krpalmer: (mst3k)
Five of the six movies in the latest series of Mystery Science Theater 3000 were revealed a little while before they went up on Netflix by a British ratings classification site. Some of the titles got my attention because I'd heard at least a bit about their reputations before. As I've already said, I'd seen "MAC and Me" described as an "E.T. ripoff with even more product placement" years ago. For the second episode of "The Gauntlet," though, having heard about the title not quite as many years ago had me wondering just a bit about how things would turn out, and without happening to notice a perhaps overwrought reaction from someone else.
There's cheesy, and there's other stuff )
krpalmer: (Default)
While I've tried for a while to limit my purchases from amazon.ca, I did wind up wanting to buy a non-anime Blu-Ray the movie store in the area mall couldn't seem to get, and resorted to online shopping at last. That led to something familiar enough, including something else in the order to get free shipping. It didn't take me long to think of a second title; the thought had been coming to me that so far as "Lucasfilm productions involving 'escorting bombers'" go, Red Tails had seemed more personally satisfying than The Last Jedi...
A different continuation )
krpalmer: (Default)
Launches of Canadian astronauts into space remain rare enough that they keep being headline news in this country. I was aware David Saint-Jacques was scheduled to travel up to the space station, but this being the first launch of a Soyuz spacecraft since the last crew to try that had to escape after an improper booster separation did add an extra bit of tension.

The previous news had first come to my attention driving to work, but the news this launch seemed to have succeeded also reached me at the same time. Then, as I was driving back from work, I heard the spacecraft had docked to the space station, which I have to admit I compared to my own more or less regular work day. Since last week I've at least been trying a bit to keep up with updates about the InSight lander on Mars; perhaps I'll be able to follow reports of this latest Canadian astronaut as well.
krpalmer: (mst3k)
As the short second set of episodes of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 revival approached, I might even have got to the point of a little anticipation. However, with "The Gauntlet" becoming available on American Thanksgiving, the "Turkey Day" long linked with the show, I accepted I wouldn't be able to start into it as soon as some people. As for the first weekend following, a pre-Christmas get-together with my family took up most of it. By the time it was over, though, a sudden chill had fallen over me.
An explanation at length )
krpalmer: (apple)
It might have been just possible the thought of upgrading what computers I have that can run macOS Mojave didn't intimidate me as much as it could have the last few times around. Whether this came from not poking into those online sites I suspect may concentrate "change can only upset things now" complaints, I don't know. Still, I can think a few ambiguous thoughts about "fussy command-line tools" and whether things might have wound up honed to comprehensible perfection had they stuck with fitting assembly language into the 64 kilobytes of memory directly accessible by 8-bit microprocessors, and just what sort of applications however many people would be running in that case.
In any case... )
krpalmer: (Default)
In deciding to take Mondays off for the last two months of the year to use up some of my vacation time, I happened to open up the chance to watch live streaming coverage of the InSight probe landing on Mars. I hadn't really realised this until the last few days or so before that landing, probably not keeping up with space news as well as I could. Still, in the afternoon I hurried around through the rain to complete some errands and then returned to tune into the NASA video. The pre-landing discussions were wrapping up, and coverage was shifting to the ranks of mission controllers, all wearing identical shirts.

From the coverage I'd learned two "cubesats" had been launched with the probe to serve as communications links, and they kept working, passing along reports of the crucial atmospheric entry, high-speed parachute deployment, and radar-controlled rocket braking, with the occasional applause in mission control fading away in the last crucial moments. With all the comments about how difficult it is to land on Mars, or even to get near it at times, I was feeling the tension myself. Celebrations broke out at last, though, and a first photo from the not very rock-strewn surface (through a spattered dust cover) was radioed back in short order. It was only after the landing, though, that I realised the cubesats would just keep flying away from Mars, passing their communications duties along to the probes already orbiting. I will have to try and keep up with the news; I remember taking note of previous probe landings and then letting the actual reports from the surface fade into the background.
krpalmer: (mst3k)
A few months after I'd listened to their podcast series taking a humourously skewed look at Ready Player One, Mike Nelson and Conor Lastowka started talking about Ernest Cline's second novel. I had kept looking back at their podcast's home page every so often, but didn't leap at the chance to listen to their take on Armada. Even if that novel seemed much less in constant deamnd at my local library and therefore easier to sign out to "see what they were talking about," my old uneasiness about what sort of putdowns the "Rifftrax" Conor might help write and Mike might help voice might have left me thinking I ought not to push my luck.

