Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hatenkō Yūgi - Episode 1

My Thoughts:
My first thought was quite simple: what was that?

I'm at an utter loss as to what I'm supposed to be thinking with this thing. It was unnecessarily convoluted, a problem that could have been avoided with a single line of text on the screen that said something like "six weeks later." By the end of the episode, i had no emotional investment in any of the characters, a distinct blasé feeling concerning the possibility of an overarching plot line, and a moderate appreciation of the art. It's not KyAni, but it's not as bad as some of the things I've seen.

At this point, I'll give episode 2 a try, but if it still fails to engage me, I'll be promptly ignoring it.

Episode Summary:
The episode starts out with the main character, a young girl named Rahzel being kicked out of her hours by her father, who basically tells her to travel a bit, learn on her own, and see the world. Just a few minutes out of the house, she runs into a criminal named Alzeid, who's on some type of mission of revenge. Flash forward some unknown amount of time (though you only know this because they're suddenly in different clothes) and the pair is trying to make a bit of quick money. They take a job trying to exorcise a ghost who's hanging out in the woods of the town they happen to be in. Exposition ensues, and some guy who flirts with Rahzel and has a butterfly tatoo on his hand suddenly appears. Once the flirting/banter is over, Rahzel sends him off to buy something. More exposition bores us, and then we have sudden scene shifts in a vain attempt to build suspense.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Spice And Wolf episode 3

My Thoughts
No fighting. No swords. No odd ball powers. Barely any drama. What is it that makes me like this series so much? Frankly, it's a great change of pace from some of the other things in my queue to be watched. Persona, Ayakashi & Shana all have the special powers and fights, while True Tears, H20 and Clannad are great for the drama.

Any how, the relationship between Horo and Lawrence is progressing nicely, and it's interesting to see him work through ways to make a profit.

In the end, this episode was similar to the first two, and could be considered more setup, especially in regards to the relationship between the two main characters.

Episode Summary
This episode starts off with Horo and Lawrence carting their way into a city to meet Zeiren. In the market, Horo spies some apples and gets teased a bit by Lawrence. The next morning, they go to a company and sell the furs, with Horo chatting them up to a higher price. Then it's off to see Zeiren to talk about the money deal. After Lawrence agrees, he gives Horo a lesson on the different coins, and there are like a dozen different silver currencies here. The next morning, it's off to sign the contract and then to visit a friend of Lawrence who is a money-exchanger. Enter a bit of jealousy on Lawrence's part, and they discover a bit about the coins. Well, the two have a conversation, where Lawrence realizes he's been tricked, and off he goes to find a way to make himself some more money.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Persona -Trinity Soul- Episode 4

My Thoughts
Frankly, we're four episodes into this thing, and I'm still trying to figure out just what on earth is going on. I knew there were some serious brain issues going on with Jun when we saw him chatting up his dead sister's dress; but it appears that it's a tad more than just that. As for the actual plot, and the Personas, I have to wonder if there's something about the city that the series is set in which activates them. Of course because Ryō is not talking to Shin (or the audience) I'm kind of left with this frustrated feeling as I'm trying to hang the tiny morsels of plot and character development that we've been given on some type of conceptual framework. And failing rather miserably at it.

At this point, we've still got more questions than answers, and sadly this one has just created more of them. Yet, I think that this is the intention of the producers, as we're obviously supposed to relate to Shin and the frustration and confusion that he's displaying.

Episode Summary
The episode starts up the morning after episode 3, with Shin still wondering just what he should do about the list that he found. Jun is outside shoveling snow and eventually wanders into their parents' old workroom, which features some of their books, as well as the siblings schoolwork and art projects. Invoke brother-bonding moment here. Then we get the 2 detectives talking about the LIST. Then more brother-bonding time between the two younger siblings, at least until older brother Ryō shows up. Cue older sibling angsting, with Ryō telling Shin that he wants Shin and Jun out of the house; that's all happening while Jun's doing the cooking. After the meal that Jun made gets knocked to the floor, Ryō takes off. Then's it's time for Shin to steal the list from his brother's computer, but before he calls the detective, his stomach grumbles and he goes eat some of the food that Jun made. Which means it's time for Shin to be all weepy about how the food tastes just like mom used to make. When he goes to apologize to Jun, he finds that the kid is missing. A few scenes of Shin running about, and he calls his brother (you know, the chief of police to get him in on the action). Well, while Shin has been losing little brother, Ryō has been chatting up Eiko, the old family friend, who chews Ryō out for being mean to the little ones. After Ryō gets the call, he rushes off in his car. Shin finally stops to rest, and he finds a "whale feather" and looks over to see a girl with these things swirling about her, standing in the street. Like any sensible person, he proceeds to walk out into the middle of said street where his older brother comes within inches of running him down. The two talk, and they make that wide-eyed, deer-caught-in-the-headlights, realization face at one another. So we switch over to Jun who's having a flashback as he walks along the beach. The two older siblings come running up to him, and stop suddenly when Jun's dead twin sister is standing there staring at them. Her Persona appears for a few moments, and then she collapses and it's Jun who falls to the ground. Ryō drops them off at the house, and then we get Shin proving that brother loyalty is stronger than a plot that lets the watchers know what's happening.

