2007 – apparently was the year for pod slurping

February 5, 2008 at 12:30 am | Posted in Australia, General, News, Podcasts, Pop-cult, Random, rant | 2 Comments
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The boffins over at Australia’s Macquarie Dictionary have announced the word of the year is two words “pod slurping”. It’s good to know that they can come out with this in February well after the nostalgia [insert year] lists that normally proliferate in December/January.

Continue Reading 2007 – apparently was the year for pod slurping…

Strolling on Sunday

July 4, 2007 at 10:26 pm | Posted in Anime & Manga, Comics, Gaming, London, Out and About, Pop-cult, Procrastination, UK | Leave a comment

On Sunday I met and chatted with Amy at Green Park before going geek and walking around the inner city to some of potential haunts in my new home.

Green Park and St James Park are lovely and relaxing scenic spots near the Mall and Buckingham Palace. Perhaps the rain kept numbers down but the wet weather didn’t deter us as we wandered, chatted and munched on snacks. On the edge of Green Park (Piccadilly side) is where you’ll find numerous vendors selling artworks that cover the park fence and foot path. I had momentary thoughts of a Mary Poppins style chalk drawings but this was quickly dashed by the less than stellar pieces.

I now began my solitary walk through the city to check out a number of geeky and specialist shops I’d found on the net. As normal I got lost any number of occasions, with plenty of backtracking and circling around. Let’s ignore those distracting and tiring details for the specifics.

First stop was Europe’s largest bookstore – Watertone’s at Piccadilly – and Wren’s 17th Century St James’ Church next door. The church while old didn’t look overly impressive so I skipped a more thorough inspection and headed into the bookstore, spread out over several floors and featuring a couple cafes. Oh and plenty of books. Floors and floors of them. The shelves are largely along the walls leaving a sizeable amount of available space where, if they chose, they could have more shelves. At any rate for any booklover you’ll no doubt find a worthwhile distraction.

Next onto the Japan Centre. It features Japanese food, groceries, travel, books and homeware. I thought the floor space and range were limited but the supermarket was popular so perhaps I’m missing the point. Now I moved to the famed Piccadilly Circus with its neon lights and statue of Eros and down towards Trafalgar Square and the centre of London, Charing Cross.

After lunch and a reduction in the rain I moved into Chinatown and finally found a place selling Bubble Tea (a rarity in London). I asked the shop assistant and apparently there are no chain/ franchise shops in London selling one of my favourite drinks. Shame. From Chinatown I made my way to the Trocadero centre with its limited shops, cinema and fantastic arcade complex – Funland. I’m looking forward to coming back here in the future trying to build some skills. Of course if you’re not into arcade games then why not try dodgem cars, pool, air hockey, slot machines or any other fun game. I wonder how they can make much money given the amount of floor space they cover and the small number of people inside.

Walking past Virgin Radio I came to Arigato a Japanese supermarket for those needing some Asian food stuffs before moving onto Chapel street. Unfortunately I couldn’t find either of the two recommendations: Octopus – funky items and ACE – gaming, but on the plus side I got to walk down this iconic street.

An unsuccessful walk down Berwick street followed (most of the allegedly good coffee shops seemed closed) led me to Oxford Street and Games Workshop. Filled with lots of people (guys) checking out model kits. I felt completely out of my depth as it is something I’ve never been into but thought I should pop my head into anyway. Next Computer Exchange where there is a supply of second hand computer games and DVDs for you to peruse. I managed to pick up a PC version of Final Fantasy VII (probably paying too much for it) and was eager to try and play this game out of nostalgia. I realise that trying to get an old game to play on modern equipment would be a challenge and this turned out to be the case. Despite consulting numerous forums, downloading many patches (including how many viruses?) and tweaking all manner of settings I failed to get the game running. In effect wasting my money but it is nice to have and perhaps one day when I have a week to spare I’ll get it working.

Around Computer Exchange, Goodge Street and Tottenham Court Road are a number of other computer shops that might be worth your while to inspect. Also on Tottenham is Casino Leisure Centre, a small arcade centre near Goodge St Station but nothing compared to Funland. Of course if you get bored with games and culture you could step into the Scientology centre next door.

