Thursday, February 28, 2013

Piracy and Anime

Being the type to delve into how industries operate when I’m interested in their products, I’ve been watching the problems with the anime industry – especially in the United States. Boom and bust cycles are fascinating to observe and the anime here in the States managed to do that in in the space of one decade. So an interview with the former Bandai Entertainment USA director of marketing gives a rare insight to how things actually work. Be warned, there is profanity in the podcast.

As I’m listening to it, the brief mention of how online piracy damaged sales caught my attention. It got me thinking on how a niche industry can be devastated by people stealing the product and never paying for it. Disclaimer: It isn’t right to steal from the big industries like Hollywood or music too. Also, I won’t get into the manga side of things.

Many are the mistakes that have caused companies to fold or retreat from the anime market in the U.S., but the explosion in file sharing coincided with rise and fall in my eyes. Once broadband saturated the country around the middle of the 2000’s, piracy of videos increased. That was also when anime imploded.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Kimi ni Todoke Ep. 5: Resolution

Confusion and despair abounds when Sawako’s attempts to protect her new friends only serves to hurt them more. But even as a timely intervention propels the shy girl toward doing what needs to be done, darker forces rear their ugly heads.

Kimi ni Todoke Title 1Kimi ni Todoke 05 Title

Adolescence is a miserable and confusing time for most of us under the best of circumstances. Trying to understand who you are, what you are becoming, and where you fit in fills far too much time when you are a teen. This goes doubly for girls, for they can be absolutely ruthless at that age while still being incredibly insecure. This episode excels at capturing the distress is causes.

Kimi ni Todoke 05 Sawako DepressedKimi ni Todoke 05 Kazehaya's Smile

After the rumors running rampant about her new friends were discovered by Sawako, she made the draconian decision to isolate herself from them in the previous episode. Desiring to protect those she has come to cherish, the overly responsible girl puts on a brave face around her parents. Yet going to school and ignoring the others is not as easy as she thought.

Flashbacks to the events in prior episodes leaves her wondering if it all had been a dream in a very bittersweet scene set during a test. Images of fun with Ayane and Chizuru bring a slight smile, but it is when she flashes on Kazehaya’s face that her brave façade begins to crumble. Still not aware of what her feelings really are, it is letting go of him that hurts the most.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Muddling Through

Sometimes life isn’t about clear cut victories or significant progress, but simply about wandering through the vagaries that swirl about you. The patience of Job isn’t an example for just for the disasters of life – it applies to slow times where nothing seems to go completely right too. For me, it is the little things that get under my skin, not crisis level events. Those I can handle.

So it has been the drawn out recovery from the infection, not the severe illness endured while at its peak that has made me a grouch. Actually, my being irritable is usually a sign I’m feeling better, so maybe I shouldn’t whine about my whining. Hmm, exponential whining, what a concept.

Positive things have happened along the way. None of them have been dramatic, but most good things are small anyway. I should list them to smack myself in the face with them:

  • Being able to get out and socialize with friends Saturday night even if running late.
  • Getting to church the last three Sunday’s despite the pain.
  • The Holy Ghost playing the role of teacher and giving me some very interesting insights this weekend.
  • Having movies to watch when I was unable to read even light material last week.
  • Learning more about my grandparents’ lives through Mamie’s diaries. Our society has lost so much since then that it is tragic.
  • Finally sorting, cleaning up, and backing up years worth of files, music, and images on my PC. I can’t believe I forgot to back up all the music purchased from Amazon and Google Play last year!
  • The new monitor is finally calibrated and showing me flaws in photos I never saw before. Is that a positive? Depends on what I do with them, I suppose.
  • Finally getting The Dark Knight Rises review written after a month of working on it. Writing while sick is not efficient, but it did get done. Eventually.
  • B-Movies. Still one of the best ways to deal with being too sick to do anything productive.
  • Curry.

I won’t list the bad stuff. Instead some random observations follow.

