Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summer Readings

Each summer I put up a list of books I want to read for the summer. I never do seem to go trough the whole list, it seems to disintegrate before I have time to finish it. Not because I haven't got the time or anything, I simply never can seem to follow my proper list. So I'm there starting reading the first few that I could get my hands on and then suddenly it diverges into some whole new direction.

One little promise I do make every summer is to pick up at least one book that I've never heard of before. I simply ignore the pile of well determined recommendations from friends all while they're gushing about how great it is or what-not, and ask for something as simple as a title and nothing else, but often I end getting something random by my likeness of the title or cover. I known you don't judge a book by its cover, but it simply is something that attracts you at first, cover art is more essential for music I suppose because books you never can tell. Like last summer I got the Black Order by James Rollins, knew nothing about it or the writer in question, still don't know anymore. Anyways, It wasn't a particularly good book nor a bad one either, there was lacking something memorable I suppose. But on the complete flip side of things, that's how I found Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, which was one of my life changing finds, I changed my humor, look at life, a lot of things actually. This summer I haven't found anything worthy of my special random book but I'm still looking around.

This summer I started heavily on prose; I bought this giant prose book for a class at university and we barely used it to its full extent, so I decided to read the whole thing. I never realized I had an appreciation for prose, something great in small story that tell a lot, also seeing familiar author names is always fun. Another prose I got trough is a little more geeky; Hellboy Oddest Jobs. I consider myself a Hellboy fan now that I think about it, I loved the films both live action and the animated ones as well, and I enjoyed Oddest jobs as well. They created such an awesome world with the Hellboy mythos. Something that bugged me was how Mike Mignolia sounded so condescending in the opening statement, maybe I don't know him enough or maybe he wanted it that way. Either way it was creative, each story had his unique differences, some with no action at all, yet still as satisfying than the next one.

Moving along trough my prose book I noticed a story from W.E.B. Du Bois, he wrote book of which I also got for a class, which at that point realized that I had used that book but in quite a rush for the project do, so I decided to read it for a second time. The book was The Souls of Black Folk, really is amazing a must read for anyone interested in the subject of African-American history. Kinda weird how he is overshadowed now by other African-American activists like Martin Luther King.

Another small re-read was Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams. I simply needed to get some Douglas Adam in my summer, I might not been as well known as the H2G2 series but I don't think it discredits it at all. I very much like the humor and it is on par with H2G2, although I do admit it doesn't have the same appeal. I haven't been able to find The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul yet, still looking around from time to time, I ain't that rushed because I heard it wasn't as good as the first, still I'd like to read it someday. Another related note I found some of the radio show recordings online, I'll eventually listen to that.

Moving away from Adams, I did finish John Steinbeck's East of Eden yesterday. Don't know what happened I should of finished off at least a month ago. Firstly I got to chapter 11 or so, then for a few reasons mostly being busy but I was putting it off for quite some time, then finally re-started from page 1 and finished it in two weeks. As the saying goes, I couldn't put it down. I have unique appreciation for Steinbeck; Of Mice and Men is one of the first books that didn't involve fantasy nor science fiction that I really deeply enjoyed. East of Eden is no exception, it starts slow and it dives in at the same pace I would say, he keeps bombarding you with new characters, but it doesn't feel tiresome, at the same time it doesn't feel completely necessary but for some reason you want to keep hearing about these people. Plus his descriptions really are something to admire; he explains it all from something personal by a small analogy that in a way you completely see that person at full capacity, I even started seeing myself in certain characters. That one amazing thing about reading, seeing something you hold unique to you, yet here it is written by a complete stranger in a book.

