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Anyone Still Here? [Jul. 1st, 2009|11:31 am]
Probably not, but just in case...

I have started up a new blog - The Ink and Pixel Club - which can be found at inkandpixelclub. As the name hopefully implies, it's all about animation. In theory, this will still be my personal blog, but I obviously haven't been posting here for quite some time and since I want to get as much exposure as possible for the new blog, I'll be using that account to reply to other people's blogs for the foreseeable future.

Please stop by the new blog if you haven't already. Comment, friend me, do whatever. I'll see you there.
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Writer's Block: In a Jam [Apr. 3rd, 2009|01:02 pm]
[Tags|, , , ]

If you were in trouble or ran afoul of the law, which fictional detective or investigator—from tv, movies, or books—would you want to help you?

Batman. If you're in trouble and you've got the option of going to anyone, go with the World's Greatest Detective.
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Avatar, the Movie (that I probably won't be seeing) [Jan. 22nd, 2009|08:55 am]
[Tags|, ]
[mood |annoyedJust leave the good show alone]

I love Avatar: The Last Airbender. It's a fantastic show, with just about everything I love in an animated TV show all wrapped up in one glorious beautifully executed package. In about a year or so, there's going to be a theatrically released movie based on the show (called simply "The Last Airbender" to avoid confusion with James Cameron's completely unrelated upcoming film Avatar. But - surprise, surprise - it's live action. Which has kind of turned me off about the whole thing. Here we've got this amazing, very popular animated TV series and Hollywood's reaction is not "Hey, let's make more really great animated TV series" or "Hey, let's make a really great animated movie based on or similar to that show." It's "Hey, let's make a live-action movie based on the animated show." Maybe I'm just overreacting, but to me, this sort of situation always feels as though the studio is trying to "bestow legitimacy" on the animated show by redoing it in the more "respectable" format of live-action movie.

There was more than that concern keeping me from getting excited about the film. There are aspects of the show that I just don't think will look as good in live-action, not least of which is the signature enhanced martial art of bending. M. Night Shyamalan is directing and from what I've seen of his films, he's rather hit or miss. I don't think the film will necessarily be a total disaster, but there are just too many red flags for me too be getting very excited about it.

And this morning, I discovered another one. The short version is that, in a film based on a show that is set in an admittedly fictional world which is nonetheless dripping with Asian influence to the point where pretty much every character has what we think of as an Asian complexion, all four actors cast in the four lead roles are Caucasian. The long version I can't state any better than cartoonist Derek Kirk Kim has, so check it out.

There is a somewhat less cynical argument for so-called "colorblind casting" than the one studios trot out to cover their collective backside. (For an example of this, do a search for author Ursula K. Le Guin's comments on the Sci-Fi Channel's version of her "Earthsea" books, preferably one quoting or paraphrasing a lot of studio rep explanations.) If an actor does a really good job of portraying a character, shouldn't race be a non-issue? In a more perfect world, maybe. But the problem is that if movie studios feel free to put aside race when casting, they will tend to "discover" more often than not that the best actor for the job is -surprise! - Caucasian. And as the aforelinked essay points out, it's a vicious circle. If kids of any race with an interest in acting look at movies and TV and see that the only people who look like them are the main character's best friend, the sidekick, the villain, or the extra, fewer of them are going to pursue acting. So not only is the casting agent potentially working on the notion that a mainly White cast will do better at the box office, but there's also a less diverse pool of actors to choose from.

My opinions are my own, of course, and you can feel free to agree or disagree, react or not. Just thought I should get it off my chest.
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End the War [Jan. 21st, 2009|12:49 pm]
A new post! Rare thing, I know. I hope whoever may still be reading this blog had a good inauguration day and that you're feeling as hopeful about the new administration as I am.

The main reason I'm posting is to be one more website showcasing this. I don't really expect anyone to listen to my opinions about the war in Iraq, but I think everyone should be willing to at least listen to the people who were actually there.

