Sunday, March 3. 2013 | Comments (2)
Remember Michelle Jenneke, the Australian track star who won fame for bouncing up and down and shaking her butt before an Olympic race on international TV? It got her a gig with Sports Illustrated.
James Lileks: Everything you know about the 1920s is wrong.
Visual timeline of the One Ring.
Vernon responds: Letter to "The Breakfast Club" explaining why they failed their detention assignment. And have to come back next week.
Hat-tip to Kaedrin for the previous two links.
Sarah Hoyt tackles group identity, why racial and other divisions in America are a "first world problem", and how people self-seperate and seek support in truly difficult circumstances. When The Chips Are Down.
Imperial Incompetence: The Battle of Hoth
U.S. Judge overturns lower court's decision: Sea Shepherd are indeed "pirates".
Watt's Up With That looks at Global Cooling media of the 1970s. It looks...familiar.
The Soviet Union got the cream of the intelligentsia, Vietnam got the hottest actors and politicians...North Korea gets Dennis Rodman.
Rachel Maddow busted for Twitter spam trend manipulation. No comment from Twitter, but they have suspended all of the accounts.
The Sequestration in one chart. It's in the upper-right-hand-corner. Highlighted in RED and CIRCLED. And you still might not notice it.
Same song by ZONE:
Sunday, July 3. 2011 | Comments (0)
This is neat as hell, but it's also a bit scary.
In brighter lights, you can see the screen that makes everything possible; but when the stage is dark, you would swear an anime character really was dancing around on the stage.
Major geek-gasm, but part of me is thinking, "Run away! I watched anime about stuff like this when I was younger! This will not end well!"
Monday, January 10. 2011 | Comments (2)
Not that I'm intentionally aping Mark with this one, but I couldn't help but compare his recent book queue post with my own current list:
The Big Rich by Bryan Burrough is my only current "literary" effort, you might say. It's been on my to-read list for a while, hampered only by the fact that I never got around to purchasing a copy. This is a detailed history of the four men who defined not only Texas Oil in the twentieth century, but to a large extent Texas itself. Pretty sure I'll be doing a full review on this as soon as I'm done.
And now for the not-so-serious bit:
JSA Presents Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. Volume One and Two: Geoff Johns' debut comic from 1999 detailing the origin of the second Star Spangled Kid teenager Courtney Whitmore and her eventual assumption of the Starman mantle as *Stargirl*. It's not Johns' best writing, but it's one of his best ideas. The narrative constantly spins into other comics which leaves the core collection feeling a bit patchy. Nor am I a big fan of Lee Moder's art, but I'll take what he did here over the hyper-sexualized stuff that was just then starting to appear (relative to what it used to be, i.e. just plain sexualized).
Terra: I picked this up along with the next two books based largely on the recommendation of The Last Angry Geek on That Guy With the Glasses. Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray with art by Amanda Conner, Terra was a well-received story re-imagining the Terra character primarily associated with the Teen Titans comics. The success Palmiotti, Gray and Conner with Terra led directly to a re-launch of
Power Girl, the other *Supergirl*. Look, I can only understand it while I'm reading it, but because of that Crisis thing in the '80's the Earth 2 (Golden Age of Comics) universe what destroyed, but Power Girl, who was the E2 Supergirl, survived. So there are, on Earth 1 (Silver Age comics onward) two Supergirls; one who is Superman's cousin and one who was an alternate universe's Superman's cousin. Obviously one of them had to go. Thankfully rather than kill off Power Girl for good when Supergirl re-appeared, D.C. allowed the unique character Power Girl to hang around. She eventually got a relaunch in 2009 written by Palmiotti and Gray and drawn by Amanda Conner. This team produced twelve issues of work that has been highly praised and recommended. The issues can be collected in Volume One and Volume Two.
Spice and Wolf manga Volume 2. Unfortunately, I accidentally ordered the second novel. Oh, well. I've heard it's good.
Yotsuba&! Volume 9. I mentioned this one already recently. Honestly, some people won't get much out of Yotsuba. But if there's the slightest chance you might, you MUST try one volume. If you don't like it, fine. If you DO....well, you'll thank me.
Dance in the Vampire Bund Volume Five. It took a while for this series to grow on me, but I'm really enjoying it now. Haven't seen the anime yet.
Allmost all of the links go to Amazon, although I personally almost always shop at Barnes & Noble. Why? Membership discount, gift cards, local (sort of) browsing. Although I still order almost everything via the internet.
