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Webcomic [26 Apr 2013|06:16pm]
So yeah I'm starting a webcomic.

My webcomic is called "Three Impossible Things" and will eventually be at that URL. For now it's here: http://threeimpossiblethings.tumblr.com .
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List of Historic Female Warriors [30 Jan 2013|04:28pm]
Since ladies got the right to fight on the frontlines last week in the U.S., there were a couple stories about female warriors in the news. Specifically in this story from NPR, I learned about some ladies I'd never heard of (we've all heard of Joan of Arc):
  • Boudica, "… confronted and defeated the Roman army in the 1st century."
  • A Chinese woman, Fu Hao, "led 13,000 troops into battle and was the military might of the Shang Dynasty."
  • Tamar of Georgia "...ruled her country, and defeated Turkey in battle and every other empire on her borders."
  • Eleanor of Aquitaine was "one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in Western Europe during the High Middle Ages". She participated in Second Crusade by recruiting and assembling:  "...ladies-in-waiting as well as 300 non-noble vassals. She insisted on taking part in the Crusades as the feudal leader of the soldiers from her duchy. The story that she and her ladies dressed as Amazons is disputed by serious historians... [Eleanor's] testimonial launch of the Second Crusade from Vézelay, the rumored location of Mary Magdalene´s burial, dramatically emphasized the role of women in the campaign."
  • Trưng Trắc and Trưng Nh, th Trung sisters of Vietnam, successfully repelled a small Chinese unit from their village, assembled a large army consisting mostly of women. Within months, they had taken back many (about 65) citadels from the Chinese (who "had occupied Vietnam for 1,000 years"), and had liberated Nam Việt. They became queens of the country, and managed to resist subsequent Chinese attacks on Nam Việt for over two years.
  • In the Trung sisters' army wa Phung Thi Chinh, "...a pregnant noble lady, who gave birth on the front line, and with her baby in one arm, and a sword in the other continued to fight the battle."
I didn't know about any of these ladies! You can read about more ladies in 20th century battles here.
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A review of Gallow Green, Sleep No More's Rooftop Bar [16 Jul 2012|05:12pm]

Had a splendid evening on Sunday at Gallow Green, the new rooftop bar above Sleep No More.

There's a kind of complicated ticketing reservation system, and perhaps not all of the kinks are worked out yet. As we arrived at the garden entrance, the doorman asked if we had a reservation (we did), scanned our IDs into an elaborate device, and checked us off on an ipad. We took a very dark elevator with one of Sleep No More's signature creepy (yet friendly) bellhops up to the almost-roof. The elevator was so dark and the bellhop so mysterious I wondered if something (SNM-ish) might happen, but nothing did. The elevator stops on 6, and you take stairs up the rest of the way. (I've a rumor heard people sometimes make it up to a usually-locked 6th floor during the show, so I was eager to see more up there, but it was well-guarded.)

 A waiter calling us "love" led us to some seats and asked if we had a reservation (we did), and checked it off on an ipad, and then another waiter brought us the menu and asked if we had a reservation (we did!).

So far the menu has 4 or 5 cocktails and 4 kinds of punch. I tried a cocktail that I was very pleased with (pictured) but my husband was a bit let down by the Pimm's cup. Pimm's is a very British thing, and Pimm's Cup cocktails vary a lot by restaurant. The Gallow Green variation has white rum in it and a very ginger-y taste.

A thunderstorm rolled in, so we stuck around to wait out the rain. This meant we tried three out of the four punches, and they were all quite good. The "Sleep Bowmore" was certainly the booziest. I think I liked the second one best and can no longer remember what it was called - it had more of a Scotch-like flavor to it than the first punch. The Claret was also good, and more lightweight and refreshing if you don't like strong tasting drinks. There's red wine involved. I've made Claret cocktail variations at home in the past, but they were not as good as the Gallow Green punch.

A friend was going to join us but reported that tickets were sold out, but maybe they weren't sold out so much as not available the same day. There were plenty of seats left. I began to wonder if you actually needed a reservation or not.

The storm hit hard at one point, and half of the roof enclosure started leaking. A lot of patrons moved to the other half of the bar to avoid the rain, and a nice couple sat with us at our (relatively) dry table. My husband and I wound up opening up our umbrellas as we  chatted with the other couple. They were interior designers by trade who had seen Sleep No More in part for the interior design and loved the show.

By coincidence, the lady was Russian, and had seen the Russian sci-fi film my husband wrote his thesis paper on, Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker (based on the story "Roadside Picnic"). They asked how we met, and we explained it was through NYU and Columbia's respective science fiction clubs. They were fans of science fiction, but hadn't talked with anyone about sci-fi in ages. So we wound up having a conversation about Stalker, the X-Files, and Gattaca. I kind of wanted to talk more about Sleep No More, but whatever, they were super nice.

It was a kind of magic evening, the kind of New York magic described in one of Woody Allen's films (I can't remember which one), where it suddenly starts raining and you have to duck into a Manhattan doorway with strangers.

At least two waiters asked if we'd seen the show downstairs (we had). The fellow who waited on us the most said he usually worked at the bar downstairs, and sometimes played parts in the show, although when I asked which ones he gave a mysterious sidelong glance and didn't answer. I started to wonder about the other waiters, many of whom (as Thrillist put it) were "impossibly good looking". How many of them had been in the show...? How many of the bar patrons were involved in the show somehow...?

At least one other patron at the bar looked like one of the understudies I saw in the April Fools Day SNM show. (Although that could've been my imagination.) The waiter had also attended the April Fools Day show, as an audience member.

