Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Monsters Vs Aliens

I have watched Monsters vs Aliens twice, though I did not see it in 3D. Only one theater in the area has 3D and it is the most expensive theater in the area (twice the price of the theater I usually go to, quadruple the price of the cheapest theater that releases the movies after the other theaters have had them for a few weeks), they also charge extra for 3D films. I really would like to see a 3D film but never have. It might have made me enjoy the film more since that was a major selling point for the film.

On my first viewing I did not really like the film all that much. It has a rather cliche plot; which is somewhat expected since it is based on 1950's B movies of the science fiction/horror genre. On my second watch through I enjoyed the film more, though I would not say it is anything greater than an average film. Part of the reason I liked it on my second viewing more than the first is because I expected less from the film and caught references to other films that I had missed on the first viewing. It does have a lot of references to other films. E.T., X-Files, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Independence Day, etc.

The film did have some fairly humorous parts. For example; I liked the scene with the aggressive girl and wimp jock. It also had some funny lines like this one: "We need our top scientific minds on this, get India on the phone." or this one: "Has it gotten hotter. I'd like to know. It would be a very convenient truth."

History Channel: Armageddon Exploring the Doomsday Myth

I recently watched the History Channel video Armageddon Exploring the Doomsday Myth. It is two DVD's containing four programs that originally aired on the History Channel; Doomsday 2012: The End of Days, Mayan Doomsday Prophecy, Doomsday Tech, and More Doomsday Tech. I do not frequently watch History Channel programs because I do not have cable/satellite. If the programs contained in this collection were the only programs that I have watched on that channel, I would not want to.

The first program is not very informative and is extremely repetitive, there is maybe 15 minutes of actual discussion were you to remove all the repetition. It's also the worst of the four programs by far, the information given is one sided and not all that accurate. For example the internet-based prophetic software program is a type of search engine and the more people mention 2012 and doomsday on the internet the more the program is going to spit that out.

The second program was better than the first, it actually did tell somethings about the Mayans. Really the Mayan calendar is pretty interesting and it is very accurate. The program though mentions a lot of things that really don't make all that much sense. It claims that the Mayan calendar (one of them since the Mayans used three interlocking calendars) predicted specific events such as the American Civil War, the assassination of Lincoln, the social upheaval of the 60's, World War 2, etc. which the first thing that I wonder is why would it predict things that really have no link to the Mayan's or even the area in which the Mayan's lived. Sure most of those were big events in US history but there are many events as big or bigger happening elsewhere in the world.

Look at the wikipedia article on the 2012 phenomenon or type 2012 Doomsday on google and you'll get more information then you'd get from either of those programs (and much quicker).

The third and fourth programs are part of a series called Modern Marvels and were much better than the first two programs. They make mention of Nuclear war, cyber terror, genetic engineering, nanobots, etc. Talks about how technology is a double edged sword that can be used both for good and for ill. How the advances of technology has made it so that an individual can have the destructive power of a nation one hundred years ago. Makes mention of global warming and dwindling supplies (the amount of oil is limited). Does have some interesting bits of information but plays up some things more dangerous than they are. For example, the gray goo scenario in which nanotechnology goes amuck and consumes everything. I just can't see that happening. Where would the nanotech acquire the energy to do so and how would it fair against microbes and such that have been evolving for ages. Though many of the threats listed do have merit. Pandemic's very real threats. Genetic engineering of food, while I don't really see this as large of a threat as portrayed in the video, I do think it needs to be studied more. I don't like that everybody is basically the guinea pig for this. There has been problems for example allergies to the modified foods.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Writing Emotions

I don't really know how to write emotions and a lot of people seem to have this problem as well, both professional and amateur writers. A fan fic I recently came upon expressed the characters emotions via emoticons, which I found to be very strange. O_O suddenly appearing mid-sentence was jarring.

I've also seen people express the emotions via graphical effects seen in manga and anime. I don't really have anything against this, since they appear to be attempting to maintain the feeling of the source material. The thing is using nosebleeds, sweat drops, cross popping veins, cat smile, chibification, facefaults, waterfalls of tears, etc., are means of showing the characters emotions in a different medium entirely and while it can be done in writing it often does not work all that well. Less so when they attempt to describe the action rather than just saying the effect. Example; Instead of saying something like "Joe facefaulted" they use "Joe fell over onto his face, his limbs in a twisted mass above him".

Now I'll get to the more common means of letting the readers know what emotion the character is feeling. Namely straight out telling us. Susan was afraid. Yoiko was happy. This of course does work as a way of letting the readers know, the thing is it is telling us not showing us what the character is feeling. It also doesn't really draw the reader in and is not really that descriptive. Susan is afraid; okay, how afraid is she - piss her pants scared or just mildly uncomfortable.

The best way, at least I think so, is to describe the effects of the emotion and body language. It is also the most difficult and I'm not good at doing it this way. Example: "Susan's palm's grew sweaty and her heart pounded hard enough that it felt like it would break through her chest." What I was trying to do, I'm unsure how successfully, was to describe some of the physical effects of fear (increased heart rate and force of each beat; increased muscle tension; tremors; sweaty and cold palms; nausea; etc.) instead of saying she was afraid. It is more descriptive than just telling the emotion and hopefully more engaging to the reader.

Conan the Liberator

In general I like Conan the Barbarian books, having said that, the book Conan the Liberator by L. Sprague De Camp and Lin Carter is not amongst the best Conan books. I don't really get why it was not better. I've read other books by L. Sprague De Camp and enjoyed them. Considering the topic of the book, I would expect better. It is after all a book on Conan's rise to Kinghood.

Conan had been a general of Aquilonia but was forced to flee. After several further adventures he is asked by several rebels to lead their revolt against the now mad king Numedides, who is basically a puppet of the sorcerer Thulandra Thuu. Conan uses the treasure of Tranicos, which he had found on an earlier adventure, to assembles an army with the help of Count Trocero, a nobleman of Poitain; Dexitheus, a priest of Mitra; Publius, a rebel tax accessor; and Prospero, another exiled general. The story then is about the armies trip to the capital city of Aquilonia.

A lot of this book did not make sense to me. The tactics used by both Conan and Thuu did not make much sense. Moments before the climatic battle the priest of Mitra, Dexitheus, suddenly revealed that in his youth he was a sorcerer and with his power Conan can defeat Thuu. They went through several battles, Conan nearly died, etc. and he did not mention that he has powers?

