Thursday, March 30, 2017

March 2017: Recap and Leftovers

March 2017 News and Event Roundup ...With stuff, and things.

In thelast post of every month, we look at stories we didn't cover, either they weren't big enough for a whole post, or they just slipped past us.  Additionally we will leave you a recipe for a Japanese dish that you may have seen featured in an anime or two that you like.



High School of the Dead, dead.
Daisuke Satō, the artist and creator of High School of the Dead, has himself become dead at the age of 52, which for a Japanese person seems way too early.  It is very sad that we're likely to never get any more of this awesome series any time soon.  Maybe in his will he left instructions for George Romero to pick up the torch and carry on.  Hell, I'd take Ric Romero if it meant we got even one more episode of this awesome series.  Probably not going to happen though.  At least he kept the jiggle alive.

 Photo from Animate Ikebukuro, Tokyo, 2010.  ...I think.
He will be missed.


JonTron becomes Destiny's child (and the internet's bitch).
So there's this guy on youtube who I am told regularly produces funny and entertaining content, and his channel is called JonTron.  And boy did this guy step in it recently.  I was actually planning on checking out that channel at some point because I've heard good things, but now I don't know if I can enjoy it.   That's because regardless of content, I know I will have to engage in mental gymnastics in order to keep what he said over on the Destiny channel separate from the contents of his entertainment videos.  That's like, actual work, and a big detraction when it comes to the enjoyment factor.  Maybe after this whole hubub dies down.  It's not like I'm NOT going to ever check it out, I am just going to be giving it some time.  Regardless of that issue, one of the end results of the 2 hour incoherent mess between those two was the following:



Yep, bitch got fired. Consequences will never be the same! To which my reaction is:

What a dumbass.  C'mon you should have known better.

The back and forth itself between JonTron and Destiny doesn't last for the entire video, but it is still like enduring a mental root canal when the only anesthetic available was Fugu Venom mixed with Sriracha and then injected it straight into your eyeballs.  Both parties involved seemed to know disturbingly little about what they were talking about (25% at best), and JonTron spewed forth mindbogglingly ignorant fallacies based on conjecture and jingoistic assumptions.  On the flip side, Destiny seems to trip over his own face in his spastic reactionary attempts to refute the mental misfires that JonTron delivers... it was like watching an animal shelter burn down but being too far away to do anything about it.  JonTron's arguments are, In my opinion, (for the most part) easily blown out of the water, but it seemed as if Destiny had the only gun and not the ammunition to do it, as there were a lot of things he himself seemed to be unaware of or just not acknowledge for one reason or another.

Don't say I didn't warn you (seriously, it took me 3 days to get through all of it, even that self-congratulatory stuff at the end), but if you really want to check out all 2 hours 1 minute and 5 seconds of this disaster, you can follow the link to the youtube video here.  However, if you would like a more concise and mercifully brief summary of the conversation, please take a look at the below video which I believe sums it up perfectly:

Yeah, it was an hour and a half of that.

So the fallout;  Jon Jafari goes on to blither a whole bunch of jingoist nonsense and sprinkles a bit of tacit macro-racism dust over it for good measure (he's not being racist, but offering up arguments which seem to need mechanics that most people would consider racially biased in order to be valid, and that can make people interpret it as racist sometimes)... And did it as JonTron all within the public sphere.  Is Playtonic being reasonable by Removing him from Yooka-LayLee and any (or presumable all) of their upcoming releases?  Hell yeah they are, what do you expect a company to do when faced with that kind of PR?  Seriously, what can you expect?   Remember how fast Nike dropped Tiger Woods?  What, did you think they were gonna double down and start a new campaign with him, with commercials going "check out how much our guy gets laid... yeah! So, just do it.  Nike!" ...yeah what were they thinking missing out on such a golden opportunity like that.  Companies are always super-touchy about this kind of thing (and that's not a new phenomenon, it's been that way for a long time).

But Platonic gave such bullshit reasons; "oh we're so self-rightous, and we are sensitive to the great cultural struggle of blah blah blah!" (shut the fuck up).   Yes, it's the UK and they do have thought police over there, so maybe they're afraid to not say something like that.  Over there, if you don't constantly "support the cause" you can expect a visit from the modern equivalent of The Committee for Public Safety to escort you to the guillotine for being counter-revolutionary, so maybe they're hedging their bets, but c'mon, Playtonic can't pretend this isn't totally about the money.  

What's really going on is, JonTron is a brand.  He himself is the asset that they are paying for, and when potential customers now have to do mental gymnastics to try and separate the performance of JonTron from the now very public pariah persona of JonTron, and it takes a lot of work.  Having to do that work, quickly causes the evaporation of any potential enjoyment the customer might otherwise get out of this entertainment product.  He took a shit in his own Golden Grahams.  I don't even care what his points were because he did a shit-job making them... he really did.   In terms of businesses in general, no company is going to let something like this hurt their own bottom line.  JonTron is probably still going to get paid for his initial work, as he should (even the Animaniacs had pay or play), and this is just about Playtonic engaging in damage control rather than actively punishing someone.  If he did a better job separating the JonTron brand from what happened, and had more of a (well let's face it) more of an adult discussion, he most likely wouldn't be in this situation.

The one thing I think shouldn't happen is people asking for refunds, or not buying the game even though they had planned to just because they booted JonTron, or didn't boot him fast enough or whatever, it doesn't matter.  It just hurts the employees and the other workers who had fuck-all to do with this or the subsequent Playtonic decision later.  They're just working stiffs, don't punish them because of this fucking mess.

Long story short, JonTron came off as a dick and now I am going to move "checking out his channel" much much much very-a-lot further down on my to-do list.  Geez after enduring "debate" or "interview" or whatever you can call it, I need a Gin-tonic, forget Playtonic.  Gin donations can be sent to our Patreon, which we do not have, so go give it to our other blog Pinky Mixology which also doesn't have a Pateron. ...Just mail us gin... that works.  Tequila is fine also... bourbon too. Ya know what, we're not picky.



