Thursday, September 30, 2010

Come On!

So its been awhile since I've really had anything to write about in the realm of politics, mostly because nothing particularly interesting has happened in at least a month or two.  Yeah the citizens of Delaware nominated a woman who claims to be a former witch* for Republican candidate for Senator, so what?  At the moment the Democrats are too afraid they're going to lose power and the Republicans are too afraid that they won't win power for either side to really do anything particularly insane.  If you're hoping for any particular bit of major legislation right now, I advise you sit quietly and wait until February.  Nothing is going to happen until then, at least.

But even so, despite those cold hard facts, its still really sad when our Congress cannot come together on something that is so clearly needed.  As a matter of fact, its downright tragic.

So Congress did not pass a military spending bill that had a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell earmarked within.  That's really the entire sad story right there:  our representatives in Congress, out of fear of the upcoming elections, could not represent the wishes of the American people.  And worse, they could not use their elected powers to best govern this country and make a decision that was best for our national security during a time of war.  Once again, we have to face that sad fact that in this instance, the system did not work.  We'll simply have to wait another six months, or if the Republicans take Congress, until quarter after never.  I don't even think I need to explain why Don't Ask, Don't Tell needs to be repealed, you should know already.  Even if you're fighting against it, you have to know you're on the losing side.  I can't imagine what is motivating people to still stand up and move against it anymore.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bleach Commentary: Ep. 172, Kibune Goes to War! The Violent Wind that Rages

This is the first in what I imagine will be a very long series of recaps for the English dub anime "Bleach".  Today in the anime world, I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that "Bleach" is the biggest show around.  Its by far the most popular and easily one of the longest-running comic books and cartoon shows I think since the days of "Dragonball Z".  Its home to epic battles, a cast of millions, and more silly Japanese swords than you'd ever imagine in your darkest nightmares.  Of course, its also incredibly stupid.  Massively, monumentally, astoundingly stupid.  And that's why its awesome.

I won't even try to recap what's happened before - it would take from now until next Christmas and beyond to even try to give you guys any kind of background for the events I'm detailing here.  The "Bleach" universe is a very complicated world filled with dozens of factions and factions within those factions and roughly nine billion named characters both big and small.  Its a wacky wonderland of Zanpakutos, Hollows, Arancars, and stuff-lions come to life.  If you're lost now, I can never help you.  I advise you non-"Bleach" fans stop reading and move on.

I usually don't like to "judge" individual episodes of a show, but "Bleach" lately is so consistently goofy that I really can't keep my opinions to myself.  I'm in a situation like the Spoony One and his Wrestle Wrestle, we know the thing we're watching is stupid but its great because its stupid.  Its an emotional divide, to say the least.  I don't want to go ahead and say that an episode is good or bad, I'll simply go in and describe the amazing things I'm sure to see.  I've looked ahead at the manga:  "Bleach" is about to enter a really bizarre period of nonsensical plot developments beyond anything you've seen before.  We're going to have loads to talk about for years here.  So let's get to it:  Episode 172, "Kibune Goes to War! The Violent Wind That Rages"*

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Keanu Reeves' Cowboy Bebop

"Cowboy Bebop" is easily one of the best TV shows I have ever seen in my entire life.  I don't even know if I should even call "Cowboy Bebop" an anime, because its so much more than that.  Categorizing it with such a charged term as "anime" leads to so many preconceptions amongst people:  those that hate anime won't bother, and those that like anime will jump at it even though it really isn't like any other show out there.  Being easily the best work to come out of that cartoon style, "Cowboy Bebop" transcends anime.  A label of any kind will only weaken its power.  It would be as if I called it "a cartoon".  To some the word "cartoon" immediately conjures up images of Saturday morning kids' shows and Disney sing-a-longs (not that there's anything wrong with either of those things), which is not fair at all to what "Cowboy Bebop" really is.  Defining this title only damages it, all you can do is watch this show to understand its greatness.

I really don't need to explain to you why a show about a bounty hunters in SPACE catching crooks with a wild west motif to the greatest soundtrack in human history is worst a watch, do I?  Let me repeat that.  Its the greatest soundtrack everEVER!  Let me explain it this way:  if you don't like the same things I like, I'm usually fine with it.  However, there are three things in this world which you cannot dislike without being an absolute failure as a person:  children, "The Lion King", and "Cowboy Bebop".  If you don't like any of those things, get off my blog.  You're not wanted here.  Just watch "Cowboy Bebop", that's the point I'm making.