The characterization in this book is poor. Conan is in his forties and has been betrayed by women repeatedly, it makes sense for a teenage or young Conan to fall for these things, but this is not a young Conan, this is a Conan who has been a thief, general, soldier, pirate, etc. The thing I'm bringing up is a beautiful girl, Alcina, just suddenly showing up at some small town tavern to dance and then becoming his mistress and he suspects that there is a spy in his ranks but doesn't suspect her. Not only does she spy on him, she ends up poisoning him and he did not suspect her at all until she went and did that. As for her she didn't think of checking to make sure he was dead. The characters are constantly doing stupid things in the book.

The battles were not exciting and other than the character being named Conan and some of the places named this might as well not have been a Conan book. Conan does not act like Conan. Conan is supposed to be the main character of this book but he doe not get the most screen time, the sorcerer Thulandra Thuu gets a lot more than Conan does. The book is also pretty boring, especially for a book in the sword and sorcery genre; there is a lot of meaningless dialogue and pointless politics mentioned.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Blood Lite

I occasionally choose books to read at random while at the library. The thing that drew this book, Blood Lite edited by Kevin J. Anderson, was its title which is a pun of Bud Lite. The book is an anthology of twenty-one short stories. The stories are supposed to be humorous while set in a horror setting/containing elements of horror. I like stories that mix genres and since the stories are all short it is easy to read this book while doing other things such as waiting for someone/something. Some stories were good, others not so good.

Here is a list of the stories contained in the book:

01. The Ungrateful Dead by Kelly Armstrong.
- An okay story about a necromancer who is being bothered by a ghost and her humorous solution to the ghost bothering her..
02. Mr. Bear by Joe R. Lansdale.
- I did not like this story which is based on Smokey the bear.
03. Hell in a Handbasket by Lucien Soulban.
-This one was pretty good. A baby is delivered to hell in a basket.
04. The Eldritch Pastiche from Beyond the Shadow of Horror by Christopher Welch.
- A parody of H.P. Lovecraft's works about an inept writer who gets interesting fan.
05. Elvis Presley and the Bloodsucker Blues by Matt Venne.
- This one was just stupid, it's about a vampire Elvis Presley.
06. No Problem by Don D'Ammassa.
- A biochemist finds some very interesting journals of one his ancestors. Using the knowledge gained from he journals he finds a way to bring the dead back to life. This story was not bad.
07. Old School by Mark Onspaugh.
- Three pages long; to give any type of summary would give away the entire story.
08. A Sound of Blunder by J.A. Konrath and F. Paul Wilson.
- A parody of Ray Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder". It's an average story about two idiot gangsters who read a book to solve a problem that they should not have read.
09. An Evening with Al Gore by Charlaine Harris.
- This is a really good story about what happens when supernatural creatures decide to go green.
10. Dear Prudence by Steven Savile.
- A guy attempts to writes a letter to his wife, it changes drastically on each rewrite.
11. A Good Psycho is Hard to Find by Will Ludwigsen.
- This story is based on chainsaw murderer flicks about two survivors who find surviving to be a thrill like no other.
12. High Kicks and Misdemeanors by Janet Berliner.
- I did not much like this story. It involves using Ostriches as assassins.
13. PR Problems by Eric James Stone.
- This story is pretty good about a ghoul who is upset about how ghouls are looked down upon but werewolves and vampires are viewed as being really cool.
14. Where Angels Fear to Tread by Sherrilyn Kenyon.
- I did not much like this story. Its about an office worker who is drafted to fight for heaven.
15. A Very Special Girl by Mike Resnick.
- This story was pretty good. A zombie falls in love with a very special girl and gives her three thousand dollars that was supposed to go to Benny Fifth Street. They then go to get it from the girl who while female is not human.
16. Love Seat Solitaire by D.L. Snell.
- This was pretty funny it's about a poltergeist who is not what it seems.
17. I Know Who You Ate Last Summer by Nancy Holder.
- A story about a couple cannibals who aren't as careful with their food choice as they should be.
18. Bitches of the Night by Nancy Kilpatrick.
- This is pretty good it is about Dracula and his brides. Life for Dracula is not a good as it seems.
19. The Bell... FROM HELL!!! by Jeff Strand.
- This is a rather interesting story about a guy who has a bell that he thinks is from Hell (whether it is or not is left unclear).
20. Dead Hand by Sharyn Mcrumb.
- A stock-car racing member uses Cherokee magic to bring a dead racer back to life to win for them.
21. Day Off by Jim Butcher.
- A wizard attempts to take a day off but doesn't get a break.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Nerima Wrecking Crew

The Nerima Wrecking Crew is a moniker given for some of the cast in Ranma ½ fandom. Which cast members compose the Nerima Wrecking Crew is something I have wondered more than once. In addition to who, I also wonder why they were given this title. While it is true that many of the characters can cause a lot of property damage, if they so choose, most really do not (going by the manga).

By my definition the only characters I would say were part of it are Shampoo and Ryoga, seeing as to how they are the only two regular cast members who regularly go around breaking things. Shampoo purposely breaks through walls and things when entering and Ryoga has very poor control of his strength (doesn't even make an attempt to not break things). Even Ryoga is debatable since he does not spend the majority of his time in Nerima and while his house's exact location is not given it probably is not in Nerima (since Akane took a bus to get there). The more destructive characters do not live in Nerima. Pantyhose Taro, Ryu Kumon, Saffron, Herb, etc. do not and never have lived in Nerima.

That is not to say that others do not cause damage, they do occasionally and can be incredibly destructive if they make any attempt to do so, but it is not a common thing for the others to do so. The amount of property damage they do is blown out of proportion in fanon. Most of the people who live in the area do not purposely cause damage and a couple of them have berated the others who do so for doing so and/or can be seen repairing damage (Ranma for example can be seen fixing the damage occasionally such as the Tendo's roof).

The most destructive battles do not occur within Nerima, they are in isolated places: Breaking Point Battle - out in the mountains, battle versus Herb - in the mountains, battle versus Saffron - mountains again, Ryu Kumon battle - at a shrine away from people with no witnesses except Soun, Genma, and Akane, etc. Other battles are most commonly at two locales - Tendo property and Furinkan High.

Most of the battles are not spontaneous bouts of aggression. Challenges are often issued in advance. There are a lot of prearranged affairs in which everyone knows about them before hand. Rhythmic gymnastics, martial arts dining, martial arts cheerleading, Ranma and Ryoga's ki blast battle, Martial arts skating, Ukyo's intro battle (she set up the ring before hand), Mousse's battle against female form Ranma, the takeout race (this one was even televised), etc. all were organized planned events.

