Lindsay Powell amazes as Cake Bake Betty. Follow the link to better understand greatness.
Part 7 in a Series: Very, Very, Short Stories
In my nightly journal, I often write short plots, trying out ideas for potential future stories. This is the seventh that I'm willing to share, and it stems from pondering my fractional Native American ancestry.
* * * * * * * * * *
A 5 year old boy, while rummaging around his parents' room (his mother was in the kitchen), finds a old, wooden box in the back of a closet. Opening it, he promptly disappears.
His mother soon notes his absence, and searches all over the house and property, before noting the opened box. Then, instead of calling the police, she calls her husband at work, and tells him simply "He found it. Way too soon."
Turns out that the box was meant to be a gift upon his transition into adulthood. Not the typical 18th birthday, but the point of puberty, at which boyhood is meant to slowly slip away. It could only be opened by him, since it was made especially for him. It contained a gateway to his personal "vision quest", the route by which he would make contact with his totem, his guardian animal spirit, and discover his true path. The box was supposed to be tucked away for safe keeping, but found its way to the back of a closet after their recent move to a new house.
So, these parents were in serious straights. Their young son was missing, and apparently transported to his vision quest 8 years too early. Besides the obvious danger to him, they had no idea how to go to find him, or how to bring him back.
Thus, they approach their spiritual elders (they both are Native American, thus the focus on such a quest), but can find little guidance. There are tales of boys that walked the path of men way too soon, but usually they ended in grand heroism, or massive madness. In any case, it was confirmed that there was no way to directly follow him into the wilderness, and the best they could do was to wait and see if he ever returned.
But, what to tell others? Fortunately, the boy had yet started school, and so there wasn't much authority to deal with. Still, family members had to be filled in as gently as possible - the couple didn't want to concoct a grand lie of death or kidnapping. Thus, an inner circle is informed about their son's absence, and prayer is directed towards bringing him back.
Years pass, without the boy's return. Soon, his parents lose all hope, and decide to have another child, this time a girl. She is raised as if she was a first and only child, and their house grew to be a very happy one.
Then, on the boy's 13th birthday, with was only remembered with a few fleeting thoughts, the woman was awoken by a loud noise, that she heard coming from her closet. The very same closet the boy had disappeared from over 8 years ago, but she didn't make the connection until she walked over to investigate, and found a young man crouched in the darkness, naked except for animal skins. Her son, back from the land of the dead.
This plot obviously follows the path of this boy turned man, as he is reintroduced into the world, and his former family. He speaks a child-like version of his human tongue, plus the language of his totem. Most of his life was lived in a spiritual meta world, the land of the ancients where all life originally sprung from. He now has powers, and knowledge, that not even the most esoteric mystics can wield. What can it be like to be parents of the "magical wild boy", come home to roost?
In a former life, I had grand plans of becoming an Astronomer. Always one of my larger passions, it seemed like the perfect college major, but after six months of book work and Physics, I quickly realized that I didn't want to stay up all night studying far, far, away things when there's so many cool things right in front of my face. In order words, I wanted to work towards improving the world proper, as opposed to studying the distant past with the hopes of divining universal secrets. So I changed majors, and switched to Rhetoric with lots of Japanese on the side.
All of that said, I'm still an enthusiast of hard and soft science, not to mention natural spectacles that happen every so often. Tonight was one of those spectacles - a total eclipse of the Moon, complete with semi-blood-red coloration quite suitable for Halloween. My camera apparently completely falls apart when the sun goes down, and the optical zoom was awful, so I turned on the sucky digital zoom and hoped for the best. The pictures above (taken 30 minutes ago) are of the moments just before totality, and the reality of the situation was much cooler than those blobs. Still, you can imagine what it was like, and if you click on the moons you'll be taken to a site with much better shots.
Part 6 in a Series: Very, Very, Short Stories
In my nightly journal, I often write short plots, trying out ideas for potential future stories. This is the sixth that I'm willing to share, and it's a short satirical thing.
* * * * * * * * * *
To keep everyone fashionably (and unnaturally) thin, a special microbe is created, that will literally eat the fat out of your bodies. It works fast, so if you eat a lot, you'll still lose it all. It also only attacks certain kinds of fats, theoretically keeping the rest of your body safe. Best of all, you can introduce the bugger by just drinking a potion that tastes like a chocolate milkshake with cookie parts.
