I MADE A CLEMENTINE PEEL SWASTIKA!
Before you see it, just so no one's mistaken, this is a Buddhist
swastika, which is a religious symbol, not a symbol of hatred. The difference between the "good" swastika and the "bad" swastika is that the good swastika is like two perpendicular letter Z shapes, while the bad swastika is like two perpendicular S shapes. If it was the same way around as the Nazi swastika, I wouldn't post this.
I don't have that
good a reason why I scanned it. I just like peeling my clementine oranges in one unbroken piece because I really, really have too much time on my hands, and, since I'm right-handed, I peel them in a clockwise direction, and, as a result, the peel ends up looking like the letter Z, which I pronounce "Zed" because I'm a good Canadian. And, I usually eat 2 clementines at a time, since they're so small, so I was playing around with the peels a bit and noticed that they could make a swastika.
I don't usually do retractions of things I write, but I had to edit the article about my frustration with Best Buy's online application process
because, even though the website told me that they were not hiring for the positions for which I was applying at the Merivale location, I got a call from them anyway, so they do retain your information after all. They asked me a couple of questions about my experience and I was honest with them and said I didn't have any because I was at university in Quebec until recently, but, what they really wanted to know was if I was available on Boxing Day, which is, considering my rather empty calendar, as good a day as any for me to work. They seemed happy with that. They will call me next week to schedule an in-store interview.
Do you know what does suck? November is National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo)
, and, at the beginning of the month, I spent a couple of days trying to think of a good idea for a novel and came up short. I actually have several good stock story ideas bouncing around my brain, like the cartoon I've wanted to do for years about the kickass flight attendants, but I'm not going to waste my A-list ideas on a Internet novel competition. Then, this week, I actually do
get a great idea for a novel, but, damnit, it's just too late to start on one for this competition. I don't know if I should wait until next November to write it, or whether I should just start on it now, without any particular Internet competition in mind. I'm not going to say what the idea is, just that it's a fantasy story with some sci-fi elements set in the near-contemporary real world.
I suppose now that I've mentioned that I might work on a novel, someone will come along and taunt me with the inevitable Stewie Griffin quotes: "How you uh, how you comin' on that novel you're working on? Huh? Got a a big, uh, big stack of papers there? Got a, got a nice litte story you're working on there? Your big novel you've been working on for three years? Huh? Got a, got a compelling protagonist? Yeah? Got a obstacle for him to overcome? Huh? Got a story brewing there? Working on, working on that for quite some time? Huh? Yeah, talking about that three years ago. Been working on that the whole time? Nice little narrative? Beginning, middle, and end? Some friends become enemies, some enemies become friends? At the end your main character is richer from the experience? Yeah? Yeah? No, no, you deserve some time off."
And, I wasn't sure that I'd be able to go, but I secured funding, so I will probably be at Anime Cubed convention
at the Crowne Plaza hotel on Lyon on Saturday only. ($20 for one day is pretty steep as it is, especially considering that I'm not even going to be there until the afternoon. On the odd chance that anyone reading this should want to see me, I'm intending on going dressed up as the Thnikkaman
, since that "costume" only takes about 5 to 10 minutes to make. It'll be my first real anime convention, so I'll try to get pictures. (The convention I went to in 1994
was a general comic book convention. I just hung around the anime section.)
ACCORDING TO MY E-METER AUDIT, I'M ON THE SAME BODY THETAN WAVELENGTH AS MATT AND TREY.
On October 19th
, I made the following post at the Rotten Tomatoes forum
expressing my hopes regarding what I would like to see South Park
target for mockery in the autumn half of the ninth season.
I'm hoping for a "All About Mormons"-style episode on Scientology and Tom Cruise at some point this half-season.
They can give interesting factoids like the real reason that Scientologists hate psychiatry (because, when the 13.5 trillion citizens of the overpopulated Galactic Republic were called in for what they thought were simply "income tax audits", the evil Galactic overlord Xenu had psychiatrists give them injections to paralyze and place them aboard the DC-8 space planes to fly to Teegeeack (which is what Earth was called hundreds of millions of years ago) where Xenu wanted to incinerate them using volcanoes with nuclear bombs in them off the Hawaiian and Canary islands).
What I wrote out there was just the gist of the first part of what I learned about the world view of Scientology from this rather informative primer
at "Operation Clambake" (Xenu.net)
(a website the Scientologists have tried many, many times to shut down). I didn't even get how the souls of the dead aliens were transformed into Body Thetans, which Xenu captured using electronic rays and then forced into special 3D cinemas where they were shown films about God, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Krishna, Shiva, Ganesh and other religious figures to brainwash them into believing false religious world views, and then the Body Thetans were set free and just floated around Teegeeack/Earth for tens of millions of years until humans had evolved into intelligent beings, at which point the Body Thetans found them to be the ideal hosts for their spirits, and the spirits remain attached to humans' minds to this day, and are the true causes of depression and all other mental problems. Eventually, Xenu was captured and imprisoned inside a mountain, where he remains incarcerated.
This is "information" you're not supposed to discover until you've spent thousands of dollars to train your mind and reach Operating Thetan Level III (OT III)
. Supposedly, if you receive this information without being sufficiently prepared by having the past lives of your Body Thetans audited at OT I using the E-meter
, a device for measuring your Operating Thetan Levels, implants placed in human DNA will kill you with pneumonia.