For the most part, at least in the manga, the characters get along with one another and spend time doing other things besides fighting/destroying things. They do have berserker buttons but when those aren't pushed they can be civil to one another. Ranma has had polite conversations with Mousse, Tatewaki Kuno, Ryoga, all of his fiancees, etc. It is strange seeing somethings in fan fics like Ukyo and Akane fighting, since they did not have a fight in the manga and besides the issue with Ranma they get along with one another (even cut class together and help each other). The characters who attack Ranma, for the most part, do not do so every day. Ryoga and Mousse both leave to spend time training, the principal takes time to set up his ridiculous challenges, etc.

If you haven't figured it out yet, I dislike them being called the Nerima Wrecking Crew since it is not an apt nickname for them and it is unclear as to which characters are actually part of it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Japanese fare I would not want to consume

The majority of plant and animal life on the planet is not edible (at least not in it's natural state) for humans. Many things that are edible by humans are not edible to other lifeforms, for example grapes/raisins, chocolate, onions, and macadamia nuts are poisonous to dogs. There are many things that are edible that most people do not eat. The things people consume varies by culture and availability.

An item by item list of foods that people in other cultures eat or drink that I would not, would take a long time to create, since there are a lot of things I would not want to eat (many things I do not even know about). Here is a list of a few foods/drinks that the Japanese eat/drink, that I personally find to be revolting:

1. Placenta 10000 (or 400,000)- This is a Japanese jelly drink made out of pig placenta. It is touted to be a health drink and comes in at least two flavors; peach and natural flavor. It is supposedly zero calories and is thought to have regenerative properties.

2. Natto - This is a traditional food in Japan eaten for thousands of years, exact date is unknown but some people think it dates to the Jomen period (10,000 bc-300bc). Natto is soybean fermented with bacillus subtilis (a type of bacteria). It has a sticky glue like consistency and smells like ammonia. This is thought to be very good for you and modern medical science agrees.

3. Sashimi - This is generally raw sea food, though beef and chicken sashimi does exist. There is some danger in eating raw meats, some are supposed to be eaten still alive (frog sashimi the heart is considered a delicacy and is often eaten while still beating) and some of it can very easily kill you (fugu is a very poisonous fish that extreme care has to be taken to prepare it for consumption and several people die each year from eating it).

4. Seaweed. There are many types of seaweed and seaweed is generally very nutritious. Take Mozuku, a stringy and soft seaweed naturally found in Okinawa. It looks pretty disgusting but it contains sulfated polysaccharide (Fucoidan) which is used in cancer treatment aid health supplements (also enhances T cell activity), and with the vinegar sauce it is usually served with it kills E.coli bacteria.

5. Milt - The milt (shirako 'white children') of anglerfish (anko) and pufferfish (fugu) which are considered a delicacy. For those of you who might not know what milt is, it is the seminal fluid of the fish.

6. Marine mammals. It's no secret that some Japanese people eat marine mammals such as dolphin and whales. This is mostly done because Japan is an island nation and those are some of the easiest acquired sources of red meat.

I've eaten natto, sashimi, and seaweed. Natto and seaweed, while good for you just taste bad. Sashimi is raw fish/meat; I don't much like seafood and prefer the meat and seafood that I eat to be cooked. A drink made out of pig placenta and fish semen sounds too distinguishing for me to even contemplate trying.

As for marine mammals, I can give a lot of reasons; they are fairly intelligent creatures, being at the top of the food chain has caused them to have a higher build up of pollutants such as mercury, dolphins occasionally save people, my culture finds the eating of them to be taboo, there are many foods more energy efficient and sustainable (some species of whales and dolphins have gone extinct and others are endangered), etc. The main reasons being my morals are against eating them (though I do not condemn those who do so). I eat other animals such as pigs (pork) which are also fairly intelligent pack animals. They are far more intelligent than most people credit them as being (cleaner as well) and unlike the dolphins, which live mostly a life out of captivity, pigs often live very terrible lives (that is an understatement and if you were wondering I do feel guilty for eating them).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

500 Essential Graphic Novels

The book 500 Essential Graphic Novels: The Ultimate Guide by Gene Kannenberg is a book that reviews and gives a short commentary on 500 graphic novels. I thought it was an alright book; it did its purpose, in that it gave me an idea as to some graphic novels to look into. I also liked that it listed some suggestions for other graphic novels; if I liked the one book I might like this similar book.

It must have been difficult to decide which graphic novels to include, while I did read some of the one's listed, there are many I did not. If I were to attempt to make a list of 500 graphic novels it would be very different (though I'm not sure if I have read 500 different graphic novel series and if I did I don't know if I could recall them). I would include more manga; DNA^2, Love Hina, Azumanga Daioh, Excel Saga, Detective Conan (Case Closed), etc. There would be many different graphic novels, Dirty Pair by Adam Warren, Gold Digger by Fred Perry, Amelia Rules! by Jimmy Gownley, Boneyard by Richard Moore, FoxTrot by Bill Amend, Essential Tales of the Zombie by assorted authors/artists, etc.

I do agree with some of the ratings but disagree with others, which pretty much is expected. I'd have probably given Ah My Goddess four stars instead of three, Uzumaki by Junko Mizano would definitely have been given five stars instead of four, and I'd probably have given The Best of the Spirit by Will Eisner three stars instead of four. I'm sure that other people would disagree with whatever ratings I would bestow as well. I'm unsure if I would agree with four stars for Ranma ½, it is my favorite series so I'd be tempted to give it five stars, particularly since it is on only volume one (which is a very good volume since it made me want to read the rest of the series). Now the series as a whole, yeah, four stars is probably what I'd rate it, though some volumes would get lower (for example; probably 2½, though half is not an option in the book, stars for the Gambling King Arc).

Here is a list of books, in the order they were in within the book, that I have not read, and am considering reading, based on the summaries given in the book:
01. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
02. Pyongyang by Guy Delisle
03. Buddha by Osamu Tezuka
04. A Cartoon History of the Universe by Larry Gonick
05. I Love Led Zeppelin by Ellen Forney
06. Laika by Nick Abadzis
07. My Troubles with Woman by Robert Crumb
08. The Playboy by Chester Brown
09. The Times of Botchan by Natsuo Sekikawa
10. 100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello
11. A History of Violence by John Wagner
12. Sin City by Frank Miller
13. The EC Archives: Crime SuspensionStories
14. Nightmare Alley by William Gresham
15. Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay
16. Promethea by Alien Moore
17. Abadazed: The Road to Inconceivable by J.M. DeMatteis
18. The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman
19. The Books of Magic: Binding by John Rieber
20. Death: The High Cost of Living by Neil Gaiman
21. Lenore by Roman Dirge
22. Little Ego by Vittorio Giardino
23. Scary Godmother by Jill Thompson
24. Skeleton Key by Andi Watson
25. Three Fingers by Rich Koslowski
26. Jar of Fools by Jason Lutes
27. The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot
28. Brooklyn Dreams by J.M. DeMatteis
29. A Child's Life and Other Stories by Phoebe Gloeckner
30. Couscous Express by Brian Wood
31. Demo by Brian Wood
32. Lost Girls by Alan Moore
33. Nemi by Lise Myhre
34. Robot Dreams by Sara Varon
35. Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore
36. Summer Blonde by Andrian Tomine
37. Tricked by Alex Robinson
38. Hellspawn by Steve Niles
39. The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman
40. Black Hole by Charles Burns
41. Courtney Crumrin by Ted Naifeh
42. Hell Baby by Hino Hideshi
43. Museum of Terror by Junji Ito
44. Pure Trance by Junko Mizuno
45. Flaming Carrot by Bob Burden
46. Blue Monday by Chynna Clugston-Major
47. The Book of Mr. Natural by Robert Crumb
48. Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Btyan Lee O'Malley
49. Hard Boiled by Frank Miller
50. Chaos: Lone Sloane by Philippe Druillet
51. Phoenix by Osamu Tezuka
52. WE3 by Grant Morrison
53. Planetary by Warren Ellis
54. Kingdom Come by Mark Waid