The stuff works wonders for a few years, and even the fattest folk are now Calista Flockhart stand ins. But, with less fat around, and the natural progression of things (the beasties that can eat the most fat, the fastest, survive) a new variety starts up, one that's sexually transmitted (and also goes well with spit and blood). This one isn't as picky, and in the fat-famine develops a taste for the "good fats", like the ones that you find in the make up of all the other cells in the body.
If it isn't clear already, the skinny folk are quickly ate alive, and then ate dead. Another variant is that the bacteria-ish things start eating proteins, or DNA, or whatever. As long as they kill folk. So, there's the drive to contain this contagion, and to force feed the afflicted so that the bad-bac will eat the incoming yummy-stuff, instead of the muscle and bone.
Hospitals fill with people literally on the spigot, sucking up fatty-fat to appease the disease. To supply this power-paste, genetically engineered cow-bags are created, that have no sense organs or even limbs, just a feed hole, a poop place, and lots of room for fat. Of course, these beings are so terribly against nature that they develop some other sort of contagion that we aren't even looking for, which effectively decreases the fat metabolism of animals.
Thus, those on the fat-hose suddenly get really fat, more quickly than the quickest fat eating disease can strike. Then, you have a hospital full of the extremely obese, being fed pure fat lest they die. Etc. Etc..... it gets even better, but you get the point. FAT! (1)
(1) Yes, I'm vegetarian, have been for 12 years. But I also have a gut I'm trying to get rid of, so I feel knowledgeable enough to talk about fatty-fat and cow-bags.
That is to say that in the mostly 13 year old audience for Takashi Shimizu's [The Grudge] on Friday night, all of the girls were vociferously screaming, and many of their male chaperones were yelping and squirming, too. That's when I knew we had another [Ring] like phenomenon on our hands, which the $39 million opening weekend attests to. All the little ones want to see long-haired ghost terror, and they can, due to the liberal PG-13 rating. The big ones, like me, who wanted to see what Shimizu-san would do with a (small) Hollywood budget and his [Ju-On] franchise, were also quite pleased.
Sure, the screenwriter took some liberties with the story, shoe-horning in Sarah Michelle Gellar and crew to allow for English-speaking characters that the audience could "relate to". On the other hand, there was a whole mess of wonderful Japanese spoken, only some of which was subtitled. Plus, the whole production was filled with native actors (many from the original [Ju-On] movies) not to mention a Japanese crew behind the scenes. It was obviously a tight ship, increasing the visual flair from the original movies, while not belaboring the point with excessive elaborations.
I could compare and contrast the movies to death, but in general the only real difference was how the main spirit was treated in both. [Ju-On] had a somewhat sympathetic Grudger (Kayako Saeki, played by Takako Fuji in all films), who was killed by her vindictive neck-cracking husband. In [The Grudge], however, she's made out to be a homicidal stalker, who somehow deserves what comes to her, which I was very uncomfortable with. They didn't come out and say "she's was obsessively crazy in life, and thus in death", but that was the gist of things. That's not true to what I saw in the first [Ju-On], although in the sequel she's hell on wheels and completely amoral. What's more, the climactic reveal of the spirit at the end of each is very different; the Japanese original has long, lingering shots of her crawling down the stairs, bloody and jerking, which freaks me out every time I watch it, while the "International" version is overcut, so that you can barely make out what's happening. The visceral horror is changed into an anemic unease, and I wonder if it was toned down to keep the PG-13 girls rolling in. Too bad, because they would have liked it all the more.
In any case, I'm more partial to [Ju-On], with its lower rent look and labyrinthine chronology. [The Grudge] is the extended [CliffsNotes] version, with Sarah starpower and literal jaw-dropping effects, but it still gets you in the same general fright space. I must admit, however, that [The Grudge] does use the "American in Japan" trope well, and those who aren't as familiar with the culture or language will have their disorientation accentuated.
Now, I would be remiss to not mention the real reason I'm so excited about [The Grudge] and its success - it says to Hollywood that a truly Japanese production is not only interesting to audiences, but potentially highly lucrative. My hope is that the occasional art house flick with limited release will turn into future mainstream [Casshern]s or [Cutie Honey]s hitting the cineplexes across the country. Then, we'll have non-genre movies from Japan in wide release, the typical comedies and dramas that are universal. Along with that, Hollywood will seed money to the up and coming talent, producing films in English for world audiences. The mind boggles... but it all has to start with the pocketbook, and films like this one that can open it. Check it out if you can.
Part 5 in a Series: Very, Very, Short Stories
In my nightly journal, I often write short plots, trying out ideas for potential future stories. This is the fifth that I'm willing to share, and it's more light social commentary than most, high on pre-plot and low on story.
