Feb. 15th, 2007 10:31 pm
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I got a Barnes & Noble gift certificate, and [ profile] mister_wolf had reminded me a few days ago that I’d been meaning to pick up the DVD of Nausicaä, so yesterday I did. I also discovered that the official English translation of Pom Poko was out; I figured Disney would never release that story of magical shape-changing animals who make weapons out of their own testicles. Yet there it was! I got both.

Today I watched Nausicaä, which still holds up after all these years. I just love all those great designs — the planes, the armor, the giant bugs. And probably more facial hair than in all the rest of anime put together.

One bit that I’d never noticed before: Towards the end, the valley people are under attack, and take refuge in the hull of an ancient abandoned ship of some kind at the edge of Acid Lake. The ship has a conning tower, and looks like it might be a submarine, but it could be a surface ship with a rounded body, sort of like this. It’s even got some fins towards one end, like in that picture. And one of the characters says about it “It was supposed to have been built before the Seven Days of Fire. They say it’s been all over, even to the stars.” (That’s Disney’s English dub translation.)

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Bonnie Tyler’s 1983 video for “Total Eclipse of the Heart” was the world’s first shojou manga music video. Seriously, you could probably redo 98% of it with footage out of Revolutionary Girl Utena.

(From a discussion on Making Light.)

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Whew! We just finished watching the last episode of Revolutionary Girl Utena. I’m exhausted. How long did that take us? Two years, maybe? Jeez!

Just as well, I guess, since it meant I got to see the last few episodes having recently read some Andrea Dworkin, which provides a surprisingly good perspective on it. Well, second-hand Dworkin, since I can’t really stand to read her actual writing. (I wonder what the effect would be on western culture if academic could learn to write in a style that ordinary people enjoyed reading.) But I can’t find the links I was looking at, so the rest of you are out of luck.

Now, where’d I put that copy of the Utena movie...?


Mar. 22nd, 2005 01:46 pm
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I saw Steamboy with [ profile] bugsybanana last night. The subtitled director’s cut playing at the Landmark Cinema, not the dubbed and trimmed-down version showing at the AMC. Not that I knew that going in; I chose the venue because I felt like having some Katz’s Deli matzo ball soup.

It’s a Katsuhiro Otomo movie, so plenty of impressive visuals and lots of the old explodo. And it’s steampunk, so you get your FDA recommended allowance for the year of pipes, gears, and other industrial goodies. I had a bit of trouble figuring out what most of the character’s motivations were. Not the protagonist, young Ray Steam himself, the movie does a good enough job of dangling obvious plot carrots in front of him, and swapping them out as needed. And one set of bad guys, the O’Hara Corporation, American arms dealers, yeah, they want to make money by showing off their new weapons to various nations of the world, and so they want to, um, destroy The Great Exhibition. OK, pretty straightforward, but then we’ve got a host of associate enemy/allies. Robert Stephenson, who seems to be representing state power over corporate power. And Ray’s father and grandfather, who spend an unfortunate amount of time in naïve philosophical arguments about the purpose of science.

Hey, has there ever been a major steampunk work that really engaged with the fact that the 19th century was a hotbed of labor activity? Britain made labor unions legal in 1832, the Tolpuddle Martyrs were arrested in 1834, you had the Chartists (some of you may remember them from Freedom & Necessity by Steven Brust and Emma Bull), and in 1864 Marx organized what would later become the First International. Imagine a steampunk version of the fight over the Paris Commune of 1871. (Hm, maybe I need to reread The Difference Engine.)


Jan. 24th, 2005 12:03 am
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So how was Arisia?

Well, just OK. A let down from last year’s, which was fantastic. Though the travel was much better this time. I took Amtrak up, and I’d forgotten how comfortable train travel is compared to those cramped buses. A bunch of us wound up taking the train back because of the blizzard. So between travel and taking a day off work, this was more than I’ve spent on a non-Worldcon convention in a while, since I stopped buying lots of dealer’s stuff.

Part of that was the guest. Last year we had Tim Powers, an author whose work I’ve been following for years, and who is interesting and entertaining and hangs out at parties and chats with the fans. This year, Barbara Hambly, one of whose series I read a long time ago and I haven’t bothered with anything of hers since, and I hear she didn’t hang out so much.

Another was the con itself. Seemed like lots of the usual people didn’t show. I’ve heard that most of the NYC crowd skipped it this year. There were a total of three parties listed for Friday night, and I think they all closed down early. More parties Saturday, but still seemed like not as many as usual. Not many interesting panels, or maybe I’m just getting tired of all the usual panel topics.

Hey, here’s a convention panel idea: What typical advice given at convention panels is bullshit? For example, what advice given about writing is actually some editor telling you her preferences, and doesn’t have anything to do with what actually sells once published?

And did the hotel’s key-maker malfunction, generating room keys which expired within a few hours, causing inconvenience for many people?

Why, yes, how ever did you guess?

OK, but did you at least see some episodes of a kick-ass anime series that you’d never heard of before?

