Monthly Archives: August 2010

Fall 2010 and Yard Sale

More lost and found! I found this class schedule at Glendale College on Monday afternoon.

Fall 2010 @ gcc

It reads in purple ink:

[Fall 2010 @ gcc]

ethnic studies 132 (1314)
M & W (140 pm – 305 pm)
Administration 223

Health 106 (3251)
M & W (1045 am – 1210 pm)
Sierra Nevada Gym 101

Math 100 (2020)
M & W (910 am – 1015 am)
T & Th (910 am – 1000 am)
San Fernando 107

Sociology 104 (1788)
T & Th (1045 am – 1210 pm)
San Rafael 115

On my way home from classes that afternoon, I found this sign stapled to a telephone pole. It had no date (as you’ll see), but it was after 1 PM when I found it, so I decided to rip it down. When I noticed the back of the page, however, I was intrigued.

YARD SALE

The front is written in faded marker and reads:

YARD SALE
8a – 1pm
corner of Hilldale
+ Waltonia

THE GIFT TO KNOW

From the back, it’s clear that the page used to be (bright?) pink and has since mostly faded. The typeface looks like Times or Times New Roman to me. It says:

THE GIFT TO
KNOW

Anyone know what “the gift to know” means?

The Past Week via Twitter: 2010-08-29

  • 'Tales of Earthsea' review coming up, though I'm back-dating it so I won't have published it more than a week after seeing it. #anime #
  • 'Tales from Earthsea' review: http://bit.ly/c8Qc1H Let me know what you think if you see it, too, will you? #anime #
  • next up is a 'Str.A.In.' #anime review, & then some @YaoiPress novels, original English language #manga a lot of reviewing in my future! #
  • forgot to ask for Sept. 3-4 off from work. I may have to go in tomorrow specially for that. uuuuuuuugh. #
  • YES, THIS. http://bit.ly/9M6lfB #bisexuality #
  • @Dredgly I'M CALLING YOU FOR REALS TONIGHT. Hope you're free, but if you don't pick up, I'll leave a message. ^_^ Looooooooove. in reply to Dredgly #
  • OMFG AMAZING. Seriously. http://www.starwarsuncut.com/ #
  • to do tomorrow: call about health care, 'STRAIN' #anime review, start Dekker book, finances, pen pal letter, other blog posts (?) #
  • I have so many unfinished journal entries right now. >_> #
  • working on "STRAIN" review. (should get it up today) #anime …then, #editing a PhD paper for my mom. #
  • @estherium was it working for you before? in reply to estherium #
  • "What the shit? Oh my god!" http://youtu.be/3_gpl5Q8h_c hahahaha funniest thing ever. #yaoi #
  • review of "Str.A.In." http://bit.ly/9q7UgP #anime only 13 episodes, about 25 minutes each. recommended! #
  • work today at 3:15 until close. I should really knock something else off my to do list before then. maybe another review? #
  • uuuugh. I love my sister, but I dooooo noooooooot care about business stuuuuuuff. #
  • okay, seriously. time to either (1) do something productive, or (2) go to sleep for a while (which, actually, would be productive). win-win! #
  • hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work I gooooo. #
  • @BarbaraJTaylor @TomBorthwick #FF wow… thanks, guys! <3 #Wilkes in reply to BarbaraJTaylor #
  • I am registering for #Yaoi Con RIGHT NOW. Oh yes, yes I am. #anime #
  • YES. #Yaoi Con stuff done and done. I'm going! Hotel and flight booked. Just gotta send out my registration. #anime #
  • NOW. gotta write this review of "The Incubus and the Woodcutter" for @YaoiPress. ^_^ #
  • Meant to review "The Incubus & the Woodcutter" but got distracted by "Happy Yaoi Yum Yum" http://bit.ly/bxVF8w ^_^;; oops? #yaoi @YaoiPress #

“Happy Yaoi Yum Yum” review

Happy Yaoi Yum Yum (google) is one of the best hardcore yaoi mangas I’ve ever read. Seriously; I’ve read it over and over since I bought it. I picked it up on a whim (along with a bunch of other yaoi stuff) at Anime Expo 2009 and briefly chatted with Yaoi Press‘ publisher Yamila Abraham (though I’m sure she doesn’t remember it since I’m not exactly a memorable character in a sea of other fangirls). I’m happy to say that it’s completely worth the $10 (or whatever) I spent on it; it’s quickly become a yaoi that I return to again and again.

