Thursday, December 03, 2009

the last of the airbenders

If you did not know, I am a huge fan of the animated series, "Avatar: The Last Airbender". It is such a well developed story and has very impressive art. So I was happy to hear that Shymalan is directing the film. I am not so keen on his writing the film as his last few attempts have left little to be desired. But it clear from the trailer that the look of the film will do the series justice. I want to see more bending to make sure it feels right but so far I am happy. 2010 can not come quick enough.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

on repeat: a not so grim fandango

As the holidays roll in and my repeats will be consumed with my favorites I have taken some time for another favorite. The score to the Lucas Arts game, Grim Fandango by Peter McConnell. The byline of this album is big band, bebop, and bones and there is no better description. Jazzy with a Spanish flair, I have tried to find other albums that have grabbed me so but have yet to be successful. The entire album is a pleasure to listen to but my favorite track has to be "Ninth Heaven". With memories of trying to solve puzzles with my brother and mother and the fact that I named my computers and local network from its characters, Grim Fandango, holds a very special place in my heart. The score only serves to fill it with joy over and over again.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I have watched all eight seasons since its inception. I loved Tony Shalhoub in Big Night and on "Wings". And while the plots are mostly predictable, the attention to whatever phobias and disorders Monk possess in each and every episode has put it at the top of my need to watch first list since 2002. The classic example is the first episode of season two. Monk substitutes in a school. He starts the class by writing his name on the board and the episode spends at least five or six minutes on Monk making sure that his letters are even and perfect. And the show continuously devotes that time. There are times when it is downright hilarious and times when it is not so funny but the continuity is welcome. "Monk" is coming to an end and I have been waiting for a lovely tribute from USA network, one of those montages put to music. Alas, nothing because USA decided to go for the celebrity send off. I could not live without my thanks to a beloved show. Thanks, Monk. It has been grand.

love that german castle

Fun stamps received this week from A German castle and the holiday stamps have begun.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

movie quotes

I read an old bulletin board post of mine. Since it was a list of quotes I love, I thought I would share.

Buffy: Does the word, 'duh' mean anything to you?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)

NASA Director: This could be the worst disaster NASA's ever faced.
Gene Kranz: With all due respect, sir, I believe this is gonna be our finest hour.
Apollo 13 (1995)

Winston Zeddemore: Ray, when someone asks if you're a God, you say "Yes"!
Ghost Busters (1984)

Kent Mansley: Hey there, scout! Kent Mansley, I work for the government.
The Iron Giant (1999) -  love you, Kent!

I will go there and back again - from "In Dreams" 
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Spot Conlon: I say... that what you say... is what I say.
Newsies (1992)

Lady Eboshi: What exactly are you here for?
Prince Ashitaka: To see with eyes unclouded by hate.
Mononoke Hime (1997)

Willow: See this acorn? I'll throw it at you and turn you to stone!
Madmartigan: Ooh, I'm really scared. Help! There's a peck with an acorn pointed at me!
Willow (1998)

Sorsha: What are you looking at?
Madmartigan: Your leg. I'd like to break it
Willow (1998)

Red: I hope...
Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Captain Malcolm Reynolds: Dear Buddha, please bring me a pony and a little plastic rocket...
Serenity (2005)

Jayne: You know what the chain of command is? It's the chain I go get and beat you with until you understand who's in ruttin' command here...
"Firefly" (2002)

Hipolito: We pass the time of day to forget how time passes.
Le Fabuleux destin d'Amelie Poulain (2001)

Mathilda: Is life always this hard, or is it just when you're a kid?
Léon: Always like this.
Léon (The Professional) (1994)

Mathilda: I don't wanna lose you, Leon."
Léon: You're not going to lose me. You've given me a taste for life. I wanna be happy. Sleep in a bed, have roots. And you'll never be alone again, Mathilda.
Léon (The Professional) (1994)

Leeloo: Leeloo Dallas mul-ti-pass.
The Fifth Element (1997)
David Huxley: When a man is wrestling a leopard in the middle of a pond, he's in no position to run.
Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Tracy Lord: Oh, I'm such an unholy mess of a girl.
C. K. Dexter Haven: Well, now, that's not conversation.
The Philadelphia Story (1940)

volunteer dream

I do not do much volunteer work. I tutor eight grade math and help out with my sorority's foundation. But I found something I really enjoy, libraries. My local public library is looking for volunteers to reshelve books and for me, this is an organizational dream. Hopefully they will have need of me and I can relish the time in a place that I love.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

on repeat: Secret Garden

"Mary Lennox, for as long as you will have us, we are yours, Colin and I, and this is your home, and this, my lovely child, is your garden!" ~ Archibald Craven, The Secret Garden, winner of the 1991 Tony Award for Best Musical plus five other Tonys.