I feel a slight cold coming on, but otherwise I feel fine.
Anyway, too much of the media coverage of Tom Cruise going all wacky about Katie Holmes (possibly as a cover-up for allegations of homosexuality) on Oprah Winfrey
and getting into an argument with Matt Lauer about psychiatry and the use of psychiatric drugs on The Today Show
and other similar incidents mentioned him newfound openess regarding Scientology but they didn't really go into too much detail about just how much of an insane scam Scientology is. At most, they treated it as a celebrity eccentricity whose members don't like psychiatrists without going into any detail why. The spotlight was on Scientology, but it was a celebrity puff-piece spotlight that was going to ask softball questions at best if they were going to question it at all.
While those of us who know where to look on the Internet were already well-acquainted with Xenu and the space DC-8 planes, I thought, if anyone was going to skewer Scientology on mainstream television, it would be Matt Stone and Trey Parker on South Park
And, several weeks later, Matt and Trey, who must be on the same Body Thetan wavelength as me, did more or less exactly what I was hoping they'd do, with the episode "Trapped in the Closet", which, since I can't legally watch new South Park
episodes within Canada until they appear on the Comedy Network (lag time: frequently 6 to 8 months), my American friend told me about this episode once again to the tiniest detail.
Stan takes a free Scientology "stress test" at the mall (an actual way of recruiting kids and teenagers
), where they ask him questions that apply to pretty much everybody, like "Do you ever say things you regret?". They come to the (predetermined) conclusion that Stan is miserable and depressed, and they suggest an E-meter audit for just $240, which Stan has to use the money he was saving for a bike to pay for. At the audit, they are astounded to see that Stan's "Operating Thetan" level is OT 9, a level reached only by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. They determine that this means that Stan is the reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard himself. The President of Scientology comes to Colorado to greet their "re-born leader" and brings with him an entourage of high-level Scientologists including Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise wonders if Stan is proud of him for all his acting achievements and asks which one of his films he likes best. Stan replies that he doesn't think Tom Cruise is as good of an actor as Leonardo DiCaprio, Gene Hackman, or the guy that played Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder) but he thinks Cruise is okay. Tom Cruise thinks that means that he's a failure in the eyes of the prophet, so he shuts himself in Stan's closet and won't come out, no matter how much Stan's father says, "Mr. Cruise, come out of the closet!" (Thus setting up over 30 variations of "Come out of the closet, Tom Cruise" that appear throughout the episode. Eventually John Travolta and R. Kelly, still doing his "Closet" rap-opera schtick that Jimmy Kimmel likes to parody, join him in the closet.)
Then, the Scientology President reveals to Stan some highly-classified church information, the "great secret doctrine of life behind Scientology". (I cut-and-pasted the text of the great revelation from here
because I'm lazy.)
"It all began 75 million years ago. Back then, there was a galactic federation of planets which was ruled over by the evil Lord Xenu. Xenu thought his galaxy was overpopulated, and so he rounded up countless aliens from all different planets, and then had those aliens frozen. [At this point, the text "This is what Scientologists actually believe" appears on the screen, and stays on the screen for the rest of this sequence.] The frozen alien bodies were loaded on to Xenu's galactic cruisers, which looked like DC-8s, except with rocket engines. The cruisers then took the frozen alien bodies to our planet, Earth, and dumped them into the volcanoes of Hawaii. The aliens were no longer frozen, they were dead. The souls of those aliens, however, lived on, and all floated up towards the sky. But the evil Lord Xenu had prepared for this. Xenu didn't want their souls to return, and so he built giant soul catchers in the sky. The souls were taken to a huge soul brain-washing facility, which Xenu had also built on Earth. There the souls were forced to watch days of brain-washing material, which tricked them into believing a false reality. Xenu then released the alien souls, which roamed the Earth aimlessly in a fog of confusion. At the dawn of man, the souls finally found bodies which they could grab on to. They attached themselves to all mankind, which still, to this day, causes all of our fears, our confusions and our problems."
After, the President tries to get Stan to write some new doctrine as a supplement to Dianetics
and Hubbard's other writings. Stan says that he doesn't know what to write, and they tell him that neither did Hubbard, and he should just close his eyes and write down anything that comes to his mind. Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny come to try and dissuade him from proceeding to go any further with the cult, touching on very troubling allegations from young boys who were cadets on his boats
(see more about that here
), and all of the FBI raids on Hubbard
, but Stan just thinks they're all lies from people scared of Hubbard's message.
Stan finishes what he's writing and gives it to the President. Stan tells him things he wrote, like how Scientologists shouldn't fly on DC-8s anymore because they look like Xenu's space-planes, and that Xenu has broken out of galactic jail. Then he says that all of the Scientologists shouldn't have to pay money to belong, because the message should be what's important. The President has a problem with that last item, and he stops pretending to believe in the garbage Scientology espouses and asks Stan how he expects to make money off the followers, a bit surprised that Stan believed, up to now, the tenets of Scientology. ("What's better than telling people a stupid story and having them believe you? Having them pay you for it, stupid!") He needs Stan to continue writing because all the others believe him to be the reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard and they'll pay for anything he writes, and he and the President would make "three million dollars". ("This is a scam on a global scale. Do you f***ing get me now?" "Yeah... yeah, I get you." "Then keep writing, L. Ron, your people are waiting.")
