IT'S HARD TO GET IN THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT...
...when you're about to move just before Christmas.
There are boxes everywhere in our soon-to-be-ex house now, including a wall of empty crates with the "The MI Group"
logo on them, and we've already packed away a lot of the books and VHS tapes (and we have a small-town-library-sized collection of books), so there are a couple of huge empty bookshelves, which is a rather depressing sight, as if I wasn't already depressed enough that I will be leaving the house I've lived in for almost 24 years. And we can't put Christmas decorations up because we'd just have to take them back down again before Christmas.
So I've been listening to a couple of my Christmas CDs
, and I've been thinking of Christmas music.
What is the most often-covered pop song from the past twenty years? I'm not sure, though Jennifer Rush's "The Power of Love" would probably be among them, as would, surprisingly, George Michael's "Last Christmas" from the 1986 WHAM! album Music from the Edge of Heaven
. It's not even technically really a Christmas song but a song sung from the perspective of a spurned lover who was either betrayed or dumped either on Boxing Day
(which is December 26th
, for you Americans) or, if you want to be technical and tell me that Christmas lasts 12 days, "the very next day" could also refer to Epiphany, January 6th
. Christmas itself is really only nominal to the song, but, still, it seems to be a modern favourite for other top artists to cover in Christmas events or on Christmas albums. Last year, a blog, "GET OFF MY LAWN", linked to a whole bunch of MP3s of various cover versions of "Last Christmas"
. The acapella one from the Backstreet Boys is really well done, but the Backstreet Boys, which were always popular in Montreal, are a group of very good vocalists who are somewhat unfairly maligned by the "boy band" label, as though all "boy bands" have the same level of talent or non-talent.
Since George Michael is British, he wrote the lyric "Happy Christmas", which is kind of a Britishism, or Britspeak, if you prefer. I was wondering how many of the cover versions would Americanize it to "Merry Christmas", so I did a little survey of all of the cover versions I've heard and here are the results.
GEORGE MICHAEL/WHAM!: "Happy Christmas"
ATOMIC KITTEN: "Happy Christmas"
BACKSTREET BOYS: "Happy Christmas"
RUBBER SOUL: "Last Christmas"
DMC REMIX: "Happy Christmas" (n.b. the vocals are from the orignal George Michael version)
HILLARY DUFF: "Merry Christmas"
JIMMY EAT WORLD: (skipped over the relevant verse completely)
HIP HOP REMIX: (artist unknown; just a hip-hop song which samples the chorus and the melody from the original George Michael song)
WHIGFIELD: "Happy Christmas"
SAVAGE GARDEN: "Happy Christmas"
DJ MIX: "Happy Christmas"
MICHIE TOMIZAWA: "Happy Christmas"
Ah, so it's only Hillary Duff that felt the need to fuck with the lyrics so that American kids would appreciate the song.
The cover version you won't find in the "GET OFF MY LAWN" entry
is the Michie Tomizawa version, which she sings in character as "Hino Rei"/"Sailor Mars" on the second Sailor Moon
Christmas CD, Sailor Stars Merry Christmas
(Columbia Japan COCC-13827), which is, as I've said before, one of my favourite Christmas-related tracks, mainly because of Engrishy lines where it really does sound like she's singing "Tell me, baby, do you lecognize
me? Well, it's been a year, it doesn't supplies
me." In fact, I liked the song so much that I was wondering which George Michael album it was from and was surprised that it was from WHAM!'s last album as a band, Music from the Edge of Heaven
(Columbia CK-40285), which I had received on cassette when it first came out in 1986 but hadn't listened to much since it's kind of a "meh" album compared to the spectacularly catchy Make It Big
, and I actually went out and bought the Edge of Heaven
CD, which is a mainstay of the bargain racks at places like HMV, just for "Last Christmas".
Anyway, I bring up the Michie Tomizawa cover version up again because I can now link you to a site with an MP3 of it
, so you can hear the spectacular Engrish for yourself. Just open the link with Firefox, if you have it, because it opens up a pop-up, which you can close. And the background of that page attempts to link to an image at Angelfire, though Angelfire doesn't allow image linking, so the Angelfire logo appears instead, obscuring the text, so "Ctrl A" that page and then click on the "mp3" link for the last track, "Last Christmas", which is saved as a zip file, but I checked the zip file myself and there's nothing malicious about it.
Also, I have a tiny follow-up about Emerson, Lake, and Palmer's progressive rock song "I Believe in Father Christmas", which is being used in commercials for Bell ExpressVu (Google variations: Bell Express Vu, Bell Express View, Bell Expressview). I found a link to a cover version that sounds fairly close to the version used in the commercial here
, but it's from a band called "Human Drama".
Last Christmas/I gave you my heart/But the very next day you gave it away. This year/To save me from tears/I'll give it to someone special. Last Christmas/I gave you my heart/But the very next day you gave it away. This year/To save me from tears/I'll give it to someone special. Once bitten and twice shy/I keep my distance/But you still catch my eye. Tell me baby/Do you recognize me? Well/It's been a year/It doesn't surprise me. (Happy Christmas) I wrapped it up and sent it/With a note saying "I love you"/I meant it. Now I know what a fool I've been/But if you kissed me now/I know you'd fool me again. Last Christmas/I gave you my heart/But the very next day you gave it away. This year/To save me from tears/I'll give it to someone special. A crowded room. Friends with tired eyes. I'm hiding from you/And your soul of ice. My god, I thought you were/Someone to rely on. Me? I guess I was a shoulder to cry on. A face on a lover with a fire in his heart. A man under cover but you tore me apart.