Monday, January 28, 2008

True Tears Episode 4

My Thoughts:
My first thought, and one that pops up rather routinely throughout this episode is how clueless can Shinichirō be? I can understand his emo'ing over Hiromi, especially after what he overheard in episode 3, but he should have a lick of sense and apply what Aiko told him to her actions. Despite his utter blindness to any girl outside of Hiromi, he's acting a lot like a true teenage guy here. Who hasn't overheard a girl say they don't like them? Who hasn't been utterly oblivious about a girl taking interest in them (my wife would like me to take this time for me to point out that I was a tad... oblivious to her interest in me when we first met).

My next thought is wondering just what crawled up the mom's bum and died. And why exactly is a comment about Hiromi having her mom's eyes so... bad. Was there something between either Hiromi's mom and Shin's dad or maybe the mom and Hiromi's dad? I can only hope that that's one of the things that are touched upon as we clear up Hiromi's story arc.

There are two characters that I feel kind of bad here for though. The first is Nobuse Miyokichi, who appears to truly like Aiko, and she's not quite all that into him--or at least it appears that way. We'll see what happens as we play out her full arc though. Then there is Noe, who could be considered the only true innocent in the story so far. Sure, she's odd, and eclectic-but who doesn't like a girl that's slightly off? My wife wouldn't be nearly as cute if she didn't have all those idiosyncrasies that I adore so much.

But I digress, Noe is carefree and innocent in a way that the other two girls just can't comprehend. It's almost like she doesn't even realize that she's falling for the main character. Unfortunately, I can see this leading to bad mojo for her.

Frankly, I'm liking the relationships here. They're true to life, and bring memories of those miserable teenage romances of yesteryear. I just wish that the tortured artist was as popular in my high school days as Shin appears to be here.

Episode Summary:
Because these things tend to be required for episodic blogging, but also tend to be what folks like least, I'm breaking the usual mold, and just shoving them to the bottom. Anyways, this episode starts up a few minutes after the last one ends, with Hiromi and Shinichirō walking home, with Hiromi talking about Number 4. Afterwards we get Shinichirō acting all emo, and being stumbled upon by Aiko. Who of course drags him shopping. When Shin suggests that she also invite her boyfriend (who is Shin's best friend) she blows off the suggestion. Post-shopping trip, we have Shin making an idiot of himself in front of Hiromi, and then some more nastiness from Shin's mom. Finally, Noe makes an appearance in this episode, where she then tries to drown Shin. More emo-angst from Shin, and he calls Noe 'goofy looking,' and ends up being cheered up by this. Shin goes home, and has a Hallmark moment with his dad, followed the next morning by a comedy routine between Hiromi & Shin (which makes Shin even happier). Switch over to Noe & her brother shopping, and the girl just keeps up a narrative about her time with Shin. The episode ends with the brother appearing at Shin's house, and telling him to date Noe.

Monday Morning Rambling for January 28th

Well, another week is starting, and it's a beautiful sun-filled day. Which is especially joyful as most of last week was distinctly lacking in the sun. Fortunately, I work in a big room with lots of artificial sun (read that as florescent bulbs) so I'm not suffering from a lack of light. Of course, things could be worse, I could have to be reviewing Glass Fleet.

Anyways, I have another geek moment involving my kids. This one involves the elder son, and Star Trek of all things. We had just finished watching an episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender and what was coming on next was Edgar and Ellen. Now, there are a lot of cartoons that I'll watch, and a lot of those I'll even enjoy. Edgar and Ellen falls into neither of those categories. Yet that's a topic for another day. So, there I was, having pushed the "guide" button on the remote, and scrolling through the various offerings on the boob tube, and throughout this activity, my son, who knows that the channel is getting changed has been saying how much he wanted to watch the cartoons. No surprises there, the boy loves cartoons as much as I do--much to the chagrin of my beloved wife.

As one may have guessed by now, I switched over to Star Trek, and like the good geek that my boy is, he instantly stopped asking for the cartoons and started asking for the SF show. I'm so proud.

In movie-land, there's not a movie that I really, really want to see (well, Juno looks good) until the Valentine's day release of Jumper and The Spiderwick Chronicles. That said, this weekend saw the release of the movies Rambo and Meet the Spartans. Guess which one is #1 at the box offices. Here's a hint--it's the one that's not a revival of a nearly thirty year old franchise. Just one of those things that I find amusing. Of course, there are some interesting images from Will Smith's upcoming superhero flick, Hancock (images courtesy of Rope of Silicon):
Switching hats to book land, I'm in the process of vetting the Darth Bane sequel's review, writing Hal Spacejock: Second Course's review, and have just finished Scalzi's Android Dream. Which reminds me of something that I find odd. I'm of distinct mixed emotions whenever a book store closes. On the one hand, I have less places to peruse and purchase books, while on the other, I can get books cheap during the "we're closing" sales. Sadly, the bookstore closest to my workplace, a Waldenbooks in the Metrocenter Mall is now gone. I'll miss it, even though I knew it only a short time.