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pigeonholing genres

I dislike when people attempt to pigeonhole works of fiction. People saying things like it's a comedy and should only be a comedy, anyone who writes it different is just not getting the point. The main reason this bothers me is because the best works of fiction are a mixture of genres. A little comic interlude in a serious story often adds to the story. Similar to mixing genres, sometimes the genre shifts to another one entirely. For example, a fantasy story involving magic could end up actually being a science fiction story involving high technology. Sometimes the changing of genres or styles is good, sometimes it is not.

A few examples of changing genres:
-Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The movie was a comedic parody on vampire movies; the television show was a much more serious drama. The movie was not very good, but the television show was, for the most part, very good. The changing from one genre to another was very beneficial.

-Batman. Batman has run the gauntlet of genres. There were horror stories, drama's, romance between Batman and others, the television show was a comedy, detective stories, fantasy stories and science fiction. Some were good, some were bad.

-Ranma fan fiction. The manga has aspects of many genres but most common were comedy, action, and romance; Takahashi even commented in an interview that she tried to vary the story arcs between those three genres. I've seen people try and pigeonhole the Ranma ½ manga as only being a comedy and that really annoys me. Part of the reason, I dislike that view is because many of the best Ranma fan fics are not comedies. Personally I believe that it is easier to write a Ranma fan fic in any other genre than it is to write it as a comedy. The reason I think this is because the vast majority of the humor in Ranma ½ was graphical in nature. It was primarily slapstick and visual comedic exaggeration which is very difficult to write well.

If I ever get around to writing/publishing a fan fic; it is very unlikely that it would be a comedy, though I would attempt to include some even if the fic in question is meant to be a dark fic in the style of H.P. Lovecraft. Examples: people not demonstrated to be abnormally strong would not send people flying (while some are purely for comedic purposes some were shown, by the plot, to be literal in the manga), the Tendo's during the 10 yen arc after Nabiki's date are exaggeratedly poor (the house would not decay that fast and it is impossible for them to sell the stuff as fast as they did), people cannot fit people into their mouth (like one of Konatsu family members did), etc. The super human abilities, spirits, and magic would likely still be in the fic but even that is likely to be toned down.

Though shifting genres is not always a good thing. An example of a bad change of genres was a Japanese film that I can't recall the name of the movie at the moment but do remember the plot. The film started out as a slapstick comedy (flipping the table, hitting people, etc.) and then about a third of the way through it started showing details and explanations for the behaviors seen that completely changed the genre. It showed that while it looked like slapstick to an outside viewer it wasn't slap stick. The guy was really physically abusing her and showed how she was dealing with it (hospital visit, having to clean up the mess the guy made, etc.); if I remember correctly it did not have a happy ending.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Some Parallels

I recently saw a review of a fan fic which claimed a technique that was used came from a different show/manga. It didn't. It is much easier to crossover a series when parallels already exist. For some unfathomable reason, at least to me, I decided to write these lists of some parallels between Ranma and some other very popular series (part of the reason it is unfathomable is because I have watched very little of two of these series and do not much like the other two):

Naruto - a show about ninja's that in general don't act much like historical ninja.
-Kawarimi - is the technique often used by ninja's in which they switch places with an object. Ranma uses this technique frequently.
-Konatsu has a duplicating body technique similar to Naruto's. He made four of himself.
-Smoke screens are fairly common and used by most of the Ranma characters at one point or another.
-Ceiling cling and wall climbing are often used in both series, most often by Ranma in the manga.
- Throwing of kunai happens frequently in Naruto, it also happens often in Ranma though in Ranma more often it is a different object (Mousse threw knives at Ranma, Ranma used pin wheels on Mousses duck form, Konatsu and Mint threw large amounts of daggers as their attacks, etc.).
- Naruto has explosive tags, Ranma cast make pretty much anything to explode (Happosai's fire crackers, Ukyo added gun powder to her okonomiyaki, Shampoo added gun powder to buns, Mousse used explosive eggs, Konatsu's sisters had TNT, and the Principal had both added explosives to pineapples and had grenades).
- Both series use pressure points/vulnerable points, though in Naruto they are called Chakra points.
-The ninja Jiraiya can sort of be seen in the Ranma manga during the Romeo and Juliet story arc (in that one of the other classes has a play involving the mythical character Jiraiya, which the Naruto character is based on).

Avatar the Last Air Bender - elemental based martial arts.
Many of the techniques seen on Avatar also happen in the Ranma manga.
- Aang spun a wooden staff to deflect fire. Ranma also spun a simple wooden staff to deflect fire.
- Air bending involves manipulating the air. Many of the Ranma attacks do as well. Ranma's Hiryu Shoten Ha (a tornado technique), Kuno's air pressure technique, and the vacuum blades are all manipulating the air.
-Earth Bending - Ki Blasts and breaking point are earth bending techniques (Ryoga even uses them to tunnel through the Earth).
-Fire Bending - Several characters like the Ashura and Saffron did this. Though other characters did occasionally as well -Mousse for example during the mushrooms of aging arc was trying to master fire breathing.
-Water bending - Cologne did several attacks that were this - created a water sprout and the Shark fist was blasts of manipulated water.

