June 28, 2011

Angelic Layer Post Script


Well, two months after my first post on this, I finally finished Angelic Layer. It was not what I expected, which is to say it was exactly what it claimed to be. It's a sports anime for girls, with bit of interpersonal drama thrown in. Its not my personal cup of tea but the story telling is solid and it's got a lot of interesting points. It is definitely aimed at young girls and is unusual in that it does not look like it would be condescending or insulting to them.

I was a bit surprised because I expected something of a change in direction midway through (after the big tournament) but it continues in the same vein with still bigger tournaments. One reason for my thinking this was that Chobbits is allegedly set in the same universe as this series a few years later. Therefore, I was expecting some, development regards sentient machines. The credits promo art and episode eycatches seemed to hint at something along those lines with the dolls. However, this is not the case.

A couple of things really stand out in the show. One is the very high degree of sportsmanship exhibited by most of the participants. Also, most of the tournament opponents are very well realized charachters in their own right. They are presented as not simply obstacles to our heroine, but sympathetic human beings with their own lives and backstories. Misaki, the protagonist, is a like-able person in her own right and does not need to learn to be a good person, she is one (this is CLAMP not Shonen Jump).

All in all I liked it. It is an episode or two too long in order to fill out the 26 episode run, but in that regard it is a FAR less egregious offender than many. It is well above average.

If one has a daughter this is probably a very good show to acquire. With that in mind the dub is decent and Jessica Boone does a fine job in the lead. However the dub does have one peculiar failing that I hadn't seen in years...about midway through the show, the direction seems to have changed and there is suddenly an emphasis on matching 
the
mouth move-
-ments
in the a-
-nima
-tion to the di-
-alog. It's understandable but occasionally distracting. The actors themselves, aside from this odd direction do do a pretty good job.

I have a few other thoughts but they involve spoilers.

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June 27, 2011

Stupidity ≠ Malice

...but the results are hard to tell apart. The Anchoress has a post up regarding the current administration that some will find off-putting, but it's a good opportunity to touch on something I've wanted to...

..What?



Oh right. It's politics...so it goes below the fold...
more...

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Tomorrow!



I really hope this release is successful. I'm actually pulling for ZOMBIE ADV Sentai Filmworks, but in a larger sense, I suspect that sales of this show (which given buzz and subject ought to be a runaway hit) are going to be very closely scrutinized with regards to the future viability of the R-1 Market. In other words, if this isn't a hit the viability of companies like  Sentai, Funimation and the others might be dubious indeed.

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I'm Not Sure About This

ACE posted this picture as the lead in to last nights Overnight Thread.
The political skew of various sports. It does highlight some common ground on golf, though that bipartisan image is of dubious provenance.


But that's not all about the chart that strikes me as odd.  I would expect the NBA to be rather closer to the middle, but Monster Trucks? Seriously Monster Trucks is left wing? That is SO not green.
It's also not the oddest of the bunch...
WWE (pro wrestling). I cannot not see Bo Bo's going anywhere near a raslin' match...and I just cannot see Arn Anderson in Birkenstocks.

I question the methodology.

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June 26, 2011

We Have Won

Civilization is lost.*
The longest entry on Wikipedia is...this.  (via)




* Of course I mean Civilization the human society that is advanced in science technology and division of labor: not the Sid Meir game....so don't panic

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June 25, 2011

TURTLES!1!! It's Turtles All the Way Down!

Click here for supah size.

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June 18, 2011

Important Upcoming Dates

June 28!


August 2!

September 27!

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GunRunner

When I first heard about this I thought I had to be hearing it wrong. It is after all insane.


It also appears to be true.

Here is what appears to have happened as I understand it.
more...

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June 09, 2011

I can't watch the news

I can't listen to the radio.
Even blogs are a sketchy proposition.
'cause everywhere I go, I C Wiener.
I'm sick of it.

The damned story seems inescapable...

Well, today I slogged through and found a non-weiner story.

Oh wait...

Recent housing and employment data suggests the U.S. economy is at a tipping point where a double-dip recession is possible and home prices could have much further to fall, a veteran economist said on Thursday.

