krpalmer: (kill la d'oh)
Naoki Urasawa's manga was respectable. At the time I'd started hearing that, it was also being translated into English and published in a specific order, with promises of some works that sounded particularly interesting only to follow other series. I more or less accepted that and started buying "Monster," about a Japanese neurosurgeon who just happens to be working in Germany, where he jeopardizes his career by operating on an injured boy instead of the mayor, only for that boy to reappear in his life years later as a serial killer... I was only three volumes into that series, though, when a few panels in another manga Viz was also publishing at the time were retouched in an another apparent attempt not to offend the moral, and in the second fit of pique that had gripped me over that I stopped buying all Viz titles (save, that is, for the occasional appearances of the Neon Genesis Evangelion manga).
That was it for a while, but... )
krpalmer: (mst3k)
When I filled in the last space on my list of "episode thoughts" about Mystery Science Theater 3000, there were some "end of an era" thoughts, and yet there still could have been a certain negative space left open on that list. I'd commented on every episode shown on cable, the movie, and Joel Hodgson's proof-of-concept pilot, which he'd shown at a convention where someone had made a fully adequate recording that had wound up an online video encoding. I could have followed the pilot by seeking out those episodes people had managed to videotape off an Minnesota UHF station in 1988 and 1989, but along with all the comments overheard how the improvisational "KTMA episodes" had a lot of "unriffed space" in them and the personal impression the first cable episodes themselves can feel sort of tedious, I had what might seem the convenient excuse there were no fan copies of the first three episodes. Starting close to one beginning seemed fine to some, but somehow I was a little too conscious of the gap.
'I think it's a good time to point out these puppets do their own stunts.' )
krpalmer: (mst3k)
Many people may be searching for "good news" right now. I suppose this only means that to a certain number of them, but I was at least surprised in a pleased sort of way to see the titles announced for one more official collection of Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVDs. The case will be crowded with lettering for the set number in Roman numerals, and as for the episodes itself they all happen to be from the "Mike years," but most of them have a fair bit of resonance for me. "Invasion USA" is an entertaining slice of cheaply produced Cold War agit-prop (which I suppose I compare to the "Joel episode" "Rocket Attack USA"), and "Colossus and the Headhunters" sort of keeps up the pattern by being Mike's counterpart to the Hercules movies of the Joel years. "High School Big Shot" is a depressing yet perhaps compelling skewed take on "juvenile delinquency exploitation," and "Track of the Moon Beast" does at least jump out of the sixth season to the tenth with a bleak sort of 1970s monster movie.

There was also a limited-time preorder bonus announced when buying from the Shout! Factory site. I haven't ordered many of those (save for the cardboard slipcase to go around the DVDs in a "canned set"), but the promise of a certain number of "host segments" from the initial "KTMA episodes" did get my attention and leave me wondering. It would be something to see whatever introduction was offered to those watching the very first episode (unless the opening credits were more or less that), but if it's just excerpted from the well-worn fan copies of the later episodes that have been passed along for years that might not be quite as compelling. The very first episodes not having been recorded that way may be my excuse for not plugging through the apparently very improvised beginning of the series.
krpalmer: (Default)
Cleaning up some piles of old correspondence a while ago, I managed to find two free movie passes in an envelope trying to get me to go back to a particular car service. Aware the passes would expire in the middle of next year, I got to wondering just what two movies I would try and see with them. One option opened up when I heard of a science fiction movie called Arrival. On going to see it, though, I did find myself thinking that what I'd managed to hear hadn't given too much about the movie away. That might have made it more interesting for me, but also left me half-convinced there'd be something gauche about turning around and saying too much to someone else in turn, as much as I want to share a positive opinion.
What I say might be vague anyway )
krpalmer: (europa)
A few hours after putting together a post yesterday suggesting it seems at least possible to escape indignation at the conviction that the "battle for Naboo" hinged altogether on a "whoops" moment, I had a "whoops" moment of my own remembering an additional thought I'd had but forgotten to set down in writing. That "not everything depended on Anakin" doesn't have to lead to the smug conclusion he should have just been left with his mother on Tatooine and everyone would have wound up happier; he did also happen to clear some "destroyer droids" out of Queen Amidala and company's path to get his Naboo starfighter moving. (I suppose this could be seen as beginning to set up the suggestion a larger power was guiding him, anyway.)
krpalmer: (europa)
When I made the time last year to watch six Star Wars movies (which can, among other things, leave me aware how often I can't make the time to watch even one old movie), I suppose thoughts of "the end of an era" were at least present. After not managing to work up interest in buying the Blu-Ray of The Force Awakens, though, and after making one excuse after another to not watch it on Netflix this weekend, all of a sudden I'd resolved to get back to the familiar six before the end of the year, almost as if things hadn't changed after all. I did resort to what I can call "hybrid order," with the new movies in the middle as an extended flashback, as if to avoid both a too-strong statement of just where "numerical order" points and the direct lead-in of "production order" to Rogue One (although at the moment each of its successive trailers seem to have impressed me a bit more than before...) While I'd at least imagined accusations of resenting how I'd put all that work into "appreciation" to the point of resisting an effortless barrage of snappy dialogue, when the order rolled around to The Phantom Menace once more I didn't seem troubled at all. I suppose I'd put a bit of thought beforehand into one particular interpretation of one particular moment, though.

