Sunday, September 30, 2007
Kaedrin's own monkey research squad strikes again, with a pseduo-horror/Halloween theme. Enjoy:
Posted by Mark on September 30, 2007 at 10:15 PM .: link :.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I actually wrote this a few months ago (posted in my forum) when these chips came out, but since I'm still short on time these days, I figured repurposed content is better than no content, so enjoy. One warning is that there is lots of profanity in the below...
1. INT. FRITO LAY BOARD ROOM - EVENINGYeah, so don't get those X-13D Doritos. Unless you like the idea of a Dorito that tastes like a hamburger (with pickles). While I'm at it, let's use their marketing website against them:
Posted by Mark on September 26, 2007 at 11:05 PM .: link :.
Chuck Jones is a vengeful god
Given my recent work schedule, this recent XKCD comic seems especially poignant. Pursuit of unattainable perfection? Why yes, I am working with CSS.
Posted by Mark on September 26, 2007 at 12:46 AM .: link :.
Monday, September 24, 2007
We Could Be Heroes
Just for one day though. Apologies for the missing entry yesterday and the lame entry today. Time is still tight, so I'll just throw out a link to 5 Questions Season Two of Heroes Had Better F#@king Answer.
Unlike a certain show about people stranded on a mysterious island that we won't name, by the end of its first season NBC's hit series Heroes had managed to neatly wrap up the vast majority of its plot threads and running storylines. The cheerleader was saved; the sword was retrieved; and the exploding man was stopped. We didn't watch the finale of the mystery island show that we're not naming, but we wouldn't be surprised if Locke was left speechless by the sight of Patrick Duffy in the shower. Had it all been a dream?Some questions I have: Will they finally just get rid of Ali Larter's dumbass subplot? Which lame, cliched plot element will they get me to fall for anyway?
Update: The answer to my second question: Amnesia.
Posted by Mark on September 24, 2007 at 11:43 PM .: link :.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Since time is even shorter than usual, the Green Goblin is filling in with a video blog. Enjoy.
Posted by Mark on September 19, 2007 at 11:10 PM .: link :.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Fantasy Football, 2007
As I mentioned earlier in the week, my schedule is pretty tight so my time for writing (and just about everything else) has been drastically reduced. So I'm just going to introduce my 2007 fantasy football team, the Star Wars Kids. I know most of my readers aren't big sports fans, but I can probably dash this off in a half hour, which I actually have enough time for. So I did very well last year, but my team peaked early and lost in the first round of the playoffs.
I was a little worried about this year. First, I had almost no time to prepare for the draft, which isn't usually a good sign. Second, the team I drafted seemed to be relying on a lot of "comeback" seasons (players who had a bad season or two due to injury or due to their team's performance, but who could make a comeback this year). Third, I ended up with a lackluster defense and my bench is a little weak. This is due to my position in the draft. I was last but the draft is a snake, so I had the 12th and 13th pick, but then had to wait for another 2 rounds for my next pick (36 overall). This position has its advantages, but it also meant that when a run on Defense/Special Teams happened, I ended up with scraps. Fourth, as an Eagles fan, I was frustrated by the fact that I ended up with Terrell Owens. He's a great performer, but on a personal level, I hate him. And he plays for the mortal enemy of the Eagles. I also have the Cowboys defense & special teams. Put simply, when the Eagles play the Cowboys, I'm going to be pretty conflicted.
Anyway, after one and half weeks here, it seems that the team I drafted is doing quite well for itself. Many of my gambles are paying off, and I may have underestimated some of my "sure things." So here's my team:
Update: Greg's draft didn't go as well as mine, but I think he'll make due.
Posted by Mark on September 16, 2007 at 07:43 PM .: link :.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Seeing as though I just got home from work, I'm not especially in the blogging frame of mind, except to say that the next two weeks or so are going to be hectic around here, so posting will most likely be light (though I guess you never know. I'm sometimes at mymost inspired when I'm obscenely busy with other things. A cruel irony, that.) Anyway, in lieu of a proper post, here's a funny video about ridiculous comment threads at popular sites/blogs (I bet Shamus can relate to the "First" comments at least, though he does seem to get a lot of good comments as well - this video is probably more for stuff like YouTube comments.):
That's all for now. See you Sunday, with a post that is hopefully a little more substantial than this.