Now I've found a real love/you'll never fool me again. Last Christmas/I gave you my heart/But the very next day you gave it away. This year/To save me from tears/I'll give it to someone special. Last Christmas/I gave you my heart/But the very next day you gave it away. This year/To save me from tears/I'll give it to someone special. A face on a lover with a fire in his heart. A man under cover buy you tore him apart. Maybe next year I'll give it to someone/I'll give it to someone special.
PROJECT GOTHAM RACING 2
Yeah, my brother in Vancouver, John, came home to assist in the packing and moving some stuff to my sister's place in Ottawa, and he brought his X-Box and Gamecube with him.
So, much of the past two days, I've been playing Project Gotham Racing 2
, which is the second game in the Project Gotham Racing
series but which is really the third game in the Metropolis Street Racer
series, for those of us that know the true original game in the series, on the Sega Dreamcast. I've been re-playing Metropolis Street Racer
for the past two months, since my other brother, Nick, let me have the Dreamcast for a while, and I've finally begun unlocking the "free roam" tracks, though you can only drive around small neighbourhoods, not whole cities like in The Getaway
, and then only the roads that were used as tracks, so many of the crossstreets are still blocked. Basically, to use one example, in the Trafalgar neighbourhood, you can drive from Piccadilly Circus to Leicester Square to Trafalgar Square to the part of the Mall with the steps and back up to Piccadilly Circus. Not exactly a huge part of London, if you've ever been there.
Project Gotham Racing 2
is a big improvement over Metropolis Street Racer
in almost every regard. They have a lot more cities, including Edinburgh, Yokohama, Chicago, Washington D.C., Moscow, Barcelona, Hong Kong, Florence, and Sydney, and, while I wouldn't say that the entire cities have been modeled, it seems to be larger areas than the three cities, London, Tokyo, and San Francisco, in MSR
, and they're not divided into three neighbourhoods each. I miss England, so I love the high streets modeled in Edinburgh, which isn't England but it's still Britain, and the Sydney levels, many going around under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, are also very impressive looking. And they seem to have acquired the rights to use more store logos than they used in MSR
, since I don't mind so-called "product placement" in games. It adds to the realism. The lighting effects are spectacular compared to MSR
; the scenes where the cars are in sunlight look almost photorealistic, and the store windows actually reflect. And you get better cars too, including cars from Ferrari, Porsche, Honda (the major Japanese brand not present in MSR
), and a lot more American muscle cars than just the token Mustang. And SUV races. And the races are groups according to car types, and in each group of races, a couple of cars are already unlocked and you can purchase more. You don't have the asinine garage like MSR
where you can only have about 3-7 cars in your garage at one time and you have to race a bunch of boring laps just to get a new car. The "Kudos" style point system is a bit more refined here; they fized the "hotlap" races so you can only do one at a time and can't do one lap that meets the requirements of the level and then get thousands of points doing handbrake turns in the middle of the street for half-an-hour. My favourite option of all is that you can restart the race directly from the race, which doesn't seem like a big deal, but, in MSR
, to restart, you had to go through no fewer than six menu screens, and then, after, it took 20-30 seconds to load each track. And the music is licensed this time, so you get bands like Blur on the soundtrack. The only thing that I miss from MSR
is that the racers in PGR 2
are during specific times of the day; you don't have the races occuring at the same time of day as it would be in the actual cities in the real world, assuming the Dreamcast's internal clock was set properly.
My brother also played Halo 2
a lot, and I can understand what it is about that game that appeals to a fair number of people, but I suck with first person shooters and it doesn't look like it would be my bag.
SORRY, LINK, HOMELESSNESS IS NOT A NOBLE LIFESTYLE...
There's a very bizarre article in this week's edition of the Concordia
University student newspaper, The Link
. perpetuating the dangerous myth of the noble, carefree, homeless
, as presented in naïve books and films like The Fisher King
starring Robin Williams.
Embracing a life without money
Being a wanderer, possessing the minimum and getting by in the city
by Xania Keane
"Covered with a single bed sheet and sleeping on a carpeted floor, Olivier wakes up and looks at the daylight streaming through the skylight above him. He has just spent the night in the hallway between two emergency exits of an apartment building in downtown Montreal.
After taking a moment to daydream, he feels an urge to get up from his bed and take a shower. He walks down de Maisonneuve to Dawson College and into the men's locker room, pretending to be a student. He cleans his body and leaves. Olivier then walks to Mont-Royal, treading slowly over the soggy leaves, thinking about existence and enjoying the sunlight."
Hmm... for some reason, I don't see the words "homeless person", or some other term with more or less the same meaning, used anywhere in these paragraphs to describe this guy. Maybe it's somewhere else?
"It is a few minutes past one o'clock. Standing on an escalator at Concordia University, Olivier climbs towards The People's Potato, an organization that offers free vegan food to students. After filling his belly, a student gives him a small light-blue square of paper. It is an advertisement for a cheap way to get one's income taxes filed.