Move over Ken Olson, SONY is the new fool in town.
Sony Motion Picture Group Chairman Tom Rothman just opened up SONY's 2017 Cinema Con presentation using the phrase: "Netflix My Ass" with absolutely no self-awareness what so ever.  It may just be pandering to an audience who view the proliferation of streaming as the greatest threat to their industry, but when that industry collapses, this quote is sure to displace the infamous Ken Olson quote that always tops articles and trivia lists with titles like; "The top 10 times corporations got things super wrong" or "Top 5 worst technology predictions by CEOs."

Seriously, this guy's entire life is now defined by this one thing and that's never going to change.

This kind of statement not only shows contempt for Netflix, but for the entire Netflix subscriber base, which (news-flash) have 100% overlap with customer base of Sony Pictures.  That statement not only insults those people, but also the entity that they derive a significant value from.  Contempt for your customer used to be the norm, but now that's really only something Airlines and Comcast can do.  The "Netflix My Ass" statement is going to become the indelible marker on the timeline of progression of entertainment media consumption and delivery, where every analyst, student, commentator, and industry publication will look at and say "right there" when trying to find the exact moment when the old-guard of the industry passed the event horizon and was no long in a position to adapt to a changing market (even if they wanted to, which they don't).

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/netflix-my-ass-sony-boss-reveals-stunning-blade-runner-2049-footage-988909
 
In 5 years, Sony's Tom Rothman will have to be handing out resumes, but he might as well just hand out head-shots with "I'm the guy who said 'Netflix My Ass' that one time" written on them, and just hope someone out there hasn't heard of that yet.  Sony will sluggishly continue but will learn nothing, because we are talking about the same company that thought putting Barbra Streisand's hairdresser in charge was a genius move.  Actually, speaking of companies which are painfully out of touch...


GameStopped.
In what should be a shock to absolutely no one, GameStop has announced the planned closure of over 200 of its retail locations. GameStop is a textbook example of when "just keep doing what you're doing" can take a company down when they forget to keep track of what's going on in the outside world.  In this case it was a combination of failing to keep up with media technology and a complete ignorance of the massive cultural progression in terms of the general popularity of pop-culture and its growth into multi-billion dollar industries (yeah, vidjya games included).



GameStop is one of those pop-culture entertainment companies founded at a time when it was seen as good business to have barely restrained contempt for your customers.  The locker-room Alpha Male was still the embodiment of the perfect executive, and nothing said alpha-male more than shitting on those "nerds" and "geeks" that were into stupid stuff like video games and comics.  (Hell even the owners of Anime Crash did that until the very end... made it impossible to get any effective marketing done).  This also caused many of these retail spaces to give off a a vibe of a particularly hostile environment to potential female customers, so strong that even Vivian James is like... "man, fuck this place" (again I'm talking about back in 1999-2002, not like 6 months ago).

 

This vile contempt also manifested itself into some of the most counter-productive sales tactics and business decisions.  Combined with the disastrous environments created by studios with poorly executed pre-order strategies, and neglecting of beta testing.  Remember when I said that in today's business landscape only Airlines and Comcast can show open contempt for their customers?  Well, even though you can't really count the people who use it as "customers" the DMV springs to mind as well.  See, it's a place where everyone inside would rather not be there if they had the option.  When you're a business that operates like that to your customers, then you really have to hope that any alternative option to you, doesn't come along any time soon.  Basically, if your company acts like a douche, don't be surprised when no one wants to be anywhere near it if they have a choice in the matter.

This now puts Game Stop on the same path as Borders Books or Blockbuster Video, being a place so unpleasant and inept at filling the expectations of customers, that the hemmoraging of said customers away from them is going to prove fatal.  That migration when there was an alternative to getting the same thing from a different source, has in fact occurred and can not be undone.  People have flocked to alternative providers in droves and have no intention of coming back.

This is actually in the GameStop strategy handbook under "dealing with customers."

These kind of death-spirals are usually where incompetent executives and CEOs do the most damage, implementing quasi-effective penny pinching cost-cutting measures that serve only to alienate customers and lose more money for the company (yea, that really annoying thing you did saved the company $100... but the fact that the customer you pissed off was planning to come back and spend $1,000 and has since changed their mind because of that, kind of puts it in the loss column don't ya think?).  They erode any goodwill or consumer trust they had, treat employees like crap, and then go on to do unethical things banking on it being worth it because of the chances they won't get caught.


In an age where there are so many examples of "doing it wrong" in terms of retail chains, it's amazing how their management never notices when it is happening to them.  If they were smart, they would become an online marketplace to facilitate people re-selling their unwanted games and take a piece of the transaction in exchange for facilitating an indemnified and trustworthy purchasing environment which is something Craig's List can't and won't do.  Close your brick and mortar, your own customers (through their use of the service) will also function as your inventory managers, and you just cut overhead by 80%.  You're not gonna beat Amazon on the new stuff, but this is a great place to be. Well that is if the Supreme Court doesn't ruin it, because...


Justice is Blind (from eating lead paint).
Yes, the Supreme Court of The United States of America, the bag of robe wearing dildos who brought us the judiciary shit-stains of Morse v Fredric, Citizens United v FEC, who hate your "num chuck sticks," and know less about technology than a sea slug, are now about to potentially further fuck over America even more, by hearing a case about product repurposing and re-selling as it applies to patent law.  This is a horrifying prospect, because if the case is decided in favor of Lexmark, it has the potential to make unlawful, the second hand selling of anything patented, once it's been altered in any way.



Even if this only extends to hardware, a decision like this would be the rallying cry for Intellectual Property holders to make the same grab at limiting what people can do with the physical packaged media they buy.  They have tried this before, but if they smell blood in the water they will gladly make another try.  SONY, Electronic Arts, Warner, Marvel, Disney, all those companies would love to make it a violation of their copyright protections for you to take a movie, game, book, music album, or anything physical that has one of their properties on it, that you legally purchased from a retailer, and directly sell it to someone else.  Get ready for some new awful challenges coming in the future.   