Now that I've given my wife enough material to mock me for the rest of the week at least, let's move on to anime. First off, let's talk a bit about other anime blogs out there. While this doesn't have a distinct directive on anime, it is a big part of what I talk about, infused as it is with that whole geek culture thing. Anyways, Jeff Lawson, over at Hop, Step, Jump has an interesting article discussing the differences between episodic and editorial blogging of animes, and where he himself falls into those paradigms. Personally, I've long been of the editorial mode myself, waiting for an entire season to play out and then writing my thoughts up on the whole series. That said, I've long noticed that most of the blogs out there dealing with anime were of the episodic variety. Long, have I wondered if I should switch to writing reviews on a per episode basis. In fact even now, it leaves me leaning back in my chair, stroking my cleanly shaved chin, and saying, "hmm." Well, my chin isn't that cleanly shaved at the moment, I was in a bit of a rush this morning.

Frankly, I'm not certain if I have the time to do such episodic reviews. After all, I've barely have free time as it is, what with all my various geek pursuits. Yet, the thought of episodic blogging does appeal to me, even if it means that I need to figure out how to take screen shots. Which is either as easy as pressing CTRL+i or a varied, multi-step procedure involving arcane settings and the "print screen" button.

Oh well, I've got True Tears 4 and Spice & Wolf 3 waiting on my PC for my viewing pleasure this evening. Let's see how easy it is to do this with these two animes. If I'm enjoying it, I'll try expanding out to the rest of the animes I'm watching one by one. Of course that begs the question, does anyone really care?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Author Response to Star Wars Fans Hate Star Wars

Earlier this year, I linked to an article at Jive magazine concerning the state of Star Wars fans, and their love/hate relationship with the franchise. I thought it hilarious, and related perfectly with it.

Well, the author is now back, and after the resurgence of the original article thanks to its feature on (which is how I found it) has posted a follow-up to it, entitled Star Wars Fan Hates Stars Wars: Special Edition. While it lacks the tongue-in-cheek enjoyment of the original article, it's still a good read.

Much thanks to the anonymous commenter who pointed it out to me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Review: Ultraviolet

All right, this is going to be a bit of an ad hoc review. Nothing formalized, no structure, just my somewhat rambling thoughts a good 12 hours after I watched this movie.

Anyways, here is my succinct, and to the point review:

Now, the question remains: was I supposed to find this movie as insanely funny as I did? For some reason, I doubt it, but there was just so much that I laughed through. The list includes:
  • The fight scenes
  • The other fight scenes
  • Those other fight scenes
  • and of course, the fight scenes.
You know, judging from what I laughed at, one would get the feeling that this movie was nothing but a vehicle for silly fight scenes. Well, concerning the film that was ultimately released that's true. The plot and character developments have been butchered during the editing process (according to the film was taken from writer/director Kurt Wimmer and completely re-edited the film because the original version was "too emotional" for a SF action flick.

Which really kind of annoys me. That implies that all SF/genre fans have the emotional range of turnips or something. Now, I know that my beloved wife believes that I lack compassion and empathy, but that's okay, because let's face it I do. Yet I still enjoy watching emotional dramas from time to time. Especially if said emotional piece is interlaced with explosions, sword play and/or lots of gun fights; you know, those fun things to take your mind off the girly-emotional stuff.

Anyways, yes, I laughed while watching this movie. Unfortunately, it was more the snickering one does at old reruns of The Blob rather than any humor intentional from the film's editors.

Ultimately, I was happy when I selected the 'erase' option on my DVR, and even happier when I realized that I had never bothered to go see this movie in the theaters or rent it on DVD the way I had considered a number of times.

In the end, this gets a 0 out of 4. Not even the cool techno-babble could save this unfortunate, hour and a half long fight scene.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Star Trek Drooling!

Star Trek trailer in HD.

What more needs to be said?

Rambling on a Tuesday

Yesterday was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. As a side-note, it was also Robert E. Lee's birthday as well. Sad that we don't celebrate his birth, because he freed more slaves than Lincoln ever did plus he fought for States rights. One has to wonder just how Dr. King would take his birthday being used to push special rights for ethnic minorities. After all, he taught that we should be judged by what we do, and what we're capable rather than some obscene form of Affirmative Action.

But I digress. This is a SF blog, if I wanted to discuss conceivable changes to the past, well, that's what we have alternate histories for. Things such as 1632, which by the way, happens to be a decent book.

Unfortunately, dealing with kids, and then spending time with the family ate up all my weekend, which means I have yet to watch the two episodes of The Connor Chronicles I have sitting on my DVR. A third episode which happened to join them last night. Also, I set the DVR to record Ultraviolet; should be at least an entertaining film.

I hope.

Anime-wise, I've got reviews coming for Skygirls and am happily consuming my host of usual fun things. Next week, on the new "Ani-Tuesday" I'll be watching R.O.D Read Or Die. What's not to love there. Anime + books = greatness.

Speaking of books, my review for Darth Bane: Rule of Two is getting beta'd by one of my compatriots over at TheForce.Net. Once it gets vetted in that way, it will probably be put up both over there and over here. Finally, I'm still in the process of re-reading Hal Spacejock: Second Course for its review.

Well, that's where I'm at this week. I've got a number of fun things waiting in the DVR for me. A couple of fansubs to catch up on, and a book to finish re-reading.

Plus my eyes are still burning over the misery that was Cloverfield.

Alas, I hope new SF content appears soon. My poor abused brain needs it.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Review: Cloverfield

I went to another new movie recently. It has been getting all sorts of hype and love from various SF venues, and I figured that I would give into the hype. After all, the last time something was produced via the handheld cameraPOV we were given the original Blair Witch Project. Anyways, Cloverfield is J. J. Abrams' attempt at producing a monster movie. It was written by Drew Goddard and directed by Matt Reeves. Neither of whom have a long list of laurels upon which to rest. In fact according most of their work has been on television shows. Which in some ways may explain the 84 minute running time.

