« June 2003 | Main | August 2003 »

July 31, 2003

I bought a vibrating cellphone

I bought a vibrating cellphone battery at Fry's yesterday. I don't think I'll ever use the feature, it's just that it was the only slimline battery on the shelf for my model. Cool thing is it was less than $30. I remember when these things cost $100 to replace, which is probably why I waited so long...

I got tired of noting the battery charge for my old battery at 50%, making a two minute call, and getting the 'low charge' warning beep. The old battery is the original, probably three years old. So it was time, it was time. This new one alledgedly has a standby time on the order of seven days. We'll see.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:22 AM

July 29, 2003

Cha Cha Cha

Mentor offers the occasional extracurricular activity, such as a Summer Picnic, a Cinco de Mayo party, that sort of thing. Recently they've begun offering six-week mini-classes in various forms of dance. The last class, which we missed, was for waltz. This time around it is for cha-cha.

I knew I would suck horrendously as I have the coordination of a spastic corpse, but I still thought it might be fun, and would be a chance for Jean and I to hang out together. So I brought it up to her, and she agreed to come to class with me. So Tuesday nights, for one hour, we learn a new cha-cha each week. After six weeks, the class is over.

This is going to be a looooong class. I had a lot of fun trying to learrn the Travelling Cha-Cha, but it was pretty sad watching me trying to keep up with the instruction. I intend to practice a little each night, but next week it will be an entirely different dance, so even if I work out the steps for this one, I get a brand new opportunity to trip over my own feet next time.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:51 PM

Annual Physical Part II

I had the second part of my physical today. My sister kindly supplied some family medical history, and as a result, Dr. Selby decided that I should have a precautionary colonoscopy. Oh joy, a visit to the snake doctor!

My bloodwork looked pretty good to fine, with two exceptions. My LDL cholesterol is 130, which is right on the borderline between wonderful and flirting with trouble. Dr. Selby says that all my other bloodwork, my good blood pressure, physical fitness, etc. mean it is nothing to worry about as yet.

The other abnormality is something of a matter of definition. They ran a PSA test, and it came back 3.3. If the test had been evaluated a week ago, I'd have passed. The passing range was 0 - 4.0. But the eggheads have narrrowed the range to 0 - 2.6 as of last Wednesday, so I now get to have a prostate ultrasound. This is (at this stage) just a precautionary test. Dr. Selby said that if they did find a prostate cancer at this stage, successful treatment and full recovery are 95%. As of now, it is very unlikely that I've anything of the sort. I'm not worried, just harried that I have to line these tests up.

Amusingly, I totally flaked on the numbers initially when reporting to Jean, and I told her my cholesterol was 300. She was shocked. After quickly checking the handout Dr. Selby had given me, I realized that there was a 3 and a 0 in there, so I was sorta right.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:42 PM

QOTD

Either you understand the particular charms of a giant lizard with atomic breath destroying a city, or you don’t. And if you don’t, I pity you.

"Moriarty"

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:27 PM

July 27, 2003

Edutainment

This weekend Kelly asked what a pedophile is, after overhearing the word on the news. Jean explained it, and we both chimed in with "this is one reason why we don't want you to take rides, candy and what not from strangers." I'm afraid we sorta rode that horse into the ground, but as Jean explained, "we repeat this sort of thing not because it's all that likely to happen, but so you'll remember the right things to do in the rare event that it does happen." (By the way, that's me channeling for Jean -- she doesn't really talk that way).

Then I went off on the tangent about training for disaster (you learn CPR by repetition so you don't have to think about it when you need it; you practice what to do if your clothes catch fire [stop, drop and roll] because when it happens to you, you'll likely be panicked and unable to reason, so you want your reflexes to be right). Then, since I was worried that all this talk about sinister strangers would give Kelly nightmares, which are rarely productive, I threw in a curve:

"If you don't practice your emergency instructions enough, you might get them mixed up, too. So when a stranger drives up and offers you a ride, you'll panic, search your brain frantically for the right response, and shout 'Stop, drop and roll!'" I illustrated with a little roll across the carpet.

