Archive for the “off-topic” Category

Luka Megurine.

It's the new year, and I'm still very much in a holiday mood, albeit marred slightly by some computer-related issues; nothing too serious, but still inconvenient. I did get a lot of playtime on various games, due to the OS-and-game hard disk being fine.

I'm not going to do any sort of Year In Reflection post, mainly because I doubt I can even remember what happened in this year with any degree of accuracy. Nor am I able to do a Year To Come post, because I have absolutely no idea what awaits me in 2010.

Yes, I realize how incredibly irresponsible this is. Remember that I am running an anime blog that updates at the last moment almost every week.

I've been spending the past few days overdosing on various Vocaloid videos, both on Youtube and Nico. I should qualify that with the term Vocaloid-esque; I am finding myself increasingly intrigued by the UTAULoids, and how they compare to their non-freeware cousins. Why is Teto Kasane chronologically aged 31, but only half that in physical age? What purpose does the "chimera" label serve? Why baguettes?

It is a mystery.

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Apparently tomorrow is Anime Festival Asia 2009. I do not blame you if you do not navigate a great portion of the site, since, coding aside, the thing is not particularly user-friendly. It's a very busy site, full of flashing and pulsating signs; the sort of site one tends to feel inexplicably sullied after visiting, and making sure that one's anti-virus is up to date.

My curious lack of enthusiasm can be traced back to my previous posts on the 2008 version, where I rail in my typical passive-aggressive and inevitably futile way against conventions made For Fans, By Companies, which end up turning into a merchandise display, without anything for the fans to do other than Buy Stuff. This may have been intentional.

Nevertheless, I will still be attending AFA09, this time with something resembling a media pass, except for that murkily ill-defined area of "online journalism". Since bloggers in general are not entitled to said media passes, I can only assume that more is expected of me. I may have taken a Step Up, but the added responsibility is crushing me back down.

Before you ask, no, the media pass is not for this blog. It is for another. I may crosspost, or at least cross-link the report.

And yet, to get the new site acknowledged as a legitimate "online journalism" site, the webmaster of the New Site needed site hit numbers. Which were obtained from this blog's WordPress Stats.

There may or may not be some form of irony here.

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I have a rather bad temper.

This really should be no surprise to anyone who knows me. I think what does cause confusion among people who only read my forum postings or my blog stuff is that I have somewhat different triggers for what sets me off.

One of these, and indeed a major one that will cause me to fume impotently behind my computer screen for hours on end (if not days), is people assuming motives for me. Stuff like "You're doing this to look cool" or "You're just trolling for attention" make me want to scream at the other person: "Don't you dare pretend to know why I did what I did!"

I can't help it. I think it's incredibly rude and unwarranted; I also know that I'm in a very tiny minority who thinks like that, especially on the Internet. I know that it doesn't matter what some random person out there in the world thinks of me.

But there's a difference between knowing something, and accepting something.

I always assume by default that when someone says something, or more likely posts something on the Internet, if it's not an obvious joke (and it usually has to be quite obvious, because of the text-only nature of communication on forums and blogs), that person actually does believe what they're saying, and they are welcoming of honest, polite, and friendly discussion on the matter. This is because that is exactly my state of mind when posting; it's always a major wrench in mindset to realize that this is not the case for everyone.

If I get my facts wrong, I will try my best to acknowledge it, in the comments if nothing else. (I don't like editing posts on this blog because of some really annoying problems that crop up occasionally due to conflicting WordPress plugins. On Livejournal it's a simple matter, but here…)

So with a comment like that, I see "OP not cool", and think "well, that's true, I never said I was".

Then I come across "OP just wants attention".


Yes, for that post I would welcome further discussion, and this is obviously impossible without some form of attention. But to say that I wrote that post for attention itself is just wrong. That post came about through some stitching together of disjointed notes and thoughts, and put up because I had nothing else prepared for my Two Posts Per Week. The sum amount of thought put into that post may be substantial, but it's all disjointed; actually posting the thing was a result of "hey, what do I have in my drafts Notepad file? Here's something substantial, let's go grab a tangentially-related pic from my collection and post it up before midnight."