Stan goes out to present passages from his writings to an eager audience, but, when he sees how sincere the believers look, he finds that he can't lie to them anymore, and he admits to not being the re-incarnation of L. Ron Hubbard and tells them Scientology is one big scam. But, instead of listening, all of the Scientologists start threatening to sue Stan for making fun of their stupid religion. Tom Cruise and the other celebrities are so angry at Stan. ("So, you're not the prophet, huh? You made me look stupid. I'm going to sue you too!" "Well, fine! Go ahead and sue me!" "I will. I'll sue you in England!") The episode ends with Stan telling the Scientologists that he's not afraid of them, and he challenges them to sue him. The final twist is that entire creative staff of South Park
is credited as either "John Smith" or "Jane Smith", because they're
afraid of getting sued in the real world.
A lot of people on the message boards I go to seem to have found this episode a little dry, and, yes, it is pretty didactic, so, if you hate the didactic South Park
episodes, you'll hate this one, but I, from what my American friend tells me, think it's the best episode they've done in ages, at least from a satire perspective. I think whether or not you get a lot of the humour here is contingent on how much you're aware that Scientologists are infamous for suing the pants off any critics, and they've sued for far less than what Trey and Matt did on this week's episode. What's funniest isn't on-screen, it's the potential consequences of what they've said and shown on-screen.
I mean, my own personal relgious views have drifted from Christian to somewhere approaching Deist (not athiest because I can't wrap my head around the universe emerging from absolute nothingness and life emerging unassisted from non-life), but, nevertheless, I can respect a lot of different religious views that I don't personally adhere to. Like Hinduism, for example. Ganesh is a god who is part elephant, part man, and I can dig that. If any animal deserves to be worshipped, it's the elephant, because have you ever seen the size of an elephant's penis? My god, it's about as long and as thick as a basketball player's leg! Whatever designer designed the elephant's massive "fifth leg" obviously meant for us to be damn impressed. The elephant logo isn't the reason I'd vote Republican if I were American, but it certainly doesn't hurt the GOP's image in my eyes. I know I'm going off track, I've just been meaning to work that in somewhere at some point. Then there are the pseudo-religions I find somewhat suspicious that I don't respect but still tolerate, like Jehovah's Witnesses and even, I suppose, Wiccans. I'm afraid Scientology is firmly on my "shit list" of cults that have ulterior, sinister motives obvious to anyone with any degree of common sense. It's even below the Raelians on my "shit list", because at least the Raelians are mainly about good old fashioned hedonism, people having mass orgies in fields wearing crazy white robes, while the only sucking action you'll get from a group of Scientologists is from your wallet into their bank accounts.
I don't know if the Scientologists will sue. It's pretty obvious that Trey Parker and Matt Stone were baiting them to react, and the cat was already out of the bag regarding Xenu, the space DC-8s, the Nuclear Volcanoes, the Body Thetans, and such years ago, and it's not even the first animation to expose some of the more bizarre claims of Scientology
, so, too much of a reaction from the Scientologists to something this high-profile will probably just stain their reputation even further. I'm not sure if I'll be expecting celebrity Scientologist Isaac Hayes to resume his role as "Chef" anytime soon, though.Here's a video report from CNN about the potential aftermath for Comedy Central and Viacom from airing this episode
, though, two days later, no actions have yet been taken.ScienTOMogy
has a lot of informative recent video footage regarding Scientology, mainly of Tom Cruise. If the South Park
episode happens to be on that site, it has nothing to do with why I'm recommending this site, and Canadians shouldn't watch it.
Ten Films to Compete For Animation Oscar
Source: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences November 17, 2005
Ten films will compete in the Best Animated Feature Film category in the 2005 Academy Awards® competition.
The 10 films have been accepted as eligible to compete by the executive committee of the short films and feature animation branch of the Academy, which has recommended to the Academy's Board of Governors that the category be activated and the Award be given for this year. The board has approved that recommendation.
Films that have not yet been released in Los Angeles County must fulfill all of the general release qualifying rules before the end of the year.
The eligible films are:
- Chicken Little
- Gulliver's Travel
- Howl's Moving Castle
- Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
- Wallace & Gromit - The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Under the rules for this category, a maximum of three films can be nominated in a year in which the field of eligible entries numbers at least eight but fewer than sixteen.
Films submitted in the Best Animated Feature category also may qualify for Academy Awards in other areas, including Best Picture, provided they meet the rules criteria governing those categories.
The 78th Academy Award® nominations will be announced at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Tuesday, January 31, 2006. Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements for 2005 will be presented on Sunday, March 5, 2006, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network beginning at 5 p.m. PST.
I must say that I'm a little surprised to see only ten. I was under the impression that ADV and Geneon would submit at least The Place Promised in the Early Days
, even if neither had any real chance at being nominated due to near-total invisibility outside the anime fandom niche.
For quick n' easy "instant" content, I'll just cut n' paste my commentary from this thread I started at AnimeNewsNetwork.com
(and rejig them slightly, mostly putting the paragraphs from three different entries in an order that flows better here). This analysis is based on the rough formula I developed for determining which animated films will get nominated
Of the ten on the list, the only safe bet for getting nominated would be Wallace and Gromit.
