I'VE BEEN IN A SCANNING MOOD THE PAST COUPLE OF DAYS...
...so the "Montreal Snapshots"
album of my Fotopics gallery
has expanded significantly.
Maybe it's because I'm getting more and more "homesick" as I approach the 1 year anniversary of moving out of Quebec.
COOLEST HOME PLANETARIUM EVER! (SEWIOUSLY, GUYS!)
Although they've gotten out of the videogame console-making business (though I wouldn't exactly rule out a "triumphant return" sooner or later), Sega is still a lot more than just a third-party developer for the XBox, Gamecube, and PlayStation 2. Sega still makes "hardware" of sorts. In North America, we get those self-contained plug-in controllers with five or six built-in Sega Genesis (Mega Drive) games, but, in Japan, their Sega Toys division creates all sorts of neat gadgets.
One such gadget is a "21st century" home planetarium
, which projects stars and other celestial objects on to your ceiling and walls. Such devices aren't exactly new, but the promotional video
(in Japanese, natch) makes it out to be a far more sophisticated piece of technology than its old lightbulb-and-pinhole ancestors. The object is a silvery sphere that looks suspiciously similar to the head of the recent movie version of Marvin the Paranoid Android
and it has a large projector lens "eye" on top that is probably quite intentionally reminiscent of the Death Star.
But the best part of all is the object's name, which is the absolute most perfect name for anything astronomy-related ever
, and a name that proves that Sega of Japan doesn't exactly keep up with popular Web cartoons:
"Homestar" is actually quite an appropriate name for Sega to use, considering that, while the Homestar Runner
site on the whole seems to fall on the Nintendo side of the "old school" videogame fandom fence, Homestar himself seems to be a Sega fan, as evidenced by the Strong Bad e-mail "anything"
(the one in which Homestar
filled in for Strong Bad
for a week and ended up pouring Mountain Dew all over Strong Bad's keyboard), wherein Homestar talked about how he "made a whole set of coasters out of some old Sega tapes" (Genesis games with the red label that Sega started using in 1993).
While I don't want to be an "Internet Lawyer"
(re: a person with no legal training or deep knowledge of the law offering made-up legal advice), I suspect that, since "Homestar" with "Home" and "Star" together isn't a proper English word, "The Brothers Chaps"
(Mike and Matt Chapman) could probably win some sort of intellectual property suit against Sega for the use of the name should they ever decide to pursue it. But the Chaps seem to be the sort of guys who would take Sega's unauthorized use of the name, be it intentional or (more likely) unintentional, to be a huge compliment. Maybe they could even get an endorsement deal out of this, and have Homestar and Strong Bad appear in Japan-only commercials for the device.
If ya want one, at Amazon Japan
, it's only ￥19,800 (currently $164.25 U.S.).
LIVE-ACTION GUNMN/BATTLE ANGEL (ALITA) SHIFTING INTO PRODUCTION?
Ain't It Cool News is reporting
that Mali Finn Casting
is seeking a lead actress for an untitled James Cameron project that is probably (though, note that I said "probably" and not "definitely") the talked-about-since-the-late-1990s live-action adaptation of the Yukito Kishiro manga GUNMN (a.k.a. Battle Angel Alita)
"JAMES CAMERON SEEKS NEW TALENT FOR A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE
Mali Finn Casting (Titanic, The Matrix, 8 Mile) is looking for fresh faces to star in a James Cameron film that begins principal photography Spring 2006.
No prior film experience necessary. However, voice, movement, and actor training are imperative.
SEEKING: FEMALE LEAD. 16-mid 20s. Any ethnicity, including Caucasian.
She moves and behaves with confidence and a sense of nobility. Lithe as a cat. Athletic and agile, she is a warrior. Graceful movement and an ear for languages and dialects are essential."