 

... that's just depressing.

So... PONIES!

Those ponies are TOTALLY fighting a Manticore!

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June 04, 2011

44

Almost 40 years represented here.


Via Cdr Salamander of all places.

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June 02, 2011

To DC by Rail

Pulpjunkie, a friend of nearly 20 years has been 'downsized'.  Fortunately he was able to get 're-purposed' by his company, however his new purpose is not in Northern Virginia, but the impenetrable jungles of deepest, darkest Pennsylvania. Shorter version, I won't be able to see him for a vary long while after this week.

I've been trying to get up there for weeks but family obligations, school or work have stymied me. As I was finally free, I decided to brave the horror that is I-95 on Memorial Day Weekend. Naturally, the Cressida chose that moment to have a coolant casualty and I pulled into the repair shop with the radiator boiling over,  The repair was minor, but the parts could not be delivered until after the holiday.  Dreading the un-air-conditioned and rickety Pickup of Peril, I decided to check how much an Amtrack ticket was.

$41 dollars each way is not bad and about what I'd spend to fuel the car (but about twice what I'd spend in the truck). I haven't been on a US passenger train in 30 years so  I figured  this would at least be interesting. After confirming that the Alexandria Station is close to a Metro station and coordinating with Pulpjunkie to pick me up, I purchased the tickets online and was at the Newport News station bright and early Saturday morning. The station has very limited long term parking but if fortuitously close to Worlds Best Comics (about a block).



I was interested in how Amtrack compared to Japanese rail, and was pleasantly surprised in all areas....except speed and punctuality.  The line from Newport News to Richmond is not high speed rated and while the tracks from Richmond to DC are,  heavy freight traffic and a lack of parallel rails frequently preclude really high speeds. The US train is thus theoretically comparable to Japanese non-Shinkasnsen long haul trains.  In contrast  to those, ( and even the bullet trains) the internal appointments compare favorably. Every seat, (even in coach!) has electrical sockets unlike the Japanese models, and in one other area the comparison is decidedly in the US trains favor.

Compare.

The snack car is not a vending machine in the vestibule but a small kitchen staffed that serves a variety of fast food. There are dining cars on either side.

For a good distance east of Richmond the rail line runs next to its predecessor, one of the canals designed, surveyed and built by George Washington ( who was an accomplished civil engineer).


Before government regulation and competition with autos devastated the US passenger rail industry, small towns were built around the rail lines. Today many of these farming communities still have stations for freight and in Virginia the 'main street' is often parallel or perpendicular to the rail line. The train runs right up through several towns.








Ashland, now a suburb of Richmond, is one of the few that still has passenger rail service. Between Ashland and Fredricksburg there is mostly farmland, recent development has followed the interstates and most of the train stations like this one are no longer in service.



There are a few freight stations though.

 This is a very bad picture of one.

Rail freight is still a hugely lucrative and highly developed business in the USA, a fact that seems lost on many. Only marine transport is more efficient at transporting large quantities of goods. It also means that all these rail lines are filled with slow freight cars, which stymie most attempts to re-introduce passenger rail.  Danny Taggart ought to go into freight.

Because most actual real estate development gravitates to the roads, the areas around the rail line are often picturesque.

A beaver lodge!


We proceeded on time until just short of Alexandria when the train stopped for 20 minutes because a CSX train was blocking the way.  Amtrack in Virginia  is using CSX rail lines but not actually paying to build parallel lines, so.....

20 minutes late, I arrived in Alexandria Station I helped an old lady maneuver her bags onto the train and met Pulpjunkie across from  the Washington Monument.



Wait. What!?


I shortly thereafter discovered my wallet was missing. [expletive] [/expletive]. A good bit of drama ensued as I called the station got in touch with the next station and confirmed that the conductor had found it. It turns out the lady I helped turned it in, it had fallen out when I helped her load her bags. The wallet arrived on the next train and, astonished at my good fortune, we began our bumble through DC.

