April 26, 2016

Roger Zelazny

Roger Zelazny died about 20 years ago, and has frustrated me before and ever since, because he left so many things unfinished. Zelazny was the Writer's Block poster child.

This afternoon I purchased "Madwand" for my Kindle. It's the second volume of a trilogy, the first of which was called "Changeling". We'll never know what the third volume was going to be named, because he never wrote it.

And he never finished the second Amber series. It just kind of ends, not quite with a cliff-hanger but nearly so.

Zelazny was 58 when he died in 1995, and I'm sure he would rather have stayed alive and kept writing, but that's not how it worked out.

Jack Chalker is another of my favorite authors, who wrote a lot of multi-volume stories. He's dead now, too (he was morbidly obese) but when he began work on a multi-volume story, he had all the volumes planned out before he began writing the first one, and he cranked straight through until he had finished the last one -- and didn't work on anything else in the mean time. Sometimes he would come back and visit a canon later (like the fourth and fifth books of the Dancing Gods series) but you can easily ignore those and not miss anything.

But Zelazny danced around and worked on all sorts of things. He was badly afflicted by squirrel-brain.

And in the first Amber series, it's obvious he didn't really have the whole thing worked out in detail before he began. (In particular, he changed his mind about the source of the Black Road. There are two mutually exclusive explanations for it.)

One reason he didn't finish the second Amber series was that he got distracted by working on a computer game, during development of which he died.

One of the worst things an author can do to his audience is to not finish a story, leaving it hanging. And though Madwand is a reasonably self-contained story that hangs together pretty well, it's obvious the story is not over and I want to know what comes next. I've wanted to know for 35 years.

He wrote Changeling in 1980 and Madwand in 1981 and never came back to it in the remaining 14 years of his life. Grumble.

UPDATE: Two rants in a week. I must really be a cranky old man now.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Rants at 08:42 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
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Cheesecake: High Fashion

Today's search term is "straw hat". (It doesn't get any more fashionable than that!)





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April 25, 2016

Bakuon!! ep 4 -- Fan service!


Of course, I think it's a foregone conclusion that every episode of this series is going to have a healthy dose of fan service, but this particular episode probably takes that to an extreme. (It turns out this is the only mainstream manga done by the mangaka. Everything else was R-18 at least. So it's not too surprising that the girls look really good, especially Rin.)

A school vacation is coming up, and our girls decide they want to take a road trip. Destination turns out to be Hokkaido, because Rin went there with her father when she was little. The story started sweetly, as if a treasured memory, but it ended up really badly. So regardless, they're going to do it.

But nothing is easy when it comes to this group, and they end up late for the ferry and miss it. Raimu gets on; Hijiri and her butler try but fail and drown the latest Ducati, and order a replacement to be delivered by helicopter. The other three decide to ride to Aomori, 700 km away, to catch a different ferry. And on the way, Onsa and Rin end up racing and leave Hane behind. So the group is now scattered all over the country side.

Lots of spoilers below the fold, OK? Also NSFW.


Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 04:07 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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April 23, 2016



That's a reproduction of the enscription on Shakespeare's grave stone.

400 years ago today, Shakespeare died. Widely considered the greatest playwright in the English language, his works are widely performed, widely studied, and widely read -- except not in most university English departments anymore which seem to be dedicated to eradicating any notion of worthiness of any Dead White Male™.

Revisionism is rampant when it comes to his works. This isn't anything new; in the 19th Century a man named Thomas Bowdler published a book called "The Family Shakspeare" (sic) which removed all the worst violence from Shakespeare's plays. (He then gave his name to the term "bowdlerize".)

But modern revisionists are mostly concerned with Race, Class, and Gender™. And there's one particular revision that has grated with me for 30 years. I'm going to take this opportunity to gripe about it.

"The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice" is now known usually as just Othello. And it has become accepted wisdom in theatrical circles that the part of Othello must be played by a Negro. Every effort is made to avoid mention of the fact that Shakespeare thought that Othello was a Moor.

See, the problem is that Moors were Caucasian, not Negro. The historical dividing line between Caucasians and Negros was the Sahara desert, not the Mediterranean. Revisionists (such as the radical "Afrocentrists") try to lay claim to northern Africa on behalf of Negros, despite the fact that the only Negros historically north of the Sahara were slaves.

That's because the majority of important African political, scientific, and cultural contributions to the world came from the part of Africa north of the Sahara.

I don't care who actually did it; I just care about the fact that our intellectual betters seem to feel it necessary to lie about it. Nearly everything like that came either from Egyptians, Greek conquerers, Roman conquerers, or Arab conquerers -- and all of those were Caucasian.

I don't think caucasians are in any way superior to any other race, not that it would help any for me to say that. Anyone inclined that way has instantly decided I'm a racist and probably piled a whole lot of other negative adjectives onto that description.

What I care about is being honest. Shakespeare thought that Othello was caucasian. The modern attitude seems to be "Who cares what he thought? He only wrote the play."

That doesn't mean I think Othello shouldn't be played by a Negro actor. You cast whoever you think can give the best performance. It means I think you might also cast a non-Negro if you think he would give the best performance, and you don't worry about political correctness.

UPDATE: Another one that I find really grating: "The most beautiful woman in history was African." I thought Helen of Troy was Greek. "NO, no, no... Cleopatra!"