I can still wrap my head around to supposing Anakin seeming to fire the shot that blows up the droid control ship "by accident" added to the indignation of some. While there just might be a chance now to point elsewhere at "the Force guiding someone," I happened to think that while "the big explosion" catches attention, the crucial moment that had been mentioned before in the movie was Amidala and company managing to capture the Trade Federation viceroy, an echo perhaps of Palpatine managing at least a partial success in becoming Supreme Chancellor. Anakin would then have definitely helped more pilots survive the battle than otherwise and eliminated the possibility the droid army would eventually execute its captives, but once again the rush to indignation might have overcome some. That thought might not help anyone but me, but it did at least add a bit to getting to the halfway point; I'm looking further ahead yet at the possibility of managing to watch the Clone Wars episodes that featured the younger inspiration for a Rogue One character, anyway.
krpalmer: (Default)
Happening on the Wikipedia article for a book I'd heard of a fair while ago as one of the first serious critical looks at science fiction, I was reading almost idly through its information on Damon Knight's In Search of Wonder when all of a sudden I noticed it mention there was now an ebook edition. With dawning interest I made a quick search of the iBooks catalogue and discovered the ebook was available there as well. Eventually, I suppose, I could get around to "buying a first book for another e-reader application," but not having to do that in this case was fine for me.

On starting to read through In Search of Wonder, though, I did realise it wasn't quite the book I'd imagined it to be. As with some of the first science fiction novels linked to the tradition that grew out of American pulp magazines (which is of course a different thing altogether from "the first science fiction novels ever"), it was put together from small pieces from magazines. Knight's critical reviews of SF novels of the 1950s are incisive, often entertaining, and do seem written in such a way they perhaps didn't goad me to an uncomfortably familiar recoiling feeling when they were more negative than my own old reactions, but perhaps I'd imagined something constructed more as a unit. The book was revised a few times, and happening on a chapter about a single nonfiction book dwelling worryingly on irrigation projects spreading disease was one of the oddest touches for all that I could suppose Knight saw that point as needing to be made no matter what. At the very end of the book, after sorting out that a caustic take on "mainstream success" had been written in the 1950s rather than, say, the early 1980s, all of a sudden Knight was mentioning William Gibson and Kim Stanley Robinson; there'd at least been enough of a break to tell this was one of the revisions.

