Monday, January 26, 2009

The Gaurdian Reads You

The Guardian is spouting what it declares to be the 1000 novels everyone must read. The Geek in me is amused because the first part is SF/F novels. The snark in me wonders how this relates to NBC's "Must See TV."

Anyways, here's the list, and just for the joy of it, I've marked those items which I've actually read in bold (for snyopsis of the various books, go on to the Gaurdian site via the link above):

  1. Douglas Adams - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
  2. Brian W Aldiss - Non-Stop (1958)
  3. Isaac Asimov - Foundation (1951)
  4. Margaret Atwood - The Blind Assassin (2000)
  5. Paul Auster - In the Country of Lost Things (1987)
  6. JG Ballard - The Drowned World (1962)
  7. JG Ballard - Crash (1973)
  8. JG Ballard - Millennium People (2003)
  9. Iain Banks - The Wasp Factory (1984)
  10. Iain M Banks - Consider Phlebas (1987)
  11. Clive Barker - Weaveworld (1987)
  12. Nicola Barker - Darkmans (2007)
  13. Stephen Baxter - The Time Ships (1995)
  14. Greg Bear - Darwin's Radio (1999)
  15. Alfred Bester - The Stars My Destination (1956)
  16. Poppy Z Brite - Lost Souls (1992)
  17. Algis Budrys - Rogue Moon (1960)
  18. Mikhail Bulgakov - The Master and Margarita (1966)
  19. Edward Bulwer-Lytton - The Coming Race (1871)
  20. Anthony Burgess - A Clockwork Orange (1960)
  21. Edgar Rice Burroughs - A Princess of Mars (1912)
  22. William Burroughs - Naked Lunch (1959)
  23. Octavia Butler - Kindred (1979)
  24. Samuel Butler - Erewhon (1872)
  25. Italo Calvino - The Baron In the Trees (1957)
  26. Ramsey Campbell - The Influence (1988)
  27. Lewis Carroll - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865)
  28. Lewis Carroll - Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1871)
  29. Angela Carter - Nights at the Circus (1984)
  30. Michael Chabon - The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000)
  31. GK Chesterton - The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)
  32. Arthur C Clarke - Childhood's End (1953)
  33. Susanna Clarke - Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel (2004)
  34. Michael G Coney - Hello Summer, Goodbye (1975)
  35. Douglas Copeland - Girlfriend in a Coma (1998)
  36. Mark Danielewski - House of Leaves (2000)
  37. Marle Darrieussecq - Pig Tales (1996)
  38. Samuel R Delaney - The Enstein Intersection (1967)
  39. Philip K Dick - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)
  40. Philip K Dick - The Man in the High Castle (1962)
  41. Umberto Eco - Foucault's Pendulum (1968)
  42. Michael Faber - Under the Skin (2000)
  43. John Fowles - The Magus (1966)
  44. Neil Gaiman - American Gods (2001)
  45. Alan Garner - Red Shift (1973)
  46. William Gibson - Neuromancer (1984)
  47. Charlotte Perkins Gilman -Herland (1915)
  48. William Golding - Lord of the Flies (1954)
  49. Joe Haldeman - The Forever War (1974)
  50. M John Harrison - Light (2002)
  51. Robert A Heinlein - Stranger in a Strange Land (1961)
  52. Frank Herbert - Dune (1965)
  53. Hermann Hesse - The Glass Bead Game (1943)
  54. Russell Hoban - Riddley Walker (1980)
  55. James Hogg - The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824)
  56. Michel Houellebecq - Atomised (1998)
  57. Aldous Huxley - Brave New World (1932)
  58. Kazuo Ishiguro - The Unconsoled (1995)
  59. Shirley Jackson - The Haunting of Hill House (1959)
  60. Henry James - The Turn of the Screw (1898)
  61. PD James - The Children of Men (1992)
  62. Richard Jefferies - After London; Or, Wild England (1885)
  63. Gwyneth Jones - Bold as Love (2001)
  64. Franz Kafka - The Trial (1925)
  65. Daniel Keyes - Flowers for Algernon (1966)
  66. Stephen King - The Shining (1977)
  67. Marghanita Laski - The Victorian Chase-longue (1953)
