May 24, 2013
Ginger Rogers has a reputation as being one of the big name actresses from the 30's and 40's, but I've never been very impressed. Most (if not all) of her best movies were famous because she was dancing with Fred Astaire.
But Fred Astaire could dance with a hatrack and make it look good. I know this because he did. He had all the talent. As long as she didn't stumble and fall, the dance was going to look good.
May 16, 2013
Generally I don't care for mecha series, which is why Suisei no Gargantia was a pleasant surprise. There have been mecha series I liked, but in general it's not a genre I go for.
It just now occurred to me that there may be a simple heuristic for sorting the good from the bad: If the name of the mecha appears in the title of the series, then it probably sucks.
My issue is that in the generic crap mecha series, it's the mecha which is the star, the focus, of the story telling. The series is probably wish-fulfilment for young guys who think it would be awesome to be the pilot of a giant war machine. And thus it's likely to dispense with things like "telling a good story about interesting and complex characters".
And if the series title includes the name of the mecha, then that's what they're telling the story about. Myself, I find mechas as such to be silly and boring. I don't mind if they're around, though, as long as they don't get in the way.
UPDATE: As a heuristic it isn't perfect: I did enjoy Vandread. But then, as the old joke goes, if a heuristic was never wrong it would be an algorithm.
May 01, 2013
Loooong time ago I got into Laserdisc. I owned one of the very first Pioneer players, and eventually replaced it with another. At the time I was living in the Boston area, and there was a shop there called "Sight & Sound" which had a huge selection of laserdiscs; one of the largest in the country. They probably did three fourths of their business mailorder. They must have, because the actual store was a dump.
But there were lots of laserdiscs there, and being as I was a young, single, nerdish engineer with too much money and not enough sense, I bought a lot of stuff. I owned all three Star Wars films on laserdisc -- CAV! I bought a fair number of strange titles, too, like animation collections.
And Sight and Sound had a well-stocked adult section, and I did my share of spending there, too. I owned several of the Playboy laserdiscs, and maybe three hard core porn discs. (I've never been very interested in hard core porn; so sue me. Those three were enough to convince me it wasn't worth my time. Since then I've bought a small number of hard core DVDs, and came to the same conclusion.)
They had a lot of Japanese imports there, too, including in the adult section. There was one I bought which I gather was typical of Japanese soft-core porn.
The filmmaker (if we can grace him with that title) got four girls: one Australian, one American, one British, and one Japanese and took them on vacation in Alaska. IIRC all three gaijin were blondes. They hired a motor home and drove all around in it, and he spent a lot of time filming them topless doing various things. For instance, he filmed the American girl flycasting in a river.
He spent a lot of time shoving his camera into their chests for extreme closeups. And there were deliberately plenty of opportunities for gainaxing.
The final scene was of all four running (bouncy bouncy) topless down a beach towards the camera, which was on a jeep driving in front of them.
Damned if I can remember what it was called. (Probably had a Japanese name.) But I find myself curious if it still exists. My laserdiscs and my player are long gone, but the other day I remembered this particular disc, for no obvious reason. I have no idea what brought it to mind.
It was definitely not high art but it wasn't really as offensive as it might sound. For one thing, the girls looked like they were having fun.
He also spent time taking pictures of scenery as they drove around -- maybe 10% of the film is scenery porn. (As it were.) Alaska is plenty picturesque and deserves that.
The chance of it still being in print (in any form) is nil, but I'm still curious. I wonder what it was, and I wonder who made it? I wonder what else he might have worked on?
April 30, 2013
I would say that at least three quarters of the books I've bought for my Kindle are Nero Wolfe mysteries. Don't ask me why; that's just what I've felt like reading recently.
I'm bothered by something that appeared in two of the stories. In both cases, a key event was that someone stabbed and killed someone else, and it was a critical factor in the story that the victim didn't know they were going to be stabbed, the victim died instantly, and the victim didn't make any noise when stabbed.
I don't buy that. Most deep stab wounds in the trunk area will be fatal if untreated, but death can take days, and in the short run the stabbee is likely to scream and writhe about. The only way you can get an instant kill is to nail the heart, which is a small target. Doing that without the victim knowing you're trying to isn't easy.
