Thursday, February 28, 2008

Kickin' it Old School

(Edit: So, I found out that this system is awesome about saving drafts. Here'sthe original post which is better than that mangled half crap of a post I replaced it with... Not that anyone read the first one, but y'know.)

Yeah boYEEE!1 Kickin' like its the year 2000! What brings this on? Well, recently, that being tonight, I decided to look up my old Yahoo Groups haunts... By which I mostly mean the groups I started or maintained. Ah, nostalgia came flooding back as I read my insightful review of the original Halo at "Knights of Gaming", felt the sorrow of realizing that some of my old "Techno Instrument Maniac" posts were missing, and amusement at the fact that someone had actually run a little bit of a storyline at "Final Love" as less than a year and a half ago. Ah, its like visiting an old playground. Sadly (Or, perhas not so much?) the groups where I did battle persons pretending to be various Dragonball Z characters no longer existed, but I remember well how those battles went, and what epic battles they were...

Well, I'm in the midst of trying to recover my "Techno Instrument Maniacs" story, which is harder than it might seem. It is like 1.5-2 years worth of short posts of dialogue.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

And the Oscar goes to....

Diablo Cody for best original screenplay for Juno! Yes! I enjoyed Juno a lot, but I didn't think it deserved best picture. But I am so glad that Diablo won. Why? Because the first thing she said at the stand was "What am I doing up here?", because she wrote the screenplay while working as a stripper, because her screenplay made a wonderfully fun and good movie, because she's so not glitz and glamour, because she's another name in the ever increasing trend of people coming from nowhere and being amazing. Not people who come up through canned education methods, who learned the do's and don't's of a givin' art style (Not to knock them necessarily, they do good work) but who learned this stuff by trying stuff on their own or with their friends on a small scale and saying "Hey, this is pretty cool/fun, I wonder if someone else would like it." So they post it online, or (If they're lucky) ask that friend who is actually in the industry that they know. They might not make it big, but they're doing what they want to do and not taking orders from some corporation who hired them because they had a degree that says they have skill. And who knows, they might be Diablo Cody, or the team behind Portal, or Makoto Shinkai who made Voices of a Distant Star largely on his own, or the brilliant modders who made Counter-Strike. Do corporations make good products? Yes, but then its the corporations product so it better be good to make money right? (Keep those share-holders happy!) And maybe you're programmer 17 in department 4 who came up with an idea and submitted it. Oh, sorry, except today companies do try to remember peoples names, so they do put your name next to your number so when they tell you that they're taking your idea and changing it it sounds more personal like they sympathize with you. Now, if someone you respect in the field takes your idea, maybe its for the best, maybe they have better insight. You can live with that, working on an idea you came up with under a guy you like (er, maybe respect is better word?). But what if its given to Guy Manstan who got a masters in project leading and heard this industry was the next big thing? Hrm Grm Drm, basically what I'm getting at is that I don't want to go into an artistic industry unless I know I'll be working on a worthwhile project. I don't want to spend time and money on a degree in art or video game design or what have you if I'm going to be stuck designing, no not even designing, just rendering the collectibles in the next kid's movie release spin-off game 8 hours a day, 5 days a week (Seven near end production). I'd rather work at Barnes & Noble or GameStop where things are more flexible and you can recommend products to people. People like the ones I listed above are inspirations that to me say "Hey, you can go your own way and, while you might have to work some odd job in the meantime, you can make it." Not to the big time necessarily, but to the point where a group of people outside your friends says "Hey, thats pretty good." or you create a character and someone liked it enough to draw a piece a fan art and send it to you (Or, dare I say, cosplays your character?).

So yeah, that was a lot more than I thought I was going to type. But I'm happy for the props that Juno and Ellen Page got. I liked Jon Stewart's MCing (Even if he was using a few jokes from his own show). I also enjoyed the fact that someone randomly "Woo"ed in the audience like they were on some late night show. Also I want to see No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood, if for no other reason than so the "I Drink Your Milkshake" sketch from this past SNL will be more hilarious.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Expelled on grounds of being Religulous

So a friend of mine recently showed me this site which I was rather surprised by since Ben Stein had never been someone I'd really counted on the side of Intelligent Design (Not that I'd given it much thought mind). But apparently he is and is making this documentary (Titled "Expelled") in an effort to show that scientists, the media, and the education system are teamed up against Intelligent Design on the side of Evolution. I'm hoping I can find a theatre thats showing it since its a subject that needs to be addressed by a figure thats recognized outside of the Evangelical community.

