Appetite for Construction

Guess what, I’m still not dead!   I’m actually on what is laughingly called “Spring Break,” which generally translates to “lots of work.”

For example, this week has been taken up with building a half-pipe.  This is not a hash pipe; it’s something skateboarders use, and I agreed to help build one.  After a few hours, I sure wish it was a hash pipe.

More in future, and thanks as always for stopping by.

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Would You Buy A T-Shirt From This Man?

…More than likely not, since people on the internet rarely have money, and when they do, they spend it on sensible things, like smoking mice, Bluetooth-enabled diapers and anime-flavored houseplants.  Nonetheless, I decided to put up a shop anyway whereupon some of my graphics could be on T-shirts and mousepads.  I then put those designs on those selfsame T-shirts and mousepads. 

It’s open for business right here.

At the moment there are five T-shirts and three mousepads.  I’ll probably make more in due time.

Do I expect to make any money with this?  No, not at all, especially considering that I raised the prices less than a dollar for the “profit.”  But the site is free, so who cares?  Maybe after a hundred years or so I’ll get a check in the mail.  It could happen!

You’ll note that I didn’t use CafePress for this tiny endeavor.  The reason for this is quite simple:  CafePress sucks.  I set up an account there and created a T-shirt, then thought I’d create another with a different design.  Ooo, sorry, if you use the free version of CafePress (see above, how people on the internet don’t have any money) you get to make one T-shirt.   If you want to make two, you have to pick a different product that’s almost a T-shirt.   Like the green T-shirt, that colors everything green!   Perfect if you draw a lot of leprechauns.  I don’t actually draw a lot of leprechauns, myself.

Either that, or upgrade your account so you pay a monthly fee.  Then I guess you can do what you like.  Well, if I’m going to pay money for something like that, there ought to be the remote chance that I’ll make some of that money back, somehow.  After all, I’ve got my own downloadable shoe-polish to buy.

The Gainax Ending

Steven Den Beste recently wrote about a new order he’d placed with the Anime Corner Store.  The only series on his list I was familiar with was Petite Princess Yucie, which, like three of the five other series he was ordering, was from Gainax Studios.
 
I’ve seen four series produced by Gainax:  Neon Genesis Evangelion, This Ugly Yet Beautiful World, Mahoromatic, and Petite Princess Yucie
 
So if you’ve made your way around the anime world, even slightly like I have, you’ve probably heard of Gainax.  And if you haven’t, you’ve probably heard of their contribution to terminology, specifically, the “Gainax Ending.”  As near as I’ve been able to determine—having seen a grand total of four Gainax series, yes, thank you—it comes in two varieties.  1: What the Hell was that?  2:  What the Hell was that?
 
The first ending happens when, close to the last minute, the stakes suddenly jump up in importance—not only are our heroes close to the goal, but instantly, the world might end if they don’t get it right.  The goal is still the same, though.  Yucie and This Ugly fall into this category.
 
In the second type, the ending comes out of nowhere.  Everything that the series has built up gets thrown away and something totally new is put into place.  (Imagine you were watching a show about how the Last Supper was painted, but the last episode, where you expect things to be woven into an explanatory web, turns out to be a musical tribute to hot dogs.)  It’s a sudden and complete left-turn that answers none of the questions building up, but goes off in a direction no one cared about.  At all.  Evangelion and Mahoromatic are the culprits here.
 
How do the endings “work” in each case?  Here are the ones I’ve seen, translated into baseball metaphors.

1. Neon Genesis Evangelion.  Strike out with the based loaded.  (Loss of big potential.)

2. This Ugly Yet Beautiful World.  Bunt to first base.  (Did what they set out to do, but had to scramble things to get there.)

3. Mahoromatic.  Wild foul tip that shot into the stands and killed the Mayor.  (Words fail me.)

4. Petite Princess Yucie.  Nice hit to first base.  (Did what they set out to do, while making it seem more important.)

As you can see, Ending Type One at least leaves a positive impression, even if it’s not much of one.  Ending Type Two, though, undoes almost all the progress the series has made on its way to get there.  When I think of Evangelion, I still think of the incredible concepts and creativity that went into its production; similarly, with Mahoromatic I think of the really terrific characters the makers gathered together.  But I never want to see either one of them again, because of their endings.
 
As an aside, it’s funny to note that there are a number of other elements common to Gainax productions…kind of.  Each (except This Ugly) has a really horrible, obnoxious character; each (except Yucie) has a drunken slut (though that’s unkind to Misato); each (except Evangelion) has a personable, non-human robot who comments wryly.  There are varying degrees of fan service for each, from “None” (Yucie) up to “Lots” (Mahoromatic).   It’s almost as if they have a menu of elements and decide to take all but one or two of them each time they set out to make a show, “that way no one can spot our pattern!”
 
The thing I wonder about, is why are the endings generally handled so badly?   With This Ugly and Yucie, it’s not like they didn’t have time to work up to the big uber-threat (though at twelve episodes, This Ugly did need to budget the running time).  Yucie, at twenty-six episodes, wandered around quite a bit before heading toward possible world-annihilation.  A lot of Evangelion, to me at least, seemed like it could have been trimmed to make a more effective telling.  (Shinji sure road the train a lot, didn’t he?)  Mahoromatic also had a leisurely stroll during its run, but I’m actually grateful for that—if you skip the last DVD entirely, you can enjoy the show as an excellent character-based comedy.
 
With the Ending Type One shows, it looks like they were having fun with the characters until someone said, “Oh my gosh, we forgot about the end of the world!”   That makes a certain amount of sense, though it speaks of poor planning.  But the Ending Type Two shows?  What the Hell was that?
 