It certainly sounds like they're interested in casting an unknown to play the android-girl Gally (called "Alita" in the English version of the manga for reasons unknown), but, knowing how many false starts the live-action GUNMN
project has had since it was first announced that James Cameron and Fox were interested in doing it way back in 1998, it's not outside of the range of possibility that this is something else entirely, though, with that lead, it would be unlikely to be either True Lies 2
or Terminator 4
This is actually, other than maybe Kiki's Delivery Service
(which we haven't heard squat about since Disney announced it back in January), about the only American live-action anime/manga adaptation that I'd care to see made, and, while casting in and of itself is no guarantee that the cameras will start rolling, I'm a lot more optimistic about live-action GUNMN
getting made now than I was back in October
, and I'd say the odds are much, much, much better that it will be made compared to live-action Evangelion
and live-action Dragonball Z
(current development status: *still* "pining for the fjords"
And, yes, in the Talkback, inevitably, a few people are getting wanky about James Cameron's television series Dark Angel
when there really was very little in common other than a few sci-fi clichés about kick-ass female protagionists (they ALWAYS wear black leather... that's the law).
Some amateur Japanese videogame programmers who call themselves "The Game Programming Study Club"
have developed a 3D fighting game entitled Line-Kill Spirits (行殺! Spirits)
It looks to be a pretty standard Japanese fighting game with dated 3D graphics that look like something from the era of the original PlayStation. (I have a soft spot for lower-resolution 3D characters myself, but the graphics aren't even as good as those in the original PSX Soul Blade
. Maybe Tekken 2
But this game, which features an all-female cast, has one novel detail: you can do damage to the other girl, but the character's life energy will regenerate unless you lift up her skirt and snap an upskirt picture of her panties. Yup, this game, while not explicitly hentai as there is no nudity shown, is a game specifically designed for otaku, of the etchi chikan
variety. Presumably, like most fighting games of the types, each character has two or three different costumes, and it would not at all surprise me if there are several different patterns of "bloomers" too.
I doubt you'll ever see this game get any kind of North American release, but you can see a video of all the exciting martial arts and upskirt action
As of press time, there is no word on whether you can play this game with a friend, or whether this is the sort of game that you have to play with yourself to enjoy. I mean "play by yourself".
(Links stolen from here
, but I made my own screencap.)
I GOT A CHRISTMAS CARD!
Yay! I got a Christmas card, or, rather, a politically-correct "Happy Holidays" card.
Who is it from? John Baird
, the soon-to-be-former Conservative MPP (Minister of Provincial Parliament) for Nepean-Carleton
, which is, evidently, the riding I'm living in. (Okay, I've been living here almost a year, but I'm still not that familiar with the riding map for the Ottawa area.)
He resigned to be the candidate for the Conservatives in the federal elections, so I guess I know who I'm voting for already. Kind of helpful.
The weird thing about getting the card, even if it's obviously a mass-mailing with a printed signature, is that it's addressed to me at my current address, and neither of my parents (who don't vote Conservative anyway) got one, and I haven't (yet) signed up for anything Conservative at my current address. And this is the second time since I moved to Ontario that I got some sort of right-of-centre mailing specifically addressed to me. I got two issues of the Western Standard
, a magazine for Canadian (small c) conservatives and libertarians during the summer. It's something I'd maybe subscribe to if I had a job, but I still don't have one. (I did hand out a few CV's at Bayshore Shopping Centre yesterday, so there's still hope I could get one before Christmas.)
What this means, I think, is that there is someone out there, who may or may not be affiliated with the Canadian Conservative party, who looks for right-of-centre blogs in Canada and, if the blogger gives his or her real name, he signs him or her up for some sort of Big C Conservative or small c conservative mailing list. I suppose that means that this blog was noticed by someone operating in some political capacity, even though, especially this year, this blog's mean more a straight cartoons-and-lengthy-unfocused-and-boring-narratives-about-myself kind of blog, though the past month or so I've been making a bit of an effort to restore the balance I had before I moved.
So, to whomever signed me up for that, thanks, I guess. I don't mind being signed up for that, though I can't say that I'm not at least a little apprehensive about the general idea of people signing me up for such things without my knowledge even if, in this specific case, it's harmless.
