Monday, March 30, 2009

Scenes from Vongduane and Singh's Wedding

Scenes from the wedding of the artist Vongduane Manivong and Singh Anourajh in Texas.

You can visit Vongduane's work at and see more about their wedding at

Vongduane is the artist for the cover of my new book, BARROW, so I'm very excited for her. Clearly, this is a very big year for her, although surely only the first of many. Congratulations!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Reading On The Road: March-April 2009

I'm on extended maneuvers this month. When I'm out for so long, I like to pack a bunch of books for the down time. I really SHOULDN'T, due to weight/space limits on the planes and other vehicles. But it's a hazard of the craft. :) So what's coming along this month?

BEASTS: BOOK 2 from Fantagraphics Books. I missed the first Book 1, which deservedly sold out very quickly. So when the sequel came out a few days ago, I snatched up my copy immediately. Already loving this guide to dozens of amazing creatures of myth and legend illustrated by some of the great modern artists of our time. Some whimsical, some eerie and most utterly fantastic and well worth the otherwise hefty price tag.

The latest issue of Rain Taxi. I'm looking forward to digging into an interview with Tao Lin and reviews of Script & Scribble, The Poem's Heartbeat, Electronic Literature, We, The Anarchists!, Return To The Middle Kingdom, Kathleen Rooney's Oneiromance,and C.E. Perry's Night Work. It's little thin on reviews of graphic novels this issue, but that's ok. And as always, I look forward to what shows up in Chapbook Corner.

I'm still reading through Cheers To Muses: Contemporary Works By Asian American Women. Some fine work in here.

I'll be doing a few more reviews of individual stories from Outhine Bounyavong's Mother's Beloved so that had to come along. By necessity I also had to pack along a number of Lao reference books to go along with it including some dictionaries, phrase books and travel guides.

Yusef Komunyakaa's Dien Cai Dau is one of my favorite books of poetry, along with his Talking Dirty To The Gods, but I'm re-reading it this month. 

Dien Cai Dau is an excellent book to read in conjunction with Garth Ennis' magnificent Valley Forge, Valley Forge, which, along with his one-shot Tyger took the Marvel Comics character The Punisher to his highest literary potential to date. The final pages are utterly classic and heartbreaking, and Ennis did so much within the extreme demands of the series.

And finally, I'm also carrying along Asamatsu Ken's Straight to Darkness, the third volume of the excellent quartet Lairs of the Hidden Gods which presents the work of Japanese writers influenced by the work of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. Kurodahan Press should be proud of their work on this series.

From a cinematic front, I just saw Duplicity, and I have to agree with the critics. It's a smart, fun film that really kept me hooked, almost on par with The Italian Job and other caper films that just are so rare to see made well these days.

Well, I'll post more notes and remarks about these and other books and articles I come across in the coming days ahead. Have a great one out there! :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

My new book: BARROW

It's official- my new book, BARROW, coming out from Sam's Dot Publishing in the next few weeks will feature the cover by Laotian American artist Vongduane Manivong.

Also, a big congratulations to her on her upcoming marriage next week!. 

You can see more of her work at

BARROW will also feature a very nice foreword by award-winning novelist Dr. Nnedi Okorafor, the author of Zahrah the Windseeker, the Shadow Speaker and the forthcoming Who Fears Death. You can visit her work at

As a collection, BARROW features poems from as early as 1992 but the good majority of them were written between 2001 to 2009.

Twenty of these poems previously appeared in journals such as the Paj Ntaub Voice, Whistling Shade, Unarmed, the Journal of the Asian American Renaissance Northography and Tales of the Unanticipated, but the remainder have never been published before.

As before, BARROW will feature a fun, eclectic mix of international history, mythology and science fiction as we play with language to examine the deeper inner and outer world. 

BARROW will be even more experimental in some ways than On The Other Side Of The Eye, but I think most readers will agree the results are worth it.

I'm looking forward to sharing more with you in the coming weeks ahead as we get closer to the final release!

Upcoming Readings in Nebraska and the International Lao New Year Festival

A very special thanks to all of the wonderful students, staff and faculty of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln!

I will be reading on Wed. April 1, 2009. 3.30 p.m. Poetry Reading at the Bailey Library with a special thanks to their Department of English. The Dudley Bailey Library is located at 228 Andrews, Uniersity of Nebraska−Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska.