  68. Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu - Uncle Silas (1864)
  69. Ursula Le Guin - The Earthsea series (1968-1990)
  70. Stanislaw Lem - Solaris (1961)
  71. Doris Lessing - Memoirs of a Survivor (1974)
  72. David Lindsay - A Voyage to Arcturus (1920)
  73. Ken McLeod - The Night Sessions (2008)
  74. C S Lewis - The Chronicles of Narnia (1950-56)
  75. Hilary Mantel - Beyond Black (2005)
  76. Michael Marshall Smith - Only Forward (1994)
  77. Richard Matheson - I Am Legend (1954)
  78. Charles Maturin - Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)
  79. Patrick McCabe - The Butcher Boy (1992)
  80. Cormac McCarthy - The Road (2006)
  81. Jed Mercurio - Ascent (2007)
  82. China Miéville - The Scar (2002)
  83. Andrew Miller - Ingenious Pain (1997)
  84. Walter M Miller Jr - A Canticle for Leibowitz (1960)
  85. David Mitchell - Cloud Atlas (2004)
  86. Michael Moorcock - Mother London (1988)
  87. William Morris - News From Nowhere (1890)
  88. Toni Morrison - Beloved (1987)
  89. Haruki Murakami - The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (1995)
  90. Vladimir Nabokov - Ada or Ardor (1969)
  91. Audrey Niffenegger - The Time Traveler's Wife (2003)
  92. Larry Niven - Ringworld (1970)
  93. Jeff Noon - Vurt (1993)
  94. Flann O'Brien - The Third Policeman (1967)
  95. Ben Okri - The Famished Road (1991)
  96. Chuck Palahniuk - Fight Club (1996)
  97. Thomas Love Peacock - Nightmare Abbey (1818)
  98. Mervyn Peake - Titus Groan (1946)
  99. John Cowper Powys - A Glastonbury Romance (1932)
  100. Terry Pratchett - The Discworld series (1983-)
  101. Christopher Priest - The Prestige (1995)
  102. Philip Pullman - His Dark Materials (1995-2000)
  103. François Rabelais - Gargantua and Pantagruel (1532-34)
  104. Ann Radcliffe - The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)
  105. Alastair Reynolds - Revelation Space (2000)
  106. Kim Stanley Robinson - The Years of Rice and Salt (2002)
  107. JK Rowling - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997)
  108. Salman Rushdie - The Satanic Verses (1988)
  109. Antoine de Sainte-Exupéry - The Little Prince (1943)
  110. José Saramago - Blindness (1995)
  111. Will Self - How the Dead Live (2000)
  112. Mary Shelley - Frankenstein (1818)
  113. Dan Simmons - Hyperion (1989)
  114. Olaf Stapledon - Star Maker (1937)
  115. Neal Stephenson - Snow Crash (1992)
  116. Robert Louis Stevenson - The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886)
  117. Bram Stoker - Dracula (1897)
  118. Rupert Thomson - The Insult (1996)
  119. JRR Tolkien - The Hobbit (1937)
  120. JRR Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings (1954-55)
  121. Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court (1889)
  122. Kurt Vonnegut - Sirens of Titan (1959)
  123. Robert Walser - Institute Benjamenta (1909)
  124. Sylvia Townsend Warner - Lolly Willowes (1926)
  125. Sarah Waters - Affinity (1999)
  126. HG Wells - The Time Machine (1895)
  127. HG Wells - The War of the Worlds (1898)
  128. TH White - The Sword in the Stone (1938)
  129. Gene Wolfe - The Book of the New Sun (1980-83)
  130. John Wyndham - Day of the Triffids (1951)
  131. John Wyndham - The Midwich Cuckoos (1957)
  132. Yevgeny Zamyatin - We (1924)
Now, I'm left a bit confused. Lord of the Flies and The Shining I just don't see as SF/F. Also, why not 1984? Or Tarzan? Or Peter Pan? Aand most definitely why not The Island of Dr. Moreau? Why nothing by John Scalzi or Cory Doctorow? I'm also confused why sometimes the books are listed as full series (Discworld, His Dark Materials & The Chronicles of Narnia for example) while others are listed as individual novels within a series (Foundation, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and RingWorld for example).