Brave getting Best Animated Film at the Oscars was surprising to see in the headlines. I only just saw it and unlike the vast majority of Pixar fans think it was their best film. Marketing didn’t do it justice at all and it was the most Miyazaki like of the studio’s offerings. The relationships in the family and the focus on mother/daughter conflicts were something that could easily come out of Studio Ghibli. Must be hate of gingers clouding people’s minds?

2001 on Blu-ray is phenomenal. I’d purchased it over a year ago and forgot I had it, so I popped it in the Samsung player last night. All of my younger friends find it incredibly boring, but it was riveting as always for me. The visual and audio quality is beautiful to say the least. 45 years after being released, it still has better effects than most blockbusters today and hoo boy does it look great in HD.

Speaking of looking great in HD, Viz’s release of the first half of Tiger and Bunny is amazing. The English dub on the first episode was fairly good; can’t comment on later ones since I watched them in Japanese. Between the second set of this and My Neighbor Totoro plus Howl’s Moving Castle coming out on Blu-ray in May, that month is going to hurt my wallet.

Gorgo is coming out the middle of March on BD too, so I am in a quandary about replacing the DVD I only got in the past six months. While a preorder is tempting, if the color shift and over sharpening is still there it won’t be worth it even if it is higher def.

Time to get back to image sorting and working on the next review.

Another Day, Another Referral Spammer

If you notice another Blogger site by the name of www . kmzackblogger . com in your referrals, know that it is a blog setup to get you to pay for better YouTube video placement. It showed up on the blog I just started for my grandmother's diaries, so I was curious enough to check it out.

Don't click on it.

UPDATED April 28, 2013

Once again KMZack Blogger left a comment, this time with an embedded link to a link exchange. Text follows:

Hey if you still get a referrer as my web (link removed) please aware that it is a kind of system that my competitor did to visual my web as spamming. then if you would like to exchange link with my website please proceed to here..
(link removed)
Since he's hoping to get his links up, the comment is not being put up.

A screen capture of his website (picture is safe to click):

Nothing shady about that, right? A competitor trying to make him look like a spammer isn't very plausible.  I'm surprised he isn't offering the Brooklyn Bridge for cheap.

It is very interesting that as soon as I post about one of these spammers, more referral spam shows up. It makes me suspect they are all connected somehow.

In this case three different ones:

www . bthemes . info
This looks somewhat legitimate in that it has themes for Blogger. But the fact they use referral spam makes them look quite shady. I don't advise using them for that alone.

vampirestat and zombiestat:

vampirestatThese are run by the same people using the same templates with different graphics and purport to show the monetary worth of websites. I have to wonder how legitimate the Facebook likes and G+ numbers are. Do not go there since there are all sorts of things asking to be installed.


Yet another referral spammer on Blogger showed up with 11 page views on February 28.

make-money-with-your-blog . review-blogspot . com is another get rich quick scheme making the rounds. "Mary" even has a short bit on the page about people reporting her blog is a scam and that she has "the approval of Blogger." Of course there is only the one post containing a shortened link.

Avoid at all costs.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) Review

The epic conclusion to the brilliant re-envisioning of Batman by Christopher Nolan delivers in terms of scale, story, and action. Heroics, fights, and explosions abound as befits a summer blockbuster, yet social and political commentary add great depth to the proceedings. Ultimately, it is a more emotional film than expected that succeeds in a way no other adaptation of the property has – making you care about Bruce Wayne, the man.

The Dark Knight Rises Title

The problem with trilogies is the high expectations placed on the finale by both fans and movie makers. Somehow the conclusion to a series must simultaneously be bigger than the preceding films while delivering a satisfying ending for the characters. Bigger can be done, since all you need is a larger budget to accomplish that task. Satisfying is an altogether different beast that often remains elusive especially due to the ugly fact that you can’t please everyone. Nolan’s task was huge, if not extremely daunting. WARNING: Contains spoilers for the previous movies.