Read or Die - A show about a librarian that can control and influence paper.
-Ranma uses paper fans occasionally, counters a punch from Happosai with a paper fan and uses them to blow powders and stuff back at people.
-Konatsu uses a technique called Füjin Seikyü Shyo (wind blade bill) a whirlwind of paper bills surrounded Ranma, and sliced through his clothes.
-Ryoga's trick with his belt and bandanna's applied to paper instead of cloth.
-Ranma can be seen reading frequently (it appears to be the thing he does the most for entertainment in the manga)

Harry Potter - A series of books about witches and wizards.
Magic is rampant in both Ranma and Harry Potter.
-Both have supernatural creatures, phoenixes, ghosts, possibly giants (a couple characters like the Dojo Destroyer was at least Haggard's size), yeti (part of Taro's curse), and dragons (dragon whisker soup, Orachi, and Herb's ancestor was a dragon) though there are differences in how the creatures acted and some different supernatural creatures entirely.
-Magic items are pretty common in both - more seen in Ranma (For Ranma there are the Umbrella of love, mirror that makes clones, mirror that people could enter and had a large amount of room in it, lightning ring, sentient fire breathing staff, etc.).
-Potions are in both, like Happosai's rejuvenation potion or Colognes hair growth potion.
-Mandrake root (even screamed in both when pulled out) and other magical plants were in both.
-Both have means of shapeshifting.
-Both have apothecaries
-Jusenkyo can be used for transfiguring people and animals into other animals, act like animagus, and work like polyjuice (as shown by kima).
-Wizards use owls to deliver stuff (like the brooms) and send messages. The Phoenix people are shown to use crows the same way (even able to kidnap people with them like Akane).
-Paintings in both can move - Panda ghost came from a painting.
-magic marks. Dark mark used by voldemort and mark of the gods seen in Ranma.

I had the idea of writing a few scenes in which the characters names are never told and then having people try and guess the series in which the story is supposed to be a fan fic of. Purposely using technique/objects that commonly are associated with one series but exist in a similar form in other series. Of course the techniques names would not be given only their effects.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Enemies & Allies by Kevin J. Anderson

This book is about a first meeting between Batman and Superman set in the 1950's. It appears to be heavily influenced on the first Superman movie and Batman Begins though not part of either continuity. It reads very much like a comic book (silver age) even though it is not in graphical format, which personally I find to be an accomplishment for the writer since it is hard to maintain the feeling of one medium when changed to another. I like Batman a lot more than I do Superman and this book reinforces that, because the author writes a much better Batman than Superman. Superman came off as arrogant and somewhat self serving. This is in part, but only in part, because Superman calls himself a hero. I dislike when a person or character calls themselves a hero (or a villain for that matter). In my opinion, hero is a title that should be given to you by others not one that you bestow upon yourself.

The antagonist of this book is Lex Luthor, technically Soviet Russia as well, but mostly Lex. LexLuthor is pretty two dimensional in this book. The book goes a bit too far in trying to show that Luthor is evil, for example, it makes a mention of Luthor wearing a jacket lined with baby seal fur. Doing so did nothing to add to the story except to show that Luthor is evil, not just ambitious and ruthless. The other actions taken by Luthor, clearly portrayed him to be 'evil' and were already over the top in some cases.

There are two reasons I did not enjoy this book as much as I might have otherwise, though I did think it was an enjoyable book. The first being Lex Luthor was an idiot. Luthor is supposed to be a genius but he does quite a few very stupid things in this book and portrayed a level of arrogance that it's hard he believe he made it to adulthood, much less created and is running one of the biggest corporations in the world. I'd expect teen geniuses to be impulsive and rash but he's a full grown man who really should have learned by his age patience and planning. Here's an example from the book. He creates a death ray using technology stolen from Bruce Wayne's company. He plans to use this death ray to destroy a couple of nuclear missiles he convinced a general of the Soviet Union to launch, so he can look like a savior and so that both sides would up their building of weapons. Here are the stupid parts: He waited to the very last possible moment to use the ray on the nuclear missiles, did not build a prototype version of the death ray, did not test the ray on anything prior to using it, and he had absolutely no backup plan.

The second reason is because I was unable to suspend my disbelief. Reading fiction, pretty much any fiction, requires a certain level of suspension of disbelief, superhero fiction more than most; since they tend to do things like ignore conservation of energy. You have to accept thing like Superman's abilities, even though they clearly break physical laws. Superman lifts a large boat out of the water and flies with it (which is actually something I think should be included since it is something he does in the comics). There is no way that the boat could maintain its structural integrity, since it was not designed to be lifted from a point the size of a human hand (does it one handed, uses the other hand to wave at people). Usually I have no trouble ignoring things that are impossible, so long as they are consistent and are done well. For some reason though I was not really able to do so while reading this book. It's not just the big things, many little things, that generally I wouldn't consciously register kept distracting me. Things like knockout gas/tranquilizers/chloroform instantly knocking out people even though it does not do so in real life or how Superman typed up a story for his newspaper in a blur (that is beyond 1950's typewriter's mechanical limits. Try to type too fast and the long-handled keys would get jammed up. Even normal fast, much less superhumanly fast, typists had this problem when they picked up speed. A solution to this problem came out in the 1970's with the usage of type-balls but the story is set in the 1950's). The story did try to avoid anachronisms, with varying degrees of success (usage of cathode-ray tube technology and reel to reel tapes).

I particularly liked the book's explanation as to why Superman does not spend all his time stopping wars and bringing aid to people. He needs to learn to be human and have a life to himself. That for all of his powers and abilities there are many things that he cannot do and some things that though he can do, he should not. For Batman, I liked that Batman realized that he was going after street toughs and ignoring the, often much worse, white collar criminals.

A few lines I found rather annoying, in this continuity Jonathan Kent was dead but he had given Clark Kent some supposed nuggets of wisdom. I disliked pretty much every single one. For example: "A man's actions say everything about him that anyone needs to know." I dislike it because it is the stuff you do not know about the person that is going to cause you trouble and is what you really need to know. Another example: "Son, I hope I've raised you to admire our core values. America's not perfect, far from it, but even with our faults, this is the best darned country in the world. Don't ever stop believing in truth, justice, and the American way." I agree with believing in truth and justice, it's the American way that bothers me. I dislike blind patriotism, I do not think the USA is the best country in the world, and there are a lot of things wrong with the American way. I'd go into detail but I'd end up writing far too much (things like more of it's citizens imprisoned then any other country, one of only three countries in the world that still legally have children be given the death penalty, consumes too much, pollutes too much, too much blood on it's hands, too little education, etc.).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Yobai - Night Crawling

I made mention of the practice of Yobai in a post on sneak masks last year. Yobai is an old custom in Japan in which a man would visit a woman at night to have sex. The practice went like this: A young woman would be sleeping in her room and a guy would creep in, slide behind her, and make his intentions known. If she consented, they would have discrete sex through the night, with him then slipping out of the house stealthily before anyone woke up. While sometimes it was just a sexual romp, quite often the girls family would know about it. It was occasionally seen as a prelude to marriage, the first few nights a young man secretly visited their daughter the family would pretend nothing happened, then they would catch him and a public courtship would begin. This practice would also occur between married couples as it was not unusual for wives to continue to live with their parents.