I found the bar's atmosphere tremendously relaxing, in part because the decor reminded me of my parents' old farm. A lot of the wood used in the decor has the color of our old barn, a color it took on after the paint had long ago washed off (like this color, that's our old chicken coup). Old gardening tools decorate the bathroom, which look uncannily like the old tools in the buildings around the farm (50 to 100 year old tools...).

The bill was not relaxing, however. There were no prices on the menu, so I suffered from some sticker shock. Also, the way the ticketing works is that you pay $20 per person to get in, and then the $20 is subtracted off your bill at the end. I thought the card I'd used for reservations would be swiped, but it wasn't, it turned out we got to pick. (Which required another "Do you have a reservation?")

Also it seemed as if not everything on tap was on the menu just yet. That is to say there were clearly beer taps, and a nearby table ordered beer, but no beer was listed on the menu. I heard a woman behind me order coffee, although that wasn't listed either. It didn't look as if they had wine just yet, but I didn't ask either.

I would totally go there again. The waitress said that eventually they plan to have food, even brunch. I can't emphasize enough how nice of a space it is. It looks perfect for corporate parties, or regular parties, or even a small wedding.

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The Wines of Graham Beck [06 Jul 2012|08:44pm]
I went to one of Astor Wine's tastings today, and I bought two things, but I wanted to share my notes on the other things I tasted:

Brut Rosé, Graham Beck - 2008, Rosé, South Africa, Western Cape
- This isn't a very pink rosé and it's super dry. It has that weird champagne taste that I don't know how to describe just yet. It's great middle ground between rosé and and champagne. I totally got a bottle.

Chenin Blanc, Graham Beck - 2010, White, South Africa, Western Cape
- Normally I'm not a big fan of white wines. This was sweet without being overly cloying or fruity, which I hate. This white was super-easy drinking, yet it also had a distinct flavor, so it's not like those super-mild Italian whites that take a backseat to the food.

Pinotage, Graham Beck - 2010, Red, South Africa, Western Cape
- I don't think I've ever had a 100% pinotage before. It was interesting, but not enough of a tastebud adventure for my weird palette. Nevertheless, I'd drink it again.

The William, Graham Beck - 2007, Red, South Africa, Western Cape
- This is named after Mr. Beck's grandson or something. It's a blend of a lot of different grapes and it tastes freakishly like black pepper. Like WTF how can wine taste like black pepper?! It was great, and I think I may have had it before. I should've totally bought a bottle.

Industry City Distillery # 2 Vodka
- Made by these guys out in Sunset Park, where some of my friends totally live. The offer tours of their distillery. They have a cool website. The vodka was no Jack from Brooklyn product, but it wasn't bad. They seemed like nice guys. I'd like to tour the distillery.
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Image from my graphic design class [27 Jun 2012|02:25pm]
I've been take a class in 2D design at NYU's SCPS. We were given an assignment to represent a nursery rhyme using three elements in silhouette and arranging them on a page. I made this, and no one could freaking guess the nursery rhyme. I should've picked an easier one:

You guys are welcome to guess.
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Life Update [11 Jun 2012|06:53pm]
For various reasons, I was scrolling back through journal entries to find a very old blog post... my first ever blog post from blogspot.  I never found it (although I could swear I found it a few months ago) but I had forgotten about this list, which I've pasted in the list below.  I was surprised to read it and find that I have made progress in a lot of areas.
  • Watch Shelf Life titles - I have a better handle on Shelf Life now than I used to
    • Work on column in advance, a little every day, so I can get ahead (this has never happened) sometimes happens)
    • Keep on top of invoicing for those other places I write for I have been sending invoices in a timely way
    • Study kanji I have a kanji app on my phone, "JapaneseFlip" and I've learned at least the meanings of about 350 kanji from JLPT level 3 (new 4)
    • Read small things in Japanese and figure them out I bought a book of short stories "Read Real Japanese" and read two and a half of them before giving up. I also picked up Miracle Girls and Yakitate Japan in both English and Japanese, and have read a few chapters by flipping back and forth from the English version to the Japanese version.
    • Write a diary/blog in Japanese

  • Get some kind of exercise every day Well, almost every day. I go to the gym so often the front desk girl recognized when I got a haircut.
      • Consequently my ankle has been bothering me again It is off and on better and worse. I have the numbers for some more orthopedic doctors from my primary care doctor.
      • So maybe I need more physical therapy I did go back to PT, for like two more rounds
      • but I have new insurance so I have to find new doctors, probably Done.
    • Count PointsTM or calories every day This is still far too intimidating 
    • Keep on top of grocery shopping I am much better about this, but not perfect
    • Make/bring my own meals to work when possible I am pretty good about this.

  • Plan that New York Wedding Reception Done
    • This has it's own to do list, which I feel I must work towards a little every day. We really are planning it for this June. I have contacted some venues and everything.

  • List sell-able things on ebay I have sold some stuff on ebay!
    • Use my Amazon seller account to sell stuff I have totally been doing this, even since they got rid of EasySell, which was like my best friend.
    • Donate un-sell-able things to different places OK, I have not done this yet.
  • Podcast (once a month) Fuck once a month, I'll podcast whenever I feel like it
  • Re-read my old screenplay I did this! It sucked!  I apologize to everyone who's advice I ignored, you were all right. (The characters all talk in the same voice, for example.) I'm surprised that one producer talked to me about it, it sucked so much. How much must other screenplays suck that my crappy work got me a single meeting?
  • Work on animating a certain friend's film  I think everyone has forgotten about this project. I should hang out with this friend instead.
  • I've been thinking of starting a web comic Still thinking about this and not doing it.
  • Update the panels I give at cons based on giving them at previous cons I did a lot of this in the last calendar year, but usually right before the con.
  • Apply to do those panels at cons I plan to go to this year Done
    • Figure out how this tuition re-reimbursement thing works Done
    • Take an After Effects course or something at NYU SCPS Done. I took After Effects I and II last summer. This summer I'm taking Flash I and II as well as a 2D design course.
    • Re-learn how to draw by going to a figure drawing class (maybe this one) I have been going more regularly to Drink and Draw once a month.
    • Maybe apply for ITP? Decide if I actually want to do the ITP program or not. I applied. I'm still wait listed.