Saturday, September 11. 2010 | Comments (3)
I've been a fan of the Tony Hillerman Navajo Tribal Police mystery novels for several years, and have wanted to write something up on the series if I could. Thankfully, I found this page at Dancing Badger and won't have to put in the effort. There are short summaries for all of the novels, a few longer reviews, and some good commentary that encompasses Hillerman himself, the novels, the movies, and the content. Well worth reading.
An old one that most of you have probably already seen: Darth Vader's Journal.
TV writer Mark Evanier's history of his (primarily) creation of Scrappy-Doo. Also, take a look at the rest of Evanier's site.
My Immortal, the webcomic. Like the Original, has to be seen to be believed, only in a good way. Excellent, but unfinished adaptation of the worst fanfic of all time.
Another fanfic webcomic: Kill Harry. Yes, it's exactly what you think. It's also quite good, the art is fantastic, the creator fairly well known...and well-known for never finishing a webcomic. Kill Harry stops, about two years ago, in the middle of an action scene. Sigh.
Re-activated the old Netflix account. We dropped it years ago to save money when finances were tight. We got rid of TV, too. Now, between Netflix and Hulu (and a few others) you can pretty much watch TV anyway. I'm finally caught up on Pawn Stars. I love that show.
And another new YouTube project. With Guild Wars 2 coming out:
I've started a project to try to force myself to solo through the entirety of the original Guild Wars. I own the whole thing, I love the game, but I keep reaching a ledge at a certain point in the game. I made to the next stage once, but only by hanging on to the coattails of more accomplished and better-built players. I'm also going to record my glorious voice and provide commentary as I go. Exciting, isn't it?
Right. Here's the first video, which shows character creation while I provide an introduction. I'm planning on trying out a Ranger/Necromancer Pet/Minion master. These are not highly recommended builds. But it sounds fun.
Here's the introduction to the Prophecies Campaign. No talking.
I want to start actually playing the game this evening. Which means you may hear about this project again in a bout a year. Wish me luck.
Friday, August 13. 2010 | Comments (5)
A few more HP series links and debates. I'm not necessarily agreeing with all of the content of all of these links, but all of them have interesting things to say.
R.U.I.N.S. Can't Stand Deathly Hallows thread. An ongoing forum discussion of Deathly Hallows and the other books from several angles. Small but thorough. The link takes you to the 7th topic, you can move back and forth from there.
Daniel Hemmens at Ferretbrain comments on Chapters 1 - 12 of Deathly Hallows. I don't agree with everything Hemmens says, but it's humorous.
Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Red Hen Publications essays on the Potterverse. Mostly very long treatises on what was left OUT of the books. Conjecture and implication, not fanfic. Hard site to navigate, check out the sidebar.
I have been searching, ever since the last book came out, for other Harry Potter fans who disliked Book 7, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I've read the book through a few times, and it gets worse every time. It's garbage. This is not the kind of thing you say on even the most neutral HP fan site. You will get death threats. But surely I could not be the only HP fan on the planet who didn't like the final book and didn't think it was even written very well?
Finally, I found via the Confused Matthew forum a link to a Youtube review of Book 7. These guys pretty much nail my thoughts on Deathly Hallows, except for the section on scenes Rowling left out that they would have liked to see. I don't care about that, whether I agree or not. There's also a section in the second video with one of the reviewers upset that his fanshipping didn't turn out the way he wanted. But the rest of it is right on.
Thursday, August 5. 2010 | Comments (0)
I mentioned a few posts back that I was reading a fanfic titled "Shinji and Warhammer 40K." This novel-length offering by Charles Bhepin takes the story of Neon Genesis Evangelion and tweaks one "minor" detail in Shinji Ikari's past. Bhepin's purpose appears to be to present the NGE story with a different Shinji, one who is truly a hero and mankind's savior rather than, well, what you get in the story.
POSSIBLE SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT
As presented in the anime, Shinji Ikari was abandoned at a very young age by his father Gendo to an unnamed aunt and uncle after the "death" of Shinji's mother Yui Ikari. This leaves the boy with massive emotional and psychological damage. When the anime starts, Shinji, now eleven, is effectively a hollow shell. He feels unloved, unwanted, useless, and has practically no sense of self at all. From this point, the anime tells the story of man fighting desperately for it's own existence against invading space monsters called angels. In the end, after all of the backstory; the betrayals and secret plots, have been revealed, the future of the human race (maybe) is left in Shinji Ikari's hands (maybe) and he has to fall back on everything that happened to him during the course of the series to make some enormously crucial decisions (maybe). All of the "maybe's" are because the ending of the series (supplemented by rewrites and two movies, and a current retelling via movies) is an ambiguous mess. What I summed up above is one possible (and simple) interpretation of the ending. If you've seen it, you know what I'm talking about.
