Monday, June 29, 2009
According to Anime News Network, Kadokawa, the owner of the Japanese rights to the anime TV series THE MELANCHOLY OF HARUHI SUZUMIYA, has been re-showing (aka re-running) episodes of the 2006 series and posting the re-ran episodes on YouTube. This past weekend, Kadokawa put the first eight episodes up with English subtitles -- including the eighth episode, which is actually a new episode that wasn't screened with the rest three years ago (and hence wasn't included on the American DVDS of the show that Bandai released in 2007).
The episode streams until July 5, 2009 -- so until then, I can paste it right here, nice and legal-like:
Saturday, June 27, 2009
There's nothing about this on the Comic-Con's own website, which one would expect to trumpet the news that this most revered of anime directors will appear there for the first time. (Of course, since Comic-Con is completely sold out, it has little to gain from publicity.) So it remains to see if this is an error by the Times, or a legit announcement.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
In 1987, I was working part-time at Graphitti Comics in Westwood. A thin African-American man with a moustache came in and sought to buy a box of Three Stooges trading cards. He wanted to pay with a credit card, which required my boss's ok. I called the owner while "Miko James," as the credit card identified him, browsed the store. The transaction was approved, and Mr. James left the store with a box of Stooges.
Later that day, the boss came in and reported that some kids in the Westwood videogame arcade had recognized "Miko James" was Michael Jackson -- then at the height of his popularity -- in disguise.
I may not have been as fond of his music as others; and I was definitely saddened by the shambles the man's life became as he became more and more of a laughingstock. But still, there's a little sparkle that's gone from the world now that it no longer has a Michael Jackson in it.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
If it looks familiar, you might have seen it here:
Hirano drew a sketch on the standee; and since then, most of the cast who dubbed Hellsing into English has signed it.
Amy picked it up at an auction at Sakura Con. Now it hangs behind our bed.
Sweet dreams . . . .
Saturday, June 20, 2009
As for the films, they remain crowd-pleasers despite being over 70 years old. ROBIN HOOD and CAPTAIN BLOOD are surprisingly different from each other, despite sharing a director (Michael Curtiz) and most of the cast (including lead Errol Flynn; romantic foil Olivia de Havilland; and Basil Rathbone, who has relatively minor role in BLOOD but graduates to main heavy Guy of Gisborne in ROBIN HOOD).
ROBIN HOOD is a straightforward tale of a nobleman whose heroism leads him to become an outlaw (although he certainly seems to have plenty of fun doing it). And it has some sparkling dialogue. (Marian: "You speak treason!" Robin: "Fluently.")
CAPTAIN BLOOD, a historical-fiction epic, is more morally complex, as one might expect since it adapts a 20th-Century novel. It tells how adventurer-turned-physician Peter Blood is unjustly convicted in the Bloody Assizes; sentenced to slavery in colonial Jamaica; escapes; and becomes a Pirate of the Caribbean. Flynn's attempt at an Irish brogue is awful (he and other characters have to keep telling the audience he's Irish; occasional interjections of "Faith!" and calling male characters "darlin'" isn't enough) but his twinkling eyes and devil-may-care grin are magnetic.
Each is marked by fantastic action set pieces, the most wonderful of which is the climactic swordfight between Flynn and Rathbone in ROBIN HOOD -- perhaps the most entertaining one in Hollywood history.
There's no substitute for watching films like this on a big screen, with a cheering audience that's in the mood to be thrilled.
Monday, June 15, 2009
On July 28, 2009, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences' Samuel Goldwyn Theater will host a rare visit by Miyazaki to Southern California -- Beverly Hills, to be exact.
Tickets go on sale June 25. They're just $5 each, so I expect they'll evaporate like the proverbial expectorant on July asphalt.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
That took care of the morning.
Now for the afternoon.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Or, not quite as tall but perhaps more impressive, is this Popular Science magazine story about an Alaska army mechanic who has built a working -- yes, working -- 18-foot "mecha" exoskeleton that mimics the movements of its operator, who rides inside the chest. It can purportedly raise its arms, bend its knees, and do sit-ups. And it was built for about the price of a car: $25,000.
What will really amaze me is if someone comes up with a giant robot that actually walks. Duplicating human locomotion on a small scale has always challenged robotics engineers. Creating a machine that lifts and drops the equivalent of a grain silo with each step -- and keeps its balance -- seems to verge on the impossible. (And even if it was possible, why do it? Why not put the thing on tank tracks -- as MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM did with one of its more plausible robots, Guntank.)
Sunday, June 07, 2009
Saturday, June 06, 2009
According to this CNN article about a purported influx of real-life superheroes, I shouldn't have just been chatting with family, shopping at local stores, and tasting wine while in Walla Walla; I should have been experiencing a superhero origin.
(Personally, I would have thought that more likely at the nearby Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Much more ambient radiation.)
Hat-tip to Don Burr.
My photos (in which group I include the pictures Amy took with my camera) from our trip to Walla Walla last week are up on Photobucket; just click on the title to this post. They include pictures from the rehearsal; the rehearsal dinner; the reception; a family dinner at Whoopemup Hollow Cafe in Waitsburg; the post-nuptial brunch this past Monday; and assorted other adventures. Here are some highlights.
Lunch at the Ice-Burg, a drive-in burger joint that's been around for decades. It sells T-shirts that refer to the place as a "legend." It has an amazing menu of shake flavors. I had butterscotch.
Hot Poop features a plaque on the wall outside the store, commemorating the joint's status as the oldest independent record store in the state.
Mike, me, and the bridesmaids during the rehearsal. We're standing in front of the 100-year-old bandstand in Pioneer Park.
The cunningly-folded napkins at the rehearsal dinner, held at the Marcus Whitman Hotel.
On the day of the wedding, Steve and Dawn's pups, Buddy and Zorro.
The Whoopemup Hollow Cafe in Waitsburg, about 20 minutes east of Walla Walla.
An amazing smoked-trout dinner salad at the cafe.
Parked across the street from the cafe.
The deserted Sunday night main street of Waitsburg.
Finally, the house on Palouse Street in which I grew up. When my family owned the house, we had a gigantic pine tree in the front yard, and a rough-rock wall out front. The current owners took out the tree, and put a top on the fence.
It's nice to know that the American animated film -- better yet, the Disney animated film -- is alive and well (albeit in 3-dimensional computer animation).
I heartily recommend seeing it in 3-D. The 3-D effects don't hit you over the head (as they do in some of the trailers shown before the feature) but the accentuate the visual splendor nicely.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Here I am with brothers Steve and Mike, dressed like international men of mystery. With us is our father, Alan Barer. I'm the one with the receding hairline.
Here's the wedding. Mike was the best man. The groomsmen were me and Dawn's son (who is, coincidentally, also named Danny).
And here I am walking toward the staging area. The lady on my arm is one of the bridesmaids, Liz.
Previous attempts to show the anime ONE PIECE, a hit in Japan, on American airwaves having failed for various reasons (censorship, differences between Japanese and American standards for violence in all-ages shows, etc.), Funimation reached a deal with animation studio Toei to simulcast subtitled episodes of the show online, immediately after each episode aired in Japan. The broadcasts were to start this past Saturday.
Unfortunately, someone (presumably unauthorized) accessed Saturday's episode from Funimation's servers; and leaked the episode onto the Internet -- before the episode aired in Japan.
Result: the Japanese rights holders are apparently unhappy. "[A]s a direct result of this illegal act," Funimation writes in a statement on its Website, "all U.S. and Canadian fans will be deprived of access to this great anime series for the immediate future."
I know the show is about pirates. But that's no reason to pirate the series.