I will also be the keynote speaker on Thursday April 2, 2009 for their Asian Heritage Night . Centennial Room, of the UNL City Union. The topic will be: "Changing Cultures and Preserving Asian Traditions in the Midwest."

I'm honored and delighted to be joining all of you there! More details to follow!

The details are still being finalized but I will be getting recognized and performing at the International Lao New Year Festival in San Francisco this April.

This will be exciting, because Thavisouk Phrasavath, the vision behind the great film, Nerakhoon, the Betrayal, will be giving the keynote. I look forward to seeing all of you who will be there!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A People of the Heart: Lao Idioms

In many cultural presentations by the Lao Assistance Center in Minnesota, one interesting element that was discussed was the idea that Lao culture has many shades of meaning based on the heart:

-to understand is to enter the heart -khao jai 
-to be glad is to feel good at heart -di jai
-to be angry is to feel bad in the heart -jai hai 
-to be sorry is to have lost the heart -sia jai
-to have empathy is to see the heart-hen jai 
-to feel upset is to be unhappy at heart -ouk jai
-to be sensitive (touchy) is to have a small heart -jai noy 
-to be stingy is to have a narrow heart -jai khap khaep
-to be startled is to drop the heart -tok jai 
-to be absent minded is to have a floating heart -jai loy
-to hesitate is to have many hearts -lai jai 
-to be worried is to have a sick heart -bo sabai jai
-to be content is to have a serene heart -sabai jai 
-to be without worries is to feel cool in the heart -jai yen
-to be generous is to have a large heart -jai kuang 
-to have a heavy heart -thouk jai
-to be happy -souk jai 
-to be easily persuaded is to have an easy heart -jai ngai
-to be decisive -jai det 
-to be charitable is to have a festive heart -jai boun
-to be generous is to be big hearted -jai nyai 
-to be impatient is to have a hot heart -jai hon
-to be patient is to have a persevering heart -jai ot thon 
-to be honest is to have a pure heart -jai bolisud
-to be brave is to have a daring heart -jai ka 
-to be timid is to have a cautious heart -jai boh ka
-to control one's emotions is to have a strong heart -jai kaeng 
-to die is to have your heart torn apart -jai khart
-to be bitter to the point of revenge is to have a black heart -jai dam

And there are certainly many more, but it's interesting to consider.

Lao Culture: The Khene

An overview of the khene. This traditional instrument is also spelled as "khaen", "kaen" and "khen" based upon individual preferences, and variations are found throughout Southeast Asia, but for the purposes of this post, we'll look at the basics of the khene within Lao culture. 

A very special thanks to the work of Viliam Phraxayavong and others who helped gather some of the research on this interesting instrument.

The typical Lao khene is a free-reed mouth organ, traditionally capable of at least 15 distinct notes, depending on the type of khene in question. 

A khene is constructed of bamboo, with each pipe measuring approximately 5cm large and 250 centimeters long. There are size variations based on the desired sound range of the instrument.  The bamboo is typically 1 year old when harvested and dried for several weeks, then pierced by a small rod with a variety of cuts and incisions.

About 2/3rd of the length, a hole is cut where a tongue of silver or a silver/copper alloy is placed. This determines the melody range. The master khene maker will then add a console that allows the player to block or unblock particular holes to vary the sounds of the khene. 

While a khene can be made in a particular key, once that key is set, it cannot be changed. The other instruments in an orchestra have to be tuned to the khene, and not the other way around.

There are 4 main khene forms:

A "khene six" features 6 bamboo pipes and is used by children or for decoration, and is incapable of the full scale of notes in Lao music. 

A "khene seven" features 7 paired bamboo pipes (or 14 indivudal pipes) and is capable of a good range of low to high notes. It is considered ideal for group performances by khene players and suitable for traditional lao songs and for accompanying folk singers.

A "khene eight" on the other hand features 8 paired bamboo pipes (for a total of 16 individual pipes) It's similar to the "khene seven" but has additional tonal range.

The largest of traditional khene is the "khene nine" featuring 18 bamboo pipes and the widest range of tones.

Traditional Lao legend attributes the construction of the first khene to a Lao woman who was attempting to replicate the songs of the garawek bird. Once she thought she had perfected the instrument, legend holds that she went to either the local governor or the king's court and performed for him.  Eventually pleasing the official, he instructed her to call the instrument a khene. Sources dispute the actual phrase he said to her, but it is generally held to have been to the effect of "this is better/superior." 