In other election-related news, Marc Garneau, the first Canadian astronaut in space... (Dale Gribble voice) ...aboard an Earth craft (/Dale Gribble voice), is running as a Liberal candidate in my former home riding of Vaudreuil-Soulanges
. Since I don't think whomever the Conservative candidate in Vaudreuil-Soulanges has a serious chance, I don't think it's too much of a conflict of interest for me to say that I hope Garneau wins. Or, at the very least, I hope the Bloc Quebecois's Meili Faille loses and that her election as MP in the riding last time was a once-in-a-century fluke. (I'm sure she's a nice woman, but she can be a nice woman doing whatever day job she was doing before.) Let's elect Garneau... or the Conservative candidate (well, the Progressive Conservatives were elected in my riding in 1984 and 1988, I think, so it's not too far-fetched), and at least put a spoiler on the Bloc Quebecois's momentum in one riding.
TOP TEN WAYS ADV IS RAISING MONEY TO MAKE THE LIVE-ACTION EVANGELION MOVIE.
From the "home office" in Kapuskasing, Ontario, it's the Top Ten list.
Tonight, the top ten ways that ADV is raising money in order to make the live-action version of the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion
Fortune magazine recently posted an online piece entitled "Anime Explosion"
that reads like a serious article but which is actually just a softball puff-piece interview with ADV CEO John Ledford that has a heck of a lot of ADV spin on the state of the anime industry in North America, which paints a far rosier picture of the state of the domestic anime distribution industry than certain other industry insiders, like John Oppliger
, who thinks the industry has been in a slump since peaking in about 2002.
Anyway, the article does mention the live-action Evangelion movie
that was announced at Cannes well over two years ago but which doesn't seem to have found major studio backing (probably because the big Hollywood studios could smell the stench of a big boondoggle), and which many people, including myself, doubt will ever actually be made. (You can read some of my comments about the article and the viability of what many people have dubbed "LAEM" in this post
, and here's a good response thread from more hardcore Eva fans
, with views from both the believers and the skeptics expressed.)
It seems now that ADV is trying to raise all of the money they need to produce it themselves, rather than trying to get a major studio to greenlight this, so, ripping off David Letterman, I came up with the top ten ways they're doing this.
Here we go.
10. They're using the profits they're making from the phenomenal success of the linear 24/7 version of the Anime Network.
9. Box-office juggernauts Serenity and (probably) Aeon Flux have proven that there is a enormous, just gigantic, potential crossover audience for films based on niche sci-fi television series with small but vocal Internet nerd fanbases.
8. To appease investor anxiety and show them where their money would likely be going, they came up with this helpful and realistic "flow chart".
7. ADV caved in to his demands and cast the world famous and internationally-renowned Glaswegian voice acting superstar GrantM to dub the lead character in many "fan favorite" anime series (as well as having him record commentary tracks and appear as the featured guest at anime conventions), making ADV more popular than Pixar and Dreamworks Animation combined.
6. Do you know how much money they saved by not licensing the second half of Super Gals? Yes, it really was that expensive.
5. The manager of a major bank in Lagos sent ADV an e-mail, written entirely in capital letters, promising that they'd get a 10% share of $500 million in a safe-deposit box, left behind by someone with no next of kin who perished in a plane crash, if only ADV would send him the few thousand dollars he needs to bribe officials and pay lawyers in order to smuggle the money out of Nigeria.
4. Also, ADV got another e-mail from an international Internet lottery based in Belgium congratulating them because their e-mail address, selected at random among all Microsoft Windows users, won in the "first category" with the Ticket No: 12890567 with Serial No: 8535390782 and the Lucky No: 2123489765 and they are eligible to receive a lump sum payment $30,000,000 out of the $120,000,000 total awarded to the four winners in the category, and informing them that they need to contact the finance and security company with which the money was deposited to process their claim.
3. They're saving money on special effects by ditching WETA and, instead, the Eva units and the "Angels" alike are all to be played by guys in rubber suits. (Actually, if ADV did that, that would increase my interest in "LAEM".)