"Sorry, this isn't for me," he says with a French accent, giving the piece of paper back to the girl."
Of course it's not for him. In modern society, there are really two groups of people: the parasites, and the productive people they mooch off of. Guess which class pays all of the taxes? Though, in this particular case, as far as I can tell, he's not screwing the taxpayers so much as just mooching off his friends. Wow, I bet they don't resent that, especially how, as we will see, the guy doesn't seem to be taking any steps to try and provide for himself to ensure that he won't be dependent on others for the rest of his life.
"Olivier is one of very few people who avoid living with money."
Which, in a non-agrarian country like Canada, makes about as much sense as avoiding living with water or avoiding living with oxygen.
""Progressively, it was a gradual thing, I came to adopt this lifestyle, not having any income, not having an apartment or a house, possessing only one pair of jeans or pants, only one shirt," says Olivier. "I've been living like this for two years, since the beginning of 2002.""
Ah, this is why we're not seeing the word "homeless", because Olivier used the magic "l" word, "lifestyle", which, if you're a liberal, is a magic talisman against all criticism of the way one lives, unless combined with one of the evil "c" words, "capitalist", "consumerist", "Christian", or "conservative", in which case your lifestyle is an open target for derision. Olivier calls the way he lives a "lifestyle", so we're not allowed mentioning any of the negative aspects or possible consequences lest we be painted as close-minded and judgemental.
And only one set of clothing? That's got to get pretty rank after a while. I think even most homeless guys around town have at least one change of clothing. If I wear the same undershirt for more than two days in a row, except when I'm in the shower, I begin to get rashes in my armpits. I can't imagine what sort of skin infections this guy is setting himself up for if he never changes.
"With 25 years behind him, Olivier feels no need to stress about money, the city gives him enough to live without it.
"This desire of possessing almost nothing and living a simple life, I always had it inside me, even when I was in elementary school.""
Fine, you want to live like that? Go back to Africa, and I don't mean that in a racist way, nor am I saying he should go back to his specific country if there's still a civil war going on, I just mean that he won't have to worry so much about the cold weather there. No, wait, the elements aren't a problem. Money's the only problem, and, if we get rid of money, our lives will have no problems or challenges or adversity. I know he's not about to, though, because it's easy to mooch off people in a post-industrial society where we produce more than we need than it would be in a peaceful but poor communal village where people live directly off the soil and he would probably be cruelly expected to pull his own weight once in a while.
"He came to Montreal from Kigali, Rwanda as a political refugee when he was seven years old.
"When I was in elementary school, we had no choice but to attend some workshops about Catholicism. Learning about people like Jesus, St. Francis of Assisi, I learned that it's possible to live just being a wanderer, possessing just the minimum.""
I haven't been to Sunday school in quite a while, but I definitely don't remember in the Bible anything that said "If thou decideth that thou doesn't need to worketh anymore, even if thou art still ableth to worketh and even if thou have giventh away all of thou worldly earnings on a whim, thou shalt be free to moocheth off the charity of other people for the rest of thy life if thou so chooseth, and, if they begin to resenteth continually giving to thou even after thou art back on thy feet with thou doing sod all in return, I shall smiteth them to Hell, since thou art responsiblity-free and shall never have to provideth for thyself." The Bible teaches compassion towards those in need, but I really don't remember anything about them presenting total lifelong dependency on others giving nothing of real worth in return as being a virtue. In fact, if you're always dependent on others, even when you don't need to be, doesn't that verge on stealing after a while? I know Jesus never said "Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime", as is widely-believed. That's actually a Chinese proverb, however, if Jesus didn't say that, he bloody well should've, because true compassion isn't giving those people who could provide for themselves a free pass for life from actually being obliged to provide for themselves. True compassion is giving them the tools with which to provide for themselves. And, if I remember correctly, Jesus and the Apostles did have day jobs as carpenters and fishermen; they weren't just sitting around all day, wearing sheets and giving divine insights. Olivier isn't following a divine path, he's just, at best, a very lazy person, and, more likely, mentally unstable.
""In autumn 2000, I had income taxes, had an apartment and the things anyone who has an apartment possesses, a sound system, TV and all that stuff. I was in the car with a friend of mine. I said to my friend, who was looking for a TV, his was broken, I said 'Hey, let's go to my place, I'll give you my TV.' And he said, 'Come on, you're crazy, why would you give me your TV?' I said 'No, no, no, I'm going to give you my TV.'""
Your friend thought you were crazy, eh, Olivier? Well, if you were just giving away your TV and sound system, I don't think you'd be crazy. A bit eccentric, certainly, but not crazy. If you decide you no longer need an apartment in a cold climate, however, yeah, I do think the possiblity of the politically-incorrect "c" word does begin to come into play.
""That was the first step. Then I started to give up all my things, and I found myself in the street a few months later."
He lives his life by simple rules: he doesn't drink alcohol or use drugs, he's a vegetarian, he doesn't steal, he doesn't own any form of identification."
Well, good for him that he doesn't drink alcohol or eat meat or use street drugs. Drugs of the anti-psychotic kind, or other drugs associated with treating mental illness, depending on what exactly is wrong with his mental capacities, might not be a bad idea though.
""I now volunteer three days a week at a hospital, enough time to feel as though I'm making a difference, but not enough time to make me feel like I'm working."
