Alternative animation

Ubu on $369.98 ($498.98 retail):

I refuse to apologize for bittorrenting any longer, and I refuse to feel guilty, and I refuse to buy any series from anyone, anywhere at that price. Burn in hell, Japan.

If that is indeed what purveyors of anime have planned for us, and if they do finally succeed in eliminating torrents and downloads, then anime will be dead outside of Japan. However, there are other places where good animation can be found. France, for instance. Recently I made the mistake of browsing and found both The Triplets of Belleville and Persepolis for $7 each.

Belleville was as good as I remembered, though I had forgotten just how fat the Americans were. Here are a couple of excerpts showing the eponymous triplets in their prime and in the movie’s present.

Madame Souza, who plays the bicycle wheel in the second clip, is one of the great heroic animated characters. She would have been serious competition for Balsa in the current poll had The Triplets of Belleville been a Japanese movie.

Persepolis is a girl’s-eye view of the Iranian revolution, with a sojourn in France. Despite its subject matter, it’s often quite funny.

I highly recommend both movies.

Other bargains I spotted include Chicken Run and The Corpse Bride, each for $5. I also found a two-disc edition of Coraline for $7 at the grocery store. It includes two pairs of red/green 3D viewers.


Looking for Christmas presents for youngsters? Petite Princess Yucie is on sale at RightStuf for $10. This is an excellent price for a very good series. (Here’s Steven’s review, with which I concur.)

Princess Tutu is on sale for $15, also a good price for a very interesting story, though not as suitable for young viewers.


Both Jonathan Tappan and J. Greely have been posting pictures of their recent trips to Japan. Visit their weblogs and see.


Newt Gingrich has an idea for enhancing American defenses.


Hot stuff:

What really happened to Gollum and the ring in Mt. Doom?

A spectacular recent video of Kilauea in action.

Who is the unluckiest person in the galaxy?

Seina Yamada, of Tenchi Muyo GXP, or Ken the Brickmuppet? Consider this, this, this and this, and there’s plenty more in the archives.


So there is a rumor that Bob Dylan might get the Nobel Prize for Literature. Well, okay. The Peace Prize is absolutely meaningless nowadays, so why not make the literary prize a joke as well? ((I am aware that some intelligent people think Dylan is a Great Artist, but in my arrogant opinion, he has but a modest talent for doggerel and none whatsoever for music.))


High heels obviously make no sense for superheroines. ((Sailor Mars’ greatest superpower is the ability to sprint in stilettos.)) Neither does exposed cleavage.


Some examples of the ninja in Japanese art.

Tall, slender and on little wheels

Fred Himebaugh, a.k.a. “The Fredösphere,” who once wrote a jazz chamber opera using Terry Bisson’s “They’re Made Out of Meat” as the libretto, has unleased his idea of a pop song upon an defenseless world. “Earth Girl” is an a capella celebration of interplanetary romance. The performers are not credited; I presume they are Fred, Fred, Fred and Fred. Frëd is some kind of genius; what kind, I hesitate to say. It’s available at


It’s spring preview time again. As usual, little looks worthwhile. C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control is directed by Kenji Nakamura, who previously did Mononoke and Trapeze. Even if the story makes no sense, the visuals should be entertaining. I’ll probably also sample Moshidora to see if it’s possible to make management interesting. I might see how Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera compares to the original. The preview looks true to Go Nagai: too childish for adults, too pervy for kids.

There are times when I would swear that every man, woman and child in Japan is a pervert. I really didn’t need to read about Lotte no Omocha.


Some visitors have come here looking for a “shinmoedake webcam.” There’s one here and a couple more here (the sixth and fifth seventh and sixth from the bottom in the box at right. The fourth fifth from the bottom ((The Suwanosejima camera is back (second from the bottom), though you still can’t see much.)) is Sakurajima, which is worth checking regularly). The Shinmoedake crater at Kirishima did erupt again Sunday, but it was not as catastrophic as the L.A. Times would have you believe:

If there was destruction and panic, everyone was over it in time to go to the mall the next day.

The big show was back in January.