In addition to its role in modern and traditional Lao music, the khene is being used notably in compositions by Christopher Adler, a musician in San Diego, and Randy Raine-Reusch, whose khene performances have been included on songs by Aerosmith, the Cranberries and Yes.

As an interesting side note, the Hmong have a similar instrument, the qeej, but most scholars like to differentiate the qeej from the khene based on its social purpose. In a 1998 article for the Hmong Studies Journal, Gayle Morrison asserted:
For the Hmong, the indisputable difference between their instrument and those of other ethnic groups is that the Hmong qeej "speaks." To the Hmong, the qeej is not an instrument designed to produce music; it is a bamboo voice that intones a highly stylized and ritualistic language. Thus "music' and "speech" are inseparable.

The qeej is an instrument that communicates with the spirit world. However, unlike most sacred instruments, it is neither mimetic of the sounds and rhythms of the natural world nor does it communicate in symbolic or metaphoric terms. It is an unusual instrument because of its ability to express musically the innate lyrical qualities of the tonal Hmong language.

Art of the States has several interesting examples of non-Lao composers working with the khene musicians interested in the khene's versatility may wish to examine.

In the Year 2552...

With the approach of the new Lao new year, also known as the Phi Mai Lao, now seems like a good time to examine the basic ideas of this three day celebration:

The Lao New Year historically coincides with the end of the dry season and the start of the monsoon season.

The first day is Sangkhan Long, the last day of the year, and during this time most people will clean their houses both figuratively and metaphorically to get ready for the New Year.

The second day is Mueu Nao, the transition day between the Old and New Year. Traditionally, this is a day believed to be one when bad luck and misfortune can easily happen because the spirit of the Old Year has left while the spirit of the New Year is still en route. Most families recommend staying home and resting.

The third day of the celebration is Sangkhan Kheun, when the spirit of the New Year has arrived, and most people will celebrate by going to the wat with offerings for the monks, including flowers, water and food. 

During most Lao New Years observed around the world, once the key ceremonies are observed, people will go and observe the Boun Haut Nam, dousing each other with water as a symbol of cleansing the body of bad karma and preparing to receive the good fortune, karma and luck of the New Year.

This year will be the year 2552 according to the traditional Buddhist calendar!

Lao Culture: The Baci

One of the common images of traditional Lao culture around the world is the baci ceremony. 

The baci is held during new year celebrations, holidays, farewell parties, welcoming children or a return to home after a long journey, a recovery from illness or a remarkable achievement. The baci is regarded by many to be the most important ceremony in the Laotian community around the world.
It can also be referred to as su-kwan, or the calling of the kwan. The kwan are 32 spirits who watch over a person's 32 major organs and their spiritual essence. The baci ritual binds the spirits to their owner and is a way of expressing goodwill and fortune to others. 

A baci should traditionally be completed before sunset.

This ceremony can be performed by monks or respected elders who have been monks known as a mor phorn. 
At the center of these ceremonies is the pha khouan centerpiece, typically composed of banana leaves shaped into a decorated conical tower:
One will find the tower studded with bright flowers and sticks laced with white strings. At the base of the tower, you may also observe any number of foods placed there. This can include cooked and uncooked rice, fruit and drinks, boiled eggs and chickens, desserts and pastries. 

A traditional pha khouan will have two lit candles at the peak. 
As the audience sits around the pha khouan, the mor phorn will call the kwan to cease wandering and return to the bodies of the guest(s) of honor for the occasion. 

When this summoning of the kwan and their return is completed by the mor phorn, he is the first to start tying a string around the wrists of the guest of honor.

The guest of honor will typically have an egg or fruit placed on their palm while receiving a wish of good will and prosperity. The kwan are then once again asked to return and stay by the mor phorn.
Afterwards, the other guests at the occasion also place strings around the wrists of the guest of honor. These strings typically remain on the wrist for three days and must be broken or untied, not cut. There are others who wear the strings for longer, but most believe that to remove the strings earlier would negate the goodwill generated by the ceremony.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mekong River Literature Prizes announced.

From Voice of Vietnam News:
Four Vietnamese writers and poets have received the Mekong River Literature Prize, together with other 8 Lao and Cambodian authors.

