Divination

Today’s bit of inanity will use the “shuffle” feature of iTunes to answer multiple pressing questions about myself. Idea ripped from Lafiel; credit the late hour for my inability to realize how bad of an idea this is.

I have a lot of random junk in iTunes, most of it considered “bad” by the general population. Be warned.

1) How does the world see me? High Lonesome, by Jedd Hughes (iTMS free download)

2) Will I have a happy life? This is Your Night, by Amber

3) What do my friends think of me? Get It On Tonite, by Montell Jorden

4) Do people secretly lust after me? Baby I Love Your Way/Freebird, by Will to Power

5) How can I make myself happy? Beauty and the Beast, the Disney in-movie version

6) What should I do with my life? Then the Morning Comes, by Smash Mouth

7) Will I ever have children? Prelude and the Sound of Music, from (doi) The Sound of Music

8) What is some good advice for me? Five-Dollar Bill, by Amadan

9) How will I be remembered? I Remember/Stranger Than You Dreamt It, from The Phantom of the Opera

10) What’s my signature dancing song? Nobody’s Fool, by Avril Lavigne

11) What’s my current theme song? Try Again, by Aaliyah

12) What do others think is my current theme song? The Best of Me, by The Starting Line

13) What shall they play at my funeral? Wind Beneath My Wings, by Bette Midler

14) What type of women do I like? Authority Song, by John Mellencamp

15) How’s my love life? You Belong To Me, by Vonda Shepard

16) To sum it all up… One Less Set of Footsteps, by Jim Croce

Yeah. OK. Whatever. I couldn’t just sit and take the answer to (10) though, so I went an extra round: after picking out my favorite songs from a variety of dance genres (i.e. multiple songs per genre) and throwing them all together, I let the miracle of shuffle have one last shot at me:

10) What are my signature dancing songs? Seriously, this time.

Cha-cha: Dance With Me, by Debelah Morgan

Hustle: Absolutely Everybody, by Vanessa Amorosi

Night-club Two-step: Show Me Heaven, by Jessica Andrews (though Tina Arena might have a less-country version)

Waltz: Kiss From a Rose, by Seal

West Coast Swing: Rock Your Body (random remix), by Justin Timberlake

Ah; much better.

Siberian counterattack

Marin and I just started watching Jubei-chan 2 this evening; boy howdy do I like it so far. There aren’t that many shows that have a serious plot (as in “life and death hangs in the balance,” not “every little detail about this world and story have been thought out”), but are willing to take frequent moments to completely spaz out.

Completely spaz out.

I had totally forgotten about the (literally) sketchy samurai that would appear at the end of each episode of the original series; that Shiro had to give a longwinded introduction of himself before he could do anything; that Jubei had a special Koinosuke whistle.

I had not forgotten about the (brief) fight scenes of the original. This time there appears to be a bigger budget involved, and the fights seem to last a bit longer. Sweet!

The whole thing assumes you’re familiar with the events of the original Jubei-chan, though; there’s no point watching this unless you’ve seen the other first. Both shows have a weird combination of action and offbeat comedy—but once you get used to the flow, it works quite well.

Addiction

I have a confession to make: I’m addicted to Frosted Mini Wheats. I’m eating them right now as I type this. And I do mean addicted: I actually look forward to getting up and exercising, because after that I get to eat breakfast.

I have never, ever, in my life before looked forward to waking up so I could eat breakfast. Exercise has never been a mere hurdle to jump over before getting to those frosted bits of fiber. I have exercised more regularly this last week than ever in my entire life.

And the weird thing is that I wouldn’t even say that Frosted Mini Wheats are all that tasty—but $DEITY help anyone who gets between me and my cereal bowl.

Mini-thoughts: Galaxy Angel & links

I just finished watching the second-to-last episode of the first season of Galaxy Angel. (Yes, I’m that far behind in watching anime.) How is it that this show is at its most brilliant when it is also being—by far—the stupidest thing ever? I can’t bear to spoil the episode (it’ll probably be my favorite of the first season, unless the last episode is a real knockout), but it easily reaches the level of so incredibly stupid hilarity—much like the episode where the Colonel got drunk and bet that the Angel Brigade could win a game of baseball (robots round out the team, if you happen to know that there are only five members in the A.B.) or else they have to wear negligees.