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This is a test! Part 1 [25 May 2012|01:09pm]
This is a public entry.
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She Kills Monsters [21 Dec 2011|05:56pm]
Last night we saw She Kills Monsters, a play involving Dungeons and Dragons, at the Flea. I thought it was just fine, and very cute. If you're looking for entertainment with loads of non-white non-straight people who also happen to be playing D&D, and it's 2nd edition, in the mid-1990's, clearly you need to see it. It closes on the 23rd?! OMG.

Noah might write a longer piece about his criticism of the work, and half of it will be, if he writes a review at all, game mechanics criticism. He was certain, for example, that they were playing 3rd edition. I pointed out after, and verified on my smart phone, that 3rd edition didn't come out until 2000,after the play was set.

Noah was saddened the Beholder didn't get a larger role. He was hesitant to see the production at all until he saw some photos of the Beholder. It is a good Beholder, but it's part is sadly far less stage time than the Gelatinous Cube.
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Observations in Tisch, December [07 Dec 2011|09:39pm]
I have not kept up with livejournal lately, in part because many of the friends that caused me to join in the first place have jumped ship to dreamwith.org or simply stopped posting. Indeed, I am unhappy with the waves of spam, and thinking of jumping ship myself. I do enjoy the friends list control, however, for super-secret posts, but then I feel as if I am using livejournal primarily as some kind of pity-journal.

I am thinking about moving back to having a simple Wordpress blog... but then a coworker was complaining that Wordpress sucks, there are better blogging applications. Are there? Like what? At least I know how to use Wordpress. I have a Tumblr account, but I don't really believe in using Tumblr for text.

Moving on, some blog-worthy moments have happened in the last couple of days:

  • My elevator stopped on a darkened 5th floor, where a girl in a mask was playing a cello. A tall man dressed in crazy tribal-influenced drag complete with a face-covering veil got on playing the song "Empire State of Mind" on his iphone and kept it playing the entire ride.

  • I came back from my break yesterday to see someone carrying a brass sousaphone in the lobby of the building. I always preferred those to the fiberglass variety.

  • I stopped by L.A. Burdick, the chocolatier, for an overpriced yet extremely powerful cup of $6 hot chocolate, which I then took to work on the subway. Some busking break dancers decided to perform directly in front of me, potentially threatening my beverage in a very Lebowski moment.

  • Speaking of Lebowski, I walked down Thompson Street for the first time in potentially four years and happened upon The Little Lebowski Shop.

  • As per the above drag queen, when I returned from my break later the same day, he was out on the curb with three girls in animal-print bikinis and kaiju leg warmers, pretending to hail a cab while another man photographed them.

Only in New York.
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Basically in love with Punchdrunk [13 Sep 2011|10:26pm]
Two weeks ago Noah and I saw "Sleep No More," the amazing interactive Macbeth performance by British theater troupe Punchdrunk. Normally I am not that into theater, or videogames, but the "play" presented a wonderful amalgamation of both that thankfully fell somewhere short of a LARP.

Noah and I were alerted to the performance by friends who had friends who worked on Bioshock who traveled to NYC just to see the play. It did have a very Bioshock feel.

There is no stage, rather, the set is a big four story building in Chelsea. The audience is sent in wearing masks, forbidden from speaking, and encouraged to split up. You then wander through the set until you find some actors to watch. Or not. You're allowed to touch anything you want on set, and rifle through drawers and such, and inside the drawers are hand-written notes.

It all takes place in a 1930's setting with a lot of occult stuff and great vintage furniture. There's a graveyard area, a mini-forest-maze, a street with little shops, a taxidermy room, apparently a hotel lobby that I never saw (more on this later).

The play is performed almost wordlessly in three 45-minute iterations with a lot of simultaneous action. The first time through I was lucky enough to find Macbeth and Lady Macbeth right away. I followed Macbeth as he went off and killed a couple people, participated in some kind of blood orgy, and then I watched Lady Macbeth go crazy and wind up in a mental institution before a final-looking dinner scene.

Then the action began again and I figured I'd follow some minor characters. I decided to chase one of the witches, but he was too fast for me. I can't emphasize enough that you need to wear running shoes for this production. The actors run up and down the stairs going from one scene to the next. I was intent on following them, but not everyone in the audience was. New York City-style I tried to dodge slower people on the narrow stairs like I was late for a train. The actors were much better at this than I was.

I say it was like a videogame because as I ran around the set I felt like I was revealing areas on a map, which is the kind of thing that I hate about games. The actors ran in dizzying paths and I couldn't get much of a feel on what was on each floor, except during frustrating moments when I couldn't find any actors.

Wearing masks and acting like silent observers made me feel like a ghost. But sometimes, the actors do interact with the audience, and it's creepy each time. The tell you "Fortune favors the bold" going in, and if you stick too closely to the actors, things happen to you. I followed a cute-looking detective (squeeeeeeeee did I mention the homo-erotic shaving scene yet?) for a long time. I stuck to the detective like a ghost Watson. At one point, he holds an umbrella in the graveyard. He looked directly at me and had me hold the umbrella for a while. I felt important.