Oh, my brother is really going to hate this one. I fell in love with this broadway show when I first saw it in 1992 in New York City. The enchanting story and the harmonious score combined with the amazing voices of Mandy Patinkin and Rebecca Luker as Archibald and Lily are the perfect fit for one of my favorite childhood novels. After hearing and seeing it only once, I begged a friend to make me a copy on two cassettes which I played endlessly to its utter demise. I continue to play The Secret Garden on roadtrips or whenever I become depressed. It is such a lovely tale with such a great ending that it never fails to pick me up. With the most recent purchase to replace a former scratched CD, it has been on constant play in my car. My only regret is that I have only seen this show once. Frequently checked online, the show never seems to be playing near me. Hopefully, I shall see it again.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

beautiful chinese stamps

Some recent additions

Sunday, September 13, 2009

on repeat: running to stand still

"Running to Stand Still" on U2's Joshua Tree. How can you not love Bono singing "la la la de day" and lyrics like "cry without weeping, talk without speaking, scream without raising your voice"? I love the ups and downs of this simple song mimicing the frustrations of a heroin addict.

Monday, September 07, 2009

that's quite a complex

So what do I do on a four day weekend? Instead of the other five things that were on my list, I got involved in Shadow Complex, a very impressive game available for a $15 download on Xbox Live Arcade. After finally beating it, I would have paid $50 for this game. Shadow Complex takes 2D gaming to a new level, having 3D images and even 3D combat but the ability only to move up, down, right, or left. It is called 2.5D and it was so much fun.

The story is supporting material for Orson Scott Card's Empire novels, the original "Empire" and the upcoming sequel, "Hidden Empire". Jason is pulled reluctantly into some faction, called the Resurrection, who wish to 'liberate' San Fransico. In essence it is military first person shooter and while I typically do not like games which shoot actual people (aliens fine, bugs even better) the faceless victims did not bother me over much.

Besides the beautiful graphics, there are two other things about this game that make it prime. First, as you gain experience by doing normal things: running, jumping, shooting, etc you level up and your precision increases. By the end, shooting is so easy, you can spend the time you need to do the second fun thing: find all the stuff. The map is rendered in colored sections showing doors, locked or necessitating a weapon and as you move by computer terminals, secret doors, shafts, and other wonderful things for which to search, packs to carry more weapons like grenades and missles, armor portions so you can jump higher or run faster. These are just some of things, the map is immense and there is a lot of backtracking to find all the goodies.

The only thing that bothered me somewhat was the re-rendered enemies even after a save room was hit. But because killing became so easy at the end, this was not really a big deal. There is a lot of play time in this little game and well worth the wasted time to play it. Along with Splosion Man, I am very much enjoying Xbox Live Arcade, finding the smaller games easier to manage and feel like it is money and time worth spent.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

on repeat: gershwin and beethoven

I finally got rid of some old records and not having a record player for a year, this was overdue. But there were two records which were incredibly hard to give up. Thankfully, they have been remastered on CD and I found them on for a steal. The first is Beethoven's Seventh Symphony with André Prévin conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. I adore the Allegretto of this symphony. Its tragic, meloncholy melody bouncing from bass to violas, from violin to brass all accompanied with a unrelenting counterpoint. I listen to it over and over again anticipating its marchlike tread and loving every note.

The other record is Gershwin's Greatest Hits. Now I love the Gershwins, George especially. This album has three epitomizing piano pieces and each played by some of my favorite people. Leonard Bernstein plays "Rhapsody in Blue", Oscar Levant plays "Three Preludes", and André Prévin plays the third movement of the "Concerto in F". There are others on the CD but these three get played over and over again so that my love for the piano never ceases. Thank goodness I found both of these wondrous CDs.

prounce it oo-boon-too

Speaking of gadgets, my next purchase is going to be a netbook. But because I work for a company who is entering the market with ARM and Linux support, I decided to reduce the cost by going the non-Microsoft route. But before I can do that, I have to make sure I can do everything I want on it. Enter Ubuntu, the easiest to install and fastest up and running Linux operating systems out there. It does everything for you so that with failure to like, you can still go back to that Microsoft machine. But you will like it. It is fast, secure, customizable, and has all that you need in clean, simple formats including productivity, web, music, video, and imaging. Of course, you have to learn a little unix but that is the fun part. The biggest issues I had were setting up the network, not getting my wireless to work but just getting it to see all the other wireless items on my network. The other issue was financial software. This is the only actual software that I use that is not online and I worried that I would have to stick with Quicken. Well, I found kmymoney2 which does all that Quicken does with a pretty easy learning curve. I am still ironing out the issues but so far, I find it a viable replacement. So long Microsoft.