* * * * * * * * * *
Imagine compulsory beauty contests for all girls and women. Kind of like the AmIHot site, only worldwide. Everyone is ranked - the same for men as well - and the rankings are constant, ever changing, and life-long.
A better rank gets you higher social status, and lots of perks. Every person you meet has a real-time ranking number, that you can access to see if what you think correlates to what the rest of the world thinks. Perhaps this is done will cell phones or similar relatively ubiquitous technology.
Thus, instead of Friendster sites, there would be massive ranking databases, and the natural tendency would be for like numbers to attract each other. Someone would say that "Well, I only date 7.234 or higher; anyone else just gets my voicemail." Jobs in the public sector would hinge on your ranking; if your look ever went out style and thus got lower numbers, then you would be in trouble. Homeland security would keep a closer eye on the certified ugly, because they're more likely to commit certain types of crimes, right?
It's not much of a stretch for other criteria to come into play, like IQ, EQ, net worth, what have you. Just like you have a credit rating, you would have a general person rating, which measures your social worth. This would be an ever-fluxuating number, kind of like prices on the commodities market. I guess there might even be an economy based upon "trading" those numbers in some way I can't think of right now.
Then there would be people with high numbers that wished they had low numbers (to get less attention, or to get certain opportunities), or even more people who wanted best number possible. Besides plastic surgery, they would try to educate themselves and become wealthy, just to increase this number. Other people would try to hack the system, and give themselves spurious numbers.
Seating charts in elementary school would be based on these numbers (perhaps tied into Social Security numbers, or perhaps an "universal" ID), as would the placement of families. People with numbers too low wouldn't be able to drive, marry, have children, and the like. People with high numbers would get lesser sentences for the same crime, than people with low numbers. High numbers are the road to heaven, too low and you're damned eternally.
Eventually, these numbers would be codified like Zodiac signs or a thermometer scale. Well, 6's are known to be a little shifty, but they're generally trustworthy and make great maids and day laborers. 5's, on the other hand, should generally be avoided. 6's and 5's make good mates, assuming that the 6 is a caucasian man and over 5'8".
I think this sort of ranking goes on every day, only there's no numerical quantifier, to make easy comparisons. However, this leads to all sorts of weird conclusions, which is what this Plot is about. Follow a man with a really low number, and what his life is, compared to a woman with a really high number. Also follow those who wish to overturn the system, perhaps they want to destroy the RNS (ranking number server) system for good.
Junk.log readers know by now that I love me some [Hana & Alice] (otherwise known as [Hana To Arisu] in Japanese). I saw it in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo about 6 months ago, and now it's out in Japan on DVD. It took me an extra week to receive my copy of the 2 disc Limited Edition, and last night I was fortunate enough to experience the wonderfulness all over again. First of all, be aware that the Japanese release only has optional Japanese subtitles, so make sure you know what you're getting into. That is to say, you'd be getting into an amazing movie made by Shunji Iwai of [All About Lily Chou-Chou] fame, with the stellar presence of Anne Suzuki and Yuu Aoi (also of [Lily Chou-Chou]).
[Hana & Alice] is a super amazing film following the ins and out of a friendship between the titular two high school girls. I hate to give away the unique plot (if you want that then it's all over the Internet), but sufficed to say that it involves a bookish boy, massive manipulation in ways you wouldn't expect, and a general inequality as to who likes whom and for what reason. It has so many beautiful and funny moments, combined with a general artistry and neo-magical realism that can't be easily found elsewhere. Definitely a "girls film", but also representative of a particular male fantasy (more than one girl loves me) without being exploitative. Thus, even though my Japanese skills can bring me only to about 80% comprehension, it's by far one of my most favorite films. I only wish that someday soon it will get a broad "international" distribution that brings English subtitles that I can savor.
Anyway, the particular Limited Edition that I purchased has a whole second disc of delights, [Filming H & A], including the original, shorter version which inspired the feature. I'm going to pour over it this week, but there's clearly no doubt whatsoever that I'll like it a lot. Furthermore, I'm now in the process of acquiring other [Hana to Arisu] items, like a untraditional manga volume, and a photo book filled with wonderful Anne and Yuu. You should also check out the amazingly dense website, which is way too Flashy, but still rewarding.
I'm of the "haven't seen [All About Lily Chou-Chou]" school, but my VCD copy should come this weekend, so I'll let you know what's up with that when I can. If I like it (likely), then I'll get the DVD for my collection.