Happy Yaoi Yum Yum is a compilation of four short pieces (the longest is 32 pages; the shortest is 21) and an artbook-type section in the middle that shows boys doing various naughty things to other boys in various naughty positions. I enjoy fairytale retellings, as any of my friends will tell you, and I especially like HYYY‘s version of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” near the end. (“You like it big, don’t you.”—“Yes… ahhh… YES!” *grin*) There’s also a variety of artists and authors, so it really is a good cross-section of hard yaoi for ladies (and gents!) who like it hard. ^_^

The entire back cover is a warning. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to buy the manga. It reads:

Happy Yaoi Yum Yum coverWARNING: Book contains explicitly explicit sexual sex scenes of explicit sex.

2ND WARNING: If you are a straight guy who picked up this book because you think those are flat-chested girls on the front, put it back. They’re dudes.

Book contains numerous depictions of full frontal nudity, full backal nudity, and in one panel you can kind of see inside a guy’s butt.

Depictions of sex with tentacles, corn vines, beans, coins, a harp, fingers, a giant, a giant strap-on, a cat boy, lamb boy, puppy boys, more tentacles, a merboy, some bird boys, and then that lamb boy again.

If you’re that supposedly straight guy we mentioned in paragraph 2, why the Hell are you still reading this?

Let there be no mistake: this manga is made up of hardcore, sexually explicit material. And not explicit in the way that a lot of other yaoi mangas I’ve read are. That is, nothing is insinuated or covered by fig leaves or anything… it’s right out there in the open. (“It” being, y’know, penises.) This manga isn’t for the faint of heart. If you think you may not be ready for hard yaoi, try another good yaoi manga and work your way up. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. (As if the warning above wasn’t enough or something?)

I’m sad to say that the print edition is out of print, though you might be able to find it used at Amazon or Buy.com or something. I wish wish wish I could get another hardcopy because I dropped my copy in a puddle of water and now a lot of the pages are warped. T_T (I guess I should be happy I didn’t drop it in mud, right?) But there’s hope: you can read it on your Kindle, and—if you have a Kindle (and like yaoi)—I highly recommend Happy Yaoi Yum Yum. And if you don’t have a Kindle? Well… you can’t borrow my copy; sorry. I’m afraid you won’t give it back.

“Soukou no Str.A.In” review

OMG I finally got to watch some (subtitled) anime (on my own time and in my own space)! It’s about time, right?

I first learned of Soukou no Str.A.In. (wiki) from Anime Expo 2010, which I attended for two days this year. Sara Werec stars as the series protagonist; her mission is to go to war to rejoin her brother, Ralph Werec, who left when she was a child and has since become the Union’s greatest hero. Since they live in a universe where many ships are capable of sub-lightspeed travel and the frontline of battle is 130 light years away, even if Ralph survived and returned home, Sara would be long dead as a result of general relativity. So, she decides to follow him as soon as she’s old enough so that she’ll be able to see him again at all. And she does.

Soukou no Str.A.In.
Lower right: Sara Werec and her Mimic, Emily. Upper left: Ralph Werec

Next time we see her, Sara is about to graduate from the academy training facility as one of the Union’s greatest Reasoners, aside from her brother, who is touted as a hero in her history and strategy classes. (A Reasoner is a STRAIN pilot; a STRAIN is a type of elite flying combat ship capable of carrying one passenger, the pilot.) Each Reasoner, including Sara and Ralph, has a Mimic, a machine created the Reasoner’s brain cells from before that person was even born. If it’s destroyed, it can never be replaced. One night, the academy is attacked and Sara and her friends head out in their STRAINs to fight back. Her friends are killed in battle and Sara’s Mimic is destroyed.

While searching for the pilot of the enemy STRAIN, Sara discovers that the pilot is none other than Ralph Werec, her brother. He’s changed and seems to barely recognize her. He revives a young girl and takes her with him back to his STRAIN, where he leaves Sara standing in the dirt without any answers. Sara’s new mission is to catch up with Ralph and make him explain his traitorous actions. She changes her name to Sara Cruz so she won’t be recognized (and demonized by her association to her brother) and enrolls in another academy as a GAMBEE pilot. (Since her Mimic was destroyed, she can no longer pilot STRAIN fighters.)

Ralph Werec, episode 1
Ralph Werec, episode 1

She works hard and isn’t very social, and the other GAMBEE trainees bully her and make fun of her. Eventually, she discovers a broken down STRAIN on the ship where she’s staying and a doll named Emily which has a Mimic built into it. As events progress, Sara finds out she can pilot the STRAIN with Emily, even though Emily is not her Mimic. She attracts the attention of the higher ups and, slowly, her story comes to light. While all this is happening, Ralph is in league with the enemy but has an agenda of his own and even betrays the enemy ship’s crew to protect his childlike charge, a(nother) girl named Emily.