I guess the answer is, I'm reading these books because I enjoy spending time with Wolfe and Goodwin, not because I'm looking for truth or plausibility.
Another thing that bothers me is the way the police tend to use "Material witness" as a charge that pretty much allow them to lock up anyone, any time, just because the cops say so. I hope that they don't actually do that; it seems like it has dreadful potential for abuse.
February 24, 2013
I understand that the First Lady announced the "Best Picture" winner this evening.
It could have been worse. At least Obama didn't get awarded an honorary Oscar for "Best Performance by a President who isn't named Bush." (That's what his Nobel Prize was for, after all.)
UPDATE: "Argo" beats "Lincoln". Why? Some have pointed out that in Argo, film makers are the heroes.
A different point is that in "Lincoln" Republicans are the good guys. It was Republicans who were anti-slavery; the slave states were mostly Democratic. That doesn't fit the narrative; we can't have that.
December 03, 2012
Have you ever noticed that up until tho 60's, nearly all the famous male singers were baritones?
Andy Williams, Mel Torme, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Elvis, Frank Sinatra...
And after the Beatles, they're nearly all tenors. Yeah, Kris Kristofferson, Jim Morrison, and Neal Diamond, but how many other baritones?
Thought came to me listening to Christmas music on the radio while doing rehab this afternoon...
October 01, 2012
One of James Blish's books had a story in it about development of a new kind of star drive, and its first trip. They were trying to travel to Alpha Centauri, but ended up a long way further away. At one point after they finally figured out where they had ended up, one of them tossed off a comment that Alpha Centauri was actually about 70 light years closer than Sol.
Which is geometrically impossible. Since the systems are about 4 light years apart, one can never be more than 4 light years closer to one than to the other.
I was a smartassed kid and felt like sending a smartassed letter to him about it, but a combination of apathy and lack of knowledge about how to reach him meant I never did. And now I'm glad of it.
I just ran into another thing like that, in "Second Stage Lensman". Here's a line of dialog from Kinnison:
She's beautiful enough -- in her way -- of course. But then, so is a Radelegian cateagle, so is a spire of frozen helium, and so is a six-foot-long, armor-piercing punch.
So what's wrong with this picture?
September 27, 2012
The Lensman series was originally written in the 1930's, before America got involved in WWII. And one thing I'm noticing is how strongly a certain ethos/attitude comes through in it.
I would call it "chivalry". A feminist would call it "male chauvinist piggery", I think.
Kinnison is quite willing to, and often does, slaughter men by the dozens or hundreds, but he never kills a woman so far as I remember. He always finds some other way to cope with her, even if she's his utter enemy.
And he's willing to do almost anything to protect a woman in danger.
That's the ethos in which I was raised. That was what was prevalent in the 1950's when I was a kid. By the time I entered college, however, I was being told something else entirely. For me to feel that way about women indicated that I was sexist and lower than a frog's hind leg.
I never lost that ethos, but I learned to hide it when I was in proper (read "leftist") company.
Treating women as if they were defenseless children isn't really good, but Kinnison doesn't do that. He eventually makes MacDougall a lensman, and sends her into combat, for instance. But the basic idea that men should cherish women and protect them, well, it runs all through this book.
I think we lost something precious when organized feminism tried to kill that idea off.
September 25, 2012
Roller Blade Warriors: In the future, a warrior nun on roller skates must rescue a seer, who is to be sacrificed by a band of mutants.
I'm speechless. Where do I buy a copy?
(You know what scares me? I bet I can buy a copy for my Kindle!)
UPDATE: I suppose it needs to be said that I don't really want to own that.
But I kind of wish I could find this somewhere. I used to own a copy of it on VHS, which I found in a cut-out bin at a video rental place, for ninety nine cents. And worth at least half of that, for the nudity and humor value alone.
Lynette Harris and Leigh Harris are (or were then) very good looking, and have healthy chests, which spent a lot of time bare in the film. And the conceit of the film is that their characters been raised as boys, and despite having a sister, they don't realize that they themselves are female. It goes down hill from there.
Except that it doesn't, really, because the film is camp and doesn't take itself seriously.
Having said all that, it was really low budget, and it looked it.
September 24, 2012
It's been years, even decades, since I last read those words.
"Helmut speaking for Boskone. Your report is neither complete nor conclusive."
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