Browsing the blog archives for September, 2007

Out of the Loop, Link Roundup

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Miscellaneous

Lately I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed by the number of things I want to write about here, and underwhelmed by the amount of energy I have to spare on writing stuff for this site. I think I must be coming down with something, as it’s worse than usual and I’m not even pushing myself as hard as I usually do.

In order to catch up a bit I’m going to dump a whole slew of things out here that I’ve been meaning to post on, but haven’t gotten around to doing.

Rethinking Mecha via Fledgeling Otaku. The premise is set forth that Mecha series are generally disliked because they’re gizmo-centric with not enough focus on characters, and various other smaller reasons. Personally, I tend to dislike mecha animes, but mostly for the opposite reasons — It strikes me that there’s frequently too much emphasis on characters. If I were going to watch a mecha anime (and the only one I’ve managed to sit through so far in its entirety has been Escaflowne, but I didn’t even know that was a ‘mecha’ anime until I got into it) I want robots fighting, not teenage angst and interpersonal drama between military officers. I also don’t tend to like that most mecha action sequences tend to be over the top — The main character can’t just pilot his mech between a few homing missles, he’s got to evade ten thousand of them simultaneously. I think I’d prefer anime with more realism and which gives a better sense of the battles that are actually occurring, instead of focusing too much on impossible, invincible mech pilots.

This Guardian article is spot on. I’ve never understood this obsession with constantly seeking for something to do — I guess having more than two brain cells to rub together means that I don’t need outside stimulus to find something to occupy myself.

A few days ago this link to MarryOurDaughter was making the rounds on all the social news sites. Although the site is sick, it’s not sick because it’s advertising pubescent girls being sold into marriage — It’s sick because it’s an obvious fake, yet someone actually cared enough about pursuing some [unknown] agenda to make a site like this. My speculation? This is a site made pretty much as a joke to poke fun at those backwater southern conservative yokels. In other words, it’s preening by provincial bigots. Having lived in both the north and the south for a time, it always amazes me how people in northern states feel the need to constantly bash on southerners, particularly when such bashing more often than not reveals they’ve never lived in the south and, more likely, never been exposed to any culture beyond their own.

On a sort of related note, apparently ABC is planning its own investigation of NBC’s disturbing To Catch a Predator series. Sadly, but typically, there’s more thoughtful discussion of the subject on Fark than there is in the general media.

Again, sort of related, we’ve got a Washington Post article on some gay character who’s basically threatening to “out” homosexual Republicans. I don’t know why these people feel the need to constantly go on witch hunts and expose aspects of people’s private lives. I haven’t been following the Craig affair at all, besides what I absorb through osmosis of being alive, but I wonder why it’s so “scandalous” in the minds of certain people that someone might be gay? Ostensibly the reason is because of hypocrisy, but hypocrisy is such a ubiquitous problem that it hardly justifies this sort of thing.

This Reddit “story” and it’s accompanying comments thread was a relatively interesting read for me. I’m always astounded by the number of people who come out of the woodworks to defend theories that are completely based on opinion and anecdote, ignore countervailing opinions and anecdotes, do not attempt to scientifically validate their claims and use ad hominem, intimidation and even violence against those who do not agree with them.

OS-Tan

2 Comments
Anime, Art, Culture, Technology

or, “People Scare Me (especially Japanese people)”

I remember seeing this image awhile ago and thinking how crazy someone must be to make something as weird and fetishistic as this.

OSTan2

Apparently though, there’s a whole genre of fetishization of software, operating systems, machines, and all that kind of fun stuff. It’s called “OS-tan” in Japan. Gigantic surprise — yet another crazy Japanese fad. I found this link over on Reddit to a repository of this madness.

This second one isn’t quite as technically good, but at least it’s not quite as strange. I have to admit I find the concept of a fox-girl holding a giant ball between her legs a little … questionable, but, at least it’s not as overtly sexual.

OSTan3

The weirdest one I’ve come across is this one. I dunno, just the combination of the prepubescent little girl with the text blaring you to “Try!” … Yikes.

OSTan1

Getting Jazz

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Culture, Music

Over at 2Blowhards Michael made a rather long and involved post dealing with elitism, snobbery, high and low arts, America, Europe, and all that. Definitely a great post, and worth checking out.

Michael talks about Jazz as an example of the sort of eclectic American mix of low/high art, and how these categories that have developed in the European art world lose relevance when talking about the American arts world. I’m not entirely in agreement with this sort of thing, as I’m a major elitist, but I’m also in favor of poking the academic arts world in the eye now and again. What I can appreciate about the so-called “low” arts in America is the raw vitality, the in-touchness with human themes and emotions, whereas so much of the academic world seems to be caught up in the pure cerebral.

As usual, the comments on any 2Blowhards post are half the fun. After reading some 50 comments or so, what strikes me is how many people seem to accept as a given that jazz is a “Great Art Form”. Maybe it’s just me, but I just don’t get jazz. Maybe I haven’t listened to enough, or only to the wrong people. For me, Jazz seems to fall into roughly three categories. The first is as background music that might be part of an enjoyable experience so long as it’s not the central focus of the activity or action. A recent example for me is the music in Taxi Driver, which I found to have great, evocative and moody music without being overpowering to the rest of the movie. The second is sleep-inducing. I’ve listened to a fair amount of jazz, and half the time where I’m simply listening to jazz it seems to induce narcolepsy in me. It’s actually quite astounding, because I can be feeling perfectly fine one minute, then put on some Miles Davis or Charlie Parker and I’ll be napping in no time. The third is just painful. Maybe it’s the academic-bent of the artists that’ve been recommended to me, but a good quarter to half of the jazz I’ve heard is legitimately painful for me to listen to. Whether it’s the brass instrumentation, the poor recording quality, overemphasis on cerebral stimulation, the atonal and dissonant qualities just overwhelm my ears.

To delve into pure nerditude for a moment, it always struck me as beyond belief that Will Riker from Star Trek: TNG would be a big fan of jazz some four hundred years in the future. Jazz today strikes me as a relic that’s pretty much only sustained by academics who use jazz as a form of boosterism for credibility. Mix and match buzzwords like improvisation, syncopation, polyrhythms, throw in a few mentions of dead musicians or fifty year old albums and, voila! Instantly you’re a hip cat with something relevant to say.

Or not. Personally, I think jazz is dead. Whatever historical forces aligned to allow the creation and appreciation of jazz are over, at least in my eyes. In four hundred years jazz is going to be as widely appreciated as medieval folk music is now — And I generally like medieval folk music. But lets not pretend like jazz is something special or enduring. I’m over the “magical negro” formulation, over “soul” being used as a code-word for black, and over the white-guilt appreciation of jazz. I’m over musical scholarship playing its stupid political games using jazz as its knight in shining armor for its neo-Marxist “post-Colonialist” narratives. I’m over people tossing around names of techniques used in the creation of music, to build up its aura of mystique and respectability. Why should I care if I don’t enjoy the music?