So you're able-bodied enough to volunteer, but you should be free from the responsibility to even attempting to provide for yourself with a paying job, since you're too good for work? Yeah, I suggest that next time you're in the hospital, you could possibly consider seeing someone, say, in the psychiatric ward, or get a referral to see a psychiatrist for an evaluation. Well, after you get a Medicare card...
""You will never see me performing anything to get money. If someone gives me money, I will accept it. I use money only to make phone calls, to rent or to go see movies at the theatre. If you give me a hundred bucks, I will go see a movie, rent a few movies and then give the rest away.""
Wait, how does he rent movies? I thought he gave away his TV. And he'd probably consider a Blockbuster card to be a form of identification. Doesn't say anywhere in the article, but I bet, when he says people give him money, he's a panhandler.
"A major inspiration in Olivier's life is the novel K-PAX.
"Truly, if you really want to know who I am, you have to read the book K-PAX. Even me, sometimes I forget things about my values or just lose the focus, but whenever I read that book I sort of find myself. It's weird, but that's the way it is. It's like a soul mate, but it's a book."
Olivier makes his way down Ste-Catherine Street to Chapter's. He visits the novel that he's read countless times about an alien from a utopian world where everyone helps one another, where there is no greed and no money."
Well, I've never read the book, but, if it's anything like the Kevin Spacey movie that's based on the book, they left it ambiguous whether K-PAX was an alien or whether he was just mentally ill. Yeah, I'd say this guy is kind of like K-PAX in that he's certainly one of those two options... [Jon Stewart voice]let's see, is he a space alien, or is he just mentally ill? Alien... random street nutjob... Damn, it's just too hard for me to guess![/Jon Stewart voice]
"In order to survive without money, Olivier depends on his friends.
"I have this friend, Pablo, he lives in the McGill ghetto, and he works and everything. He let me stay in his apartment during the Christmas holidays for nearly a month because he went to visit his family in Spain. He left me his keys and the code on his phone to get the messages. I still have the code, and he lets me pick up messages. Pablo helps me, people sometimes invite me to stay in their places or allow me to wash my clothes in their apartments. I definitely rely on other people.""
Well, obviously they're being true friends if they just let you mooch off them, expecting nothing in return. Ever. That's so compassionate, encouraging you to live your great lifestyle for the rest of your life.
Hey, I've got an idea! If your lifestyle is so damn noble, why don't you ask Pablo if he wants to give everything away and never worry about money and live in a stairwell? And your other friends too. Everyone should live like you because you're such a great example to the world. Of course, food would completely disappear from the stores in about a month, and there would be no more clothing or movies or new books, but, hey, you'll survive on friendship and love, free from greed and envy. Or turn into cannibals and start chowing down on each other. Whichever comes first.
"Olivier plans to live the rest of his life without money."
I bet his friends really appreciate that plan. While he has friends left, at least.
""Money is not good for the spirit, money kills the spirit. I don't see myself using big amounts of money to put together big projects. I believe that if something needs to be done, it will be done without money. It's not so much the money that causes stress, if you ask me, it's the things we do to get it.
"Work, most of the work we do is very stressful. We have to perform, we have to be efficient like machines. Money transforms human beings into slaves and masters. That's why I was never attracted to the work market.""
Well, you've figured it all out, haven't you? Sleeping in a stairwell, choosing to rely on the goodwill of others just to sustain yourself? The thing about money is that it's an incentive. It's an incentive for you to be productive. It's an incentive for you to do more than the absolute minimum amount of effort required for basic survivial so as to give back more than you take from the community. It'a an incentive for you to better yourself. No one's saying you need to go for the financial "high score", making enough to live in a mansion in Westmount or Senneville. That amount of effort isn't for most people. No one's saying that you should even adopt a middle class so-called "consumerist" lifestyle, aquiring a normal amount of non-essential items that are "wants" but not "needs". Some of us enjoy that lifestyle, ignoring the mocking of the Adbusters
magazine-reading types, who are hypocrites with a chip on their shoulder since they don't live in austere rooms empty of everything but a matress, bare light fixtures, and basic plumbing, but, if you're happy not pursuing any of the more creature comforts and not owning more than a few necessities, that's fine too. But, since we do not live in a hunter-gatherer society, cutting yourself off completely from the financial system and the social safety net and not living at a fixed address, whether you own the house, rent it, or just live in public housing, isn't an acceptable lifestyle choice. It's actually rather suicidal, especially in a cold climate. This guy is telling us "money kills the spirit", yet, after giving it all away, to paraphrase Dignan (Owen Wilson) from Wes Anderson's Bottle Rocket
, "what's he ever accomplished with his life that's so great, man? Nothing!"
"After eating supper at a volunteer-run soup-kitchen, Olivier goes to meet a student from India at a café on the corner of Berri and St-Catherine Street. Olivier has agreed to help him improve his French in exchange for help in English."
Oh, I bet that makes him feel right at home. While India's finally beginning to get a proper middle class, you still have tens, if not hundreds, of millions of untouchables, homeless convinced that it's their place in life to be homeless and that they'll never be able to do anything to help themselves, which, ultimately, is the worst, most self-destructive single thing anyone can believe about themselves. And that seems to be the sort of mentality Olivier has adopted after he snapped.