The Dark Knight Rises Ice Cracks Bat Symbol

One of the director’s idiosyncrasies has been starting a movie without the title appearing. Once again the closest thing is the formation of the iconic Batman symbol. In the first two films, a swirling cloud of bats and then flames were used. Rather ominously, cracks appearing in ice briefly form the symbol before cracking further. It’s a wonderful metaphorical device that foreshadows the essence of the story, much like the earlier films.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Health 2-14-2013

It might not be a valentine, but I did get good news from the referring surgeon today: no surgery needed.

In the past few days the abscess has healed  and what is left is hard tissue that will take awhile to break down. So no scalpels and stitches with their accompanying recovery time are in my immediate future. Now to rebuild my stamina, this thing knocked me for quite a loop.

Mamie’s Life

The project I’ve mentioned working on is finally live in a bare bones kind of way. Mamie’s Life is a new blog where I’ll be posting the writings and diary entries of my late paternal grandmother. Much work needs to be done yet including adding photos and a brief biography, but I wanted to get something up for what would have been her 105th birthday.

I was too young when she died to have ever given her a valentine, so this is my way of doing so. It is also my way of getting to know her. Please take a look.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Health 2-11-2013

Well that doctor appointment didn’t go as well as hoped. It was to be a procedure to lance the remaining infection if needed. Instead, the infection is much deeper and in treacherous territory, so surgery is the most likely outcome. I’ll know more after the referral appointment on Thursday.

My blood pressure is still sky high though I’m a lot more alert than I was during the worst of it. Still, it is disappointing and I’m to keep taking antibiotics in the meantime. It would be nice to catch a break in my life, even just once.

Ah well. All I can do is deal with things as they come and focus on the little things.


After being told that I should continue to take antibiotics and then double checking before leaving the clinic (or so I thought), it turns out that the prescription is not being renewed. This is after sending my father 80 miles round trip to get it. This should get interesting…

What’s Going On

While I’ve been ill, that doesn’t mean things stop happening. Life is like that, it moves on whether or not you think it should. Look around you at the small changes and events occurring without cease. They add up to a lot of things happening if you just open your eyes to them.

Oh and if your were expecting some Marvin Gaye, here he is and you don’t have to read any further:

Fantastic song from a tormented soul.

Now for what’s going on in my life.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Phony Phone Scam Returns

I posted about this particular one before and the ring behind it was supposedly busted. Well, guess who called my father’s phone today? Online PC! They are back like the athletes foot that never quite goes away.

Since I feel particularly cranky today, I didn’t allow the Indian gentleman on the other end get very far this time. Otherwise, it was the same exact con being run complete with a delay before the circuit connects to hear anyone.

I think I confused the guy on the other end, for I was very gleeful about letting them know I would be blogging about it to warn an international audience. Sadly, that appears to be all that can be done.

So if someone with a heavy Indian accent calls you and tells you that you have a virus on your PC or a security problem – hang up. It is all a con to get a credit card number out of you.

Along with some well composed phishing emails I’ve seen recently, it looks like 2013 is going to be a bad one for con jobs and spam.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Finally a Half-Life Movie?

From J.J. Abrams of the Star Trek reboot and director of the next Star Wars movie to boot. Or it could be a Portal movie, though that wouldn’t take a big budget director in my opinion. I’ve waited so long for a movie based on Half-Life that I’m having trouble generating any enthusiasm now that it may happen. That may be because I’m ill right now, but I’d be more interested in Valve finishing the dangling storyline from Half-Life: Episode 2 before all the voice actors die of old age.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Health 2-5-2013

This infection has been impressively debilitating. Now I understand how people can die from such things as I’ve had the oddest impression that I’ve gotten closer to death than ever before.

The initial outbreak site, or hard lump, is significantly larger now being roughly the size and shape of the butt of a rifle or shotgun. It’s a source of continuous pain if I don’t focus on ignoring it.

Oh and that brings me to yet another bizarre experience out of all this during the first days. I use stress reducing meditation methods involving moving my perception around different areas in the body. This actually increases blood flow and lessons pain in my experience, but wow was this different.