The real shortlist of who will be competing for the two other slots is just:
- Chicken Little
- The Corpse Bride
- Howl's Moving Castle
Two of those, Madagascar and Chicken Little, are there primarily for their box-office only (though I thought Madagascar was better than the over-praised Shrek films at least, though, yeah, it doesn't touch Pixar or Aardman). It could be the year that we won't see a single (primarily) CGI-animated film nominated (in a W&G/HMC/TCB situation), but I'm skeptical that it's likely to happen.
While the reviews were generally worse for Chicken Little, Chicken Little has the advantage of being released late in the year, when its publicity campaign will still be fresh in the minds of Oscar voters. Shark Tale, last year's "what were they thinking?" BAF nominee, was similarly panned by critics, but it had a similar autumn timeframe advantage as Chicken Little.
The timeframe factor is also why I'm not listing Howl's Moving Castle as a "sure bet" to be nominated, since it was released in June to some acclaim, but not nearly as overwhelming acclaim as the autumn release of Spirited Away three years ago. It remains to be seen whether the more modest acclaim Howl's Moving Castle received back in June is sufficiently sustainable so as to factor in the minds of Academy voters filling in their nomination round ballots in late December or early January. (The wild card will probably be whether or not it appears on all that many influential critics' top 5 lists, and Roger Ebert certainly won't be plugging for it this time in his annual televised "Memo to the Academy".)
Steamboy, whatever its technical merits (and I don't deny that it has technical merits, but so does The Corpse Bride and Wallace and Gromit), got too limited a release too early in the year. Spirited Away had the "critical momentum" to overcome the lack of visibility, Steamboy doesn't. It will likely be one of the items on the BAF nomination ballot that 90% of Academy voters won't ever get around to seeing (same with Gulliver's Travels).
The independently-produced and Weinstein brothers' distributed Hoodwinked doesn't have any reviews because it isn't being released until Christmas Day. Based on seeing the trailer, I don't think it's a critical contender, and it's being released a little too late to make all that much of an impression.
I think Wallace and Gromit already has the award in the bag, though. The other nominees are merely formalities.
Back in January
, I predicted that, if there were just three nominees, they would be,
- Chicken Little
- Howl's Moving Castle
- The Wallace and Gromit Movie: Curse of the Wererabbit
I still think that's within a reasonable range of possibility, though I think Howl
have about equal nomination chances as Madagascar
and Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride
, two of the three of the films I had listed in the event that there were five nomination slots, as there were in 2002. (Robots
, the other film I had listed as a contender for the fourth or fifth slot doesn't have a prayer, for the reasons I already listed.)
I'll keep an eye on the For Your Consideration campaigns (or lack of them) before I make my final nomination predictions.
Also, I thank ye Gods that Squaresoft didn't submit Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
, so all the "Cloud x Sephiroth" yaoi slash fangirls won't be bothering me on anime message boards for the next two months making posts implying that Advent Children
, a film that is supposedly very incomprehensible to anyone not already very familiar with the events of FFVII
, has a serious shot at winning the same award as The Incredibles
and Finding Nemo
SIGNS OF THE SEASON...
Ottawa got a light dusting of snow yesterday, but it was just half a centimetre or so , barely enough to whiten the grass, and it had all melted by this afternoon due to drizzle and sleet and cold November Rain
and the fact that the ground hasn't cooled down enough for snow to settle on it for too long. I should be able to resume the yard work I was doing tomorrow.
Another sign of the season is that the clementines
from Morocco are in season. Clementines are the small thin-skinned hybrid fruit that are a cross between a normal orange and a Mandarin orange, and they're so fricking sweet that they're often known as "nature's candy". In Canada, you can buy them year round, but they're best from mid-November through to Christmas. The best thing about clementines is that you can eat as many as you want and not get fat, though I tend to only have two at a time.
Also, Christmas commercials are starting up... okay, there have been some since mid-October (and the ads for mail-order items start even earlier than that), but, over the past week or so, we've been getting them full force on TV. Disappointingly for bloggers everywhere, Old Navy, unlike the previous two years with its annoying Fran Drescher "Old Navy Holiday Hotline" ads in 2003 and the hideously atonal Old Navy carollers in 2004, doesn't seem to have a so-mindboggingly-lame-that-I-can't-resist-talking-about-the-ads-at-length "Holiday" advertising campaign this year, or at least, if they do, I haven't seen the ads yet. The Old Navy ads I've been seeing the past couple of weeks spoof the red carpet portion of television coverage of award shows, and I find them just unremarkable. Since those ads aren't generic "holiday"-themed in any way, I'm holding out hope that they'll unveil a "train wreck"-bad Christmas ad campaign around American Thanksgiving.
In other news, unfortunately, no one's called me back about any of the jobs I've had interviews for lately. Oh well. I'll try submitting a few more CVs around on Friday.
Anyway, time to talk about cartoons a little.
Holy crap! Tonight's new episode of 6Teen
just blatantly acknowledged that it's set in Canada, with Jen Masterson's imagining that she's at the Winter Olympics, winning a medal for snowboarding, and her uniform has a maple leaf logo and she's acknowledged as "Jen Masterson from CANADA", and the Canadian flag drops down in the background, and an instrumental version of "Oh Canada" plays!
And I thought the show was going in the other direction by making the Clint Eastwood-esque character Ron the Rent-a-Cop be a Vietnam vet.
So much for it being set in "Anytown, North America". Now it's just "Anytown, Canada outside of Quebec". I bet that
scene will never air on Nickelodeon.