"He then goes down a small street in downtown Montreal. Entering the apartment complex from the emergency exit door on the side of the building that he leaves open, he finds the spot where his bed sheet lies."
"Mommy, why does the area near the emergency exit smell so much like pee?"
Yup, a whole article about a homeless guy talking about his "lifestyle" in only the most positive terms, not mentioning any drawbacks to living on the street or daring to suggest that this guy might not be playing with a full deck. That would be downright insensitive and judgemental and mendicantophobic
. Hooray for "diversity and culture", the subject of this week's Link
What this guy is living isn't the noble lifestyle of a carefree vagabond, it's a dangerous cycle of homelessness and total abandonment of personal responsibility in a city that is not exactly conducive to outdoor living nearly half of the year. The guy obviously has some problems not properly addressed anywhere in the article, and I would not be at all surprised if they were of the mental illness variety, and it is simply not compassionate to pretend the choices he made are positive examples you should follow if you are so inclined to leave it all behind. Civil liberty madness has gone too far, this guy should not be on the streets, he should probably be in some sort of mental institution or a halfway house receiving psychiatric treatment, not the subject of a laudatory puff-piece in a student newspaper.
WEIRD SEARCH REQUESTS (AND OTHER SUNDRIES...)
howl's moving castle, dvd sales,canada
Geez, have some patience, man.
Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli's Howl's Moving Castle
was just released theatrically in Japan on November 20th
. We barely know anything about the English dub yet, just that Monsters, Inc. director Pete Docter will be producing the dub
. They haven't released any cast information yet, nor do we have an official release date, though it's widely-believed to be sometime next spring, soon after the DVD release of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
, Porco Rosso
, and Hiroyuki Morita's The Cat Returns
, and, if the film does get released in the spring, the domestic Howl's Moving Castle
DVD would probably follow in the autumn of 2005, though that's really only an educated guess.
By the way, if you want me to bet on the initial theatre count (or "theater count", so I get Google hits from Americans), I'll say "a limited wide release within 100 theatres either way of 500 theatres"; due to the Oscar and the critical acclaim, Miyazaki is a little better known among cinephiles and animation enthusiasts, though I'd bet most of the animation enthusiasts knew about him pre-Oscar, but, despite what some anime sites claim about his "mainstreamness", I still don't think that Miyazaki is exactly a household name among people who don't pay attention to such things. The Best Animated Feature award is one of those esoteric awards your average person doesn't remember. I think everything I predicted in one of my earliest posts
has come to pass (including Finding Nemo
winning the Oscar the following
year); Spirited Away
winning the Oscar made Miyazaki a bit more prominent, but, still, Ghibli is still very esoteric compared to Pixar or Dreamworks and I just don't think there is enough of a market for Howl's Moving Castle
to be profitable at the box office if given a true wide release, on upwards of 2000 screens, no matter how well Disney advertises it. Yes, this one is based on a Western children's fantasy novel, by Diana Wynne Jones, so it's less alien than Spirited Away
, but, from everything I've read so far, the approach and pacing with the subject matter is still more suited for Japanese audiences. Not that it would bother me one way or the other if it did get a wide release, I just don't think it's going to happen.
In other news:
I started packing books yesterday into boxes that are just 1 cubic ft. each, though just my paperback manga volumes, and I was astonished to find out that most of my manga collection could be packed into 3 cubic ft. I had previously estimated the size of my manga collection, which I've collected over at least a decade now, as being over 400 paperback volumes large, mostly in English and French, though with maybe 20 or so volumes of things in the original Japanese and a handful in Italian and German, but, estimating using the amount of volumes I could fit into one crate, it's less than 300 volumes, which is a little disappointing. I still have a few volumes scattered in various places around the house, but certainly not 100 volumes.
Meanwhile, in "Free Country, USA"-land
, two weeks ago, Strong Bad's Compy 386 came down with a virus
, or rather, "423,827 viruses found, a new record". ("Waaugh! That is not a small number! That is a big number!! What'm I gonna do? [reads screen] Computer over? Virus equals very yes? That's not a good prize!") The information on the screen leaked all over Strong Bad's carpet, infecting the world and leading to a surreal montage of glitches happening to Strong Sad, Homestar and all of the other characters, until Bubs fixed Strong Bad's computer, blasting a hole through it with a shotgun. (Bubs would later sell the destroyed Compy 386 to Homestar
, who thought it was an automobile.) Now, since Strong Bad's first computer, the Tandy 400
(which, despite it's Radio Shack name, looks like an Apple II), was from the early 1980s, and the Compy 386
resembled an IBM PC from the late 1980s or early 1990s, I was kinda hoping that Strong Bad's new computer would be based on the Compaq Presario line from the mid-1990s and that they'd do a gag spoofing the cheesy video starring John de Lancie, Star Trek: The Next Generation
's "Q", that appeared the first time you turned on the Compaq Presario, but, alas, I don't write for Homestar Runner, the "Brothers Chap"
(Mike Chapman and Matt Chapman) do, so no introductory video from supporting cast members from Berman-era Star Trek
. Anyway, this week, Strong Bad did indeed get a new computer
, the Lappy 486
, a laptop computer that looks like the kind they had in the early 1990s, with a "'Several' color monitor" and an impressive "2 mb hard drive". I like Strong Bad's dismissive line to The Cheat: "Don't worry about him, Lappy. That's just The Cheat. He uses new
computers." Reminds me of my current attitude about new video game systems (though that's more financial than because of general fanboyishness).