Everywhere I moved my perception to immediately began to sharply hurt!

It was the exact opposite result of what normally happens and don’t have a clue about the mechanisms involved. This infection has been a strange odyssey so far.

Today has shown some improvement. Breathing had been difficult and is now easier, which is a big relief. My extremities aren’t icy and appear to be getting decent blood flow again. Stretches of sleep are longer, but not what they should be.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Iron Man 3 Super Bowl Ad: Extended Look

Robert Downey Jr truly is a master thespian.

Some fun for a cold and dreary Monday morning.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Hate: My Personal Origins

A continuation of my essays on hate, this time focusing on how I learned to hate with every iota of my being when I was young. As I’ve grown older, it has become apparent that nurture overwhelms nature to a great degree and looking back at how being bullied changed me I can see that now. Why? Because one can change back after being changed…

I was a cheerful, happy kid who got criticized for talking too much in my early years. The world was so fascinating and a source of constant wonder, so I wanted to share that with others. Born into a family where my siblings were half-brothers sixteen and twenty years older respectively, that meant I was dealing with adults full time and they don’t like to hear from kids. They were also more concerned with extending their adolescence or reliving it, so that had something to do with it.

To be clear, I was never beaten, abused, or mistreated. Instead I was pretty much left to do whatever I wanted -- which could have been disastrous. Fortunately for my parents, I was a relentlessly good kid enamored of heroes and acts of valor. Sadly, I never had the kind of health or physical strength to do much with those impulses.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Interesting Weirdness

As much as I despise writing about my terrible health, I have to say sometimes my experiences with it can be very interesting – if I can notice them past the misery. The infection I’m suffering from right now has given me two experiences involving perception that fascinate me.

The first was awakening and getting up after forgetting to take the contacts out. Everything was foggy inside the house, so I removed them and put my glasses on. There was still a mist throughout, so I took the glasses off. Still foggy. Then I noticed that all light sources had rainbow hues halos around them. Even more strange was that I could look at a naked light bulb without experiencing discomfort or pain, which is extraordinary given I’m very light sensitive.

It eventually faded out after an hour or two, but it was something I’d never experienced before. Today I’m back to light hurting the eyes, so at least that is normal again. What mechanism was responsible for this I do not know and am very curious to discover.

The second experience was time distortion last night. Normally if I suffer it from being ill, it tends to be lost time. By this I mean time goes by in large chunks and I don’t realize it until I see a clock. But last night I suffered time distortion that was the exact opposite. I was dead sure many hours had gone by, but only an hour or so had. Even more extreme was a couple of instances where I thought several hours had passed and it had only been fifteen minutes! It got to the point I didn’t trust the clocks.

Bizarre and disturbing are the two words I’d use to describe that particular side effect of the infection. I hope to never again experience it.

I suppose I should document where things stand with the infection. After two doses of Ampligen, my fever (or more accurately what passes for one with me) broke around 4:15 AM (which I was sure was 6 or 7 AM). Delirium ended after that, but breathing is still difficult.

My blood pressure at the clinic was sky high for me. Initial reading was 150/100 and the one taken after I'd had time to rest was 142/90. I’m usually in the ballpark of 120/80 and even when fighting an illness like bronchitis only hit 134/85 for a maximum. All I can surmise is that my entire system is under attack. Meditation techniques had little effect as can be evidenced by the change in readings.

Friday, February 01, 2013

A Strange Lump

Awakened yesterday with a silver dollar sized lump having formed inside of one of my thighs. It got very painful, but I decided to tough it out. Not so good an idea. It has become the size of a fist and I was very ill last night. Time for an emergency trip to the doctor.

Packing things in a backpack, just in case.


That’s a relief. Instead of possibly being a blood clot of some kind like I suspected due to location, it is instead a very bad infection. Antibiotics have been procured and a procedure scheduled for when it becomes an abscess.

This one is a doozy, I feel worse than when I had the flu and bronchitis. Once again I am sidelined.