Fly into the Sun

Well, I just got back from Miami, Florida.  Though to be honest, I could have been anywhere–basically the trip was from airport to hotel, then back to airport again. 

View from the Hotel

You’d think the Mandarin Oriental Miami would have wireless access for guests, but if you did think that, you’d be wrong and would have to make another guess until you got it right.

Still, it’s a very nice place.  I’m glad I wasn’t paying, though, because I couldn’t have afforded it, even if they’d paid me.  I mean, um, it was pretty expensive and everything, and I didn’t even watch a movie or get room service.

When I first thought of posting an entry on the trip, I figured I’d have some funny or interesting Miami stories.  But since I never left the hotel, I don’t, so this whole thing is kind of a waste of your time.  Instead, why don’t you tell me your funny or interesting Miami stories?

[Space provided by funny or interesting reader stories]

Hey, that was both funny and interesting!  Thanks for sharing, and thanks for popping by.

Long Walk Off A Short Pier

I’m going to try and upgrade this thing to the latest version of WordPress.  Others have done this, and seen success.  Others might have done this with…less success.  One suspects they wander the web like lost souls, only able to post when time-shift events occur.  Or maybe they just started over.

At any rate, this blog may be unavailable while I do this.  And when I’m done, and this blog disappears off the face of the Earth, it’s because something went wrong.  If that’s the case, it was nice knowing you!

UPDATE:  This is more complicated than they let on.  At least to my tiny little mind.  We’ll see…

UPDATED UPDATE:  Put on hold until I can find out what I’m doing, or rather what I need to do.  (Not sure the first bit is even answerable.)   The thing is, I don’t own my own server and I’m not hosted by WordPress, so I need to find out if what I want to do is possible without massive amounts of work.  I like Yahoo well enough, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to do mass file updates.  Which means rename files one by one, upload files a handful at a time, then hope it all works.  Otherwise, rename all the old files back, one at a time…

The Roads Must Roll

Things you might not have cared about:  for several years now, I’ve found it almost impossible to just sit on the couch and watch a DVD. I have to be doing something else, like playing solitaire or writing or turning my CDs into MP3s.   Something, anything.  Just sitting there makes me fidget.

What I do about ninety percent of the time is work out on a treadmill.  If you’ve ever done any exercise on a treadmill, you can believe me when I say there are few things that are duller.  It’s incredibly boring.  Which is why I moved the treadmill in front of the television and hooked up a pair of headphones.  With the right video, the miles just fly past. (With the wrong one, it’s agony on a stick again.)

In the past few months, I’ve discovered that anime is an excellent way to make the miles go quicker, which is why I’ll occasionally say a series is good “treadmill food.” 

(I bet some marketing guy could sell a lot of treadmills with a slogan like “Anime your way to fitness.”  He could bundle a Nordic Trac with a complete set of Vandread DVDs.  There’s another million I’ll never see.)

Anyway, last night, tragedy struck.  My treadmill broke!

Could you hear me yelling AAARRGHHH! where you live?   Yeah, that was me.  Sorry about that.

I was seriously wondering what I was going to do with all these unwatched DVDs.

So today I went looking for a replacement.  Tried out Sears, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Wal-Mart.  My main criteria for a treamill are:

1. Small

2. Cheap

3. Inexpensive

4. Doesn’t cost a lot of money

5. Counts up the miles per session

6. Low price

I don’t care about things like heart-rate monitors or drink dispensers or any of that.  As long as it tells me my distance and there’s a place to put the DVD remote, I’ll be happy.

Well, I actually found one, at Wal-Mart of all places.  Around $200 (still an ouchie, but these things can go up to several thousand dollars), smallish, and um, probably does other stuff too.

While it took two guys to get it into my car, I was able to take it out, bring it down the steps and into my front door, all by myself. 

I guess I’m not as out-of-shape as I thought.  I’m anime-ing my way to fitness after all!

Coming soon: what makes an anime series good treadmill food?  The answer may surprise you!  Because I haven’t quite figured out what it is, yet.  Thanks for visiting!

Kiss, Kiss, Kiss, Kiss Me All Day

Watching UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie is like drinking the foam from your root beer, then throwing away the glass.  At best, it’s going to remind you that there’s a “root beer” flavor that you might have enjoyed in the past, but it isn’t going to do any more than jog your memory, slightly, of past root beers.  It certainly isn’t going to satisfy any craving for that flavor.

In its defense, I should note that the show is frequently quite hilarious and that the girls are all pretty.  Also, that “cat girl gun” is flat-out startling.  It’s impossible to dislike the show, at least with any worthwhile intensity.  But there’s just nothing there.  So much nothing, in fact, that I’ve written this based on seeing volumes one and two only; I really don’t have any desire to see volume three, which I don’t have, or the OVA, which I do.   Season Two?  Well, thanks, but I’m full.