Incidentally, for those of you who want to avoid the Ken Jennings spoiler, don't miss the article I wrote about Christians and anime
last night. Well, if you care.
KEN JENNINGS FANS, DON'T READ AHEAD IF YA DON'T WANNA KNOW!
(hmm, there was a mega-foulup, so it seems I can't start an entry with several lines of blank text; instead of "spoiler space" then, I'll just put this picture of Keiko Kitagawa, who plays Rei Hino/Sailor Mars on live-action Sailor Moon
real headline follows
"...AND NANCY ZERG, CONGRATULATIONS, YOU ARE INDEED A GIANT-KILLER!"
Ken Jennings fans, don't click on this link and listen to the mp3 if you don't want to be mega-mega-mega-spoiled
I don't think it's faked... you'd have to have a world class vocal impersonator who can do Alex Trebek. Someone with even more talent than Will Ferrell, who played "Alex Trebek" on the "Celebrity Jeopardy" sketches.
Supposedly, this clip is from the show from Tuesday, November 30th
, tomorrow, which is, very coincidentally, the final day of sweeps month. How convenient.
I expect this Nancy Zerg, or Nancy Serg, or whatever her name is (they don't seem to show this week's contestants anymore on the official Jeopardy site
) to be appearing on all the talk shows within the next couple of days.
Though, obviously, Ken Jennings shall return for the "Tournament of Champions".
It's been a good run, Ken, and you helped to spread the good word on My Neighbor Totoro
, a much better Hayao Miyazaki film than the overrated Spirited Away
, so I will miss you.
ANIME AND CHRISTIANS: TWO SMALL ITEMS...
Almost exactly a year to the day after I wrote one of my more popular entries (okay, one of the few popular entries I've ever written), debunking a whole bunch of "straw man" arguments against anime a Christian named "Todd H." postulated in an e-mail to Berit Kjos
, two minor items involving both Christians and anime have come to my attention.
Firstly, James Dobson's Christian "pro-family" organization, Focus on the Family
, publishes a monthly magazine, Plugged In
, which looks at entertainment and pop-culture-related issues from a Christian perspective. (My mother would get the occasional issue of it, but I haven't read a paper copy of it in years.)
In 1997, they wrote a short, mostly negative (and a bit sensationalistic) article about anime that surfaced once every couple of months on anime message boards (usually claiming it was brand new, even if the text was obviously very dated, because the Focus on the Family
site frequently re-indexes itself, making the article date the date of the last index). It doesn't seem to be online anywhere on the FotF site anymore, but a couple of anime message boards still have the full text available for your enjoyment
This month, the cover of Plugged In
is devoted to anime and manga, with the character on the front being, of course, Yugi (or whatever the main character from Yu-Gi-Oh
's proper Japanese name is; I really don't give a rat's ass about that show myself). Some of the content is available for free online, though not all of it, so I don't know if this article entitled "Manga and Anime: Inside Japan's Hottest Exports" by Rhonda Handlon
is the cover article from that issue or just a side article.
I'm not going to debunk this one line by line, it's far less sensationalistic than the old article. It talks about elements common in some anime in a negative light, granted, but, unlike Todd H., Rhonda Handlon isn't making crap up to shoot it down, she's talking about things that are indeed in many anime. I don't neccesarily agree with some of her criticisms, since I am someone who is, despite my mother's best efforts, on the fence spiritually because I don't want to say certain things about Jesus unless I am sincere in my belief, but I'm also not one of those message board retards that goes to a Christian site because I heard there's an article about something I like and then gets offended that they're criticizing it from a Christian perspective because... it's a Christian site! What the fuck are you expecting? If you don't like seeing Christians criticize things you like, don't go on their site. They aren't putting a gun to your head, forcing you to read it and agree! I'm very "live and let live" in regards to critics of anime and I respect her opinion and I do certainly agree that good parents should always be informed as to what their children are watching, especially when it comes to anime because a good portion of anime is most certainly not for children.
A few years back, I probably would have posted a link to the article on the Anime News Network board just to stir shit up, but, eh, these days I find the message board reactions to these sorts of articles far more annoying than the articles themselves. If you read this entry and want to discuss Ms. Handlon's article at Anime News Network or Anime Nation or Anime On DVD or Anime Jump or Fuckin' Otaku or DBZOA or whichever other anime-related forum it is you post at, feel free to, but I'm getting too old for that "stirring shit up" shit.
Here's a paragraph from the article that's sure to excite at least one regular reader of mine:
"This inconsistent system breaks down further as products cross the ocean and transcend media. For instance, the original Yu-Gi-Oh! graphic novel and trading cards didn’t become popular in Japan until artists spiced them up with mild erotica. Those images were cleaned up before traveling to America. Much of the weaponry used in the Japanese TV series was also confiscated at the border. Now 4KidsEntertainment is releasing the uncut Asian version on DVD, with the graphic novel and trading cards sure to emigrate as well. Sadly, most U.S. families won’t even know there’s a difference when purchasing this familiar title."
