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July 23, 2008:


Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, tomorrow I leave early in the morning for the city that never sleeps, New York, New York. I am a very nervous flyer so all excellent vibes and xylophones will be most appreciated. But, for now it’s today, so let’s all move right along and talk about yesterday. For how can we talk about today when today hasn’t actually occurred yet, whereas yesterday HAS occurred and is therefore discussable? Isn’t that question mark interesting – Word told me it belonged there, and it probably does, but the sentence in question began as a question and ended as a statement, so it looks weird to me. In any case, it’s today, but we cannot talk about today because today is happening whereas yesterday has happened. These are metaphysical things I speak of, in case you didn’t realize it. Speaking of metaphysical things (and who wasn’t?), yesterday was an okay day, all things considered. I got up early, did an early errand, then did a two-mile jog. I then worked on the new song I’ve been writing to replace an old song I wrote, and then I left to join Mr. David Wechter at The Kansas City Barbecue. Unfortunately it was closed due to a smoker malfunction. We ended up at Patty’s Coffee Shop, where I had a BLTA and cole slaw. We had a really nice chat about various and sundried things. I then picked up a small package at my mail place, then came home to a lot of e-mails, one of them most annoying and which I shall not deal with until my return from New York. I answered each and every e-mail, made some telephonic calls, and did work on the computer. By the time I finished all that it was six, so I drove on over to La La’s and had my little light dinner salad, after which I came home and sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I watched Akira Kurosawa’s film, High and Low on a new Criterion DVD. Since beginning this here site back in November of 2001, I’ve probably written about this film more than any other, because I’ve bought and watched every DVD incarnation as well as attended a wonderful screening last year at the Aero Theater. So, I won’t talk about the film, other than to say that it’s on my ten best of all time list, and I never tire of it, and I find it one of the most beautifully directed films ever, with great performances, great photography, a great score by Masaru Satoh, and one of the best sound mixes ever done – it puts all the modern, overproduced, noisy mixes of today to shame. Instead, I shall talk about the different DVD incarnations. High and Low (Tengoku To Jigoku – which, in fact, doesn’t mean High and Low – it means Heaven and Hell) first came out on DVD from Criterion way back in the very early days. While it was better than their laserdisc counterpart, it still wasn’t quite in the correct ratio and it was non-anamorphic. Some years later, I was given as a gift the Japanese DVD of the film, which unfortunately didn’t have English subtitles. But, the image quality was much better than that first Criterion and the film was letterboxed at 2:55:1 instead of 2:35:1 and had a bit more picture information on the sides, which made the compositions look wonderful. Then came the BFI DVD from the UK. To my eyes, that seemed to use the same transfer as the Japanese DVD, but with English subtitles. It was a decent image, but the soundtrack was in mono (as was the first Criterion DVD) instead of the four-track Perspecta soundtrack. Next came a DVD from Australia – this one looked like the same transfer, a bit sharper and it included the Perspecta stereo track. The latter two DVDs were, of course, letterboxed at 2:55:1. Which brings us to the new Criterion DVD. The good news is that it’s the sharpest of all the DVDs, but still not perfect in that regard. I don’t know what the problem is, really, but when I saw the film at the Aero, the 35mm scope print was superb, with great contrast. It also has the Perspecta stereo track, and it sounds cleaner and more full than the Australian DVD. The little color insert scene looks the best I’ve ever seen it. But I’m sad to say that the film’s ratio is compromised on the new DVD. It’s around 2:35:1 and for most of the film it’s not a real problem, but in the film’s first twenty minute scene the compositions are way too tight on the sides, with shoes and characters being sliced in half instead of not only seeing all of the shoes and people but even having breathing room on each side of them. I haven’t looked at it on the computer to see if any of that is overscan, but I’m doubting it because they windowbox the credits – if they hadn’t several of them would have been cut off on the sides in their ratio. I was really hoping for perfection because this film deserves it, but it’s still a very good if imperfect transfer of a brilliantly brilliant film. The one thing I can say for sure is that if you have the old Criterion, dump it immediately and get the new one. I haven’t gotten to the extras yet, but will.

What am I, Ebert and Roeper all of a sudden? Why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below because it is already after midnight and soon I’ll be able to talk about today rather than yesterday or tomorrow.

Today, which I can now talk about since it is happening as I write this, I have much to do, most of which has to do with getting ready for the trip. I have to get some cash from the bank, I have to pick up dry cleaning, I have to do some laundry, and then I have to pack and get to bed nice and early, as I’m being picked up at five-fifteen in the morning. I also must eat something amusing, jog, and take care of some errands and whatnot.

Tomorrow, of course, I will be flying to New York, New York and hopefully I’ll be arriving on time, somewhere around three-thirty I should think. I’ll then take a cab to my hotel, unpack, and then head to a two-hour rehearsal somewhere in the city. After rehearsal, I may go over to Joe Allen for a bite to eat. On Friday, we have a ten to six rehearsal at Nola Studios. I’ll have to pack and bring my bag and computer to rehearsal. Directly after rehearsal, I’ll head over to Miss Christa Moore’s apartment and pick up the keys and figure out how all that will work, and then I’ll head on over to FJL and Skip’s home environment for a hainsies/kimlets get-together.

Then Saturday we head out to Great Neck, do a band rehearsal, and then do the show. Afterwards, when we’re back in the city, Mr. Kevin Spirtas will be taking me to dinner. I’ll spend time with Christa Sunday morning to discuss a show she wants me to help put together, and then I’ll head to the airport around ten forty-five. Whew!

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, jog, pick up some travel-sized toiletries, get some cash for cars and cabs, pick up dry cleaning, do some laundry and pack for the trip. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Ask BK Day, the day in which you get to ask me or any dear reader any old question you like and we get to give any old answer we like. So, let’s have loads of lovely questions and loads of lovely answers and loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst we savor today, and have high hopes for tomorrow.

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