A rather spastic list, if one asks me; oh well.

Jan. 26, 2009: The Day That I Spouted Out Nonsense, Again.

Greetings and Salutations one and all. Welcome to the greatest show on Earth--or something like that. Okay, okay, honestly, I'm certain that everyone involved has loads of more interesting things that they could be doing, with the possible exception of myself. I am here in the wee hours of a Monday morning, bringing forth my recollections of the past week of SF news in the hopes of keeping myself entertained.

Regardless, as you may have surmised by the existence of Speed Racer there, I have a funny story regarding Speed and one or the other of my two children.

If you had surmised that then you'd be WRONG!

I do have a story, but said story is about my Beloved Wife. See, she's been watching Speed Racer, a lot. After all, my youngest insists upon seeing it at least thrice daily. And it has gotten to the point where my wife has started picking up on Details; and yes, that capitalized 'D' is there on purpose.

See, these are the types of details that the true, hard-core fans of something notice. It's the type of things that folks will spend days or even weeks hashing out over on the Star Wars message boards (and that movie has been out since 1977!).

So, as my wife asked me what the year in Speed Racer was supposed to be, in regards to when the 49 Grand Prix takes place related to the one in the movie which was 90 something, coupled with the fact that Ben Burns only appears about 60ish.

I of course, pulled out that special smile which I reserve for my Beloved Wife on those occasions which she steps whole heartedly into my world of fangasms, and stated: "That's a fangirl question, you know."

Ah, the joys of converting any and all into the world of Otaku.

Speaking of the World of Otaku, Chuck Dixon, a veritable giant of the Comics industry--well at least I love his work--has written an article pounding the new "grim and gritty" take on characters. It's a great read, and I highly suggest one takes a gander at it by going here. Especially this two quotes which were like a smack across the forehead:

There’s a cynical disregard for what makes these icons work but it only serves to mask their own inabilities to create within guidelines and restrictions.
Then there’s getting the character outright, pure-D wrong. This warping and wafting of long established heroes so that they can play a certain role in a story that can only work if you violate that character’s whole reason for being, as well as his coolness factor, are the mark of an ungifted mind.
I mean ouch. The thing is that this doesn't apply just to comics, but to all genre fiction, especially of the serialized kind. And not just genre, but murder mysteries which span multiple books with the same detective or even James Bond stories. I have a feeling that that was part of the reason that Quantum of Solace just failed to work as a Bond movie.

Additionally, I have to wonder about how it applies to the Star Wars franchise and their new-fangled gore and bore status since the start of the NJO. I think Chuck Dixon just went up a notch in my geek-out ladder of writers--which of course is the level at which I would Geek Out upon meeting said writer. He know ranks a bit below John Scalzi and Robert Heinlein--one of whom is dead.

Over in movie news, those boring award statute shows have released additional nominees or something. Batman, Heath Ledger, Benjamin Button; that's really all that one needs to know for that. In much more important news, the Razzies nominations were also released. Unfortunately, genre was well represented there, with Speed Racer, and Indiana Jones, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and The Day The Earth Stood Still all getting nods.

Anyways, the 2009 Razzie Nominations are:
    • “Disaster Movie” and “Meet The Spartans
    • “The Happening”
    • “The Hottie and The Nottie”
    • “In The Name of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale”
    • “The Love Guru”
    • Larry the Cable Guy, “Witless Protection”
    • Eddie Murphy, “Meet Dave”
    • Mike Myers, “The Love Guru”
    • Al Pacino, “88 Minutes” and “Righteous Kill”
    • Mark Wahlberg, “The Happening” and “Max Payne”
    • Jessica Alba, “The Eye” and “The Love Guru”
    • Cameron Diaz, “What Happens in Vegas”
    • Paris Hilton, “The Hottie and the Nottie”
    • Kate Hudson, “Fool’s Gold” and “My Best Friend’s Girl”
    • The entire cast of “The Women” (Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith and Meg Ryan)
    • Uwe Boll, “1968 Tunnel Rats”, “In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale” and “Postal”
    • Jason Friedberg, “Aaron Seltzer for Disaster Movie and “Meet the Spartans”
    • Tom Putnam, “The Hottie and the Nottie”
    • Marco Schnabel, “The Love Guru”
    • M. Night Shyamalan, “The Happening”
    • Uwe Boll (as himself), “Postal”
    • Pierce Brosnan, “Mamma Mia!”
    • Ben Kingsley, “The Love Guru,” “War, Inc.” and “The Wackness”
    • Burt Reynolds, “Deal” and “In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale”
    • Verne Troyer, “The Love Guru” and “Postal”
    • Carmen Electra, “Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans”
    • Paris Hilton, “Repo! The Genetic Opera”
    • Kim Kardashian, “Disaster Movie”
    • Jenny McCarthy, “Witless Protection”
    • Leelee Sobieski, “88 Minutes and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale”
    • “Disaster Movie” and “Meet the Spartans” (jointly) - written by Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer
    • “The Happening” - written by M. Night Shyamalan
    • “The Hottie and the Nottie” - written by Heidi Ferrer
    • “In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale” - screenplay by Doug Taylor
    • “The Love Guru”- written by Mike Myers & Graham Gordy
    • Uwe Boll & any actor, camera or screenplay, “1968 Tunnel Rats, “In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale” and “Postal”
    • Cameron Diaz & Ashton Kutcher, “What Happens in Vegas”
    • Paris Hilton & either Christine Lakin or Joel David Moore, “The Hottie and the Nottie”
    • Larry the Cable Guy & Jenny McCarthy, “Witless Protection”
    • Eddie Murphy & Eddie Murphy, “Meet Dave”
    • “The Day the Earth Stood Still”
    • “Disaster Movie” and “Meet The Spartans” (jointly)
    • “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”
    • “Speed Racer”
    • “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”
    • Uwe Boll
Now, I do believe that that would have to be an award show I would enjoy watching. And speaking of watching, I managed to finally catch Wanted this past week, and was just thrilled by it. I loved that whole concept of a brotherhood of assassins trying to save the world, 1 killing at a time. I also purchased City of Ember and promptly lost any concept of time in which to be able to actually view this movie.