If it’s “silly hindu stuff,” you’re looking for, I can’t help you.

No escape from unreality

(This post has nothing to do with Madoka.) I extricated myself from the Society for Creative Anachronism years ago, and I have no desire whatsoever to relive the past. So I felt a chill while bicycling through a park this afternoon when I saw a group of people with swords ((Boffers, actually.)) and shields whacking each other. It turned out that they were not SCA but a LARP organization called “Stormwrath.” They were friendly and let me take pictures. The morbidly curious can see the rest of the photos here.

Blame the ducks

Specifically, GreyDuck and Wonderduck.

1. If you’d like to play along, reply to this post and I’ll assign you a letter.
2. You then list (and upload or link to the video, if you feel like it) 5 songs that start with that letter.
3. Then, as I’m doing here, you’ll post the list to your journal with the instructions.

So here are five tunes in the key of H. I’ll skip the obvious ones — you all know “Highway Star” and “Hardware Store,” right? And “Harold the Barrel” and “Happy Jack”? These you might not have heard before.

Ghost Hound was a major disappointment. I expected so much more from the Lain veterans. But the opening did introduce me to singer Mayumi Kojima. ((Some of her recent recordings can be found at, but they don’t show her at her best.))
Mayumi Kojima, “Himawari”


The Webb Wilder Credo: “Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard, grow big, wear glasses if you need ’em.”
Webb Wilder, “Human Cannonball”

[audio: Cannonball.mp3]

Here are John Jorgenson, Will Ray and Jerry Donohue, and lots of guitar.
The Hellecasters, “Highlander Boogie”

[audio: Boogie.mp3]

To clear your ears, here is some finger-picking from a Winfield veteran.
Pete Huttlinger, “Hortensia”


Let’s finish up with a classic anatidian tune.
Raymond Scott, “Huckleberry Duck”

[audio: Duck.mp3]

Here’s a more recent recording by David Bagsby and Kurt Rongey, alias “XEN.”

[audio: – Huckleberry Duck.mp3]


Bonus H tune: What show does this come from?

[audio: H tune.mp3]

Want to play? Leave a note in the comments, and I’ll give you a letter.

Wednesday miscellany

Over at Steven’s place, people are listing their five favorite animes and speculating on what their choices say about them. Here’s mine:

1. Haibane Renmei
2. Serial Experiments Lain
3. Denno Coil
4. Cardcaptor Sakura
5. Shingu

Let’s see: I like science-fiction and fantasy, complicated stories that ultimately do make sense, well-developed and engaging characters, and background music that’s interesting in its own right. (Update: And also stuff that’s out of print or unlicensed. Of these five series, only the last is currently available in the USA.)


Another list I recently came across: The Top 25 Anime Characters of All Time. Yeah, right.


I’ve watched the first two episodes of Kuuchuu Buranko, or Trapeze. It’s worth seeing for the visual novelties, but the stories themselves aren’t as interesting as the art.

I may also continue watching Aoi Bungaku, of which I’ve seen the first episode, part one of “No Longer Human.” Cheery stuff, this. I am curious to see how well the crew handles “Hell Screen.”

Jonathan gave Kobato a tentative thumbs-up, and it is CLAMP, so I’ll take a look. Otherwise, the rest of the current season doesn’t interest me.


I’m going to be busy not watching anime for the next few weeks. There may be an occasional trivial post, but don’t expect anything more. I’ll probably be back around the middle of December. Until then, here are a few links of interest.

I would have thought that this was obviously true, but apparently it isn’t clear to some people. Further discussion here.

Fred Kiesche discovers Ghost in the Shell. His reaction reminds me of mine to Serial Experiments Lain the first time I watched it. (Lain, by the way, was first broadcast ten years ago this summer, so I think it’s old enough to officially call a classic.)

Back in February, I had other things on my mind than following the otakusphere. Consequently, I missed Martin’s survey of the worst anime has to offer.

Here’s a preview of this winter’s new series. A couple might be worth checking out. Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou is a continuation of what was probably the best show of the summer, and Kemeno no Sou-ja Erin is based on novels by Nahoko Uehashi, who wrote the books Seirei no Moribito was based on. Update: Here are a couple of additional surveys covering more shows, here and here.