I still didn't leave the home page altogether alone, though, and one day I saw another post go up on it. This time, an electric shock of realisation flew through me. With the works of Ernest Cline used up for the moment, Mike and Conor were turning to an earlier work of "notable bad fiction." Not only was it one I already knew about, I just happened to have first learned about "The Eye of Argon" by Jim Theis via an altogether unofficial take on Mystery Science Theater 3000, Adam Cadre's MSTing.
First things first, though )
krpalmer: (anime)
The last time I commented here about Voltron Legendary Defender was just after I'd finished the fifth block of episodes on Netflix. I'd mentioned "more than an impression" of forward momentum to the story, and overhearing rumours of working towards a conclusion. When the sixth block of episodes showed up in turn, though, I didn't seem to have quite the same drive to watch on a regular schedule. Avoiding what other people are saying about the series because of another impression that "commentary on domestic series inevitably winds up dwelling on the mismatch between what the commentators imagined they'd get and what the creators can actually offer" did get to weigh on me; sometimes, there seems advantages to the limited length of time anime series run for even if a good many of them are just supposed to lead into original sources running to greater length.
More than I'd first expected )
krpalmer: (kill la d'oh)
News of Stan Lee's death got onto the front page of my newspaper, if "below the fold." Mulling over that, even if that also meant remembering how I'd felt intimidated by their already existing continuities when young to the point of taking only the smallest nibbles at Marvel superhero comics and for whatever reason don't watch their steady stream of movies now, lasted me though the day. While I was doing that, though, I picked up on reports of a death that wouldn't reach quite as far but still had me aware of "one thing after another" coincidences. Fred Patten, one of the earliest North American manga and anime fans, had also died.

Most of my connection to Patten came from having bought his book Watching Anime, Reading Manga from a local comics shop over a decade ago. I happened to say something about that book here just this summer, commenting that beyond its historical tidbits the thought of Patten having kept commenting about anime and manga for three and a half decades to that point was encouraging at a moment when fans much younger than him on some message boards I hadn't quite backed away from yet were exuding impressions of burnout. With that said, beyond reports that Patten had kept going to conventions in a wheelchair I don't quite know what his most recent opinions on "drawn entertainments from Japan" were. That he was also a "furry fan" can provoke a strange thought or two, but I suppose I'm positive about a few things I'm also cautious about certain potential responses to myself.
krpalmer: (anime)
I suppose I look at the "Manga Bookshelf" site fairly often. Seeing the eye-catching title "Last and First Idol" on its front page, though, left me with an impression of having been lucky to have had something so precisely combining diverging personal interests catch my attention before the steady march of new content could push it out of sight. Sean Gaffney's review had explained the electronic release from J-Novel Club was a collection of three short stories using idol singers and other tangents off the anime-manga nexus to set up some pretty hard science fiction. I could amuse myself wondering how many other people have not just some interest in idol singers (I might not have quite as much as some, but it seems "enough") but also some awareness of a science fiction book from the beginning of the 1930s, less a conventional novel than a "fictional history" of its near to a very far future, named Last and First Men by an English author, Olaf Stapledon.
An existential widescreen yuri baroque proletarian hard sci-fi idol story )
krpalmer: (anime)
With "I like the way it looks" a simple explanation (at least at first glance) for why I've stayed interested in anime and manga for so long, there's some significance to a belief I've developed that when looking at manga series and the anime adapted from them, the manga will have better-looking character artwork. Colour, motion, and sound in all forms do add something to the experience for me, but most often if I start reading a manga before hearing it's to be turned into anime I'll stick with that version in print, and if I do start with the anime I'll keep from looking at the manga until its adaptation is over and I have to continue the story in a new media, so as to "not diminish that first experience while I'm having it."