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I write to Someone Else's Senator [Jun. 25th, 2008|09:29 pm]
[mood |productivePolitically Active]

There's been a recent news item on a number of video game sites I read (so recent I just saw it tonight) regarding a Connecticut state senator's concerns about "Grand Theft Auto IV." Politicians and pundits getting upset about GTAIV and its predecessors is nothing new. The games are violent, generally amoral, and definitely not suited for the younger set (as should be evident from the game's "M" for "Mature" rating. What makes this particular incident different is that the senator is upset about a scene where players are awarded "points for rape." Which would be pretty disturbing - if it were true. Andrew owns GTAIV. I've watched him play it. It's not completely my thing, but I think it's an extremely smart and well crafted game that not everyone is going to like or enjoy playing. There is no rape scene. People who have played through the entire game confirm that there is no rape scene, let alone one that awards you with "points" (or money, as the game doesn't utilize any points).

I don't think that this senator is deliberately spreading information that is not true. She probably read it on some website somewhere and became convinced that it was true, despite not having played the game or seen the offending sequence herself. The problem that I have with this is not just that I'm a video game fan (and one of the last games to be unfairly maligned was "Mass Effect", which I love); I'm also someone who care about our political system and getting younger generation involved in it. Unfortunately, if the potential and future young voters of America see that politicians not only don't care about their opinions and issues, but also will try to push legislation without doing any real research to try to understand the thing they are attempting to restrict, it's going to turn them off to the whole process.

So I wrote this letter:

Dear Senator,

It has recently come to my attention that you have spoken to the local media about the video game Grand Theft Auto IV. The article states that you are concerned about a "rape scene" in the game. Some news sites I have seen quote you as saying that players are awarded points for the act. I know you will probably be getting a lot of e-mails about this issue, but I wanted to make sure at least one of them told you the facts in a calm and polite manner.

I have actually watched the game "Grand Theft Auto IV" being played and, as numerous sources are now confirming, there is no rape scene. The game does feature allusions to sexual acts, but they are all consensual. The player is not given the opportunity to rape anyone in the game either for a reward of "points" or any other reason.

Your statements concern me not just as someone who enjoys video games, but as someone who cares very much about the American political system. I realize how essential it is to get the younger generation excited about politics and invested in the decisions made on the local, state, and national levels. The problem with the statements you have made is that they would seem to confirm a growing view among younger Americans that politicians are completely out of touch with the interests and concerns of the younger generation and seek to ban or regulate media which they do not understand and will not take the time to adequately research. As you probably know by now, there is a lot of sensationalistic writing about video games in various forms of media, much of which reflects poor - if any -research. To effectively address the issues of violence in video games, I believe you must become informed about the subject, read opinions from all sides of the issue, and try to determine the facts. Coming out with completely inaccurate information undermines any valid points you may be trying to make.

I thank you for taking the time to read this.
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Above Average [Jun. 25th, 2008|06:18 pm]
[mood |accomplishedOver a quarter read is good]

The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed."

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list in your own LJ so we can try and track down these people who've read 6 and force books upon them ;-)


1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (surprisingly no, but I did see the movies)
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (I've read some, but not the whole thing yet.)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible (Well, not the whole thing.)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman I'm actually read "The Golden Compass" right now. And what's with counting whole series as one book?)
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (Oh come on. How is that fair?)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier (That's six.)
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (And that's seven. Heck with you, average!)
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams (I should really get around to this someday.)
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (This is separate from the Chronicles why?)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy (started reading this once...)
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville (I did read "Billy Budd" for school. It made me go crazy.)
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens (Tried, but didn't finish it.)
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (I had the entire thing read to me, but I don't know if I should count that.)
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare Again, "Complete Works of Shakespeare" and "Hamlet?"
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Grand total: 28

Thoughts: I must have had a better high school education than the average adult since a lot of these I for English classes back then. It's also worth noting that this is a list of the top 100 books this publisher has printed, not necessarily the 100 most popular books in the country or the world or the 100 books that every person should read. Some of the titles listed are most certainly on there largely because there are movies based on them.
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Return of the Tiny Dogs [Jun. 24th, 2008|08:26 am]
[mood |angryControl Your Dogs!]