Also, while I'm on the subject of the new episodes of 6Teen
, in the new season (the episodes that air on Wednesday nights on Teletoon), Jude and Wyatt got fired from their jobs at Stick It and Spin This and instead got a job at a video store, Underground Video, managed by a ultra-snobby movie geek, Wayne (voiced by none other than Adam Reid
, the former You Can't Do That on Television
cast member and the former clerk on the Future Shop commercials before Future Shop switched to the format with the three happy-go-lucky clerks with all the wacky ideas as to how to increase traffic in the store). Wayne is essentially a movie store version of Jeff Albertson (a.k.a. the Comic Book Guy) from The Simpsons
, in terms of being obnoxious with his pop-culture opinions. I'd say that there's also a bit of Randal from Clerks
thrown in there, but, while Randal does have utter contempt for the movie tastes of his customers, he usually only talks about them behind their backs to Dante. When his customers are in the store, he generally only ignores them, he doesn't berate them (except for that one woman who tried to prove that he wasn't paying attention to her).
So, anyway, while I'm fine with Wayne as a character, the one thing that bothers me about this whole situation where Wyatt and Jude work at a video store where the manager gets condescending towards any un-obscure, mainstream film that more than a handful of movie geeks in North America appreciate is that, for whatever legal reason, they can't even mention the names of real movies and directors, so the movie-related exchanges become this thing of Wayne deriding "Popcorn movie which doesn't really exist which Wyatt, Jude, or one of the other characters like" because it's vapid and as shallow as a puddle compared to "Artsy foreign film which doesn't really exist which Wayne likes". The fictional films sometimes have titles close enough to real world films that you can guess what it's really supposed to be, like "The Seventy-Seventh Samurai" is really The Seven Samurai
, but others only have names suggestive of broad genres in general, and they haven't really been built up as much as, say, McBain
on The Simpsons
or Rochelle, Rochelle
(or Ass Disaster 4
on The Brak Show
, which isn't what it sounds like).
I'm not exactly sure why they can't mention real movies in the dialogue, even if they can't show anything from the film or even the box. Shows like Family Guy
get away with it a million times per episode. Or are the intellectual property laws covering that sort of thing a lot harsher here in Canada, and, if that is so, how do they get away with the Star Wars
dweeb character Darth Mall and his lightsabers? Even though they don't explicitly ever say the words "Star Wars", the inferences would be obvious enough to raise eyebrows at Lucasfilm should it be a problem.
And another problem I have, specifically about the episode I watched tonight, "Career Day", if Wayne is such a videophile, why is he still watching and preserving his favourite films on VHS? I can understand him being an analogue purist, actually, analogue being free of some of the downsides of a bad DVD transfer, such as audio compression and "artifacting", but if he was hardcore enough to prefer his favourite films in analogue, isn't he forgetting a little format called Laserdisc
? Considering how popular Laserdisc was in Japan, it should actually be fairly easy to get classic samurai films on LD.
Also on a 6Teen
-related note, someone, presumably in Saskatchewan, has finally created a proper 6Teen
fan site, 6Teen.ca
, which is unofficial, but the Flash is so smooth (though somewhat slow-loading) that you could be forgiven for thinking that it's an offical site if they didn't tell you otherwise.
Also, last Saturday, I watched two episodes of Paranoia Agent
at my anime club (among other things). It's a mindphuk type show from director Satoshi Kon, whom I've seen in person at the Millenium Actress premiere in Montreal in 2001
, that's about people in Tokyo who seemingly have nothing in common with one another but they are all very psychologically disturbed in one way or another, and some of them get assaulted by a mysterious figure known only as "Shounen Bat" ("Bat Boy", translated by Geneon as "L'il Slugger"), who may just be a boy vigilante with a baseball bat, or he may be a phantom of some sort. Unlike a lot of mindphuk anime that get too obtuse and convoluted to be comprehendible after a while (and I'm looking squarely at you, Serial Experiment Lain
), Paranoia Agent
, while being very layered, has an A-plot that is relatively easy to follow (though it would probably be a little easier if I hadn't missed those episodes the other week).
But I have to say that, on Saturday, I watched the best episode I've seen so far, "Happy Family Planning", a standalone semi-comedy episode that doesn't really seem to have all that much to do with the rest of the series other than a brief cameo by Shounen Bat. It's a morbidly dark yet strangely uplifting tale of three characters brought together by the Internet to commit suicide, though one of the people who wants to die is a young girl who seems oddly happy about having found companions she can die with, which causes consternation for the older two men with a suicide wish, who then repeatedly try to set up various methods of seemingly collective suicide where they can somehow find a way to sabotage the girl's attempts while ensuring that their own suicides are successful. For anyone that has seen Tokyo Godfathers
, also from Satoshi Kon, the camaderie of the group dynamic between these three disparate characters should be very, very familiar, as the two men seemingly become the loving parental figures the girl was missing in her life prior to meeting them in the chat room, and, while this episode does use one of the oldest plot twists in the book, the execution of said twist is about the best way I've ever seen it done. Very effective.
I CAN'T THINK OF A BETTER HEADLINE THAN "BLOCKBUSTER GOING BUST?"...
From Motley Fool's Rich Duprey via MSNBC.
