Monday, January 30, 2006
Jon always starts this particular story by saying, "You know when you were a kid and you made concoctions in the bathroom?” When everyone continues looking at him blankly, he gamely explains further, "You know, like, you mixed the toothpaste and the mouthwash just to see what it would smell like?” (Blank stares from the crowd) Anyway, at this point Jon just goes on with the story. Apparently, he liked to make concoctions in the bathroom when he was a kid, but he was not allowed to keep them in the "mouth rinsing cup" that his mom kept in the bathroom. He had to rinse his concoctions down the drain when he was finished to keep the "mouth rinsing cup" clean and tidy. So, one day he invented an AMAZING concoction. Man, did it smell good! He really needed to keep it and, being unable to keep it in the aforementioned cup, he began looking through the bathroom cabinets for ways to preserve his creation. Lo and behold, under the sink he found the perfect do-dad! He stuck it into the cup whereupon it absorbed all of the concoction, and it still smelled great! Heck, it even had a string so he could hang it up like an air freshener! Perfection! Jon proceeded to tack his new ornament up on his wall.
When Jon's dad came home from work, he went up to Jon's room to see how his son's day had been. Somewhere in the middle of their conversation, he laid eyes on Jon's ornament and immediately addressed Jon by his FULL name (uh-oh!) and announced that they needed to have a talk. The way Jon describes it, he learned a lot more than he really wanted to know about girls that day.
Now, the really funny part of the story is....how old do you think he was?
Go on, take a guess...
Fourteen. Yes, seriously. Fourteen.
Ah, Jon... :)
This makes me wonder, exactly whom am I marrying here? What kind of person doesn't like bananas? What other unjustifiable biases lie hidden in her psyche? I think this could be a deal-breaker.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Giant robots, are, of course, the hallmark cliche of anime. Sometimes, the mecha are truly autonomous robots; sometimes they are vehicles/machines piloted by humans or other sentient creatures. In the later case, the mecha may be so small as to be just power armor. In all cases, however, they are roughly humanoid in shape or, if transformable, have at least one humanoid configuration. Notable examples include Robotech (Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospeada rewritten rolled into a single series), all 3 Voltron series, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Patlabor, Tranzor Z ( Mazinger Z), all the Gundam series, and too many more to list.
BIG-EYED, BIG-HAIRED CHARACTERS
Sub-Cliche: Gaijin as Nihonjin
After giant robots, perhaps the most famous trait of anime is the style in which the characters are drawn. In particular, they invariably have large, round eyes. These eyes are intended to make the characters more endearing and expressive, but, to Western viewers at least, the round eyes and other features, make all the characters look Caucasian. I won't bother listing examples for this one; just turn on any anime series.
Sub-Cliche: Crazy Hair
Anime characters are also famous for huge, gravity-defying, hairstyles that divide into peaky, pointed clumps. (How much animated hair spray do you suppose the average anime character goes through in his average animated day?) Anime hair is also distinctively colored; blue, green, and purple are commonly found. And dye isn't the explanation; based on the context and the characters involved, the crazy colors seem to be natural. As before, providing examples would be pointless, so I won't bother. Pick a show at random.
THE TEAM OF FIVE (more or less)
(This one's my personal favorite.) Often in anime, the central characters form some kind of formal or informal team. The team members usually number about 5, and they belong to these categories:
The Cool Guy. This is usually the leader of the team, and he's often the central character. And yes, he's generally the coolest one.
The Slightly Less Cool Guy. This character often supports the Cool Guy/protagonist; sometimes he's the Cool Guy's best friend, sometimes he simply servers to as a contrast, to show just how cool the cool guy is. Occasionally this is a slightly darker character.
The Big Guy. This character can be musclebound, but more often, he's simply fat. The Big Guy often serves as the comic relief.
The Girl. Yep, there's usually just one girl, though that seems to be changing as even Japan becomes less sexist. The Girl can be a romantic interest for one of the other characters, but that is not often the case.
The Kid/Nerd. This character is sometimes just a kid, and sometimes just a nerd, but he can be both. Not surprisingly, he often wears glasses and provides comic relief.
Note that sometimes the roles can be combined. In particular, the kid can sometimes also be the token girl. In other cases, the central team may include additional characters, though they will frequently fall into one of the above archetypes. (If nothing else, I've cleverly written my description of the Slightly Less Cool Guy vaguely enough to include almost any character.)
Examples of series featuring a team of exactly these 5 members include Battle of the Planets/G-Force (Science Ninja Team Gatchama), and the Lion Voltron series, among others. Examples of series featuring slightly fewer or more characters that nonetheless match my descriptions include
Cowboy Bebop,and Robotech, the New Generation (Mospeada),
Sub-Cliche: Not-Quite-Uniform Uniforms
When the central characters are part of a formal team, often a military unit, they usually wear a "uniform" that is not uniform. Almost always, everyone has his or her own signature color. (Black, blue, red, green, and yellow are the standard colors for the Team of 5, although the Girl can sometimes be pink.) Additionally, sometimes a character's uniform will differ to reflect his or her gender or special skills. Examples include Battle of the Planets/G-Force, Voltron, and Robotech, the Macross Saga.
