October 04, 2013

Kill la Kill - ep 1

It's like drinking a double espresso of Go Nagai. Holy throwback, Batman!

Not good in any kind of conventional sense, but it taps a thick vein of that cracked-out logic-what-logic gimme-some-boobs-and-blood stuff of the early 80s. Cutey Honey by way of Subekan Deka done as an homage by the staff from Gurren Lagann...

I'm amazed. A totally unexpected bit of goodness.

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September 29, 2013

Eccentric Family

No, my family's not eccentric (well, the rest of my family isn't... your not-humble-at-all correspondent excepted!)

I'm always hesitant to say things like "anime of the season" because, frankly, everyone's mileage may vary. But I don't think I enjoyed any of the anime that I've watched this season quite so thoroughly as this one. Very simple character art combined with extremely realistic backgrounds, a cast that delivers comedy without being comprised of a series of moe tropes, and a solid story arc with a few surprising and well-executed twists along the way.

Oh, it's weird - thoroughly weird, though not randomly in the sense that something like Excel Saga was. Does a good job of keeping you surprised without breaking its own internal consistency.

If you've got any patience for the odd, do give it a try.

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September 27, 2013

Good night's sleep

Part of the good luck lately has been a run of takin' care of myself. Made it out to various doctors and got a few things taken care of (the acne medication is surprisingly effective...)

One of the things I'd wanted to do was get my hearing checked, because bluntly, it's never been good. Went in and had it screened, and it turns out my hearing's actually quite excellent - any problems I've got in hearing people are in my brain, not my ears. Well, they can't fix brains yet, but eh. Interestingly enough, though, the ear-nose-throat doc who was examining me easily guessed that I had pretty lousy sleep full of snoring, and recommended that I go see a sleep doctor.

A few tests later, it was determined that I have sleep apnea, which frankly I was pretty sure of before I'd gone in. The doc suggested that I try a CPAP device, which forces a little extra pressure into my airway to keep it open. Downside is that I've got a funny little nasal mask. Upside is that I sleep quite a bit better. Not just a little - I'm waking up much, much more easily in the morning, and hardly waking up during the night at all. I was a bit worried that it would bug Jessica, but she's happy with the results ("you don't quit breathing in the middle of the night anymore!") and, frankly, the machine is pretty quiet too. Took a little getting used to - pretty much gotta sleep on my back, but eh, I can manage that.

There is one other downside - a positive diagnosis of sleep apnea means I can pretty much forget getting life insurance. It's a big ol' heart attack risk, though apparently a lot less nasty if you're getting treated.

Also picked up a nice, new, biiig bed which the two of us can fit on without fighting for space. Alas, it is waiting for me in Hawaii, and now I'm back on my ol' saggy mattress. Ah well, one more thing to look forward to, hm?

I'm hardly in perfect health... frankly, I could drop about fifty or sixty pounds and not miss 'em one bit. But I'm feeling better than I have been in a long time.

Next time I'll do an anime post, promise. ;p

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September 24, 2013

Must be absorbing all Brickmuppet's luck

The problem with posting infrequently because you have nothing major to talk about is this: when you have things happening, you're out of the habit and have even less time than usual to talk about them!

At any rate, things are moving along swimmingly over here. Biggest piece of news is a change of locale. I'm shipping out to Hawaii this winter, there to live with my lady-love (and prospective mother-in-law, heh). This is, not surprisingly, my first move off the continent, and so there are a lot of details I've got to deal with. Plenty of stuff won't be making the trip, so I've also got to find good homes (or the dump) for some furniture and lots of excess books, manga, etc.

Gonna be quite a big change, but fortunately I don't need to look for new work - my current employer is perfectly happy to have me do my same job from a few time zones away. (and since I'm on the evening shift as it is, that's even more convenient...)

I'd resisted the idea for a while, but after some thought, it hit me; I don't really DO anything local here in Dallas, it's just a city I'm in for work. I don't have a lot of friends here and I almost never see the ones that are; I don't do anything local that I couldn't do somewhere else; and it's not like I'm here for the weather! (not that Hawaii's weather is particularly superior in that sense - it's hot and muggy, if not nearly as bad as Houston, but in Houston people adapt by not doing damnfool things like going outside.)

Hawaii's a lot more expensive than Texas, naturally, but all told my total expenses will probably be going down (certainly my FOOD expenses will be, given how often I go out to eat here, which is "essentially every meal"). And it's not like my commute will be expensive...

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April 12, 2013

Devil is a Part-Timer - ep 1

Really ought to grab some screen shots next time...

