10 Jun 2004 1:53 pm

New hawaiian shirts? Check. Favorite mexican restaurant staffed by chinese chefs, revived from the ashes of the fire? Check. Richmond Night Market operational? Check. Summer-fun Cthulhu plushie? Check. All signs of summer are GO.

Now if only the rain would stop and the freakin’ sun would show up once in a while. Lousy temperate rain forest.

29 May 2004 3:30 pm

So, I’m headed off to The Comicshop’s 30th anniversary party tonight (they didn’t have to twist my arm hard; they said there’d be refreshments). Think about that, for a while: my local comic store’s been open for thirty years. I was told that, at an event held at the annual Diamond Comics Retailer’s convention, all comic store representatives were told to stand up. All those whose stores had been open for less than a year were told to sit down. Then those whose stores were open for less than two years… four years… six years… In the end, when the announcer had reached the twenty year mark, only The Comicshop’s rep and one other rep were standing. This in a room filled with over several hundred people.

I’m proud to shop there; the staff is genuinely friendly and they don’t suffer from Comic Book Guy syndrome. And with the ever-increasing range of products out there, it helps to have some input and opinions from the staff on whether or not a certain title or author would suit my tastes. It’s not as if they don’t know what my tastes are; I’ve been shopping there (intermittently) since I was thirteen, and regularly since I was sixteen. Together with Orion, I have subscription Box #1 (though with Orion off in the wilds of Alberta, the box is all mine these days). I’d rather pay a bit more for my product obtained from The Comicshop than for the same product bought elsewhere; I know I’m supporting a geek-friendly environment that, in turn, supports geek-friendly activities.

I’m also relatively pleased to see them stocking more manga titles these days. It attracts a different crowd of comics-buyers (it’s always good to see more girls reading comics, and it might just help the next generation of young geeks become a little less terrified of interactions with the opposite sex).

10 May 2004 5:00 pm

Was cruising Electrolite’s blog links, and found this lovely piece of political allegory from Spacecrab. Basically, it discusses Nader’s role as a spoiler in the overall scheme of the upcoming American presidential electrons, in terms of The Lord of the Rings:

“The One Ring had to be destroyed. In my opinion, Samwise was the one who actually got the job done — not Frodo.”

“So, I said, “I think this is actually contrary to the spirit of the book — but suppose we’re there at the Council of Elrond; and it’s deadlocked 50-50 between choosing Frodo or Boromir to get the job done. Now, someone puts Sam up as the “level-headed” worker’s candidate. Samwise: loyal, sensible, agrarian, won’t buy an inch of Gollum’s BS.

“The votes of the hobbit fans among the Wise are split; and the ring goes to Boromir. Boromir brings it to Denethor, who keeps it for 10 minutes before Sauron sends him to Hell. Everyone in Middle Earth winds up working minimum wage for the S&S corporation; and the Shire is converted into an Orc football stadium.

“What do your agrarian, populist politics get you then?”

“Sam was a better ringbearer,” my roommate said. I went to bed on that note.

Man, I wish I kept up as much on Philippine politics as I did on American politics, but it’s looking like a three-ring circus down there, what with the entire lawsuit between two presidential candidates between the rights to use a nickname.

22 Apr 2004 8:51 pm

Following the horrifyingly addictive meme-life on the intar-web is bound to be dangerous, because, hey, they’re freakin’ memes and propagate by being read and absorbed. Despite Nietzschean warnings about fighting and becoming monsters (or in this case, passing along dangerously infection memes), I now present to you the following: the “Top 25-ish Most Played Songs on iTunes” (or in my case, my iPod). This is a sad commentary on my aural affiliations. Without further ado:

  1. Megumi Hayashibara – Sakura Saku (3:14)
  2. Daft Punk – Digital Love (4:58)
  3. boa – DUVET (3:23)
  4. Ah ha – Take on Me (3:20)
  5. Deep Blue Something – Breakfast at Tiffany’s (4:16)
  6. Buzy – Venus Say (2:13)
  7. angela – Asu he no Brilliant Road (4:57)
  8. Sae – Asu no Blue wing (4:28)
  9. Cartoon Themes (1960-1990) – Voltes V Main Theme (3:03)
  10. Kuribayashi Minami – Tsubasa wa Pleasure Line (1:30)
  11. Elissa – Mamboleo (Extended English version) (4:41)
  12. Swollen Members – Deep End (3:33)
  13. Daft Punk – Aerodynamic (3:27)
  14. Daft Punk – Harder, Better, Faster, Strong (3:44)
  15. Daft Punk – Veridis Quo (5:44)
  16. JAM Project featuring Masami Okui – Little Wing(TV size) (1:34)
  17. Sae – Asu no Blue Wing – Daphne in the Brilliant Blue (OP TV size) (1:30)
  18. The Delgados – The Light Before We Land (5:30)
  19. Buffy The Vampire Slayer Cast – Standing In The Way (2:10)
  20. The Calling – Wherever You Will Go (3:27)
  21. Yuki Kajiura – Fake Wings (2:38)
  22. Daft Punk – One More Time (5:20)
  23. Daft Punk – Superheroes (3:57)
  24. Daft Punk – High Life (3:21)
  25. Daft Punk – Too Long (10:00)
  26. The Pillows – Blues Drive Monster (3:25)

I make no excuses for any of this, dammit. The playlist is a bit skewed, as I recently scrubbed my iPod and Fixed All the Goddamn Tags. I should remember to try this again in three months and see how it changes.

