing elements but not a complete story. Although a skimpy Selena story arc is tacked onto the beginning and end, the primary story arc concerns Lucian (the werewolf) and Sonja's (vampire) doomed romance. Which, in itself has potential. Except Lucian's great love is little more than a case of "she's so purty." And the prose is correspondingly purple. At one point Sonja is described as "incandescent." Can I get an "Ugh"?

The prose elsewhere is uneven, ranging from serviceable to downright did-an-editor-even-look-at-this? bad.

I was driven by some sort of perverse hope--maybe it'll get interesting--to finish reading it, so it gets a review. But, not recommended, at least not if reading it requires the sacrifice of hard earned earnings.

The movie. Rented last night. The war between heaven and hell is very wet and involves much broken glass.

My previous exposure to Constantine is through a graphic novel collection Constantine: The Hellblazer Collection, so I'm neither an avid fan nor a neophyte. The movie adaptation isn't entirely without merit. In places it's fun. If casting hadn't decided they needed a "big name" and had gone with someone who could act and better embodied the original graphic novel version of John Constantine, it might have been a damn good movie. But...Keanu Reeves mumbles and grumbles his way around the lines and is frankly unintelligible. Actually, many of the film's characters are stricken with the inability to enunciate. Which left the J-man and I nudging each other: "What'd he say? What's going on?"

[Shrugs.] Tolerable way to spend Saturday night, if you've nothing else to do.

Spike Visits Superman...
James Marsters is going to do the guest star thing on "Smallville." Hmmm. Perhaps I should start watching Smallville again?

Pat Kirby


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