A GROWING PERSONAL UPDATE ENTRY
(It's too daunting for me to write it all at once, so I'll try editing this post one item at a time.)ITEM!
My brother, Nick, came over to Ottawa on Sunday because he had an interview (en français!) to try and get into medical school at the University of Ottawa. (He's been on a med school interview tour of eastern Canada lately.)
On Tuesday afternoon, we dropped him off to get the Via Rail train at Fallowfield station near Barrhaven, in the south of Nepean, and I (and my mother) took a fair amount of digital photos with the Ricoh Caplio digital camera. I put the best shots in my new Ottawa Snapshots
album (which is all suburban Ottawa pics so far; for pics I took in central Ottawa, see my Canada Day album
Cats On Mars/F*ckin' Otaku forum poster, and über train otaku, KinFreon describes the station and the locomotive for me
"Ah yes, Ottawa Fallowfield Station, in suburban Barrhaven. An intermodal link between OC Transpo and VIA Rail Canada; opened up four years ago by Transport Minister Collenette, VIA Rail Chairman Pelletier, and others to provide a means for the suburban folk to catch VIA Rail without having to go to the Downtown station on Tremblay Street. The station looks nice, if not a bit utilitarian. Better than Amtrak's cookie-cutter construction, IMO.
That train looks to be a consist of Bombardier LRC carriages used mostly on the intercity corridor between Windsor, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City. Bringing up the front is a General Electric P42 "Genesis" locomotive; the same kind used by Amtrak, albeit in handsome VIA colors."
You know, for a random forum poster, he sure has an awful lot of information, don't you think? (Wayne's World
paraphrase FOR THE WIN!)ITEM!
While I was there, I stuck out my arm, pointed the camera towards myself, and snapped a couple of more self-portraits for my rather disturbing self-pic
And this particular shot also has a surprise appearance from my Fushigi Yugi binder
, which I had with me because I wanted to drop off a couple of CV's when we were shopping on Merivale
on the way back. (I dropped off a CV at the Independent McDaniel's supermarket at the corner of Meadowlands and Grant Carman Drive, because they're advertising for cashiers; they probably want someone with actual cash register experience, but it was worth a shot).ITEM!
It's almost been like Christmas in March for me the past two days. As I mentioned in the previous entry
, I bought Whisper of the Heart
and My Neighbor Totoro
DVDs using the HMV gift card I got for Christmas. I had been planning on making that purchase for quite a while, but, while he was here, my brother went to Blockbuster and got small gifts for us.
That was sweet of him.
So I've joined the following "club", only about a year too late:
Yep, he got me the "PlayStation 2 Greatest Hits" edition of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
. He was a little concerned that I wouldn't like it, and, eh, generally violent games aren't my bag, but I understand that this game gives you free will, and you don't have to play it the most violent way (mowing down innocents) if you don't want to. I mean, yeah, you still have to commit drive-by shootings and such, but I don't have a problem with it as long as you're shooting the bad guys and not random pedestrians. Besides, there are a lot of side options and mini-games to keep things interesting. And I've been taking a little break from Gran Turismo 4
the past week or so anyway, so having something new to play isn't a bad thing.
Being someone who loves driving games that let you race on the real streets of real cities in real cars, preferably with as many of the real storefronts as possible, I'm not generally a huge fan of fake cities in videogames, but looking at the map (which I got in both official languages, and I'm actually using the French map "just because"), I can definitely appreciate the huge amount of work they put into creating what is essentially a whole state with three different cities (two of which are still blocked off), and these cities look a little more like cities and a little less like videogame levels than the previous two PlayStation 2 Grand Theft Auto
games. And it's not like the cities aren't loosely based on Los Angeles (Los Santos), Las Vegas (Las Venturas), and, most obviously, San Francisco (San Fierro; the map even looks like a simplified version of San Fran).
I like changing the radio over to K-ROSE. Gangsta's driving around listening to country music (Juice Newton's "Queen of Hearts", woo-hoo!) is just so WTF?
GOSH, THE JAPANESE SURE DO LIKE THE SONG "COUNTRY ROADS"...