Rest for the summer my list as gone awry already, but I'd like to read maybe a classic I missed like Animal Farm or something of like that. Also maybe get into a Zombie story, either Pride Prejudice and Zombies or World War Z. Definitely something by Douglas Coupland not sure what yet but one of my friends has been increasingly interesting me into it. Ah! Another series which I just though of now that's increasingly interests me is A Series of Unfortunates Event, something about it seems so fun. Right now I might go onto a Biography of Robert Gravel, I would like to say an idol of mine, but I only know that he invented improv is that enough? Anyways, there are a bunch of little illustrations inside the book by Gravel himself which is pretty neat, but something that bugs me is that the writer really places Gravel on pedestal, maybe I'm too used to a neutral look at things.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hellsing Ultimate

In one word I can describe Hellsing Ultimate and that word my friends is badass. There's been a recent thread in retaking old anime series and re-doing them in a more respective take with the manga and the original writers of that said manga. Before hand I thought that changing the story line a bit so a series it could personify itself apart from the manga was great. In that way you could please the original fanbase with a new adaptation all while pleasing another anime only fanbase, all in the same time interesting minds into the franchise, then theoretically can make more money this way with both sides wanting too see what differs and eventually bitch about it on the internet. Now, doing the only sane thing with the insensible bitching from the fans, original writers, companies not being able to milk the series anymore, a lot of series started getting revamp holding more light towards the manga. Now, I for one tottaly accept this, only when they make things of incredible quality like Hellsing Ultimate and there are a few others I could name. So in the wake of the crazy vampire craze going on and wanting to wash out the voices that told me that some vampires sparkle when in sunlight, I decided to start two new animes featuring vampires, first one Trinity Blood a mix of Trigun and the original Hellsing. And of course I started watching Hellsing Ultimate; one of the most visually interesting animated feature I ever saw.

First off, the first Hellsing anime iteration was good for what it wanted to be, an anime featuring a badass anti-hero taking blood and kicking ass. It's about the Hellsing organization; an organization that focuses on paranormal investig--well more or so extermination, complete extermination for the matter of fact. They have one ultimate weapon which is the vampire hunter Alucard, which he himself is a Vampire, which I would say is one of the most iconic anime characters ever. Another character is Seras Victoria, after an incident she is turned into a vampire from Alucard and she faces some human complications, blah blah blah, nobody cares, its like a vampire having teenaged angst. It didn't feature much of an interesting story really, each time they seemed to catch on something plot worthy the new character seemed to die or simply not important after the next twist (bend really). But what it did feature is pure concentrated badassery from Alucard, if anything everyone watched it simply to see if Alucard could beat his own awesomeness. They also created their own world and mythos behind vampires which is always irresistible for me.

Now they decided to revamp Hellsing, well because quite frankly the original series sucked ,besides Alucard, and maybe wanting to milk it out some more, also the original writer never liked the directions the production took on the anime, which is completely understandable. Furthermore, I'm always weary of people utilizing words like "ultimate", "epic", "super" without merit, kind of my pet peeves people blurting out epic at everything. Acting as my own Ultimate worthy deciderman (inventing words is fun), I pronounce Hellsing Ultimate to be worthy of wearing the title of Ultimate, extended episodes each 50 minutes long and totally new animations.

I'm currently watching the dubbed editions, and for one I prefer dubs, yes shocking, please don't hurt me you bunch of subtitle tyrants! I like anime just as much as you do and don't believe that I need to watch it in the original language that I don't understand! Anyways back on topic, for once they did a brilliant job at the dubbing, since it is set in Europe, mostly england, there's something very interesting in seeing all the different accents of the characters. The first protagonist we meet is Father Anderson a priest, and man that Irish accent for me personally added so much more to the character! I watched the original series in japanese so right there I couldn't tell or even know if there's such a thing of a Irish accent in Japanese. As for Alucard first encounter with Father Anderson, it started out with what I though would be a maniacal grin battle but it escalated into something so much more, all while retaining those awesome maniacal grins on their faces. Seriously now those accents give them all some more personality, even the guy who uses the phrase "First we'll kill you, then skull fuck you!" Sadly an accent isn't enough to save Seras Victoria from lamedom, she even manages to ruin the mood of the anime for some small bits, even her oversized boobs are enough to save her in my eyes, kinda tragic when I think about it.