One thing we can get optimistic about is that as Americans, we know our government is run and influenced by large corporations and pretty much nothing else. And one of America's largest would really hate it if this case went Lexmark's way.  Mega-retailers (all of them), the credit card and finance companies that enable their sales, logistics companies, and a few other major players are worried about an impossible onus of tracking down the source of every original patent, and being commercially liable for not getting it right.  When all that corporate power wants something to happen, it's going to happen.  And as insane as it sounds, we can actually add "hopefully" to the end of that sentence.

For the first time ever, this might be a good thing.


Keep your ghosts in shells and wash your whites separately.
Non-Japanese actors playing Japanese characters in Hollywood adaptations?  What is this, 1961 Breakfast at Tiffany's?  We need to end casting decisions that don't take race and nationality into account at the highest level.  Not only has a non-Japanese actor been chosen to play a Japanese character, the actor isn't even Asian.


End racism in Ghost in the Shell!  Remove Lasarus Ratuere from Ghost in the Shell!  A non-Japanese actor being shoehorned into a role of the clearly Japanese character of Ishikawa is just intolerable!

Like, so OMG racist!

Oh... you thought I was talking about Scarlett Johansson.  ...well I guess the same would apply.  Both are clear cases of casting decisions which obviously don't take the race and nationality of the original character into account.  I mean, if you feel that way about Scarlett Johansson but not about Lasarus Ratuere then... what kind of criteria are you using again?   Yeah, see what I did there...  Taking that position is not one you can really come out of all smelling like roses.  So if you bitch about Scarlett Johansson but not about Lasarus Ratuere being cast in Ghost in the Shell, then it's you, you're the one being racist.

Well, lets see what the "victims" of this horrible cultural appropriation think about the situation...

I know you've seen it already, but it's still here... still a thing.

Of course the only opinion that matters is that of Masamune Shiro, but I think he's still in his stasis chamber (it's either that or he's still too busy counting all the money from the ginormous payment he got out of this).  Somehow I doubt he'd give a shit either way.  With the trailer making the movie look like "Jason Bourne with Robots: pew-pew-pew! wooosh! ka-boom!  Matrix stiff!" or as some have named it "BlandRunner" ...I don't think I really want to be first in line to see the thing anyway.


Fearless Extended.
Fearless Girl, the new and very talked-about art instillation in Lower Manhattan, remains temporary, but its presence in its current placement will be extended to February of 2018.



NYC Public Advocate Letitia James is leading efforts within city government to make the statue permanent.  You can still support her in her efforts by contacting the Office of the Mayor, your NYC Council Representative if you live within the City, and ...I dunno, maybe The Parks Department or something?  In dealing with government, writing hand-written letters is always much more effective than emails, twitter, or some online petition that no one is going to read.  So seriously, it's not that hard to just buy a stamp and send something on its way. they take this thing seriously.


An Ai for Art,
Artist Ai Weiwei will be doing art in NYC.  So... that's a thing.


You got a Weiwei in your eye...
Looks cool but y'all know the pigeons are just gonna crap all over them things in the first week anyway...



You Smell That?
I know last time I said I'd put up Teriyaki, but something happened, so too bad, it's not happening.  In it's place, we shall be showing you another Japanese staple of cuisine you may have seen in one anime or another, Omu-Rice.  Yes omu-rice, rice in an omelette, with... like ketchup on it.  The filling can often vary but is usually some default of beef consume cooked rice and some stuff.  Although, filling it with straight up mac & cheese w/ bacon is also an option.
Beef flavored filling;
So start by making some rice.
While that's cooking, misen your plus by taking 3 eggs out of any refrigeration and just setting them someplace where they will come to room temp.
Chop yourself up half an onion into itty bitty bits.
Mash 2 cloves of garlic into mush (or you can boil them before-hand and they'll spread like toothpaste).
You can use ground beef, or just use some shredded slices of roast beef from the deli counter, if you're looking to same time and not deal with raw meat and so on.
So start up a pan with butter/sesame oil/olive oil/lard/whatever, and add onions, and the meat.  Let that cook for a bit while adding soy sauce beef broth or bullion, and any spices you like or whatever.  As it cooks, add your cooked rice in with it and stir it around, getting everything mixed together evenly.  You may want to continue to add water or just have some around to prevent this from burning.  You can add things to make it spicy, sweet, savory, or add shreadded cheese to make it all Philly Cheesesteak or cheese-burger, or even taco spices for taco style.   Anyway once that's all cooked up (doesn't really matter what you cook it in) put it aside and get the eggs ready.


Ends up looking like this mess but that's ok because this isn't the part people see.

Eggs and such;
Regarding the eggs, it's best if they are already at room temp when you start, so take them out of the fridge before hand.  Eggs in the USA and Canada are scrubbed, so they don't have their protected membrane covering the outer shell, which means refrigeration them is a good idea.  Anyway, whisk 3 together in a bowl, and then add 1oz of water (seriously, do this, your eggs will cook better and not stick.  No, don't add milk, milk burns, add water it doesn't burn). 

In an omelette pan, or something with curved edges, add more oil than you think you're going to need, get it hot, then pour in the egg.  move it around a bit, and as it cooks just kill and bubbles that get too big.  The heat from the oil is mostly likely enough to cook this stuff on contact enough so that sticking won't be an issue.  once it's half solid, add the filling and you can probably kill the heat.

 Don't put the filling in the center.  Put it 1/3rd from the edge.

Then flip the top while plating and get it under there so that everything's bundled up.  Add ketchup, mayo, bbq sauce, whipped cream, whatever you want really.

Time-saving cheat;  Just get some whatever-fried-rice from your local Chinese take-out place and use that.  Maybe jazz it up with a little pepper sauce or something.  Perfect for creatively dealing with bland and boring leftovers.

Browning is to taste.  The less oil you start with and if you skip adding that water, the more browning will happen.  I like browning but some people don't.

Here is one broken in half, which is how you'll often find it in presentation windows at omurice restaurants. Except I just mashed this one because I was about to eat it.

Then you eat it.  And remember, the best part of omurice is that there is really almost no limit on what you can stuff in there.  Mac & Cheese, pizza sauce and pepperoni, pulled pork, poutine, loaded nachos ...something healthy I am assuming.  All that good stuff.