Oh yeah...the Washington Monument....It looks different up close doesn't it?
Actually that is the MASONIC Washington Memorial which is the Masons own monument to George Washington. Each level has a little museum dedicated to the various branches of Masonry, the Jewish or Christian orders that support each and what charities each are involved in with a bit of Masonic history as well as a limited talk on their arcane ceremonies...but no pictures are allowed...'cause the Masons are supr sekrit...except for their brochures and websites and stuff.

The Alexandria Amtrack Station is across the street from the King Street Metro Station. This allowed quick and easy access to La'Enfant Plaza, which was being used by Native American Navy veterans who were commemorating Memorial Day with a dance and concert. 


La'Enfant Plaza..Note the curious lack of Super Mutants.

After taking that in we visited the Naval History Museum, where we learned that the first US Navy Ship was named after Alfred The Great.



This is a reminder that the revolution did not actually start as a secession, but as someone once said, English subjects fighting for the rights of Englishmen...against a German king.  Flash photography was not allowed but I did get a pic of this flight jacket with unit art.



None of the other pics really took.
We headed out and towards the Mall but were temporarily distracted by an infestation of modern art which has taken root off Constitution avenue.






We wandered down the Mall museum hopping.  Little has changed since the last time I was there. I note that the National Triceratops was removed some years ago depriving kids of the experience of climbing all over it...feh.



At the graveyard of tomorrows the only new exhibit was Spaceship 1 which was in a glare that defied photography. Most of the new exhibits are at a huge new facility out in Virginia.

 Of course we stocked up on provisions...(well I did: Pulpjunkie broke morale over the dehydrated ice cream).

SPACE FOOD!

The newest Museum is the Museum of the American Indian and it is an architectural marvel and very nicely appointed. Pulpjunkie informs me that it has the best museum restaurant in the Smithsonian but we arrived too late to partake.



I had wanted to hit Chinatown again but Pulpjunkie suggested dinner in Annandale. As he is leaving it was his last opportunity to hit  his favorite Chinese Restaurant...

 

Like many of the best restaurants in the South, Duck Changs advertising is handled by Quisling food animals selling out their compatriots. I ordered the Mongolian Beef which was superb. Pulpjunkie had something else...but out of respect to my readers I shan't mention it.

Sunday was spent helping load furniture, measure the condo, which is to be rented out, and doing various other things. That evening we watched various shows on crunchy roll and talked until after midnight. Pulpjunkie the suggested Korean Barbeque. It seems that Annandale has several 24 hour Korean Barbecue joints.

Late night meat FTW!

This brings us to another thing about Annandale...
This is a fairly typical strip mall.

Will NOT be trying the Il Mee restaurant.

..as is this


 
A German Restaurant run by Koreans

I'm not sure why Annandale became such a huge immigrant community but it has done wonders for the areas food options. To Wit:



Lunch Monday where I ate ENTIRELY too much chicken.

We arrived in Alexandria early Monday as we feared delays die to the holiday. There were none so we had a couple of hours to kill in Olde Town.



As a child I had thought that Alexandria was in Egypt, and that Alexander the Great had never even gotten to northern Virginia. Well, you live and learn.

Actually it is named for a plantation owner who donated land to the then port. 

People no doubt pay a premium in rent for authentic crappy road surfaces.


Of course there is the inevitable urban blight.


The old Torpedo Factory is now an art gallery and the waterfront is quite lively.





We arrived at the station with ample time to spare and said our goodbyes. The station is quite old and has been restored nicely.








This is the tunnel connecting to the other side of the station:I gather that its rarely used.



I was surprised to learn that the commuter lines now extend as far as Fredricksburg and Broad Run. Assuming there is parking, this could make trips to DC much less obnoxious.




The return trip was uneventful till just East of Richmond when the train stopped....and then proceeded along at 15mph. It seems that the computer systems for Amtrack, CSX and Norfolk Southern all went down, and no one knew precisely where the trains were. 15 mph was considered slow enough that the train could stop if an oncoming train was seen. This put the train over 2 hours late. I'm a little suspicious of all 3 systems going down at once. It certainly bears scrutiny. In any event Amtrack blew it on the scheduling this trip. However, the customer service was beyond excellent.


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