Notes:

  1. Sakura Saku is the main theme for Love Hina, and features the lovely and ubiquitous Megumi Hayshibara.
  2. Duvet was the main theme for Serial Experiments Lain. Also sung by boa, which is a british band, in a classic case of Japanese Anglophilia. Still a damn good song, though.
  3. Venus Say is the main theme for Twin Spica. Utterly infectious.
  4. Asu he no Brilliant Road was Uchuu no Stellvia‘s main theme. Weird but deeply addictive chord progression.
  5. Asu no Blue wing is the main theme for Daphne in the Brilliant Blue, which has the most fanservice per minute outside of, say, Najica Blitz Tactics.
  6. Voltes V was a popular anime in the Philippines when I was a child
  7. Tsubasa wa Pleasure Line is the main theme of Chrno Crusade, which continually fuels my “sexy nuns with guns” fascination. I blame renegade nuns on wheels, really.
  8. Little Wing was the main theme for Scrapped Princess, and has lovely Celtic influences.
  9. Fake Wings was Subaru‘s theme from .hack//SIGN, and was most often heard when wandering through the Venice-like city.
  10. The Pillows are a freakishly awesome JRock band. They’re remembered to put the “roll” back in “rock & roll”. Plus, they provided the music for FLCL.
  11. Daft Punk’s album “Discovery” continues to rawk the hizzouse. I keep getting techno-proletarian visions of a glitzy and glamorous Soviet state whenever I hear “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”.

19 Apr 2004 11:04 pm

A few months ago, I broke down and bought an iPod. It was one of those ridiculously impulsive purchases that was somehow justified by the fact that I was buying a new car anyway and I would need some sort of music system for the car, and, all things considered, the iPod was one of the cheaper car-related purchases. And the educational discount put the price around $400 CAN after taxes. And Apple had just announced that their lowest end model (the one I purchased) had been expanded to 15 GB. So really, how could I say no?

iPod amidst desktop clutter

Geek music toy!

As usual, what I hadn’t realized is that hardware peripherals tend to spawn extravagant constellations of additional purchases. Apple hardware in particular, and the iPod in specific — having so many active followers — further tends to have a complex software ecosystem associated to it, which has necessitated many changes.

Since the damn thing scratches the moment you extract it from its marvellously overengineered flower-box (this guy has documented the entire process of unveilling his new iPod, and that includes opening the cleverly-designed containter), I had to get a case. The first of these was the acryllic Speck Flipstand hardcase. While nice and futuristic, it was a tad too bulky, and tended to prevent easy access to the touchpads on the iPod’s face. The DLO neoprene case that I’m currently using doesn’t provide as much impact protection, but the ease-of-use and the ability to clip it from a standard swivel-holster made it a much better choice. I’m still glad I bought the Speck case, though, as it came with a dock-adapter, which is basically a piece of hard plastic with a precisely-cut channel that allows you to attach the Firewire adaptor that came with the iPod — almost as good as the much more expensive Apple dock without the stereo connectors but with more space in the bay to allow for a fully encased iPod to sit in the dock comfortably while charging / playing back. Yes, I know that the iPod heats up something fierce if being used for playback while docked, and that it’s rear aluminum case should be exposed for maximum heat exchange — still, it’s nice to have a dock that fits the case for those moments when you’re only charging the device, rather than listening to music.

To take advantage of the iPod in the car, I had to get an FM transmitter (the Mazda 3 not having a cassette deck, and so far, no line-in port). I tried the Belkin TuneCast, but it was bulky, cumbersome, required external batteries, and could only be set to four stations. Griffin Technologies iTrip proved to be a singularly better solution — small form-factor, fully configurable from within the iPod (controlled by special music tracks, which allows it to change the frequencey of its transmission band or enables and disables the LED) and drawing power from the iPod’s battery via it’s expansion plug. And, of course, I had to have some method to recharge the thing while in transit, and I found the Belkin iPod Auto Kit to be useful (it’s got a line out, which may eventually be useful, depending on whether or not a line-in module ever becomes available for my car).

The biggest series of issues from owning this iPod come from integrating it with my home PC. I’d been using my Mac at work to charge and synchronize it, but my home music collection was significantly larger and more comprehensive than the truncated library I’d ported to my office. This meant that I had to get a firewire card for my PC. Thankfully, the $25 el-cheapo generico 3-port Firewire PCI card from Anitec turned out to be compatible with my iPod (I’d heard lots of non-powering, non-synchronizing horror stories from the iPodlounge forums). Music is currently transferred to the iPod via iTunes, but that’s only because Winamp 5 still doesn’t support smart playlist management for the iPod. Its iPod support plugin (currently at iteration 1.06) works well enough to recognize the iPod and its playlists, allows me to move music to and from the iPod and my comptuer, and can even update song playcounts, but has a glaring flaw in that you have enqueue entire playlists before songs will move from one to the next upon completion. Its rather unfortunate default behaviour is to play a single song, looped endlessly, if you select a playlist and press “play”. Obviously non-optimal behaviour. And I’m sticking with Winamp because it’s hooked into this here blog via plugins and php scripting, and it’s got a smaller memory footprint and doesn’t require me to have three additional services running on my system (iTunes Gearsec service hangs my machine solid when it’s enabled — and since I don’t burn music CD’s, what use do I have for this?).

Still, it’s nice to have 2K+ songs with me at any given time. And enough file storage left over to carry a few fansubbed episodes of anime (for watching anywhere there’s a machine with firewire port). Arr. Let’s hear it for crass commercialism!