Perhaps there’s a Third Volume Notch Kick which moves this series into Awesome Masterpiece territory, but I kind of doubt it.  As it is, the series is like finding a quarter on the sidewalk—pretty nice but nothing worth talking about.  (Which doesn’t seem to have stopped me, though, has it?)

And I can’t be the only one creeped out by Valkyrie’s transformation bit.  In her typical state, she looks like a four-year-old; when she kisses Kazuto, it’s not a “thank you for the dolly, Grampa!” kiss, it’s a “helloooo, sailor!” kiss, and that just seems rather icky.  (The title of this post, by the way, comes from my mishearing of the opening credits song.)

I have seen volume three at one of the local anime dealers.  But it’s almost thirty dollars!   That’s not like finding a quarter in the street—that’s like finding a bill in the street, and it’s your bill, and it’s overdue.  Thirty dollars! 

You know, I can buy a heck of a lot of root beer for thirty dollars.

Lyar Von Ertiana, Part 1

As mentioned below, Ubu Roi credited me with a drawing of Lyar Von Ertiana which I didn’t actually do–I clipped her from some other website somewhere and stuck her into another environment (which I did draw).   I’m scrupulous about not taking credit for another’s work, which is why I keep mentioning that.  But it started me thinking–could I draw Lyar?   Well, why not give it a shot?

I’ve always wanted to do portraits of the Divergence Eve women, and perhaps this is as good a time as any to start.

Anyway, here she is, take one.  This drawing was sketched out in around a minute or so, and looks it, but things have to start somewhere, right?  I should also point out that I drew her from memory, so maybe not every single syllable is exactly where it ought to be.

The sharp-eyed will note that I didn’t draw her in manga-style, which is what I ought to have done if I just wanted to duplicate her.  But I didn’t want to duplicate her.  What would be the point of that? She’s already been drawn manga-style and very well indeed.  I was curious what she might look like if she was a real person.

So let’s clean the sketch up a bit.  Again, we’re talking maybe two minutes work or so, again withough looking at any source drawings.

I see Lyar shaping up in this.  It’s by no means even close, but I see a great deal of steely determination in that face, and that’s how I think of Lyar Von Ertiana.

Another observation that some may be wondering about–why didn’t I draw them?  Because they would be what they were in Divergence Eve: a distraction.  I think the character designer made a serious misjudgment when he decided on them.  “Serious” as in, “How retarded was that guy?”   I sometimes wish someone would come along and Lucas the series and make them normal, but I suppose it wouldn’t be the Divergence Eve we all know and love, would it?

More as it comes.  Thanks for popping by!

Sleep Deprivation Comics No. 1

This should probably get an explanation.  On the Spamusement Forum, where I’m to be found far too regularly, I posted a picture of Petite Charat in response to a spamline, and there was a bit of discussion about “this cat girl, with huge eyes, and a French baguette stuck in her butt.”  (Her tail, of course, is not a French baguette.  Or is it?)  Someone else wondered how the discussion turned toward this “rabbitwoman breadbutt” stuff, and the phrase merited further discussion.  I suggested it should be something a giant robot pilot would yell before he punched an alien monster. (I’ve since seen most of Godanner, and it would fit perfectly there.)

Of course, after “Rabbitwoman Breadbutt” there should probably be “PUNCH”, right? Good idea!

Thanks for stopping by, as always!  How about a nice Hawaiian Punch!

Stupid Graphics Tricks vs. WordPress, also HELLO!

Each time I try to post a, well, post that has graphics in it, I end up with an entry that has a massive amount of blank space above it.  I’ve got to pull code from older entries and adapt that to get something that makes me look less retarded than I am (and actually shows the graphics).  What the heck am I doing wrong?  Time to visit the forums, sigh.

In the meantime, welcome to our visitors from BridgeBunnies!  That has to be one of the greatest domain names ever, and we here are honored to be added to your blogroll.  The drawing of Lyar Von Ertiana your master refers to is here, and we must confess, we didn’t draw most of Lyar (or Sugar, either).  But we’re working on that!

UPDATE: The graphics thing seems to be related to the size of the graphic (in pixels) as it is displayed.  If I reduce the size, it doesn’t create a giant blanket of white. 

this time.

Heart of Darkness

History is always fascinating.   One wonders, when looking over figures of great evil through time, was there a specific moment when these people went from being mildly annoyed at stuff to causing untold suffering?  I’m sure some biographers are able to find the exact point when the other foot joined its fellow, already placed firmly on the Dark Side, and the transformation was complete. 

I doubt I’ll get a biographic treatment, since I don’t like that sort of thing anyway, but for the convenience of future historians I hereby provide proof positive of the exact moment when I turned completely evil. 



If you only knew the power of the Dark Side…!


Since I’ve already posted this elsewhere, I thought I might as well post it here.


I can now be sued by two different copywrite holders!   GO ME!

And yes, if you click it, it can’t find the file.  That is because life stinks.

UPDATE: I fixed the above problem.  GO ME AGAIN.

