Let’s face it—we’d all destroy Vancouver if we could.
If we were a couple hundred feet tall and could neatly snap the Top of Vancouver revolving restaurant off the Harbour Centre and toss it so it landed point down on BC Place, puncturing and deflating the dome in a cloud of dust and debris, we’d do it. If we could pick up the Lion’s Gate bridge and swing it like a baseball bat against the side of the North Shore mountains, sweeping the pricey and tacky homes into the sea en masse, we wouldn’t even think twice. But we can’t. And while that’s sad, our destructive impotence is no doubt at least part of the reason we love Godzilla movies so much, and much of the reason why, if more of us knew who he was, we would be insanely jealous of Eiji Tsuburaya.
Eiji Tsuburaya got to destroy Tokyo dozens of times. He destroyed Moscow, New York, Paris and Beijing at least once each, and left countless South Sea islands utterly barren. He coordinated attacks from outer space and crushed Earth’s meagre defense forces. Of course, that’s all child’s play when you’re the chief special effects artist for Japanese cinema during the rise of the daikaiju (or “giant monster”) movies.
Eclipsed by director Ishiro Honda (who directed many of the daikaiju classics like Godzilla, The Mysterians and Destroy All Monsters), Tsuburaya’s contributions to the world of film have largely gone unnoticed, but a new book by August Ragone—Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters (Chronicle)—intends to remedy this. Filled with hundreds of archival photographs covering the scope of his entire career (from the early days of Toho Studios, through Godzilla and Ultraman, and up to his death in 1970 at the age of 68), Master of Monsters is documentation of not just the life of a man, but the birth of a genre that would come to influence and entertain millions of people wordwide (an achievement covered in the final chapter, “The Legacy”). The difference between this book and other coffee table volumes that have covered daikaiju before, though, is the staggeringly researched detail that Ragone has put into the text itself. This is not just a picture book to flip through, nod approvingly at and stick on the shelf; this is a record easily in scale with the monsters Tsuburaya created—a critical and historical look at the creation and output of an industry that spanned (and has continued to span) the decades.
And for that we can be thankful, because even if he didn’t know it, what Tsuburaya gave us was the ability to dream… and if those dreams happen to be about us tossing a giant squid through Shaughnessy, demolishing homes and causing occupants to run screaming for their Lexuses, well, that’s no bad thing.
_At some point in the future you may not have to deal with governmental levies on your blank recording media (like CD-Rs and iPods) because they may interfere with the Canadian Recording Industry’s ability to sue you. That’s right, the surcharges that CRIA fought for over 15 years to have instated are now being challenged by the exact same organisation. The reversal stems from the group’s contention that paying a fee on blank media could serve as an endorsement of P2P filesharing and endanger their chances of suing consumers (as the RIAA has done in the US). It’s interesting to note that while part of the proceeds of the current levy go to benefit Canadian artists, exactly none of the benefits from suing individual consumers would.
_Old people apparently DO play video games, as evidenced by the fact that the Wii has now officially outsold both the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360 in global sales—putting a Nintendo system back on top for the first time since the SNES, 17 years ago. Of course, marketing motion-sensitive bowling games to the retirement community can’t explain all of the 9 million units shifted—the remainder are probably accounted for by seniors lining up for Metroid Prime 3 (and possibly the cheaper price tag).
_And RIP to fantasy and science-fiction authors Robert Jordan and Madeleine L’Engle. The news of L’Engle passing is, of course, sad but not distressing as she hadn’t started a sprawling 13 volume epic and died before its completion. On a related note, all I can say to those of you looking for closure in Jordan’s Wheel of Time series is: “Fanfic authors… START YOUR ENGINES!”
You’ll have about 500 hours worth of hard laughter at your fingertips if you pick up the Complete National Lampoon Archives on DVD-R. That’s right, every one of the original 246 issues from 1970 to 1998 on a single disc, which will give you yet another brilliant excuse to boot up your laptop and ignore all of your pressing work and assignments. If you want something to distract you that has better resolution than YouTube, 30 Rock: Season 1 is out now, as are The Sarah Silverman Program: Season 1, Quentin Tarantino’s half of Grindhouse—Death Proof, Josie and the Pussycats: The Complete Series, and Superman: Doomsday (the Bruce Timm-produced cartoon adaptation of the Death of Superman). And if you’ve been feeling left out because everyone’s got Sims but you and your Nintendo system, well now there’s MySims, which ports a unique version of the best-selling game to the Wii and DS for people who like VR versions of themselves to be just a little chibi.