Soon, I say... soon...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rideback - episode 2

My Thoughts
The second episode cements that this is going to be a sports/mecha show, at least for the first few episodes, as we focus on what the Ridebacks can do. I have faith that we'll be going into more standard-mecha fare sooner or later, due to the Opening.

The artwork is still exquisite, though the main character still suffers from that 'uhh' factor. Another thing I'm trying to figure out is what's up with her hair. She's supposed to be this classically trained ballet dancer, and she can't figure out how to get her her hair to stay down?

Beyond that, nothing big happens in the episode. Though the Rin's cheerleader (and she's actually in a cheerleader outfit this time around) has tamed down a bit, and Rin seems to be more accepting of her antics than she was in the first episode. Sadly, a large portion of the episode is taken up with the actual mechanics of the race, so we don't get a whole lot of furtherance of plot or characterizations.

Episode Summary
The episode starts out with Rin reminiscing over the jump at the end of the previous episode. After the opening, we get two guys talking about current affairs, and then our attention is switched over to the three girls, Rin, Shōko and Suzuri, getting a meal and Suzuri waxing eloquently about the glories that were Rin riding the Rideback. As they're eating two members of the Rideback club show up, trying to recruit Rin, and Shōko kind of chases them away.

Later Rin goes to the club garage, and sees Tamayo's Rideback. Tamayo then challenges Rin to a race.

We get introduced to Kenji, who is Rin's younger brother, and discover that he's something of a Rideback enthusiast. After that, Rin is hunting up details about riding a Rideback on the internet, and she and Shōko have some fun banter.

The day of the race, and that's what happens, with Suzuri there as a cheerleader for Rin. As it progresses, Rin falters for a moment on the Rideback, but by the end of things is once again the penultimate rider.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Reviews: Asu no Yoichi Episode 2

My Thoughts
Well, to start off, the artwork this time was much better for this episode-which is a bit of an odd thing, as the first episodes usually get the best and most detailed work.

One thing that did annoy me was a rather gratuitous, unneeded and unnecessary change from the manga in the fight scene during the first act. That was shifting the knife which Washizu used to... giant, spiked metal balls.

Yes, he used maces, an incredibly odd choice of weaponry.

I was like "What is this?" when he pulled them out--for obvious reasons. After a bit of snickering, I once again focused on the anime and went about my business.

Now, for a comment on the character designs, I'm highly amused by the character design of Ayame. She's another anime character which reminds me greatly of my beloved wife--while she lacks the eccentricities of my girl, the character design is quite like her: blond hair, huge, blue eyes.

In the end I enjoyed this episode a lot more than the previous one; which is saying a lot.

Now, at this time, I want to put in my coin for Ayame winning the main protagonist. For a few reasons, one since she reminds me of my wife, she instantly gets rooted for. Second, she has that whole middle-child thing going on, and not only is she in the shadow of her elder sister, and not the baby as that's her two younger ones, but she is physically different from the other sisters as well. Frankly, being the middle child, and physically different from my brothers I can understand her angst at the situation; that feeling of not being quite good enough, and being compared to your siblings--and then couple that with an incredibly different physical appearance... *shrugs* let's just say that I can relate; probably the same as most middle-children.