And the anger that arose from that comment is not because of the content, which, when I got past the beginning, I found to be a valid contribution to the discussion (unlike the constant advertising spam), but only because of the pretense at omniscience, of attributing a motive to me that was entirely, thoroughly wrong.

Seriously. If it had been "OP did not think this post through at all", it would be accurate, and I would have cheerfully accepted it. But since it's seldom obvious which possible motive I might have had in doing whatever I did (I usually think it's obvious, but I am not Everyone Else), it's best not to guess.

I'm posting this here because I just realized that This Is My Blog, and I can actually say something about it. This is kind of a buildup from other comments on various forums, which cast aspersions on my reasons for doing this blog. I know of these comments thanks to the Incoming Links feature of WordPress Stats, and so I am exercising Right of Reply.

I am currently writing for this blog mostly on sheer bloody-minded stubbornness. That is what informs the posts I have been making; not because I have Something To Say, but because I have Nothing To Say, but Need To Say It Anyway.

And I am afraid of declaring burnout, not because of what it means, but because of what it may result in.

The last time I burned out resulted in something that I've seen linked to in very many places, resulting in an even greater need to maintain a certain standard that I did not even know existed. I've seen GamerS critiqued and analyzed as though it had been planned, something that I sat down to sketch out at least the broad outlines thereof and had some sort of goal in mind, and I don't know why.

This is fairly stressful. The longest I've ever planned the content of a GamerS comic for was half an hour, and it's apparently one of the weaker ones. The "good" ones (which seem to get linked to a lot) are those which I came up with pretty much on the spot.

I came up with GamerS as an escape from responsibility, not as an additional burden.

I'm obviously still going to continue GamerS, since it does relax me, and if I'm in the mood, I can churn them out like nothing. Contrary to the belief of many, I also have not forgotten about the CCS Episode Summaries, but I am carefully not doing them because, as I may have mentioned before elsewhere, I have no more time to watch anime for fun; not without dropping this blog.

I'm not whining about the blog taking up my time. I am complaining about the way people keep misunderstanding why the posts on this blog are the way they are.

And the motives for this post? Quite simply, I'd like something to link to the next time someone else does something on my blog that makes me reply in a snippy and annoyed manner.

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From Nursery Rhyme.

First, a disclaimer: I am not abandoning this blog. At least, I do not have the conscious intention of doing so. Indeed, I have the conscious intention to do precisely the opposite, to hold on to this blog as long as my love of anime and writing holds out, which should be until I die or the Internet dies, whichever comes first. While I cannot absolutely guarantee this, since I'm not omniscient or even merely prescient, I'm going to do the best I can to keep to that promise.

Having said that, I am considering a new blog.

It's not really my decision per se. It will be a group blog, with the other co-blogger being a real life friend of mine. We're doing this in a sort of vague effort to help another site branch out into more than competitive gaming news. (That link may not be current for long; the site admin is planning to change the site name soon, as soon as he decides what.) We may be getting more bloggers, preferably real life friends, although our schedules may mean that they'd prefer to be occasional guest bloggers rather than regular features.

What does this mean for this blog? Right now, very little, since that hypothetical group blog isn't even named yet, much less running. We're still looking for a good name, and considering our brainstormed ideas included "AnimeZombie" and "ZettaiZetsubouAnime", we may need help with that one.

But once it's up, I may resort to crossposting articles. What goes there (that I've written) will appear here as well, while what is here may not be replicated there. Think of it as the distilled essence of actual content, rather than my usual filler posts of "hee, cute girls". If you want to continue reading the random ramblings that spill forth from my brain without much filtering for coherence or hygiene, keeping track of just this blog is fine. If you want to read only actual attempts at intelligent thoughts, go to the new blog.

So, with this new blog, what would you, as anime blog readers, like to see?

There's the usual episode summaries, which will require more time and effort than is presently available to me, but I can try to cut down on some of my other hobbies. (Or, indeed, the number of anime I watch.) There are reviews, which have mostly the same problems as episode summaries, except slightly easier to handle. I'm not sure if I want to do commentary, since that's what I'm doing here; this sort of thing is about the best I can do, and anything more substantial I will have to leave to my co-blogger(s).