In any case, it did become interesting to see period opinions of books that, by the time I'd got around to them, were presented as "enduring classics" (as much as I've had to face how those "classics" have had some of their patina wear thin since then). I began to contemplate a two-volume boxed set of "classic novels" I'd bought not that long ago (although I never quite got around to writing a post about its second volume) and Knight wrote reviews of most of them, only for most of those reviews to include a fair bit of criticism. Two of the novels seemed to draw ire for invoking "striking images" that were nevertheless scientifically implausible; I have to admit this did provoke a thought or two about "gatekeeping" in general for all that I could see the specific point. Perhaps, though, it was the thoroughly negative takes on books I'd never heard of (for what I could see as perfectly good reasons) that were the most entertaining parts of the book, even if that might hint at quixotic quests ahead.
krpalmer: (kill la d'oh)
As I worked on my latest "quarterly review" of anime watched at the beginning of last month, in commenting on how impressed I'd wound up with the series Nichijou I did contemplate how I'd also been quite impressed by some other series I'd only seen via the underhanded method of "fansubs," and then added the comment that in some cases series that had impressed me that way had actually been licensed for official subtitled release over here, and yet sometimes watching through those discs had wound up with ominous sensations of feeling like an "obligation." The sudden news that Funimation had managed to license Nichijou (they've recently released two other series from Kyoto Animation Bandai Entertainment did get to release before being shut down) therefore didn't have to dredge up that ambiguous impression from very far. It might not be a strange personal record in terms of "least time passed," but it does sort of feel like one.

I'd at least like to hope impressions that Nichijou's comedy can be enjoyed over again will turn out all right, although there I'm reminded I now have five volumes of the original manga waiting to be read; at the moment I'm trying to concentrate on working my way through another manga series I'd piled up a stack of thick volumes of before getting around to it. I suppose it turned out Vertical getting to license it wasn't just a singular occurrence.
krpalmer: (apple)
I delve back into enough old computer systems that I do seem to let them lie fallow and then return to dig deeper. A big part of this depends on contributions made by other people, though, whether in the form of scanned documents or emulator programs. Pushing past the early 1980s, three different emulator programs for the Macintosh can get me to the end of the 1990s. One of the jumps between them is a bit bigger than the other, though, and it just so happened one single thing fell into that space to get my attention.
A gradual process )
krpalmer: (Default)
I happened on a pointer to a site with an interesting yet challenging title. "Young People Read Old SFF" declared itself a "test of the hypothesis" of a comment from someone else that "nobody discovers a lifelong love of science fiction through Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein anymore, and directing newbies toward the work of those masters is a destructive thing". In facing that I had to face the recollection that, while the movie Star Wars and science fiction books specifically for young readers had played their own definite roles, I'd been reading older science fiction paperbacks from the library at an early age. It might not be just a matter of "time catching up," though; it's easy enough to suppose nobody likes to contemplate that their opinions on various works of entertainment might not be the only reasonable one for others to come to.
One thing sticks, though )
krpalmer: (anime)
Several months back, when I was looking to buy a null modem cable to try and hook up my family's old TRS-80 Model 100 to a more modern computer for the first time in over a decade, I needed to fill out the online order to the free shipping threshold. At that point, I happened to think back to how the third series of the computer-animated RWBY had sort of snuck up on me and impressed me, and got around to ordering the Blu-Ray of its first series. A while after that, I saw the Blu-Ray of its second series in a local video store for what seemed a very reasonable price, and bought it as well. It didn't seem that much later that I saw the third series was now available on Blu-Ray as well in the same place. Then, with the impression it wouldn't be much longer until a fourth season began to pick up where things had left off, I got around to watching the show over again.