Last year Keanu Reeves of all people decided to announce that he was going to make a live action "Cowboy Bebop" movie, starring himself.  This was met with almost universe groans from every single man, woman, and child on the Internet.  Nobody had any faith in this project, nobody at all.  I think "Dragonball Evolution" got a warmer response.  I, of course, didn't feel worked up about this news at all.  And its for one simple reason:  live-action Hollywood adaptations of anime don't ever actually happen.  You can count that as a Law of Nature.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

True Blood is Goofy

This show is stupid.  I'll open with that.
You might be thinking that's a little harsh.  "Oh look, Blue is hating on 'True Blood' because its a show about vampires.  How short-sighted is he."  Well no, I'm not saying this show is stupid because of the vampires.  Its stupid because its stupid.  I cannot believe how bad this show got in just a single season.  It went from awesome high-tension action where the fate of just about every character was in jeopardy to boring nonsense in only a single year.  I don't know what happened with the writing staff, but they went insane.  Whatever happened, I'm not going to be there next year, and I suggest you don't watch it either.  There are other things on TV.

Let's start with why I even was watching this show at all this season.  I started up really only because I saw the last few episodes of the last season, where a demon named Mary-Ann completely took over the Louisiana town where this show takes place.  Pretty much the entirity of the secondary-cast had their minds controlled and became lunatic partiers out to kill the main cast.  That was intense.  At that point, pretty much the entire fabric of that society was destroyed for a time.  And I loved that.  It was still silly, but at least the silliness didn't overwhelm the drama.  So when I came into this season, I was expecting something of at least equal intensity, if not more.  I couldn't imagine how they could have topped Season 2.

What didn't occur to me was in hindsight the most oblivious way Season 3 would go:  it wouldn't top the last one, it would just fail.  And fail it did.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep

Another Fall, another Kingdom Hearts game, another stupid-sounding title.  Yay, life!

So we all already know that Kingdom Hearts has been awesome for years now, that needs no further explaining.  If you aren't aware of the amazing appeal of Kingdom Hearts, please stop reading this review right now and spend the next week or so shut off from the rest of the world blasting through at least "Kingdom Hearts I" and "Kingdom Hearts II".  I can wait...  (Dum dum dum da dum)  Okay, its a week later.  Awesome right?  Yeah, I thought so.  And I bet you want to play more of this series, huh?  Well, that's why Square Enix decided to create "Kingdom Hearts:  Birth by Sleep" for you, a game definitely of equal measure to the other two games listed above.  Only one problem... its on the PlayStation Portable.

Not that anybody is going to be surprised by this judgment call, but the PSP has clearly lost the battle against the Nintendo DS.  Everybody on Earth has a DS, I'm probably the only for miles who has a PSP.  Yeah, the PSP certainly has the stronger graphical and memory abilities - its graphics blew me away the moment I bought it and still continue to surprise - but its definitely a flawed piece of machinery (for one its too darn fragile).  And I don't think any one title reveals all the PSP's successes and failures better than "Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep".  For one, the graphics are amazing.  This game looks as good as "Kingdom Hearts 1" did on a console half a decade ago.  Unlike "358/2 Days", the DS Kindom Hearts that came out last year (my review), this game doesn't shrink Kingdom Hearts down into a smaller mobile form, it is a fully fledge title of massive scale and scope.  However, in order to fit all that action and awesomeness, there are load times.  Huge ones.  And tons of them.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Books Don't Burn

Books don't burn.  This is a curious position to take, since books are very often extremely flammable as you can easily demonstrate with even the both basic of lighters.  Yes, the pages that a book is written on can be torn and torched, the ink can be washed away, and the entire object can be destroyed in countless ways.  However, the book itself is eternal.  Setting them ablaze will not make them go away.  This is why book-burners are always the most preposterous of the many lunatic fringes this world has to offer us.  Ideas live on, even if in just a minute cultural consciousness, and you, the burners, will be left more the fool for thinking you can trample thoughts you disagree with*.  In end, that's a battle you're going to lose, if not tomorrow then centuries from now.  If just one person remembers the words of your book, if just one of them writes it down, in even a fragmentary form, you've lost your battle forever.  The book burners always lose, and its only thanks to this that the modern world can exist at all.

When you torch a book, even if in the name of modernity or "moving the world forward", you castrate the very philosophy you're trying to protect.  No matter how pure your intentions may be, you will forever be known as ignorant, intolerant, and ultimately incredibly stupid - which is all true.  No matter how many people - or how few - people stand behind you, what government is giving you support, what religious figure has given you God's blessing, your cause is hopeless.  Because, again, books don't burn.

Pastor Terry Jones* is only the latest in a very long tradition of book burning that easily must go back as far as books have been written.  His scheme today was to burn several copies of the Qu'rans, essentially just to piss every Muslim in the world off.  He didn't go through with it, because the entire thing was a publicity stunt, perhaps saving him from the title of fool, but in turn opening him to the new title of fraud.  The sad thing is that Terry Jones is not alone in his lunacy, book-burning has an extremely long historical tradition amongst Christians:  simply look at the number of lost Greco-Roman and other pagan texts thanks to the religious fervor of the first Christian who call consider themselves "authorities".  He wasn't the first, he won't be the last.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Last Exile

"Last Exile" is one of those great unappreciated anime series.  Exactly why is largely unknown is a complete mystery to me, it has all the ingredients that an anime needs for greatness:  amazing beautiful landscapes, awesome airship battles, all the episodes are named after famous Chess moves, and the hero is voiced by Johnny Yong Bosch.  What more do you need?  Its rather confusing to me*.  So obviously I need to step in and save the day!