If we had to name an audience, I'd say the more casual anime fans. The sort of people who like anime in general, but may not like digging deep into anime fandom, and just want to check out a review or some such on an anime they're eyeing for a purchase. That means few inexplicable fandom memes, and as user-friendly a tone as possible. We may use a scoring system.

It's not really the informal, rambly style I'm used to, but it will be a learning experience, at the least.

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From Chocotto Vampire.

Through no real deliberate intent on my part, I seem to have drifted away from what I suppose could be broadly called "the anime blogging community". I suppose I'm technically still a part of this "community", in that I am blogging anime, and thus I can be considered to be part of the anime blogging community by default. And yet, I don't actually participate in any of the activities that would make me a Part Of The Community beyond that which is conferred merely by existing.

I suspect that a part of it is due to Real Life. The pace has either stepped up, or my brain has stepped down; both possibilities are equally plausible and disturbing. Apart from the obvious side effect of leaving me with less time to enjoy my hobbies, anime watching and blogging being among them, it does mean that I cannot quite eke out the mental fortitude to engage in the spirited volleys that passes for conversation among fandom.

Very few blogs, this one included sometimes, actually want to engage in discussion. Most of the time, it's just a venue to air our viewpoints, however we see fit to do so. In many occasions I've tried to be patient and rational in a debate with someone who is clearly not interested in dialogue, a fact which is borne out when the other party says in effect "actually I don't care what you or anyone else says, I'm just venting". I have no inherent objections against venting if it is made clear that the rant is not a topic to be discussed in depth. Otherwise, the failure in communication just wastes time.

This gets even worse when it comes to the statement of opinions. One thing I learned to do is to make sure that when it comes to touchy topics, it is abundantly clear which parts of what I am saying is fact, and which parts are opinion. The rule of thumb is that if it's not firm enough to be printed as a reputable source (ie "go to press"), then it's opinion. It's a little like that quote about journalists calling murderers "the alleged murderer" and the King of England "the alleged King of England" to avoid defamation suits.

What it all boils down to is that I have the option of Participating In The Anime Blogging Community by sparring with the people involved, or staying out of it all and spending my time watching anime instead. I simply do not have the Copious Free Time or emotional willpower to engage in both activities at once on a regular basis. It's difficult enough to come to terms with my own unpopular opinions, such as with the run of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya's "Endless Eight" (summary: I really liked it), but when I see another post bashing it (fine) with incorrect language (not fine), I have to hold my figurative tongue rather than get into an argument I know I cannot finish.

So it goes.

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From the Hidamarble song collection booklet.

For some reason, once you become an established blogger who does okay-ish in terms of site hits, nowhere near the Big Guys but still kind of ego-boosting, a great many people start wanting to recruit you into their blogs.

I'm not entirely certain why. Maybe it has something to do with having developed your own style, or showing that you actually know how to spell, or something along those lines. Why I was not so scouted a few years back when I was blogless (well, I had and still have a Livejournal, but it's more for slice-of-life) is a mystery.

I turn these invitations down. The chief, primary, and overriding reason is because I have enough trouble writing my requisite posts on this blog, much less come up with something new and different for someone else's. It's the time factor, mostly: so many things are happening in Real Life that require my attention, largely because they tie kind of directly into being able to eat, preferably while watching anime with an Internet connection. I have this chunk of hobby time which looks substantial, but quickly gets consumed by all sorts of things, mostly due to stuff I agreed to do during the less hectic times. They're still technically hobbies, but being responsible for them turns them into obligations which I have to do, whether I continue enjoying them or not.

Blogging about a subject in general takes up more time than simple typing speed would indicate. For one thing, I have to keep up with both the anime I want to blog about, and the anime that everyone else is blogging about, and the anime that may or may not be blog-worthy. (These may be the same thing.) While I am doing so, I also have to find something to say about them, rather than the usual "eh, it's good" or "eh, it's not good".