Basic setup is bog-standard simple. Evil demon lord tries to take over fantasy world, heroes beat his forces back and attack him, he retreats to another world with a promise to return one day and conquer it. In the meantime, he and his minion will bide their time... in Tokyo, as it happens.

The remainder of the episode is adjustment humor. Minion spends time trying to figure out where to get magic out of a world without any, while Satan (yes, that's his name) buckles down and takes work at a McD's clone. He's improbably good at it. With absolutely no sense of just how far down the totem pole he is, he's the kind of employee that everyone wishes they had (because, of course, for him it's An Important Step On The Path to World Conquest!)

And then the end of the episode introduces one of the heroes, who have followed him (presumably to finish him off), and who the heck knows where the show is going to go now. Could get fanservice-y. Could just get Odd Couple. But it has some charm for now, mostly in that Satan is a genuinely nice person (though so far with no description of how someone like that became a world-conquering demon lord...) Playing against type can't carry the show all the way, though, so we'll have to see what direction it goes with the next ep.

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March 25, 2013

Back from the Western Isles

Needed that... almost two weeks in Hawaii. Notes:

  • Girlfriend is doing fine.
  • Maoyuu bogged down a little, but is still pretty decent.
  • Problem Children was pretty good, but suffered from being as short as it was. An intro arc, Asuka's character arc, and then... that's it? Surely not. It's okay to keep your powder dry, but there comes a point where you ought to fire it. We have a pretty good idea about Asuka's motivations and reactions, and some about Kasukabe, but Izayoi is kind of... we know next to nothing about him, save that he's apparently invincible and invulnerable. You know, that's not good for maintaining dramatic tension, guys - even Superman has to worry about kryptonite.
  • Senyu is a good way to spend two minutes a week. Most of the other shorts were forgettable.
  • Polar Bear Cafe ends this week, proving that there is in fact no god.
  • Spent the first weekend in Oahu helping an old friend run a booth at Kawaiikon. I'll do a separate post on that later - was interesting, definitely different from the normal con experience.
  • Who would have thought that the best luau show in Hawaii was the one that was put on by the guys at Brigham Young? If you get the chance, GO.

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March 07, 2013

Rest in peace, Toren Smith

Reported at ANN.

I didn't know him personally, though he commented here a couple of times and more frequently at Steven's blog. Still, anyone who enjoys anime or manga as a hobby owes him a kind thought. He was one of the people who broke the trail that made so many things possible today. I've several of his translation works on the shelf too - on top of pioneering the American business, he was also a fine translator.

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January 11, 2013

Quick notes for the season

Still alive! Been kept busy with vacation, with an old cutesy MMO, and with lots and lots of work (promotion good, insane OT not so good.)

Lately on the anime radar:

-Chuunibyou, still have a few eps to finish out. Much better than I anticipated from the concept. Probably helps if at one point you've had a rich internal fantasy life of your own, though hopefully one you didn't share with people to this degree.

-Maoyuu, ep 2 just hit Crunchy. I've liked it ever since I stumbled across one of the manga series a year ago. It's a send-up of the traditional fantasy genre, but at the same time gets into the details of medieval economics. Think Spice and Wolf meets Dragon Quest written by Milton Friedman. The demon "king" has a refreshing distrust of top-down solutions imposed by government!

-Polar Bear is Polar Bear. At this point you should know if the puns work for you or not...

-Watched some Pet Girl of Sakurasou with the girlfriend. Was worried that it was going to be pretty creepy; the entire hook is that the protagonist is caring for a girl who needs to be reminded to do things like dress and eat. But it comes off as sweet, partly because the girl isn't retarded, just detached, but still human for all that... and the creepy is drowned out by the wacky ensemble anyway.

-Tried an ep of Mangirl and it was kind of... eh. Inside baseball jokes for manga publishers. Maybe if you've got five minutes to kill...

-...and you already watched Senyu, another fantasy parody that's much more entertaining. Lotta RPG jokes in this one, it'll be interesting to see if it can retain the funny.

-Tried an ep of Ishida and Asakura, another short (Crunchy really got a load of them this season, huh?) Wasn't impressed. The Cromartie vibe just isn't there.

Still to watch from this season: Encouragement of Climb (gack, gotta love Japanese-translated titles), Vividread (you can't describe a show as "Strike Witches meets Nanoha" and not have me interested!), Tamako Market, more Shin Sekai Yori, more Magi.