NGE is one of the more important and influential anime series ever produced. It's not necessarily the best liked; in fact Evangelion would make the top ten hate list of many anime fans. Lauding the merits of Evangelion (as well as taking the opposite tack) is one of the biggest hot-button issues in anime fandom. I personally love the show, while acknowledging that the story is full of holes, the production is a mess, and it's possible that you may wish to commit suicide after a viewing. The bottom line for me is that I can see greatness peaking out from behind many corners in NGE, and I can really glom on to the massive epic taking place behind what is actually shown
One of NGE's biggist faults, it's gaping plot holes, is also it's greatest asset. So much of the series is left unexplained, or is explained by characters who are shown repeatedly to have imperfect information or an agenda that prompts them to lie about the backstory; that the viewers can easily, if they wish, provide the details themselves. It is entirely possible to change almost anything in the given story without actually screwing with established canon. In fact, this appears to be the deus ex machina Charles Bhepin uses to re-tell the first half of the series. You could watch large portions of the series as reference material to Bhepin's work; the changes he has implemented all occur behind the scenes or at the level of subtext. This part of "Shinji and Warhammer 40K" I quite enjoy. In the second part Bhepin strikes off on his own on a quest to provide an entirely different ending to the series, and this part doesn't do very well. Instead of working within the boundaries established in the first part, the author intentionally devolves his epic into a pun-a-minute commentary on anime and fan-fiction tropes. As I said, Bhepin does this intentionally (according to his notes); unfortunately I feel he lost something great when he moved the series in that direction.
However, the first half of "Shinji and Warhammer 40K" provides not only a funny but fascinating "what if"; it actually tells the NGE story in a much more appealing way. All of this, initially, is accomplished simply by providing a Shinji Ikari who is not *the Shinji*.
I didn't really include many spoilers, I guess. Bhepin's work is incomplete, but he has apparently spent the last few years editing the earlier parts of the story. I do in fact want to know how he ends the series, as the current stopping point feels very much like the end of the second act in a three part epic. I definitely recommend a reading, especially if you want to dig a little deeper into the original story or if you would just like to see Shinji Ikari as a true, intentional hero.
Thursday, October 1. 2009 | Comments (0)
I like Uncyclopedia. If they would get their sh*t together, the site could challenge The Onion and other related sites for sheer witty, satirical brilliance. Unfortunately, they also feature many entries that are comprised almost entirely of joining random strings of curse words and sexual paraphernalia to form in-cohesive and unfunny diatribes.
But sometimes, you get something amazing like the entry on Global Warming:
Global warming is a fact (or a theory, or a theology) over which humankind has come to unanimous agreement with unprecedented speed. The Earth is warming, or else it's cooling, or else it's not doing either very fast. If left unchecked, this will lead to the destruction of civilization, probably, in a Biblical flood that will happen around 1995. Humans, prosperity, rich diets, breaking faith with Nature, and anything else you may feel guilty about, are the cause of the phenomenon, or else it's sunspots, and it might be totally random.
Scientists first observed global warming in 1895. Then in 1920 they said it was global cooling. Then in 1935 they said there was global warming, but then in 1975 they said it was the verge of a new Ice Age but then it became global warming again. But that is all old news. Let's stop talking about discredited work and move on to the real history...
The scientists' eyes met and they knew they were all thinking the same thing: A soft life through endless government research grants. Lifetime sinecures not just for cousins of legislators! This was the first case of scientific consensus. In fact, science previously had not been conducted through votes and consensus at all. These scientists reached an equally unprecedented conclusion that has echoed through legislative hearing rooms ever since: The science is settled!
I urge you to read the entire article.
Wednesday, July 15. 2009 | Comments (0)
Nothing I wrote, of course. While I have a keen interest, I'm just not that good of a writer. However, quite a while back I found this link via Kaedrin. It's a good read for any scifi fan or political student. The article investigates the history of Science Fiction and the genre's implicit political bindings.