Having admitted a big part of why I took interest in the beach volleyball anime Harukana Receive was "beach volleyball seems a better excuse than many to have its young female characters in swimsuits" (although I wouldn't say that wound up the only reason I kept watching it), knowing the manga it had been based on was starting to be published over here in synchronicity with the "simulcasts" stuck in my mind. When the first volume didn't show up in the local bookstore right when I was expecting it to, I made a special order; however, once I had the volume I put it aside to wait until the anime was finished. As I waited, though, I happened to see a review of the manga on Anime News Network, and then one in Otaku USA magazine, that both criticized the manga's art and suggested the anime looked better in this case.
Forming my own opinions )
krpalmer: (europa)
After commenting on the beginning of an annual trip back through the movies of the Star Wars saga with the admission I wasn't thinking about extending it with anything produced in the last few years (no matter what particular film it was supposed to follow), all of a sudden I did start thinking there was something I could try and fit in between two movies after all. It's been more than a few years since I'd last watched the "drawn animation" Clone Wars "micro-series" produced in two blocks between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Back then, I'd come to think that in starting off only able to follow Attack of the Clones they had cast too ominous and unappealing a shadow over their Anakin Skywalker. Even though I understand some people seem able to enjoy more than a few of the movies without having a very positive view of his character, the interpretation I've been able to stick with and feel satisfied by wants to allow him the uncomplicated, enjoying-himself heroism of the beginning of Revenge of the Sith before "tragic protagonist" takes over altogether. That some people in the time since then hadn't stopped using the drawn animation as a stick against the movies themselves and the computer-animated Clone Wars series that had been able to work with a complete saga didn't appeal to me either. There was finally too much Clone Wars computer animation to just casually view it "in between," though, and I suppose I also got to thinking I couldn't turn down every chance to take another look at something and perhaps even pick up on something fixed opinions might hide from me. I've seen a few positive takes quite lately on the older drawn animation that might not have pushed me away. As I started watching my DVD compiling the first block of very short episodes, though, the strongest "new insight" I was feeling was that the ersatz Anakin voice, in trying to sound like Hayden Christensen's, just had me thinking that was a hard voice to imitate. While I could remember seeing comments about the computer-animated Clone Wars (not simply intending to put it down, I believe) that its Anakin voice didn't quite seem to get the character's complexities either, I don't remember it sounding quite as "off" to me; that Obi-Wan sounded the same as in the computer-animated series didn't help either.
Dialogue's not the only focus, though )
krpalmer: (Default)
Even as I was putting together a post that dwelt somewhat on "I don't read as much prose fiction as I could, caught between supposing I'm overwhelmed by the subtle complexity of anything 'respectable' and looking down on everything else," I was working through some novels I'd found in a somewhat unusual way. A few years ago, I heard that "life plus" copyright terms on novels are shorter in Canada than in some countries, and that Ian Fleming's James Bond novels were now in the public domain. An anthology of new, unauthorized stories marked that news, but I suppose that, along with wondering about "fanfiction" being one of those things I don't read