The four recipients, including Nguyen Tri Huan (novelist), Trinh Thanh Phong (novelist), Nguyen Anh Ngoc (poet) and Pham Si Sau (poet), were awarded at the 2nd conference of writers and poets from Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam taking place in Phnom Penh from February 18-24 on the theme of solidarity, creation, friendship and development.

Also at the congress, the Royal Government of Cambodia presented a medal of friendship to poet Huu Thinh, chairman of the Vietnamese Writers’ Association (VWA) and writer Chan Thi, chairman of the Lao Writers’ Association for their contributions to promoting the solidarity, friendship and literary development in the three countries.

Leaders of the three writers’ associations agreed on the need to boost literary cooperation through the exchange of writers to visit and write about one another’s land and people and joint projects to translate selected works into four languages as Vietnamese, Lao, Khmer and English.

Friday, March 13, 2009

[TN] Help for Angel Chittaphong

Laotian American Outreach of Tennessee has put out a request for help for those of you in the Tennessee area. Vanderbilt Hospital is teaming up with Vanderbilt University to coordinate a Blood & Bone Marrow Drive for miss Angel Chittaphong, who is only seven years old.

Thursday, March 19, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009

Vanderbilt University
Sarratt Student Center Room 220
2301 Vanderbilt Place

For more information:
Call 1-800-962-0628 x159 or 1-800-MARROW-2
Visit Angel Chittaphong's website

If you can help, I know she and her family would deeply appreciate it.

Ivory Trade Endangering Lao, Southeast Asian Elephants

This pisses me off:

There are approximately 1,000 elephants still alive in Laos, compared to 150 in Vietnam. But in Vietnam, ivory prices are surging according to TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network. Tusks sell as high as $1500/kg and smaller pieces for $1,863/kg.

Continued demand for illegal ivory is behind this. Raw ivory, according to TRAFFIC is being sourced from Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, with a brisk smuggling trade of live elephants from Myanmar/Burma.  

Because a loophole allows ivory 'made' before the 1992 to still be sold, unscrupulous traders and merchants circumvent the intention of the law and keep their current stock secretly replenished with newly cut ivory.

TRAFFIC cites the Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Vietnamese living in America and Europeans as the biggest buyers of ivory, especially through the internet.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was established in part to reign in and eradicate this trade. TRAFFIC encourages increased monitoring, enforcement and prosecution and suggest ivory for sale in retail outlets should be confiscated by governments and destroyed.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mythic Creatures of Asia: Caonima, The Grass Mud Horse of China.

A little more tongue-in-cheek than usual, the New York Times and others are reporting on the internet phenomenon in China regarding the Caonima, one of the "ten mythic beasts of Baidu" also known as the Grass Mud Horse from the desert of Ma Le Ge Bi, who are courageous, tenacious and overcome difficult environments, even, apparently the oppression of the evil river crabs, who are ultimately defeated by Caonima. They look remarkably like Alpacas, according to most people. Here's an example of one such song:

Of course, there are stuffed toys and all sorts of songs and stories emerging about the Caonima, but one part of it's popularity is also due to the fact that the name is just a few tones removed from the absolute worst thing you could say about someone's mother. Most of the story is actually laced with homophones that sound awfully close to naughty words or snipes at censorship by the Chinese government.

According to the New York Times:
...“river crab” sounds very much like “harmony,” which in China’s cyberspace has become a synonym for censorship. Censored bloggers often say their posts have been “harmonized” — a term directly derived from President Hu Jintao’s regular exhortations for Chinese citizens to create a harmonious society.
Interesting. It makes me think of several elements of the "Misty" poetry movement within Chinese poetry a few decades ago, which produced writers such as Bei Dao. But, I also bear in mind, Chinese culture has a tradition of using this style of veiled language for thousands of years. It is interesting to see how all of this plays out in cyberspace now. How the human voice yearns to be free, everywhere in the world.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Three architectural styles of Wat Lao

Luang Prabang style sim:

Vientiane style:

Xieng Khouang style:

A look at the Wat Lao

I've been documenting visits to Wat Lao across the United States and around the world as part of my process of examining the expressive culture of the Laotian community today. In order to build a greater appreciation for these fascinating structures, here are some basics to bear in mind.
At the most basic, a wat is a compound where monks or nuns reside in the Buddhist tradition. In Laos, the primary form of Buddhism is the Theravada tradition. Each wat is different but may contain many of the following structures.