Alright... thank you for putting up with my latest obsession. Look for a different topic that doesn't involve Anne Suzuki tomorrow
Jude is a particularly amazing Japanese rock band. Kenichi Asai, the heart of Blankey Jet City, has been making kick-ass guitar music for decades. When BJC folded, he came out swinging in two find bands, Ajico and Sherbets. Both were exercises in bliss, and out of their ashes came Jude (pronounced "Yu-day"). Jude represents the best of all of his prior projects, combining a modern, melodic ruckus with elements of surf, rockabilly, punk, and good old dirty garage rock. It's quite tasty, and we'll recommended even if you can't understand a word of Japanese.
[Zhivago], 11 tracks of soon-to-be classics, slew my heart from when I first heard it last weekend (it came out on 9.29.04, but mail from Japan takes time). [Dick Dee], the track that their upcoming tour is named after, is a perfect example of the Jude jubilee, with enough energy to slap around any other band in existence. That can be contrasted with [Hippari Donkey], a subdued and serene track filled with comfortable atmosphere. In between the two extremes are all sorts of enjoyment, and the best way to find out why I gush so is to seek out their albums yourself. Check out my Jude page for more info and many links.
Part 4 in a Series: Very, Very, Short Stories
In my nightly journal, I often write short plots, trying out ideas for potential future stories. This is the fourth that I'm willing to share, and it's pretty self-explanatory. More crazy plots to come.
* * * * * * * * * *
A woman wants to have her own baby. That is to say, she doesn't want any father or mother involved besides herself. No genetic material save for what's active (and inactive) in her genes. Spontaneous baby production, carried and birthed by her.
Some sort of advanced cloning action, with the necessary contributions from sperm extrapolated and then synthesized. This sounds like a terribly expensive and invasive procedure, but it's not in her day and age. She's not the first woman to give birth to herself (so to speak), and when she gets pregnant, all that's necessary is a few shots, then some patches (a la smoking cessation devices). Sure, pills would be easier, I guess, but they can't deliver specific doses to specific locations.
Thus, after she loses the marriage lottery for the 5th time, she decides to take matters into her own hands. (Marriage lotteries determine if you can marry, and whom you can marry. Marriage is seen as a procreative construct in this world; sex alone has long been commodified and is available in all forms to all comers). She goes to the equivalent of Planned Parenthood, and asks for the opposite of an abortion (rebortion?). They ask her a few questions about her ideal baby (sex, race, physical and mental characteristics) and then with a little science-pocus, she's pregnant.
This plot is about the world she lives in, along with the world she's wanting for her child. You see, children born out of wedlock are almost considered property of the state; I say almost because they're trying to pass legislation to make it so, and it's at the point where it has to be ratified by a certain number of states. Thus, while she waits for her baby, she also waits to see if she can keep it.
Being a smart woman, she starts to plan escape routes just in case things go south. Which they do, and so when she's 8 months pregnant she flees the country, just barely making it. Then, when the baby is born (a girl), she automatically has a "hit" out on her head, a bounty certified by the US Government. An agent is sent out to capture the child, and to "punish" the woman for her crime. The rest of the plot is about what happens during this chase.
I've been debating just what to give away next, and ultimately I decided to offer as much flexibility as possible. So, the default prize is a $50 gift certificate for Amazon.com (the US store). For those who don't live in the US, or who want something that can't be found there, then just tell me what you want and I'll get it to you. Some hints would be to look at CD Japan, Amazon Japan or YesAsia. If you win, then you can send me the links to what you want, and I'll buy it for you, and have it sent your way. Yes, I'll pay for the shipping, too (if you don't choose the Amazon certificate). No, I can't buy goods that require age verification, so no drugs, booze, sex, and the like. Besides that, go wild - the internet is your store.
What's more, I'll also donate $50 to your favorite charity. Non-partisan would be better, because I'm not about to send some right wing political party my money. Still, all of the old classics work great: Organizations fighting disease, offering disaster relief, educating the masses, all of that good stuff. You point out the worthy party, and I'll send them money in your name.
So, to enter this contest, e-mail me or use the letter form with "Amazon Contest" as the subject. One lucky winner will be randomly selected on December 1st, so make sure to enter by the end of November.
Then, in December, there will be something even better....
Part 3 in a Series: Very, Very, Short Stories
In my nightly journal, I often write short plots, trying out ideas for potential future stories. This is the third that I'm willing to share, and it's pretty silly. I'm holding back the sex and death stuff for another time.
* * * * * * * * * *
Someone devises a way to turn water into a hallucinogen. Not add a hallucinogen to liquid, but literally make the H20 into wacky water. Thus, the only way to trace it would be through close spectral analysis or something as scientific.