Sunday, June 21. 2009 | Comments (0)
Probably. Anyway, I've always been a big fan of David Lynch's Dune. Although I owned the book, I never read it until a few years ago. Going back and watching the movie again...well, yeah, there were some problems...but the movie just FELT like Dune. I tried to watch the miniseries a year or so ago, and just couldn't get into it. I talked about it here. I really need to give it another try, but in the meantime, here's someone else who generally felt the way I do:
I enjoyed talking with my grandfather on many occasions prior to his death and, not surprisingly, our conversations often strayed into the realm of his greatest creation - Dune - and its marketing to the general public. There were many times when Grandpa laughed about this, because he saw Dune as something unique and far removed from the marketable world. Later he began to realize Dune wasn't just unique but was a parable of human life that would endure thanks to the very things the book preached against. The making of the 1984 movie (directed by David Lynch) seemed the epitome of one of Dune's no-no messages [that of creating a cult following of one man or his vision - Editor]. So if you chuckle a few times while reading this, rest assured that Frank Herbert would probably be laughing right along with you.
Full article here.
Saturday, July 7. 2007 | Comments (0)
The man in the utilitarian, white uniform went to the bar, and tapped the counter to get the bartender's attention. He said something, probably ordering a drink, although she couldn't make it out from across the room. However, as he spoke, the man in white slightly jerked his head torward the back of the club; the management alcove. Ryan, the bartender, responded to the order, probably repeating it, she thought; but also very quickly shook his head: No.
That she hadn't seen this man before, or this particular exchange, didn't surprise Tania too much. Her relationship with the club was informal; she wasn't in here every night. But this guy was intriguing. He was youngish, no more than thirty, and looked like a repairman. But it didn't look like he was here to work; he had brought with him no tools or equipment.
The repairman had his drink now; clear and bubbly. Tania decided to head for the bar and see if Ryan would tell her what was up. She gathered her things and circled around the floor on the stage side, in case the man in white headed for the alcove while she was en route. Even then, by the time she reached the bar, he was gone, his drink sitting where he had been standing. She quickly turned and scanned the room, and thought she saw the white uniform moving opposite of her, near the steps to her dais, heading to the management entrance. He must have circled clockwise. The man in white never looked her way that she had noticed; Ryan must have seen her coming and sent him around the long way. But why?
Tania sat down by the man's drink, which was half gone. Looking over her shoulder now, she saw that the man himself was completely gone. She turned her head to stare at Ryan, letting him know she wanted to talk, without drawing attention to the fact. Ryan glanced at her from down the bar, took a deep breath and seemed to hold it in for minute, looking down at the bar. Was he going to try to ignore her? But then he turned, grabbed a bottle of vodka from a low shelf (which meant it was cheap, and therefore, hopefully, free), and a brandy glass.
Ryan stopped in front of her, set the glass down, and splashed two fingers of vodka in. He then bent over the bar, looking for all the world like he was about to chat her up, and said quietly, with a fake grin but no anger or anxiety, "Ok. Go ahead."
Tania raised her eyebrows. "All right. Who..."
"No one." Ryan interupted, but again, conversationally.
"The guy..." she tried to continue.
"No guy." Ryan supplied this time.
"Didn't see him."
"Who just went..."
"And neither did you."
"That's his drink!"
"Nope." He lazily picked up the man's abandoned glass, and took a sip. Still grinning, as if they were having a wonderful little tet' a tet'.
"You're not supposed to drink on the job."
"Soda and lime."
"Want some?" He offered the drink.
She took it, tentatively, and sniffed. Lime. Carbonation almost made her sneeze. She sipped.
"Soda and lime," she said.
"Soda and lime."
"This is your drink? That's what you're saying?"
"You see anyone else here?"
"I don't see men in white?"
"What men in white?"
"Do I talk to men in white?" She was grinning now, too. She felt like she was in a Red Scare spy movie from the eighties.
"I don't." Ryan took another sip.
"As in 'don't talk' or as in 'don't talk'?"
"As in," said an amused voice beside her, "you can't talk to someone who isn't here. Is that right, Ryan?"
Tania jumped, looked to her right. The man in the white jumpsuit had come up and sat down without her noticing. Ryan cleared his throat and tapped her left wrist sharply, causing her to jerk her attention back to him. His face was in the same position, still staring straight at her, still grinning.
"There's no one there, remember?"
Tania's smile began to droop. What the hell had she gotten herself into?