"At a recent anime convention, or kan, Plugged In found innocent animated graphics alongside gay art. Thousands of dollars changed hands in the dealer’s room, a sordid cross between a toy store and an adult book store. Meanwhile, an anime-character dating game quickly turned raunchy. Sadly, children who showed up with visions of Pokémon left with images meant for fans far beyond their years."
I've never heard of conventions being called "kan" before. Maybe she misheard "con"? Anyway, I think the simple solution there is for convention organizers to not let children younger than about 13 or so into a convention if there is going to be yaoi and hentai art on display. You're a young mother who enjoys anime and who wants to attend a convention with your young children? I'll be Dr. Laura Schlessinger and tell you "Tough, you've had children so it's past the time in your life where you can just travel anywhere you want to have fun for yourself. You have a responsibility to protect your children from those things they should not be exposed to and, as such, they should not be anywhere near an anime convention that isn't explicitly family-friendly."
The other minor item worth mentioning is that Something Awful contributor Zachary "Spokker Jones" Gutierrez has done the first new installment of the "Weekend Web" feature
in about a month or so, and, this week, the lead "Awful Forum" is the Christian Anime Alliance (CAA)
, a forum, which was coincidentally mentioned in the Handlon article, where Christian anime fans come together to chat about more positive anime (and which anime to avoid) in a forum free from the vulgar shit of many other anime forums, like the word "shit", for example. Eh, I agree about the excessive signature pictures (you should have one, maximum, and it shouldn't be more than about 300 x 120 pixels big), but they seem like too decent a group of folks to really earn the scorn and image postings of the "Tubgirl" picture they get from the "SA Forum Goons", though this board seems to be exceptionally well-moderated because I can't find any troll threads anywhere. Maybe I missed the shitstorm last night, though.
They gave positive reviews to Super Gals!
, my most favourite anime series from the past decade or so (other than maybe Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou
, but I consider the anime for that really just a four episode advertisement for Hitoshi Ashinano's manga), and my most favourite anime film of all time, Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer
, so the CAA gets full thumbs up from me. They have a very minimal, but mostly positive review, of Hayao Miyazaki's greatest film, Kiki's Delivery Service
, but the review of Kiki's Delivery Service by James Mar at Christian Spotlight on the Movies
is still the best Christian review of that particular film I've ever read.
STEVE BRANDON'S BIZARRE DREAMS #4
This one is another movie-related one.
I dreamt that I was watching an Asian movie that was a cross between Hero
(which I have seen... meh, more like "Snore-o") and a tame version of Battle Royale
(which I've never seen but I have read plenty about). I think it was supposed to be a parody-type comedy like Airplane!
There's like an army of high school girls, in Japanese high school girl uniforms (more Catholic school uniform-y than the "sailor fuku" or "burusera" ones you see on Sailor Moon
; they had on green-and-black-checkered pleated skirts and a darker, school crested, jacket with a white shirt underneath) and they were advancing on either one girl or a small group of girls, and then thousands of arrows start flying through the air, like in that one scene in Hero
that wasn't too boring, embedding themselves in the ground and the walls, and the girl or girls being attacked pick one up and they're not really arrows, they're actually toothbrushes, and the girl that was the leader of the advancing pack starts circling her toothbrush in front of her face, indicating that the victim girl should brush her teeth more often, and what I had in fact watched wasn't really a movie but a wacky public service announcement for brushing your teeth.
The weird thing as, it really wasn't that much more bizarre than some real life Japanese PSA spots and commercials I've seen, like the one with the woman giving birth to a horse in a convenience store that I think was an ad for a magazine.
Previous Bizarre Dreams:
#1: Al Sharpton and the air conditioner.
#2: Meteorites bounce off the Faubourg De L'Ile shopping centre in Pincourt.
#3: I get the Incredibles DVD many, many months before it will actually be in stores.
THE BEST ANIME NEWS I'VE HEARD IN A LONG TIME...
News about ああっ女神さまっ! :)
On the Anime News Network board yesterday, someone was very naughty and posted a scan of a complete article from the most recent issue of the English version of Newtype
. Now, I don't buy Newtype
, which is ridiculously expensive for Canadians (more than the cost of buying a paperback volume of most manga comics in either English or French) and which is really hard to find, though it should be noted that I don't currently buy any other magazines I used to buy or subscribe to for financial reasons, but I'm not defending the guy for having posted an entire article, which was a jerkish thing to do. However, I can't erase the information I saw from my memory, and it's information that pleased me a whole bunch.
I'm not really going to give you the gist of the article, since it wouldn't be fair to Newtype
, which is trying to make a profit like pretty much everyone else who doesn't run a charity, but it was an interview with Hiroaki Gohda, who was the director of all the animated incarnations of Kosuke Fujishima's Oh My Goddess!1
) manga, save for The Adventures of Mini-Goddess
, which can really be thought of as a separate series entirely, and who is also the director of the upcoming Ah! My Goddess! TV series
, which will premiere on January 5th
, 2005, on TBS (no, not Ted Turner's "Superstation" that shows all of those Hunter
reruns, Tokyo Broadcasting System).
It's not news to me that there will be an Oh My Goddess!
TV series at long last. That news has been known since March. But the piece of information that was exactly what I wanted to hear from Gohda was that, contrary to earlier reports, the TV series will indeed start over at the very beginning rather than continue on where the OVA
series left off 11 years ago.