(...or at least the Olivia Newton-John version od it.)
Cats on Mars/F*ckin' Otaku forum user Keg
had a thread
with a link to a very interesting, but largely inexplicable, Japanese flash file
. While a lot of Japanese Flash animations are perverted, sadistic, or freakishly bizarre, this one is weird, but in a charming and cute way. It features, for some unknown reason, Major Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell
(the Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex
version of her) being given a crude, hand-drawn map by some kind of furball, and she drives a motorcycle around Hokkaido, the northernmost of the four main Japanese islands1
, to meet a bunch of what look like giant peas with faces and arms. And he song that plays during this Flash file is the Olivia Newton-John
version of the John Denver song, "(Take me Home) Country Roads", which gives the whole production kind of a heartwarming feel.
The Flash file comes from this Japanese page of mostly Ghost in the Shell fanart
, though I have to warn you that, unlike this Flash file, a lot of what is on that page is NSFW (Not Safe For Work), largely drawn by some guy with a breast-fetish.
Another Japanese production that uses the Olivia Newton-John "Country Roads" is the Studio Ghibli
film, Whisper of the Heart
(Mimi o Sumaseba
; literally, "If you listen closely"), which Disney finally released on DVD in North America yesterday. It's a film for which Hayao Miyazaki wrote the screenplay, based on a one-volume shoujo manga by Aoi Hiiragi
that ran in Ribon
magazine (ooh, a connection between Studio Ghibli and Mihona Fujii's Gals
manga), and he did the storyboards, but Miyazaki did not direct it. The director is the late Yoshifumi Kondou
, who was going to be one of Hayao Miyazaki's successors, but, unfortunately, those plans were scuttled when Kondou died in 1998 at the age of 47 and Whisper of the Heart
was the only movie he ever got to direct. It's a slice-of-life story about Shizuku Tsukishima, a junior high school girl's somewhat stormy friendship with Seiji Amasawa, a fellow junior high school student, whom first comes to Shizuku's attention because his name shows up on the library cards of every book she borrows from the library, who is a very talented musician and who wants to go to a special school in Cremona, Italy. "Country Roads" is used as a recurring plot device in this film, as one of Shizuku's summer assignments is to write a Japanese translation of the song (and she writes both a serious one and a parody one called "Concrete Roads", about the environment she lives in in Tama, a town in the hills of the western part of Tokyo), and, according to rumours, one of the reasons why it took Disney so long to bring this film to North America (and why Disney released the 2002 spin-off film The Cat Returns
first), is because the estate of the late John Denver was asking for a lot of money for them to be able to release the film with the song intact in North America, and they couldn't remove the song from the movie as it's too essential to the plot.
I think Whisper of the Heart
is easily the most underrated film in the entire Studio Ghibli library, and it's about my most favourite Studio Ghibli film after Kiki's Delivery Service
, and, maybe, My Neighbour Totoro
, but I've seen very mixed reactions to this film, particularly on general movie boards like Rotten Tomatoes
that don't cater specifically to anime fans, probably because they're not used to straightforward, small-scale slice-of-life anime stories where nothing magical, like Spirited Away
, or epic, like Princess Mononoke
, happens (save for one dream sequence, reportedly directed by Hayao Miyazaki himself).