In Laos, you'll often find the haw kawng, a drum tower to call the community and monks to prayer. In the US, this is less common to avoid disturbing the neighbors.

The sim or ordination hall is where monks or nuns take their vows.

The kuti is the residential quarters for the monks or nuns. In most cases, this building is detached, but in some cities, space is at a premium.

The that/thaat or stupa is one of the focal points of a wat. Essentially a reliquary, many are said to contain the relics or even ashes of the Buddha. 

They are also filled with mantras and prayers and other 'precious' objects. Not necessarily -expensive- objects because it's the symbol of the object, not the value that is important in this case. It's generally held that the greater quantity of wonderful symbolic objects filled into the that, the stronger energy of the that will be for the community and the world.

The architecture of a that has deeper metaphysical symbolism, but we'll save that for a different discussion.

The that kaduk or bone stupas are where a wat places the ashes or memorials of the faithful.

The sala is where the laity come to listen to the tham or Buddhist teachings.

The haw phi khun wat is a spirit house for the temple's earth spirit. This feature is not necessarily as prominent in many of the Wat Lao in the US. You'll find images of the nak and other traditional figures such as Mae Torani around the compound, and images depicting scenes from the life of the Buddha.

You will also find the haw tai where the library of Buddhist manuscripts are stored. In some cases these are modern style books, in others, they may be palm leaf manuscripts.

There are 3 basic traditional Wat Lao styles, typically identified by the sim architecture styles: Luang Prabang, Xieng Khouang and Vientiane. I'll post examples later.

And there you have it! 

If you're going to visit a wat, please remember:
  • Dress neatly- shorts and sleeveless shirts have traditionally been frowned upon, at least inside the sala. 

  • Take your shoes off when you enter any building containing a Buddha, which is considered a sacred object. 

  • Do not climb on the Buddha statues. 

  • When sitting in one of the religious building, keep your feet pointed away from Buddha images and monks. The lotus position or the 'mermaid' pose with your legs folded to the side and feet pointing backwards are the most common.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

New Interview at Ethnically Incorrect!

A new interview with me is up at Ethnically Incorrect!

A special thanks to Kev Minh, who asked some great questions! We cover everything from adoption to poetry to science fiction and all our future pasts. Be sure to check out their other posts over there, too, they always have fun and insightful commentaries on the TRA experience and other issues affecting our community.

Presenting at St. Paul Public Library!

Thursdays, March 12 and 19, 4 p.m.
Arlington Hills Branch Library, 1105 Greenbrier Street
Join authors May Lee-Yang and I for a teen workshop on writing, community, and finding your voice.

This is part of the Hmong Stories: Yesterday & Tomorrow  series to discuss the past and future of Hmong and Southeast Asian storytelling. Presented by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library with the Center for Hmong Studies at Concordia Univeristy and Hmong Arts Connection. 

I'm looking forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Marscon 2009 Presentations

I'm presenting at this year's Marscon on Saturday:

Saturday, March 7:

1:00-1:45 p.m. Good Things in Small Packages
Small and medium press publishing for sf/f/h writers and readers: what's out there? What are the differences between presses that do POD (print on demand), ebooks, and small print runs? What's in it for writers? For readers?
Catherine Lundoff, mod.; Roy C. Booth, Rob Callahan, Lyda Morehouse, Bryan Thao Worra

3:00-3:45 p.m. Reading Outside the SF/F Mainstream
Small press, feminist, Carl Brandon Society winners, LGBT spec fic, and the list goes on. What's worth checking out? Are awards a good criterion? Bring your recommendations!
Catherine Lundoff, mod.; Rob Callahan, Bryan Thao Worra

7:00-7:45 p.m. Lovecraftian Invasions!
War and the Weird in the Work of H.P. Lovecraft 

Bryan Thao Worra, presenter

8:00 p.m.-2:00 a.m., Krushenko's. Diversicon Party
Sponsored by this multicultural, multimedia speculative fiction convention, the 17th edition of which will be held July 31-August 2, in the Best Western--Bandana Square, with Guest of Honor Kay Kenyon and Special Guests Michael Levy and Sandra Lindow.