And that's it for this post.  Go get ready for Hanami or something.


That means stock up on saké.  Might we recommend a domestic variety?   It's good.  Not Harushika good, but still good.

-





Thursday, March 23, 2017

Wonder the Woman: Identity Politics + Wonder Woman = A Problematic Post.


This is why we can't have nice things.

Somehow, Wonder Woman keeps ending up atop the plinth of misdirected SJW outrage.  Apparently, this time it's because a distinct lack of visible armpit hair is an affront to everything in the universe and you're a misogynist agent of the patriarchy if you don't get out in-front of DC's offices right the hell now with a protest sign and 3 different whistles.  It is amazing how identity politics wielded as a cudgel by out-of-touch people just ruins everything it encounters.  Actually that's not amazing. What is amazing is that this is working its way into pop-culture via a most agonizing exploitation of ridiculous minutia.


The above sentiment is what brings an added degree of frustration to this mess.  The people doing all the bellyaching, moaning, whining, kvetching, shouting, ranting, back-turning, and finger waving or whatever various other unproductive disruptive activities they do, know exactly nothing about Wonder Woman other than "something something The Patriarchy!"  They also will never bother to learn.  To many people critical of these things, pop-culture is still something for the "nerds" or "basement dwellers" out there and they themselves with their oh so mighty opinions of what is and isn't appropriate are just so much more sophisticated.  It's understandable that people thought that way in 1987, but not 2017.  Seriously, ask one of them what Wonder Woman's real name is and they'll have no idea, but they'll have plenty to say about her outfit and what books/art you should be able to read or buy.  These social pontifications serve only to damage an existing brand and prevent people from accessing it who wish to do so.  Therein lies the problem.  The "I think it's bad!  So no one can have access to it no matter what" mentality is simply censorship under the guise of socially progressive propositions.  But this does not build anything, nor does it offer alternatives to something they believe is deficient in terms of being "woke" or whatever the comic book equivalent of that is.  It just destroys what it deems as antithetical to its own sensibilities and moves on to a new target. Or just comes back to bashing Wonder Woman again because these people are insane.


Yes that's a school punishing a student for bringing "violent imagery" into the classroom in the form of those above images.  This is most likely a case of not only hostility to Wonder Woman, but also the broader problem that schools have devolved into Zimbardian nightmares of out of control administrators and teaching staff, seeking to dehumanize every student to the point where they can exercise absolute control over them.  There is really not much difference between punishing a student for something so innocuous as the instance above, and that scene in Cool Hand Luke where the prison guards make him dig a hole and then fill it back in just for the hell of it, so they can show him who's boss.  It doesn't end well in either situation.

Returning to the armpit hair issue, Wonder Woman is Greek, and has been alive for a long time.  Regarding specific tastes, you ever see Ancient Greek statues?  You know what's not there on the ones of both women and men?  Armpit hair.  So maybe we can get historical accuracy in on this and say that it is period specific.  Actually, she's basically half Goddess, so she probably has the ability to straight up will her hair right the fuck off any part of her whenever the fuck she feels like it. 

Hell, the Ancient Egyptians hated body hair so much they all shaved and waxed every inch of themselves (that's both the havers of XX and XY chromosomes), so if an Ancient Egyptian character had no armpit hair and a bikini wax, would that be sexist?  Of course not, it would be straight up historically accurate, but some people would call it sexist anyway by incorrectly applying modern social norms to areas outside their effective purview.


Something something, PH balanced, something something, punchline.


UNwoke:

Oh but that isn't the only bone of picking that the SJWs have with Wonder Woman.  In late 2016, she was "fired" from being an Honorary U.N.  Ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls, because... sexism I guess.  Like maybe she is sexist, or represents sexism or is the result of sexism ...something stupid, the reasons don't make a lot of sense.  This kind of thing is so ridiculous.  Sure there are legitimate issues of sexism and imperialism you could bring up when talking about an affiliation of Wonder Woman with the U.N., however the action was intended to be positive, and helpful by the U.N.  Then, rather than offer a replacement role-model, these protest people seem only concerned with tearing her down.   A fictional character getting removed from a semi-fictional position at the non-fictional U.N., is something that is apparently worthy of major SJW action, because nothing says gender equality and female empowerment like firing a woman because of her looks. 

This guy knows what I'm talkin' about...
Yes that should worry you, it's terrible.

The armpit-police and people cheering Wonder Woman's removal from the U.N. are some of the same people out there who will insist that the 2016 Ghostbusters is the best movie ever and you're a total misogynist agent of the patriarchy rapist if you didn't go see it 17 times in the theater when it came out.  The thing is, they really are wasting everyone's time.  Their efforts might better serve women's issues if directed at other situations, such as;
  
Saudi Arabia is on the UN Human Rights Council.  You know, this place:


 
 
 
She's dead now.  Seriously.

Yes you heard right, Saudi fucking Arabia is (somehow) on the U.N. Human Rights Council.  Saudi Arabia should not be on the U.N. Human Rights Council.  They behead people for "witchcraft" there.  So yay, you got Wonder Woman fired, because what kind of message is the U.N. sending by associating with a fictional character who has been portrayed battling sexism herself but has the wrong outfit on while doing it and was "too sexy" or something...  she should cover up I guess! Doesn't Saudi Arabia have something she can use

It's a good thing the U.N. isn't doing anything else that might send out an even worse message to the world... like letting the country where this shit happens (very disturbing image) have a say in how the world approaches human rights. 




You probably forgot, but...


Most of these girls (and lots of others as well) are still missing, but that hashtag you put on your twitter 3 years ago is definitely totally helping, they should be getting rescued by Instagram any minute now.   You know Vine was actually killed for getting too close.  

Wouldn't it be great if there were perhaps a League out there, which dedicated itself to Justice, made up of people with powers beyond that of average people, they could rescue these kidnapped children by using those powers for good...  perhaps rescued by a Wondrous Woman if you will, who would fight for the safety of other women and girls throughout the world? 