Str.A.In. (meaning “Strategic Armored Infantry”) is just thirteen episodes, running about 25 minutes each. It’s not a huge time commitment (as opposed to, say, an American TV show with multiple 20-episode seasons or something), and I definitely recommend watching it. I found out after finishing the series that it was inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett‘s novels, including A Little Princess and The Secret Garden. I can see some influences, but honestly, I wouldn’t have the connected the two unless someone pointed out the similarities (as Wikipedia did).

There’s a minor character in the series who, because of the way time in sub-lightspeed works, is physically younger (that is, has aged less) than his younger brother. I was willing to go with it and just suspend my disbelief for the sake of the story, especially since it was only a minor plot point, but afterward it confused me. My father, sister, and I even had an extended conversation about general and special relativity because I was confused about how subjective time and objective time (in the series) worked. I think I get it now, but I ended up getting a crash course in Relativity for Stupid People at like 11 PM a couple of nights ago so I would understand it.

Ralph Werec, episode 13
Ralph Werec, episode 13

I’ll admit right now that I was in it for Ralph. His story intrigued me much more than Sara’s did, but I understand why the creators focused on her (rather than him) and actually, I think it worked out better that way. There is, however, a moment in the 11th episode when one of the characters says, “Sara, you aren’t permitted to go out yet. But I think if Ralph Werec is coming, you should fight.” Sara was wounded in the last battle and her history (including her relation to her brother) has just come to light for all the other characters. She’s even suspected of being an enemy spy. I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt in most cases, especially when I just want to have a good time, but this line really got to me. It was completely unrealistic, even within the constraints of the series. If I were Sara’s commanding officer, my first reaction would be lock her in the brig until shit had been sorted out and we’d either [1] beaten the enemy (Ralph) or [2] died trying. I wouldn’t let her out to presumably fight him if I suspected she might be a spy. That said, I understand where the character was coming from, but I just have to believe that they didn’t really suspect her of being a spy in the first place and just tossed the accusation around to scare her.

In the last major battle, all the STRAIN units were piloted by women, which I thought was awesome. (Although there had been men pilots as well, they were either killed or seriously injured earlier on.) Multiple women characters have multiple conversations about things other than men, so this series definitely passes The Bechdel Test (though, admittedly, much of the driving force behind the two main women characters’—Sara and Lottie—actions is their love for their respective brothers).

A good, solid show. Recommended if you like mecha sci-fi. (Also, it’s a mech series with female protagonists who are not simply love interests! YES.)

“My Belruel” lyrics

SONG: My Belruel
BY: Tycho Brahe

’twas the twelving day of Everfair
when fell my maid of raven hair
beneath her cloven standard of the wren
and damn that roiling goblin horde
we’d almost slain the overlord
but I could never roll an elf again

“The Queen of Bells and Battle-Downs”
she wore the title like a crown
Foes so deep a man would drown, but she still stood alone
a princess and a duchess both
and sworn to nine prestigious oaths,
her duties, they would take her to that twisting spire of stone

Against his tower, a silhouette
She called like a coronet
And the green sea of his armies burst from warrens far below
The pacts he’d made with demonkind
Had rent his thin and tattered mind
And hellish princedoms occupied the arrow he let go

They took her through the crowded square
laid her at the temple stair
The sorcelled barb of Arudair beyond their healing arts
there stands a circlet on her brow
that turns the blades of men around
But if Belruel could hear me now
This song would pierce her heart

’twas the twelving day of Everfair
when fell my maid of raven hair
beneath her cloven standard of the wren
damn that roiling goblin horde!
and damn their hell-bound overlord!
but I could never roll an elf again

The Past Week via Twitter: 2010-08-22

  • no work today (Tues.) but still a lot to do: 2 (or 3?) reviews, practicing in the car (don't ask), call professor, figure out Fall semester. #
  • I was called in to work for almost three hours this morning (after I closed last night, too!), so I was definitely up and at 'em at noon. #
  • After work, wrote one review and called my professor. Haven't figured out Autumn semester yet, but I'm not worried about it for today. #
  • Working on another review now and doing laundry. Getting kind of hungry. #
  • My Twifficiency score is 51%. What's yours? http://twifficiency.com/ #
  • so, I folded half my laundry, but now I'm so tired so I'm just going to crash and fold the rest tomorrow. >_> #
  • haha I haven't tweeted in more than 2 days. that's… like a record or something, I'm sure. #
  • no work tomorrow and I washed my hair, so I shouldn't have to smell like coffee until Sunday at least. #
  • unless I get called in again. >_> #
  • one of my coworkers calls me "V for Vendetta"… I think I can live with that. ^_^ #
  • what the feck is up with my website? #
  • oh thank gods. I think I fixed my website. I was on the verge of having a nervous breakdown for a while there. #
  • okay, seriously? trying to watch #anime while the vacuum is running is just a lesson in futility. I mean, I like things clean, but come on. #
  • Strange, what subjective reality will put me through before I finally admit that reality is subjective. #
  • For the second time, I have a Nathan P. in my life (completely unconnected to the first except in name). #

“Tales from Earthsea” review

My sister and I shuttled down to the Landmark last Saturday to see Tales from Earthsea (wiki), a film by Goro Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. (We’d have seen it somewhere closer, but the Landmark is the only theater in the area showing it, so it was there we went.)

