Sunday, January 30, 2011

OK, it was a con, same as always, I guess. They're skewing older than they used to, and there were a lot of people, a little under a thousand, I think? Saturday morning and afternoon saw some significant snow squalls, and there was a bunch of furries running around in the snow playing around. Who knew that fursuits made for pretty good winter weather wear?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Geez, I almost forgot - there's an anime con in State College this weekend. I guess I'll do the one-day thing; I've no other plans today.

Friday, January 28, 2011

So I'm watching two completely unrelated and noncontemporary shows: the second season of Alias, and the last cour of Soul Eater. Alias is an early-Oughts J.J. Abrams big-budget spy-action-SF TV series affectionately known as "Spy Barbie". Soul Eater is a moderately well-budgeted two-season, four-cour shounen fantasy anime about meisters (sort of grim reapers, roughly speaking) fighting witches. They're both shows that rely heavily on stylistic flash & convoluted plotting and nested conspiracies, but you'd think they were otherwise unrelated.

Imagine my surprise when I suddenly found myself watching pretty much the same story:

1) a three-sided war between three organizations, at least one of which is unaware of the participation of the third in the fight -
the DWMA, Arachnophobia, and Medusa's coven

SD-6, Irina Derevko's clique, and the CIA

2) the war consists of a series of fights over semi-magical tchotkes, literal mcguffins created by a long-dead, legendary da Vinci figure -
Eibon and his Magic Tools

Milo Rambaldi and his deranged series of artifacts

3) a horrible, Medea-like harridan of a mother, murderous, vicious, sociopathic and dreadfully manipulative, walks into the figurative front-office of the "good guys" faction, and surrenders, in order to embody the Hannibal in a cage trope -
Medusa the Younger, having survived her own evisceration & possessed a random child, thus protecting herself from the whole "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" thing the DWMA has going by hiding inside her body-hostage; this after a half-dozen episodes of manipulating her seriously disturbed woobie of a son Crona from the shadows into betraying that faction

Irina Derevko, who after shooting her estranged daughter and then her own Dragon in the opening episode of the season, apparently decides that it'd be more fun to screw with the CIA from inside of a deeply buried jail cell than from within the nominally safe confines of her own faction

They both have peculiar, attraction-repulsion relationships with core figures within the "good guys" organizations, Medusa with the hanging-onto-sanity-with-his-fingertips Dr. Stein, and Irina with her estranged husband, Jack Bristow.

These are terrifying mother-figures - unloving, unblinking and menacing. Medusa had a child for the express purpose of moulding it into a science experiment, denying it love and affirmation & infecting it with a species of madness to see if she could breed a "Kishin" - sort of an evil god. Irina had a child for the sole purpose of cementing her role as a loving wife & mother to a CIA agent and his child, and seems entranced by the strange creature from her long-past stint as a sleeper agent & assassin; the first thing she does upon being reunited with her daughter is to muse about how easily she could have killed her in infancy. Both characters are expressions of the vulnerability of children in the hands of their mothers, and the potential for what some wags have called "retroactive abortion". They're avatars of Kali - the killing-mother who brought you into this world and could quite easily take you out of it again.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ouch. January was not a cheap month for electricity. 2/3rds to twice again as much as last year's bill for January. I guess this is what happens when you try to heat a place the size of my condo with only electric baseboard heat. Oh, well, my propane heater is back online, hopefully the rest of the winter won't be nearly as bad.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I'm watching the first season of Justified today, and I was thinking that their version of eastern Kentucky looks an awful lot like Armstrong and Clarion Counties of western Pennsylvania. I apparently was off, but not by much - it was elsewhere in Murtha's old district, little Washington & other locales in shooting distance of Pittsburgh. Apparently film crews use convention centers to double as airports these days - I was watching the commentaries for the first season of Alias the other day, and they mentioned that not long after, Homeland Security cracked down on crews filming at actual airports, and sure enough, the commentary on the pilot of Justified identified the "airport" that the protagonist transits through on the way to Lexington as actually the new Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.

I like the show so far, but then, I've always been a sucker for Elmore Leonard adaptations.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Oh, btw - Star Driver continues to be gorgeously, giddily nuts. Episode 15 went full-Groundhog Day. At this point, I don't care if it ever goes anywhere, the journey's too damn neat to worry about destinations.
I don't know why, but sometimes I'm more eloquent in other people's comments sections than I am on my own, nominal site. Maybe it's a species of unoriginality, maybe it's just basic bone laziness, but there it is. A day rarely goes by without my having left a comment on Rantburg, but I usually don't bother to bring it back to here.

But no, I didn't think that much of the first episode of Fractale. You can have ideas without having a story, and a story without having a show. The writer definitely has ideas, but the connection between those ideas and the execution isn't exactly setting my monitor on fire.

Now, Dream Eater Merry, on the other hand, isn't exactly a radical bundle of innovation. It's your standard magical-girlfriend show, of the serious fighting-fantasy sort. Think Shana meets Soul Eater, and you've got the feel to a first approximation. But it's well-constructed, it flows, it appeals to the eye, and it has a personality. It *works*. Anime is a medium for professional hacks, and Dream Eater Merry is obviously the product of some nameless coven of highly professional hacks; Fractale is the child of would-be artistes. I'm willing to bet that this will make all of the difference.

My hypothesis: great art is made when inspired artistes are trapped safely and securely under the iron control of highly professional hacks. This basic fact is why artists are generally inclined towards fascistic and authoritarian politics - they know, at a subconscious level, that they need a sort of f├╝hrerprinzip to realize their potential. They either find a f├╝hrer, or make one of themselves, by a sort of division of self. The latter path tends to kill their heart.

Or not; but it would explain the personality issues of individuals like Salvador Dali...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

So, a significant snowfall last evening. I was out-and-about, and there was some fun driving to be had, especially in my narrow wheel-base putt-putt. Managed to stay out of ditches, so I win at winter driving. Well, this time anyways.

When I got back, one of the neighbors was clearing her usual parking stall, so I parked to the side, and started clearing mine. Another neighbor showed up while I was trying to dispose of the excess snow, and we started clearing the space in front of his house, and then a third neighbor came out, and in the end we cleared the whole lot & access road. It was like painting Tom Sawyer's fence without an actual, you know, Tom Sawyer. Spontaneous whitewashing.

The irony here is that we technically have a contract with a private snowplow guy. We didn't *have* to do that. When I got back in, I found that I had a full-lion's-beard of icicles, from my mustache to my beard up through sideburns to my forelock. If anyone could actually see anything in the half-light of the dimly-lit parking lot, I must have looked preposterous.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Meh. My section supervisor's two-weeks ran out today. I'm reporting directly to the head of operations. He's going to work for a competitor run by former employees, ones I'm not on good terms with. Not thrilled with that. This is the third supervisor I've lost in the last four years. Is it something I'm doing wrong?

In personal news, my house's propane heater was on the fritz, and I got a repairman in to look it over. Replaced some parts, got it working again. Wasn't cheap. But at least now if the power goes out, my place won't be an icebox.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Years, everybody!

I feel like I ought to be going to the shrine on hatsumode. Or playing badminton. My usual New-Years activities - going down to Norristown to see the college crowd, play nerd games & watch the fireworks, wasn't going to happen this year. I guess I'm "rusticating" this year. Or maybe just rusting?

Happy New Year, may it be better than the last two or three.

I want to work harder, talk to people more, and get out more often. I need a new hobby, something organized and group-oriented. Something in volunteering? I need something to fill the social void, the space which convention-organizing used to occupy in my life.