Different Shoes Each Time, Too

So, I was going to watch Vandread the other night as treadmill food, but I got really impatient in the middle of the second episode.  There’s a kind of “anti-suspense” that comes about when you know something is going to happen anyway (in this case, the two factions forming an alliance), you just wonder how long it’s going to take and why the players just don’t get on with it.  There are entire movies made this way and I can’t stand them.

Of course, one swallow does not a Summer make and I’m sure I’ll come back to Vandread.   I don’t think it’s going to play like this again, and it comes highly recommended, but I was feeling the need for something other.  So I decided to watch Pretear again. 

If you recall, I watched this a few weeks ago and enjoyed it.  It was a lot of fun, had some nice comedy and some well-imagined characters.  My overall evaluation was “pretty good.”

Well, now that I’ve seen it a second time, I’ve changed my mind.  I don’t think it’s “pretty good” anymore.

I think it’s excellent.  In fact, I would go so far as to say it’s one of the greatest anime series I’ve seen so far.  While it doesn’t quite have the sheer greatness of Noir or Haibane Renmei, it’s more fun than both of them put together.  As a matter of fact, if someone is dumb enough to come up to me and ask where they might find a starting point in anime watching, I’m going to recommend Pretear.  (Special bonus: unlike Martian Successor Nadesico, it’s actually in print!)  There are a number of reasons why, on a second viewing, the show just jumped out as well as it did.  What are those reasons?  Why, I’m glad you asked and STOP GROANING, YOU ASKED DAMN IT.

The number one reason is that, while on the surface, the show is an action-comedy, it’s actually quite deep.  The characters, even the background comedy ones, have a depth and dimensionality that’s not only refreshing but it even drives the plot along.  This is a story about emotional relationships, strengths and weaknesses, and how those relationships can destroy the world, or save it.  It’s very, very easy to invest yourself in all the characters we meet.

Secondly, the narrative flow of the series is refreshingly positive.  While Himeno, our heroine, suffers setbacks and doubts, she just keeps pressing on.  This isn’t a story about coming to terms with fate, or escaping fate’s clutches.  This is a story about making a determined effort because you want to, not because you have to, and fate be damned.

Thirdly, the characters, as suggested above, are excellent. 

The basic story is that Himeno, a sixteen year old girl, has somehow been born as a possible “Pretear,” a being of great power and ability.  She’s unaware of this until she runs (literally) into Hayate, self-styled leader of the Leafe Knights.  The Knights are fighting against the villainous Princess of Disaster (rolls eyes), who drains the life-force from entire worlds, and the Knights know we’re next.  They’ve come here to find Earth’s Pretear, because while they’re powerful on their own, they’re not powerful enough without one.   A Pretear is able to take on the essence of a Knight and, basically, turn that Knight into a both a shield and a weapon.

Of course, while Himeno and Hayate hit each other hard, they don’t hit it off at all, and they snipe at each other for the next few episodes.  Anyone who doesn’t see where this is going seriously needs to read more in the Big Book O’ Movie Clichés.  As it turns out, there’s a very good reason why Hayate acts like a big jerk.  It’s perfectly in character, given his past…

The Princess of Disaster herself is a marvelously scary and complex villain.  She not only commands an army of monsters but has the ability to amplify a person’s depression and feelings of worthlessness. She’s very, very good at this, striking a person’s weak point with precision—and the key is, she doesn’t create these self-doubts; they reside within us all.  She’s just able to find them, and feed them.

But the best character is Himeno—I’d go so far as to say she’s one of the best anime characters I’ve come across.  While a perfectly normal sixteen year old, she has a great inner strength that defines her.  She’s determined to do what she has to do to the best of her ability, and she’s not going to back down.  With the help of the Leafe Knights, she’ll fight on.  (The fights against the demon-creatures are great; they’re just long enough to be exciting without going into tedious repetition.)  The thing is, she also has a great heart—she’s able to see good in almost everyone, and she acts on those beliefs.  She cares about everyone, even these Knights who’ve suddenly popped into her life.  (The Knights can suffer injury while protecting her, so she practices a great deal so the fights can be won quickly, without risking the Knight she’s using.)

Let’s see, what else?  The music is great throughout.  The comedy, as noted, is first-rate.  Fan service?  Fan service confuses me, but I think I’d rate it at “none,” though when she takes on a Knight’s essence, Himeno does lose her clothing—but everything’s hidden through angles and energy clouds.   (She then reappears wearing clothing that reflects the Knight’s powers.)  The Knights themselves are a fun, varied bunch, ranging in age from (guessing) about four or five years old up to (guessing) mmmmmmaybe mid-twenties.  All of them are male except a little girl who is, maybe, eight or so.  (I suppose I should mention that Kei seems pretty male, though he wears a fetching ensemble complete with adorable high-heels.)

This is definitely in my top five shows—I’d be willing to put it at number three–and I highly recommend it.