So, wacky water is added to the regular supply, both what comes out of the tap, and what goes in the bottle, and so anything made from US water will cause hallucinations. The thing is, the hallucinations are highly directed, and usually involve commercial messages. Thus, while looking at my Becky, poster, she'll turn to face me, hold up the two peace fingers, and then ejaculate "Coke wa daisuki da yo!" (1)
This will freak some people out, but for the rest, it'll be just like watching TV. Which means that people will actually draw entertainment from their imaginary viewings, and gather in groups to share their experience. Everyone stares at the apple, and everyone sees a different sales pitch. Go to the movies, and the whole thing becomes one very entertaining commercial; even the most G rated snuggle-bunny flick can be obscene, depending on who's viewing it.
Since most everything is made by involving water in some way, virtually nothing is immune. Of course, if you eat a candy bar, you're going to get less of a dose than if you drink a soda. Someone notices this effect, and correlates the presence of water to the hallucinations. They also notice that foreign water doesn't have the same problem.
Thus, part of the population starts hoarding foreign water, smuggling it in to ensure a safe supply. Even showering in US water causes massive effects, so people have to sponge bathe. Then, someone comes up with bright idea that snow, rain, and ice might still be pure, and so a big move is made to take snow from various mountains, and ice from Alaska, to hopefully satiate the pure water need.
Another part of the population doesn't give a fuck. They like the hallucinations, because they're entertaining and free. People start freebasing water, sucking on steam bongs, and all sorts of other wacky stuff. Hardly anyone is productive anymore, and people are in massive debt after buying all of the crap that's being advertised.
The sad thing is, that the wacky water leads to craziness after prolonged exposure. Furthermore, it takes a certain amount of water for things to really get bad; before that point, people are just more receptive to advertising and suggestion in general. Furthermore, since fat is water based, as is blood, then eventually bodies are infused with wacky water, creating an apparently permanent condition.
In the end of the beginning, the US is brought to a standstill, full of raving idiots all driving Scions and eating 3D Doritos, and thus the Mexicans and Canadians have no problems invading. They split the country 50-50, using the Mississippi as the demarcation. Canada gets Alaska, and Mexico, Hawaii.
Then, as the story progresses, you find you who's really behind the wacky water, and why it hasn't been fully applied to the whole world. There's a hero, and it's a woman. (2) Beyond that, it's all up for the taking.
(1) Becky is a Japanese star that I'm obsessed with, and "Coke wa daisuki da yo!" roughly translates as "I really like Coke!".
(2) Almost all of my protagonists are women, for various reasons that go beyond this footnote.
I've been following an interesting and potentially conspiratorial story for the past week or so - during the first Presidential Debate many people noticed a peculiar hump on the back of Mr. Bush, a large boxy thing that couldn't be wished away as a mere fold in his jacket. That fact, combined with his strange performance - confused and angry with bouts of surprising lucidity - caused many to wonder if Bush was wired. That is to say, was Bush receiving transmissions from his handlers during the debate, via his back box and a wireless connection to a deep-down ear piece?
"Ludicrous!" you say. That's just a bullet-proof vest or back brace or something, and if he was wired then wouldn't he sound so much smarter than he usually comes across? Well, I'll spare you the arguments and evidence, because you can get it right here. Or here. It's not only possible, but precedented due to various sources. Not that it really matters - even if Bush was a supreme intellect and master debater, he would still back the same positions, and my vote would be exactly the same as now - hell no. Anyway, have fun keeping up with the speculation.
Part 2 in a Series: Very, Very, Short Stories
In my nightly journal, I often write short plots, trying out ideas for potential future stories. This is the second that I'm willing to share, and I just might expand it someday. If someone reads it and gets inspired to write their own version, then please source me in the credits.
* * * * * * * * * *
Two friends in the 3rd grade. Both have powers: One can reveal the past in infinite detail, the other can see at any scale. Thus, Clara never runs out of stories to tell, about what anyone did yesterday, or what happened at the beginning of time. Lena can focus on individual water molecules in her glass, or peer up at the farthest galaxy, counting stars along the way.
The two girls keep their powers secret; from time to time their families notice strange things, like how Clara seems to know everything about everyone she meets, or how Lena can "imagine" what things are like anywhere, down to the smallest detail. For them, the pleasure isn't using their abilities for "tricks", it's combining forces that really proves satisfying.