I'd at least been curious about something "anime-esque" in some way associated with "Red vs. Blue," a comedy series voicing over in-game recordings from usually rather sedate Halo matches. Watching RWBY's first trailers had impressed me, and perhaps I'd even started thinking this might be the very best medicine for those dwelling on quite well rehearsed complaints that anime itself "these days" depended entirely on being tailored to a handful of outright creeps over in Japan. Since those first moments, though, I do have to admit to, by the end of the second series, becoming uneasy about impressions of negative comments overheard and the feeling the series couldn't coast on "having been made on a shoestring" forever. Now, however, with the sense the series had gone somewhere, things seemed to fit together better; I was able to recognise as well that in the waits between each group of short instalments some details had faded so that some things might have missed me altogether. Even the second series seemed more interesting now. (It might not have hurt either that I'd noticed that where most of the background characters in the first series had been simple blacked-in silhouettes, work had been done after it to computer-model those bystanders in detail.) I can still suppose each "series finale" might have depended to some degree on sudden appearances, and it's an open question as to where things might go and how accepting I can be (not to mention whether the series will be available for viewing on Crunchyroll), but I can at least look forward both to what's to come and to getting back to the commentaries and other bonus features.
krpalmer: (smeat)
Having managed to hear a "return to flight" launch was about to happen for one of the space station cargo ships, I turned into the streaming coverage. The engines of the Antares rocket not igniting until an instant or so after "zero" did catch me, but after that things seemed to go well. With the launch happening at night there wasn't much to see (there wasn't "ride-along" camera footage, in any case), but I did stick around for the second stage burn, which was represented by a computer display. The "perigee altitude" caught my attention for being a very large negative number; as the rocket gained speed towards orbital velocity that number ticked down, but it took until the final seconds for it to speed up to a blur that at last turned positive as an "up and down" arc turned into an orbit. It was good to see the Antares rocket working again; although a Cygnus supply craft had been launched using a different rocket since the last one exploded during launch, since the unfortunate accident two different Falcon 9 rockets have exploded, one without being anywhere near launch.

As I was looking up more information on the launch, though, I happened to see a post saying a European Mars probe was just a few days away from arriving, and that it would be dropping off a small lander. It does take time for space probes to get to Mars, but I can't remember if I'd even noticed its launch in the first place. Intent on making up for that, I started following the news a little more closely, but the only reports that arrived said contact had been lost with the lander seconds before landing. I'd noticed the lander didn't have actual legs, just a sort of "crushable pad" underneath, but it now seems the evidence is pointing towards the timing being completely off for the landing rockets.
krpalmer: (Default)
Looking through the bookstore, I was passing by the remaindered shelves when one particular title broke through the unfortunate sense of disconnection I just might all but wallow in when it comes to science fiction these days. I couldn't quite remember where the impression I'd heard of John Scalzi's Lock In before to have it catch my attention had come from, but in picking up a copy and reading the blurb inside the cover I thought I could take a chance on it, remembering I had liked his book Redshirts; it was cheap enough anyway.
A slang-driven digression )
krpalmer: (apple)
With just a bit of practice, I found that typing on my iPad's "glass keyboard" didn't seem "that" different from using a more physical input device. (I can suppose that for those who've grown accustomed to entering short notes and posts on the keyboard of a smart phone, there might be that much less of a deal to be made about something larger.) With a small collection of text editors and a Dropbox account, I can "pat out" quick-and-dirty rough drafts and transfer them to my computer. (This might not be that different from how the TRS-80 Model 100 was used by many. I suppose the Model 100's keys had more "travel" than indeed just about any portable computer keyboard available these days, but then in at least some circumstances I can see more than eight lines of forty characters each on an iPad's screen, and "filling the memory" doesn't seem to be an issue the way it might be with just thirty-two kilobytes to work with...)

However, if there was one thing that could slow me down, it was how there are only four punctuation marks available on the iPad's regular keyboard. To keep from sounding like one of those science fiction cultures that never use contractions, I'd have to reach down, call up the "punctuation keyboard," and type an apostrophe. To type any other punctuation mark, I also have to "put that keyboard away" once I'm done with it; adding HTML tags to a comment can be pretty involved. After a while, I began looking for alternatives. Considering keyboards sized to fit into an "iPad cover" kind of cramped, I bought a very cheap black-plastic Bluetooth keyboard (with a suspicious resemblance to the layout of the more solid Apple Bluetooth keyboard of the time) from a local surplus store; it was easy enough to carry it as well on a typical sort of day in a regular messenger bag. However, putting the batteries back in the keyboard and getting it connected did always seem to be just a bit of a production. I then managed to find a "third-party software keyboard" that was actually a "stylus input area," which at least brought thoughts of how these "keyboardless devices" were "once" supposed to work; however, writing on the screen seems just a little more involved than writing with a pen on paper. Doing a bit more searching, I happened on a software keyboard that squeezes skinny punctuation keys in around the regular screen keys; it was possible to get used to it, but I did get to thinking there was a slight air of lessened aesthetics about it, and that there could be something to "leaving keys out to fit in limited space" after all.