"Despite reporting a narrowing loss on its operations, video rental giant Blockbuster(NYSE: BBI) is slowly unraveling as it faces increasing pressure from creditors, competition, and the loss of revenue streams. The company has begun hinting that it might even need bankruptcy protection. While Foolish contributor Rick Munarriz holds out hope that the leading movie-rental chain will be able to reclaim its star power, it looks to me like the company is really just getting dressed for its own funeral.
Blockbuster posted a loss of $491 million, or $2.61 per share, as revenues fell 2% to $1.39 billion, a shade below analyst expectations of $1.41 billion. While rental revenues were actually up 11% for the quarter, reflecting the price increase the company instituted earlier this year, the company was socked by the loss of $117 million in late fees that it gave up to entice customers to keep coming back. Yet even that did not work; same-store sales fell nearly 4% from last year. Perhaps that's because customers were confused about whether they actually had to pay late fees or not.
Last year, the company launched an ill-fated promotion that seemed to do away with late fees, but really didn't. That led the company to abandon the surcharge altogether -- but among the company's 1,800 franchised stores, only 475 agreed to participate in the no-late fee program. Customers enjoying an extended movie viewing might be surprised to find they have to pay a late fee after all."
God, I hope Rich Duprey is wrong. Dead wrong.
Not everyone's using Netflix or other similar online rental services (since I don't think we have Netflix in Canada). I don't have a credit card, so the online rental places are fairly useless to me, but, even if I did have a credit card, I think I'd still rent mostly from brick-and-mortar retailers since I prefer browsing something physical and tangible. And, for *most* of my non-anime rental needs, Blockbuster Video suits me just fine.
(Though, from what I understand based on American complaints about Blockbuster, Blockbuster Video in Canada seems to generally be better than Blockbuster Video in much of the United States, since the selection seems to be larger, if an unrated version of a movie is available, the Canadian Blockbusters will have it, and, while Canadian Blockbusters usually also carry the theatrical cut too, they don't have the special edited-for-the-Bible-belt versions that some studios do for some regions of the United States. And the "No Late Fee" poliicy seems to have been implimented universally at Canadian Blockbuster locations.)
Some people at boards I go to like Rotten Tomatoes
and Anime News Network
seem to be expressing fairly unbridled glee at Blockbuster's troubles, but I think they're probably just buying into the misguided and ridiculously over-romanticized "Mom & Pop Store" myth, dreaming of a halcyon era of a big box and corporate chain store-free "Main Street" that hasn't really existed within the lifetimes of most suburbanite "Boomer Echo" kids (those of us born in the 1970s and 1980s). I never really knew main street shopping for more than niche items; before the heyday of the Big Box stores, we shopped (or shopped with our parents) at equally corporate chain stores in indoor shopping centres. For some items, like some of the more obscure anime and manga I like, I still shop at Mom & Pop stores, but, for general items I can buy anywhere, I'm not going to voluntarily shop at a place with a crappier selection of items at high prices that I can easily get at Best Buy or Wal-Mart for a lower price just because, goshdurnit, the Mom & Pop stores are locally-owned. (Hmm... maybe I'll expound a little on my dislike of the old "Mom & Pop Store" canard at some point in the near future, since
Buy Nothing Day
"Buy Something Nice For Yourself and Piss Off a Communist Day" is rapidly approaching.)
Anyway, speaking specifically of Blockbuster and the Mom & Pop Store myth, I remember renting from Mom & Pop places prior to the arrival of Blockbuster in the Montreal area around 1995 and, to be honest, those places, at least in my area, were crapholes compared to Blockbuster. You were lucky if a video store carried ten copies of a popular film, meaning you often had to wait a week or so to rent the new film you want, and you had to have the film back at a ridiculous time like 7 p.m. the day after you rented it, not a two-night rental where the film didn't have to be back until 10 a.m. on the day after the day after you rented it (which is early in the day, yes, but the point is that you have ALL of the previous evening to return it, or you could slip it in the late-return slot after midnight, or you could keep it the second night and drop it off on the way to work on the third day, and now you have a seven day grace period after that, if returning it on the third day is still asking too much) and the late fees were just as bad as Blockbuster's were purported to be (even though it was pretty much the equivalent of keeping it out one more night). And Blockbuster had a vastly improved selection of videos, old and new, compared to the Mom & Pop places.
So, when Blockbuster finally arrived in Pincourt, I was happy that they put most of the craphole Mom & Pop places out of business. And, some of the other regional chains, like Super Club Vidéotron and Video Super-Choix (and, presumably, Rogers Video in the rest of Canada) mysteriously got much, much better when Blockbuster arrived, because, while capitalism is "adapt or perish" when a more streamlined and efficient competitor comes along, although some stores will perish, others will adapt and survive or even thrive in the face of competition (like how Zellers got much better after Wal-Mart expanded in Canada around the same time as Blockbuster). And, another thing is, obviously, not all Mom & Pop places were crapholes. Some places, like La Boîte Noire in the Plateau Mont-Royal area of central Montreal, offered a hugely diverse selection of videos that put Blockbuster to shame, at least if you're into foreign films. But, the thing is... they're still around. Blockbuster didn't kill off the good Mom & Pop stores, just the ones that deserved
Anyway, I hope that Mr. Duprey just represents the overtly pessimistic view, and Blockbuster is able to restructure the way Best Buy did when it went into bankruptcy protection a few years ago, because I'd really miss Blockbuster if it was gone.
PQ MEMBERS THINK BOISCLAIR IS FABULOUS!