Walking down towards the British Museum, particularly along Great Russell Street you’ll find several comic shops. Gosh! looks quite good. Down on Oxford Street is apparently one Forbidden Planet but I failed to locate it instead going to the other? Forbidden Planet on Shaftesbury with its massive collection of collectibles, comics, anime and mange, dvds and books. Definitely check it out.

The nearby Orc’s Nest was closed on Sunday but looks to have models and the like. Further down on Charing Cross Road is Murder One a book shop for crime and romance novels – because these two go together? Being a specialist shop if either of these pique your interest it would be worth checking out. Also on Charing Cross Road is meant to be Comic Showcase. I found the sign but no clear way to get into the shop. Assuming it still exists.

Besides the above mentioned there were numerous other book shops and the occasional comic store as well to keep you interested as you walk through the city. If you get bored there is always a pub, coffee shop, musical or movie theatre nearby.

The main places I’ve listed here can be found on my Google Map.

Next week some actual real sightseeing!

The blogosphere is too fast for me

February 22, 2007 at 12:18 pm | Posted in Pop-cult, Procrastination, Random, Television, TV | 2 Comments

The Tropfest short film festival was held on Sunday and the winner announced as Steve Baker’s “Imaginary Life” a story of an abandoned imaginary friend. After hearing this and seeing a few brief clips my immediate thought was that this sounded very similar to “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.”

Sadly, before I could make some sort of witty comment (3 days after first thinking about it) the blogosphere and media were on the case resulting in an investigation into possible infringements.

I guess that teaches me to procrastinate these things!

XY Cusp

October 30, 2006 at 12:10 am | Posted in General, Generation X, Generation Y, Pop-cult, Random | 2 Comments

Not only was this (or a variant – cusping, the cusp, cusper) a possible title for this blog as it would have outlined my life sitting between these two ‘generations’ but the other day I found it was an actual term. Hand to heart I thought I had been somewhat original until I saw this on Wikipedia. Damn you! I guess it was a good call on the title then…unless you read some of the other Google results for active procrastination.  

The whole discussion about generations came up at work as some of my coworkers have to do a report on managing Gen Y staff. Thrilling, no? I asked why they need to do research when they have a member right here, to which I was derided for not ‘really’ being Gen Y. In terms of my attributes I think I am more Y than Xbut I’m just on the edge…the cusp. At times I feel sorry for us cuspers (no matter which cusp) because we’re doomed to be forgotten in the larger commentaries but on the plus side we get the best of both sides, so yay to us. We just need to make the most of it before those Millenniums (or whatever it’s termed) take over and make us obsolete. As to a generation’s traits while they do seem fairly uniform for the many within a generation ultimately it seems that these classifications are the secularists or scientists’ star sign.

It’s mania! Animania!

October 2, 2006 at 8:53 am | Posted in animania, anime, Anime & Manga, Animes, Pop-cult, Sydney | 2 Comments

For my first ever anime convention/festival (and return to Sydney-things) I went to Animania. Overall it was very cool and I’ll go through my thoughts on this two day event below. I’ll also state that while I’ve watched anime for a while I’ve never tried to get a deeper understanding or appreciation, which is why I decided to come this year.

Panels

The two main panels I went to were:

  • Investigating Anime Ghost Worlds: In this panel Dr Hill from UTS gave a presentation on the spiritual world’s representation in anime. Personally, I found him to be a poor orator and had I not later checked out his profile I would never have believed that he was a fan of animation. Perhaps, naively, I thought there might have been more passion and less nerves. As to the content of the presentation, it was ok. He used Princess Mononoke to represent natural spirituality, Ghost in the Shell for industrialism/ mechanical views of spirit and machines, lastly Bleach was used for a more general spirit/heaven exemplar. I didn’t think there was too much depth too what he said. Yes, he raised Shintoism but it lacked a successful interplay and flow between religious/spiritual ideas and anime.  A greater range of anime and religious stories would have benefited the talk. Moreso, there was no comment on the issue of other philosophies and their impact on anime and Japanese culture (what with Full Metal Alchemist, and others use of these images this is startling). An audience member did ask but was told that this wasn’t his focus rather it was on local spirituality. Which seems odd and poor sentiment. Eh, the topic is fascinating but it could have been done so much better.
  • A cosy conversation with Queenie Chan: Technically, this forum was called “An Interview with Queenie Chan” but there were only a few of us so we pulled up chairs into a small circle with the facilitator, Queenie and the last forum’s speaker.  Queenie is the author of the manga “Dreaming”and was an enthusiastic speaker, and it was more of a chat about manga and anime in general. Some of the main points were the blandness of most manga, with an unfortunate focus on flash and not substantive storytelling. Drawing, developing your skills as an artist and a need to develop your own identity rather than copy others’ style. All in all, it was a good chat which was quite engaging.