Frequently, a single visionary inventor is responsible for developing a crucial technology, often a mecha or vehicle. In this case, his son (or sometimes daughter, nephew, or niece) will invariably be chosen, out of sheer nepotism, to pilot/operate the mecha/vehicle/whatever his or her father/uncle created or contributed to. Examples include Tranzor Z and Evangelion.
These stories often take place in a post-apocalyptic setting where, among other disasters, Tokyo has been destroyed. But don't give up hope, because Tokyo is almost invariable reborn as Neo Tokyo, Tokyo 3, or some such. Examples include Akira and Evangelion.
THE GIANT UNDERGROUND COMPLEX
Given that Tokyo has been destroyed---but rebuilt, never fear!---I suppose it makes sense for the military---I mean self-defense force---and research corporations to hide all their top-secret (and usually mecha-related) projects underground. Still, these complexes are immense, often with enormous open volumes. The GICs always engender questions in my mind:
How do they support the earth over such huge caverns?
How long did it take them to dig these things out? I mean, the Chunnel took 15,000 workers over 7 years, and these GICs are much bigger.
Where did the put all the dirt? Seriously, if these series and films are any indication, it seems as if roughly a quarter of the Japanese archipelago has been undermined. Shouldn't the rest of the country be 100 meters higher now? Or maybe they solved the overpopulation problem by making all the islands larger.
Examples of giant underground complexes include those in Akira and Evangelion, but they can be found elsewhere.
I hope you've enjoyed this little tour of anime cliches. (If not, I'll be glad to give you your money back.) Can you think of any that I missed? If so, feel free to comment. (If you're only planning to comment that my hair looks stupid today or that my momma dresses me funny, please keep that to yourself.)
Doumo arigatou gozaimashita.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
The article reports a study in which human subjects with strongly held political beliefs were presented with information that contradicted their preferred candidate from the 2004 Presidential election. The subjects’ brains did not exhibit increased activity in areas involved in reasoning. The subjects then reached conclusions that were not justified based on the facts given to them, at which point brain activity "spiked in the circuits involved in reward, a response similar to what addicts experience when they get a fix." In short, the "study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making."
So, care to guess weather it was the die-hard Republicans or the dyed-in-the-wool Democrats who so ably demonstrated their irrationality? The answer: both. Fascinating, eh? It appears that both conservatives and liberals can be unreasonable when they hold strong pre-existing opinions. So try to keep an open mind, will ya?
By the way, I suspect that this same pattern would be observed when people with entrenched opinions on other topics are faced with correspondingly contradictory statements.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Update: Apparently this league is indeed real; Alison and I saw a bit of the championship on the tube.
Monday, January 16, 2006
Sunday, January 15, 2006
* Sci Fi is the home of the very enjoyable reimagining of Battlestar Galactica, a couple of crappy-to-medium Stargate series, and a whole boatload of idiotic made-for-TV monster movies.
** For Doctor Who news, reviews, episode guides, and more, check out Outpost Gallifrey.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
I'm sure you've noticed that Chinese characters (hanzi in at least one Chinese dialect, kanji in Japanese) are very popular as graphic art among Westerners. Whities, African Americans, and Latinos paint them on cars, hang them on walls, and tattooed them into skin. I've often wondered, given that most of these people most likely don't speak (or, more to the point, read) a word of Japanese or any Chinese dialect, how often the message is flubbed or intentionally mistranslated. I've long speculated that some huge number of Americans are walking around with nonsense permanently implanted into their skin. Shoot, I'm sure more than a few are carrying messages that insult the bearer's intelligence or parentage. Well, know I know I was right to wonder. An NPR story pointed me to Hanzi Smatter, a blog written by a Chinese American and dedicated to "outing" misuses of kanji by Westerners. So, you might want to investigate the site. And enjoy, gentle reader.
Friday, January 06, 2006
On the other end of the spectrum, Chicago passed last years "winner," Houston, to claim the title of fattest burb.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Monday, January 02, 2006
Yesterday (New Year's Day), in the Patriots-Dolphins game, New England* vintage** back-up quarterback Doug Flutie*** scored an extra point by way of the NFL's first dropkick in 64 years. The last time was 2 weeks after Pearl Harbor was attacked, back when the ball was quite a bit more spherical than it is today. Crazy, eh?
* Flutie is, of course, from Canada, not New England.
** Simply calling Flutie a "veteran" is an understatement.
*** "Flutie" is fun to say, don't you think? Flutie, flutie, flutie. Flutie.
Of course, that is a pretty good price. And I would get two of them. And at that price, they won't last long. And those dogs are really cute. Hmmm. I'd better place my order today. Wait! We don't have a dog. Curse your evil genius, doggysteps.com!
I would say that this is exactly what Muffy needs, but Alison and Sharon have already planned to build a carpeted ramp for her instead.
Anyway, you should check out the site. Be sure to note the famous "as-seen-on-TV" logo in the corner. Hah!