Don't get me wrong. I liked the OVA series for what it was, a beautifully-animated diversion with pleasant music and a charming enough story. It was seeing the OVA series at the now defunct Animate/Animé Central club at Université du Montréal that introduced me to those characters in the first place, and, in 1997, I bought all 5 episodes spread out across three "hybrid" LaserDiscs (dubbed one side, subtitled the other) that I had to order directly from AnimEigo. (I don't want to think too hard about how much that
cost me; probably at least $150 Canadian for only 2½ hours of actual content.) And I liked it so much that I bought it again when AnimEigo re-released it on DVD a few years later (and I think the DVDs look fine on my video setup, not seeing the video problems Anime On DVD's Chris Beveridge noticed
, though he says the problems vary from player to player). And, though I never prefer the dub for any anime to the original Japanese dialogue, I will admit that Coastal Carolina studios performed miracles on a shoestring for both Oh My Goddess!
(and You're Under Arrest
, also based on a Kosuke Fujishima manga), doing dubs that sounded far more natural than any dubs being done for the bigger domestic anime distributors in the mid-90s.
But, in 1997, I started reading the original Kosuke Fujishima manga, which is still one of my favourites (same with his You're Under Arrest
), and now I've read up to volume 26 in English and/or French (and I have a couple of volumes in Japanese), and, after I got to know the original manga versions of the characters, the huge shortcomings of the animated version were painfully evident. The introductions of the goddesses were too rushed, and the characterizations are very shallow, not wonderfully fleshed out like in the manga. Helen McCarthy put it best: "The intended (Japanese) audience has already read and loved the manga - that's why they're buying the OVAs, after all - and so details of characters and relationships are only sketched in, which to Western eyes makes for very shallow, superficial characterisation. Belldandy comes off worst, looking like a complete doormat, a parody of the ideal of Japanese femininity."2
Also, there's the notorious beginning, that showed many characters from the manga that never actually appeared in the cartoon, especially the demon Mara/Marla/Marller, the main comic villain of the series (who sometimes ends up having to help out the goddesses fighting much more evil villains, usually because of things she did that got out of hand).
One more fanboyish quibble with the OVA series was that I never cared much for the "revelation" that Belldandy had, in fact, met Keiichi as a child, something that never happened in the manga, indicating that she and Keiichi were fated by forces beyond their control to be together, rather than because Belldandy made a conscious choice to stay on Earth with Keiichi after he unintentionally called the Goddess Helpline and wished that she could stay on Earth forever. I find it to be much more romantic if Belldandy is only with Keiichi because she wants to be with him, not because she was fated to do so.
I've given most of my problems with the Ah! My Goddess
movie from 2000 elsewhere
, so I won't repeat them, though one problem I didn't really mention then was that the goddesses all became much more generic action anime "girls with powers" (and the sex kitten, well, the younger-and-less-skanky-than-Urd-sex-kitten, Peorth was reduced to being a celestial hacker, which, yes, she is in the manga too, but she's so much more than that; you see Peorth in her official role, but you don't get many glimpses of the aspects of Peorth that made you like the character in the first place).
So, I'm pleased as punch that Gohda is taking the proper approach, starting over from the beginning and giving the characters the introductions they deserve. I'd imagine that it would be closer to the manga than the original series was, with Urd not showing up in the second episode and Skuld not in the third, and they'll show some of the details the OVA series skipped over or changed entirely, like how the temple wasn't uninhabited, but the Shinto monk there was so in awe of Belldandy's abilities to restore the place that he travelled to India, thinking that's where she got her powers, in an attempt to learn how to do the same thing. I'm also kind of hoping that they'll do the early story with the ultimate otaku
. But I'm hoping they'll also skip over some of the lesser stories, because I don't want to have to wait years for them to get to Peorth, my favourite of the Goddesses.
Even though this show won't be on television in Japan until January, I'd almost place money on it being licensed for the North American market by around Anime Expo 2005 next July, since the Oh My Goddess!
manga is about the most popular seinen
manga there is in the North American market other than sci-fi titles like Masamune Shirow's Ghost in the Shell
. While I think Geneon's more likely to get it, I'd rather that AnimEigo get it, since the DVDs would be around $20 Canadian cheaper.
And, for those of you not interested in Japanese cartoons, eh, it's not like I've done an another entry completely on anime in quite a while so quit yer bitchin'.
1 I don't see why most people have gone to calling it Ah! My Goddess! now when the majority of the English language translations (Dark Horse/Proteus's and AnimEigo's) have called it Oh My Goddess!. Only Pioneer, now Geneon, called it Ah! My Goddess! in English for the domestic release of the Aa, Megami-sama feature film, probably to differentiate it from AnimEigo's release of the OVA series. The official English name for the series was indeed Ah! My Goddess, but, when someone from either AnimEigo or Studio Proteus, maybe Toren Smith himself, pointed out to creator Kosuke Fujishima the possible pun on "Oh my God!", Fujishima indicated that he preferred "Oh My Goddesss!" to "Ah! My Goddess!" as a title. Though the French version of the manga is still called Ah! My Goddess, for some reason.
2 Excerpted from page 209 of Helen McCarthy's (now dated) [The] Anime Movie Guide, published by Titan Books of London, England, in June 1996.