April 24, 2014

Hugo? Hugo who?

Hugo Gernsback, that's who. If you aren't into SF, you probably don't know what the Hugo award is. And you're probably better off for not knowing.

Back in the 1980's I was romantically involved with a woman who was heavily into science fiction fandom. She attended multiple conventions per year, always including the World Science Fiction Convention (AKA "WorldCon", a trademarked term), and while we were involved she dragged me to most of them.

I wasn't really a Fan although I did read SF at the time. So at most conventions I'd seek out the game room and try to stay busy there. (Gamers are viewed as a lower breed; tolerated but not really part of the guild.) The true fans? You've never seen such a load of self-important people in your life.

SF fans themselves are aware of this phenomenon and have a term SMOF for such amongst them. It stands for Secret Masters of Fandom and refers to the folks who think they're doing something far more significant and important than just reading books and hanging out. (And drinking beer.)

SMOFs have a place in life, and the rest of us who attended conventions were grateful. It's the SMOFs who are willing to put in dozens or hundreds of hours organizing the cons so the rest of us could attend. But they could still become rather annoying at times.

In Boston (where I lived at the time) the center of SMOFdom was NESFA, the New England Science Fiction Association, whose club house was in Cambridge. NESFA basically was in the business of putting on Boskone every year. They spend the entire year organizing for each year's Boskone. And they've been doing it for decades. (The first Boskone was in 1941.)

NESFA and Boskone got so insufferable that eventually another group started putting on their own convention, which they named Arisia. (Which is a fannish joke. "Boskone" were the villains in the classic Lensman series, and "Arisia" were the good guys.)

Anyway, back to the WorldCons and the Hugo awards. The first Worldcon was held in 1939 in NYC, and for a long time it was US-exclusive. But eventually they started holding them other places in the world. Groups in various cities put together bid committees and attend conventions and Worldcons to try to advertise their bids, and each year at the Worldcon there is a vote on where the con two years out (IIRC) will be, so as to give the winning bid committee a reasonable amount of time to do their organizing.

The voters are everyone who attend the convention, or who pay for a membership and don't bother attending. And it's become something of an agreement in fandom that it should be held outside of North America every third year. (Though apparently that pattern has broken recently.)

Everyone who buys a membership also receives a ballot for the Hugos, to be mailed in before the con by a particular date. I never bothered, but you wouldn't believe how seriously some people take that. It's a big responsibility, you understand. The fate of the world depends on making a good choice. Or so it seemed.

Back then, I don't recall that anyone ever paid attention to author ideology, but given the way that Political Correctness has invaded everything else, I'm not at all surprised to learn that it's taken over the Hugo award process as well.

"We can't give the award to him no matter how good his book is! He's one'a them Conservatives!" Sheesh.

The most amazing thing of all about the process is that so many people think it actually matters who wins. I never understood that.

After I broke up with her, I stopped being involved in fandom. It was never anything that mattered much to me, but she expected me to go with her, and I admit it was kind of fun. In 1990 it was in The Hague, so that's the only time I've ever been outside of North America.

Not all the events that are planned are about SF. At The Hague one of the events was a beer tasting. The idea was the people would bring beer from their home nations and share it around. Now this was just about the time that the American Craft Beer revolution was beginning, and in Europe we still had the reputation of carbonating horse piss and calling it beer. So I took a six-pack of Anchor Porter with me. Which was heavy and a hassle, but I did manage to get one Brit to do a double take after he tasted (and liked) it, and I told him it was from San Francisco. "Let me see that bottle!"

The Netherlands is a beautiful country. I can't imagine living there but I'm glad I visited it.

For that matter, the only time I've ever been in DC was to attend a con.

But in the end, those kinds of cons are sounds of furiousness signifying nothing (or whatever that phrase is) and the people who get the most enjoyment out of them are the ones who don't take it so seriously. (And spend their time hanging out and drinking beer.)

And as to the Hugo awards? They're beauty contests. I never took them very seriously before my stint in fandom, and now I don't grant them any credence whatever.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Entertainment at 04:58 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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April 23, 2014

DBKai 2014 -- eps 2 and 3

Hatsuyuki finally came through with the second and third episodes of DBK.