Kelly started cracking up, and added, "then you could roll away from the bad guy!"

Am I a bad man for not wanting my daughter to have nightmares? I doubt it, but I don't have emergency instructions for this sort of thing.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:17 PM | Comments (2)

July 21, 2003

The Master and Margarita

Finally finished, and returned to the library. I spread the reading over six weeks (initial three week library checkout, and one renewal). I almost renewed it a second time, but finished it with 'hours to spare'. It helped that we actually spent a big chunk of time at home this weekend. But this is yet another example of how much my reading habits have changed. Between all the other demands on my attention, and the fact that I tend to be quite brainless by the end of the day, I only read this book in snippets.

But it is a testament to the story that I stuck with it, while discarding other books that came from and went back to the library without so much as a mention here on this weblog. I mentioned before that the book is optioned for a movie, and that Johnny Depp is alledgedly signed up to play the role of Professor Woland, a.k.a. the Devil. I only hope that a gifted director is at the helm, because this could be an inspired romp.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:24 PM

Donuts, Music

Read Kottke's Business lessons from the donut and coffee guy for a nice, insightful, polite rant on trusting your customers.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:17 PM

July 18, 2003

Santo Contra La Invasion de Los Marcianos

Okay, I hope by now that all three of my readers realize that I have strange and eclectic tastes (mostly strange). Let this be a shining example of that credo. The other choice item arriving in the mail today was the titular movie, in English called Santo vs. The Martians. This is one movie out of probably hundreds made in Mexico celebrating the masked wrestler that is part of that culture. It was made in 1966, and probably manages to be a tad more entertaining than it's B-movie soulmate, Santa Claus Versus the Martians (only notable for the debut of seven-year old Pia Zadora as a Martian child).

What is this movie about? Well, a masked wrestler preventing the Martian conquest of Earth by sweating and grunting. Virility alone, it seems, is sufficient to repel aliens with bad intentions. In fact, this is probably a better movie for young women, as it is filled with muscular men grabbing each other and grunting. Okay, some guys enjoy that too.

My weirdness bone was tickled, but I did actually get tired of the endless scenes in which wrestling appeared necessary to advance the plot, such as it was. I'll offer this movie to friends, but I won't inflict it on them. Not without a warning, anyway.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:34 PM

Scrubs Soundtrack

I'm a big ol' fan of the television series Scrubs, a comedy series set in a hospital. Jean thinks it's directed at guys, in the same way that the Three Stooges were, but I think it has more general appeal. Anyway, I got the Scrubs Soundtrack in the mail today. I ripped it this afternoon and listened to the whole thing. Two standouts so far:

Overkill - Colin Hay. He was the lead singer for Men At Work. They had a number of fun tunes, and I owned a couple of their albums. Most folk probably remember Down Under, since it gets played in just about every movie set in Australia ever made. I think it's a union rule. Colin Hay guest starred as an unnamed street musician who follows J. D. around in an episode aptly named My Overkill. I really enjoyed this episode, and it was Colin singing "Overkill" throughout the episode which inspired me to hunt down the song, and led to purchasing this album (since iTunes Music Store has no Colin Hay or even Men At Work -- yet).

Hallelujah - John Cale. I'm familiar with John Cale, and iTunes Music Store even has some of his songs. This one is very good, and the lyrics remind me of Leonard Cohen, which is a good thing, believe me. I think I'll be buying more John Cale online.

Other songs may or may not be good, but I'll have to listen to them all a few times to decide, as they don't immediately stand out like Hay and Cale. I know one other song I like, but it's from an album I already have: Do the Collapse - Guided by Voices. The song is Hold on Hope, and is one of the better songs on their album.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:06 PM | Comments (1)

July 17, 2003

Kill Bill

While the trailer is memorable, and stands alone by itself as a kind of outrageous tone poem, it appears that the movie Kill Bill may be released in two parts.