Has the internet indeed gone too far?

Ken the Brickmuppet writes about his uncle.

I’d been considering whether to look at Tytania, but Pixy points out a serious defect.


This week’s frightening search term: “life sized anime bishounen cutouts.” For target practice, I presume.

Think thank thunk

I was startled today to find myself listed between Dale Price and TSO in Irish Elk‘s choices for the Best Blog Darts Thinker Award. Thank you, Mark.

Here we go:

This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day.

The rules to follow are:

1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person that has granted the award and his or her blog link.

2) Pass the award to other 15 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment.

And here are my choices:

Aliens in This World
Charlotte Was Both
Darwin Catholic
Deep Furrows
Erik’s Rants and Recipes
Eve Tushnet
Flos Carmeli
The Fredösphere
Jelly-Pinched Theatre
more last than star
René’s Apple
Rightwing Film Geek
Sun and Shield

Checking in

Odds and ends in lieu of a substantative post.

My ankle has healed to the point that it’s a minor nuisance, not a major problem. It doesn’t feel right, and I expect that it never really will, but I can get around plenty well now, up and down stairs and out on my bicycle. I’m done with formal physical therapy. Next month I plan to take a beginning ballet class as a form of advanced PT. I don’t expect to be back on the dance stage again — my ankle is getting better, but my knees aren’t — but taking class will be worthwhile just to demonstrate to myself that I can still do it, despite everything.


I’ve installed a new photo gallery that I hope will be easier to upgrade in the future when it becomes necessary. I’m in the process of uploading the pictures from the old site. There are a bunch of them, and it’s going to take a while to post them all. Currently, there are some pictures from last year’s Walnut Valley Festival, some from the local botanical garden, and a selection of pictures from my days in the Society for Creative Anachronism. The last are mostly black and white and date back to when I worked in an old-fashioned chemical darkroom.


Robert the LLama Butcher, one of my favorite bloggers, has his own place now, The Port Stands at Your Elbow. He promises to keep posting at the old site as well.


Watchmen is one of the very few comic books graphic novels that I have read. The inevitable movie is due out next year, and it looks like it might not be a botch — though it almost was:

… they originally wanted Keanu Reeves for Dr. Manhattan, Ron Perlman for The Comedian, and either Jude Law and Tom Cruise for Ozymandias. Gack!

Toren makes an essential point in the comments there:

Alan has put his money where his mouth is and transferred all his share of the profits from the movie to Dave Gibbons, the artist. I’ve met Dave a few times here and in England and I must say he’s not only a great guy but his work in adapting Alan’s brutally difficult script has been vastly underrated. To take Alan’s insanely complex and dense scripts and adapt them to read fluently and yet contain the unbelievable amount of required detail and foreshadowing is one of comic’s great accomplishments. Dave’s work was hugely appreciated within the industry but alas, never got much credit outside of it. It was all “Alan Moore is God.”

It’s a damn shame.

Alan Moore isn’t God, but is he Shakespeare? Eve Tushnet has some interesting things to say about Watchmen (spoilers), finding parallels with Measure for Measure and much else. (You may need to scroll down to the entries for January 23, 2004.) Scroll up for additional comments and links.

Update: More on Moore from Tushnet.

55 billion silly faces

Shamus Young is the most dangerous sort of guy, with lots of ideas and the time and energy to implement them. He first came to my attention several years ago with The Lemon. Later there was The DM of the Rings. Currently he is one of the parties responsible for Chainmail Bikini. His most recent effort is a WordPress plugin, “Wavatars,” which I’ve installed here. If you leave a comment, your name will be accompanied by an eighty-pixel-square avatar determined by your email address. (If you have a Gravatar, as I do, that’s what you will see instead.) On a weblog like mine where comments are infrequent, these are just a cute novelty, but on sites where comment threads get lengthy, these could be useful for keeping the various writers straight.

If you like the idea but want something a little more macabre for your own site, consider MonsterID. (Via Aziz.)