2. Two words: BAKE SALE!
And the number one way with which ADV is raising money to make the live-action Evangelion
1. They got a great idea from the classic Mel Brooks movie, The Producers.NOTE TO ADV LAWYERS: This list, especially the last item, is purely tongue-in-cheek and is not meant to be taken seriously.
SANTA CLAUS AND THE ELECTIONS CANADA ENUMERATORS ARE COMING TO TOWN!
While, on Tuesday, the weather went from being "January" to being "April", with mild temperatures and a lot of rain, the half-week of "January" did successfully put me in the Christmas spirit.
I'm looking forward to Christmas with a vengeance this year, since, last year, my anticipation for Christmas was severely muted due to preparing to move, and, during Christmas itself, I was still recovering from moving, with boxes, boxes everywhere, and I had lived in Pincourt since I was 6 years old, so moving was kind of a traumatic experience. It's been almost a full year now since I moved, yet I still feel like I'm recovering (though, this past month or two, this blog has definitely been getting some of its "mojo" back, "mojo" that I felt was a bit missing during the first half of the year). My memory is usually pretty sharp, but I was still in such a daze after moving that I pretty much had to read my entry on what I did on Christmas and Boxing Day
just to try and remember what happened.
This year, I can enjoy the Christmas season again, with no distractions, right?Oh, dang.
From CTV News:
No sooner did the writ drop, the leaders of the federal parties hoping to form the next government set out to establish the tone for the coming election campaign.
While Prime Minister Paul Martin jumped out of the gate accusing the three Opposition parties of allowing their ambition to trump common sense in triggering the rare wintertime campaign, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper insisted he was giving voters what they wanted -- an opportunity for change.
Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe, meanwhile, stuck to his core issue as he continued to hammer the ousted Grits over the sponsorship scandal. And NDP Leader Jack Layton sought to bolster his party's credibility by focusing on the influence it wielded during the short-lived session.
The day began calmly, however, with Martin's obligatory trip to seek formal approval from Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean for the dissolution of Parliament and the launch of the highly-anticipated campaign.
"I have just met with the Governor General, and she has agreed to dissolve the 38th Parliament. A general election … will be held on Monday, January 23," Martin said when he emerged from Rideau Hall to address reporters Tuesday morning."
See, I'm in no danger of withdrawing my own support for the Conservatives, but I can't pretend I'm all that thrilled at going to the polls barely a year and a half after I went to the polls last time around. Is Canada going to become like Japan where it seemed for a while in the 1990s that there was an election every year? Only, in Japan, back when they had the annual elections prior to the election of wacky-haired Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, at least different
guys got elected. As much as I'd like
for the Conservatives to win, I suspect the outrage over the Gomery enquiry into the sponsorship scandal is strongest in ridings that didn't vote Liberal last time either and all the Liberals will lose will be a couple more seats in Quebec.
From the same article:
"This election -- just a year-and-half after the last trip to the polls -- became inevitable when the NDP pulled support from its former allies this month.
Layton had been warning for days that he was growing increasingly frustrated with the growth of private health care.
When he announced he could no longer prop up the Liberals because the two parties had been unable to broker a deal on health care, that declaration was the final nail in the minor government's coffin.
Thanks to the combined vote of the united Opposition benches, a non-confidence motion against Martin's minority Liberals was passed in a 171 to 133 vote on Monday night, effectively bringing to an end the government that was voted into office just 17 months earlier.
But the most recent public opinion polls suggest that if the vote were held now, the next Parliament would look a lot like the current one.
According to The Strategic Counsel poll conducted for CTV and The Globe and Mail, if voters went to the polls last weekend, they'd have elected another Liberal minority.
Thirty-five per cent of respondents said they would support the Liberals; 29 per cent would vote for the Conservatives; 17 per cent would vote for the NDP; 14 per cent would vote for the Bloc Quebecois; and 5 per cent would vote for the Green Party.
CTV's chief political correspondent Craig Oliver says the numbers must be troubling for all the parties -- especially Martin's Liberals.
"They have spent billions and billions in the last year-and-a-half and they're no better actually than where they were at the end of the last campaign," he said on CTV's Canada AM."