Yes, it sounds dumb. It is dumb. But it’s also pretty funny to watch go down.

In link-related news, I’ve done a half-assed update of my links page, finally. The links, fortunately, weren’t the part that got shafted; the annotations took the bullet. When I get time and have the inclination (a rare combination, it seems), I’ll see about adding a bit of commentary again—but, at least, you now have a current look at the sites that grace my RSS feeder.

In other link news, TidBITS pointed out a fun flickr stream of photos featuring transparent monitors. Some people got quite creative; I’m not sure that I’d go to all the trouble, myself. Turns out I’m a simple person, and some of those pictures sent my sense of reality for a spin.

Meta-blogging

Remember, back in school, when a writer had to have something to say, and then tried to say it clearly and succinctly?

I think I burned out on that a while ago.

Música, maestro!

Last night Marin called me upstairs to watch Bailando por un Sueño, the Spanish equivalent to Dancing with the Stars. The two dances for the week appeared to be mambo (which I know nothing about) and (!) single-time swing.

Single-time swing kind of lost its luster for me once I started dancing lindy hop and west coast swing (I’ve since—sob!—forgotten my lindy); sure, you could dance single-time… but why would you want to?

Perhaps this is the first step towards dance snobbery; I don’t know. I still dance single-time—and, certainly, dancing with another person is fun, regardless of the dance—but when I do I’ll almost certainly feel like I should be doing more with the music than is really possible within the confines of that dance. Left, right, rock-step. That’s it.

I would say that it’s just a sign of my having a limited set of moves to perform, but that’s also the case in waltz. I love waltzing, and have absolutely no issue with my limited moveset (pardon my gaming-speak) there.

Oh, right, Bailando por un Sueño. The two dances chosen struck me as odd, as you’ve probably now guessed: though I know nothing about mambo, my guess is that it’s not generally considered the same difficulty as single-time swing.

There was a giant hulk of a man, with a Hulk-like moustache, who you just knew was this show’s Master P. The difference was, this guy tried. He really put effort into his performance—and seeing a giant of a man honestly try to dance is a somewhat unique sight—but he just came up short in the end.

It’s probably the way I look when I dance. [ =P ] Some things just aren’t meant to be, I’m afraid.

To the Spanish variant’s credit, I did recognize some actual single-time moves in various couple’s dances; I think I maybe recognized one move (a nice one, from the waltz) from the multiple episodes of the American show that I osmosed from Marin.

I have strange tastes in what I like to see in others dancing, I guess, in that I’ve never been all that impressed with scripted routines—the places where it’s obvious that they’re just doing what they’ve memorized. (“Hell,” I’d think to myself, “given enough time even I could pull that off.”) What I really love watching is when you have a lead, and a follow, each doing the job prescribed by their title, and (pick at least one) looking good and/or having fun. [Yes, having fun can compensate for looking good. Seriously!]

People tend to think that the follow has a far easier job than the lead; that is poppycock! Following is an art that I’ll never master, whereas I have (to some degree) figured out leading. A lead has to know moves, be aware of the surroundings, and lead; a follow has to figure out what in the world the lead wants the follow to do, and then spin. As in, do their damndest to make things look good, even when the lead’s frame has the integrity of a wet noodle, and spin like a politician. (Little-known secret*: “follow” actually means nothing more than “pretty top.”)

[*giant lie]

I fail on both counts. For that reason, follows have my utmost respect.

Smack deficiency

On Wednesday night I realized, at dance practice (yes, I’m a damn fool—dancing with a sore back), that I’ve had a smack-talk deficiency in my life the last couple years. Used to be that I could lounge in the Strand basement and exchange words with a variety of people on a near-daily basis. Rachel was always good for some verbal repartee; Eric was always game for a bizarre math problem; Nick and Thom were always primed to talk politics (granted, this was mostly back before people started actively hating others who didn’t agree with their viewpoint).

Now the people I see face-to-face most days of the week, outside of my family*, are my coworkers—who are a horribly beaten down bunch with no inclination towards wordsmithery. My mind has, consequently, dulled over the years.

[*My family, along with Brian—and arguably the email from Andy that didn’t involve Mahoro telling you where not to stick it—are the reason I have any wits about me at all.]