This practice is now seen as an immoral one and for the most part is not done, several decades ago it was still done in some rural areas, but was not common. It has not died out entirely though. The seduction of sleeping women is a common theme of Japanese pornography and some places offer yobai services (prostitutes who pretend to be asleep while the client slips into their futon). Yobai can be seen in Japanese literary works like The Tale of Genji. It also is sometimes mentioned in manga and anime, for example in the Ah! My Goddess TV series Keiichi approaches Belldandy's room wondering if he is doing a form of yobai.

Additional trivia:
- A night crawling man would often wear a tenugui (cotton cloth) over part of his face. In part to protect his identity if she rejected his advances and so that she could honestly state that he was wearing a mask (therefor she is unable to identify him).
- A technique to help avoid detection that was used, was to urinate along the bottom of doors to prevent them from squeaking as they were slid open.
- Sometimes the guy would take his clothes off before even sneaking into the house. This was done so that the person, if caught, would not be mistaken for a burglar (this was legal sometimes and places, theft still wasn't).
- Originally the term came from the verb yobu, meaning to visit. Overtime it came to be written with the kanji for night and crawl.

Obligatory Ranma reference (seeing as to how that is a theme of this blog). In the second volume of the manga (VIZ count), Ranma sneaks into Akane's room because Ryoga in pig form is sleeping with Akane. Everyone in the house thinks that Ranma's attempting Yobai. The comments all support this with Nabiki saying to do it quietly, Soun saying it shows Ranma's healthy, and Kasumi thinking it is not right to do.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


In the Ranma ½ manga, several of the girls (Akane, Ukyo, Ranma-onna) wear sarashi, bleaching cloth, wrapped tightly around their midriffs and chests when trying to hide the fact that they are female. A sarashi is a long, strip of cloth, most commonly made of thick cotton. It used to be worn by samurai under their kimono, to make it harder to be wounded in sword fights (amongst other reasons, after all it is a long cloth strip that can be used for many purposes, such as make shift bandages). It is considered a symbol of toughness and until fairly recently masculinity in Japan. Yakuza and yankii (youth gangs) wore sarashi until fairly recently because of the symbolism. Which is a bit strange when you consider they were and are also used by pregnant women to support the stomach.

I do not recall reading many fanfics in which characters wear sarashi or breast wraps, even in period pieces such as the feudal period, when bra's were yet to be invented. While the occasional Ranma fan fic will have Ukyo wearing one it is rare for any other character to do so. Ukyo is shown to wear one in her intro while she is dressing like a guy, so it might get remembered more often but I still don't get why other characters don't. Most specifically Ranma since they can, and are, worn by both males and females.

While looking up information on sarashi I happened upon a poem/song. It can be found at The International Shakuhachi Society website.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Change Blindness

Change blindness is the phenomenon that occurs when a person viewing a visual scene apparently fails to detect large changes in the scene. I first heard about change blindness several years ago, I think it was on a special explaining magician tricks. It occurs to me that I've never actually seen it, or inattentional blindness, used in a Ranma fan fic even though they really could apply.

In most fics people see Ranma change form and immediately notice. It is rare for a character to explain it away as being impossible (i.e. that was impossible, therefor logically it didn't happen) which I'd expect to be a common reaction to people who happen to see it only once. I'd expect them to say something like "my eyes must be playing tricks on me" or something of that nature.

It's much rarer for a character to not notice when Ranma changes form at all in fan fics. Both change blindness and inattentional blindness could be used to explain as to why another character would not notice Ranma change. Inattentional blindness could be used, in that the character was looking elsewhere at the time and did not see the change occur and therefor would assume that male form Ranma left and female form came in while they were distracted. Change blindness could be used in that they were not paying all that much attention to Ranma in the first place, they registered his presence but not all the details (considering same hair style and color and clothing this could happen very easily). Before anyone says but Ranma's female form has a different hair color, that is not true of the manga (see the colored versions), and the characters in both the manga and anime do not notice the change in hair color (even though we the watchers do).

Video demonstrating change blindness (had embed off by request).

Video demonstrating inattentional blindness:

Videos of similar nature can be found via google or youtube.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Admitting I read dōjinshi (Japanese fan made and published comics akin to fan fiction), much less commenting on them, is not something I do very often. While there are some very good non-hentai dōjinshi, they are not anywhere as easy to find (the series in which I have seen the most non-hentai and good dōjinshi is Slayers). The reason for this is because most dōjinshi are of the Hentai variety, at least most dōjinshi that get posted on the internet are, and have either no plots or very weak plots. There are very good quality dojinshi, even of the hentai variety, quite a few mangaka started out as dōjinshi writers or write dōjinshi on the side. Ken Akamatsu (Love Hina), Rikdo Koshi (Excel Saga), Kiyohiko Azuma (Azumanga Daioh) and Masaki Kajishima (Tenchi Muyo) all wrote dōjinshi prior to becoming mangaka. Some still do like Masaki Kajishima, he writes mostly Tenchi Muyo dōjinshi that is supplementary to the series.

Writing fan made comics is not unique to the Japanese. The biggest difference is that they are more illegal in some places, like the USA, because of copyright laws. The Japanese copyright laws are not as stringent and the industry allows the publishing of dōjinshi (they even have large conventions for dōjinshi).

Some particularly popular anime/manga spawn webcomics (which are for all practical purposes the same as dōjinshi, just not produced in Japan). Two examples are: Sailor Ranko (a fukufic i.e. Ranma/Sailormoon crossover - an alright but not great fan comic) and Slayers Hamlet (Shakespeare's Hamlet with the Slayers cast - a most excellent but sadly not updated in several years webcomic).

A few good dōjinshi are:
-Evangelion Re-Take, which has both a hentai version and a non-hentai version. This has a very good plot.
-Blackdogs Sailormoon dōjinshi, which are hentai and have very little plot but are drawn very well. They can be found at along with a few hundred other sailormoon dōjinshi.
-There are quite a few Slayers dōjinshi that are not hentai, mostly WAFF (warm and fuzzy feeling). I 'd link to them but most of the links to them that I have are non functional and I know not where to find them anymore. The only links in my bookmarks that still works are this Fortuncity site Isabel's fanworks corner, but it registers as a dangerous site according to firefox, QP House which has a few dōjinshi as well as summaries of the Slayers Novels, and Slayers Doujin fan share which has quite a few. I also know of this site which has Hentai and Yaoi pairings but the hentai in general isn't that good and Yaoi disgusts me.
- The Original Dirty Pair / Lovely Angels Shrine has quite a few Dirty Pair things like an entire novel and several dōjinshi the best though is listed under fanmade comics and is a Ranma/Dirty Pair crossover.
-There are a few good Ranma dōjinshi but I don't have a list of links at this time, the sites that had them generally do not have them anymore.