But Noah, Noah got bit by a witch. He followed her into a small room and she shut the door behind him. Then she pulled out three of his hairs and braided them, casting a spell, I suppose. Then she bit him on the neck.

There are so many sharp objects and fight scenes where you nearly get kicked in the head that it's the sort of thing you ought to have to sign a waiver to see. And as we know from Dos Equis, if you have to sign a release form, it's probably worth doing.

There are scenes that only one to three people can watch at a time. In fact, it's impossible to see the entire play. I saw one scene that could only be witnessed by three people, and I felt like I'd unlocked a secret level. I hate that kind of thing in videogames, but I loved it in real life.

I like this Vice review of the play, THIS SLEEP NO MORE THING IS FUCKED with hilarious quotes:
“You wear masks, there is an orgy, and some dude kills himself.” Another friend said, “You see a murder, some people get naked, and a chick shits a baby out of her ass.”

I guarantee it’s something you need to see if you’ve ever wanted to know what it feels like to live inside a David Lynch film.

The show keeps getting renewed. It's playing through November. It's pricey, but worth it. Get an early ticket if you go, they just keep letting people in the later it gets. In fact, the addition audience was totally annoying. I'd pay extra to have half the audience number.

Of the articles I've read about Punchdrunk in my feverish research, this is the best one. I want to read more about their previous production, Moonslavebut I haven't found much about it. Here's what went down:
One early show, The Moonslave, played over four nights to only four people. 'Ah, that was my favourite show ever. You arrived expecting to see a show in a village hall. But you found only two hundred empty seats with programmes laid out on them. A phone rings on stage. It's inside a parcel addressed to you. You answer the phone, and a voice says "Your car is outside". A masked chauffeur opens the door, and suddenly you are wrenched away from conventional theatre, driving at 60 miles an hour through the darkened countryside while lush symphonic Shostakovich plays over the speakers. You arrive at a huge house, dark except for one light at an upstairs window…' Soon you are following an invisible princess along a torchlit trail in the garden, passing installations of abandoned steaming coffee cups and still-smoking cigarettes until, as you reach the edge of the forest, the music builds to a loud Danny Elfman-style crescendo and suddenly a red marine flare illuminates 200 grinning scarecrows.
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Where to Eat When Visiting NYC [19 Aug 2011|03:53pm]
I have this problem... I think it's part of New York City disease, where the longer you live here the more it warps your brain. When friends and family visit I become a horrible food Nazi. If you're only in the city for one weekend, you're realistically only going to get in a few good meals, but NYC has so many great places to eat! I mean, people who come from nearby states often act as food tourist, eating their way through town for flavors and cuisines they can't get at home.

The more rural a place someone is from and the less they are likely to ever visity NYC again, the more anxious I become. I feel that I failed as a New Yorker if I didn't let them - no - MAKE them eat the best bagels in town. If you're only here for one day, that is only one chance to eat the world's most delicious bagel, and if you just get one from any corner deli you're probably going to eat only an average bagel. That is totally unacceptable behavior in a city that strives to have world famous everything and the world's best everything. In the #1 city, you need to eat the #1 bagel.

Japanese tourists are probably the kind that will understand what I'm saying here. When Japanese people travel within their own country, they like to eat the local specialties at whatever town they go to. They're also obsessed with "ichiban" the number one thing of any given category. American tourists from extremely rural areas are the exact opposite; they're afraid to eat something they've never heard of before, and are likely to freak out and eat at McDonalds in NYC or in foreign countries because they're already familiar with the menu (and the prices). Way to eat bad food you've already had before, American tourists! What a wasted opportunity!

I am often asked for resturaunt recommendations, "Where should I eat in New York City?" but that is a big question. What kids of cuisine do you like? What kind of budget are we talking about? I mean, do you want to eat at fancy places or get cheap yet delicious hot dogs? Are you a foodie? Do you want to eat very typical, regional New York foods? Is there a country you've never been to (like Japan... or, I suppose, somewhere crazy like Tibet) and you'd like to try food from there? Because you can probably find it in NYC. Do you love meat or are you a vegetarian? Do like eating high calorie food or are you a calorie counter? Do you like craft beers, wine, or fancy cocktails? How about whiskey? Or sake?Here is a food recommendation list I made for a British guy who's been to NYC before. These details are important! What I recommend urbanistes from abroad is different that what I'd recommend to someone from Wyoming or the deep south. If you've never been to Asia or Europe, I'm going to recommend different places, too. I'll add to this list or make a series of blog posts.

Recommendations for a British Person Who's Been Here Before and is Allergic to Nuts

Alright, I recommend not missing Essabagel, NYC's best bagels:

Skip the ubiquitous street hot dogs and eat these ridiculous hot dogs instead:

If you are crafty, you could get into the speak easy in the back of Crif Dogs:

Google on how to get in to that place, I've never managed to. Failing that, grab a cocktail at Angel's Share:

Or Little Branch:

Nearby Little Branch, you can try the three kinds of tongue at:

Well, maybe not the tongue specifically, but that Korean-run Japanese-style place is freaking awesome. 

If chicken is more your thing than beef, check out this place:

Or the related delicious chicken ramen place:


It's probably some kind of chimera. If you've never been to Korea, you can just go to K-town instead:

But, if you want to eat the most American chicken possible, cross the bridge and cautiously navigate to Pies and Thighs:

Get cocktails at the crowded yet good Dram near that:

And if you want to shout "Go USA" eat like half a cow at Peter Luger's:

(Note that it is cash only, hard to get into, and filled with tourists.)