Episode Summary
The episode starts out with Yoichi working out early in the morning, and then it continues with the standard misunderstandings which seem to power the series. This one involved Ibuki knocking Yoichi into Ayame's bedroom. After the beating and breakfast, the group then heads to school. An effective first for Yoichi as his school on the mountain was just himself.

Once there, Washizu, the deliquent from episode 1, shows up, and we learn that he has the hots for Ibuki. Various character building ensues, and then Yoichi and Washizu fight each other again. Yoichi because he's just that type of character and Washizu because he believes that he's fighting for Ibuki.

Next scene, Yoichi is sick with a fever. After being beaten into submission (yes, this less-than-subtle man bashing is a recuring theme) he finally rests and Ibuki heads off to do a bit of shopping. While this is going on, Ayame is making a mess of the kitchen trying to make congee, which is a rice porridge. After making the pot explode, Kagome appears and helps her.

During the cooking, Ibuki and Yoichi both come to the determination that they need to apologize to one another due to the various misunerstandings involving one another. So, he's waiting on the porch of the dojo when she gets back, and after a bit of arguing, they start laughing.

Which is when Ayame shows back up, with the congee. She sees the laughing and takes off, and we realize just how much of a middle-child syndrome she has going on. Yoichi chases after her, and she trips, almost spilling the congee.

Yoichi jumps after it, and catches it though he falls out the window he had broken that morning. This also notes the point where Ayame stops calling him insulting names (pervert, monkey, etc) and starts calling him "samurai."

She rushes downstairs to check on him, and he takes a bite to eat. He praises her and she's quite happy, smiling even--an event which her entire family takes note of.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Rambling in the morning, so you don't have too...

It's yet another Monday morning, and I love the Lego Asgard ship that someone slapped together and then decided they wished to sell.

Now, if only the beloved wife would allow me to put something that big into my living room. Despite her understanding nature, I doubt I could slip it past her. Plus, I have no doubt that my two munchkins would be more than happy in dismantling it.

Regardless, this past week has been a busy one for SF announcements.

First among these, is the announcement that Warner Brothers and Fox have reached an agreement in regards to WB's Watchmen movie. Which means we will get to see the wonders of this movie on the Big Screen come March 6. And yes, my beloved, that is a less-than-subtle hint that we will be going forth to see this movie. For the record, the following are the movies that I feel I must see at the theater in 2009:

  • Watchmen
  • Star Trek
  • Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince
  • Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen
  • Avatar
Not a bad list by any means. Regardless, the second announcment concerns the nominations for the, I guess coveted is the term, Philip K. Dick award. This year's nominees are:
  • Emissaries From the Dead by Adam-Troy Castro
  • Endgame by Kristine Smith
  • Fast Forward 2 edited by Lou Anders
  • Judge by Karen Traviss
  • Terminal Mind by David Walton
  • Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait by K. A. Bedford
Sadly, I'm about to show how little I know about SF books, as I haven't heard of a single one of those. In fact, the only author I recognize on the list is Karen Traviss. I find that oddly, sad somehow.

Now, in the "this is sad" category, this year, the Twilight series has outpaced the Harry Potter series in total sales in books. Which does make a bit of sense, as the last Harry Potter novel came out in 2007 while the last of the Twilight novels came out just a few months ago. That said, having read both series, I still find it disturbing that the one beats the other.

But, something interesting has happened in an effort to get geeks to watch the Superbowl. Apparently, the powers that be have determined that the Superbowl is the perfect place to pitch geek movies such as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Star Trek and conceivably the Watchmen. Which is something of an odd choice to me, as if not for those previews, I would not have any interest in watching TV that particular Sunday evening. Additionally, if I hadn't heard about it, I wouldn't known to watch. Ultimately though, I know myself well enough that I probably won't watch that night, waiting instead for the trailers to appear online to see them.

On the collecting side of things, and since I can't seem to go a week without bringing up Star Wars, the Official Site has released mock-ups for their new products to tie into season 2 of the cartoon.

I actually like these things. They are bright and colorful and display the character art front and center. I actually think I like them better than the the first set, which was the blue boxes with a giant Clone helmet on the front.

Additionally, the bright, colorful boxes is appropriate for what has essentially become a cartoon franchise. So I'm all sorts of good there, and surprisingly, the cartoon has been well-done.