I request of any reader of this to suggest some good dōjinshi in the comments (Hentai variety is acceptable, but please mention that it is) and links to it would be appreciated.

addon: 6/4/10
Turtle Paradise Scanlations, that has several doujinshi including a couple Slayers doujinshi (as well as several Slayers manga scanlations). I've yet to read any of those manga or doujinshi so I can't say how good they are. Though I have read and own several other Slayers manga and enjoyed them so hopefully I'll enjoy these as well. I'm somewhat surprised I hadn't found them earlier but seeing as to how I haven't been reading or looking for Slayers stuff recently I'm not that surprised.

addon: 8/9/10
The website Realm of Sailor Energy has some amusing comics on it.
The Fancomic Central livejournal has links to numerous fan comics.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Queen of the Night and other Ranmabook comics

The most requested thing according to statcounter, as well as in emails, is asking for Ranma Hentai, more specifically the books at Ranmabooks. Surprisingly I recently received an email not asking as where to find them online for free, most can be found provided your google-fu is up to it, but asking as to whether I have read any of them and if I had are they worth the price.

In answer to that; I have read most, but not all, of them and am not currently a defender of the site (may or may not become one at some point in the future). I purchased legitimately through the site a few of the books the rest of the books I looked at were downloaded elsewhere. I'm not a large fan of Hentai to begin with since I prefer plots to mindless porn. The ones I purchased where done so while on sale, I personally think that they are a bit too expensive, but I am a cheapskate and when I do spend money I generally prefer to do so on things that are more substantial. In some ways I do not think they cost that much, since time and effort goes into making them and I have purchased a commission from an artist for pictures in the past that cost as much or more (depending on the book) per picture. If you do decide they are too expensive you could download them from one of the several places online that has them for free and if you do like it you could give a donation to the site.

Here are some small reviews of the books:
I dislike The Miss Adventures of P-chan and Learning the Hard Way primarily because they are Ryoga-centric and I dislike Ryoga. A few of them have Ranma-onna with a guy which I also do not like (Black Rose of Furinkan 4 for example). OOC books are pretty good because they are humorous. I don't much like Private Tutor Hinako because it portrays Ranma doing extremely poorly in school which is not something I like (my view on Ranma is that since he is both competitive and cares about how people view him he would not get terrible grades; though I also doubt he's getting perfect grades since has and does miss school). Miss Hinako and the Principal do not go after Ranma for doing poorly, they go after him because he does not conform, obey or respect them.

The book I looked at most recently was Queen of the Night (both parts), so I'll go into a bit more detail with it. The premise of the book I found to be pretty good, Ranma finds out Nabiki is working at a strip club. The art style is also pretty good (the art style for all the books is fairly decent). Like most hentai it has a weak plot and has the characters out of character.

Some aspects I can see the canon characters doing provided the right situation. For example, it's fairly believable that Nabiki would work as a stripper for cash; since it is shown she would do a lot of things for cash, morally worse than stripping, in the source material. That Ranma would strip itself is not all that out of character given a reason, considering he/she has no problem showing some skin to get an advantage in a fight, has very little physical modesty (has been told to put clothes on multiple time in both of his forms), has used his female form to manipulate guys, and likes being the center of attention. If Ranma will go through bridle training, while wearing extremely feminine clothing, to learn and defeat a martial arts style, coming up with a reason to get Ranma to strip, not all that difficult. Ranma going to/being at a strip club is, admittedly, fairly out of character, but given a reason is something he would do (he did end up in a love motel, girls hot spring, girls bath, sexy tea house,... in the manga).

A few out of character things were large enough to really annoy me though. For example, when Ranma gains admittance to the strip club via a fake I.D.; it has Ranma think *gulp* whoa this guy is huge and that he probably got that way from eating boys trying to sneak in. Ranma thinking that the guy is huge with the size of him intimating Ranma way ooc, Ranma in his smaller female form did not react that way to the Orachi, Pantyhose Taro's cursed form, or the Dojo Destroyer all of which were several orders of magnitude larger than that guy. If Ranma wanted into that place, or any place at all, Ranma would get in and not worry about the consequences (he could get in without the guy ever even seeing Ranma if Ranma wanted to avoid him, after-all Ranma can sneak up on people like Cologne, sneaking passed that guy would be simple).

With the given premise of the book, I'd think the story would go in a different direction entirely, instead of Ranma's female form being a stripper to help Nabiki. Ranma after finding out a big secret that Nabiki doesn't want to get out, I would expect Ranma to use, or at least attempt to use, that secret to blackmail Nabiki. Ranma has searched Nabiki's room twice looking for things that he could use against her in the manga and did attempt to blackmail her, finding something he could actually use against her would result in him using it against her.

Friday, September 4, 2009

If I Were An Evil Overlord

If I Were an Evil Warlord edited by Martin H. & Davis, Russell Greenburg is a collection of fourteen stories based on the Evil Overlord List. I first read the evil overlord list a number of years ago, many other lists in a similar vein as well, such as if I were a magical girl. Those lists are fairly amusing.

I don't think I could ever be an evil overlord, besides not being evil, I don't have the social skills required to be one, nor the ambition. I also don't find the idea of being an overlord all that appealing, while it would undoubtedly have various perks, the job has too many negatives, like people trying to overthrow you, dealing with all the problems that your domain has, etc. that sort of cancel out the perks. Many of the perks of being an evil overlord could be gotten with sufficient cash in real life and without a lot of the danger. We live in a world in which money can get you a lot of things it should not be able to, for example a sex (or any other use you want) slave can be purchased for less then a hundred dollars in some places (Haiti for an example).