The best beers ever are also in the neighborhood at the following places:

That last one - Custom - has regional hot dogs (although their Chicago style dog is not not quite authentic).

The most New York style food is pizza, so why not eat it at the place where Americans reinvented pizza thinking that they were eating Italian food: Lomardis

Guidebooks will send you somewhere else. Don't believe them. Guidebooks might tell you to get the corned beef at Katz's and they are wrong. Dave Riley of the Fast Karate podcast is right to recommend Mile End, which is somehow like a visit to Canada. Note that getting there is kind of an adventure on weekends for n00bs from out of town.
If you're less adventurous, many tourist-y New York foods are right in the basement of Grand Central station. Have a knish, or Junior's cheesecake down there, or Two Boots Pizza and a Magnolia cupcake (although the banana pudding is better!). You can also get a cocktail upstairs in the fancy-pants Cambell Apartment, if you're dressed for it:

Oh, there's a tour thingy:

If you've hit the regular museums already, hit the hip museums:

You've been here before, but I ought to mention that google maps loading on an international cell phone is pricey. Bring your own tourist map, since the subway map isn't detailed enough to find these places. Personally, I'd download a subway app, and then bring some paper print outs if you're going to travel into Brooklyn.

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My Top Five Most Controversial Shelf Life Columns (so far) [10 Jun 2011|03:39pm]
This list is primarily for Joel, because of a recent episode of Fast Karate for the Gentlemen when Dave was mentioning people in the ANN forums "losing their shit" (not an exact quote) over my "crazy" opinions on various anime series. Off the top of my head, here are the columns/titles that set people off. This week I rated Chobits Perishable which upset a lot of people. But that doesn't even make the top five list.

Casshern BG5. I used words like "tsundere" and "furry" to describe Spice and Wolf, and much to my surprise the forums told me to stop using words that I don't know the definitions of.

4. If people were regular-angry about me rental-shelving Clannad After Story Part 1, then they were super-angry about my rental-shelving of Clannad After Story Part 2.

3.  I have reviewed Gunslinger Girl titles on three separate occasions, and each seemed to annoy the forums more than the last.

2.  Popotan is one of the most upsetting anime I've ever seen. That lead to some heated discussion like this.

1. Casshern Sins Part 1 had a lot of overt religious imagery in the show, and the forums got offended at the mere mention of Catholicism. I probably came on too strong opening my  Casshern Sins Part 2 review with "I hate this show and almost nothing you can say will change my mind." This led to a very angry discussion.
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The Legendary Sucker [19 May 2011|06:20pm]
One of the student teaching assistants I work with is biking across America as part of some "Bike and Build" nonprofit nonsense that you can read about here. He needs to raise $2000. His name is Noah Wagner. I gave him like $25. Being a film student, he's planning on filming part by mounting a camera on his bike behind a doll or something like that (Woody from Toy Story). I said I'd tell other people that he needs to raise the money by the end of the month.

Here's Noah Wagner's fund raising message:
I wanted to write to you because I will be spending this summer doing something a little out of the ordinary—biking across the country with a nonprofit organization called Bike and Build. We will be raising awareness and funds for affordable housing, an issue which affects 14 million Americans who spend more than 50% of their income on substandard housing. I will be riding with 32 other students, pedaling from Providence to San Francisco (4,099 miles to be exact). Along the way, we will help build approximately 6 houses with groups like Habitat for Humanity, who recruit volunteers to build simple, decent, affordable homes, sold at no profit.

Since it was founded in 2002, Bike and Build has raised nearly 2.7 million dollars for affordable housing projects. I have committed to raising $4,000, the minimum required to participate, and I am asking for your help in supporting my trip. Your (tax-deductible!) donation, along with my personal contribution of $500, and those of many others who will be supporting my effort, will have a serious impact on the affordable housing landscape throughout the US.

Donations can easily be made by visiting [http://bikeandbuild.org/donate] and choosing “Noah Wagner” from the rider drop down menu. If you have friends or family whom you think would be interested in supporting this venture, please direct them to this site as well.

While there is no deadline on the affordable housing cause itself, I am rapidly approaching the deadline that would permit me to embark on this one-in-a-lifetime charitable trek across the country. As of today, I have raised $2000 of the $4000 required to participate. The deadline to donate on my behalf is May 30th.

In order for me to create a more personal tie between you and your donation, I will keep a blog on my website, starting in June. Throughout the trip I will update it with photographs and journal entries of our efforts. In addition, I will be filming, interviewing, and documenting hundreds of people connected to the trip – from those affected to those working to fix the problem – which will then be turned into a documentary, following the trip. Both will serve as a way for you to see your donation in action, as we build houses and raise awareness throughout the country.

I encourage you to visit Bike & Build’s website [http://www.bikeandbuild.org] for more information. I really hope you will consider making a donation of any size. By doing this, you will help bring one of the most basic comforts of living—a home—to a family in need. Additionally, if you know of anyone who might be willing to donate the affordable housing cause, please send this along. Thank you so much for your support!
But I feel this is a slippery slope. I can't donate to all of my students kickstarter projects. There will be no end to this. They're all raising money for their films all the time. (At least the seniors are.)

And wait a minute... "affordable housing" is actually screwing me over as a potential home buyer at the moment. There are lots of "affordable" units in my neighborhood for sale that aren't getting sold that my husband and I can't buy because out income is too high for the price cap. The units don't move because no one who meets the income requirements qualifies for the loans to buy those apartments. Inversely, the new construction in my neighborhood is for super rich people with twice our combined incomes, double what we can afford. Weirdly a lot of NYC neighborhoods are like that. You have to be rich or poor to live there, screwing over the middle class.
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That's funny, I thought this Thor theme song was longer [12 May 2011|03:56pm]
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All the animated movies in the world, sort of. [08 Apr 2011|04:44pm]
I've dug up this old meme that crashed livejournal twicethree times in response to this person, who asked, "Umm... how much high budget animation have you watched?"