At least both myself and my children have been enjoying the episodes recently.

Which means one needs to make special note that Jedi Secura made her small-screen debut in last Friday's episode, and she's French. An odd choice for her accent if you ask me, especially since all the Jedi were raised on the same planet. Ah, well, what can one expect of TV after all.

And while we're on the subject of SF on TV, Fox is up to its usual antics in regards to genre television. The start off episode for Ron Moore's Virtuality, has apparently been recut from a two-hour long movie, to a one-hour long episode. But what really gets me is the quote by Kevin Reilly, the Fox Network President, in regards to this:
It could air as-is, and a certain segment of the audience would flip for it. But it's a little dense.
Which of course one translates into: Well, it's finished as per Ron Moore's instructions, but we think the American population is either too dumb to understand it, or we still have SF shows.

Why creators continue taking genre shows to Fox is beyond me. Sure, their network was built on the back of Star Trek: The Next Generation and the X-Files, but every other genre show since then has been routinely squashed and tortured to the point where no one is able to watch it, if they even decide to air the thing in the first place.

Now, all this good SF-ness aside, my eldest startled me in his pronouncements the other day. To be clear, I'm a firm believer in hunting, fishing and other such woodsy things. It was a big part in how I grew up.

Now, we were driving the other day, and my boy speaks up, and says, "I want to go to the woods."

I was startled, but pleasantly surprised, as I have always enjoyed a hike through woods. Then my wife asked him just what he planned on doing in the woods.

To which he replied, "Shoot a deer."

My wife's mouth drops open as I try my best to not burst out laughing; as I'm not certain if he has picked up on my personal feelings regarding hunting or if it's just the fact that we live in the middle of Mississippi that he came up with this.

After a few heartbeats, my wife poses another question to him: "What would you do with the deer after you've shot it?"

My son then sighs, as if my wife had asked him the most obvious thing in the world, an in an exasperated voice responded, "Cook it!"

At which point I could no longer not laugh; that's my boy.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rideback - episode 1

My Thoughts
Continuing my overview of the new season, I managed to finally watch episode 1 of Rideback. It's a mecha show, and I tend to have a love-hate affair with the things. Actually, I'm not sure if this is going to be a sports show or a mecha show or some odd amalgamation of both. Probably that.

What I found most interesting is that the character design for the main protagonist is well, not beautiful. At least some of the time. On occasion, the design is really pretty, but at other times it's like, whoa, what happened to her face.

Talking about designs, the Rideback is kind an interesting machine. Again, an odd mixture of ugly and streamlined beauty. Frankly, I want one. Though I fear that a semi-sentient motorcycle would be the death of us all; we'll have to see where they go from here.

This is a show that I think I'm going to actively find time for; hopefully the story picks up.

Episode Review
The show started with a ballet of all things. The main character, Rin Ogata, is the daughter of a dead dancer, so she was expected to be the next big thing.

Well, the ballet didn't go so well, and she tore a tendon, and because she would never be up to her mother's level of dancing, decided against continuing the dance stuff.

So, being a bit emo, she goes to school, and lives in a dorm with a childhood friend. After a picture of a bunch of sakura blossoms, and bits and peices of back story, we get Rin talking to her grandmother, where we discover that her brother hasn't been going to home (he lives with the grandmother or something).

Some more emoing when a couple fan girls show up, and Rin runs off. Just in time to get caught in a rain storm. Taking shelter in a garage, she is introduced to the Rideback. When it stops raining, the Rideback geek in the shelter convinces her to get on (she flashes him in the process) and then off she goes on the Rideback. Of course, she's a natural on the machine; at least until she throws herself off the end of a road under construction.

The episode ends there, with a big smile on Rin's face.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Review: Asu no Yoichi Episode 1

My Thoughts
I wasn't overly impressed truthfully. The animation flickered between really well done and just okay, and the character designs weren't all that great either.

The episode itself was typical setup, for an anime, and does its purpose of introducing the main character and the set of females who are going to be the initial batch of women in his life.

I actually liked the opening and the ending themes to this series. Wikipedia says that they are "Egao no Riyuu" by Meg Rock and "Life and proud" by Aki Misato respectively.

That said, I do feel kind of bad for this character, much like I feel bad for most male leads of harem-style anime. I mean, this guy is going to be misunderstood, abused an in general be oblivious to the girls around him because the plot demands it.