My back still twinges from time to time, which is more than enough to make me a cranky person most of the time. (I’m a featherweight when it comes to pain.) I don’t suffer any long-lasting pain (or, even better, numbness) unless I sit in a non-standard position (i.e. so long as I don’t sit the way I normally sit) or take a car ride of any serious length… so it’s not as bad as it might be.

Still, I did miss Lindsey’s St. Patrick’s Day party on Friday because of my back. (Another reason I missed it was because I thought the party was on Saturday. […])

Small progress w.r.t. my harnessing the power of Ruby on Rails: I can now upload files into my program. Woo. At this rate the pundits will be talking about Web 4.0 technology before I get a grip on this AJAX stuff.

Genius!

My best invention ever: a vest that holds a heating pad to your back. It leaves you tethered to an electrical outlet, but at least your frickin’ back doesn’t hurt so much.

The haps, yo

I mentioned earlier that I picked up a copy of God of War. I have since played through a bit, and can report that I generally don’t get motion-sick while playing; I do get nauseated, however, if I play while I’m congested. Something about not having fully-functional sinuses puts me over the edge, I guess.

Actually, that happened back with the Metal Gear Solid games, too. Weird.

I can report that I am pretty good at rending limbs from bodies, or upper torsos from lower torsos, or left-sides from right-sides. I also successfully completed the mini-game that will not be mentioned (here) on my first try. This is in Neil’s face, as word has it he failed his first attempt.

Saturday evening was the third and final dance of the term. My dance activity was solidly middling—but that’s OK, as I was also suffering from a stiff/sore lower back at the time. (I’m an old man I’ve been slouching while sitting a bit too much, lately.)

Evening highlight #1: The (ostensibly) crazy old woman with a fur hat and a cane that watched people dance all evening. Janis said that the woman had been hanging around the ballroom stage since 5:00 pm (impressive, when I first learn of her existence sometime after 9:00 pm), and seemed to be confusing the ballroom dance with some cultural event scheduled to happen on Sunday. She never spoke to anyone. (I joked to Janis that she was watching us all engage in sinful activities.) Late in the evening she slowly moved from her position in front of the stage to a seat under a window; even later than that, she got up and started dancing with her cane. It was an odd, cheerful dance; during a foxtrot she started swinging her bag around wildly—still dancing, still cheerful—as she made her way to the exit.

Evening highlight #2: When Lady in Red started up (a night-club two-step), asking Jenny—or as I said, “Lady in red shirt”—to dance. I found it amusing (Jenny less so, but that’s not saying much; I was quite amused), and it made for an entertaining dance to what would otherwise have been a ho-hum song.

Evening highlight #3: Benefitting from others’ pain. My friend Janis had attended dance practices during fall term, but found her grades weren’t quite where she wanted them. This term, then, she decided to skip practices and see if her grades improved… Saturday, she said that they hadn’t. Consequently, she’ll be dancing again next term. Yay!

Today, Brian got a cryptic email from Andy mentioning how he had arrived home this morning to discover naked people in his bed. When Brian told me this, I decided that this was a worthy-enough topic to escalate the communication method to the phone; Andy wasn’t home, however, so we left messages to the effect of “you know what I hate? Coming home to find naked people in my bed! What’s up with that?” on his voicemail. As best as we could guess, Andy’s brother had thrown a party the night before, Andy had been away, and… yeah. Turns out that we were pretty much on the money; the only thing that can be said in the naked peoples’ defense is that there were sleeping bags on top of the bed.

Still, I don’t think I’d take that anywhere near as well as Andy appears to have. I’d definitely side with Brian in having a more “burn the sheets” type of reaction.

On Howl

My family watched Howl’s Moving Castle the other night; the recent Ghibli films are pretty much all the anime my folks are willing to watch. (We watched the English dub—which was generally tolerable*, much like the other Disney dubs I’ve heard.) Marin actually read the book Howl was based off of—written by Diana Wynne Jones—before watching the movie, and had some interesting comments about the translation. (I had some thoughts as well, but they’re nowhere near as interesting.) Of course, you might not want to read past the ellipses until you’ve seen the movie, if you don’t want to be spoiled.