the gadgets and me

I admit it. I am a geek and I love new gadgets. But I have had two gadgets for quite some time that I believe are some of the best investments I have made.  The first is my Synology DS207. This network access server proves its worth time and time again when I access this baby from my pc or linux system, my xbox 360, and now play through DLNA compliant using my bluray player all through a wireless connection. There is nothing better than not having to fiddle with large hard drive systems when you can install up to a TB standard hard drive into a box which holds two of them. Synology has loads of systems which can hold two, four, even 10 hard drives. And they provide the software, web access, and all the assistance in setting it up and having it run without trouble. I love it beyond words.

The second gadget I only got recently when I set up my new home system. My receiver with hdmi switching is a bit finicky in that sometimes the video does not come through. I have to turn on another device then switch back to get it working correctly. Enter Harmony all in one remotes and specifically the Harmony 550. This baby does everything with such customization that I put all my other remotes in a box, never to frown at them again. I need this one and my xbox 360 game controller from now until the end of time.

Monday, August 10, 2009

coming home to the asylum

I have to say it looks deliciously fun. Click here for HD version

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

le tour de france

I live in a pretty active city. All of these crazy people who love to do outdoorsy stuff like ride bikes for miles at a time, even in this heat. However, it is hard not to at least learn about it. Enter Le Tour de France. Hundreds of miles of impressive sportsmanship upon the luscious landscape of France. It is hard not to like it. Plus I can watch video or read headlines of the events in French and feel like I am practicing. Finally, the color is yellow, my favorite. It is who is wearing the yellow jersey that passes as news and with the bright sun keeping me indoors these days, Le Tour is a welcome relief.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

journey of natty gann

1985: John Cusack, Meredith Salinger, and a beautiful wolf. A very sweet movie about a girl looking for her father and finding adventure along the way, The Journey of Natty Gann, does not disappoint in emotion nor in music. I have had snipets of this score probably since my university days. Finally, finally, it has been released in a 2,500 limited edition from Intrada Records. Words do not express the wonderful themes from James Horner in his prime. I ordered it straight away.

anyone want to fry an egg?

I know it is usually July when I start to complain and that the heat wave has spread across the country but this is ridiculous.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

deux ans avec Harry

It was two years ago, almost to the day, that I started Harry Potter in French. Today, I finished the last book with a sense of accomplishment as well as sadness that once again, Harry Potter has come to the end.

There are two reasons that I began this journey. The first and foremost is that I adore the Harry Potter series, its characters, the wonderment and fantastic story telling that each scene emits with each word. Not only that but rereading again, in any language, only serves to relive those favorite moments of mine.

The second reason was improve my French. With each read came comprehension, vocabulary, the ability to answer questions both written and orally. There is no substitute for this amount of learning and the fact that it was with books that I enjoy immensely only helped to enhance the experience. The French translation is beyond impressive. The fabricated names and spells were creative and sometimes better than the original English. And no detail was left out or glossed over.

So it is with a bitter sweet memory that my days of Harry Potter in French are over. I know that I will return once again in the future. Maintenant, au revoir Harry et merci pour tous les souvenirs.

Monday, June 15, 2009

anime songs on repeat

Okay, here is where my very bizarre fancy for anime and geeky love of languages rear their ugly heads.  On repeat this week are five anime songs of which I am learning the words, the Japanese words that is.  One is from Miyazaki's Spirited Away called "Itsumo Nando Demo" which translates to "Always with You".  I already know this song by heart  and in learning it, learned how to make the sounds from the romaji translation.  From there I went on to learn the "Princess Mononoke Theme Song" and the "Tatara Women Work Song" from Miyazaki's Mononoke Hime. However, with my recent purchase of Origin: Spirits of the Past soundtrack, I want to learn two more songs sung by Kokia, a popular pop artist and opera trained Japanese singer.  The first is the opening song called "Chouwa Oto (with Reflection)" and is very fast with complicated vocals.  The second is "Ai no Melody" which is just very very long. But I am eager to be able to sing without the words in front of me so I can hear it over and over in my head alone. Only then will my heart be satisfied.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

shonen sunday anniversary stamps

The latest stamp from my trading.  This is Pro Golfer Saru, a Shonen Sunday weekly manga part of the 50th Anniversary of Japanese Comic Books for Boys collection.