I tried to fill out this meme last year sometime, or two years ago, but LJ ate my post in an non-recoverable way. I think the original list I filled out was more clean and complete, but I couldn't remember who I had gotten my copy from. I searched and found this one, which could use some editing. On Monday after I filled out this list, livejournal ate it again and didn't recover the draft. Somehow, the draft popped up today, mostly complete. [Edit, I found it again, on Shaenon Garrity's journal, where she has some nice commentary.]

Apparently there's a huge hole in my repertoire when it comes to the last decade's worth of 3D animated films. Potential poison like Polar Express to Shark Tale soured me to the genre/format/media, but ten years of Pixar films warmed me back up. Tangled, How to Train Your Dragon, and Kung Fu Panda are in my Netflix queue. I've also missed a lot of stop motion features for some reason.


Animation Meme

All the animated movies in the world, sort of.

-  what you saw
-  what you haven't finished/seen or saw sizable portions
- Bold what you loved
- Italicize what you disliked/hated
- Leave unchanged if neutral

[X ] 101 Dalmatians (1961)
[X ] Alice in Wonderland (1951)
[X ] Bambi (1942)
[X ] Cinderella (1950)
[X ] Dumbo (1941)
[X ] Fantasia (1940)
[X ] Lady and the Tramp (1955)
[X ] Mary Poppins (1964)
[X ] Peter Pan (1953)
[X ] Pinocchio (1940)
[X ] Sleeping Beauty (1959)
[X ] Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
[O ] Song of the South (1946)

[X ] The Aristocats (1970)
[X ] The Black Cauldron (1985)
[X ] The Fox and the Hound (1981)
[X ] The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
[X ] The Jungle Book (1967)
[O ] The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
[X ] Oliver and Company (1986)
[O ] Pete's Dragon (1977)
[X ] The Rescuers (1977)
[X ] Robin Hood (1973)
[X ] The Sword In The Stone (1963)

[X ] Aladdin (1992)
[X ] Beauty and the Beast (1991)
[ ] A Goofy Movie (1995)
[X ] Hercules (1997)
[X ] The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
[X ] The Lion King (1994)
[X ] The Little Mermaid (1989)
[X ] Mulan (1998)
[X ] Pocahontas (1995)
[X ] The Rescuers Down Under (1990)
[X ] Tarzan (1999)

[ ] Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
[ ] Bolt (2008)
[ ] Brother Bear (2003)
[ ] Chicken Little (2005)
[ ] Dinosaur (2000)
[X ] The Emperor's New Groove (2000)
[X ] Fantasia 2000 (2000)
[ ] Home on the Range (2004)
[X ] Lilo & Stitch (2002)
[ ] Meet the Robinsons (2007)
[ ] Treasure Planet (2002)

[ ] A Bug's Life (1998)
[ ] Cars (2006)
[X ] Finding Nemo (2003)
[X ] The Incredibles (2004)
[X ] Monsters Inc. (2001)
[X ] Ratatouille (2007)
[X ] Toy Story (1995)
[X ] Toy Story 2 (1999)
[ ] Toy Story 3 (2010) (I KNOW, I KNOW)
[X ] Wall-E (2008)
[X ] Up (2009)

[ ] All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989)
[X ] An American Tail (1986)
[X ] An American Tail: Fieval Goes West (1991)
[X ] Anastasia (1997)
[X ] The Land Before Time (1988)
[ ] The Pebble and the Penguin (1995)
[ ] Rock-a-Doodle (1991)
[X ] The Secret of NIMH (1982)
[ ] Thumbelina (1994)
[X ] Titan AE (2000)
[ ] A Troll in Central Park (1994)

[ ] The Adventures of Mark Twain (1986)
[X ] Chicken Run (2000)
[ ] Corpse Bride (2005)
[X ] James and the Giant Peach (1996)
[X ] The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
[ ] Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
[ ] Coraline (2009)

[X ] Antz (1998)
[ ] Happy Feet (2006)
[ ] Kung Fu Panda (2008)
[ ] Madagascar (2005)
[ ] Monster House (2006)
[ ] Over the Hedge (2006)
[ ] The Polar Express (2004)
[X ] Shrek (2001) - Worst ending.
[ ] Shrek 2 (2004)
[ ] Shrek The Third (2007)
[ ] Monsters vs. Aliens

[O ] Arabian Knight (aka The Thief and the Cobbler) (1995)
[X ] The Last Unicorn (1982)
[ ] Light Years (1988)
[X ] The Triplets of Belleville (2003)
[X ] Persepolis (2007)
[ ] Waltz With Bashir (2008)
[ ] Watership Down (1978)
[ ] When the Wind Blows (1988)
[X ] Yellow Submarine (1968)

[X ] Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
[X ] Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
[X ] Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
[X ] Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986)
[X ] Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
[X ] My Neighbors The Yamadas (1999)
[X ] My Neighbor Totoro (1993)
[X ] Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
[X ] Only Yesterday (1991) - A rare ending so happy it made me cry.
[ ] Pom Poko (Tanuki War) (1994)
[X ] Porco Rosso (1992)
[X ] Spirited Away (2002)
[X ] Whisper of the Heart (1995)
[X ] Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea (2009)

[X ] Millennium Actress (2001)
[X ] Paprika (2006) Just finished reading the book, which was crazy different.
[X ] Perfect Blue (1999)
[X ] Tokyo Godfathers (2003)
[X ] Memories - "Magnetic Rose" part (1995)

