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.