I take the plunge into blu ray

Another birthday rolls around.  Every year I typically splurge on something.  This year was no exception.  My home theater has been lacking for some time.  The only true HD that I see on my beautiful 42" plasma is through the cable box.  Even my xbox 360 is connected through component and not the hdmi of which it is capable.  I also run most of the audio through my boring DVD player so that it will play on its cheap speakers. 

Well, it was time for an upgrade and I went the whole way up.  I chose the Sony DA2400ES which is an upper mid range receiver with four wonderful hdmi inputs and 7.1 capability.  I chose Energy 5.1 Take Classic speakers but am still debating how to hook up the rear speakers because there is no place to hide wires in my apartment.  I am considering the Rocketfish wireless rear system but have decided to put that on hold though it is on sale at Bestbuy.  Finally, I chose the LG BD390 blu ray player which has internal wireless capability so I can stream from my network server and even from netflix watch instantly. 

I also bought my first blu ray disc. Sword of the Stranger which will be released this Tuesday. Finally, I splurged on an imported CD of Origin: Spirits of the Past which has two of the best songs that I listen to over and over.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

all songs considered

It has been a while.  Summer is rolling in and I have to get up even earlier so that I can walk around Town Lake when it is still comfortable outside.  This morning, as I was listening to my regular podcasts, the NPR's All Songs Considered kept me fully entertained.  It is so difficult to keep up with music and in Austin, with all the musicians trying to find their place, it is even more so.  Still, this podcast is a great way for an introduction to recent music and this show was one of its best.  It is a compilation of listeners and followers of the blog's favorite lesser known bands and a song is played from each the owner of the show deems worthy of time.  Every band was one for which I would have gone to buy the CD, or at least downloaded a song or two.  It made the walk fast and fun and I highly recommend the show.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

ponyo in august

Just in time for a cool dip, Miyazaki's Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea hits US theaters in August. There is no end to my excitement over this.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

mad world

On repeat this week is Roland Orzabal's "Mad World", the song in Donnie Darko. The score for this movie is twisted, as you can imagine, but the song is very repeatable.  The melody is so simple, the lyrics even more so, and Gary Jules does a beautiful job on the vocals.  I just can never get enough.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

stamps from russia and china

I do not collect them but I love getting them. My correspondents take note and some even comment. The man in the Russian stamp is Gagarin, a Soviet cosmonaut and the first human in space.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

lost fathers

Being a devoted Lost fan, I can not believe it took me this long to figure out the father theme that has splattered this series since its inception.  Here is a list of dysfunctional fathers that I could come up with...
  • Jack's (and Clarie's) father, Christian Shepherd
  • Walt and his father, Michael
  • Hurley's father, David who left him when he was young
  • Jin's supposed fisherman father
  • Sun's organized crime father
  • Desmond's wife's father, Charles Widmore
  • Ben's father, Roger Linus
  • Mile's recent father revelation, Dr. Pierre Chang, director of the Dharma Project
  • Sawyer adopts the name of the man who conned his mother, a sort of father figure
  • Sayid's father, who was shown to be disappointed with weakness
  • Kate, who killed her abusive step father, later revealed to be her real father
  • turns out I forgot John Locke (I claim selective amnesia) who's father found him late in his life, got his kidney and then disappeared.  He was later killed by Sawyer at the request of Locke himself.  Sheesh, no wonder I wanted to forget (thanks, Christine!)

Thursday, April 09, 2009


I listen to a lot of podcasts.  What is not to love, abundance of free mp3 to pass the time while working out and on any topic you can name. For me it is all the anime, movies, tv, gaming, and french I can get and you can set it up to update itself and fill up your ipod by just plugging the darn thing in your computer. Seriously, how easy is that? One podcast that I would like to introduce to the world is one called movies you should see.  A podcast based solely on films and hosted by four Brits.  All types of movies ranging from whichever just won the Oscar to classic film such as 12 Angry Men.  It is not technical but just prose on what works and what does not, the characters, setting, music, and mood.  I enjoy their banter and their opinions, mainly because they say brilliant a lot. Whatever your tastes, this podcast is one I make sure I listen to every week.  Check it out.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

so inviting

I have lived downtown for almost eight months now. For all that time, I have not had anything to sit on and enjoy the balcony with its amazing view. I guess I was waiting for the patio furniture to go on sale. Well the lovely weather beckoned and so I now have two lovely chairs and a table for reading or watching the city. Now that things are complete, my media cabinets are delivered and stocked and the patio now sports a tomato plant, all are invited to come and spend some time in Austin, the live music capital of the world. By the way, that is Elora, my orchid, on the table. The leaves fell and part of the upper stem died. I clipped the stem and opened the roots to air. Hopefully that and the slight drop in the temperature for the next few nights will allow it to bloom again. Note to self to take it out of the light in the morning!