So a film I then came across looking through news clips related to the above movie, I found out that Bill Maher is making a documentary called "Religulous". The only clip about it I can find is an interview with Larry King where he says he hopes to put it out around Easter...... Which I find interesting. The point of it is highlighting different religions and pointing out the humorous parts of them. No doubt it will unleash a torrent of people saying "You don't understand", "That was taken out of context", "You interviewed somene who doesn't know anything", and things like that. Personally I can, to an extent, appreciate his position on religion. His big thing he always says is "I want people to say 'I don't know what happens after we die'." Now, my appreciation of his stance would increase or diminish depending on his response to if I were able to say "Okay, I don't know what happens after we die" and in that being vague, because his statement is vague in my opinion. What I would actually mean is "I don't know the technical ins and outs of what happens after death, and think anyone who does has been reading to much mythology. But I do know some things: There is something, God will raise the dead for judgment in the end, the righteous shall be with Him forever and the unrighteous will exist eternally seperated. Thats what I know based on my belief God exists. (And subsequent logical conclusions based on that belief)" Now, if he then said "Alright." then I would accept his position fine, but if he then tried to argue some other position then I would instantly lose appreciation since that would mean he was going against his own stance of not knowing. Unless he prefaced the statement by saying "For the sake of argument" That I can appreciate since I'm always up for debating alternatives.

So basically I want to see both these films, but I have a feeling they won't quickly be coming to a theater near me.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Katsucon + Harajuku

First and foremost the promised answer: Both! Its an Assassin's GUILD remember? There's more than one.

Not sure what I'm talking about? Check out the Con and Harajuku pics at:

Now that thats out of the way, this years Katsucon was spectacularly different from any other in the past for several reasons. The first and best reason is that Tiffany Grant was there signing autographs in addition to doing other things like panel discussions. Who is she and why is it awesome that she was there? Only the infamous voice actress behind Asuka Langley Sohryu of Evangelion, the first voice acting employee of now famous ADV and generally nice person (Based on the whole 5 minutes of signing related conversation we had, which is absolute evidence). The second thing was the wonderful aisle blocking dance group "IchiP". I got video of them doing the Kodocha dance, and more importantly, the Lucky Star opening dance (The song of which I actually like better than Hare Hare Yukai, though I still like HHY's dance better. Real life Kodocha might beat them both though.... So fun to watch, tune so catchy....). The third thing was all the artwork I picked up in addition to the more normal merchandise. Usually I just get a few smaller things, but I got a lot this year. I actually need to purchase a binder thing to hold the art now because I'm starting to get so much... Which means I need to find somewhere that sells them... Anyway, it was generally awesome and I finally bought all of the Death Note manga so I'll be finishing that over the coming month of work I'm sure, if I don't just sit down and read it.