Evangelion looks also like it ran out of time—I can imagine the following conversation:
 
Director: “Wow, this series is working great!  Good thing we have forty episodes!” 
Assistant: “Um, we only have twenty-six…”
Director:  “We do?  Oh no!  I can’t tie up everything in two episodes!  I’m not even going to try!  Call the writers, and get me two cases of beer, and we’ll work out something!”
Later that evening: “Congratulations!  Congratulations!  Hic!” 

But Mahoromatic is the real puzzle.  It really was going great—and unlike Evangelion, it had likeable characters!   I hate the sort of psychological speculation I’m about to indulge in, but really, it looked to me like someone very high up in the production staff had a really nasty divorce before the last few episodes were made.  I can’t think of any other reason for the horrible slap-in-the-face ending they gave us.
 
All of that has made me leery of anything from the studio.  I’ve said this elsewhere, but I’ll repeat it here anyway.  For some, the big sticker proclaiming “From Studio Gainax!” may be a siren call to a series to buy, but for me, it’s basically the big red label, “Warning: Larks’ vomit.”

Wii Wii Wii All The Way Home

Ubu Roi links to Fledgling Otaku’s link of a link, um, where there’s a link showing some people bowling. 

Only they weren’t, really.  They’d hooked up their Nintendo Wii to a giant theatre system, and they had screens the size of a wall.  So there weren’t any bowling balls, no pins, no stubby pencils.  But on the walls surrounding the players, the bowling alley, the pins, and possibly the stubby pencils, looked life-size.  And I imagine the strikes, spares and scores felt very life-size as well.  (And no worries about renting nasty squishy shoes.)
 
As I noted in a comment, I think we’ve seen the first Holodeck.  And I felt a bit creeped out by it—after all, we spend all our time indoors anyway, do we really need to make our indoors look like other indoor places? 
 
Well, um, yes, cough.  So.  While I was a bit creeped out, I was also a bit intrigued at the same time.  Thus, when I was in Sam’s Club this weekend, buying food for the Devils, I happened to see that they had a whole section full of Wiis.  (Is that the plural?) 
 
The intrigued bit of me moved my hand, despite the creeped-out bit of me.  And suddenly there it was in the shopping cart.  And I bought a Wii.
 
I can hear you say, “Why?”
 
And I say, “No, no, Wii…at the back of the throat, like this.  Wii.”
 
Ha ha ha, I’m such a card.  My Python-Quote-Mastery knows no peers!  Well, a few of them, yes.  Actually most of them. 
 
Anyway, the question “Why?” is certainly a valid one.  I’ve said on many occasions that I am teh suxor at games.  I’ve got an Xbox, which I’ve never been good at.  I rarely switch it on, because I am tired of its rattling laugh when I hold the control pad.
 
The only “game” game (I’m not counting the many variants of Solitaire) that I was ever good at was the first Descent.   Man, I killed at that game.  Supposedly it had an early version of AI and I can fully believe that:  you know, it’s a totally awesome feeling of power to watch huge attack robots back away from you, because you are such a nutzoid that they are scared of you. 
 
It’s like seeing a huge German Shepard backing away from a loudly barking Dachshund.  You can almost see the larger dog thinking, This guy must know karate or something  I’m not risking my neck, no sir.
 
Well…yes, that was a bit of a diversion…sorry about that.   It happens round here.  I think it’s a good example of a paradigm shift.  (I hope.)
 
Anyway, I’ve got a Wii now.  And I set it up, and browsed the internet with it, and it really did feel pretty cool holding that control thing and making it do my bidding.  It’s very different from the Xbox thing.  Maybe, maybe I’ll get good at games. 
 
Stop laughing.   It could happen!  (Paradigm shift, hello!  Hello?)
 
Incidentally, when I opened the box, there was the strong and unmistakable scent of pine trees.  I wonder if they were hiding these around Christmas time, to make the market price pop upward.  It might explain a great many things…like, how come there aren’t huge aisles of Wii stuff?  Did I back the wrong horse again
 
I know I say it too often, but here it’s appropriate:  AAARGH.

Porridge Works the Same Way

I think I’ve figured out why posting has been so sparse of late.  It’s not from lack of trying–I have a half dozen or so entries half-written-out.  No, I think it’s more environmental. 

With a bit of luck, I’ve rectified that situation, and I ought to make more regular appearances here.

The reason is fairly simple. Of the two extremes in temperature, most folks have one they can tolerate and one they cannot stand. For some, being too cold is fine, but being too hot is unbearable. For others, vise-versa. I’m one of the vise-versas.

I can’t stand cold weather. It makes me wrap the bedclothing tightly around myself like I’m swaddling a mummy. I want to shrink down into whatever meagre pool of warmth is left, and not leave, ever. It’s an effort to get out of bed, get dressed, drive to work…all that. I feel the way Frankenstein’s monster must have felt when he first stepped off the table onto that cold laboratory floor…also, it’s the big Algebra final and I haven’t studied and I’m only wearing my underwear. But that’s as maybe. The thing is, the other extreme–being too hot–while more tolerable, carries its own difficulties. Most especially, lethargy. When I’m too hot, I don’t hate the situ, but most of my energy is taken up getting from the bed to the couch, then making the return trip.

So. A couple of weeks back, when I was still shedding the flu (but not yet completely flu-shed), I was coughing my head off, wanted to tear my own throat out, and kept eyeing the acid-bath I’d installed on a whim with envious eyes. I thought: I might at least be comfortable temperature-wise. So I raised the thermostat a notch.  And it stayed that way throughout the healing process, and beyond.

Yesterday, I noticed that, and notched it back down. And I already feel like have more energy and ability.

Thanks for visiting, and perhaps later today or tomorrow, there’ll be new stuff. Maybe not good stuff, but hey, one day at a time, eh?