I've heard that from people who didn't really know anything about Cleopatra other than she was a queen in Egypt when Julius Caesar conquered the place for the Romans. The problem is, Cleopatra was part of the Ptolemy dynasty.

The Ptolemy's were descended from a Greek general who was made governor of Egypt by Alexander after he conquered Egypt. Alexander then left to travel to the east, conquering every nation along his way, until he died in India. At which point all the governors he had left behind effectively became kings of their respective states, and so it was with the Ptolemy's.

The Ptolemy's and other Greeks who ruled Egypt during that period still considered themselves to be Greek, and they continued to rule Egypt for 300 years right up until Caesar showed up and the Romans took over.

So it's true that Cleopatra was African, in the sense that she was born in Africa and lived her whole life there, but that doesn't have anything whatever to do with the part of Africa south of the Sahara or the people who live there.

History is what happened. It shouldn't be rewritten to fit a modern ideology. We harm ourselves when we lie to ourselves about how we became what we are. We must face the truth, warts and all.

And we can start by not rototilling Shakespeare's grave.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Rants at 04:32 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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April 22, 2016

Chooser version 68

Added 87 images from Dagashi Kashi, 51 from GATE II, 132 from Motto To Love-ru, 124 from Musaigen no Phantom World, and 51 from To Love-ru Darkness. I also added one new animation.

That's 446 new images, about 6% of the total of 7083.

As usual, you need to force a reload or flush your cache to get the new version. There are buttons in all four corners. The lower left corner takes you to the main page. The lower right corner loads a new image immediately. The upper-right corner opens the current image in a new browser window or tab. Hovering over the upper left corner brings up an information frame most of which is to help me debug, but it contains the current version number too. And clicking the upper left corner loads a new image immediately.

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To Love-ru Darkness


It just didn't feel right to not try to harvest To Love-ru Darkness so I took a swing at it, and I got hooked on the story. So I downloaded the second cour of it (it was a split-cour series) and watched that last night and this morning.

Overall it wasn't anything like as fruitful to plunder. I got 51 candidates from both cours. But I had been watching it with the sound turned off, and I finally got curious and started listening to it. And got a huge surprise: I recognized a lot of the voices.

In particular, Nana has the same voice as Saten in Railgun. It was a perfect casting choice IMHO, and in fact this series has a really top-drawer cast overall. I wish they had cast a man to do the voice of Rito, though.

Darkness is a lot different than To Love-ru and Motto To Love-ru. Those two shows are simple comedy. There really isn't any significant plot line. (TLR did have a climax at the end when Lala's father showed up. MTLR didn't even bother with that.)

The format was that each episode was divided into thirds, with each third telling a funny story that didn't affect the situation, even if it seemed to. There were some changes to the continuity, like introducing characters, but for instance one third-of-an-ep of MTLR ended with most of the girls in the high school turned to little kids. The next third picked right up with everyone back to normal.

Darkness is entirely different. Each episode tells a complete story. A lot of them contributed to a long term story line. Maybe about half of them were serious overall. And continuity was maintained scrupulously.

And it reminded me a bit of Divergence Eve. It was loaded with gratuitous fan service which detracted from the story telling and characterization. It was in there because it was pandering to the existing fan base of the series, because TLR and MTLR had lots of fan service. It's really a shame; I spent a lot of time skipping through Darkness.

The main character of Darkness is Yami aka Golden Darkness, and the way that ended up developing and how it was resolved were disappointing. I'm sorry; it wasn't what I wanted. It was just too stupid. It should have been Mikan who saved Yami, not Rito. Having Ushizu save Mea was pretty cool, but it should have been Momo.


Regardless, Momo and Nana were awesome, so that part wasn't disappointing. I can't see myself ever watching any of this again, but it wasn't torture to watch it once.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 10:45 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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April 21, 2016

Surprise! Log in!

I just turned on my Fire HD to read a book and found out that I had to log in and register my unit again.

I gather that Amazon just pushed out a new version of the software. But it meant that none of my books were in the Fire memory, so I had to force it to download them all again. (Amazon, take your cloud and shove it.)

Part of this update was that I got given the WaPo app for a 6 month trial. I just told the Fire to get it off my unit. I bet in 6 months I get nagged to subscribe, which I won't do.

I wonder what else got updated? And I wonder what other "free" trial things just got pushed into my face, which will eventually nag me to subscribe?

UPDATE: It says "System Version 8.5.1_user_5159720" but since I don't have the slightest idea what it used to say, I have no idea whether it changed.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 10:07 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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Cheesecake -- Oops!!

Today's search term is "wardrobe malfunction". (Plus an ever-lengthening list of exclusions to help retain what's left of my sanity.)





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April 20, 2016

Motto To Love-ru -- plundering complete.


So I got a lot of candidates:

132 Motto To Love-ru
124 Musaigen no Phantom World
25 Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka S2
87 Dagashi Kashi

which is more than 400. A few of those won't qualify because they can't be trimmed (I lose about 12% of width), but I think that's still enough for one update.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Site Stuff at 07:09 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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The ultimate geek joke

"Schrodinger's Panties" (based on characters from KonaSuba, it says)

Just to make it a bit more surreal, there really ought to have been a reference to Magritte's "The Treachery of Images", such as "This is not a pair of panties..."

(because, of course, it's a drawing of a pair of panties)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in linky at 10:03 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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