I have no problem seeing two Quentin Tarantino movies in the space of a few months, and in fact this will probably make it easier for me, since catching a three hour movie with the post-NOVA crowd is a non-starter. Still looking forward to this one, folks.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:21 PM

Food Safety

Via Rebecca's Pocket come these articles on vastly decreasing the chances of intestinal bugs from fresh fruits and vegetables. How to disinfect your salad and Most potent natural household disinfectants:

In her tests, [Susan Sumner, a food scientist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University] deliberately contaminated clean fruits and vegetables with Salmonella, Shigella, or E. coli O157:H7 -- all capable of inducing gut-wrenching gastroenteritis. On its own, the hydrogen peroxide was fairly effective against all three germs, she found. But the best results came from pairing the two mists. For instance, she told Science News Online, "If the acetic acid got rid of 100 organisms, the hydrogen peroxide would get rid of 10,000, and the two together would get rid of 100,000."
...It doesn't matter which you use first - you can spray with the vinegar then the hydrogen peroxide, or with the hydrogen peroxide followed by the vinegar. You won't get any lingering taste of vinegar or hydrogen peroxide and neither is toxic to you even if a small amount remains on the produce.
...35% Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide (H202) 460 ml bottle costs around $15.95 and can be purchased at ... most health food stores ... One bottle will last a family of four approximately 2 months. Please note: drug store Hydrogen Peroxide has chemicals and is not recommended for food use.

Using these two solutions in tandem is just as effective, apparently, in the bathroom. And just as inexpensive!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:21 PM

Echoes of Napster

Tuesday night I was sitting in the den, reading Slashdot while waiting for Kelly to finish her shower. One of my fatherly duties is to help Kelly with her dental hygiene every evening, since her dentist wants us to do it with her until she reaches age ten. So there I was, noodling about, and in walks Jean. She sat down and we started talking about a number of things, and somehow the subject of music came up.

I was sitting at the computer, so I just fired up iTunes and began picking off various songs that I liked that were appropriate to the conversation. We started talking about how I had bought a lot of those tunes at the iTunes Music Store, and I played a few of those for her as well. Before I knew it, we were using the Music Store interface to search for tunes that we remembered from way back when.

This was a lot like I remember Napster when it first came out, with the exception that my hit rate with Napster was a lot higher. In fact, I don't ever expect the online music stores to approach that ubiquity, because Napster, that is to say, the distributed network of peers who used Napster, had a constellation of music which was simply not on the Big Five's radar. If it ain't Top 40, the difficulty of finding it increases by an order of magnitude. Add the fact that a lot of my musical tastes are rather obscure, and Napster beat the tar out of anything that came before.

Napster of course had two problems: quality and legality. You could never be sure of the quality of the MP3 that you downloaded, or even if it was the song you thought it was. Download speed was also a total unknown. As for legality, I'd gladly have paid for the tunes I downloaded. I got Jerry Lewis' "I'm a Little Busybody" online because it was out of print. In fact, do a search of Google for I'm a Little Busybody. My weblog comes up three times in the top ten entries today. That's how rare the thing is. The Big Five doesn't want to sell it to me. To date, it's not available on the iTunes Music Store. This is unfortunately an economic fact of life. Music with a very small, specialized audience will tend to be ignored by the Masters of the Official Channel. I don't see this problem getting fixed any time soon.

Technology can fix a lot of this. Napster proved that somebody could make Jerry Lewis' classic available. The storage space is trivial, the digitization of the tune is a minor obstacle. The main problems lie with resources and licensing. If the rights owner (who is it?) made it available on iTunes Music store today, I'd buy it even though I have it, because I want to support the availability of obscure music, as well as the Brittney Spears' of today (actually instead of, but that's just me).

Anyway, end of rant. Getting back to Tuesday night...