Yeah, I watched portions of that televised irrelevance-fest where
the provincial branch of the Treason Party the Parti Quebecois elected André Boisclair as their new leader
Boisclair wins PQ leadership on first ballot
Last updated Nov 15 2005 09:41 PM EST
André Boisclair has been voted the new leader of the sovereigntist Parti Québécois. The announcement was made at 9:00 p.m. Tuesday.
Boisclair received 56,503 votes, representing 53.7 per cent support of those who voted. There was no need for a second ballot.
Just over 75 per cent of party members made their choice by telephone voting, after the longest leadership campaign in PQ history. The campaign lasted 149 days.
The focus in the campaign has been on frontrunner Boisclair, who admitted in September to using cocaine when he was a PQ cabinet minister in the 1990s.
Boisclair said it will be up to party members to decide what he's capable of doing for the sovereigntist party.
Former PQ cabinet minister Pauline Marois was considered Boisclair's closest rival in a field of eight candidates vying to replace Bernard Landry.
Marois had the support of Gilbert Paquette, who dropped out of the race.
The leadership race was called after Landry received the support of 76.1 per cent of the party in a June confidence vote. He said he didn't feel that was strong enough backing to achieve the party's goals.
The telephone polling system opened at 8 a.m. Sunday. About 150,000 PQ members were eligible to vote.
Coke is it!
Well, and this is probably not the most original sentiment in the world (but I'm not checking to see if anyone else has already made this joke), but it looks like the PQ members have collectively decided that:
All I can say is that they're presenting André Boisclair as a fresh new face and a
breath of fresh air for a party some younger Quebecers see as stale and antiquidated, but, hearing him speak, it just seemed like the same old shit in a younger (and pinker) wrapper, subjugating the normal day-to-day business of running a province in favour of years of more constitutional uncertainty, paternalistic linguistic policies, and union rule, where unsustainable social services remain sacrosanct, thus leaving Quebec the highest-taxed jurisdiction in North America, chilling the Quebec economy and discouraging investment.
Make no mistake about it, an independent Quebec would be a Banana Republic
(without the cool fashions).
Or maybe he'll take into consideration the things that Lucien Bouchard, Joseph Facal, and others
have been recommending lately with their "Manifesto for a Clear-Eyed Vision of Québec"
and govern a bit more pragmatically then the wacko hardliners would want him to run things, but I certainly did not get that vibe from hearing the keynote speakers at the leadership convention this evening.
Well, if one thing is sure, the André Boisclair supporters
will forget about the Canada-hating for one night and celebrate in style at the happiest André Boisclair Parti Québecois victory party in town
. (N.B. To anyone who clicked on my rather politically-incorrect image links in the previous sentence, (Stewie Griffin voice) "Oh yeah... I went there.")
BEST BUY'S ONLINE APPLICATION SUCKS...
BEST BUY'S ONLINE APPLICATION ROCKS!Best Buy's online application process
(Please read November 18th edit and disregard the rest of this entry. Well, the Best Buy part, at least.)
totally sucks ass. Really.
They ask you which location you want to work at and then which job you want to do, but then they make you fill out the entire goddamned profile, which takes twenty minutes to half-an-hour, before telling you whether or not they're hiring for the positions you're applying for. I don't have a big problem with filling out the profile, but I'd rather only do it if I know in advance whether or not there's a position open. And, while you don't have to fill out the profile again once you've filled it out once, you can only apply for one job at one location at a time. And they don't really indicate whether or not they keep your application on file. (EDIT: They do. See below.)
The profile is somewhat similar to the thing they make you fill out in person if you want to apply at Wal-Mart, mostly questions asking you in different ways whether or not you'll rip-off the company or you approve of people ripping-off the company. Thankfully, unlike Wal-Mart's profile, they don't ask you ten different times in slightly different ways whether or not you smoke marijuana (and I don't and never have, but I resent being asked over and over again, especially with indirect questions that are not straightforward, "Do you smoke pot?"). But they did have one question that I kind of had a problem with: (paraphrasing) "Do you enjoy watching comedians who insult the audience?" I wouldn't say that I go out of my way to watch insult comics (excluding "Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog"
, of course), but I'd be lying if I said that I've never found an insult comedian funny, and the thing about insult comics is that they play to a consenting audience, who bought their tickets knowing full well what they'd get into. I don't see a problem with that.
Anyway, also, on Saturday, I finally, finally got volume 10 of Mihona Fujii's Gals!
manga in French, which is, sadly, the final volume. I wouldn't say that there are any huge surprises, since who ends up with whom was pretty much resolved two-thirds of the way through the series, and Ran's eventual vocation has been telegraphed more or less since the beginning of the series, and you get a return appearance from Ran Kotobuki's Taiwanese doppleganger. You do get a satisfying sense of "closure", and since they're graduating and the main trio of girls won't all be going to college together, there's no real way that Mihona Fujii could have continued the series with roughly the same dynamic.EDIT (November 18th):
Oh, I was very much mistaken. Even if you're told that there are no positions for a specific job at the specific location for which you applied, they evidently do keep your information on file since I just got a call with a couple more questions, and they'll arrange an in-store interview next week!
THE WHITE STRIPES, "DENIAL TWIST"
I don't personally know much about The White Stripes
, other than they did that one song with the Citizen Kane
lyrics and that their song "We're Going to be Friends" was used as the opening theme song to the wickedly quotable Napoleon Dynamite
and that Saturday Night Live
did a funny sketch a few years back featuring them as crime fighters (because of their red-and-white uniforms, I guess).