Which truth be told, I think that 84 minute listing found on IMDB is way over what it's run time really is. Unless there's 30 minutes worth of credits. The showing I went to began at 2 in the afternoon. There was the usual twenty minutes of of previews, and I was back in my car by 3:38. I had no expectations on the movie being THAT short, and am ecstatic that I did see it during a matinee showing, as I'd have been quite irate at paying full ticket prices for such a short film.

But I digress. I was excited about going to see a new monster movie. It's been a while since I saw one, and I was actually looking forward to it. I was happy about going to it, even when there are more, SF-specific movies that are either out now (In the Name of the King, Waterhorse) or upcoming (The Eye, Jumper, & the Spiderwick Chronicles) or even compared to non-genre flicks that look highly interesting to me such as Juno.

Anyways, the plot is pretty much a traditional monster movie, not unlike any of the old Godzilla flicks. The catch here is that it is that the point of view is hard and fast against one of the characters, by way of a hand-held digital video camera. Not, scratch that. The monster aspect is not the plot. This was a rescue-the-girl plot, with the monster being the prime antagonist. Unfortunately, this particular execution of this plot left a lot to be desired.

You can go one of two ways with Monster movies: campy such as Godzilla 2000, or serious such as Matthew Broderick's Godzilla. As a side-note, I call the Broderick Godzilla a "serious" movie because the characters, and the producers take the concept and the monster seriously, as opposed to the Godzilla 2000 movie in which the camp and amusement was on purpose. Cloverfield is firmly in the serious camp here, with both the characters and those who created this movie, firmly serious about it.

As for characters, there's a decent set cast. The nominal protagonist, by virtue of holding the camera through most of the film isHud Platt . He is best friends with the nominal 'hero' of the flick, Rob Hawkins. Rounding out the cast of characters are: Rob's brother Jason; Jason's girlfriend Lily;Hud's love interest Marlena (who also received top billing for this movie; look for her in such films as Mean Girls and a host of TV shows.) and finally the proverbial damsel Beth.

Out of that cast list, we get the most character development between Rob and Beth. By virtue of flashbacks found in the video. It's an interesting way to create, and inform the viewers, of theback story, and worked fairly well.

The actual filming of the story was not that bad. In fact it looked a whole lot better than some of the home made hand held videos that I've seen in the past. And it works better as far as the story telling aspect goes than Doom's miserable attempt at a POV camera.

What struck me the most is that this is the first time in a while that I've really noticed a 'destroy New York' movie. I mean in the nineties we were given things such as Independence Day, Deep Impact, Mars Attacks! and of course Godzilla. All of these films actively destroyed New York. After the 9/11 attacks the biggest destruction on screen would be 2004's The Day After Tomorrow; where New York was hit by a tidal wave and then froze. Other films after the terrorist attacks implied New York's destruction (A.I., War of the Worlds, The Time Machine) but we really didn't get to see the explosions.

Yet, my innate love of destruction and big explosions, did nothing to help this film.

First off, this was a monster movie, in the vein of Godzilla. We WANT to see the monster, clearly and distinctly. The more times the better.

But again, I have to stop that line of thinking. This was not a monster movie, this was a rescue-the-girl movie. As such, we can then forgive the director that the monster gets so little screen time. What we can't forgive is the less-than-stellar thrills. Every time something goes bump or is in some way supposed to give the audience a thrill, the action is rather telegraphed. I did not find anything that even made me jump in my seat; something which even I am Legend accomplished.

If you're going to see this movie, expecting a good monster movie, as I was, you'll be utterly disappointed. If you're after the rescue-the-girl movie which it ultimately is, you'll be happier, but I'm still left with something of a cold feeling about it. In my opinion, there was not enough characterizations in the film for us to truly connect with them, nor feel fear for them.

As I said earlier, I was happy that I didn't pay full price for a film that was as short as this one; but I am doubly happy that I didn't pay full price just because I didn't like the film.

I'm sad that I wasted a chance to go to the movies on this film. I'd have rather watched Juno, or waited until around Valentine's Day when I could go see Jumper. Unfortunately, what is done, is done.

Ultimately, I have to give it a .6 out of 4. I would have gone lower, but I have to give it props for a few things:

  1. flashbacks
  2. handheld video camera format
  3. marketing chutzpa

Friday, January 18, 2008

It's Friday already?!?

Apparently so. For those who know, and those that don't, yesterday we took our youngest to the surgeon's and had tubes put into his ears. He came through the surgery fine, but has since been something of a diva. Even going so far as to yank a DVD off the shelf, hand it to the wife, and then proceed to point at the player until my wife got up to put it in.

Alas, but that explains my strange silence here the past few days-mainly because I've been dealing with that.

And speaking of dealing with things, I was saddened to hear that The Force Unleashed was in the throes of being pushed back until summer (or possibly early fall). That kind of annoys me, because I was actually looking forward to that game.

On the topic of games, EIDOS has announced that they're producing a Highlander game. That makes me scared. Need I remind anyone of the anime or worse that made-for-TV movie that was on the SciFi Channel last fall?