You're about to open up Google Maps right now...

There is still a violent war and terrifying rape epidemic in the Central African Republic.  I am guessing you don't know where that is.  But hey, you wrote an angry Facebook post when Harambe got shot so it totally evens out (I am guessing you can't remember what the date was when that happened either). 



Hey look, a little closer to home...


 
People are still starving to death in Venezuela.  Yeah it's starting to get close to Raft of the Medusa levels of terrible over there.

Too depressing?  Here's a First World problem for you...


The art instillation in New York City known as Fearless Girl is a temporary one and is scheduled for removal at a later date.  There is vocal support for making it permanent.  All you have to do is contact the office of the Mayor and if you live in NYC you should also contact your City Council Representative.  If you don't live in NYC, you are still a potential visitor/tourist/student/whatever so you should write in anyway.  If you have 5 minutes and a stamp, this shouldn't be a hard decision to make.
So easy even an Angry Otaku can do it.

There, I just listed a bunch of stuff that you really should be concerned about, and might be able to actually do something that resembles helping, depending on the resources you have available to you.  You're not helping anyone involved by "checking" your "privilege" ...you help by using it to improve situations for others.

Maybe just stick to TV?

Coming back to super-hero movies, I would like to add the disclaimer that I hate hero movies.  Marvel/DC cinematic tripe is something I actively avoid.  With the exception of 30 minutes of Iron Man I saw on an airplane, I have not, nor do I intend to see any of this garbage (this includes GI Joe and Transformers).  So I already know I don't like this movie, but it's because I think the movie is going to be crap (DC couldn't even make Harley Quinn: The Movie without fucking it the hell up).  It's not because of some sort of warped notion of social values that I am avoiding this thing.

Another disclaimer I should make is that it seems apparent that the notion of armpit hair on Wonder Woman to be but a cause du jour with a relatively limited number of people and is most likely getting CNN-ed way out of proportion by the media machine.  Since Trump's tweets don't bring in the viewers like they used to, they have to come up with something.  My writing this is most likely in no way helping the situation either.  Actually since only 4 people are going to read this I don't think it's going to make any difference.

Comic book stories as TV have definitely contributed to our new golden age of television that we are currently enjoying.  Walking Dead, Lucifer, Preacher, DareDevil, Arrow, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, ...and The Flash I guess?  Is The Punisher still a show?  Also Iron Fist exists.  I know there's more and I'm not even going to go into animated shows but there's now so many all at once that it becomes possible to start doing actual scatter-plots with this stuff. Television actually removes the three main components that usually combine and conspire to kill major movies and make them utterly shitty.  So what specifically is it that makes TV better?

Hey, Maze, you got... a little something... on your... um... never-mind.

#1: No MPAA.  TV Ratings turned into a joke the day VOD became widespread.  With entire streaming services out there now making original content, the notion of making a solidified TV rating system akin to the draconian MPAA a reality, is reduced to a complete fallacy.  I have previously mentioned how damaging MPAA ratings are and most moviegoers who aren't 100 years old have recognized them as mostly useless relics of time when interracial marriage was illegal.  

As long as movies mutilate themselves in some sort of manic episode of body-dismorphia, cutting off their own fingers to fit within the glove of the "commercially viable" PG-13 rating, we will get nothing but equally mutilated works of cinema.  Like a super-model with anorexia, it is abhorrent to look at, no matter what designer rag you drape around it and how much "confidence" it has.  Hey parents, if you're not convinced yet, then go watch 007: Casino Royale then go watch The King's Speech. Now come back and tell me which rating should be on which movie. 

#2: China hasn't ruined TV yet like it has ruined movies.  China controls Hollywood.  No there are not people sitting in some dark room, wearing sunglasses, calling the shots and slowly smoking cigarettes while ominous music plays.  However, in financial planning, China as a market is now a significant fixture in earning projections for any project.  Producers, writers, and studio executives now have to take this into account when they decide what projects to finance and how they want them to be made.  So because of that, if you don't think that every major movie made by Hollywood studios has entire teams around them which have the sole function of making sure the final product will meet Chinese government censorship standards and resonate with Chinese audiences, then you haven't been paying attention over the past decade. So, low context stories and simple dialogue, jokes that are more "universal" and therefore more pedestrian, and a style that favors slapstick and visual effects over depth and intensity, those are what you will see a lot of, and those qualities are usually what makes a movie a stinking pile of shit.  That's why Ghostbsters 2016 sucked, it was counting on China and desperately tried to make it appealing to that audience as well... didn't really work out for them.

So to recap, Movies are multi-million dollar investments, the investors are going to want to earn as much as possible on them, and that means doing the China thing. That's how investing works.  Unfortunately, this leads to un-funny, one-dimensional, rubber-stamp stories with dialogue so simple you can't tell if the entire cast has brain damage.  Since TV doesn't need to kowtow to China, they can get very deep into the high-context type of narrative that domestic audiences can appreciate.  They also not only are able to freely ignore Chinese censorship laws but American ones as well.

As awesome as this looks, it would probably end up as a shit movie unless you involve Rule 34.

#3:  Technology... technology everywhere.  This is a broad one, but technology has allowed for productions the level of which would have been unthinkable even as recently as 10 years ago. Higher production values with less equipment.  Post production and effects that can be done in a single home-studio by a creative professional.  And a pool of talent that is able to get more done remotely than ever before.  These things help make the mega-hits possible. 

But wait there's more!  It's not just RED cameras and production technology that is helping, but media delivery and storage technology as well.  When you have a delivery system that frees the audience from an appointed airtime, you have fundamentally changed how people can consume media.  For example, although the last episode of Breaking Bad aired years ago, if I wanted to get into the show, I could still just fire up the Netflix and watch every episode on my own time without having to purchase packaged media which takes up space and has no exit for me to bail in case I end up not liking the show.  No more rushing home to catch whatever episode of anything because you can watch it on your tablet tomorrow on your way to work.  While this can lead to an overwhelming feeling when you realize how much is out there, it is ultimately helpful in building bases which have strong loyalty and follow-through.  It lets people integrate this entertainment into their lives and schedules like never before, which will lead to increased commitment when it comes to following a series.

