Friday, February 29, 2008

Stuck. And now sick.

Subject: Musings
Only a few things have crossed my TV, and not much of it has been particularly inspiring. There is one series that I've got the second Blu-Ray disc arriving for that I'm probably going to comment on, but overall, it's been a lot of "meh" so far.

Now I've caught a nasty cold and my head is pounding while I'm trying to listen in on a conference call where everyone's talking over each other, and I think I'd rather just sleep through this weekend instead of worrying about getting back into the swing of things.

When is spring going to get here again?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

LOL: Snakes on a 'Stang

Subject: TV
Oh good lord.

A "Knight Rider" remake.

In a Shelby GT Mustang of all things.

...Yeah, okay, I was too curious for my own good. But, y'know, for some reason I watched the remake of "Bionic Woman" too. Probably because the remake of "Galact-oh-yeah" was something excellent, I was hoping maybe just a tiny, tiny bit of the formulae would rub off on it a little tiny bid.

But when a tricked-out super-powered Shelby can't outrun a lame generic Ford crossover suburbomobile, and the only vehicles that shatter into a million pieces are Chevy SUVs, you can't help but realize you've walked into an extended Ford commercial... with heavy doses of emo where the original had all that was cheesy about the '80s.

And Hoff trying to pretend he has gravitas at the end... priceless. ...and painful. Bleh.

Curiosity satisfied. Lesson learned. 'Nuff said.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Phase II

Subject: Noir
I'm about warmed up for the next round... I need to go back and re-do the Intoccable eps (even though I have them memorized) and will hopefully get through disc 4...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Noir again, Noir again, jiggedy gee

Subject: Noir
Disc one is queued up in my DVD player, I've got a bottle of a nice French Pinot Noir at the ready, and I've tweaked the last bit of tweaking I think I needed to do.

But I've got a classic case of the "pre-'Noir' jitters".

Going back through my ancient drunken Post-"Noir" postings, one comment keeps repeating (only one?? *ahem*) -- that I was worried that I might actually grow weary of the show and start to see it like most every other anime out there. It's been a worry since that first fateful year where I wound up watching it in it's entirety nearly a dozen times. In a year!

Part of it may be that I put so much emphasis on it as a "pinnacle" of animated television. Another part is that I wind up making such a giant to-do out of watching it; I generally need to watch it all at once (I'm going to try to spread it out over a few evenings this time), and I usually get totally s*-faced while doing it (the ultimate being the Hunter-Thompsonesque binge for New Year's 2005) and it takes me time to recover afterwords.

But on every drunken wrap-up, I always mention that I'm thrilled I did it and will always love it, etc. etc. Heck, just last night I watched all of one little episode of "MADLAX" and practically said the same thing! So I would venture to guess that this next round will be okay and everything will turn out just fine.

I'm still hesitating, though. I'm blathering on instead of just watching the dang thing already! WTF?

Okay, time to put down the keyboard, fill the wineglass, and get started!

UPDATE: Well, no danger in me liking it! But much risk in me dozing off because I'm over-tired... Didn't quite make it through the Intoccable pair of episodes. I figured I'd be spreading this out over a few nights, but I hoped to get just a little bit futher along...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The pinnacle of Mashimo-ness

Subject: Noir
It's decided -- I definitely want to marathon "Noir" tomorrow.

I spent an hour or so making sure the calibration of my new set (and subwoofer!) were more or less correct. I want to do a bit of a "warmup" this evening. I was considering blasting through the last few discs of "MADLAX", but I'm kind of waffling on that. Mainly because I'm not really in the mood for cooking up a batch of pasta (though I have all of the necessary components at the ready and standing by).

Still, I figured a great test of my new configuration would be to fire up episode 1. The controversial, love-it-or-hate-it episode 1. I, of course, being in the "love-it" camp. *grin* At any rate, it's got a lot of great color variety and different lighting (particularly moody-dark) and it makes for a good indicator of how my components are calibrated. And in some ways, that's probably a bad idea, because I'm not entirely sure if the flaws I do see are in the disc encoding, or my (very expensive) source player. (I looked at the Japanese disc and it's the same -- in the cave with Peter, there's some noticable banding on his face, so it's nothing ADV did).

That said, I had to balance between looking for issues, and actually watching the damned episode! And once I did, the ol' grin on my face returned, as I was reminded once again why I really, really enjoy this series. And Mashimo's team's approach. There are wonderful bits of high-quality, subtley-detailed animation throughout. The proportion, the gravity, the perspective -- all very natural and very complete. Top that off with the beautiful color design and art direction, and the purposeful and solid cinematics that have always been his hallmark, and it's no wonder that watching this so soon after discovering "Noir" cemented my sudden obsession.