And they're really cooking through the story. In ep 2 Gohan becomes "Great Saiyaman" and Videl figures it out and blackmails him. In ep 3 she is halfway through learning to fly, and Goten and Trunks are both revealed as super saiyajin. And Goku has called in from the afterlife to say he'll be coming to the tournament.

So these three episodes cover all the material which in the original series went from episode 200 to 207.

What they mainly did was to cut out most of "Gohan's high school" and most of the Great Saiyaman vignettes, which quite frankly is no loss.

The surprising thing is that these two episodes didn't feel rushed. They cut entire scenes, but most of the scenes they kept weren't edited down at all.

And... we got our first view of North Kai in ep 3 and he does have a halo, so I guess the canon is that he really did die.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 08:32 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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Today's word: "throuple"

Via Reynolds. A "throuple" is a couple with three members.

You know what's scary? It's in the Urban Dictionary, which defines it as a "threelationship".

The transformation of English into Newspeak is moving right along.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Weird World at 01:55 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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April 22, 2014

Say what?

What does WUG mean?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 09:46 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!



Well, there aren't any bears. So how about a fox?


Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Cheesecake at 08:18 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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From the nightmare file

I got groceries delivered today, and one thing I included was a package of bear claws. (One per breakfast along with my scrambled eggs and potatoes.)

I was looking at the ingredients and one of the last things was "locust bean gum". When I read it, though, at first it looked like "locust beam gun".

I tell you, there's the making of a B-movie horror feature there. A swarm of locusts armed with beam guns? Yikes!

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Daily Life at 02:30 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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Blade & Soul MMORPG

It turns out that the Blade & Soul anime (home of the massively gainaxing gun girl) is based on a Korean MMORPG which premiered a couple of years ago. They've been slowly rolling out versions in other languages, and so far they've done Chinese and Japanese. They plan an English version for this year.

So the anime is effectively an advertisement for the game, and I guess that explains why it feels so empty.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 06:11 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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April 21, 2014

Spring season status update

Here are the shows I planned to watch, or try.

DBK: Hatsuyuki has only subbed one episode and no one else is doing it. Maybe someday they'll catch up, and then I can.

Mahou Shoujo Taisen: As expected, it was crap. Dropped.

Soul Eater NOT: Had a really fascinating first episode, but I peeked ahead at the manga and it emphasized all the things I wasn't interested in, and neglected the parts I enjoyed. I've rewatched that battle scene about ten times, but if the show follows the manga there will only be one more battle, period. (By which I mean that whatserface is only going to transform into a halberd one more time.) Dropped.

Blade and Soul: The art is beautiful and the women are gorgeous, and there's a gunner hunting the lead who gainaxes like nobody's business, but it's fundamentally a stupid show and despite how good she looks, the lead has the personality of a rock. (And she's evidently just about as smart.) I've watched a couple more episodes and each time my interest has declined. Dropped.

Seikoku no Dragonar: is turning out to be pretty good, because so far it's concentrating on the dragon story line and not emphasizing harem hijinks. While it's been about action, or about the dragon mysteries, it's been very absorbing. And they're tossing in enough fan service to spice things up without letting it take over the show. FFF is doing a good job of prompt releases. Still watching.

Fairy Tail: Hatsuyuki is falling behind on this one, too. Two episodes out so far and they're both good. The section of the manga they're in now is dense and the anim isn't trying to rush through it, which is good. Still watching. (I've been downloading HorribleSubs, watching once, and then deleting, so I'm up to date. Then when Hatsuyuki shows up, that goes in the permanent archive.)

So three shows I'm still watching, except that one has fallen off the table because Hatsuyuki seems to have taken on too much this season.

UPDATE: Below the fold, the Blade-and-Soul gainaxing gun girl.


Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 02:50 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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School Idols



Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Cheesecake at 02:15 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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April 20, 2014

Gunfight at the antimatter bullet corral

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Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Cheesecake at 10:55 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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