But I digress, Yoichi's character is the one of the honorable warrior motifs, and unlike some, he's actually effective in his desire, even if he also screws up in the execution (mainly due to his not knowing enough of the customs of city life).

In the end, I'm reserving judgment on if I want to continue watching this or not. I think it may ultimately devolve into if I have time on the night it gets released.

Episode Recap:
The episode begins with fan-service, just on the off chance that one wasn't aware that one was watching a harem 'fic.

After that, we get introduced to the lead male character of the series, one Yoichi Karusuma, and the particular brand of swordplay which his father has been teaching him in the mountains. Well, he's gotten too strong, so his father sends him to the city to strengthen his "spirit and soul." The place he's going is the Ikaruga family dojo, and it means we are also introduced to the four sisters of the family.

Well, he arrives in the town, and we get to meet the secondary male character, and have the initial meetings between Yoichi and the Ikaruga girls; in a series of silly mishaps and misunderstandings. We also get a decent bit of foreshadowing as to who we should expect him to end up with at the end of things.

He shows off his "samurai-ness" and finally makes it to the meeting. The eldest of the sisters was still there, and she takes him back to the Ikaruga household were he realizes that the girls he's been having the misunderstandings with over the course of the second half of the episode are the same set of girls he's going to be living with.

Cue credits.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday Ramblings for 1/12/09

Ahh, it's a Monday morning again. That wonderful time of the week, where one is struggling to get up and running, knowing that there exists ahead of themselves a full 5 days of blissful work.

So, of course to get motivated I talk about Genre things, and whatever else floats through my sleep addled brain.

There was a few fun tidbits from Star Wars over the past week. I went out and purchased Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor; a fun, festive title if ever there was one. Additionally, has given us a first look at the cover, and a plot synopsis for Blood Oath; the upcoming Zekk-centric novel that is set in the post-LotF era.

Frankly, I'm shocked and amazed that someone not of Skywalker-blood is managing to get a focus novel in the Post-RotJ Expanded Universe. It's just so... shocking and unexpected these days.

Now the cynic in me thinks that this may be because Del Rey has realized that they have managed to kill, main, or otherwise undermine any type of heroic characters that are part of the Skywalker bloodline, so that they have to push one of these tertiary characters to the forefront in the hopes that, yes, people will want to read their books. Unfortunately, the realist in me does not believe that Del Rey & LFL has that much self-awareness of just how badly they have mangled that particular time frame as it relates to escapist fantasy, which Star Wars at its core truly is. But, as they say, hope springs eternal.

And then, even beyond THAT, USA Today ran an article in the middle of last week, talking about a new toy entitled "The Force Trainer" which is basically a wireless EEG machine, which uses your concentration to lift a ping-pong ball up a tube.

What's even more interesting is that this is just the first in a wave of new "mind-controlled" games coming from the toy companies. Mattel has a game in the works which involves you mentally moving a ball about a maze (this has much win potential if the maze is reconfigurable).

Of course, of all the interest which the Force Trainer brings, LFL is right there to remind us that yes, they do hate us, and enjoy giving it to the Fans at every chance they get. This time, I stumbled across yet another product tie-in, and it was at this point my mind just went "is there nothing LFL won't put Star Wars on for a penny?"

Yes, I'm talking about the Star Wars Misters. And the product copy! Oh, you just can't make this type of stuff up:

Star Wars fans will appreciate the breeze these handheld fans kick up, with a built-in pump that cools you off with Dagobah-worthy mist. Compact, cool, and a great stocking stuffer for sci-fifans and collectors.
Seriously folks. Who wants this stupid thing? Well, I could see my kids liking it, but I'm not going to spend nearly $20 for something that cheesy, just so my boys can break it.

In other and unrelated to Star Wars, news, as some may know, Ficlets, the writing website put up by AOL is being taken down. Well, being the sneaky individual I am, I saw a void and decided to put something up there. Pay close attention to for more details.

Now all I have to do this week is to just convince my two-year-old that, no cars really don't crash the way they do in Speed Racer, at least if one hopes to continue driving them. As an aside to that, I hope I don't have to explain that "no, we can't get jump jacks for the truck," to either of my boys again.

That's all the ramblings I have for this week. Let's hope that LFL doesn't produce some new licensing evil in the next 7 days. Of course, I'm not holding my breath on that; with my luck, it'll be jump jacks.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Return of Monday Morning Rambling...