My hit rate with iTunes Music Store is usually about 30%, because I'm so obstinate in searching out those old, odd bands I used to like, and those fringe indie bands I read about today. But with Jean in the saddle, my odds flipped. We were getting close to 70% success rates! Great! Jean has always said that she has her finger on the pulse of the heartland of America, and this is just more evidence in her favor. We even added a couple of songs to my shopping cart for her. She wanted to know first if I could burn mix CDs for her, since unlike me, she never sits at the computer listening to music. Once I said sure, she was okay with buying the tunes.

I don't have my laptop handy right now, so I won't enumerate what we bought for her until I actually buy the tunes. But I'll relate one more musical incident before closing here. I told Jean about how I'd bought an electronica album before the trip to Expo, to listen to on the plane. The group is Fischerspooner, and watching some of their online videos, I got the feeling that they are more of a performance art group that does music, than a band that does music videos. Check them out.

Then I selected one song by Fischerspooner to play for her: Emerge. It's lengthy, repetitive, rhythmic, ambient. After about two minutes Jean spoke up. "Turn it down. I think I'm going to run away screaming."

Not quite the reaction I was looking for, but entertaining, nonetheless. Just another example of they many ways in which Jean and I differ.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:40 AM | Comments (1)

July 16, 2003

Pains of Parenting

This was my evening for self-paced study, usually computer science, sometimes electronic design automation. I'd just done a run for one of my major vices, a medium Wendy's Frosty, and settled in to do my thing. Then I noticed the blinking message icon on my phone. It was Jean. She had received notice that Kelly was going to be in a play at her summer day camp tonight. The notice was not only short, but imprecise. Jean wasn't exactly sure when it would happen--"six or seven."

So I finished eating my dinner, brushed my teeth, and headed north to Willowbrook to see if indeed there was a performance going on. I found Jean, sitting on a towel in a clearing with several dozen other parents and grandparents. Kids were milling about, but Kelly was not visible yet. The theme was Greek myth, and we were treated to many loose interpretations of fables and plays, seemingly endless. Kelly had a small speaking part as the goddess Athena, gifting a mortal with a mirrored shield, and a few minor participatory roles such as being one of the dead folk in Hades.

Before it was all over I was bored to tears. I would have been happy to pop in for Kelly's parts and otherwise disappear. This is the curse of parenthood. The folks in charge pad their audience with unwilling participants by giving each child a small role, then trapping us all for the largely uninteresting acting of children.

Kelly fell into her bad girl ways, playing with a younger girl in the background of the stage when all the other children were sitting quietly, at most fidgeting. She was climbing on boxes, standing up on top of them and staring out into the audience, crawling around and generally being a distraction. At least she wasn't also shouting or talking over the dialogue. We had a rather severe talk with her after we got home.

One of my web friends told me that when she was young, she was 'whacked' for behavior that was winked at when displayed by boys in her class. She wanted to know if this was happening to Kelly. The answer, I think, is no. This play had many boys on hand, many of them younger than Kelly, yet they all managed to limit themselves to minor fidgeting, rather than leaping about in the background and being visibly disruptive. It's true that there is a danger of school officials trying to make Kelly act 'more like a girl', while allowing more leeway to boys, but I don't think that is the case here.

So I got two hits of pain tonight. Once sitting through the endless play, and once watching Kelly react to that same endless play in a manner more childish than many of her younger fellow campers.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:55 PM

July 15, 2003

Annual Physical I

Had part one of my annual physical (though I dropped the ball last year) this morning. Mostly they drew blood and went over risk factors for males of my age. I'll get the results of the blood test in a couple of days, then have the actual poking and prodding visit in two weeks.

One issue, for medical history purposes, I need to get the 'official' cause of death for my mother. Maybe my sister can fill me in?