spring break in Los Angeles

I have been remiss in talking about my vacation with my brother in Los Angeles. I always assumed that LA was too flashy for me but honestly, it is much more down to earth. Of course, we braved the traffic to head downtown and see the hot spots in Hollywood. But then we drove up into the hills, Beverly Hills that is, and my mouth dropped at the gorgeous palm tree lined roads and wonderfully landscaped mansions. There is the flash. But after that, our time was spent at the Santa Anita race track where I actually won $2 on Lucius Antonious. I lost it on the the next bet though. We also visited the LA county Arboretum where we walked among the peacocks and explored the natural wonders of the world: flowers, trees, shrubs, all types. The track and the arboretum were just a walk away from my brother's home so it all felt extremely relaxing. I can not forget though that my amazing brother exceeded all of that by purchasing tickets to the opening game of the LA Galaxy. Obviously, that was the grandest part.

found my team

My love for soccer knows no bounds. That is to say it knows no state boundaries. I watched the Seattle Sounders play today on Fox Soccer Channel. They seemed to walk all over Toronto FC beating them 2-0. I have had a hard time getting behind the Houston Dynamo simply because they have been very inconsistent. But Seattle looked glorious in their bright green kits sporting xbox 360 live sponsors. I may have to support the new expansion team this year and forever more.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

want a taco?

someone must really like tacos, this is a study in taco journalism and is a list of all the taco trucks and taquerias in Austin

View Larger Map

Sunday, March 29, 2009

bright lite

pretty neat commercial...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

more stamps

These are awesome! The first is from Thailand and the second from The Republic of China.

I watch the Watchmen

I managed to see Watchmen and read its graphic novel. I have to say that I really liked the ending in the movie more than that of the novel. Mostly because it made a bit more sense and had a bit more relevance to the present and perhaps to the time period of the novel. Other than that though, the novel was stellar. The amazing juxtaposition of time and the little threads of minor plot elements was fantastic. The art was, at least in the novel I read, not overly impressive but the images and classic comic book rendition made up for it. Speaking of images, the film did a wonderful job of capturing those images. Because I had read it just prior to seeing the film, I recognized almost every scene as being one in the novel. A particularly powerful attention to detail that was not lost on this observer. That and the choreography of the fights was another pleasant surprise. Too many films these days use editing to chop the fights into so many tiny pieces that the choreography and, in my opinion, merit of the fight is lost. There were many more fights in the movie than in the novel and each one was well done and enhanced the characters. The only minor drawback is that these fights were put to lyrical songs and not original score but it worked well so I can not complain too much. I very much liked Rorschach, behind the mask and not. Of all the many and I mean many characters in the novel, I thought his betrayal was the best. A fantastic film of a fantastic novel and one not to be missed on the big screen. Thanks, Greg, for making me go see it in the theatre.

cable series

With the upcoming end of Battlestar Galactica, I came to realize that about a third of my episodic television subscriptions are on cable television.  TNT, TBS, SciFi, USA, AMC; basic cable stations all have shows which have some how or another grabbed an audience and managed to grab me as well.  I have spoken to Mad Men and BSG previously but here are a few other shows that I watch for other reasons.

The Closer is, by far, one of the best shows on cable television.  The humorous combination of the smart southern belle chief of a special police force of smart but cracked group of detectives. Every time Kyra Sedgwick says "for heaven's sake" with a heavy accent or deliciously savors a piece of chocolate, it shows you that the characters are very deeply rooted in this show.  Each one is detailed and centered that you know how they will react to everything that is thrown at them.  That and they get the job done... well except for the one that got away.  I adore this show and its stellar cast.

Psych is a closet favorite of mine.  It is light on the plot and characters, but along with Monk, another favorite, the attention to detail allows these two characters to solve the crime.  But Psych makes me giggle.  All those little pulp culture references make up for the loss of shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and West Wing.  It is usually the first show on my DVR that I watch because it is light and fun.

A new show this season, Leverage, took me by surprise.  Part Ocean's Eleven, part Alias, part Hustle with some Robin Hood thrown in, I could not get enough.  In this show, it is the set up, the con which drives me to watch.  This little band of thieves is coming back next season and I can not wait.