Before I go on, let me say that it’s a good movie and you should see it in theaters. Seriously, if you’re in a place that’s showing it (Los Angeles, New York City, etc.), you should just haul your ass to which ever theater is showing it and pay the insane ticket price and see it. Not because it’s a good movie (though it is that, too), but because we as consumers want to encourage American companies/theaters to bring over, translate, and distribute as much anime and manga as possible, and watching Tales from Earthsea in theaters will help show that our money is where our mouths are.

Tales from Earthsea (English) posterRight, so moving to the actual content, etc., of the movie. Actually, let me preface this (again; will I ever get to the goddamn review?) by saying that I don’t generally like work produced by Studio Ghibli. With the exception of Mononoke-hime, I really haven’t liked anything I’ve seen by Studio Ghibli. I didn’t like Spirited Away, for example, or The Cat Returns, or My Neighbor Totoro. Kiki’s Delivery Service was just eh; I could take it or leave it. I can’t speak for Nausicaa, Castle in the Sky, and Grave of the Fireflies because I’ve never seen them, but (most of) the Ghibli films I have seen… well, I didn’t like them. That said, I actually liked this movie.

Since it was in American theaters, it was dubbed into English. I prefer to watch my anime (or anything, for that matter) in its original language with subtitles, but seeing Tales from Earthsea on the big screen kind of made up for the fact that it (probably) just wasn’t as good in English as it would have been in Japanese. (Now that I think about it, actually… that may be at least partially why I dislike Studio Ghibli films in general: because I’ve only ever seen them dubbed, except for Mononoke-hime, which I made sure to watch subtitled because I didn’t want to ruin the potential experience. And which, now that I think about it, is the only one I’ve liked. Hmmm… I may be on to something here.)

Aaaaaanyway… I learned of its opening in American theaters from Inside Anime Expo (where you can find out where the film is playing, by the way) and noticed two of the American voice actors (noted below) who I wanted to support, dubbing or no. The film focused on five major characters: Arren, a fleeing prince; Sparrowhawk, the archmage who takes Arren under his wing (no pun intended); Tenar (Mariska Hargitay), an old friend of Sparrowhawk’s; Theru, a girl being taken care of by Tenar; and Cob (Willem Dafoe), the primary villain whose goal is to find the Fountain of Life and never die. It becomes clear part way through that Arren is the protagonist (though I suppose it could be argued that Sparrowhawk is, at least until the end, or Tehru is) and Cob is quite clearly the antagonist from the beginning, though there are other minor villains working under Cob’s direction to make things more difficult for Sparrowhawk and, by extension, Arren.

I knew nearly nothing of the film before watching it, though I did see the English trailer and thought there’d be more dragons in the films. Not that I’m complaining—it was a good film without an excessive amount of dragons—but I think the English trailer was a little misleading in that respect. (The Japanese trailer is much more well-rounded.)

Honestly, I didn’t understand a lot of the backstory since I haven’t read any of the Earthsea novels, and I kinda feel like I should read everything I can get my hands on and then try watching Tales from Earthsea again (maybe subtitled this time?) and see if I can pick up more from the film that is just brushed over for lack of time and unwillingness to make it too complex in two hours. No matter what I didn’t understand, though, Tehru’s Song was heart-wrenching in both Japanese and English. I think I may have cried when she sang that, just about like Arren did listening to her.

As I’ve read after seeing the film, Hayao Miyazaki (the director’s father, who is also a famous film director) and Goro Miyazaki were basically embattled during production, and in 2006, Ursula K. Le Guin, who wrote the original stories, told Goro Miyazaki that was a good movie, but “It is not my book. It is your movie.

All drama aside, though, I really would see Tales from Earthsea again if someone wanted to go with me. As I mentioned above, I believe in supporting anime in the United States, and this is a good enough film to warrant seeing it twice. (Also, it passed the Bechdel Test with flying colors; Tenar and Tehru have an entire conversation that doesn’t have anything to do with men about midway through the movie …so that made me a little happier.)