Since the future technically always comes at a distance, Lena can effective read it with enough observation. Clara adds perfect, universal hindsight, which when put together is an almost perfect path to omniscience. Of course, being 8 year olds, their overall understanding of the world was more natural than studied, and they definitely didn't have the vocabulary or logic to actively utilize their skills. Thus, mostly they accentuated their after school play with farsight, both past and present.
Lena's gift relied on her presence, and unobstructed view. First, her powers only worked in visible light, which limited her to a hyper-real view of her surroundings. Soon enough, the rest of the EM spectrum became transparent to her, so she could effectively see anything, anywhere, only limited by the speed of light. Clara's gift was contingent on her envisioning; the more she learned about geography, and the world in general, the more she could see of what was, up to the last moment. In fact, the present didn't mean much at all to her, she seemed quite absent minded. Lena, on the other hand, was obsessed with the the infinite now, and often would be seen literally staring off into space, transfixed.
Thus, their parents actually thought they were a tad "special", and arranged to get them in slower classes, to better suit their "needs". Of course, in other respects they were perfectly normal, just viewing the world in different ways. In any case, by the time the entered middle school, they were a few years behind their peers in "level", but up to the level of mage in their unique abilities. All was well in their worlds, until puberty hit, and the only thing either cared about were boys.
Clara used her insight to effectively seduce any male of her choosing; she knew all of their actions ever, and could easily appear in the most ideal light. Lena had a harder time, because she could actually see their auras, view how their brains actually worked, and thus easily intuited how most were just in it for the place between her legs. Knowing everything about the now intimately can be a real turn off. Thus, Clara embraced her hormones, while Lena tried to shut it all off.
Realize, that at no time did either girl ever come out and say "I know everything" or "I see all", because to them it was a given, something entirely unremarkable. Of course, as they got older, there were many chances to see that others didn't have the same insight, but at least in school they were isolated from most other students, due to their "specialness". Neither could read very well (why bother, with such ability?) and they seemed to speak in their own special language. The thing is, that Lena could use Clara as a lens, to not exactly see the past, but to infer it from her being. Clara, on the other hand, could literally see Lena's thoughts and perceptions, thus allowing for a magnification of her abilities (Clara's power relied on the mass, persistent collective (un)consciousness, accessed by some unknown means). Combined, they were unstoppable. However, they had to be in each other's presence for the largest effect.
Clara didn't have that great of a temporal sense - in her perception, everything that ever was just hung at her fingertips in one big holographic soup. Thus, Lena was needed to draw attention to the present, and slowly peel back the layers of the past. Say Clara wanted to find a cute boy with brown hair, 14 years old. She had access to perceptions and memories of everyone who ever lived, but how to narrow that down to the present? She used Lena to scan the present world, and then cross-referenced the faces with the history. Yes, there was definite "psychic" action going on between them, but again it was due to their abilities. Lena could see Clara's immediate thoughts, and Clara could sense Lena's whole memory. Combine the two, and there you go.
Back to the Boy situation, though. In middle school they were very intuitive with their powers, but it was still a decade or so before true mastery. So, it was more of a fancy wishing machine they had; Clara would see a boy passing by in the hall, and want him as her own. Thus, she's talk to Lena, and between the two of them they'd map out his entire life up to the present, along with the inner-workings of his very soul (Lena was very perceptive). That done, it was a snap to win him over by any and all means necessary. Clara was a born charmer, so she had much luck in her endeavor. Lena wanted just as much, but she was more awkward, the bookworm/astronomer type, and thus not as teenagerly hot, at least to the "best boys". Clara helped her out with a few, but it didn't last for more than a few days, because Lena could see right through them.
This split was only intensified in High School, when Lena started to actually study, in defiance of her boy-drought. Clara and Lena thus started to occupy different tracks, and Lena was mainstreamed for the first time, while Clara was kept on the slow boat. For a while they tried to still hang out at lunch, but Clara became the social butterfly despite her educational status, and started to hang out with only the best of the best. Lena continued to introvert, and became more myopic, focusing her universal sight most on her immediate surroundings, spying on others, trying to figure out how to win their favors, or just to be plain voyeuristic.
What happens next, after all of that setup, is the plot. When their friendship strains, how do their abilities work in isolation? What could they accomplish if they learned to truly work together, to the fullness of their potential? Something to consider when I actually get down to really writing this cool story.
Having already established that I love anime, I particularly care for the output of Gainax and Production I.G., [Furi Kuri] being an exemplary case in point. So, last year when I heard about Dead Leaves a new OVA involving those production companies, along with Imaitoonz (well known for the [Fighting Vipers 2] designs for Sega), I was understandably excited. [Dead Leaves] fully lives up to that excitement, and I was quite happy to receive it after it was released in the US by Manga Entertainment on 9.28.04.