There were enough options to that new keyboard, though, that in exploring it I began to pick up on how you could "tap and hold" some keys and have extra characters pop up, the way I already knew to produce accented letters. All of a sudden, though, I was thinking about just where the apostrophe and punctuation mark are on the punctuation keyboard, and if there might be a trick to the regular iPad keyboard after all... Switching back, I found I really could hold down the comma to get an apostrophe, and hold down the period to get a quotation mark as well. This feels useful enough that I can wonder if it was my fault I hadn't seen anyone else notice it until now, but then there's always the chance someone else might yet hit on this tip for the first time here.
krpalmer: (anime)
I've led off my last few "quarterly reviews" of anime watched by dwelling on how few brand new series of late I've managed to even start viewing, much less stuck with, but in the three months just past I suppose I hit rock bottom, not watching any brand new series at all. One weak defence I could offer was that I knew I'd be going on a vacation in the middle of those three months; to be oppressed by memories of other vacations that had meant not just enforced breaks from watching weekly series but dwelling on how negative the opinions of everyone else on them had become until I'd convinced myself to abandon them seems to have its own small problems, though.

Being oppressed by that did at least point out how I wasn't quite facing "no capsule descriptions even appealed to me," however. It was a bit of a surprise to see the anime adaptation of a manga called "orange" had begun, but it just so happened I had started buying the manga itself without thinking about the upcoming anime, and hadn't quite finished it yet. "Starting with the manga" does seem to get in the way of "getting to the anime" for me these days; I at least wound up hearing the adaptation had hit some pretty rough patches along the way, and the "a future tries to help the present" manga had wound up more appealing to me than, say, Erased's "the present tries to change the past." It was that much more of a surprise to hear Funimation had licensed the new Love Live spinoff. That might have overcome the general uneasiness already mentioned and provided the push for me to sign up for their own streaming service at last, except for one more bit of casual contempt from someone else towards that service run into at the exact wrong moment adding to the nagging, half-irrational fear that since the animation studio Sunrise produced both Love Live and Gundam, the mere fact of Love Live Sunshine being a "spinoff" meant it would end up under the precise cloud of opprobrium most of the Gundam "alternative universes" seem weighed down by. A few months after that, though, the sudden announcement that Funimation and the streaming service Crunchyroll would start cooperating was a somewhat more pleasant surprise, if one I had scarcely even conceived of before with the impression Crunchyroll was where "everyone else" promoted their content. Whether this will mean in turn "everyone else" will start striking exclusive deals with still other services I don't have subscriptions for either is another question, however, and I suppose I don't even know if Love Live Sunshine (which seemed to be received with at least some positive reactions) will wind up part of the shared content before it's available for sale on discs over here anyway.
Continuing: Turn A Gundam and Giant Gorg )
Manga preparation: High School DxD New and Nichijou )
Short efforts: She and Her Cat and Inferno Cop )
One-shots: Girls und Panzer, Under the Dog, The Ancient Magus' Bride )
Revisiting: Iria and Shirobako )
krpalmer: (mst3k)
I was a bit slow to open the latest official collection of Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVDs once I'd received it in the mail. Going on vacation last month had something to with that, but I was aware even so of the feeling the episodes in the set ranged for me from "not personal standouts" to "actually uncomfortable to watch." What with the nagging worry I'll be stuck with personal disagreements with the "riffing" in the upcoming revival, it might have been an especially awkward time to have some reluctance towards the original series.

