Sunday, March 26, 2006

Internet 2.0 Weekend

This weekend I got all Internet 2.0. I finished adding all my links to del.icio.us, subscribed to blogs on an RSS feed reader, and started a Flickr pool. The pool is for creative versions of the American Library Associations READ posters, so if you have any, please post them! I'm going to pick the best one and give the winner a free t-shirt and poster from Cafepress.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

I'm working on DVDtalk's list of top ten anime of 2005. This is what I've seen so far:

1. Samurai 7. I don't if I'll watch this, frankly. Who needs a remake of a masterpiece like Seven Samurai. There's already a decent Hollywood version, a Japanese schoolkids-versus-bikers version, even an outer space version. Japan! Don't catch Hollywood's unnecessary-remake disease! If you do, what next? Citizen Kane: The Anime? The Godfather: The Anime? Once Upon A Time in the West: The Anime? Actually, the last one might be kind of cool.
2. Ghost in the Shell: SAC (2nd Gig). I've seen the first two DVD's. I loved the first Stand Alone Complex, and this is shaping up to be just as good. In addition to the issues of what it means to be human in a cyber-world, these shows built on the political intrigue that was part of the original comic book, but (understandably) did not feature in the movie.
3.Fullmetal Alchemist. I've seen the first six DVD's. This started out looking like an entertaining kid show, a super-hero story with alchemy replacing super-powers. It gets darker as it goes on and the hero realizes that to achieve his quest, he has sold out to a semi-fascist regime that waged an unnecessary war against darker-skinned people. Even kids' anime is more cynical about power than the most "adult" US TV show dares to be.
4. Planetes. I've seen the first DVD. It reminds me of Patlabor, but with regular-guys-in-outer-space instead of regular-guys-with-giant robots. There's a humanistic spirit that suggests the series could be close in quality to Patlabor as well. Besides, I really liked Quark, which was also about space garbagemen.
5. Samurai Champloo. I've seen the whole series, and all I can say is see it now! See it if you like Samurai, or hip-hop, or grafitti, or goofy humor, or 60's TV series where characters wandered from one place to another getting involved in other people's drama, or Cowboy Bebop, or any combination of the above.
6. Porco Rosso and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. I've seen both of these. Nausicaa was one of my most-anticipated DVD's ever; I almost bought a Chinese bootleg, but I couldn't do that to Miyasaki--sensei. Then it was announced as coming out, but the release date kept getting moved back. Although nothing really could live up to the hype (especially since I'd already read the manga and knew the basic story), it still ranks as one of the best science-fiction movies ever, animated or live-action. The detailed world-building sure makes Star Wars look the the half-assed combo of kung fu movies and 30's movie serials it is. Porco Rosso is pretty good, but not in the same class. The flying scenes are wonderful, but it's probably the only anime (with the possible exception of Black Heaven) geared mostly to middle-aged men who feel they've "sold out". I appreciate it in a somewhat remote way.
7. Appleseed. I've seen this movie. It is basically a remake of the 1988 video series, but that one looked crappy and this one is the best-looking all-cgi anime I've ever seen, so it's definitely worth seeing.
8. Gankutsuou--The Count of Monte Cristo. I've seen the first two DVD's. So far, so incredible. The cgi backgrounds are incredibly lush and fantastic. If you are tired of giant robots, annoying kids, and cute animal sidekicks in anime, this is a refreshing change. There's more intrigue, secret love affairs, and revenge plots in one episode than in a whole season of Masterpiece Theater, but with more gender confusion, aliens and strange machines.
gankutsuou8
9. Gunslinger Girl. I've seen the first DVD. The Japanese ability to mix heartbreak and violence may have reached its apex with this series. I mean, who else would have thought of terminally little girls whose parents can't afford treatment being cured by a secret government agency that also transforms them into cyborg super-assassins. That would be a unique solution for the health care crisis in the US today. Somehow, though, it's tastefully done, with the emphasis on the kids dealing with the problems of their unique situation and their relationships with their "handlers".
10. Area 88. I've seen the first episode on a sampler DVD. It looks OK, but I'm not big on war movies, so I probably won't watch the rest.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

***Warning!****the link below may not be appropriate at work or around small children!

If you remember those old "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, you may enjoy these parodies.

I laughed so hard at #3 on page 5 that I nearly asphyxiated myself.

Friday, March 03, 2006

I just responded to a post in Kathy's Blog about pet peeves.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I just finished reading Guided By Voices: Twenty Years of Hunting Accidents in the Forests of Rock and Roll. It was much more interesting than I thought it would be. I mean, I love GBV dearly, but they don't have a history of acting freaky in public or having torrid love triangles and their drummer didn't lose an arm or anything dramatic like that. In spite of that, the book manages to give us a good portrait of a cult indie-rock band in the 90's. Sometimes it's more instructive to view an industry from the bottom or the middle than the top, like reading about a cult actor in Psychotronic versus a big-star puff piece in Premiere. Those big stars never tell you anything interesting; they have too much to lose. Here's the top three scandalous revelations about GBV from the book:

1. Sometimes, when it looks like Bob is chugging a beer on stage, he's really intentionally spilling most of it down the front of his shirt.

2. The song "Teenage FBI" was inspired by an incident from when Bob was still a teacher. A student caught him picking his nose and told the whole class.

3. GBV did most of their rare bad shows during the "Cobra Verde" period, so I'm glad I didn't see them then.

The one thing the book didn't tell me: What's up with the British accent? It used to freak me out a bit, but I'm used to it now. When British singers sound "American", it doesn't bother me, but the reverse reminds me of bad early Ministry.