Last night, the woman with multiple tiny dogs returned to the bike path. (I mentioned her in a previous post.) I was taking Dante out for his last walk in our yard when I heard a burst of high-pitched barking. Next thing I know there's a little dog in my yard barking it's head off at my leashed dog. Another dog shortly joins it. I yell at them to scram, I hear someone on the bike path yell "No!" and the dogs head back to the bike path. I head down to the bike path and see the woman walking away with her five unleashed dogs (possibly one more than last time?), who turn around and run towards us barking as soon as they are aware of Dante. The woman yells "No!" repeatedly and the dogs turn around.

I don't need this crap. I was already in a bad mood and the return of this irresponsible idiot is the last thing I need. I yell after her to leash her dogs and remind her at the same volume that this is the second time they've been on my property. She says nothing.

I love dogs. Lexington had leash laws, but if a dog is well behaved and under the owner's control while off leash, chances are I won't care. What makes me angry is when people let their dogs off leash and clearly do not have sufficient control over them. And on the bike path no less. I've had another situation where an unleashed dog ran across the pike path and over to Dante while his owner explained, "Oh he's friendly." Firstly, that does not excuse this kind of behavior. Additionally, there is no guarantee that MY dog is friendly. Do you really want to risk it? Is it really worth a little additional freedom for your dog to let the dog try to figure out whether the other dog on the bike path is going to play with him or bite him in the face? And of course, this particular woman isn't satisfied with one out of control dog; she has to have four or five. I would not be surprised if that's he excuse for not leashing them; because the leashes all get tangled up. Boo hoo. The bike path isn't that busy between 8 and 9 at night, but all it takes is one cyclist either having and accident swerving to avoid tiny dogs all over the bike path and suing her into poverty or failing to stop and pancaking a dog or two. Or maybe the dogs end up on someone else's lawn, someone who'd rather kick dogs in the face instead of chase them off. Or maybe the wander onto the wrong dog's yard and get bitten. I'd feel sorry for the dogs, but not the woman.

I cannot stand irresponsible dog owners. It's their bad behavior that makes the rest of us look bad and necessitates things like leash laws. Next time one of her dogs shows up in my yard and starts harassing my dog, I will call the police. That's going to mean a fine and I seriously hope it is per dog. And if I ever even think that any of these dogs might hurt Dante, they are getting punted back to the bike path. I love dogs, but not enough to allow other dogs to hurt mine.
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Just This Once [Jun. 22nd, 2008|08:26 pm]
[mood |weirdweird]

I don't usually post quiz results here, but I do have a lolcat addition.

Your result for The Which Lolcat Are You? Test...

Sad Cookie Cat

71% Affectionate, 47% Excitable, 53% Hungry

You are the classic Shakespearian tragedy of the lolcat universe. The sad story of a baking a cookie, succumbing to gluttony, and in turn consuming the very cookie that was to be offered. Bad grammar ensues.

To see all possible results, checka dis.

Take The Which Lolcat Are You? Test at HelloQuizzy

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Last of the Writing [Feb. 19th, 2008|02:03 pm]
[mood |accomplishedAll done!]
[music |Kingdom hearts Soundtrack - Blast Away! - Gummi Ship 2]

"The Lost History of Sathyriel" is finished, for the time being, as I still plan to go back and edit it quite a bit. It's over at StormWyvern Press, but you knew that already.
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Holy Crap, More Writing? [Feb. 15th, 2008|12:24 pm]
[mood |productiveOver 1200 words today!]

Part Seven of "The Lost History of Sathyriel" is up on StormWyvern Press. This is the first time I've been into the writing enough not to even bother putting on my recently compiled playlist of instrumental music. The ending should be coming early next week, if not sooner.
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