Other stuff like GamerS I treat as a test of my improvisational abilities. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. So it goes.

All this has left me surprisingly little time for my other hobbies; I've been meaning to continue my long-abandoned Card Captor Sakura fanfic, but unless I can justify it by posting it in instalments on this blog (which I doubt will be welcome by anyone), it will have to wait. And then there's the whole genderbending thing to work on, sometime.

I mention all this not to whine, but… well, maybe just to whine a little. But the original intention was to illustrate why I always seem to be posting Things Of No Substance every week, both sometime on Saturday evenings.

I have also received a rather more compelling offer to write for another anime blog; the extra compulsion is because the offer was extended by Real Life friends. In the fevered contemplation that ensued, I was wondering what the reactions here would be if I moved all my standard anime reviews there, and kept the "side" stuff like the CCS episode summaries and Nanoha GamerS here. I could link or crosspost the review-type stuff back here, as a lazy shortcut. There shall be the place for the more respectable face of anime blogging (relatively speaking); I am quite certain that nobody else on the Internet is going to want to host these weird screenshot comics of questionable legality.

Knowing these guys in Real Life and interacting with them on a regular basis allows for some extra accountability: if someone seems to be slacking off, we can commence with the "wtf mate" and smacking each other upside the head, like a peculiarly injokey Stooge troupe.

Honestly, what I'd really like is a year off from all obligations, so I can work on what I want to, when I want to. There's a zillion stories I want to write, but life is not so easy. I should have called this an anime and creative writing blog. I'm still tempted to do so, but the decision never seems to stick, especially in the cold light of dawn.

Time shall tell how it will all end.

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Especially if it comes with the girl.

I need to start balancing out my reading habits.

If I were to be categorized into a broad fan archetype, I'd most certainly be in the "fanfiction writer" class, albeit dabbling into "blogger" (quite obviously). I've been thinking about it for over a decade now, about as long as I've been an anime fan (actually rather longer, since I started writing non-anime fanfics), and I still can't figure out if my writing of fanfics can be considered to be by choice. Blogging is most certainly a choice: I have lots of things to say about various stuff related to anime, but actually taking the time to type it all out is something that is a conscious decision. In fact, my actual posting schedule (the two-posts-per-week turning up both on Saturday at the last possible moment) might indicate that it's become a sort of self-imposed obligation, a challenge to see how long I can keep this charade up.

Writing stories is another matter: I am forever struck by the impression that if I don't write out the plot ideas that swirl around in my skull, my head will explode. It will be messy.

Currently I'm hammering out yet another story that involves Magical Girls. I've started and abandoned this genre so many times that it's more like I'm waiting for an extended period of maybe a year or so where I can really get to work on just writing, without all the bothersome Real Life stuff getting in the way. Maybe after I've written my mandatory million words of crap in this genre, I can start turning out something of actual substance and value.

The problem I'm facing now is not the old one of cultural bias. I figure that I may as well write everything with Westernized names, and call it "localization". Any complaints that I should have used Japanese names and cultural situations I shall weave together into a banner of I Told You So.

Rather, I am having difficulties in thinking in prose.

Manga, or at least the manga that I read, has an interesting visual flow: the situation is presented to us by means of the panel layouts and their contents, with the text reserved for dialogue and offhand explanations when absolutely necessary. The bigger text boxes and balloons seem to be largely for infodumps, which complement the action on the page. Compare this to many modern Western superhero comics (I have to qualify all of that because invariably someone will probably come up with something beyond my experience), where the panels contain the characters in some dramatic pose or other, while the page is filled with text. The characters just kind of stand there, letting the exposition flow around them. The same amount of dialogue in a single comic book panel will likely be spread out through several much smaller panels in manga; I suspect that the black-and-white nature of most manga has something to do with this.

In any case, I find myself thinking of this story in terms of manga. Here, we have a beat panel, to set up a gag about how the viewpoint character is tailed by his rather odd girlfriend. (Yes, it may be considered a wish-fulfilment story. So it goes.) There, we have a jumpy sort rant about soemthing or other, while another deadpan character does something nonchalant and decidedly bizarre in the background. It's not easy to translate imagery like this into prose, where just about anything that is pointed out in the text should have a reason for being there. Hanging a great big neon sign saying "HERE IS THE JOKE, LAUGH AT THIS" kind of kills the humour.