One good thing (at least in my opinion) which the SciFi Channel has done recently, has been to announce the extension of their anime programming block to also include Tuesday evenings. The first of the Tuesday fare is scheduled for February fifth, and features R.O.D. Read or Die. I've been looking forward to that movie; now if only SciFi would get read of that atrocious ECW and their monster-movie of the week programming.

Speaking of anime, I'm thoroughly enjoying this season's crop of new shows, and returning favorites. Currently on my list are:

  • Hayate
  • Clannad
  • H20
  • True Tears
  • Persona: Trinity Soul
  • Macross
There are a few others as well, but I'm having a bit of trouble remembering them at the moment.

Finally, reviews will be here soon. I promise.

Monday is my anniversary, so I'm not certain if I'll have a post for everyone. I doubt it, but stranger things have happened.

My final leaving for today will be this picture from the upcoming Star Trek movie.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hyperspace '08

Hmm.... my biggest complaint about my Hyperspace & Insider subscriptions were the utter lack of new EU content. There was no fiction, no comics, nada. IF they're intending on bringing all this back, well, it may just be worth reactivating my Hyperspace account. It's an interesting situation.

And is that Togruta on Felucia?

After a bit of research, apparently it is Felucia and it is Shaak Ti. The Force Unleashed should be awesome.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

#1 Show is "glass half full."

Good night, I despise the Fox television network. They're firmly determined to destroy anything SF. The only ones who are happier decimating genre television would be NBC/Universal, the parent company of the SciFi Channel.

The Sarah Conner Chronicles apparently did well Sunday & Monday nights. Not just well, but really, really well. Especially in that all-important 18-49 age demographic. That's about a 7.6 Nielson rating or 18+ million viewers; not counting those like me who Tivo'd or DVR'd the show.

Ecstatic, mind-boggling numbers. Just goes to show how much love a show will get when folks have been living off of reruns and 'reality tv.' Yet, what does that have to do with my intense dislike of the Fox TV network now? Well, I stumbled across this quote from Peter Liguori, Fox's Entertainment high-muckety-muck.

What I’m looking at with the glass half full is strong numbers, the number 1 premiere of the season. In terms of realistically looking forward, we’ll try to dig down as deep as possible to see what our expectations might be. From there we’ll see how we can grind it out week to week.
Do what? You've just been handed the number 1 premier show of the season and that's a "glass half full" scenario? Actually, scratch that, the number 1 premier show in 3 years, and that's a "glass half full" scenario? What does it take to make the glass be full? Blood sacrifices on the part of genre fans? Fear not, I know a couple that probably would do that if Fox would stop giving us wonderful genre shows and then systematically destroying them.

Good game, Fox.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Why are Mondays so tiring?

Well, here it is, yet another Monday morning. As I was taking my eldest to pre-K this morning, he looked up at me, and asked a question, "What are Mondays?"

I had no clue exactly what he was asking for, so I prodded for more information. "What do you mean?"

He glanced out the window, and continued talking. "Well, Fridays are toy day, and Saturday is the day that we stay home and watch cartoons, and Sunday is church day. So, what are Mondays?"

How exactly does one answer a question like that? Deciding that there really is only 1 way, I then answered, "Well, Mondays are the day that I go back to work, and you go back to school."

He frowned for a moment. "Oh. I don't like Mondays that much then."

His pre-K brain then went about finding something else to talk about. Yet, my brain was stuck on that exchange. Part of it amused by it, while the other part was doing hosannas that he didn't reply, "Well, I think I've got a bad case of the Mondays."

Or maybe I've just watched Office Space one time too many.

Oh well, I'm sure these are happy things. But, regardless, there is good news and bad news on the SF on TV front. The good news is that there is a new SF television show which began last night. The Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles' premier episode aired last evening. Tonight, part 2 of it airs. I've watched neither as I'm DVR'ing them as I don't want that whole 24 hour separation between parts 1 and 2. Now for the bad news: it's on Fox.

Yes, the same Fox which happily destroyed 3 previous SF shows on its channels (i.e. Space: Above and Beyond, Dark Angel, and Firefly). Fox has an odd relationship with SF. The channel was built in SF's back, yet ever since then, nearly every SF show they have tried to air they've tortured until not even the most dedicated fans would know when it was coming on, or even if.

I just hope that Fox leaves it in one time slot long enough that people can actually remember when the show is coming on. I also hope that they remember that you actually have to air the episodes in order to get people to watch.

Of course, this is Fox, so I don't expect that much to be done.

Anyways, reviews are coming. I promise. Sadly, the list still contains:

  • Darth Bane: Rule of Two - novel
  • Hal Spacejock: Second Course - novel
  • Skygirls - anime
Oh well. If anyone did watch The Conner Chronicles last night, I wouldn't mind hearing some non-spoilery thoughts on it.

Friday, January 11, 2008

It's Friday!

Ah, screaming that out makes one feel like the Spartan Cheerleaders. Plus gets one odd looks from ones co-workers. But, you know, that's okay. I'm something of an odd duck.

Speaking of odd ones, my youngest does take that particular cake. My eldest despised carbonated drinks until just a few months ago. He would just refuse to drink the things. Not that I'm complaining, but it's relevant back story. Well, because of the elder son's penchant for not touching our carbonated refreshment, we kind of... assumed that the younger would act in a similar fashion.