Posted by Mark on September 13, 2007 at 12:12 AM .: link :.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Some interesting stuff going on recently:
Posted by Mark on September 09, 2007 at 05:42 PM .: link :.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Wii and Foosball
When playing the Wii, especially Wii Sports, one can't help but wonder how stupid we look playing this game. Here we are, standing in front of a TV, flailing about in an attempt to play some silly game. I'm sure people watching someone play on a Wii think it's really lame. It takes about five minutes of actually playing it to get past that, but getting someone to try that first five minutes might be a little difficult.
The other thing I've noticed is that Wii Sports is really only fun when you're playing with a bunch of other people. I can play the single player games for about a half hour before getting sick of it, but when other people are around, time simply flies. Hours later, you start to wonder why your arm is so sore. When you think about it, this isn't that unusual. Most games are social affairs and would be no fun by yourself. It wasn't until video games came along that single player games became so common. I think a big part of that had to do with the inherent limitations of video game hardware. A lot of early games had capabilities for multi-player, but the really fun multi-player experiences didn't happen until you got to the 1990s, and even then, it wasn't as big a portion of the industry as single-player games. Things have been getting steadily more social as time and hardware (and networking) has gotten better, and I think the Wii taps into something that a lot of the latest games and systems don't. Again, this isn't that unusual. Games are meant to be social, and in some cases the mechanics of the game are irrelevant when compared to the social value. For example, Steve Yegge explains one of the main pastimes at Google:
Anyway, until then, the main pastime, other than researching how the Romans managed to eat several meals at one sitting, is Foosball. This is a game I've been introduced to since I came to Kirkland. I've seen it before, and always thought it looked kind of lame, but that just shows you what I know. Foosball is a way of life around here. Which makes it... not lame, see?There's something similar going on with the Wii. When you're watching other people play, it seems kinda lame... but then you start playing with your friends and all of the sudden, it's 3 am and you feel like your arm is going to fall off. Wii becomes not lame because everyone has so much fun playing, even if they do look like idiots while doing so.
Now all they need is Wii Foosball and we'll be all set.
Posted by Mark on September 05, 2007 at 10:08 PM .: link :.
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Martian Successor Nadesico
After a few weeks and various obstacles (work, Netflix), I have finally completed Martian Successor Nadesico. Overall, I'm happy with it, though there are a few things about the series that I didn't particularly care for. Many of my initial thoughts still hold. For instance, I couldn't stop noticing the similarities between this series and Vandread (and Vandread: Second Stage), though towards the end, things did seem to be a little less Vandread-like.
The series takes place a few hundred years in the future. Humans have colonized the Moon and Mars, but attackers from Jupiter start to cause lots of trouble on Mars. The Jovian Lizards are seemingly unstoppable, but a privately built warship developed by Nergal industries gives hope to humanity. Commanded by the ditsy but competant Yurika, the Nadesico and her crew, including reluctant pilot Akito, take on their Jovian enemy. But everything is not what it seems.
Again, the similarities to Vandread are more than skin deep (though I should note that Vandread was produced after Nadesico). All the major elements are there - a mysterious enemy with overpowering technology and automated attack ships, a male pilot with a mysterious past who is pursued by several jealous females, a ship's computer that's a living entity of some kind, etc... There's even some strange male/female issues going on (though nothing as explicit as Vandread's war between men and women). The list goes on and on and on. Sure, there are some wrinkles in the various formulas, but overall the series are quite similar. However, the impression I'm getting is that both series are simply drawing from a larger pool of clichés that feature prominently in other series about mechas and space combat. Nadesico has more of a referential tone than Vandread though, and it seems to approach parody or even farce at times. It breaks the fourth wall often (once, a character even tells another character that she's breaking the fourth wall) and it often seems to be poking fun at itself. As someone who isn't especially familiar with the genres in question, I can't be sure just how well Nadesico captures and skewers the genres, but I enjoyed it even without that context.
While the series does have the aformentioned lighthearted tone, it's not always like that. It often veers off into more serious territory, and from the very beginning of the series, the creators never let you forget that this is a war. There are several surprises strewn throughout. Betrayals and death are not shyed away from, even as the series constantly pokes fun at itself. To be honest, I'm not sure how well they pulled this off. There aren't many big switches between silly fun and deadly earnestness, but when they happen, it's quite disorienting. Some episodes are just so silly (like perhaps episode 19, the Nadesico Idol episode) that it's hard to believe that other episodes are from the same series. This inconsistent tone is odd, though not necessarily a bad thing (and the same inconsistency struck me about Vandread as well, so perhaps it's not so unusual).
