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 absolute 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 cook 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.

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