A simple synopsis is entirely impossible, but I'll give you a complicated one. Pandy, a drop dead killer girl with a red spot surrounding one eye, and Retro, a randy young man with a tube television for a head (shades of FLCL here), wake up naked on the outskirts of a city, with no memory of their past. All they really know how to do is kill and destroy, and they do so profusely until being captured by the "moon police" (that is, police which promptly escort them to a penal colony formed out of the shards of an exploded moon). From there, things get absolutely insane, with massive loads of juvenile humor and flesh explosions (both of the sexual and death-oriented kind). Basically they have ties to this prison and its warden, and learn more as they try to escape.
Telling any more about the plot would spoil the fun, but sufficed to say that you get killer transforming robots, lipstick grenades, straight-jacket sex, mutant clones, and more bullets fired than even a frame-by-frame analysis can count. It's not for kids (meaning that it's perfect for hormonal adolescents), and the overall visual presentation is amazingly unique and hyper-kinetic. It only lasts for about 50 minutes, but it feels like a blissful infinite state. Check it out, along with the 30 minutes of bonus stuff, and form your own interpretations.
(Annoying Banner Removed)
There are two reasons that I'm putting up this annoying [Utada] banner: 1) It's my job as an unofficial Utada promoter (for the "U-Unit" at fanscape.com), and it may award me an autograph if I'm lucky, and 2) When I went shopping at Best Buy tonight, all of the [Exodus] CDs were labeled as "Reggae" on the yellow price sticker. Reggae - that's so wrong, and if I was a random shopper it would definitely quell any impulse purchases. Anyway, so I decided to put up this banner (in a shrunken form) on a few Junk Magnet pages for a few weeks, on the off chance that it may attract some reggae listeners. If I win anything from it, I will make it a future contest prize, just to reward your tolerance for flashing crap.
By the way... no takers yet for the Newtype USA issue (see below), and if no one claims it soon I will do something rash like give it away to someone randomly on the streets of Berkeley. If someone does claim it, then you'll see lots more interesting giveaways from my personal collection of junk (especially music).
I occasionally "read" (studied visually) the Japanese Newtype Magazine ages ago in High School, but only after studying the language in college did I really appreciate what was going on. Now, for the past few years I've been enjoying Newtype USA, which is a surprisingly literal translation of its Japanese counterpart. Usually, about 50% of the content is native, and the rest focused on the US market. That's fine by me, because I get the best of both worlds - almost new coverage of the latest Japanese anime, along with the latest stuff hitting my local stores.
For the uninitiated, Newtype is the leading anime magazine in both countries, and it's jam-packed with reviews, interviews, synopses, dual-page spreads, posters, and even a promo DVD in every issue. Actually, the DVD was bundled with newsstand copies until a few months ago, and then it went subscriber only. At that point, I decided to get it mailed to me, so I could ensure the full-length episodes of the latest anime each month. Which brings me to the point of this entry - I bought the 10.2004 issue at Comic Relief, as always, just as my subscription chose to start. So, I now have two copies of the latest issue, and I'm looking to give one away to a reader.
So...the first person to contact me by email or letter form will receive a brand-new copy of Newtype 10.2004 (without the DVD). This is only available to the first US resident that contacts me - I don't want to have to pay too much for postage. Use "Newtype Contest" as your subject, and realize that this is a full $9.95 value, so there.
No, this isn't the real contest for this month - look for that quite soon.
When I'm not working on this website, I'm at work toiling away over EyeTV and EyeHome, two "amazing" products for your Mac. I'm both very biased and extremely knowledgeable about this stuff, since I have to support everyone who buys it. Therefore, I can honestly say that it works pretty darned well, especially our EyeHome box after today's 1.5 update. Basically, EyeHome lets you play back Movies, Music, Pictures and other stuff on your TV, only this stuff is all coming from your Mac's hard drives. Through a wired or wireless network, EyeHome will get your media there, and in an attractive fashion.
Honestly, I don't really care if you buy one or not - that's entirely up to you, and I'll still be supporting it anyway. That said, if you have a Mac and are in the market for a media player, this is a great way to go. There. Commercial done, back to your junk.log already in progress.
At this point you're probably Hikki-sick, but I don't care - today is the day that [Exodus], her great English-language album, was released in the US. That means you can visit your favorite record emporium, online of off, and get her music for normal, everyday prices instead of $30 via import. That means you can vote with your purchase, declaring to the world (the US music industry, at least) that not only do you want music from Japanese artists, but you're willing to pay for it. Dreams Come True didn't quite hit, Shonen Knife, Puffy and all of the Boredoms offshoots have their own brand of micro-stardom, but we need Utada to hit it big, really.