Once I did have the set open, though, I started finding things to interest me about the episodes and the movies (or thereabouts) featured in them. Getting past the infamous blandness (and a certain emphasis in the "riffing" to 1970s TV) of "Stranded in Space," I also found myself thinking past the cheapness of "this other world just happens to exactly look like the Earth" to contemplate how it's easier to exposit about a conformist dystopia than to actually work out how an ordinary person might have to get by in it. The disc also included a short feature on "Film Ventures International" as the last of the episodes featuring its cheap video credits got on official DVDs, and explained that by the point it was making up those for-TV packages it was pretty much all the way down the declining slope. It had risen from "foreign imports" to making movies cashing in on trends, but one feature's promotion had been just a bit too much like the way its inspiration was being sold and that had caused problems that had built until the company's founder had cleaned out the office safe and vanished.
A limited incredible ride )
krpalmer: (Default)
Always looking for my next book to read, I dug into a somewhat older pile and pulled out a library discard I'd managed to buy at a book sale a while ago. Thinking back, I don't suppose I'd have hesitated much at the chance to get an old copy of Gerard K. O'Neill's The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space, but I'm pretty sure that once I had the book I only skimmed through it and then left it to sit. You may not have to fear the ominous future "if these immense space colonies aren't built for the good of everyone" sketched out early in the book is now inescapable, or even springboard off to heap blame on familiar agencies for not having your ticket up to "L5" already (as I recall the foreword by someone else to a more modern reprint did), to still dwell on the whole "I resent this gee-whiz technology from popular works in decades past not being available yet" attitude. At the same time, though, I was quite aware there are people other than embittered space buffs who would recognize O'Neill's designs; they were pulled into the setting of the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime, adding a distinguishing factor other than "just" "giant piloted robots of a particular design."
Selling a concept versus building a story )
krpalmer: (Default)
After I'd finished watching the episodes of Star Trek's second season I'd wanted to watch, I never quite got around to opening the third season collection I bought with the others and watching those handful of episodes I have an impression managed to transcend the straitened circumstances of the show's final go-round. That did get to me every so often, but I just couldn't seem to make the time with so many other things to do and watch. However, Netflix did add a good number of Star Trek series just recently, and one of them was "The Animated Series" from the mid-1970s. As a Saturday morning cartoon those episodes were half the length of regular episodes, and the thought did get to me that I could watch them while exercising on weekend mornings, what with more episodes of "Voltron Legendary Defender" still to come. For all I know, seeing news the existing audio of a "lost" Doctor Who serial is going to have animation made for it had a bit of influence too.
'A physiological symptom of latent primal superstition. The fear of primitive people confronting something unknown to them.' )
'Compared to the people who built this ship, we are primitives. Even you, Mr. Spock.' )
krpalmer: (Default)
When one of the two ships of the lost Franklin expedition was found underwater two years ago and then identified as HMS Erebus, I took note of comments about this matching Inuit testimony that also suggested the other ship of the expedition would have been crushed in the ice and sunk. While I could suppose efforts would continue to find HMS Terror, it was easy enough to imagine a jumble of shattered timbers in a deep channel wouldn't be easy to locate.

This morning, though, there was an article on the front page of my newspaper (not quite as large as the first article two years ago) that proclaimed Terror had been found not that far from Erebus, and that it was in even better shape than its fellow ship. Once again, local reports helped, although this one was rather more recent. The further twist to a narrative I was familiar with years before of the doomed crew abandoning their long-frozen-in ships and struggling south to die, victims of an unwillingness to adopt native skills, is certainly intriguing, but it does point straight back to the hopeful speculation I saw at the first discovery of the chance of written records managing to survive underwater. There's always the next Arctic summer, of course.
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
The computer-animated Peanuts movie that just happened to align with the comic strip's sixty-fifth anniversary seemed to get good notices, including some from people I supposed to be other Peanuts fans, but where I had bought a Blu-Ray of The Lego Movie I waited on The Peanuts Movie until I was surprised to see it turn up on Netflix. This could have had something to do with how, aware as I am of how "drawn animation" has helped shape perceptions and form mental images of the Peanuts characters, a good number of the TV specials and the four feature-length movies made years ago preceded me by enough that I'm only aware of their storylines through their storybook adaptations. It just might be that, with certain small elements condensed out along the way, they kept striking me as veering between "ultimately outright depressing" and "perhaps lightweight." (As a small example, when I finally had the chance to see "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," its concluding minutes didn't seem quite as bleak as the storybook had somehow left me thinking.) Still, I wound up taking a chance, and there were things about The Peanuts Movie I did get to mulling over.
There was a big surprise )

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