As much as I want the Conservatives to win, I want them to build support over a proper election cycle, and I can't help but feel that the Conservatives and other opposition parties pulled the non-confidence trigger at least a year or two too early to be able to rebuild the Conservative base in eastern Canada (especially in Quebec; while I know, in politics, that, while one maintains the facade that one is expecting one's party to win in every riding, there are Machiavellian machinations going on behind-the-scenes where they focus their campaigning efforts in certain areas and write-off other areas entirely, I don't particularly care for any sort of strategy where Conservatives count on the Liberals losing seats to the Bloc Quebecois in Quebec. That's terrible for unity. I'd much rather that the Liberals lose to Conservatives, but that's not going to happen again any time soon in La Belle Province.)
And, as an anglophone Quebecer at heart, with a deep attachment to Quebec, I just never could muster much outrage at Gomery's findings. While I don't deny that the whole Sponsorship affair was quite horribly bungled, I place almost all of the blame on the greedy ad agency people and virtually nothing on the Liberal party on the whole other than Chretien's overtrusting nature (possibly due to senility). I view the whole concept of making Canada a bit more visible in Quebec to be a laudable goal. I don't disagree with the idea that the Canadian government (and federalist Francophones) needs to do a better job of selling Canada in Quebec by not being so damn politically correct, trying to avoid offending the delicate sensitivities of separatists, arguing ideas and not just flying Canadian flags and sticking Canada stickers across the province, which is what Andrew Coyne recently dismissed the whole sponsorship plan as being, but I certainly don't believe that the flags aren't a bit helpful, since way too many federal institutions avoid flying the Canadian flag at all costs, and I feel like when said institutions are not flying the flag because it might piss off a few people just gives all Quebecers in this area at least the subliminal idea that they don't really belong. It's fighting propaganda with propaganda basically.
Also, I can't say, even as someone who is neutral on the debate, that I'm tremendously thrilled that Stephen Harper had to bring up the issue of re-opening the debate on gay marriage
; I suppose I could at least commend him a little for having the kajoles to put that card on the table on the very first day of the campaign trail rather than having the Liberals unearth something ancient he might have said on the subject once, I don't think Harper yet has the electoral leverage needed to overturn it, and this whole affair is just another pointless distraction.
I hope that Stephen Harper does have a magic bullet that can pierece Liberal hegemony and get the Conservatives elected, but I just don't think it's in the cards this time, and this whole election will be a pointless exercise.
Geez, I can't believe CTV News is naming its series of behind-the-scenes segments about journalists on the campaign trail, "Off the Beat"
. Couldn't they have chosen a title that's a little less snicker-inducing? As in, "I found some more of those
pictures of Taiwanese actress Shu Qi on the Internet. I'm going to print them and 'Off the Beat', if you catch my drift." All I can say is that I hope they don't film Ontario candidates shaking hands and making empty promises at the local neighbourhood "Quickie" convenience store, because the line "Off the Beat at the Quickie" would make my innuendo snicker-meter explode.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE OSCAR RACE UPDATE:
Animation World Network
managing editor Rick DeMott has posted a comprehensive look at the shortlist for the Best Animated Feature award
He generally comes to the same conclusion as I did two weeks ago
, that the coronation of Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit
is a foregone conclusion and the only "race" is between The Corpse Bride
, Chicken Little
, and Madagascar
to be an "also-ran" by being one of the two other nominees. The only big difference between me and he is that he doesn't think that Howl's Moving Castle
has a shot at being nominated while I'd place the odds more or less the same as any of the three other potential "also-rans".
He also looks a little at "Best Animated Short", but I'm afraid that the only potential nominee that I've seen so far this year is The Madagascar Penguins in "A Christmas Caper"
, which I enjoyed as cute fluff, even though I'm fully aware that it reeks of something "written by committee". What can I say? I'm a sucker for animated New York, especially New York at Christmas. (Plus, the best scenes in Madagascar
were set in New York; once they got to the island, it lost a bit of energy.)
COOLEST TOY EVER!