It probably explains why I've felt so distant from more recent lackluster offerings, making me restless and agitated and maybe experiencing a bit of withdrawl or post-partum depression during the decline. So to combat that, I'm taking the opportunity to take a few days away from the office, and I'm going to marathon "Noir" just like I said I would.

But back to episode 1 of "MADLAX"... Early reviews were rather mixed; some appreciated the over-the-topness, but most everyone else was all "WTF", expecting a sort of hyper-accuracy -- or at least plausability -- that could be ascribed to "Noir". Madlax taking out a whole platoon at a distance with pistols? Taking out an attack helicopter with her eyes closed?? Knowing the whole story, it's actually the most informative and logical introduction to the world of the show. But I can see how some wouldn't be able to suspend disbelief enough to get past that. Even though the animation and art direction and everything else made for such gorgeous eye candy.

But shot-for-shot, word-for-word, pan-to-pan and rack-to-track, the episode was meticulously executed, and a fantastic example of the power of the medium despite the budget of a series format, given the time and the talent and the tools. As a Technique Whore™, I'm endlessly enthralled.

So that leaves me with what to watch this evening as a "warm-up" for tomorrow's "Valen-Noir's Day" marathon attempt... More "MADLAX"? A little "Avenger"? Maybe some favorite episode samples from various shows? Hmm. Maybe I should just stop blogging and just start watching...

Post-Apocolypse Street, USA

Subject: TV
When "Heroes" and "Studio 60" hit the airwaves a while back, I had more or less settled on those shows to watch, and didn't get much chance to sample anything else. As it turns out, there was at least one more show that caught a bit of buzz: "Jericho".

Finally, this week, maybe because of the abject lack of anime to watch, I decided to sample it. The first episode had enough of a hook that I went and grabbed the whole first season (note: just because a torrent says "HDTV" doesn't mean the files are actually HDTV... GRRR...). And once I started watching some more yesterday evening, I found myself wanting to keep plowing through it until I got through episode 6 and was too sleepy to continue.

Granted, by episode 6, some of the cheesier, eye-rolling moments started creeping in. But on the whole, there's the whole "thrown into the middle of a mysterious situation, and finding out little clues here and there" kind of scenario that the whole thing hinges on, and is what keeps me sticking along for the ride. The characters themselves are rather 2-dimensional characatures in most respects -- the hope is at least a few of them will have a "surprise" twist to turn that upside-down. But on the whole, everyone else is a bit too obvious a representation of the different stereotypes, from "aw shucksiness" to "petty bitchness" and a few blatant steps in between.

The show was more or less cancelled early, but was later rescued by a groundswell of addicted fans, much to the surprise of the network. So I'm hoping that while I try to catch up with everyone else, it continues to blaze forward and string me along with little drabs of information that lead to more questions than answers, but without requiring me to think too much. Probably no danger of that.

Valen-Noir's Day?....

Subject: Noir

...It's more likely than you think!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

So true...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Bee Train Fan 10K

Subject: Noir
My little niche-within-a-niche site has passed 10,000 posts and over 100 members in the forum.

Okay, it's not 100 active members, but I've thinned out all the likely spam and zombie accounts so it's not too bad. And there's definitely a couple of dozen regular lurkers, worldwide, according to Analytics. All in all, not bad.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Still here...

Subject: TV
Despite having a new 60" HDTV, I'm not bothering with the Super Bowl. Go figure.

I haven't even really watched much on it yet; I've mostly been configuring this PC to work with it. I think I'm getting close.

I did finish off DS9, which was cool. I didn't remember it as well as I thought I did. And I really don't have much more to say about it.

New-to-me, though, was a disc of the animated "Star Wars: Clone Wars" series that Gennedy Tartokovsky did recently. Kind of cool, with a lot of intertwining story threads and some spiffy action sequences, but there was a bit of stiffness to it as well. Not just the vocal performances, but the characters, the thick, clunky linework (signature for Tartokovsky and the whole modern "Flash/vector" style), and, well... it's plain "cartooniness" took a bit of adapting too. I've been so used to the way the Japanese have rendered that sort of thing that it took a while to adjust.

Overall, it's a quality effort for sure. A load of detail for the Star Wars fan. Maybe just a little bit too much obsessive detail. But it's still an interesting escape none the less.