Boy, were we mistaken. My wife took the boy to breakfast this morning, and purchased herself a coke. Well, she got home, she set it on the counter, and turned her back on the boy to do something (one can insert quips about not turning your back on monsters in horror movies here). The next moment she turned around, and her coke was missing.

As was our son.

She walked into our bedroom, and there she found him. He had taken my pillow off of the bed, dropped it to the floor, laid down on it, and then proceeded to attempt to drink from my wife's coke. As is often the case, there was a problem. My youngest does quite well with straws. Provided someone is holding the cup. If no one is holding the cup, he tends to want to treat them like a sippie cup.

Consider that for a moment. Here was this bouncing bundle of 14 month old energy, laying on the floor, head resting on MY pillow, holding a McDonald's coke cup upside down over his face.

Lovely how it was my pillow.

Anyways, onto things that are relevant for someone interested in Science Fiction.

First and foremost, Summer Glau is coming back to our beloved SF genre. After her stint as River on the wonderful Firefly, Ms. Glau is now jumping to a new franchise, and will be a part of The Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles. I BELIEVE that this is the television show, but at the moment, am not 100% certain.

Then someone has posted an open letter to the Sci-Fi Channel. One which I have to agree with whole heartedly. Probably my favorite quote:

Mark Harris was right when he said that science fiction needed to ditch the nostalgia if it’s going to reclaim its integrity. Lucky for those of us who love sci-fi that there’s a whole network devoted to it. I just want them to fulfill their mandate.
Ah, I remember back in the day, when I was excited that I was going to get the SciFi channel. I couldn't wait, and I was almost bouncing about the walls. A dire prospect, as we were in the midst of remodeling.

In other news io9 has provided us this image for the toy line from the superhero television show Heroes. All I have to say is "meh." Though the thought of a brain accessory does sound nifty.

Speaking of nifty, the winter anime season is going strong over in Japan. I'm anxiously awaiting episode two of Macross, H20 and a few others. Additionally, I've culled from my list of shows to watch things such as Rosario + Vampire. Regardless, my days of happy anime viewing are continuing.

Final bit of anime information from my side of the galaxy is that I have finished Sky Girls, and hope to put up a review of that soon.

Other review information is I'm still pushing through the Darth Bane and Hal Spacejock sequels reviews. The Darth Bane one is about a good half way through, while the Hal one is a bit under a quarter done. There are a few things I need to check on for that review, which means I'll need to do another read of that particular novel.

The Mandalorians are planning a movie night for January 22 to see Cloverfield. While I am mildly interested in this particular movie, the evening for such an outing is less than useful, as I've already have plans. After all, a mere 8 years ago on that day, was when I tricked my wife into marrying me. Now, I just got to figure out what bronze artwork she wants.

The only thing I can think of would be this bronze statue by artist Larry Noble:
For some reason, I fear it just might not be what she's wanting though. Man, why do they have to make those anniversary gifts so hard?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

The trailer for the Clone Wars tv series has found its way to youtube. I still think the character designs are horrid, but I'm still stoked about seeing more Star Wars.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Monday Morning Rambling for January 7th

Well, we've firmly established ourselves as part of 2008. To think, just a few decades ago, this was the dreamed-of time. Flying cars, the Jupiter 2, even giant black obelisks were all thought to be widely available by this time.

Instead, we've got an out-of-control Federal government, and no sound plan for what happens when said government inevitably falls under its own, bloated weight. But, hey, that's what speculative fiction is for; from the novel I talked about last night, Republic, to Card's Empire. Even the greatest of all totalitarian novels, 1984, could well apply to our nation in just a few short years.

Alas, such is my mind.

Anyways, I've finally managed to get myself a library card for the Madison County Library system, and while the Madison branch is less than stellar in regards to SF, I'm hoping the Ridgeland branch comes off better. That's not to say that there is no SF at the Madison branch. In fact, I brought home Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land (been too long since I've read it) and the latest Pern offering, Dragon Harper.

For the anime side of things, I'm happily consuming the latest offerings. With a few exceptions. H20 is actually better than I was expecting, while Rosario + Vampire is much worse. In fact, it's little more than fanservice at the moment, and I doubt I'll bother with episode 2. Truth be told, I didn't even really bother with all of episode 1.

As for Ani-Monday, Tactics and Noein are playing tonight, and it's the start of the series again (for Noein at least), so I may DVR them, which should allow me to watch the entire series in one fell swoop.

Amusingly enough, I've also started recording Avatar: The Last Airbender. Much to my surprise, it's actually a good show. I hadn't watched it previously, because I was not expecting all that... well good of a show to come out of the NickToons labs. Consider me schooled.

I've not seen a movie since my Christmas week gluttony of the things. Hopefully, we'll have found a babysitter soon, or at least in time for our Anniversary. Though I expect my wife will wish to pick the movie on that particular evening. Oh, well, I'm certain the movie will be good.

I'm still in the midst of writing my reviews for the various novels I've finished recently, and am waiting on the last episode of Skygirls. The other review I promised sometime soon, won't be sometime soon. I had thought that Shugo Chara! was a 12 episode series, well, I was wrong. I'm not quite certain how long it is going to be, but my new estimate is either 24 or 26.