On Sunday I skipped church (I know, I'm going to put myself in HellSpace for my heathenistic ways :P) and went to a screening of "5 Centimeters Per Second" which is just really great in many way. The art work is fantastic, really top notch. The story is happy at times, but mostly very sad. Not depressing, but sad. As one man said while exiting the theater "Well, that was $15 worth of sadness." If you have Netflix, rent it when its available, its only an hour long so I think you can spare that. After that I tried to figure out what to do for 6 hours while waiting for the Millennium Stage performance. I thought about catching another of the anime premieres, but they were sold out. So I went over to Cup'a Cup'a across the street and got a Reuben and a Mocha Frappe (Both rather good if a little pricey). After lunch I played my DS on the steps outside the Opera house, battlng the Yahri in the land of Ivalice as classical music carried through the doors to my ears. I did that until Intermission and I got shooed off. I then pulled out my trusty NFT (Not For Tourists) guide book and located the nearest Starbucks. Now, being on the GWU campus I expected student, but the thing I found odd about this Starbucks was that 96% of the students studying were female. Why? Also they all looked somehow similar, it was kinda weird. So I stayed a while longer, again unsheathing my stylus to reign destruction and terror on the forces that my character presently perceives to be evil. At about 4:45 I decided to head back. Upon arriving I discovered that a line had started forming for the Harajuku showcase already (FF>>) by 6:00 PM the line stretched to the opposite end of the hall. I was lucky I got a scrap of carpet to sit on, but for reasons that I think I could explain, but will choose not to, the entire hall was full of people waiting to see the show. Why? Lets just say I think 80% of the people there had no idea what Harajuku was before they saw it was going on in the program, and still didn't after reading the blurb. Anyway, despite a man being strategically placed to block most of my view, I managed a decent view and got some good pictures. I really enjoyed it and was glad I stayed around. Oh, another thing I did while waiting was read Vol. 1 of a manga called "Beauty Pop" which I think is a play on "Beauty Shop", but I could be wrong on their intentions. Anywho, it was entertaining, but I wouldn't buy it personally. Thats all, go back to the top and check out the picture link if you haven't yet.

Enjoy refreshing time.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Japan! Culture + Hyperculture

I think I may have posted on this before, but there's a whole mess of cool Japanese stuff at the Kennedy Center right now. Life-like robots that answer questions, free-to-read manga, art exhibits, and free Millennium Stage performances every night. This is in addition to the stuff you have to pay for which I sadly have not the time+money for (Not time or money, I just don't have a time where one of the paid productions would be worth the money). I managed to finally get down there today (Baka late shifts, baka ice storm, baka social obligations, bakabakabaka!) and saw Toyota and Honda's robots. Toyota's played a trumpet and Honda's was very mobile. Based on the presentations, I'm going to say it won't be too long before we start seeing robots like this one more often:

I believe this is a tour guide bot. The Toyota one I saw you can see videos of here and yes its actually playing the trumpet. It moves air through itself and through a mouth opening that functions like human lips. As amazing as it is though, when I asked the presenter off to the side how long its battery life was the, she paused for a moment and looked to the video man who said "That information is confidential at this time." Now, call me a pessimist, but to me that says "We can't get this thing to last much longer than that 10 minute demo you just saw."

The Honda one you've probably seen before. Asimo commercial anyone? I was more impressed by this one, they said it has like 34 gyroscopic servos constantly adjusting and compensating for balance and it had a huge battery back pack (By the way, this demo was longer. Bigger back pack, longer demo, I'm seeing a connection). Also, this one could "run" (4 MPH), which the demonstrator and any robot fanatics in the audience I'm sure found ten times more amazing a feat than myself, who found it pretty cool. OH, and a thought I had. They said that Asimo stood for something, but I'm guessing they gave it a name one letter off from Asimov and then came up with words to fit it later. Actually, I think I remember hearing that it was named after Isaac Asimov a long time ago, but hadn't thought about it until after the presentation. As long as they don't give it a gun we'll be fine, though even then we'll probably be fine because all we have to do is knock it over and its done. (Its an older video, like a year ago so they've improved since then. But still, no has anything to worry about robots taking over the world....yet)

Oh, and the Millennium Stage performance was interesting. It was Takagi Masakatsu who blends interesting altered video with music into something rather unique (Or I haven't seen anything like it before). This is one of the ones I saw. Some of his pieces were kind of disturbing, and one I really started feeling bored with after a while, but mostly they were interesting, amazing, or beautiful.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Two fast things

This will be a quick post because I'm heading out soon. Firstly, I watched Closer and Run Lola Run last night. Closer was rather interesting, kind of depressing, and I got a great line from it which I'll post later probably. Run Lola Run is a German film that is an interesting concept of small differences and their consequences.