I gave up on a few like Saving Grace, Damages, and the jury is still out on Trust Me.  But new seasons of the above and shows like My Boys make up for some of the poor choices on basic television.  
I would be remis if I did not mention the end of Battlestar Galactica once again.  This show has raised the bar and the creativity of both science fiction and non science fiction cable series above and beyond what Stargate accomplished.  The lingo alone has permeated the average frackin' household audience.  It is beautiful, well written, well acted, and well composed by Bear McCreary.  The all in one package for the scifi geek and the perfect combination for anyone who wants good television.  Despite the loss of beloved Galactica, both ship and show, and despite the long and arduous journey to Earth and beyond, the growth and emotions of the characters will live on.  So say we all.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

a spurt of anime

I go through spurts. Watching movies, anime, reading books, knitting, gaming. All the things I love make it difficult to spend quality time with each so I have to break it up. These past few weeks, it has been anime. I have caught up with a few shows that have not been great but have managed to satisfy the recent dearth.

I rented Chrono Crusade from netflix. The strange combination of Christian themes and killing in 1920's New York can not seem strange in the Japanese genre. Nuns, priests, spouts of god fearing language seem to resonate in anime. This particular one tells the story of a girl and her childhood devil trying to save her brother from an evil devil who, in turn, is trying to take over humanity and become immortal. While it resorts to silly antics intermittently, brother - sister plot is sweet. Rosette, a cross shooting gun in hand, deals fine with the evil devils but can rely on the devil, Chrono, to turn and wipe them out at the cost of time on her life. I have about three episodes left but I would recommend it. The art and music are average though I really like how the bullets turn into white crosses when they hit.

I had begun Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo through netflix's streaming on the computer. With a bit of time this weekend, I managed to finish the series through my xbox (did I mention how much I love that!). This show was just plain strange. A futuristic loose retelling of Dumas' famous novel, the art in this show will either make you cringe or blow your mind. It layers these photoshop patterns onto the digital anime so when the characters move, their clothes and hair kind of don't. At first, I thought something was wrong with the video. I guess I got used to it but it was sometimes very distracting and sometimes pretty neat. Above that aspect, I was not totally in love with the show. The characters were rather boring and a theme of revenge was taken to very alarming levels. I enjoyed the original novel for what it was but could not take the changes made to the characters.

Partaking of more netflix - xbox streaming, I started Saiyuki. Saiyuki is the story of four guys, one a buddist monk, the other three devils who have their dark powers inhibited. I have read it is based on the historical story A Journey to the West, also called Monkey which makes sense because that is what the little one is called a lot, in jest of course. This show is very well written, or should I say well translated. The fight scenes are not very good, however. It burys the action with still shots which I hate. But so far, I enjoy the humor and character relationships enough that I continue to watch with anticipation and with 50 episodes in the first season, it better be good enough.

81st Annual Zilker Kite Festival

How can a kite festival not make you smile? It was chilly, sunny, cloudless, perfect. I managed to actually get a bit of a sunburn watching kids and adults try to keep their kites in the sky. I could never capture the amazing beauty of hundreds of kites glittering the blue but I did take a few pictures, the best of which was a Tie-Fighter trying to take flight with help from its owners.
There was, of course, two main rings hosting competitions and exhibitions. I was around for the Indian Fighter Kits where the little kites without tails chop off the long tail of the head kite. All around, it was a wonderful spectacle and my second visit to one of Austin's best events.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

seal of approval

One of the best parts of getting postcards through postcrossing is the stamps. I love seeing the different designs, landscapes, languages, colors, everything. Below is a scan of my lastest from Finland. Is not the shape awesome? What about those cartoon peoples in purple and turquoise? Adorable, I wish I knew what it meant.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

wait for it

So worth the 27 seconds.  Du beau foot!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

cute as a button

Just returned from Coraline and the second movie in a week for which I have ventured to the theatre. This one was definitely worth the price of admission. There is, of course, the mention of the beautiful imagery and the creative vision of Gaimen's book. The wonderful plot, the amazing characters and their charming characteristics, even the minor ones combine for an entertaining ride. Coraline is so well established with her stubborn smirk and childish determination. The house is perfect and the other mother brilliantly creepy. I only know Bruno Coulais from his music for Les Choristes but his score for Corlaine is definitely on my list of things to buy. But beyond all that, beyond the fact that outright it is a very good film and a high quality piece of art, above all is the phenomenal 3D depiction. Nothing compares to the visuals that this technology can output. It blew me away and just made everything so vivid. With eye popping color and detail it is no wonder there were three trailers in 3D even before the movie started. This is definitely one you should see in the theatre. I am glad I went and paid what I think is an outrageous amount for a 2 hour span of time. Rooting for Coraline with 3D goodness was worth every penny. Go see this movie!