much any more such that it threatens to feel about the personal hangups and dissatisfactions of others on display, I wasn't familiar with the original work to begin with. Then, I happened on an offbranch of "Project Gutenberg" that did offer ebook versions of most of the original novels, and other works from authors who died as late as the 1960s. (I've also managed to read Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, and found it interesting. Since then, however, I've been ordered to take umbrage at the revised continental trade deal threatening to extend copyright terms up here. Although concerned, I'm also just trying to save what's available now to my own computer.)
Reputation and discovery )
krpalmer: (Default)
All too often these days I think "I should read more prose fiction" only to seize up between the likely-false dichotomy of supposing anything that would qualify as "respectable literature" would just go over my head even as I sweat and struggle to get through it and then thinking many other things "beneath my talents." Not that long ago, though, in the closest used book store (but just about the only one left open in my city) I saw a slim volume lying on the tile floor next to a full-up bookshelf and picked it up. Books by Michael Crichton do seem to fall into the second category I've just alluded to, such that I've long just slid by them. I did read Jurassic Park back in high school before the movie arrived, but I seemed to find the way he'd presented chaos theory "bleak" and wound up somewhat unenthused (and then liked the movie at the time better in part for brushing past the subject). With the novels he wrote afterwards, I was a bit ready to believe certain critical comments about their spins on controversial subjects comforting the already comfortable without actually reading them myself. Eaters of the Dead had been written years before any of that, though, and I suppose a story purporting to be a translated manuscript from an Arab courtier who just happens to be pulled into a band of Vikings travelling back north to ultimately face "a terror that comes under cover of night" was at least amusing to consider. I wound up buying the book.
A possibly late realisation )
krpalmer: (europa)
Returning to a whole cycle of movies once a year, given I don't often carve out the time to watch other films (although I did get to the nearest cinema to see First Man earlier this month), can seem an extravagance. Even so, I have told myself that since I haven't taken in their spinoff narratives in print for quite a while (and now I'm not doing that in computer animation, either), watching "just" the six Star Wars movies in the saga set isn't that all-consuming. With that, though, does come the ambiguous admission that where just a few years ago I'd wondered about an expanded series finally becoming overwhelming to watch "in full" yearly, now the "Disney productions" aren't on my agenda. Last year I had started off by watching Rogue One on Blu-Ray and then proceeding in "production order," but this year for one reason and another I'm not quite interested in even that. Instead, after watching the saga one rather conventional way last year and trying the "hybrid" or "flashback" order again the year before, I was looking forward to the simple and strict "numerical order."
A thought or two )
krpalmer: (apple)
The rumour mill started rolling a little while ago about an upcoming Apple event; the hopes circulating seemed to be that not just new iPads but updated Mac models would show up. I watched as a spectator, supposing my current iMac would have to serve for a few years more before I'd have used it as long as my previous model (which is now doing work for my parents); still, updated hardware might do a little to calm down that ever-bubbling subtext of concern about "the company going where the money is right now, not where I want it to."