Funny you should ask. I saw the first four episodes of Samurai Champloo, the latest work by Shinichiro Watanabe, director of Cowboy Bebop. Bebop was SF with a jazz score, Chaploo is Meiji-era samurai action with a hiphop sensibility. And I don’t just mean the music — one of the main characters has a wild fighting style that incorporates breakdance moves. Despite the first episode’s warning of historical inaccuracy, I found myself wondering: Breakdancing is descended from capoeira, a martial art developed by African slaves in Brazil in the 16th century; Brazil was a colony of Portugal; there was contact between Portugal and Japan in the 16th century....

Anyway, the fights scenes are amazing. The characters are mostly ciphers in these first four episodes. Mugen is the wild breakdancing vagrant who lives to fight. Jin is the calm, quiet ronin with formally perfect style. Each is the best fighter the other has ever met, and for Mugen, that’s reason enough to challenge Jin to a fight to the death. Their fight is interrupted when a burning building collapses on them, they’re arrested for having killed the local governor’s thugs, and Fuu, who at first seems a generic cute girl from anime central casting (complete with pet flying squirrel), shows up to break them loose if they’ll agree to help her hunt down a samurai who smells of sunflowers. We don’t find out anything about these character’s pasts in the first four episodes, but we probably will.

I see that Samurai Champloo will turn up on the Cartoon network’s Adult Swim this summer, probably with the profanity stripped out. The DVDs should all ship this year, so I’ll probably just wait for those.

How about insane crack anime? Any of that?

Oh yeah! We saw the end of Dead Leaves, a bit of bizarre hyper-violence with a Peter Max color scheme, and two episodes of Time Boken, which starts out with groups of villains from other anime competing to be the villains for this one, and moves on to an invasion of a land populated by heroes from another anime company. With a special guest appearance by the Gatchaman characters ordering noodles!

Did anybody remark upon your t-shirts?

Why, yes, they did! I got the usual grins, thumbs-ups, and other signs of approval for my “We’re not all jerks” shirt on Friday, but all Saturday I had people asking me what the idea was behind my “Consumable” shirt. Which I guess shows that SF fans just think too hard about some things. Eventually I took to telling people it was apple juice gone bad.

Do you have a favorite line from a Socratic dialog?

“That is what is wanted, Gorgias; exhibit the shorter method now, and the longer one at some other time.”
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Twenty days ago.

Today )
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(Yeah, I know everyone and his same-sex obsession has used that as a parody title. I want to see if Google still loves me.)

Much Utena was watched. We’ve finished off the Black Rose arc, and seen the first few episodes with the amazing car that blows people’s clothes off. We will probably not finish off the rest in a massive six hour viewing session.

Modern Japanese high school romance is probably not as formal as it seems in Utena (which is, after all, inspired by The Rose of Versailles, an early manga series from the 1970s, set in pre-Revolutionary France), though I wouldn’t be surprised if it were more formal than American high school. And given how stratified American high schools are, it’s no wonder high school is such a ripe setting for romance stories.

Given how much all the characters keep talking about “world revolution”, I’d kinda like to see some good, old-fashioned leftist politics in Utena. (Or maybe that’s an echo of The Rose of Versailles too.) Maybe sit China Miéville down in front of it and see what he comes up with.
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Anime Popeye, requires QuickTime, and a beefy enough connection that you don’t mind an 8-meg download. (via Ceejbot)

An amazing Powerpuff Girls doujinshi. (via Long story, short pier, who describes it as “More like ‘The Entire Turn-of-the-Century Cartoon Network Output Doujinshi.’”)
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Holy cats! Tonight’s weather is the opening of Akira!

[ booom! ]
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I played but a single game of San Juan at GC last night before a bunch of us went off to see Kill Bill Vol. 2. I wish I’d bought a ticket for [ profile] bugsybanana; the movie does enough recapping that you can probably enjoy it without having seen the first. Lots of cool fights, lots of references to other movies, lots of melodramatic over-acting by a guy with a great beard.

Afterwards we dined at Big Nick’s, where I introduced a new generation to the joys of garlic soup. Then a voyage crosstown to [ profile] bigscary’s place, where he showed us a few episodes of Mister Keaton, an anime show that I might be able to google up a link for if it weren’t for Buster Keaton and Family Ties. Think of it as MacGyver working as an insurance claims adjuster. (Update: It’s Master Keaton, says [ profile] stormsweeper.)

Best line of the night: “They’re either catamites or catatites, depending on whether they top or bottom.”

Slept over at BigScary’s, made my way home smelly and unshowered.
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Trying to make up a character for a Big Eyes, Small Mouth game has reminded me of the annoying things about a system that I generally like.

RPG neeping here )

Another annoying thing that has nothing to do with the system is that I want to make up a necromancer, but the character who shows up when I start typing is a rakshasa.
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[ head ]How long since I’ve posted a drawing? A week?

I haven’t been very productive lately, for all that I’ve been hanging out at Ground to avoid the cold. (On the upside, story ideas have finally started showing up. Generally at 2 AM. I get up and write ’em down anyway.)

Teacup and cleavage! )

April 2017



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