Netflix is your friend.  Who could not like this show?

So in terms of Wonder Woman, though I don't like Marvel/DC dreck, I actually hope the movie does well, because there is a notion out there about a crossover between the DC and the Power Rangers universes.  I don't know why, but that actually sounds like it would be cool.  I am sure people will complain about something being sexist and all kinds of other -ists and so on, but if both Wonder Woman and Power Rangers are successful, then a tidal wave of investment capital is going to push right through any opposition, whatever it may be, and that movie is gonna get made.

 
Please line up for the armpit sexism check.  Armpit sex is ok though, it's just armpit sexism that's banned.  Not gonna google "armpit-sex" because I don't want to find out if it means what I think it means.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Bee Stings vs Bullet Wounds: Toshiba continues to sponsor Sazae-san

When Smoke & Mirrors Are Just What the Doctor Ordered.

Toshiba.  The only brand of laptop computer I ever consider, is in a boatload of trouble.  What kind of trouble?  You might say it's of the Enron variety (AKA forgetting how GAAP / IFRS works and hoping nobody notices.  Someone will always notice, by the way). 

 This is totally what every accountant in Japan looks like, I am an expert.

While this proved fatal for Enron, it is unlikely that Toshiba will cease to exist any time soon.  Sure this is a hit to Toshiba and to Japan itself, but not a fatal one. Japan has already had a revolving door of Prime Ministers ever since Japanese Tony Blair left office (yeah I said it) and that didn't bring the place down. It's probably not going to come to Abe stepping down early, though he ain't gonna be around after the next election.  But Japan is still relatively healthy compared to the rest of the region, and these developments are bee stings rather than bullet wounds.

This is totally what every bee in Japan looks like, I am an expert


Like any bee sting, getting one or two is something you can shrug off, however, once they start adding up, things get really serious really fast.  Right now, Japan has so much egg on its face that it's 50% sentient omelette at this point, and it has found itself having to choose between a frying pan and a fire. There is a serious government scandal going on stemming from the Ultra-Nationalist School land deal in Osaka Pref., there's another serious government scandal going on regarding GSDF activities in South Sudan (both with Defense Minister Tomomi Inada in the middle of the mess), yet she is continuously supported by the very unpopular PM Shinzo Abe.  This all floats atop a barge of private sector embarrassment made up of everything from the airbag safety recalls to radioactive pigs. All the while; the Norkos have declared war on the ocean again and have decided that Assassin's Creed IRL is just super-fun, South Korea is under attack from its own appliances and just removed its president from office for being terrible, China just unfriended everyone because they won't stop hanging out with their hated ex (Taiwan), The Philippines is encouraging its law enforcement to shoot people in the street, it wasn't really that long ago when cities in Thailand were mostly on fire, and a walking used condom full of melted creamsicle and ADHD just pulled the USA out of the TPP (which had its shortcomings, but just pulling out is like choosing to stay stranded in Death Valley because the rescue vehicle is a Ford F-450 and you're a die hard Chevy fan).  So... yeah, things are going just peachy-keen.

 This is the correct response.

The result of all of this can be a real and tangible detriment to many sociological and economic facets of a population.  Outlook, consumer spending, stress, overall health, cost of living, investment strategies, isolationism, and an overall feeling of anxiety that can permeate daily life are all areas in which regular people are effected. Stability in global trade, politics, and technology aren't things that are easily accomplished, but cultural stability is something that can be delivered and often helps keep people grounded, if only just a little, and improves overall quality of life even if it is just by drawing appreciation to the little things.

https://www.mindfueldaily.com/

Joy in the little things is not only the theme of the world's longest running animated series, and Japanese cultural institution, Sazae-san, but also the source of its great importance and relevance to people today.   Sazae-san is the type of anime that Japanese audiences love and international audiences don't pay attention to because it's like the most boringest one when compared to something like Attack on Titan.  The thing is it trounces just about every other anime title out there in ratings every week because it's very relatable if you live in Japan. It's something your grandparents watched, it's something your parents watched, and it's something you grew up watching.  It can't go away.  Having it around is important and helpful for keeping people within some modicum of the life-patterns they are accustomed to.  After my first few months living in Tokyo I was watching it on a regular basis.  Side note; it's a great way to practice Japanese because the dialogue isn't that intensely complex, and contains less slang than something like Shinchan.  Whether it is because of a profound sense of national duty, or they are just trying not to look weak, Toshiba is doing a public service for Japan by continuing to sponsor Sazae-san.


Keeping Japan from losing it's shit, one episode at a time.

I have noted before that anime as an industry is inexorably tied to other economic sectors, and here is a major example of that.  A shakeup in the bond issuance of a technology company came close enough to killing Sazae-san that it became major news.

This is not an example of putting on blinders to the realities of the world, or a tool in some sort of propaganda fueled denial of factualities that grow dangerous if ignored.  This is staying grounded in the face of uncertainty.  It is a needed mental supplement to prevent the kind of bad news burn-out that can have detrimental effects. Anime has almost always been that, no matter what the genre or setting.  It's a fun thing to do, and the healthy escapism it provides makes you realize, such is life.



Not bad for a 94 year old.






Thursday, March 9, 2017

What You're Missing: WakakoZaké

Why you might like WakakoZaké ワカコ酒 (Wakako Zake).  There are actually plenty of reviews of this title out there now, but I hope to spread the word that this one is indeed worth it.

When in the course of human events, sometimes we find our own tastes have changed, and something else is required to reach expected levels of enjoyment.  Much as once you reach a certain age jazz music stops sounding like shit and you can't really listen to Blink 182 anymore, sometimes you can't really enjoy an anime series where "high school students do X," or "giant robots, giant giants, too-many ninjas, giant ninja boobies, etc" or just about any stuff that you really need to be in high school to like.  So if you find yourself in such a situation, if you actually like Yokohama Shopping Log (go google it, I know you're gonna), then the series Wakako Zaké is going to be something you probably will enjoy.