What lies beyond the sky?  Flyboy Claus Valca (played by Johnny Yong Bosch, so he's the hero) and female mechanic, Lavie Head work together as couriers for a aerial delivery service, together chasing their (separate) parents' dreams of being a top pilot and mechanic respectively.  Together they live in the world of Prester, a world of clouds and strange clearly artificial land, which is dominated by airship battles between two nations, while a mysterious third faction, the Guild, watches over in seeming omnipotence.  One day Claus and Lavie find a crashed plane, or "Vanship" if we're to use the series' terminology, and discover a mysterious little girl named Alvis, who like all mysterious females in Japan, will inevitably hold the key for the survival of the universe or something like that.  This leads Claus and Lavie to join the crew of the legendary sky Battleship, Silvana, led by the emotionally distant but serious badass captain, Alex Row, a man bent for revenge.

At this point the series really starts to switch gears, as its no longer really about Claus and Lavie's relationship, and it becomes a huge ensemble piece with dozens of characters all hanging around and inevitably vying for Claus's affections.  And of course, the entire world of Prester is turning into a massive war zone filled with chaos and such.  But even though Claus is essentially the hero thanks to his plot role, the real star of the show is just the sky itself.  The animators can never stop themselves from making amazing scenery for their production, almost to the point that you start to wonder if the amazing art design is somehow sucking energy from the story.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Batman Beyond: the Movie

Now that "Inception" has racked up something like half a billion dollars and thirty-five cents, its pretty clear that director Christopher Nolan can do just about anything on Earth that he wants to in film, and Warner Bros will pay for it.  If he wants to make a movie about a purple elephant running for President, he's going to get not simply the greenlight, but hundreds of millions of dollars the pick of Hollywood's best actors to bring his strange vision to reality.  Right now, Nolan is working on "Batman 3" and apparently has been put in charge of the Superman movies*.  So that's at least a decade's worth of steady work right there.  And in a recession, that's not bad.

For better or worse, "Batman 3" will be the last Batman movie - at least created by Nolan.  We all know there will be Batman movies until the day the art of cinema is lost forever when the aliens from Dimension X land and destroy our civilization in order to turn Earth into an intergalactic theme park (laugh now, but when your corpse is being used as fun house dummy, you'll know I was right).  Anyway, the fact of that matter is that Nolan wants to end his series.  But how does one go about it?  There's tons of material here that needs to be sorted out in one grand finale... that is absolutely certain to satisfy no one.  "The Dark Knight" is a movie that is much to big to follow up without incurring the wrath of film and comic book nerds worldwide.  Its hopeless.  Which is why I won't even try.

Anyway, in my usual presumptuous way, I will now tell Christopher Nolan how to do his job.  In today's episode of Fanwank Corner, I throw around my idea for a very different kind of Batman movie.  And that idea is none other than:  "Batman Beyond", the live-action movie.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Virginia Madsen Horror Films

Virginia Madsen is a blond actress, more than reasonably attractive, and nearing fifty.  If you've never heard of her, that's perfectly reasonable.  But its your loss, since she's astoundingly beautiful, even now.  However, there are dozens of astounding beauties in Hollywood - even ones that are years older than Madsen.  What makes this actress special is a two movies she made in the early 90s, which strangely enough happen to be two of the very best horror films in the history of well, ever.  And since I can only fantasize about being even barely tangentially related to even a forgettable film, I have to take a step back and honor Mrs. Madsen, an all-too-brief Scream Queen.

The two movies she happened to take part were none other than "Candyman" and "The Prophecy", which makes her a great transition in order to discuss both films.  Despite being intensely frightening, brilliantly shot, and superbly well-acted, for some reason or another these two horror films just seem to have faded into the wind.  I'm not even sure I can say that these movies truly have faded, since they both got respectable reviews and several far lesser straight-to-home video* sequels.  I'm pretty sure that most horror fans have at least a vague idea what "Candyman" is about.  "Candyman" as a franchise is truly dead, and last year a complete rip-off of "The Prophecy" was released under the title "Legion" and nobody but me batted an eyebrow.  How tragic.  And soon enough a new slew of bad "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th" films are on the way, and the entire world will eat them up.

This will not stand!  The greatest moments of Virginia Madsen's career cannot be forgotten.  So in today's post, we'll now be doing a brief double-review of "Candyman" and "The Prophecy", both of which are hugely worth a rent.  (Plus at least one of them has her naked in two scenes, if you're into that kind of thing.)