Second thing is this: Official release date for Spore is September 7, 2008! Also hinted at are PS3 and 360 versions of the game which, if true, would be nice since I don't want to upgrade a PC if I don't have to.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Cowboys vs. Zombies

(Edit: I for got to mention, the first poll concluded and two repeat visitors voted in it! So thats sort of good and bad at the same time since it means that people came back to my site, but that only those two peole have been here... Because as we all know, polling data is infallible and a perfect indicator of truth and reality)

No, its not an awesome new movie idea, its the band that some friends of mine formed. They performed tonight at the Coffee House event at Washington Bible College. I would have to say they were my favorite group of the night, and not just because they're my friends. Mainly because their set list was half original songs and half covers, and I liked the covers ("Take on Me" and "500 Miles" are the ones I remember) but also because they're rather good in general. The other two were pretty good musically, though not my first pick in genre, and I just don't really like sermons in my music so much nor am I a huge fan what I call "Modern Christianities Greatest Hits" (Which, for those who don't know, is a large selection of songs that you would never be surprised to hear a Christian musician play. Like, seriously, never.) at least not outside of like church or a prayer group. The last group, the Phil Bena band, Phil Bena is one of the professors there and he has some pretty dang sweet guitar skillz, and I liked his solo better than most of the rest of his band's set. After the performance a large group of us went to Bennigan's, which has never really been high on my list of restaurants, and I got a Reuben and an Irish Coffee. The Reuben was pretty good, though a little sweeter than I like. The Irish Coffee was only the second Coffee/Alchohol drink I've had, so I'm not sure where it should go in the ranking except below the first one I had because I really liked the first one I had and this was more "meh". But with the conversation and music it was a good night all-around.

The one thing I'm most bummed about is I forgot my camera, really very unfortunate. I better not forget it next Saturday for Katsucon, that would be tragic.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Can Rabbits and Cats fall in Love?

So, I recently thought of two of my favorite flash videos and I thought I'd post them here:

There She Is!!!

Cake Dance

They're both on a Korean site called (As it should say at the end of the clips) and there have been three more in production for a while. I think I like it for three reasons: 1. Its reminiscent of anime style. 2. Its funny/cute. and 3. Its a story of two people getting together even though society doesn't approve which is always a good story in my experience.

Also, for those who don't visit my Facebook, I went to see Persepolis (BTW, yes she actually sings that in the movie) tonight. Its very good and I might throw something at the TV if it doesn't beat Ratatoullie and Surf's Up in the Oscars. Ratatoullie was good, but not as good as this, and I'm not sure why exactly Surf's Up is on there... Nothing else available? Japan didn't feel like sending something over this year? Tekkonkinkreet? Paprika? No? Tekkonkinkreet even had an American director I think. Oh well, after it wins the Oscar it might get a wider screening (I had to go to an artsy theater in Bethesda to see it) so watch for it.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Super Dead

First off, some body voted in my poll! And they said "No" which means they were a repeat visitor! Isn't that awesome?

Secondly, pertaining to the title, Barnes & Noble tonight was, in a way, Super Dead. Music had two customers in the last 2 1/2 hours.... Or so, and neither of them ended up buying something! I think 1/4 of the sales I did were people picking up stuff they had ordered which basically means they wouldn't have been in if we hadn't asked them to stop by. I actually had to just look busy for a while so that people would have that extra stuff available to do the rest of the week, probably including myself... The next day. The store itself was dead too. I came back from my break at 9 and informed the guy covering me that I believed there to be no one in the store except employees. I did a couple jumps to look around and managed to spot what appeared to be an old lady looking at audio books and two other people who had just walked in. Yeah, it was dead.

Finally, tonight if you missed either Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert or Conan O' Brian then you missed out. Why? Because their long standing feud on who exactly got Mike Huckabee to where he is was finally resolved..... With a vicious 5 minute long battle sequence! After humorous delays on both A Daily Show and The Colbert Report the battle finally came to a head on Conan's show. Bricks, bats and ice skates are a small sampling of the vast arsenal which was brought, by each, to bear on each other, and many a stunt man fell down a flight of stairs.... Well, actually it might have been the same stunt man with a different wig. But who's counting? Anyway, you probably missed out, but I'm sure it'll be on YouTube if NBC doesn't pull it off.