Then, I started hearing different artistic takes on the Apple logo were being attached to the invitations to the event. A few of them being interpretations of the historical "six colours" logo did get my attention; then, I saw somebody had posted hundreds of images in a single location. My digital packrat instincts kicked in and I headed off to save the images to my own computer, sure they'd make fine desktop artwork.

Saving over three hundred images took a while, though, and in the midst of that I did get to thinking that much effort might cast whatever got announced at the event under a shadow. When I looked up a bit of news afterwards, however, I saw indeed not just new iPad Pros but also a much-modified MacBook Air (although the model that's become a largish, cheapish portable still seems to be on sale for now) and even an updated Mac mini after the previous model had been on sale for geological eons in computer terms. My brother had pondered buying that old Mac mini when his older MacBook Pro had started malfunctioning, only to settle on an iMac newer than mine. I do know "there's always room for improvement," and for some people there's a lot of room there, but at least I can say I have a new folder full of potential desktop images.
krpalmer: (anime)
When I took the solemn step of ripping the plastic overwrap off my Blu-Ray of Kyousougiga, once more collapsing the dizzying sweep of "things I could watch" into a single like-it-or-not choice, it was getting late in the "quarter" now closed. Rather than having to wrap up my then-upcoming summary of anime watched in those three months finding something to say about a mere waypoint in a longer series, I'd wanted to get all the way through something short. Out of what twelve-to-thirteen-episode series were ready to hand, I suppose what had got my attention about Kyousougiga in the first place had been the interest I'd seen at least a few other people show when Discotek had pulled that series out of the "not licensed over here" cracks that can still catch some newer anime. The company has made a go of releasing older anime with some show of care and skill, some of which I've watched with interest (even as I keep supposing I like not just "older anime" but being able to go back and forth between it and brand-new shows), and I was willing to suppose there had to be something about a newer series they'd also release. At the same time, though, I was aware I couldn't quite give a clear, attention-getting short summary of the show itself starting off.
A choice and how it turned out )
krpalmer: (kill la d'oh)
I've been watching anime for long enough to have come up with a few reasons for why I've stayed interested in it for all that time. One of them could be that I've been able to adapt to changes in style, subject, and ways to see it. (However, this boast of adaptability might have some small bearing on how seeing certain complaints about changes in domestic genre entertainment doesn't just annoy me but seems to detach me from those works themselves, which has been another reason I've come up with for my enduring interest in anime...) Changes in style and subject do seem to happen at a slow enough pace to only notice in retrospect, but sometimes changes in ways to see it can hit fast. The announcement the partnership between Crunchyroll and Funimation would be dissolving did feel that way. I can remember past seasons where I'd see Funimation license series for streaming and suppose I'd just have to wait for the home video release, given the grand shows of negativity some people kept displaying about their streaming service; the only problem there was that by the time of some of those releases initial interest had faded and I'd decided instead to buy titles Crunchyroll had licensed and Sentai Filmworks had wound up releasing on disc.

Of course, since the partnership began I'd merely gone from "not watching the series Funimation licensed" to "not watching the series on Amazon Prime or Sentai's own 'Hidive' service." (That might have been one factor in having gone several seasons without watching new series streaming.) The distaste of others for "having to pay for multiple services" is obvious enough, even if I can think a bit of the theatre chains the big studios had owned in the Golden Age of Hollywood and a previous era of winking at vertical integration as a form of oligarchical monopoly. So far as affording things goes, I am thinking of how I just contributed to the Kickstarter for Right Stuf's Nozomi label to go back and dub the Victorian Romance Emma anime, just perhaps more for a glow of altruism than having to face that long-standing subtle distinction "I don't seem to feel the disdain others display towards English dubs, but I always wonder if watching too many of them might develop that..." Maybe I'll just have to try harder to not be swayed by the disdain of others.
krpalmer: (Default)
When I visited London, England a few years ago, I made a point of going to the British Museum. In looking up information on the artifacts of world culture on display there (I particularly wanted to see the Rosetta Stone and the Lewis Chessmen, but there were plenty of things I was pleased just to happen on), I picked up there had been a BBC radio series a few years before that had selected one hundred objects from the museum and used them to tell a history of the world. Copies of the companion book were displayed in the museum shops, but I only had so much spending money on me and had already packed my luggage pretty full. Instead, I eventually managed to download and listen to all hundred fifteen-minute instalments of the series, which made for an interesting but time-consuming tour (although probably still less time-consuming than going back to London). With thoughts of revisiting the history in a somewhat different way but saving time doing that, I finally ordered a copy of museum director Neil McGregor's book from my area bookstore.
Audio and text )
krpalmer: (Default)
As it had one morning last week, the radio news I listen to on the way to work led off with a science-related piece. A Soyuz capsule not getting into orbit, though, is a different sort of story than a Canadian scientist sharing a Nobel Prize. By the time the piece was over, though, I'd heard the cosmonaut and astronaut in the capsule had made it through a high-deceleration ballistic descent, so all of a sudden I wasn't troubled the way I had been on hearing about a Falcon 9 rocket exploding even with nobody on top of it then. There was sort of the feeling "of course they have escape rockets; things would have been much riskier in a space shuttle." Later in the day, though, I did happen to see a report the rocket problem had happened right after the escape rocket had jettisoned (along with the booster rockets, which I'd always associated with "one less danger to deal with"), and the escape had been handled with ordinary thrusters. I do understand, of course, that there's no other spacecraft ready and able to get people to the space station until this problem has been investigated, but for today that doesn't feel like a crisis yet.

February 2019

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