I first saw it fansubbed around 1997, at the long-defunct ANIMATE/Anime Central club at Université de Montréal, but I haven't really had a chance to see it since, not until I bought the DVD yesterday at the HMV on Merivale
. I used the HMV gift card that I got for Christmas
, which I was saving for just such an occasion, to buy it and the widescreen and subtitled My Neighbor Totoro
(though I had to pay $17 extra, since the card was just for $50). One minor annoyance was that they had Howl's Moving Castle
, the third film is the latest "wave" of Ghibli films, in on the "New Releases" racks right up front, but Whisper of the Heart
and My Neighbor Totoro
were nowhere to be seen, not even in the anime racks or the children's racks, so I had to ask at the checkout if they had My Neighbour Totoro
(thinking there would be a greater chance that the guy at the cash would have heard of Totoro
). The clerk checked the computer, and nothing came up until I pointed out that he was spelling "Neighbor" the Canadian way, with the "U", and, since these DVDs are distributed by Disney, they'd spell it the American way, sans "U". Sure enough, he was quick to find My Neighbor Totoro
listed once he removed the "U", and they did indeed have it in stock, but they hadn't shelved it yet, so he and I went over to the INFO desk at the back of the store and he looked in a small cardboard box with new DVDs and found My Neighbor Totoro
, and then I asked if they had Whisper of the Heart
too, and, sure enough, they did. I'm not sure, because I didn't get that good a look at the crate, but the copies I bought seemed to be the only copies of those two Ghibli films that was in the crate, so, if you're in Nepean (well, eastern Nepean, since the HMV in the Bayshore Shopping Centre is still technically in Nepean) and you were hoping to buy either film at the Merivale HMV, you might be out of luck. Sorry!
I'm considering submitting a review of at least Whisper of the Heart
(and maybe My Neighbor Totoro
too) for Anime News Network, but, considering it's a Ghibli film and much more popular than, say, Patlabor: The New Files
(the review of which I finally successfully submitted the other day), I'd probably have to submit it in a day or two to get mine in before anyone else's, and that's assuming that none of the staff writers or editors are working on it already.
This has nothing to do with the rest of the entry, but someone uploaded the entire Star Wars Holiday Special
(which is pretty bad, but not nearly as bad as some people make it out to be) to YouTube. You can see Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) coked out of her mind singing "A day of joy we all can share together joyously", and Harvey Korman as that Julia Child "droid" saying, "Stir, Whip, Stir, Whip, Whip, Whip, Stir!", and Bea Arthur as the owner of the Cantina on Tatooine singing "Just one more round, friend, then it's homeward bound, friend.", and Diahan Carroll in that bizarre Wookie cyber-porn segment (which predates the mainstreaming of Internet pornography by nearly two decades). But it's also got that animated segment that introduces Boba Fett
and which is still a great source of national pride for Canadians as it's one of the first pieces of animation that Nelvana
ever produced commercially. So, in a indirect and somewhat roundabout way, if there hadn't been the Star Wars Holiday Special
, there wouldn't be 6Teen
. (Maybe that's why 6Teen
has a character named "Darth Mall"; it's a homage to what got Nelvana started in the first place.)
I wonder how long that video will be up at YouTube.com
, "the Web's finest source of copyright-infringing video content for those of us who are too pussy to use file-sharers anymore", before George Lucas's Lucasfilm lawyer's have this file "BAH-leeted" with their "Cease & Desist" warnings? I give it three days.1 Hokkaido is the island where the land, outside of the city of Sapporo, is the least developed and most "rural", at least by Japanese standards; if an anime character is naïve, childish, jejune, and innocent, or less sophisticated, urbane, or cultured, he or she will often be from Hokkaido, which is where their stereotypical "country bumpkins" live. A prime example is Noa Izumi from Patlabor. It's also the area in Japan that gets Canadian-like winters, with one of the world's great snow sculpture festivals being in Sapporo.
CRASH REAMS BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN FOR BEST PICTURE OSCAR...
I'm completely indifferent to this supposed "Oscar Upset"
, due to Paul Haggis's Crash
's fake Enya musical score being such obnoxious audial wallpaper that watching the film was like listening to all the characters try to speak above the Muzak as though Los Angeles is one giant elevator. I mean, really, remember that one episode of South Park
when Stan Marsh's grandfather is trying to show Stan what it's like being old, and why Stan should support his assisted suicide wish, so he locks Stan in the room with him and turns up the Enya (what was essentially "Orinoco Flow", with a few notes changed for copyright purposes)? That was pretty much the experience of watching Crash
for me. While he did have some criticisms of the film, I can understand why Rush Limbaugh seemed to have liked Crash
a bit better than I did. Because he's mostly deaf and doesn't have to hear it!