Screenings

  • Otogi Zoshi: I didn’t see too much of this anime, partly because it was in the main hall pre-cosplay so there were many distractions and also as the second episode cut out half way through. On the plus side they started showing Elemental Gelade.  This anime looks like it has potential, with political intrigue and action (blood!) – even though I’m not really sure what the hell is going on. I’ll try and track down some more episodes before making a final call.
  • Elemental Gelade: Yes it was quite flashy and bright – contrasted starkly with Otogi Zoshi’s muted appearance – but there was action right from the start as the sky pirates stole from some airship before getting some weird guests and …a njnja attack? I’m willing to watch this series to see what happens, at least until I understand its unique vocabulary!
  • Gilgamesh: I caught bits and pieces of this anime while waiting for the line at the food stall to die down. The big heading blocking the subtitles (and the giant cement pole in the middle of the room) kind of hampered my comprehension. Still, it seems like something happened that turned off electronic devices leading to a return to the stone age. There are the usual forces of good and evil and a brother and sister caught in the middle. I’d like to watch the first few episodes again to get a better grasp on it, but then maybe I’m getting over the ‘special/secret power’ child (related to the villain?) genre. Then again it might just be the oppressive dark colouring because…well read the next comment. 
  • Kyo Kara Maoh!: The Demon King’s child (who has powers – sigh-) is born on Earth then returned to his ‘real’ word to take up his duties where he must prove himself and manage the competing and priorities of those that ‘serve’ him. I think what makes this series tolerable is the humour. There are large doses of it – something I missed with Gilgamesh- that help to distract from some clear (and self referenced) absurdities. Then again this was only 3 episodes in, well before the central action that presumably will involve a war with the humans. Presumably there’ll also be an explanation why the demons all like humans too.

Given that it’s an anime festival you would have thought I’d see more anime, right? Well that’s true but I’m a bit of a dabbler and prefer to see a wide range of things at the festival. Also there are some anime like Narutothat everyone’s seen. I’ll be checking out all of the above series’ if I can find them for at least the first 7 episodes and see what happens.  

Cosplay

I’ve had limited exposure to cosplay but the final awardees for day 1 of the festival are below. I’ve linked to the photos were I found them online (ie they’re not my photos, big thanks to people for taking them).  Currently photos can be found on these:

If any of the photo takers want the links removed let me know. Now, onto the winners:

  • Most original‘Anime Translator’ kind of corny, kind of funny. We have a girl in (generic?) costume with a range of anime “emoticons” that the translator then talked about in response to questions from the compere. It would have been a lot funnier had there been a specific skit. Still congratulations.
  • Runner up male – ‘Jin Roh’ this was one cool costume. Full armour, all black and helmet, deep resonating voice. A tough call between this and the winner.
  • Winner, male – ‘Alphonse, Full Metal Alchemist’. Even though he’d lost a leg (or is that added realism to the character?) the costume was amazing for all being made out of steel! Yes clanking, heavy steel! Seriously a very difficult decision with Jin Roh.
  • Runner up female – ‘Cat bus’ from ‘My neighbour Totoro’ very fun.
  • Winner, female –Princess Ai’ from the Princess Ai manga. Her costume was fantastic and very intricate. I was suprised to later learn that the manga is based on Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain. Weird.
  • Runner up skit – ‘Cardcaptor‘ did a very cool dance, they were the second group up so it was tough for anyone to top them.
  • Winner, skit‘Kingdom Hearts’ ‘Donald’ and ‘Riku’ singing and dancing a humorous “I’m not gay” song. Although, oddly Donald’s costume lacked a bill.
  • Runner up group –Tekken‘ fight scene
  • Winner, group – ‘Ooran Host Club’ I’ve never seen the series so can’t comment too much on it but the group seemed very enthusiastic and into it.