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November 11, 2012

At long last, finished kommandos

Still need to take some better pics - about 2/3 of the ones I snapped of these guys I dropped for being out of focus/blurry/shaky, etc.

Quite satisfied with the results, though. Gotten quite a bit better with skin, but I still need to work on my highlighting some. The tiger stripe experiment worked pretty well, too...

In the end, I'm glad I went back and did the balaclavas as well as the pants with the stripey orange. JUST the pants ended up looking pretty odd - obviously you're trying to draw the eye to them, but with the equipment load of most of the orks, you really can't see them well from a lot of angles. Pulling the eye toward the head helps a lot!

It would figure that the one group shot that came out well would be the rear view!

I wasn't able to stripe the balaclava of the boss since, well, he doesn't wear one. The color balance is quite different on his model too, since he's the only one not wearin' a shirt (the rest of them are unusually bundled up as orks go, for that matter.) At the same time, the boss is holding big jagged knives and I was unsure what to do with them. One problem solved the other. The tiger stripe knives tie him into the rest of the squad better than pants alone would have. I've also put some dark green stripes on his arms and back... considered going "full camo" with the rest, but eh. Not really up for repainting them all at this stage.

Now to decide what unit to paint next...

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F1 Race Stars... what.

Spotted on Steam.

What the heck?

It's... Mario Kart with licensed F1 names and teams. What's the market for this? I'm not sure if it's heretical or awesome.

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October 21, 2012

Where did Cat Shit One come from?

From a thread at Steven's blog.

In the beginning, it -was- Dog Shit One, "dog shit" being the term used by veteran troops to refer to green lieutenants on their first deployment (presumably out of their hearing, though). It was not anthropomorphized, and drawn in realistic style; very Western really. It was reprinted at the end of Apocalypse Meow vol. 3. Nothing special, but it had good attention to detail.

At some point someone convinced the manga artist that it would be a good idea to do the same story with cats and bunnies. That's Cat Shit One (the manga). There is no rookie lieutenant, just two experienced deep-insertion-patrol types and their newbie radioman/gunner.

The tone is pretty dark... but it's a pretty fair portrayal of Vietnam. The protagonists get their hands (very) dirty, the VC are evil as hell, the Russians and Chinese are lurking in the background, the anti-war protestors are clueless, and it comes down to a couple of bunnies trying to make their way in a screwed-up situation.

Cat Shit One (the anime, in its current incarnation) is not the pilot episode - I had a tape of -that- sitting behind my desk for years at ADV.

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October 09, 2012

X-Com - first impressions

My team was infiltrating the gutted wreck of an alien craft, the largest we'd ever picked up on our radar. The Skyraven had set them down almost directly inside the wide-open remains of the nose of the craft. A couple of Outsiders put up little resistance, but a group of nasty Floaters tangled with the team as they breached the main chamber of the craft. The sniper was off securing the perimeter to the right, and one support sergeant had worked his way up on the left, downing no less than three of the Floaters and earning himself a promotion when he got back to base... assuming he did, of course.

The chamber was full of stasis equipment, surgeries, all sorts of stuff we'd never even seen before. Morale was high but ammunition levels were low. But before the team got their power cells swapped out, three six-legged insectoid aliens burst from the door at the other end of the chamber.

I hate Chryssalid. They're incredibly aggressive, tough enough to shrug off anything short of a full laser LMG burst, and they can generally one-hit-kill any poor bastard they can catch. (And, naturally, they're fast as hell too!) Before you know it, they'll turn half your team into Chryssalid Chow and you'll be on your way to the reload button.

The team could have managed to down one Chryssalid with the dregs left in their power packs, but three was totally out of the question. We only had one hope - the anti-personnel rocket slung on the back of Major Sanchez, the squad's heavy and current world-champion alien-killer. But firing the warhead into the three bugs would also frag half the squad (probably not killing them outright - all except the FNG were wearing the latest carapace armor - but laying them up for a month healing would be a serious blow to the XCom program nevertheless.)

I made the snap decision, and Major Sanchez fired his frag - directly into the middle of the chamber, killing two of the bugs and incidentally wrecking most of the equipment. The lone surviving bug staggered over to the FNG and tore him in half before being brought down by the rest of the squad. Ah, well, that's what they're there for...

The howls from the research team were cut short when they realized that, even though we failed to recover most of the alien experimentation equipment, the -engines- were all intact... filled with priceless Elerium. And within hours, our techs had the hull stripped apart, its supply of alloys busting wide open the research bottleneck I had been worried about. Now they're fighting over whether to start working on plasma rifles, a laser gunnery tank, or powered armor.