But since I've run out of shelf space to buy more books, and I've read most of the local library's selection already (not that they have that large a selection), my fiction reading material these days is limited to scanlations and such, which take up little physical space. (I do buy the manga if I like them; I'm waiting for the next Negima Del Rey release, for example.) This may be the source of the problem.

To attempt to correct this, I've been digging out all my old books from dusty boxes to figure out why they're in dusty boxes instead of on my shelves. A cursory reading often reminds me why, as with E. E. "Doc" Smith's Triplanetary:

While not essentially bloodthirsty — that is, not loving bloodshed for its own sweet sake — they were no more averse to blood-letting than they were in favour of it. Any amount of killing which would or which might advance an Eddorian towards his goal was commendable; useless slaughter was frowned upon, not because it was slaughter, but because it was useless — and this inefficient.

And, instead of the multiplicity of goals sought by the various entities of any race of Civilization, each and every Eddorian had only one. The same one: power. Power! P-O-W-E-R!!

I realize that styles have changed over the decades and the Lensman saga is a classic, but it's kind of hard to read something as overblown as that and maintain dramatic tension. Then again, another Dramatic option I seem to have unearthed is Tolkien's Silmarillion, which would probably finish off what's left of my writing style.

Strangely, my current habit of thinking in manga panels does not help me with GamerS: for a gag to be pulled off, the scenes need to be set exactly, with little deviation. Since I am working with pre-existing images, I find that my ad-libbing abilities have been getting the workout more than anything planned. All the GamerS jokes, funny or otherwise, are almost always conceived of about ten to fifteen minutes after I browse through the screenshot collection. So much for planning.

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Yes, I know.

Something went wrong again, and I think I've fixed the problem for now, but if the page is getting cut off halfway again, I'll have to start delving deeper into the issue.

At least I know it's not Post Teaser, since I haven't reactivated that plugin.

It's like this sort of thing happens whenever it would most inconvenience me. Very Murphy's Law.

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Yes, I'm aware that something broke in the blog since the last post. It's also way too late at night (or rather, too early in the morning) to deal with it right this instant.

Suffice to say that I will be spending a sleepless night (or morning) on the matter.

EDIT: Deactivating the Post Teaser plugin seems to have solved matters. I do not know why it broke in the first place.

I'll miss it, even though it gave no actual useful information. So it goes.

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Hatsune Miku in a field of green.

Earth Hour has been accused of being a symbolic gesture and nothing more, and dark rumours have been bandied about regarding the actual net reduction in emissions, and whether Earth Hour is worse for the environment due to actions taken because of it, rather than during the event itself.

Of course, if I truly cared about the poorly-verified negative opinions of others, I wouldn't have begun a blog about moe.

Earth Hour 2009 begins on Saturday, the 28th of March, at 8:30 pm, or 2030h for less ambiguity. This is in local time, which brings to mind the image of a band of relative darkness traversing the globe. It lasts, as its name suggests, for an hour, and thus will end at 2130h, 9:30 pm. I have to be especially clear about this because you would not believe the kind of questions I get sometimes.

Apart from the obvious stated benefit of Reducing Carbon Emissions, even if only for a while, I'm taking the opportunity to spend some time chatting with my family, instead of all of us going off to our various personal entertainments. Since I'll have to talk to them for an hour, this is a good opportunity to learn how to enjoy the good bits of the conversation, and let the annoying bits slide.

Unlike other events highlighted on this blog, I'm not going to insist that you participate. Do it if you want to, but never mind if you don't. Spend the time talking to friends, family, and loved ones. Meditate. Go to sleep. Stargaze. Have a candlelight dinner. Read a book, also by candlelight. Make sure not to let the pages get too close to the flame.

I'm mainly posting about this to explain why I won't be working on a blog post tonight, as is my usual habit. That, and to post some vaguely nature-y pic.

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