I'm not completely anti-Enya, and I happen to somewhat like the aforementioned "Orinoco Flow" despite the South Park
parody, but Enya's good in small doses. Too much of her at once gets depressing, no matter how uplifting the music is supposed to be. And Crash
didn't even use the real Enya, just some Enya wannabe.
All that being said, though, what makes the Crash
win totally worth it for me, as someone who really doesn't give a flying fuck either way, is all
the message board schadenfreude
that's "all upons"
the Rotten Tomatoes forum
It's hard to pick a highlight, but here's the "best" line I found ("best" line meaning "most ridiculously melodramatic"): "We lost more than a statue. We lost our dignity as the human race…"
What's funny about Crash
winning is that so many people came to Rotten Tomatoes to complain that the entire forum CRASHed several times
. Not quite irony for those of you who get all nitpicky when you say something's ironic and it isn't, but certainly it was poetic justice.
Not that the angst over Brokeback Mountain
's loss is limited to Rotten Tomatoes by any measure: there's much griping over it at places like Ain't It Cool News
and Box Office Mojo
seems to get more love at BOM than it does at RT).
And Jack Nicholson's announcement of Crash
's win so sickened the guy who runs the Fennec Awards Database
that he claims that, after a decade of running the site, he's through. Only time will tell whether he's serious or just being a drama queen. My money's on the latter.
I don't know what happened to Brokeback Mountain
. Is Crash
the better film... well, if you're an Academy type? Are the bulk of the members of the Academy, mainly on the technical side of things, homophobic or at least uncomfortable with the subject matter? Did the Academy choose the relatively less controversial picture so that conservatives would quiet down about the Academy being "out of touch"? Was there "Brokebacklash
" where so many entertainment writers assumed that, since it was winning most of the other awards that it would have to win the Academy award for Best Picture, and the Academy doesn't like being told how to vote? Is it an urban bias, where the Academy members, especially the large amount of them who live in the Los Angeles area, would naturally prefer the film set in the environment they're most familiar with? Did Lions Gate Film's sending a hundred thousand or so DVDs to not just the voting Academy members themselves but also their friends, associates, and relations have anything to do with it? Did Roger Ebert's endorsement of Crash
sway enough voters to get off the mountain and onto the streets? I wouldn't say I think Ebert's completely responsible, but, with the Academy, momentum is everything, and it could just be that the momentum for Brokeback Mountain
climaxed prematurely... erm, make that "peaked too soon".
I don't really have anything against Brokeback Mountain
, and, like I mentioned before, I've actually seen gayer and more explicit arthouse fodder than what I've read Brokeback
is like, but I still find the moaning on message boards that it lost grossly entertaining, almost like it's the movie fan version of what happened a couple of weeks ago on anime message boards, when 4Kids Entertaiment licensed Pretty Cure
(and then, at the New York Comic Convention, 4Kids chief Al Kahn Jr. said something to the effect that he finds manga problematic because "kids don't read").
Oh, the tears of unfathomable sadness! Mm-yummy!
I'M NOT LIVE OSCAR-BLOGGING TONIGHT...
, I liked both Sideways
and The Aviator
, so I had some incentive to sit through the entire thing, but, this year, while I pretty much liked Munich
, I doubt it will win anything major, and the only other Best Picture nominee I've seen is Crash
, which I just couldn't take seriously because of the overwrought and manipulative fake Enya music they played anytime anything bad happened. I was half-interested in seeing Capote
but just never got around to it.
So, as predicted
by everyone without anime fanboy blinders on, Nick Park's Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
beat out Hayao Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle
and Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride
to win Best Animated Feature. I respect Hayao Miyazaki and I am one of the few people who actually preferred Howl's Moving Castle
to Spirited Away
(though I think Hayao Miyazaki peaked in the My Neighbor Totoro
and Kiki's Delivery Service
era), but Wallace and Gromit
was easily the better film, even if it was a little slow in parts compared to the shorts (two of which were also Oscar-winning, and the one that wasn't lost to another Nick Park/Aardman short, Creature Comforts
).Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
wasn't quite on par with The Incredibles
last year, but nothing else was either, and I'll still give it one dancing Mink to celebrate.