One thing about this series that I really liked was that they did try some interesting things. Results vary, but when they take a risk and it works, the results are great. Some of the episodes really stood out, particularly the Run Silent, Run Deep episode. It's the 20th episode in the series, and it features a battle of wits between the captain of the Nadesico and an enemy captain that's reminiscent of the classic submarine movies like The Enemy Below and, uh, well... Run Silent Run Deep. The enemy has developed a new and potentially devestating weapon, and the Nadesico must run for it's life... Eventually, they mount a creative counter attack. What makes this work is that both sides are competent, their tactics sound, and you can tell there's a respect between them. It was an enthralling episode and I've already watched it twice.
Most of the main characters are reasonably well defined and interesting. The main character of the series is Akito, a cook and reluctant pilot who has a mysterious past on Mars and is troubled by his role in the war. He's also pursued by several female members of the crew (and other women throughout the series). This harem comedy thing sometimes works, but this series goes a little overboard with it.
Visually, the series well done but not spectacular. As I mentioned before, the subtitles were a little hard to read at times (They use different colors to indicate background speech and foreground speech, but they're sometimes inconsistent with it and in a couple of cases, the text takes up more than half the screen!) so I mostly watched the dubbed version. I'm not a huge fan of the music in the series, but by the end, I'd gotten used to it.
The end of the series is somewhat satisfying. The main character arc of Akito and Yurika is resolved, but a lot of subplots are left open or unexplored. Apparently, there's a movie that continues the story, but from what I can see, even that doesn't finish the story.
More comments and screenshots below the fold... One of the problems reviewing a 26 episode series in a short blog post is that a lot of the details of the series that I love are often lost in the shuffle. One of my favorite characters was the ten year old Ruri. At first, I thought she was the counterpart to Vandread's Paiway, and in some ways she is (they both seem to have a detached perspective while observing the rest of their respective crews). But Ruri is also the ship's very capable science officer and seems to have a great relationship with the ship's computer. The shot below shows Ruri and Yurika explaining how the Nadesico works to the crew.
Yurika and Ruri
Another similarity between Nadesico and Vandread, there's a Christmas episode! Is this a common convention on Anime series? Regardless, Nadesico's Christmas episode isn't as great as Vandread's, but it's still fun.
Most of the supporting cast have interesting little quirks. I've already mentioned Hikaru, a cheerful Otaku and pilot who likes to wear funny toys. Izumi is another pilot who is constantly making bad puns. This was apparently hell on the translator, who had difficulty coming up with english equivalents. They're hit or miss, but some of them are great. Here's one I liked: "...In space, there is no down. In order to 'lay down' you've got to get a duck." Heh.
While I'm still something of an Anime newbie, I did recognize some of the references in the show (I'm sure I missed most of them though). I'm not positive, but there's a sequence where Nergal officers take some people to something they found buried on Mars. Is it me, or does this lift look exactly like the one in Akira? The whole sequence of going down the lift and looking at some piece of found technology is familiar. Are these diagonal elevator things common in Anime? The only other place I can remember seeing them is in various video games... which, come to think of it, were probably made in Japan.
So I noticed a couple of times in the series that someone wearing glasses pushed them back up with their middle finger. I noticed this at least twice. I don't know, is flipping the bird a universally understood thing? Apparently not:
So that about wraps up Nadesico. I'm glad I watched this series, but I'd like to watch something a little different next. Something without mechas or harems. Perhaps it's time for Cowboy Bebop or Trigun...
Posted by Mark on September 02, 2007 at 09:18 PM .: link :.
Where am I?
This page contains entries posted to the Kaedrin Weblog in September 2007.
Kaedrin Beer Blog
12 Days of Christmas
2006 Movie Awards
2007 Movie Awards
2008 Movie Awards
2009 Movie Awards
2010 Movie Awards
2011 Fantastic Fest
2011 Movie Awards
6 Weeks of Halloween
Arts & Letters
Computers & Internet
Disgruntled, Freakish Reflections
Philadelphia Film Festival 2006
Philadelphia Film Festival 2008
Philadelphia Film Festival 2009
Philadelphia Film Festival 2010
Science & Technology
Security & Intelligence
The Dark Tower
Weird Movie of the Week
Copyright © 1999 - 2012 by Mark Ciocco.