[X ] She and Her Cat (1999)
[X ] Voices of a Distant Star (2001)
[X ] The Place Promised in ur Early Days (2004)
[X ] 5 Centimeters per Second (2007)

[X ] Akira (1989)
[ ] Appleseed (2004)
[X ] Appleseed: Ex Machina (2007)
[X ] Arcadia of My Youth (U.S. Title - Vengeance of the Space Pirate) (1982)
[X ] Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2003)
[X ] The Dagger of Kamui (U.S. Title - Revenge of the Ninja Warrior) (1985)
[O ] Dirty Pair: Project Eden (1987)
[X ] End of Evangelion (1997)
[X ] Fist of the North Star (1986)
[X ] Galaxy Express 999 (1979)
[X ] Ghost in the Shell (1996)
[X ] The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)
[ ] Lensman (1984)
[X ] Macross: Do You Remember Love (U.S. Title - Clash of the Bionoids) (1984)
[X ] Metropolis (2001)
[X ] Neo-Tokyo (1986)
[X ] Ninja Scroll (1993)
[O ] Patlabor the Movie (1989)
[X ] The Professional: Golgo 13 (1983)
[X ] Project A-ko (1986)
[X ] Robot Carnival (1987)
[ ] Robotech: The Shadow Chronicle (2006)
[ ] Silent Möbius (1991)
[ ] Space Adventure Cobra (1982)
[X ] Steamboy (2004)
[ ] Sword of the Stranger (2007)
[ ] Unico and the Island of Magic (1983)
[X ] Urotsukidoji: The Movie (1987)
[X ] Vampire Hunter D (1985)
[X ] Vampire Hunter D Bloodlust (2000)
[X ] Wings of Honneamise: Royal Space Force (1987)

[ ] American Pop (1981)
[X ] The Animatrix (2003)
[X ] Beavis & Butthead Do America (1996).
[ ] Cool World (1992)
[X ] Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)
[X ] Final Fantasy: Advent Children (2005)
[ ] Fire & Ice (1983)
[X ] Fritz the Cat (1972)
[ ] Heavy Metal (1981)
[ ] Heavy Metal 2000 (2000)
[ ] Hey Good Lookin' (1982)
[ ] Lady Death (2004)
[ ] A Scanner Darkly (2006)
[X ] South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)
[ ] Street Fight (Coonskin) (1975)
[X ] Waking Life (2001)

[ ] Animal Farm (1954)
[ ] Animalympics (1980)
[X ] Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon The Movie (2007)
[ ] Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
[O ] The Brave Little Toaster (1988)
[ ] Bravestarr: The Movie (1988)
[ ] Cats Don't Dance (1997)
[X ] Care Bears: The Movie (1985): I also saw the sequel that introduced the Care Bear Cousins.
[X ] Fern Gully (1992)
[ ] G.I. Joe: The Movie (1987)
[ ] Gobots: Battle of the Rock Lords (1986)
[ ] He-Man & She-Ra: The Secret of the Sword (1985)
[X ] The Hobbit (1977)
[X ] The Iron Giant (1999) - one of the greatest animated films of all time
[ ] Justice League: The New Frontier (2008)
[X ] Lord of the Rings (1978)
[ ] Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland (1992)
[X ] My Little Pony: The Movie (1986)
[X ] Pink Floyd's The Wall (1982)
[ ] The Prince of Egypt (1998)
[X ] Powerpuff Girls: The Movie (2002) - seriously underrated, this was hilarious
[ ] Quest For Camelot (1999)
[ ] Ringing Bell (1978)
[X ] The Road to El Dorado (2000)
[ ] Space Jam (1996)
[ ] Starchaser: The Legend of rin (1985)
[ ] Superman: Doomsday (2007)
[ ] The Swan Princess (1994)
[X ] Transformers: The Movie (1986)
[X ] Wizards (1977) - one of Noah's favorites
[X ] Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
[ ] Wonder Woman (2009)
[O ] Balto (1995)
[ ] Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)

Garrity: Notable omissions: Night on the Galactic Railroad, Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer, Twice Upon a Time...
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WTF is this thing: ※?! [30 Mar 2011|04:37pm]
I've noticed manga-ka use this symbol: ※ as a bullet point for exceptions... or something like that. Footnotes?

Anyone know what it's called?

Edit: Ah! An answer from Melissa:
"It’s called a こめじるし (rice mark, I guess it looks like grains of rice) and it gets used pretty much the same way we use an asterisk. Like, it usually denotes a footnote-type remark."
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PICKLING SPICE Brooklyn [22 Mar 2011|10:15pm]
Last Saturday we combed Williamsburg in search of Pickling Spice.

I screwed up the first round of corned beef on St. Patrick's Day and got some tiny bullshit precooked deli meat from Fresh Direct instead of a large brisket thing that I could cook in the slow cooker (i.e. crock pot). I found a proper brisket post-March-17th at Trader Joe's on 20th street.


Admittedly, the TJ's roast was already covered with pickling spice in an obvious way, but I love that stuff. Trader Joe's did not appear to have any pickling spice. Neither did the local C-Town. Neither did Fresh Direct this year. In the past I have gone so far as Zabar's or Fairway to find the elusive spice mix, but this time I was determined not to go uptown, or to Red Hook.

We tried no fewer than three stores called "Millennium Mart" or a variation thereof where the clerks looked at us quizzically. Spuyten Duyvil grocery carried a variety of 18th century sea salt (I swear that's what it said on the box) but not pickling spice.