Serei no Moribito (Guardian of the Spirit)

There have been so few anime that have come along in the past year which have been anything special.  Serei no Moribito is one of them.  I talked a small bit about it in an earlier post but that was just the beginning.  Cartoon Network's adultswim only ran the first 10 episodes before they had to take it off the air because the rest had not yet been released.  So I went ahead and downloaded the rest because I was eager to see how the story ended.  The best thing about this anime is the fight scenes.  The spear wielding protagonists are amazing fighters, it is fast and the acrobatics are exquisite. I have not seen anything this beautifully drawn or directed before.  But even beyond that, the story is tight, the characters extremely developed, and the evolution well paced.  I have to admit that I thought there would more traitorous activity but the ending was still very satisfying.  I await its complete release on DVD because this one is definitely going to be part of my collection.

Speaking of collections, I added Noein and Origin: Spirits of the Past to mine. They were both on sale at

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

the last airbender has a release

Now that Avatar has been dropped from the title, M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender release date has been set for July 2, 2010.  Most of the main cast has been also signed, Aang, Zuko, Katara, and Sokka., with a noticeable non Asian cast. No Appa yet.  The biggest and greatest news is the fact that James Newton Howard, a longtime collaborator with Shyamalan, is signed on for the score.  Yippee!

Monday, February 09, 2009

the key to success

I use the keyboard for most of my daily computer needs.  I hate the mouse, I hate having to move my hand away from the keyboard to use the mouse.  Most of all, I hate programs that do not support keyboard shortcuts.  So today I found a keyboard shortcut that I did not know existed and it totally made my morning.  When you press control-o to open a file in any windows based program, it never opens to the location you want.  You can easily start typing in the default box position your location starting with c:\.  However, today the dialog opened to a location and I wanted to just go up one folder.  So I typed ".." in the box and pressed enter.  'Lo and behold the dialog went up to the parent directory, just as expected in unix.  I love finding new keyboard shortcuts.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sword of the Stranger

This past Thursday, there was a one night showing of Sword of the Stranger in Austin.  The film, created and produced by BONES of "Full Metal Alchemist" fame, is about a ronin who meets a boy and his dog on the run.  The bloody battles between China and Japan are ever present as the Chinese main character can fight like the devil.  He meets his match while pursuing the boy but the stranger does not draw his sword, plagued by his past.  It is very appropriate that I just rewatched "Rurouni Kenshin" because this movie plays very similarly.  The art was good, if not great at times with amazing cinematic shots of thrown knives and sword play.  The music was also good, if not great at times with distinct Chinese themes.  I would say the plot and characters were average but the end had great satisfaction.  I was glad that I went to see it.

Ugly Betty

So I watch a lot of TV. Way too much TV. I could go on for hours about the many layers of "Battlestar Galactica", the humor of "The Big Bang Theory", and the adorable, sturdy Jack Bauer. But today I want to catch up on "Ugly Betty" because the show has definitely grown into something special. This year Betty tried living in the city and along with that effort came the shallow Amanda. I absolutely love the relationship that developed between the two of them. They come to a mutual understanding and a sweet friendship. The other relationship that develops is that between Betty and Marc, this one more professional. Both competing and making into some special editor program creates something akin to mutual respect. Marc and Amanda, the fantastic duo that make this program worth watching, are still the sneaky, snarky beautiful people who make Betty, the not so ugly, appreciate what she has and make the watcher appreciate the contrast. Above all of that, though, this show is about family. Betty manages to balance her life and her family and when they cross, pulls the show down to earth.  You can not fault its formula or the fun result. Every time Betty shows up with a crocheted set of bright blue earmuffs, I smile and laugh.  There can be no better way to brighten and already gleaming show.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Wolverine and the X-Men

My little brother (hi Erich) and I used to watch Saturday morning cartoons. Instead of the "Smurfs" though we watched such personal classics as "Batman: The Animated Series", "Spider-Man", and "X-Men". He was the comic buff and I was the tv buff. Since then, our love of animation and anime has only grown to which this blog attests. He is still more of a lover of animation and I am still more of the lover of television but it works, even across our long distance.

Wow, sentimental gobblety gook aside, a new X-Men show has come to the playing field. "Wolverine and the X-Men" takes a slightly different twist; Professor X is not present. Something or someone attacked telepaths. It is not clear what happened directly after but both Prof. X and Jean Grey are lost. Rogue has defected to the Brotherhood and Emma Frost is working with Wolverine and the X-Men to defend mutants against the mutant registration act. Prof. X does show up in the doomed future doing his best to give the X-Men in the present guidance to prevent that doom.