I'm starting to bend the difficulty curve with better technology, but at the same time I've taken big morale hits in Europe. No telling if I'm going to be able to pull this off long-term.

So, yeah, game's pretty good. "Worthy successor", even, for all that some of it has been simplified.

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September 04, 2012

Nemu post - what's in my bag

Related to the extremely cute web comic nemu*nemu. The artist is asking for people to share what they have in their art bag.

Well, hey, I have one of those!

Okay, so I'm stretching the definition of "bag" a little. Our local game shop does build'n'paint stuff on Sundays, along with miniature wargaming, so sometimes I go down there to get some painting done. I got tired of throwing stuff in a box top and then realizing that half the paints I wanted were still at home, though, so I thought "hey, why not just pack them all?"

Contained within:

  • Plenty of Citadel paints (you can tell the newer ones with the see-through caps)
  • Plenty of Reaper paints (very different consistency, also a lot of unusual metallic colors, and an absolutely dynamite white)
  • superglue and plastic glue
  • pieces of slate for bases (sometimes supplemented by sand and tufts of Silflor buffalo grass if I'm basing at the moment)
  • xacto knife
  • plastic nippers
  • two file sets
  • brass rod for pinning joints I don't trust to stay glued
  • spare drill bits matching the brass rod (snapped two in one day once)
  • PVA white glue for gluing sand on bases
  • some of my odder brushes (the everyday ones are drying at the moment)
  • a bit of foam I can use to make patchy paint jobs (used this on the kans I posted)

Not exactly the kind of art supply that the artist had in mind, but eh, illustration is not my forte. (Truth be told, I'm not much better at painting, but it's still fun!)

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August 25, 2012

Kickstarted - Reaper

Holy moly!

I've been pretty skeptical about the Kickstarter stuff - I figure the musical chairs are eventually going to stop and someone's going to get screwed. But I don't have any trouble trusting Reaper, local boys from Denton that they are. I already use their paints and I like their models even if they're not from the games that I play.

But $100 getting you two hundred fifty five models? (Free domestic shipping too!)

It's kind of kicky that they started off with a goal of $30,000 and are currently cruising near $2,750,000. That's a company-changing amount of money, and I'm sure they'll have a ball with it.

If you want in (and if you do any miniature gaming or D&D, you want in!), it's open until Saturday night at 6 PM...

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August 08, 2012

What I'm watching this season

So I'm watching more anime than I've been watching in a while, no doubt because it counts as a spending-quality-time activity with my very significant other. Here's what I've got on the weekly menu. (I'm not saying that these are the best shows, as there's one or two at least that we'll be going back and covering later - this is just what's on the weekly watch list.)

Moyashimon Returns - Didn't have to think twice. The original was witty, quirky, and weird, and the sequel... is just about in the same place? Again, I'm getting the feeling that it might not really be going anywhere, though all that hinges on the Hasegawa storyline. At least the potential for plot is, er... brewing.

Dog Days 2 - Enjoying this mostly for the fanservice (not all of which is the bouncy-bust kind). It's cute, it avoided all the potential super-angst issues that Steven was worried about, and it's still got that sense that the characters are hamming it up and know it.

Polar Bear Cafe - No, that's a bun. No, that's a pen. No, that's the sun. PUNS, man, I'm watching it for the puns!

The Ambition of Oda Nobuna - really? Gender-swapped historical warlords in an age of warring states? Except this one's also part wish fulfillment on behalf of a fanboy from the future who finds himself stuck in the era? Sounds like a recipe for a trainwreck, but it's not too bad, actually. Nobuna's an interesting character (not entirely believable, but neither was her historical model!) and the main guy is useful and brave (if a bit dim) rather than just letting his tongue hang out every time a cute girl wanders by. The cute lolis in the regular cast score high with the girlfriend, too.

Humanity Has Declined - Pastel crack. Humanity is slowly dying off, supplanted by fairies, of the cute-Santa-elf type. The fairies are generally helpful, but also essentially amoral? Or, at any rate, they're not really concerned about life's worries. The lead here is a liaison between the local fairy population and the local humans, but ends up getting roped into all sorts of weirdness. Parody show, alternately funny and just plain odd, with the heroine in the straight-man role. Could end up really good or really bad depending on which way they take it.