In this Mameshiba for the real world, we follow Wakako Murasaki, a single working woman in Tokyo who takes joy in the little things of small eating establishments and the pairing of their specialties with the perfect accompanying libations.  The small moments of decision and quiet reflections featured, undertaken by one living all alone in a big city and after working in a world where your efforts might be futile, culminate in finding that singular space and time when everything comes together for a feeling that can only be depicted as; "Pushuuuuu~ :) "


For anyone who has an interest in slice-of-life type stories or is interested in Japanese cuisine, this is going to be a fun watch for you.  There's really no story line here, and the episodes simply revolve around whatever Wakako decides to order that day.  The episodes themselves are quite short, and clock in at something like two minutes each. Much like the moment of zen (or "pushuuuuu~" as one might put it) they are fleeting, and so the value they bring to your day is all the more important.

One of the reasons I can personally connect with this is that when I lived in Tokyo, I did exactly this kind of thing, looking for out-of the-way places in the middle of Shinjuku and ordering something more indigenous.  There are a few tricks to finding a good place like this.
1) Are they insanely crowded at lunch?  Then it's good stuff.
2) When you go in there, is everyone eating the same thing despite an extensive menu?  Hint; Order that.
3) Does the place not have a menu and only serve one dish for lunch and one for dinner?  That's gonna be a good place.
4) Does it smell so good it makes you feel like you haven't eaten in 3 days? That's the place.
That's pretty much it, in terms of picking a spot. When you're on vacation try it out.  But a few things you should know:
-No big groups.  Seriously these places aren't built for that.
-They're not gonna speak English so don't expect them to.
-If it's crowded, eat everything on your plate and leave immediately. Not kidding, some places have rules like this posted on their walls.
-Cash only.
Happy Hunting.


Never know what you'll find.  (Photo courtesy of ME bitches!)

The ultra simplistic style of character design is actually helpful for this series.  The simple facial features and expressions create the perfect canvas to convey feelings and sensations that can't be explicitly articulated with dialogue alone.  There's something a certain kind of face says that no amount of words in the world could ever hope to.  It is momentary, vaporous, and fleeting; qualities without which would make this series just a boring food-show and not something much, much more.

 A thousand words.

Losing some of this quality, but no less enjoyable is the live action version of this show.  I don't know if it was because it just performed better, or because it's much cheaper to make, but the live action version seems to have more episodes.  To any otaku out there who would normally eschew live-action fare, I would say that if you like the animated version of this, then the live-action is most certainly worth a shot. 

Wakako Zaké

So when the Sword Art is offline, when you really don't care what's going on in Ouran High School or whatever, and when you're out of episodes of Dragon Maid to watch, go sit down with some edamame and some Junmai Ginjo, fire up the Crunchyroll, and sit back to enjoy an anime about the little things that make life worth living.  Wakako Zaké



Thursday, March 2, 2017

Cracked.com: Censorship and IP blocking which would make China proud.

 Cracked.com has gone full Left Pole.



The decline of Cracked.com has been well documented around the general internet.  Lots of people are realizing what they were becoming in terms of hyper-politicization and militancy over several years, but recently we have crossed a threshold.  Cracked.com getting attacked by shit-pits like Britebart and The NRA regarding their content is not really something you'd find surprising (The NRA are gun-nuts and Brietbart is just terrible on every level).  But when Huffington Post and F.I.R.E. have to call you out for basically the same bullshit, and fan blogs and entertainment websites have to take a step back and start being critical, then that's a different story.  Since that one article (now deleted) that said having the World Cup in your country would be more harmful than helpful, and when it comes to the USA we can expect absolute bedlam (all the while being obtusely oblivious to the fact that the USA did indeed host the World Cup in 1994 without incident), Cracked.com has been moving away from pure, and puerile, humor to a strange changeling of Buzzfeed listicles and Rolling Stone style life-experience reporting, to finally going all-out SJW in the course of about 5-6 years.


What happened?  Oh, David Wong showed up (the guy who got kicked off his own AMA for acting like a tool.  No, seriously he did).  
David Wong's real name is Jason Pargin by the way.  Yeah take one look at the guy and you'd never ever think "Wong."
And before you go and say "well you know those stories on the right side didn't all come out the same day" you can then ask yourself; how much does that f-ing matter if they all in fact came out on that site. Because they did.

So as Cracked.com continued their march down that path for better or for worse, something interesting happened and and that "something" was quite recently.  There started to be a bit less politically and socially absolutist assertion pieces and a bit more actually funny stuff.  Oh, not real funny as in the days of Swaim and the only O'Brien at Cracked.com that matters, but at least it wasn't the barrage of "hey-hey ho-ho this penis party's got to go!" stuff they'd been putting out.  And then on February 27, 2017, they published this piece:


There's nothing more awful out there I guess... yeah nothing at all.


Yeah, according to this Cracked article, super-atheist Bill Maher, the guy who made the film "Religulous," is totally a "religious bigot" because questioning the veracity of any religion is ok, except that one (I'll give you a hint, it's not Scientology).  They go on to treat Maher's show as if it's Meet The Fucking Press and not a late night commentary program created and hosted by someone who is, at his core, a comedian. It then continues to equate the appearance of Brian the Dog on an in-episode segment of Maher's program on an episode of Family Guy, to some sort of serious barometer on transphobia and its implication on social policies. Yep, Family Guy that bastion of cultural and racial sensitivity.


Totally a perfect template for no social argument what so ever.
 
You can think that Bill Maher is awful.  How anyone reacts to what Bill Maher says and does are matters of opinion, and they will undoubtedly range between "he sucks so bad I'm gonna murder him" to something like, "ready for your fellatio Mr. Maher sir?" to which I am thinking the majority of them will fall somewhere in between. Additionally, the fact that this article contains the phrase "Oroborus of white male privilege" when speaking about Maher's efforts to legalize Marijuana, is like having a neon sign blazing out that your insulated life in a social value echo chamber might be impeding an ability to reach reasonable conclusions.  But that sign is on your back, and the one wearing it will never see it, which just punishes the rest of us.