Just imagine - Japanese-language music on mainstream radio and MTV. I know I'm asking for a whole heck of a lot, but stranger things have happened. Sure, I'll first accept bands with English output like The Brilliant Green and Love Psychedelico, but what I really want is the full-fledged effect, my favorite sounds and singers writ large. Grand delusions like this require a first step, and that step is for you to give [Exodus] a listen, and then buy it.
Alright - end of my rant. Also be on the lookout for De La Soul's latest album, [The Grind Date], which I'll talk about next week. I even have Kool Keith's [Dr. Octagon 2] on order, for release on 10.12.2004, and I can't image how crazily great that will be (except that it may be a "bootleg" release - more news as I get it). Oh yeah... [Pressure Chief] by Cake and [Around The Sun] by REM were also released today; the former has been one of my favorite bands for the past decade, and the latter was once a force to be marvelled at, and I wonder what their latest contains: cream, or crap?
Those who actually read all of these entries will be pleased to note that a [Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex] Volume 2 review is coming shortly, along with [Dead Leaves]. If you don't know what the hell I'm talking about, you will soon enough.
I completely trust Matador Records. If they like a band enough to put out their music, I usually like them enough to buy and enjoy their releases. I'll spare you all of the Matador stuff I have in my collection, save for Interpol's latest album, [Antics]. That was released on 9.28.2004, and it's a fine addition to their relatively new catalog. [Slow Hands], the first single you might have heard here and there, is exemplary in that it has an 80's loam to it, perhaps harkening back to parts of Love and Rockets, Psychedelic Furs or your favorite token modern rock master. Basically, Interpol rock it old new school, in a New New Yorky way.
If you don't have their killer first release from 2002, [Turn On The Bright Lights], then you are really missing out. If you don't have [Antics], then you're mostly missing out - I'm not completely blown away by it, but it is growing on me with each listen. It's not the most up-tempo and cheery record, but it does make you want to wear black and dance around occasionally, and that's an achievement in itself. Give it a listen if you give a damn.
Last month I had lots of positive things to say about the [Tomie] movie series, based upon manga by Junji Ito. I was intrigued enough by adaptations of his work, that I sought out both English and Japanese versions of the original [Tomie] manga, along with [Uzumaki], another movie made from one of his books.
[Uzumaki] is all about spirals, the sort that makes up the Dreamcast logo or all-day suckers. It's about them literally, set in a town that's haunted by them everywhere, and also figuratively, as the demeanor of its characters slowly yet steadily twists into madness, horror, and all of that good stuff. The lead actress, Eriko Hatsune is fetchingly demure as high school student Kirie, while her sweetheart Fhi Fan is an extremely brooding and feminine guy (reminding me of Crispin Glover). They can't quite carry the movie, but the atmosphere more than makes up for it. Higichinsky, the obviously eccentric director, takes 8 or 10 pages from Tim Burton, with a sort of crisply rendered surreal atmosphere pervading, along with more than one tongue in cheek. He also is reportedly very true to the spirit and even image of the manga, which pleased fans and also made sure that things didn't get too far off course.
If I had to choose one, I personally prefer the [Tomie] adaptations to [Uzumaki], because the latter is far too cartoony to maintain the necessary dread. That said, most people are of the opposite mind, feeling that the [Tomie] movies are slow and predictable. Well, to each their own, and I'll take the best of both as firm additions to my collection. If you like your horror stylistic and fanciful, then [Uzumaki] is a perfect fit. Yes, it is available in an inexpensive subtitled version in the US, and you can find the manga, too.
Hikaru Utada is an amazingly talented Japanese Pop star that's looking to break into the foreign market in a big way. Her first album for Island, [Exodus], is topping the charts in Japan, and will reach the US next week on 10.5.2004. I decided to give a copy of of the Japanese release away to a random reader, and the winner is Theresa Remick. She will be notified and sent her prize shortly.
I don't quite know what the next contest is, but it will be announced soon. The plan is to have a contest each month from now on. Make sure to check here for the latest details. Speaking of which, just in case you're the type that reads junk.log often, I usually post new entries by 9 or 10 each weeknight. If I skip a Friday, due to a case of "going out", then there will be some entries on the weekend. Enjoy.
Oh.... by the way, last month's entries are here - they'll always be in the grey bar on the right.
contests: [enter here]
po box 11501