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July 17, 2012

Ain't dead

It's been a busy, crazy month. I've:

-enjoyed a long visit from my lovely girlfriend
-gone to see the local aquarium and its... jaguar
-pigged out on delicious home cooking (repeatedly)
-finished watching Acchi Kocchi (cutesploitation!)
-flown to Hawaii
-eaten shaved ice the size of my head
-picked up a used copy of Lollipop Chainsaw
-found a copy of Moyashimon vol. 1 manga!
-met a lot of interesting people
-and haven't painted any orks at all...

Semi-regular posting will resume. Regrettably, I probably won't see my honey darlin' until October. Sadness, tempered with the thought that it's actually not too bad compared with not having a honey darlin' at all.

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June 06, 2012

Road Trip, or "There and Back Again"

Home again. Took many pictures, some of which I've uploaded to Google+ galleries, and as soon as I figure out how to link them externally, the links will go up here.

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May 27, 2012

Road trip, day two

In Flagstaff, AZ. We made Albuquerque by noon and Gallup by 5 PM... which was 4 PM local and crossing into AZ got us another hour, what with their crazy time zone. NM was fun to drive across, lots of broken terrain and 75 MPH speed limits. AZ flattened back out some, but even then it's more interesting than 300 miles of East Texas.

Tomorrow's plan: sleep in, head for Planes of Fame, go check in at the Canyon lodgings, then take a look-see. Sunrise should be possible if a bit chilly.

Good trip so far. Dad is doing well, even if he forgot all his shirts. We re-stocked at Grandma's, as well as enjoying some nice country catfish and Mamaw's celebrated pecan pie.

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May 25, 2012

Road trip!

It's been a whirlwind around here - friends got married in Denver, where I spent an absolutely wonderful weekend with my darlin'. Been a lot of fun anime watched too. But tomorrow, I'm leaving with Dad. We're heading out west, three days out to the Grand Canyon, then visiting Hoover Dam, probably Vegas, and after that... who the hell knows? Be fun to find out. I've got two weeks off, Dad's finally retired, so we'll just drive where the whim takes us and see what's interesting.

Suggestions should take into account that I'm not particularly athletic and Dad is pushing 70 - we're going to the Grand Canyon but not down IN it, heh. I thought about going by Bryce Canyon in Utah on the way back, since it's (a) extremely neat and (b) can be experienced from a series of lookout points that don't require much in the way of hiking at all. Any other ideas are welcome.

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May 15, 2012

MMO balance and the danger of overextending a metaphor

Scalzi posts regarding the advantages of being a straight white guy, here: Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is

In short, the analogy is that life is an MMO and that straight white guys play in easy-mode, with better stats and less aggro.

Not entirely off base... if you were writing, say, a hundred years ago.

To extend the analogy, the situation he's describing is the game on launch day. Since that day, long ago, the efforts of lots of well-meaning admins, players, etc. have changed the game so that a lot of the extra aggro is gone. And that's good - it didn't really serve any purpose and hardly anyone misses it. Sure, maybe a couple bugs cropped up here and there where the previously-easy-mode guy now catches a little bit of aggro too, but it's not out of line with the amount that's still remaining for everyone else and you're never gonna squash every last bug, so people don't worry about it.

And yet the easy-mode players were still doing pretty well, partly because they were the beneficiaries of earlier easy-mode players who passed their resources down the line. So the admins tweaked some of the encounters to level the playing field. Those playing at a higher difficulty level found some of the requirements to get in certain areas reduced, for example (though as usual, the competitive players got most of the benefits and the ones in the worst positions often didn't see a lot of benefit from those changes).

The most egregious change, to a lot of easy-mode players, was the changes to the rate of fire of boss enemies. Upon detecting that they are targeting a player on a higher level of difficulty, many boss characters are extremely slow to fire, and first have to fill out a tremendous amount of paperwork in a process that can take months. By contrast, should that boss target a player on easy mode, it fires without hesitation or mercy, leading many easy-mode players to say "wait, tell me which one of us is on easy mode again?"

Worse yet, the nature of the nerfs means that the discrepancy is felt most keenly by those players who are ostensibly on easy mode, but not really enjoying any of the benefits - they didn't themselves gain any swag from their earlier easy-mode predecessors, they don't have a competitive advantage in the debugged environment, and due to things like the rate-of-fire nerf (and extra loot provided for guild actions with a larger proportion of high-difficulty players, etc.) being changes to the rule-set of the game as a whole, are they really easy-mode anymore? Sure, on average the easy-mode player is better off, but that's the product of a few being extremely better off and the majority having a small or no basic advantage, so...

As you can guess, I'm more philosophically inclined to hunt bugs than to break out the nerf-bat.

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