The show does a good job of mixing main characters and side characters. My love, Gambit, shows up in the fifth episode all cajun and badass. Emma is a nice change and Scott is less whiny than usual, though not much. The art is good, the music not as good. I have never heard of the composer, Dean Grinsfelder but it has some potential, it is very orchestral. I have seen the first twelve episodes, only three have aired in the states. I await the return of the Phoenix but while I do so, it is fun to watch loads of infamous Marvel characters make their appearance.

meant to be

On repeat is Squirrel Nut Zippers' "Meant to Be" from their album, Hot. I love her voice with its twenties flare.

300 posts

I just noticed I have 300 posts on this blog.  I do not have kids, nor anything serious to write about so it is mostly silly nonsense. Still there is something to be said about getting thoughts down. So thanks for reading if you do and thanks for not leaving after you read this.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hisaishi's Ponyo

Studio Ghibli released Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea in Japan in 2008. While still not released in the US (let's hope for the rumored June 2009), the soundtrack can be imported. The glorious Joe Hisaishi and Hayao Miyazaki pairing is continued and I had a chance to hear the score in its entirety. Hisaishi is at the top of my list of best composers ever. I have all his scores and I place Princess Mononoke at the top of that list with Spirited Away a close second. Maybe I still need a couple more listens but I was not as in awe as I usually am with his scores. The themes are not well developed and it sounds like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro put together. The orchestrations were wonderful, full and romantic, at times reminiscent of Anne of Green Gables by Hagood Hardy. For me, it does take a few listens for things to grow on me but usually Hisaishi comes right away. How very disappointing.

definitely dark

I got a hold of the audio versions of the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I am now on the second book and have fallen in love with the Gunslinger. He is just my kind of character, dark, tough, the faulted hero and expert killer. After the first book where most was in Roland's world, this book is now in our world and the contrast is very appealing. New characters arise, ones also with faults but somehow the right pieces to fit Roland's heart, however made of steel it is. I so enjoy the intelligent dialog and Frank Muller's reading is excellent. I especially like his Eddie Dean, that New York accent just brimming with sarcasm. Audio books are a great way to pass the time in long drives but these books are the best way.

finally brisingr

Paolini's Brisingr. I finally got around to reading the more than 700 page tome, dreading it after the ever boring Eldest. But Brisingr was devoid of moony Eragon and fraught with wonderful Eragon - Saphira banter. I love their relationship and after this book, it is even more coveting. Not to mention numerous battles and little of the politics that I detest. The title was more apropos, clever even. All the races were involved and Eragon has grown into an admirable rider. The inheritance is further explained and while there is not the intrigue of Harry Potter, the series is still a wonder to read, rich in its world and detailed in its landscape. I look forward to the final book, finally eager to once again become part of Alagaësia.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Himura Kenshin the battousai

So I had plenty to do this weekend.  Instead of doing it, I put in the first season of "Rurouni Kenshin", the anime based on Himura Kenshin's time as a wondering samurai, pledging his sword for good to attone for his deeds as the manslayer, battousai.  This year marks 12 years since this anime was created but the story holds.  While the art dates itself, the man has no equal.  Kenshin is my epitomic hero, one with a sword fighting for good and along the way attracts friends and foes.  The red hair, cross scarred white knight captured my heart again for a few hours, taking me away from reality.  How much more can you ask for?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Beat that prince!

It took me longer than expected, which is a pleasant surprise. But I finally beat Prince of Persia, my wonderful Christmas gift (thanks Mom!). This was a great game. Loads of acrobatic fun, Elika and Prince banter, with puzzles and light seeds to find. The scenery was gorgeous and the music awesome. I had such a blast. Now if they would just release Inon Zur's soundtrack...

BTW, they are making a movie based on the Sands of Time game. Mike Newell, who's directing credits include Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Donnie Brasco, and couple of "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles" is signed. The film is in production with Jake Gyllenhal as the prince.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

my eyes on repeat

"Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog" has been released on DVD. Did you know it made Time's top 10 tv series of 2008? I suggest buying the $9.99 thing exclusively on Amazon because it is hilarious and there is 45 minutes of commentary which is sung too. Fan-freakin' tastic. I own the soundtrack too, of course. It is funny, I am not a fan of Nathan Fillion's songs however much I loved him in "Firefly". But Neil Patrick Harris definitely makes the series and the songs. The song that Penny and Billy sing called "My Eyes" is on repeat this week. Evil inside of me is on the rise...

Felicia Day, who plays Penny, is also on a web series called The Guild about a bunch of online gamers. Also incredibly funny though you have to sort of understand the culture. Just lookup any slang you do not know.

Update: Dr. Horrible commentary lyrics are now available.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

THE congregation

Even those of you who are not into soundtracks should be impressed by the congregation of composers that Hollywood Reporter gathered.  A good article about how film scoring has changed.