Finally, Cory Doctorow has another great article up over at Locus dealing with artist's rights. Like everything he produces it's a highly interesting read, and I'd be ecstatic to hear what others think about it.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Free e-book

Charles Sheehan-Miles has taken the route of notable authors, such as Cory Doctorow and has offered his novel, Republic, as a free e-book.

Here's the link.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Looking to the Weekend

Ah, Friday. The most wonderful day to school kids and office workers. That day which means that at the end of our enforced servitude, we then get 2 whole days away from whatever ills befall us. And by ills, I mean school or work.

Of course, my current ills are neither, as I'm suffering from something much, much worse. An upcoming dentist visit. I went Thursday afternoon, and got some meds, much to my dismay though I will be back there Tuesday afternoon for some more work. Joy. Though it does bring to mind a line from Clarke's Against the Fall of Night, where he talks about humanity gaining, losing and then once more gaining teeth. I think I'll take that book with me on Tuesday, just to amuse myself while being tortured.

Anyways, a few days ago, I discussed the upcoming years crop of SF movies, and indicated which ones I'd like to see the most. Well, I have thus decided that I'd do the same for the upcoming season of anime. Anime blog, A Geek by Any Other Name, has provided the listing of the winter animes and it's from this list that I'll be building my thoughts.

Unfortunately, there are not a whole lot of SF-based animes; with the focus being on adaptations of visual novels, especially of the dating sim variety. The SF ones that attracted my attention the most are as follows:

  • Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino-
  • Mnemosyne -Mnemosyne no Musumetachi-
  • Persona -trinity soul-
Of those three, I'll not be watching Mnemosyne. I downloaded the trailer for that series, and was disturbed by the yuri content in the trailer alone; I'm almost scared to see the amount that the series itself has. That said, it is a horror series, and will probably be highly interesting.

This is in addition to the new MACROSS series that had started at the end of the fall season.

Glomping on over to the non-SF based animes, the shows which I'll probably view are:
  • ARIA the Origination
  • H20 -Footprints in the Sand-
  • Hatenkou Yugi
  • Kimi ga Aruji de Shitsuji ga Ore de
  • Ookami to Koushinryou
  • Rosario to Vampire
  • true tears
  • Zoku * Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
Of those, the only one that I'll definitely continue on will probably be Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. The first season of this show was grand fun, and I expect that the second will continue on in that tradition.

I think that's enough about my future viewing habits, so I'll go on with the future of this particular blog. First there are a number of reviews in the process of getting written.
  • Hal Spacejock: Second Course
  • Darth Bane: Rule of Two
  • Shuga Chara
  • Skygirls
  • His Majesty's Dragon
The last one, will probably require yet another read through of the novel in question, as it has been a few months since I read it now.

Beyond that, one can expect my usual inanities of rambling nonsense on Mondays and Fridays, and of course the occasional essay about SF concepts and how they relate to real life events. That last may take a slight backseat as the Presidential race heats up. After all, I love my politics, and I love ranting about them over at the KrashPAD.

I'm just miffed that Huckabee won Iowa's caucus. It should have been Ron Paul.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

My Top 10 Star Wars Stories

2007 was the thirtieth anniversary of the Star Wars film franchise. A lesser known fact is that it was also the thirtieth anniversary of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. After all, the EU began with the Star Wars novelization, and then the addition of the Marvel comics. On the Force.Net's Literature Board, they're collating the 100 Greatest Star Wars Stories as voted upon by the board goers. Since I'm not above the blatant stealing of ideas for content, I've decided to publish my own lists of the top 10 story lines in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

Below, are my top 10. For good or ill, these are things which have made an impact on me as an individual consumer of the Star Wars franchise, as well as the fandom as a whole. So take note that I do not believe that these are necessarily the BEST stories from a personal point of view, but rather are the greatest stories (in one way or another) in the EU.

Honorable Mention. Knights of the Old Republic (video game)

Star Wars has long been in video games. From the paddle lightsaber game for the Atari 2600 and on. Yet, for me and thousands of others, BioWare's 2003 entry for LucasArts Knights of the Old Republic was a startlingly reminder about everything a game could be. It was singularly responsible for reminding me that I loved RPGs, and had a compelling storyline (with a wonderful twist at the end) in addition to beautiful graphics.

This is what a Star Wars video game should be: immersive, compelling, and above all fun to play.

Unfortunately, because the dismal Star Wars Galaxies was being released at the same time; BioWare was unable to release an online component, nor a module building system (like they have for their Neverwinter Nights game) to this game. Despite the fun of an RPG, the lack of online play and expandability seriously damaged the reuse for this expensive piece of software.

10. Splinter of the Mind's Eye

Outside of the novelization of the Original Trilogy, this was the first book published in the Star Wars universe (yes, I know the comics were earlier, that's why I specified book). This book had it all: sexual tension, kissing, sword fights, possession and even some of the most gruesome death scenes in the EU. Above all, it was a fun romp staring Luke, Leia and R2.

Of course all the flirting, and sexual tension did become somewhat creepy post Empire.

9. I, Jedi

This is the novel ultimately responsible for my love affair with Star Wars. Additionally, not only is it a wonderfully written novel, but it has a couple of even more interesting attributes. First it is one of the few (if not the only) Star Wars story told in first person, and secondly it is not the story of a movie character, yet is set within the post-RotJ time-frame. This novel shows that we can have strong, well-written novels that features characters who don't appear in any movie.