Krushenko's (Concierge Lounge, Room 1332) and its sometime partner, Krushenko's Annex (Room 1331), are spaces that encourage conversation about science fiction and fantasy at SF conventions. Krushenko's, named after a Manhattan bistro in Larry Niven's novel Ringworld, started at the 1983 Minicon, and now also travels to CONvergence, Diversicon, and Arcana in the Twin Cities and WisCon in Madison.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Gatherings Along the Road

When I travel, I always find myself in possession of new books and films. During my recent journeys through the South and Chicago, here are a few of the better ones that are now part of my library.

Barbara Jane Reyes' Poeta en San Francisco. Barbara Jane Reyes has always been a particular favorite contemporary of mine with an exceptional voice and a fierce take on life and the world. I've finally gotten my copy of Poeta en San Francisco and have already returned to it several times for its great scope and sweep. I can't wait for her next book, Diwata, to come out soon.

Oscar Bermeo's Palimpsest. Of course, I'm partial to this, because the palimpsest is a great art term I've loved for years. It refers to writing or creating a work of art on top of another piece of art. Oscar made a bold move to make this book available under a non-commercial creative commons license, a generous and appropriate gesture, given the theme of the book. Poems to check out include Definition, Congruence, The Trouble with Poverty and many other pieces. Several were composed in response to several of our poetic contemporaries, and overall, I find Palimpsest is a great look at the new voices and languages of the 21st century.

Tan Lin's BlipSoak01 was a particular treat to find. I was torn between this or a copy of Cathy Hong's Dance Dance Revolution, but this is by far the more difficult of the two to locate. When it works, it's really daring and inventive, and reminds me how experimental and creative we can be with poetry without it becoming kitschy or bogged down by great technique, but no soul. It's given me a few new thoughts for upcoming projects. Definitely not for everyone, but for people interested in experimental visual poetry, I'd recommend it.

During the AAPIP/NGEC gathering, one of the books they gave to everyone was a copy of Lora Jo Foo's beautiful earth passages: Journeys Through Childhood. At $32.95 it's easy to balk at the price, but Lora Jo Foo's account of coming to terms with her relationship to her mother and how that impacted her as an activist on Asian American women's issues is engaging. There's a great poetry to Lora Jo Foo's account, told not only through her writing, but her nature photography. It's an approach that's quite intriguing without becoming maudlin. Alas, the price will probably keep this out of the hands of many who'd really benefit from it.

Cheers to Muses: Contemporary Works by Asian American Women is a multi-generational anthology of over 60 artists who identify as Asian American women, including the Hmong writer May Lee and a poem by Barbara Jane Reyes. Put together by the Asian American Women Artists Association, it blends visual and literary work together. Each contributor was additionally asked to write a dedication to a non-familial Asian American who was an inspiration and influence on their life, which was very interesting to see. In the coming month ahead I'll probably discuss a number of selections from this book.

Parabola used to be one of my favorite magazines, exploring a lot of interesting ideas on tradition and myth. In recent years, it had been in a bit of a rut, oddly, but their Spring 2009 issue has proven almost as engaging as the first issue I'd picked up of theirs back in the 1980s. This particular issue had a fine retelling of the Monkey King, Kosiya, the Buddhist Scrooge, A Hen and A Rooster and several other interesting pieces. If they keep it up, I may have to start buying these regularly again.

Leonard Cohen's Book of Longing is one of those books I've been reading in the bookstore bit by bit, but hadn't gotten around to buying until now. As most of you know, he's one of my favorite singers, and this was written during his five year stay at a zen monastery. The work that emerged from this period takes some amazing and human turns, and he's that rare breed of writer who truly does both lyrics and poetry well. There are several pieces that linger with me for hours, days and weeks after reading them.

Persepolis was on sale recently for a great price, and it's well worth the money.  As there are more than enough people who've commented already on both the book and the film, I won't go into excessive discussion here except to say that this is a deeply refreshing work that reinforces the power and potential of animation and film. As glad as I am that Wall-E won the Academy Awards this year, I'd certainly love to see more stories like Persepolis made.

Phantom Museums: The Short Films of the Quay Brothers is a particular gem I was delighted to come across, having been deeply influenced by their work in the early 1990s to the present day. As animators, they are really in a class all of their own. 
And finally, The Godzilla Collection, a box set of seven remastered Godzilla films, over 20 hours of bonus features and both the original Japanese and English language versions of the films.

So, I'm going to be busy this season. I can only wonder what I'll pick up next!