Continuing my ongoing (okay, more like "neverending") look at cool things I would like to acquire, I found this most amazing video of a gi-freaking-gantic radio-controlled model Airbus A380 jet
, painted in the livery of the United Arab Emirates national airline, Etihad Airways
I mean, da-yamn! We're not talking about those dinky battery-powered radio-controlled planes1
like you can buy at Radio Shack... oh, pardon me, "The Source by Circuit City"
, or the nicer remote-controlled Piper or Cessna remote-controlled model planes that the more dedicated hobbyists fly (like Margaret Yang in the stadium parking lot in one of the best scenes in Wes Anderson's Rushmore
For one thing, while you land a remote-controlled plane essentially the same way as you would a normal airplane, take-off for most R/C planes is a lot less realistic: you just start the engine and have someone throw it as though it was a paper airplane, hoping that it will get some lift. But this A380, even scaled down, is much too big to throw. This video shows it taxiing like a real airplane, and then accelerating and performing a perfect takeoff "roll" (V1, rotate. V2, positive rate of climb, gear up.). It's not one hundred percent indistinguishable from a real airliner taking off (it accelerates a bit too fast, to the point that the imaginary Liliputian passengers would get whiplash, and seems to use, to scale, a bit less runway than a real A380), and most real airliners that I know of "light up" their engines from an overhead console within the cockpit rather than having a "giant" guy do it manually, but the takeoff roll is still light-years more realistic than any other R/C airplanes I've ever seen (excluding military drone aircraft, obviously).
I'm not that sure how big the jet is, but the top of the vertical stabilizer (tail) appears to be at about the same level as the top of the head of the fellow who starts the jet engines, and the height of a real A380 is 24.1 meters (79 feet)
, so, if the guy in the red shirt is of roughly average height, and I used an arbitrary "average" height of 180 centimetres (about 5 feet 10 inches; okay, a little tall "average") to come up with a vague estimate of scale, which would be, according to my calculations, 1:13.39 scale, so my best guess is that it's 1:12 scale, which is a pretty popular scale with modellers, or, if the guy's particularly short, 1:16 scale or 1:18 scale (the latter being the same scale as the "large" die-cast metal model cars meant to be displayed on shelves, like the Hot Wheels Ferraris
The best part of this video is the landing. It comes down a bit rough, and the nose doesn't quite seem flared enough (it flares a little at the last second before touchdown, though that almost looks like "ground effect"
), but, starting exactly when you see the nose gear touch down, you can hear the very distinguishable noise of the engines revving up into "reverse thrust"
, where the thrust is re-directed forward for a few seconds to slow the plane down before braking or turning on to one of the high-speed taxiways. I love that noise, to the point that I'll replay my (successful) landings in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002
over and over just to hear it. If you're an observant airline passenger who's ever wondered why it sounds like the engines are starting up again as the plane is landing, it's "reverse thrust". Applying the brakes when the plane is going too fast can damage the landing gear and would send all unbelted passengers in the cabin flying.
I can't find any details about the model plane itself, but I presume that it was made from scratch, since I've never heard of a fully-functional model that big being assembled from a kit. This is the sort of R/C plane I've always dreamed of owning, with honest-to-goodness turnofan jet engines, retractable landing gear, and the ability to taxi and take-off from the ground, and I'm thrilled to know that such a thing exists, even if I know that it's not exactly "for sale" (and, even if it were, it would cost in the tens of thousands at the cheapest, I would imagine). May all their landings be "three point", down the stripe.1 Not that I'm really denigrating those cheap R/C planes that they sell at The Source by Circuit City (which is what they re-branded former Radio Shack stores in Canada); I would have loved to have received one of those as a kid. They didn't have low-priced R/C planes back in the 1980s, at least not at Radio Shack or Toys R' Us. I remember going to this model shop in Dorion when I was about 14, and the absolute cheapest R/C plane, which was, admittedly, nicer-looking and probably of better quality than the cheap The Source planes, was something like $500 Canadian, and that's in heftier 1988 Canadian dollars. And those things wouldn't have run on batteries; we'd probably have had to have bought special "glow engine" fuel, unless those were gasoline-powered motors.