A kitchen store called Whisk had just run out of the stuff. They do sell canning supplies, though, and advised us to go to The Brooklyn Kitchen. It recently moved to a bigger space along Meeker Street a few blocks from where it used to be on Lorimer.

They had pickling spice BY THE POUND, as well as in tiny box containers. Since in total we had visited no fewer than seven stores I opted to buy an entire pound.

WORTH IT. I can't get enough of this stuff.
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Ganbatte Japan [17 Mar 2011|12:38pm]
頑張って (がんばって, ganbatte) - according to jisho.org "hold on; go for it; keep at it". It can also mean "Do your best" "try your best" or even "Do the right thing!"

I saw this picture of a tiny cat on a wall escaping the tsunami and created two hopeful internet messages for Japan:


To put things into some hopeful perspective, at least this isn't as bad as the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, which devastated Tokyo with the ensuing firestorms (140,000 dead or missing). And then Tokyo was destroyed again by American bombs in 1944.

The current disasters are all in Sendai, not Tokyo. I read somewhere had a declining population of older folks, since young people have been leaving Sendai for Tokyo for years now. In some ways this probably made the death toll worse, since elderly people are harder to evacuate. A lot of interviews on the news have been with people returning to Sendai to search for dead parents.

I was worried when I first heard the news that the Earthquake may have been the Tokyo magnitude 8 quake that the government has been preparing for. I think that's why the TV series Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 (or even Metro Survive) were made. I once spent a terrifying day at work (in 2008) reading a pdf manual in English for foreign residents about what to do to prepare for Earthquakes. Five minutes of googling for it again and I've come up empty handed. In any case, it had advice I wouldn't have thought of; for example, the manual advice Tokyo office workers to always keep a comfortable pair of shoes stashed somewhere in the office and to know how to walk home from work in case the trains aren't running. Tokyo has a hell of a lot of trains (it is easily five times the size of New York City), and walking home could be terribly confusing for far-flung commuters.

Anyway, I feel horrible about what's happened to Japan, but I'm also very hopeful. Of all countries, Japan knows how to rebuild. They even know how to rebuild after a nuclear disaster. Takashi Miike had to cancel an appearance in New York, and had this to say about the crisis:

"...from this adversity — on our lives — we  will all rise up without fail."

I keep thinking about the cheerful Yatta song:

Here are the lyrics with a translation. I keep thinking of the part that goes:

nippon kyuu kyuu
demo ashita wa wandahoo
Japan's got crises.
Tomorrow's wonderful.

I wonder if it's きゅうきゅう as in "emergency", which is written like this: 救急.

Everyone is wondering how to help. I'm going to donate to Japan Society, who promises that "contributions will go to organizations that directly help victims." Tofugu is offering to donate 110% of proceeds to disaster relief for a limited time, and then after the commercial for his own site, Koichi lists some ways to help that are non-monetary.

If you haven't read it yet, here's a good take about why you shouldn't worry about the radiation.
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がんばれ でぶ! Going dry for March [02 Mar 2011|10:57pm]

N. and I watched this charming homemade animation a long time ago, and it got stuck in our heads. "Debu" means roughly "fatty" and "Ganbare!" is "Do your best!" So sometimes N. or I will sing "Debu! Debu! Ganbare debu!" around the house.

Speaking of fatties, I have gained those pesky last ten pounds back, and in an attempt to lose them I am not drinking any alcohol for the month of March. It isn't because I have a drinking problem, as I said last week with a Negroni in my hand, "I have an anime problem."
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All the things I should do everyday 毎日毎日するべき [28 Feb 2011|07:47pm]
There are a lot of things I want to do every day, things I feel I ought to practice at or projects I want to work on. Part of my brain thinks that if I do a little bit of each one each day I'll make progress, but another part of my brain vetoes that part of my brain, saying that if I do some of each of everything I'll have no time left at all. Basically I could have no job at all and not get through one such "daily routine". That is pessimistic thinking, of course.

Here's a list:
    Actual Work:
    • Watch Shelf Life titles
    • Work on column in advance, a little every day, so I can get ahead (this has never happened)
    • Keep on top of invoicing for those other places I write for
    Practice Japanese by:
    • Study kanji
    • Read small things in Japanese and figure them out
    • Write a diary/blog in Japanese1
    Lose 10 pounds/stay in shape:
    • Get some kind of exercise every day
      •   Consequently my ankle has been bothering me again
      • So maybe I need more physical therapy
      • but I have new insurance so I have to find new doctors, probably  
    • Count PointsTM or calories every day
    • Keep on top of grocery shopping
    • Make/bring my own meals to work when possible
    Plan that New York Wedding Reception
    • This has it's own to do list, which I feel I must work towards a little every day. We really are planning it for this June. I have contacted some venues and everything.
    Get rid of stuff:
    • List sell-able things on ebay
    • Use my Amazon seller account to sell stuff
    • Donate un-sell-able things to different places
    • Podcast (once a month)
    • Re-read my old screenplay
    • Work on animating a certain friend's film
    • I've been thinking of starting a web comic
    • Update the panels I give at cons based on giving them at previous cons
    • Apply to do those panels at cons I plan to go to this year
    Personal/Career Goals:
    • Figure out how this tuition re-reimbursement thing works
    • Take an After Effects course or something at NYU SCPS
    • Re-learn how to draw by going to a figure drawing class (maybe this one)
    • Maybe apply for ITP? Decide if I actually want to do the ITP program or not.
1 Notice this entry is not even in Japanese.

There is a temptation to just float. To drift forward and not do anything, but that's pretty boring.

I used to get bored all the time when I was kid. I think I live my adult life by filling it with so many things that I'm not only not bored, I'm always anxious about something more important I ought to be doing instead.
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