[* Save for one two-word sentence, uttered by Howl. (You’ll know it when you hear it. Seriously.) I’m convinced it’s only in the English adaptation, though I haven’t yet taken the time to double-check.]

Whatever else you walk away with, though, keep in mind that Calcifer rules. Look forward to meeting him, if you haven’t already.

First of all: what’s up with Miyazaki putting war into damn near every film he makes, these days? (OK, Spirited Away is an exception.) I appreciate that he doesn’t care for it, but still! There was no war in the book, according to Marin; the Witch of the Waste remains the antagonist throughout, rather than having her powers revoked to become an oddly endearing character.

Other changes from the book were also noteworthy, albeit nowhere near as fundamental as the addition of war to the plot. The scarecrow (“Turnip head,” at least in the English dub) is a frightening character to Sofie, who can’t understand why he follows her. More significantly, in the book Howl never knew that old Sofie was the young gal he interacted with at the start of the movie; all he knew was that she had some sort of curse—and so any feelings he developed for her were based on the strength of her character.

The movie also leaves giant gaping questions unanswered: why did Howl give Calcifer his heart? (Calcifer was a shooting star that Howl happened to catch. The shooting stars were dying as they fell to Earth, so Howl gave Calcifer his heart to avoid that fate.) Where did the black door lead? (To Howl’s childhood home, complete with references to his actual name.) How did Sofie finally break her curse? (Marin won’t tell me; says I should read the book. Bah!)

And zOMG, those two words in the English dub that I mentioned earlier? It’s amazing how the addition of the words “it’s you” kills all the subtlety in Howl’s “I’ve found something to protect” scene. It takes a strong dose of pain to put me into the fetal position, but those two words did it. Wow.

Griping aside**, though, Howl’s castle was visually spectacular. Hot damn. The characters of Sofie and Calcifer were wholly endearing—words cannot express how much I like Calcifer—and even the Witch of the Waste became enjoyable, once enfeebled. (Howl I’m oddly indifferent about.) I also enjoyed the technique of varying the effect of Sofie’s age as her curse affected her more and less strongly, though (on the first viewing, mind you) I wasn’t able to really figure out what was the crucial factor in allowing her to temporarily reverse her curse.

[** Honestly, I don’t mind/care if the movie follows the novel exactly; I do mind, however, that the movie doesn’t make complete sense on its own.]

For all the good and bad, though, I’d definitely be game to watch Howl again—so I guess, overall, I’m positive on the experience. The story isn’t necessarily great, but the animation certainly is—and it is fun.

MGS humor

I’m oddly tired tonight (as in the tired feeling I have is a strange one, not as in my feeling tired is strange), but that didn’t prevent me from laughing at Metal Gear Awesome—beware: MGS1 spoilers abound—that I found through Ars Technica.

Now if only MGS4 (not to mention that darn PS3) would get released….

Notes of mind-blowing importance

Caution: if you’re watching the current season of 24 and haven’t seen Monday’s episode, you might want to skip over the next section.

I’ve never been much of a follower of 24. I’m familiar with the name “Jack Bauer,” I know his daughter is cute but hasn’t always used her head, and I heard something about the President getting assassinated. This season I’ve watched a handful of episodes—but only enough to watch McGill act all crazy-like and to curse at the no-spine new President. Last night’s release of nerve gas at CTU headquarters (watching people drop like flies—literally—was quite eerie) was the first time I’ve ever experienced the clock going silent.

Damn, that’s effective. Damn.

Picked up a cheap copy of God of War today, now that it’s gone Greatest Hits (aka “is cheap”). I haven’t played it yet because Marin’s been working on a project due tomorrow, and the PS2 is oh-so-conveniently located just next to her computer.

I hope to heck I can play it without getting motion-sick. I hear the camera is fixed, which gives me a fighting chance; any time when I’m responsible for controlling the camera ends in tears—the tears you cry after your body has violently rejected the current contents of your stomach.

Lack of productivity

I’ve been trying to learn Ruby on Rails lately, and have discovered a significant drawback to the platform: it requires me to have a browser window open. This window is a sitting invitation to the entertaining inanity of the internet, which is far too powerful a siren song for me to overcome most of the time. I don’t know how anyone is actually productive this way.