8. The Thrawn Trilogy

This is the trilogy which is credited for breathing new life into the Expanded Universe. After years of having nothing, LFL gave us what has become the benchmark against what all other Star Wars EU is compared. Love him or hate him, Zahn created some of the most compelling and beloved characters that have not appeared in a Lucas film. In fact his novels read almost like the films--a very cinematic experience filled with the Empire, Jedi, and romance.

7. Dark Empire, Dark Empire II & Empire's End

This is the Thrawn Trilogy for the comic tie-ins. The premier series when Dark Horse brought back the comics, and consequently saw the birth of Anakin Solo, as well as the ultimate death of the Emperor. Beautiful artwork, a host of new technologies, and of course a trip to the Dark Side and back; this series is what George Lucas has claimed to be the closest to the third trilogy that would ever be produced. Happily ignoring most of the Marvel continuity, Dark Empire is a beautiful piece of art and literature.

6. Revenge of the Sith (Novelization)

This is probably the ultimate in movie novelizations. It took the somewhat trite and tired plot, and the uneasy characterizations which appeared on celluloid and gave them a breadth and dimension not seen in any other novelization which I have ever read. A number of things are explained here, things which are totally glossed over, or outright ignored, in the movie itself. For example, why did Yoda leave the battle? Why did he tell Bail that he had to go into exile. If you want to know, then read the book.

5. Traitor

Philosophy, darkness, light, torture and an insane attempt to destroy the good/evil theology upon which the entire franchise is built. That is the novel Traitor in a nutshell. This is one of, if not the best novel found in the NJO, and specifically it is one of those stories which fractured the fandom, causing countless threads on various forums in a vain attempt to determine if Vergere was a Sith or not, and if Jacen was going to end up going dark or not. This book had the potential to shift how all the fans viewed the EU and the Force itself, yet, the authors and editors had apparently forgotten that Jacen had learned those lessons at the hands of the Shadow Academy during the YJK.

Despite all this, Traitor succeeded in its effort, and pushed the Solo child that nobody liked into the limelight and actually gave him fans--a far cry from what his sister's Dark Journey did for her character.

And then to top all of that, there was Ganner.

4. The Star Wars Holiday Special (TV Show)

There have been a number of attempts at bringing Star Wars to the small screen. Droids, Ewoks, those Ewok movies, and of course the Clone Wars series for Cartoon Network. Yet they weren't the first. The first was the Star Wars Holiday Special. This is a Christmas television special so bad that it makes even hard core Christmas special lovers, like my wife, look upon it with horror; forget about what it does to the average Star Wars fan. Actually, scratch that, even George Lucas despised this, as he's on record as saying "If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it." From virtual Wookiee porn to Carrie Fisher's singing, there is literally nothing as bad as this in the rest of the EU (and that includes the almost equally awful Star Wars Christmas album featuring R2-D2 and C3-PO). And until the release of the Clone Wars cartoon, every other Star Wars television attempt was snarled by the train wreck which was the Holiday Special.

3. Tales of the Jedi: Redemption

Themes are important in Star Wars. Concepts and myths are the building blocks of the entire franchise, and as such, certain themes are by default built in. Good fighting evil despite overwhelming odds. Love conquering all. Of course one of the more powerful themes in the franchise is redemption. The thought that someone can be absolved of the crimes and evil they have done. As the title suggests, Redemption is just about that. Told through the brilliant colors of Yavin IV and the Jedi Concave to the stark barrenness of Rhen Var; this is the story of one man's hunt for absolution. Powerful, haunting, and with a finale that gives us all hope that we can be Jedi Masters even without being able to touch the Force.

2. Edge of Victory: Conquest & Rebirth

Anakin Solo & Tahiri Veila. Two simple names which mean so much to so many fans. They are the stars of the JJK series, the youngest son of Han Solo & Princess Leia and an orphan girl fromTatooine . Despite being the stars of a juvenile series, it is in this duology that they are truly defined, and given a breadth of character that is startlingly in its brilliance and pain. Likewise, most fans of Anakin Solo's character can trace their way to this duology. It is where his character starts to outshine that of his uncle's and firmly begins its climb to being the sort of hero that we expect in Star Wars.

Which brings us to my #1 EU story

1. Star By Star

This is the book where Del Rey destroyed all that work that they had just done in giving us a next generation character that we liked, that we rooted for. The great Jimmy fiasco of 2001 if you will. It is this point that Star Wars completed its shift away from a focus on the Hero's Journey (and what we view as traditional SW heroes), and towards a more post-modern concept of antagonists/protagonists (anti-heroes, misunderstood evil, etc). Outcry over this novel was huge, helped in part because the destruction of Coruscant so closely paralleled the falling of the Twin Towers here in the States. While there were numerous other deaths in theNJO, and this novel, it is Jimmy's which still polarizes fandom into three camps: returners, anti-returners, and those who want both sides to shut up. The mid-point of the massively long mutli-novel story arc, the New Jedi Order, Star By Star is often said to be the NJO's ESB, and I can understand why. The YV are nearly triumphant, while the heroes are left reeling from the events of the novel--many of which are still causing ripples in the franchise today.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Lol Catz

Ah, I've been consumed by internet meme's. This time, my wife has provided me with a LOLZ CAT. Two of them to be precise.

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