My favorite part of Hellsing Ultimate is definitely the visuals, I've seriously never seen anything this cool anywhere else. If the series and characters and story don't interesting simply watch it for it pure style of it all. Stylized is a word I'll use to describe this show, because sincerly I don't know how to describe it, everything is hyper stylized and every characters seems to hold on to their respective camera angles, closeups and beyond. One particular scene really stood out for me, with was simple but oh-so-cool. Simple drop of blood fell and splatered and you quickly saw it rise upwards outside the screen view, I would gladly tell you the after effect, but revealing this simple visual effect feels like a complete spoiler for future audience. Incredible how I started describing this little visual treat and immediately thinking that it would spoil the experience for anyone wanting to watch it in the future. I'm telling anyone reading this, you must watch this series if not for story but for the sake of the visual and style of the series, some things in there I could only wish hollywood would at least attempt of recreating.

I'm only at two episodes and already it diverges form the original series with a great pacing, also hints of a nazi appearance? SOLD! (even if I was sold after the first few minutes). I'm not even finished and I'm highly recommending it to anyone out there!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Happy belated birthday Nicola Tesla, if I would of known earlier that your birthday was last week I would've of dedicated a post about you. See Tesla is the type of scientist that you simply don't learn anything from at school, for irrational reasons, maybe for the fact that he might of created a death ray of some kind, and why shouldn't we learn about a suppose inventor of many doomsday devices is beyond my understanding. I simply think he was overshadowed by Thomas Edison, who in my general opinion was an idiotic genius, he patented a thousands things randomly placing currents until something shined brightly. Tesla on the other hand calculated everything and masterfully invented. Thomas Edison himself even kinda confessed on how Tesla was a better inventor, so remember people quality over quantity. Although because Tesla is so awesome he's featured in almost everything, even the much anticipated (for me at least) Dark Void, where is a whole universe inspired by some crazy Tesla invention or something, they've been scarce with the information, but no, my new favorite fictional toy of Tesla is Atomic Robo!

First picked up Atomic Robo on free comic book day and it was just a teaser and it was the only thing that I actually enjoyed, I did enjoy Jesus and Abraham slaying zombies but that's not even worth comparing to anything. The little preview I got was simply with Atomic Robo having some witty dialogue with Dr. Dinosaur, which alone doesn't sound that amazing but that simple scene made me buy volume one. Firstly I noticed the names of the creators one stood out, which was Brian Clevinger, didn't really remember from where I heard the name, I thought that it must of been from another blog or some random place on the internet, so I started reading. Seriously Atomic Robo is amazing, I love the art style but it kinda made me think of Penny Arcade strip they did a little while back, don't know if it's just me but they took some inspiration from Atomic Robo.

Anyways there was simply something about it, there was simply something all too familiar, and I couldn't put my finger on it. Simple witty answers, followed by another as witty response. Anti-climactic endings that are just as satisfying as any other way. So I remembered about the writer thanking Mike Magnolia, which made complete sense, I think it draws a huge part of inspiration from Hellboy, with the whole paranormal investigations and even Robo shares some attributes with Hellboy himself, more or so being able to get pummeled and still being able to bring witty rethorics into the action. Sure enough for awhile I thought it was it with the little nagging voice behind my head, but it still loomed about. So reading on I reached a point of one of the scientist soldiers being able to finish Megaman 2 without getting hit, seriously anyone that is able to do that should be automatically assigned as a Fighting Scientist. And that's where it hit me the simple connection of a 8-bit character, Brian Clevinger is the frikin writer for 8-bit theater! (Seriously tho I thought of Bob and George first but remember that there's was no possible way they could of written that, still love you guys tho!)

Sprite comics were all the rage (did I really use the term "all the rage"?) back in the early 00's. But there was two primary comics which stood out the crowd of badly gif'd sites, one was Bob and George a megaman sprite comic and 8-bit theater a final fantasy sprite comic. Sprite comic was gateway for those writers who couldn't draw for shit. Bob and George updated daily for 7 years, only missing 29 days in total, that's mother freaking amazing. As for 8-bit theater it was a little more popular because the strip was actually good, although Bob and George had a huge community with the forum and the massive spriter army, which I was kinda apart. Now 8-bit theater wasn't must to look at because of the sprites usage, although after awhile he did get a hold on photoshop and lens flared like there no tomorrow.