Today, once again, I felt like I was coming down with some nasty illness: I developed a nasty-sounding cough, and my eyes felt like they should be glassy. (Upon inspection in the mirror, they were actually fine.) I postponed a visit to Jessica at the alterna-Beanery in favor of a nap, certain that I’d wake up with a full-blown cold ravaging my body.

For the second illness in a row, though, I woke up feeling decent: although I was infected, my body didn’t actually fail me. It’s a welcome change from my past experiences.

Watched Broken Flowers yesterday, which was an odd film. I like the premise behind the movie, and Bill Murray can kick all kinds of ass, but something about the executing left me wanting. What, I’m not entirely sure: an ending? (I’m used to that, though, thanks to anime.) The excision of a certain scene? (Yeah, but that wasn’t it.) A point?

I liked Lost in Translation—heck, I bought it—despite the fact that it, too, might be said not to have a “point.” (Of course, it did have Scarlett Johansson.) I think what made Lost in Translation work for me was that it evoked a mood; Broken Flowers did much less for me that way. I will watch Lost in Translation again; the same can’t be said for Broken Flowers. Nevertheless, I’m not left feeling like asking for that bit of my life back: I guess I’m overall neutral on the exchange.

One way to freak me out

Have me watch some story with a supernatural bent (like, say, Indigo Prophecy) late into the night. Make double-damn sure that I’m falling-over exhausted, and then let me come home and try to sneak quietly into bed without waking my family up. Leave my sister’s door open—which is never open at night—for bonus points.

Provide me with only a little can be seen from up to a mile away red LED light, and leave the comforter on my bed messed up in such as way that it could be construed as a body.

I jumped.

I killed a man, and then tried to catch myself

I’ve fallen into a familiar rut as of late: go to work, come home, piss my time away, wonder where my time went. I have the desire to make progress on certain projects, but no follow-through to back that up. I’m tired, and it’s about time I moved on in my life—I just have no clue where to move on to.

Step one of this moving-on process is to wean my current job off of me. It’s become unhealthily dependent, and my interests lie decidedly elsewhere—to continue on as things are indefinitely would be to do neither party a favor. My best hope here is to construct a programatic mini-me that can hold their hands through most of the things I end up doing during my day.

Step two is where things get fuzzy; I am certain, however, that step three is profit!

Brian, Albert and I started playing Indigo Prophecy over the weekend. The title screen allows you to start movie, which is a telling choice of words; though Albert and I never really touched the controller, we were just as entertained as Brian was. The game gives you control over Lucas Kane, immediately after he’s killed a man in the restroom of a tiny restaurant. You need to deal with the body and clean up—but you have to do it before the cop sitting at the bar decides to take a leak.

My first time through—being the smooth thinker I am—I ran out of the bar without paying my bill. Brian wasn’t quite so dumb.

Also intriguing is the fact that you not only play the part of the killer—you also play the parts of the detectives who are trying to track him down. It’s an interesting position to be put in, and so far has been an interesting game; definitely worth the price-dropped-game price I paid for it.

Worked late yesterday, stayed up late last night (pure brilliance on my part), and then got up extremely early to finish things off today. [There’s nothing quite like learning that a fundamental assumption you made a long time ago is horribly wrong, and then trying to correct it ASAP.] I spent the rest of the day trying—and failing—to nap, and being cranky when I wasn’t holding my eyes shut. Ugh.

Marin has now repeatedly encouraged me to get enough sleep tonight.

Saw Robin, Sam, Kate, and Barry at dance practice tonight, which was quite a bit of fun; I actually danced, too—I’d been slacking the last few weeks. Robin and I have been chatting more, which is nice; we both tend to listen more than talk, which has historically led us to rather quiet dances. Barry tried to grill me about what gals in the room I thought were the hottest; I refused to cave in to his demands (I’ve always had definitional issues about “hotness,” and also have never seen the need to rank others), so he refused to chat with me further. Our friendship appears to be in Extreme Danger. Kate and I practiced the ninja whip, which I fouled up two times before nailing; it’s such a cool move, though, that it’s worth maintaining the ability to use it. Sam told me about inconclusive evidence that suggests that she’s a better follow when tipsy, and repeatedly, hilariously, refused lead’s attempts to get her to cha-cha.

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