Well, in an effort to increase the number of words I am writing on a daily basis, I've decided that I once again need to do my weekly state of me blogging where I ramble about whatever flights of fancy happen to flicker across my awareness as they relate to my geekiness.

Unfortunately, I chose the middle of winter, when genre seems to slip off into dreamland, to do this. That's not to say that there are not a number of fun genre things going on. Case in point, Cartoon Network's Brave and the Bold and Star Wars: The Clone Wars had a new episode this past Friday.

Fun as always, but not exactly as stimulating as a good book or movie or even anime.

Speaking of movies though, I have been bothered slightly by something recently. Well, not so much bothered, as confounded. Make no mistake, I'm enjoying all these movies about the genre. Batman, Superman, Harry Potter, and all those other franchises which are built around pre-existing characters. They're fun and I do adore them.

Yet, where's the new stuff? The last truly new genre film that I can recall was Sunshine and I think that was based off a novella. And if it was, we'd have to go back to the Matrix or the Fifth Element.

But ultimately that's just not that important. I know I can give my kids the fundamental genre concepts needed for them to enjoy these shows. Frankly, they're already geek enough to do so.

Oh well. I do have one thing to admit, and that there's an aspect of my geekness which has faltered. Sure, it was the one area which I was never overtly active in (at least not to the level as some). I am talking about games (probably the major geek area not touched on in my recent Best of 2008 series of posts).

After the dismal introduction (and that's even before the draconian DRM) of Spore and the underwhelming response of The Force Unleashed, there was literally not another game on the shelves I was looking forward too. I did manage to get the Star Wars: Clone Wars Lightsaber game, but to be honest I wasn't following it with excitement or hope. I purchased it because I thought it would be fun to play it with my boys--and it is.

That said, I've not stumbled onto an upcoming video game which I am following with a hint of excitement. I am talking about Star Wars: The Old Republic. This is a MMORPG set thousands of years prior to Star Wars: A New Hope. I have high hopes here, and am really, really hoping that this is the game that Galaxies should have been.

Now, to just convince my beautiful wife that it would be a good thing to get the monthly subscription for it.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Years Resolutions 2009

As noted earlier, someone taking a glance at my 2008 resolutions has made me realize just how much I've ignored that particular list. Of course, I think that's a part of the whole concept of New Years Resolutions.

Anyway, after much soul searching (oddly enough the same amount of time it took me to walk from my desk, get a drink and sit back down) I've managed to pull up a brand new list of 10 resolutions for 2009! After all, the way I figure it, the sooner I get them written down, the sooner I can start ignoring them.

Well, without further ado, here they are:

  1. Get my weight down to ~160lbs. This is simple to understand. I did a decent job on it until the cold kept me in my beds on those early mornings, so once again when the mornings start to warm, I hope to go out there and start working out again.
  2. Settle my finances. This is a bit harder to understand, as it's multi-faceted. I know I need to cut back on our spending, especially in the "going out for food" department. But this allow relates back to keeping an eye on my 401K better than I have in the past, and I want to start investing money in other options as well.
  3. Love more. Despite my contention in #2, I want to start having "date nights" at least once a month with my beloved wife. It's been much more haphazard and random in the past, and I want to make sure that she gets a decent amount of my time, especially with all the other demands I have on it.
  4. Get a new PC. I know this seems to be in direct contradiction to my resolution number 2, but I do have a valid reason for wanting it.
  5. Program more. This is the primary reason I'm wanting it. I have a couple of little things I program as vehicles to push my skill set, and to keep those skills I'm not currently using up-to-date. I need to spend a bit more time in them.
  6. Write more. This is the second reason I'm wanting it. I'm hoping to get my daily word count (over all blogs, and fiction writing) to 1500 words a day. Which isn't that much if you consider that a good blog entry can easily net 600-800 words.
  7. Get 10K reputation at Stack Overflow & post at least weekly on "A Programmer's Dream." This may seem like an odd one, but I want to become better known within my professional field--and I think these are two vehicles to do that on an international scale
  8. Start & become active in the local .NET User's Group. This is related back to #7. I want to be active, and known, in my field professionally. The User's Group would be helpful in this.
  9. Travel more. This is actually my wife's idea, as she wants to take some weekend, or three-day trips with the boys. Though I despise traveling, I know that those long trips my parents took me on are a big part of why I am who I am.
  10. Do more art stuff. I'm not just talking about getting out my pencils and drawing again, but I also want to do get back into photography.

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