You could really follow his evolution of a writer with 8-Bit theater, started off the most two dimensional video game characters ever and gave them some decent personalities, you could seem them expand as the comic went along. He gave of some of the great internet comic lines like "Swordchucks" which obviously inspired the rat morning star and "In the arena of logic I fight unarmed". Going farther into the comic you could really see that his style continued to evolve. And I swear to god the Black Mage is a prototype of sorts for Atomic Robo, albeit the mage being evil and all, his witty responses oozes out with the robo replies, and Robo being a robot with no mouth using only his eyes for physical response was probably easier with the years of experience he had with the Black Mage and the fact that he also only had two eyes to interact with.

Anyways back on Atomic Robo, to say it quick, it's about Atomic Robo a self aware Robot invented but Tesla himself, and with the help of his Fighting Scientist he fights nazis and other supernatural baddies. So moving on, Brian has always been direct with his stories, lines like "I just used my violence on them" are simply brilliant. He's also always been the kind of guy that likes the adventure more than the destination, passing by big battle for something a little simpler and logical. But one of my favorite moments is when one of the team calls Robo and says "Robo? There's a Pyramid in egypt!" and then robo responds with "..." I laughed waaayyy more than I should of.

I don't known what else to say, there are just too many memorable moments to start telling them all would be redundant, like Edison trying to twart Telsa with the Ghost of Rasputin?! Or Robo's massive mockery of Stephen Hawkins! Erm...ok I'll contain myself, and let the whole think sink in my mind, I did just read it like a moment ago. All in all, Atomic Robo, is smart, witty, exiting, awesome and for me, nostalgic all while being completely fresh. That quite sums up my feelings for Atomic Robo, one of the best reads I've had in awhile. ATOMIC ROBO ROCKS!

Monday, July 6, 2009

It can update?!

Sorry for the lack of updates, I really have no mountable excuse for the lack of effort. Part laziness part thinking I would have time for a post in the week-end. I did do a lot during my last week-end mostly some stuff that gave me some ideas for some posts, and mostly some old nostalgic stuff. I also had a few request to do another post relating or in the same nature of My Awesome Anthropomorphic 90's cartoons post, so as for tiny request I will be doing another one, hopefully for this week if I can find a common subject to chat about.

On a complete side note, I finally decided, after more than year of failed confused attempts, to watch Dr.Who. I learned to stop using my brain and simply watch the series(I'm turning it on again when I'm actually watching it just ot make clear). I asked around forums where I should start and got more than what I wanted, which is everything but where to start from. So after hundreds of different opinion of casual and hardcore fans alike, a simple answer from a co-worker with a Dalek figurine which was "Just do like when I was a kid, start watching and don't stop if you like it, then when you're my age you can start complaining about how your doctor was better than mine". So I decided to start with Tennant, because he is the current and with some little catching-up I'll be at the new releases. Now I'm done with this maze of my hidden form of procrastination against Dr. Who.

Another feature I will be bringing is a weekly post about Megaman. I have a kind of history with the blue bomber and I have more than enough to talk about and keep going more than long enough. The catch is I would like to play through all the games I can get my hand on and go chronologically trough each one. The hard part will be trying to finish, or most of the game, inside a week, some I won't even try because I perfectly known what time it should take me to get complete the specific games, and if I known I can't do a post in time I promise a filler about megaman at least. I'll be calling it something uber cheesy like Mega Monday or something. But I'll be writing them probably Sunday, simply because Monday is the day where most of the Anime is fan subbed and dumped into the internet, and Tuesdays I'm only at home for sleep, and if I didn't watch them all on Monday it would severely cut that sweet sleep.

I known this mediocre post doesn't substitute anything, but hey I can do what I want on my blog!