Most of the stories have some type of moral to them, or at least a moral can be derived from them. Here is a list of the stories contained in the book and my opinion on each:

01. If Looks Could Kill - Esther M Friesner
- Pretty humorous fantasy story. Makes good use of the line, the evil overlord's daughter must always be as wicked as she is beautiful, for a funny ending.
02. The Man Who Would Be Overlord - David Bischoff
- A case of purposely mistaken identity, the overlord in this acts as a balance to prevent stagnation of civilizations, evil actions leads to evil appearance. A fairly mediocre story.
03. Ensuring the Succession - Jody Lynn Nye
- This story was fairly entertaining, an evil overlord sets up his successor by first testing him.
04. The Life and Death of Fortune Cookie Tyrant - Dean Wesley Smith
- This story sucked, the only good part was the line "you forgot rule 85" which is Once I have securely established myself, all time travel devices in my realm shall be utterly destroyed.
05. Daddy's Little Girl - Jim C Hines
- I liked this one because it has the evil overlord as a little girl. Evil comes in all shapes and sizes, but she still a little girl who, though evil, wants someone to love her.
06. Gordie Gulligan vs Dr Longbeach and the HVAC of Doom - J Steven York
- This one is supposed to be humorous, I just found it stupid. Air Conditioning repair man saves world from an supposedly evil overlord (supposedly evil overlord because all he does is build death traps but doesn't actually want to win).
07. The Sins of the Sons - Fiona Patton
- I didn't like this one.
08. Loser Takes All - Donald J Bingle
- This is one of the best stories in the book. It shows how an evil overlord is really lonely and basically a loser. Gave up everything (all social and familial ties) to become one and can trust no one.
09. The Next Level - David Niall Wilson
- Not so good. A witch somehow locks a video gamer up in a room and magically has the video game control the world she is trying to overthrow.
10. Advisers at Naptime - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
- Pretty good. This story uses the rule involving an average five year old used to check your plans. It is told from the five year old's point of view.
11. A Woman's Work - Tanya Huff
- This one is either the best or second best story in the book. If I were to be an Overlord, I'd probably be this type of overlord (though it's completely impossible). This overlord treats her people very good, quickly deals with her enemies, hires people to act as dissenters, doesn't tolerate stupidity and praises those who work for her/does their jobs well.
12. To Sit in Darkness Here Hatching Vain Empires - Steven A Roman
- I'm of a split mind as to whether I liked this story or not. It's not so much about an evil overlord but a destroyer of worlds. I found some parts interesting but overall I'm not sure if I liked it or not (I'll know in a few months, since if I still remember it, than I most likely liked it).
13. Stronger than Fate - John Helfers
- Not a bad story, the evil overlord is fated to lose, since evil always loses to good (in fiction and while not always in real life it does so more often than not). This evil overlord has a way around fate though.
14. Art Therapy - Nina Kiriki Hoffman
- Stupid story involving group therapy for Evil Overlords who are in a slump.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dojo Yaburi

Several characters in the Ranma manga are Dojo Yaburi - Dojo Challengers. The most remembered one is the one with his own story arc but there were others Ryoga did so when he had the mark of the gods, Ryu Kumon was one, Ranma may have been one prior to coming to the Tendo's, and the Tendo's openly display a sign inviting anyone to challenge their dojo.

While not all that uncommon in fighting manga/anime and martial arts movies (there even is a movie with Dojo Yaburi as it's title - I haven't seen it) in real life it is an outdated practice. It was at one time pretty common. An example of a real person who was a dojo destroyer is Souke Teruo Hayashi the founder of Hayashi-Ha Shito-Ryu was one prior to starting his martial arts school.

A Dojo Yaburi is a person who challenges the sensei, and typically any students present, to kumite (sparing). There are many reasons for such a challenge, but typically they range from attempting to humiliate the sensei and steal students to ascertaining if the school has anything to teach the challenger. The reason for the Dojo Destroyer to do so in the Ranma manga was never given, he appeared to just like destroying dojos. Ryoga and Ranma seemed to do so to learn their styles (Ranma, for example, has demonstrated that he can learn a style by having the opponent fight him).

The common means of going about this is to enter a dojo and request to fight the head instructor. Some dojo's would not accept challenges, others would. Most commonly the ones that do accept would first require the challenger to fight the two highest ranked students. If the challenger was successful in this endeavor the headmaster would then fight the challenger. In martial arts entertainment it is common for the challenger to then take the dojo's sign publicly humiliating the dojo.

Karateka that issue a dojo challenge are commonly considered to be hoodlums of one sort or another and it was common to bar such individuals from entering a dojo. This is rarely done anymore, though they still do exist in some forms. Like asking for an exhibition match between head instructors from competing schools.

There is also another type of dojo challenge in which a martial arts dojo master would test perspective students, to weed out unwanted students. Though this is even less common (not the testing of students, turning students away since most places will take pretty much anyone).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Garfield and Garfield minus Garfield

I am not a daily reader of newspaper or online comics. I prefer to read them after they are collected in books or alternatively do an archive binge every few months. While that method of reading is sometimes convenient, in that you can read an entire story arcs at once, sometimes it is better to read them daily (occasionally a webcomic you follow may go under and you'll have missed some of the strips). If you read them all at once your less likely to spend your time thinking about individual comics. The strips of Garfield Minus Garfield are the type in which it is probably better for you to take a little time and think about the strip, rather than just go to the next strip (which is something I do very frequently, particularly in engaging storylines, to the point that I'll occasionally miss a few details on first read through).

I rather enjoy the Garfield comics, though it is not my favorite newspaper comic (my favorite newspaper comic that is still running is Foxtrot, though it only has new strips on Sunday's now). I recently read the 46th book Garfield Spills the Beans and the 47th book Garfield Gets His Just Desserts. The strips contained in these books were not the best Garfield strips. The best strip in these books is the one in which Odie attempts to push Garfield off the side of the table but is not physically strong enough to do so. Considering that the title of one of the books was Garfield Gets his Just Desserts, I was kind of hoping it would have strips in which Odie and the other beings Garfield generally bothers get some type of revenge, but that didn't really happen in the book.

While I do have a few things in common with Garfield. Namely, my favorite food is Lasagna (which only came up twice total in both these books), I am lazy (while not sloth like to the extent Garfield is sometimes portrayed as being, I am more so than is probably healthy) and I am overweight. I do not have all that much in common with him. I do not hate Mondays (which I don't remember being mentioned in either of these books), I like dogs (more than cats even), I do not like eating birds (I dislike chicken), don't drink coffee, etc. I probably have more in common with Jon, made more obvious by the book Garfield Minus Garfield (I do not feel like stating in what ways).

Garfield Minus Garfield is actually pretty interesting. It was always pretty obvious that Jon had a lonely and pretty sad life, what with his only friend being a cat (he had a friend in the very early strips, gave him Odie, but he wasn't in the strips much and then was wrote out entirely), but it is far more obvious without Garfield's thought bubbles giving the illusion that it is a two way communication (after all Jim Davis has stated, both in strips "what I wouldn't give to know what your thinking" type lines and in interviews/comments about the strip, that Jon can not hear Garfield). With Garfield making comments, Jon's actions were more humorous. Without Garfield they become much sadder and I at least find myself sympathizing with him in a way I didn't when Garfield was in the strips.

Both Garfield and Garfield minus Garfield can be read online.