But I am not here to defend Bill Maher (you can read that crazyness for yourself and you'll realize no one has to).  What I am here to do is continue the story of what happened next.  Cracked.com's reaction was first to start deleting comments, not for being obscene or profane, but for disagreeing with the tenents that the article bases its conclusions on.  Now this is something they have been long known to do, and they continue to delete comments that the author or editors don't like for political reasons.  What was surprising is that, in addition to deleting comments, Cracked.com actually blocked the IP addresses of the people who made the comments entirely.  Someone who made a comment that was deleted was simply met with a blank screen should they try to access the site's home page or any other page on the site.  I know this because when my desktop was being given the "oops something went wrong" message, the separate tablet I had running on the same network was able not only to refresh content on the site, but leave additional comments via a different username/login.  So now, if you incur the wrath of the arbiters of social justice on Cracked, you can expect to be kept completely out.  No dissent, no outside information.  That reminds me of something... what could it be..?




Cracked.com has seemed to have just skipped the next step of Full Mcintosh and went straight to Little Red Book territory and has moved house directly to The Left Pole.  For those unfamiliar, The Left Pole is a concept developed by the cognitive scientist and Harvard Professor, Steven Pinker.  To paraphrase, in that the earth has a north pole and south pole, and if you are at the south pole, then any direction moved away from that singular point is going to be ipso facto moving north.  At The Left Pole, the points and doctrine are so extreme and absolute, that any move away or critical analysis of them is considered a move to The Right Pole and therefore right-wing.  It doesn't matter what it is, but if you have any disagreements with anything they say or do in the name of their doctrine, you are ipso facto right-wing, wing-right, alt-right, far-right, old-right, right-right, or a member of the left-rights... and you'd have to be on Crack in order to think like that.


Remember when it was just cats, cats, cats cats cats...?  Cheeseburger anyone?


So after they did that, they eventually backed off and went back to just deleting comments.  But like an alcoholic who has that one drink and then a day or two later goes on a bender because of it, Cracked.com went completely down the rabbit hole, hit the bottom, bounced back up to apogee, screamed at everyone who happened to be standing around the general vicinity, and then fell back down.  This happened on March 1, 2017.


No caption.  Just frowny face.

Does any of that look funny, comedic, humorous, or even satirical?  I'll save you the trouble on clicking on any of that; No it's not. It's the Following:
-TRUMP BAAAAD! (like tell us something we don't know).
-Video about depression is depressing
-BE AFRAID!
-Look at me! I just got an undergraduate degree in Political Science!
-This should be on Live Journal but because I'm John Cheese they're gonna put it here.
-Not as funny as you'd think
-Thanks for telling me asshats are asshats... any jokes about them? Or are you actually expecting me to have not known this stuff beforehand? 
None, and I mean NONE of this was funny. None of this was written TO be funny.  It was just fucking sad.  Go see for yourself.  Cracked.com March 1, 2017.  The day Cracked.com's cancer metastasized.  

That "This should be on Live Journal" comment is something I actually posted on the Cracked.com article, but someone (and I won't say who) was just too ...emo, to let it stay there and deleted it.  That's the shit you do on your own YouTube channel, not what a commercial website valued at 39 MILLION DOLLARS that calls itself " America's Only Humor & Video Site Since 1958 should be doing.  I don't even delete comments here that are critical.  I use them as the genesis of conversations that might lead to a better understanding.  If you are not willing to compromise the conditions of your own environment to hear the thoughts of others who are nothing but divergent with you, then you are incapable of gaining value.

Anyone know what The Battle in Seattle was like?  I am sure a few people do.  Anyone remember being there?  I am sure a few people do.  You know what ruined it?  Those fuckers in the black hoods, and the ones with bricks breaking windows at McDonald's and doing it right next to the Union march (that had a permit by the way) so that the shock troops of the police would swoop in and just start kicking everyone's ass. You can argue that some were agent provocateurs, and they do exist. But I saw enough of them, and you see, they all aren't agent provocateurs, but artards who try to start violent revolution because they read Abby Hoffman or whatever a year or two ago.  All it takes is a hit from one or two of them to start the sad downward spiral into absolute bedlam where no one can get a single message across and everyone is just throwing shit at each other, figuratively or literally, it doesn't matter.  Result is the same.  Cracked.com is fast becoming that element.

So, that cred out of the way, I know bullshit when I see it.  The other O'Brien (the anorexic douche looking one), probably doesn't give a crap about any of this and just wants clicks.  I hope he gets them, but he won't be getting much from me.  The rest of them over there... yeah they drank the Kool-Aid by the gallon.  This will cause a pigeon-toe effect that will perhaps show an increase in their traffic during the short run, but in another 5 years when the cause du'decade isn't anything they can possibly relate to in time (seriously, you ever see an irrelevant brand suddenly catch up to relevancy?) he sure as hell won't be there and the Kool-Aid drinkers will be going down like the Titanic and saying "I just don't know what went wrong".  

 Whole new meaning now, isn't it?

Cracked.com has gone beyond an Oroborus of SJW insanity, it has become a Chimera of Left Pole absolutism, moving between the planes of fanatical reason and reasonable fanaticism.  Unaware of the direction of the winds that it, with bird-like movements, soars through.  Striking with its head and piercing its beak into current pop-culture, all mistaken for the body politic, hoping to inject positive social congruity, but it is an action which serves only to leave a septic bite that simply horrifies the tissue around it with which it sought to be relevant. And once it passes its attack, there is no progression of its will, because not but scars remain.  Scars which retain the memory of being that which absorbed the intensity of absolutist thought from such a sting, and a piercing from irrational anger, free from all reason. Cracked.com is naught but a terror bird, ready to do the like of its kin, and tethered to that, The Left Pole, which fewer and fewer dare approach, despite the siren song of true goodness which it represents.  True goodness.  For they are those whom it would try to eviscerate, forgetting that in the process it does but sheer the flesh from its own legs leaving naught but bare calcified stalks to support an inflated body.  They shall then turn their backs or at most give but the resistance of paper swords, when a true malignant blow comes to shatter them.



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