But, for whatever weird reason, I was actually watching Musique Plus for a while last night, and the video for the White Stripes song "Denial Twist"
is super awesome cool. (This page has a much better streaming version
, but it seems to require a newer version of Quicktime than I have.) It's directed by Michel Gondry
, who did the weirder Bjork videos like "Human Behavior" and "Army of Me" (which I thought was called "I May Love Me" for the longest time because of Bjork's odd intonations) and the film (which I never got around to seeing) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
, and features the band in an unusual performance, to say the least, on Late Night with Conan O'Brien
(which had the White Stripes on as a musical guest for an entire (four episode) week as a sweeps month stunt a year ago). But, it's not ordinary Late Night with Conan O'Brien
, it's Late Night with Conan O'Brien
with superdeformed versions of the desk area and the performance area sets with some things, like the familiar chairs with the outlined checker pattern, really stretched out, and other things, like Conan's desk, scrunched up and contracted, and Conan O'Brien himself has been given giant blocky feet and a square head (though the normal version of Conan appears later on in the video). I also like the dwarfed version of the revolving doors to NBC Studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. At the end of the video, which was filmed in a single "take" with a travelling camera, you actually get a pretty straightforward explanation as to what's going on, and you get a revolving tour of the entire set where you can see that the Late Night
set (and everything else) was an expensive specifically-built set for the video and isn't just the regular Late Night
set deformed using computer effects.EDIT:
Watching it more carefully, I think the main part of the Late Night
set is either the real set or they brought most of the main elements from the "desk" set, since the compression and expansion of Conan's desk was obviously done with video effects. Or, they built (or moved) the performance area a little closer to the desk than it is in the actual show, and then built the other fake sets around the real desk set during one of the weeks off, probably over the summer. I don't know how they would have camoflagued the audience seating, though.END OF EDIT
It's easily the best music video I've seen since Royksopp's "Remind Me"
You can read some behind the scenes info from Village Voice
columnist Tom Breihan here
No, there isn't a cameo by Pierre Bernard.
Speaking of, and directly to, Pierre Bernard, Pierre, I noticed that you, or someone else from NBC in New York, looked at my entry with the transcript of the "Pierre Bernard's Recliner of Rage" segment about Fruit-of-the-Loom expanding the waistline on their underwear
several times last week, so, if you see this entry and if you get a chance, can you please give Conan O'Brien my congratulations on the birth of his son, Beckett
? (Though don't go out of your way to do it if you don't interact with him off the set.)
RIP EDDIE GUERRERO
The WWF... er, WWE's Eddie Guerrero has been found dead in a Minneapolis hotel room from unknown causes.
MINNEAPOLIS - A World Wrestling Entertainment star was found dead in his hotel room Sunday in Minneapolis, where he was scheduled to appear that evening in a WWE show.
Eduardo Gory Guerrero, 38, didn’t respond to a wake-up call Sunday morning, authorities said. His nephew, fellow WWE wrestler Chavo Guerrero, and hotel security at the Minneapolis Marriott City Center forced their way into the room and found him.
There were no apparent signs of foul play, police said. An autopsy was planned to determine how Guerrero died.
His nephew said Guerrero was open about past drug and alcohol abuse but had been sober for four years. Guerrero was married and had three children.
“This is a huge loss,” said WWE chairman Vince McMahon. “Eddie was a wonderful, fun-loving human being. Eddie was a consummate performer.”
Guerrero was a featured star on the UPN series “WWE Smackdown!” and son of Mexican wrestler Gory Guerrero. Last year, he became the second wrestler of Hispanic heritage to be WWE champion, though he lost the title four months later.
UPN also aired a special last year on his life, “Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story.” The program chronicled Guerrero’s childhood and his struggle with drug addiction that almost cost him his job, family and life.
Well, not that I've followed wrestling much since the 1980s, but it's still sad to see someone die so relatively young, at an age not all that much older than myself. Though I suspect that his death might have a little to do with sports-related substances I don't touch.
WWF WWE tribute here.
One thing I find amusing, and I'm not making fun of Mr. Guerrero, just some young wrestling fans in general, is that a lot of people are leaving condolences at the official website of Eddie Guerrero
, which, in itself is not unusual aside from the fact that the Eddie Guerrero website I just linked to is for a country singer who just happens to have the same name. I think the general absence of wrestling-related graphic from the page might be an obvious clue that it's just a coincidental name, but, eh, short of a "not the wrestler" written in 48-point letters, the fact that there might be more than one person in the world with the name "Eddie Guerrero" seems to go over the heads of some people.This is the official site for Eddie Guerrero the wrestler
YOU TWO-TIMER! YOU TOLD ME YOUR NAME WAS "BOB"!
I'm watching the end of the NFL game on the Fox Detroit station, waiting for The Simpsons
to start, and Mr. "I have a radio station in my finger!" from BOB-FM
here in Ottawa is there too, except, in Detroit, he doesn't call himself "Bob", he calls himself "Doug".
What the hell is going on here? Why is "Bob", if that's in fact his real name, using different names in different cities? Is he some kind of secret agent? Or maybe a con man? Or, I suppose, Doug could be his identical twin. I mean, the radio station in the finger has got to be a genetic trait.