Kudos to everyone, there are plenty of other awesome cosplayers. My favourites were this guy and this guy.  There were also several Lacus Klines from ‘Gundam Seed’, several ‘Narutos’ and ‘Bleach’ shinigamis.

Some people who came up could have shown better sportsmanship but I’ll put that down to lack of sleep preparing their costumes.  

Sword Demonstration and Animania Fusion

There was a display of Iaido during cosplay intermission was interesting but I think kendo is more fun. while I appreciate the art form techniques of unsheathing, striking and re-sheathing the sword but wouldn’t choose it to be my sport.

Animania Fusion was shown while the cosplay results were being tabulated. Basically, they were a variety of videos prepared by fans on any number of topics. I only watched a few but some were quite funny.  

AMVs and Karaoke

I watched a few music videos that were very good and professional looking. Some others lacked an overall sense of quality and music/image cohesion.

Karaoke finals were of high quality – although the actual pronunciation of the Japanese is something I can’t comment on – meanwhile the karaoke room was pretty fun to sit around and watch people give it ago.

Stallholders, Game Room and Food

The stalls had a variety of goods with a particularly large range from Madman. Manga, DVDs, posters and anything else you’d expect at this sort of event were here.

Game room was a lot of fun and a gaood place to chill (the DS people even had their own corner!) and it was a chance to play a bunch of games or watch others. As usual the most fun to watch were the dance games, as people showed their stuff!

The food stalls had a mixture of snacks (Pocky anyone?), Anglo (sausage sizzle), Turkish and Japanese (takoyaki and obanyaki were my choices). Other than burning my mouth on a piece of takoyaki it was all good and reasonably priced.

Festival Organisation

The Festival had many volunteers on hand to help out with things and they all seemed friendly and dedicated even if it meant standing by the food stall doors for a few hours. 

The panel facilitator was cool, originally I thought she was too talky but quickly realised that it was through both a love of the topic and because the audience (often quite small) lacked many questions.  Also, the cosplay host was good as well, chatting with everyone and doing a reasonable job given that there was range of personalities on stage.

General Comments

There were some other things I didn’t get a chance to see like the drawing competition but all in all Animania was fun and something I’d like to check out again next year.

Randomness through ‘South Park’

August 22, 2006 at 1:41 pm | Posted in Humour, News, Pop-cult, Random, Sydney | 1 Comment

I know it’s unlikely but on the off chance that this guy actually killed JonBenet I wonder will South Park make a comment given their earlier episode. I’m just happy it’s not some Puerto Rican guy.

Speaking of cartoons, I’m not sure I agree with the editing of cartoons. Especially when it is a result of one complaint. Also, which poor modern child is watching Tom and Jerry? Do their parents think that cartoons of a cat and mouse trying to kill each other is better than…I don’t know…The Simpsons? Oh wait, Itchy and ScratchyBoomerang isn’t  really for kids anyway, more for the nostalgia of adults who’ve already decided whether or not to smoke. As I write this I realise how annoyed I am that one person’s complaint has triggered this and am reminded of another couple of South Park episodes. Granted I don’t even care about Tom and Jerry, but come on Scooby Doo? I just think its ridiculous.

At New Work, I’ll be one face of the company’s diversity training for its staff. For those that know me I would say that I am clearly the perfect person to highlight diversity. Kidding aside it was a fun few hours. Sadly it’s for internal use so there won’t be any pictures of me on buses.

Lastly, I have a question for anyone bored enough to answer. Is shaving cream (as it’s in a compressed can) stowable alongside the primary luggage or only in hand luggage? New/possible restrictions not withstanding. I’ve always thought and been told (and granted tech/know-how may be different now) that compressed cannisters absolutely cannot be stowed due to changes in pressure while in flight. Not wanting to buy a whole can in each city I’ve put it in my hand luggage. Which actually helps to highlight something about airports, something somewhat concerning. Whenever I leave I put my bag through the X-ray machine, no problems but whenever I return from another city their security personnel will always stop me and very politely ask to see what’s inside. I wonder what else Sydney is missing? … I should just go electric. And in the need to provide a theme for this post, someone like me causes delays at airports (sorry!) and if only there was a better way.

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