Oh, and a last thing after the finally. I finished watching through "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya" again, this time in the original aired order rather than the chronological order. The original aired order is better I think. Its a bit confusing maybe, but that way the last 4 episodes are really interesting. I mean, the chronological order is okay, but then you're seeing the climax of the show at episode 6 out of 14, which is interesting to experience by the way since most shows you have the climax and then a little epilogue. Here, there was 8 episodes of what happened after.... Its very strange I think because it feels like it should be incredibly boring somehow, but for some reason you want to stay and watch. Its a very unique and odd show... That I own all of by the way if anyone wants to watch it.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A gaming lynchpin

Now, I should definitely be in bed trying to sleep right now, but I just started thinking about how much I think the cinematic nature of Final Fantasy VII really changed the face of gaming and remembered the first commercial I ever saw for it and just couldn't sleep until I found that commercial.. Fortunately it wasn't too hard, but yeah:

Heh, I wonder if subconciously thats why so many people actually get caught up on the Cloud-Aeris match up and think of Tifa as more of a childhood friend? But anyway, I don't remember any other game being marketed with the phrase "The most anticipated epic adventure of the year will NEVER be coming to a theater near you." I mean, its cheesey yeah, but its also impactful because its saying "You should consider these scenes and this story on the same level as a movie." And it worked since FFVII moved a whole heckuva lot more copies than VI and I bet more people have played VII than any of the others (If you count percentages at least, I mean, a greater number might have bought a different one just as the player base has increased in the past 10 years).

Anyway, thats what I was thinking about because I stupidly decided to sleep until 3:30 this afternoon.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Anime Guide

Okay, this post is pure Otaku geekiness, so watch out.

I read a question on the Facebook Anime Q & A which foolishly asked something like "What are the best anime series, or which ones have you seen? List them all." so I took that as a challenge and present to you a list of anime that you should see in your lifetime.... This is just shows mind you, there are movies besides this, and I also couldn't remember everything:

Cowboy Bebop*, Neon Genesis Evangelion*, FLCL, Full Metal Panic (and Fumoffu), Escaflowne, Love Hina, Excel Saga, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Along Complex*, Fullmetal Alchemist (I used to think it wasn't, but its actually got a lot of the deepness of shorter series that long series tend to lack), Nana*, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Ranma 1/2, Mushi-Shi, Death Note, Monster* (Which I haven't seen, but its on ANN's top 10 and I've heard is good), Chobits* (Heard of the book "Love+Sex With Robots"? This anime/manga was way ahead of them), Lupin III (Great Classic, plus a lot of anime's reference it) Mobile Suit Gundam (Not necessarily one of the best, but its something you should see at least some of), Galaxy Express 999 (Or at least Queen Emeraldas), Tenchi Muyo and Universe, Trigun, Fist of the North Star* (Like, four random episodes, then you'll get pretty much any reference) Cardcaptor Sakura (Possibly the best magical girl anime), Sailor Moon (At least some, just because its so popular), Dragonball and Dragonball Z (At least some of each, again, because its so popular), Azumanga Daioh, Paniponi Dash, Slayers (all three of the main 26 eps. series and some of the movies and OVAs), and since I'm getting tired of this, I'll finish it with Martian Successor: Nadesico.

Those are the lifetime ESSENTIALS that I could think of for anyone who hopes to consider themselves any sort of true anime fan in my book. If you wanted to just get by in the world of anime the list would be shorter, but it would contain stuff from that list. Note none of that funky Naruto or Pokemon is up there, why? Not essential and, out of anything, thats what you've probably seen or heard of anyway. Some other recommendations I have are: Mai-HiME, Witch Hunter Robin, Serial Experiment Lain*, Rurouni Kenshin, Samurai Champloo*, Great Teacher Onizuka (GTO), Lucky Star, AIR, Kanon, Baccano*, Ichigo 100%, Denno Coil,Paranoia Agent*, Karin, Claymore*, Elfen Lied (Though that last one is definitely rated MA 17+)

(* denotes a especially violent or otherwise more mature series series)

As to movies, heck, probably a fair number I haven't seen yet, but I know Akira, Ghost in the Shell, anything by Hayao Miyazaki, Steamboy, End of Evangelion... I dunno, most anime movies I've heard of are pretty dang good, I guess because if they bother giving an anime artist a movie budget he's pretty big in the industry. Oh, aside from the Miyazaki films and Steamboy (which most anyone could watch), those other three range from fairly to really quite graphic, definitely R.