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:35 AM

JMW Turner

I've been a fan of the works of J. M. W. Turner for years, so when I found out (via DangergousMeta!) that the Tate galleries had organized an online collection of his works, I had to link to it for future browsing.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:23 AM

July 11, 2003

Point Counterpoint

My friend Tom questions my bald-faced assertion that I write this weblog for myself. Allow me to elaborate:

There are several ways to interpret 'write for myself'. My primary reason for writing here is to keep my rudimentary skills fresh, so that I can write with a certain degree of clarity at work, and at home when I need to. In that sense I'm writing for myself, practicing the adage "sharpen the saw."

I do write this weblog with the expectation that perhaps my sister will read it once in awhile and thereby be apprised of what's happening around our homestead. But I know darn well she doesn't care what anime or Hong Kong movies I've watched recently, so if I were just writing for her, those articles would be absent.

Do I write differently than I would if I didn't suspect that some unnamed reader's sensibilties would be offended? Yes and no. Yes, this is my 'Disney' weblog, open to the public. So it's gonna be clean, clean, clean. But fact is, if I didn't write here, I wouldn't write anywhere, so in that sense nobody is driving me to write 'differently'.

Finally, I know maybe two people who read this weblog semi-regularly who are not family members. In both cases, it was more of an accident than an intention that they read. If others read more than one post, welcome. But they are unknown to me, and faceless, cannot color my writing.

Ipso facto, I write for myself. Take that, Tom!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:44 PM | Comments (2)

July 10, 2003

Killer Clans

I just watched the first of my Anime Expo 2003 purchases, the 1976 Shaw Brothers movie, Killer Clans. My oh my, is this a beatiful movie. It would put my wife to sleep in under ten minutes, but for me it's a pageant. Follow the link for a synopsis and review. This is one of my favorite martial arts movies so far.

Moreover, I'm going to be watching it again someday, as it comes with an audio commentary by Bey Logan, and is stuffed to the brim with extras. I paid $20 for this, and got way more than that in value. Now I can't wait to watch 36th Chamber of Shaolin!

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:17 PM

July 09, 2003

28 Days Later, Buzz Buzz

I really enjoyed The Blair Witch Project when it first came out, though most of my friends who saw it were disappointed. I enjoyed the unconventional home video approach, the minimal cast, the ambiguity. Yes, it had absurd elements, and was frail in the light of day (lost in the woods? Climb a tree and look around, dudes!). But it had a sense of style, and leveraged minimal equipment and budget to great effect.

But I couldn't be bothered to see the sequels/spin-offs. What is the point of taking something so original (at least I felt so) and bleaching out every last vestige of color, lather, rinse, repeat? True, I see sequels every day, but then I'm not seeking originality of voice. In these cases it's more about branding, comforting familiarity, I'd guess. Kinda like the decision to eat at McDonalds in a strange town, rather than try that intriguing Thai restaurant over there...

This meandering monologue is my way of introducing yet another review of 28 Days Later, an assuredly flawed movie that nevertheless struck that note of indie vitality I felt in Blair. This review is by John Shirley, probably best known for City Come A-Walkin', though I remember him best for his quirky 'horror' novel, Wetbones.

28 Days Later is perhaps not as scary as it thinks it is — but it's paced like a machine gun burst, and it's gripping and wry.

Another quote, more about the business of film making than the film in question:

Flesh eating zombies don't make me sick — brain eating executives make me sick. Brain eating? They take talented people — like those guys who made The Blair Witch Project — and they eat their brains. Evidently, judging by Blair Witch 2.

John Shirley

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:53 PM | Comments (1)

July 08, 2003

28 Days Later

A brief but interesting review of 28 Days Later written by a renowned virologist:

"As we near the end of the movie, it seems the main British Isle is effectively under global quarantine — with the sinister implication that the rest of the world likes it that way. After another 28-day interval, everyone who was infected is presumed dead, and a few exhausted, amiable survivors begin life anew in an England restored to its pastoral virginity [...]

"However superficially soothing, there is something troubling about this comfortable conclusion. It implies that we might be better off with epidemics that can end abruptly and definitively than we are with the insidious plagues that now afflict us. Wouldn't it be simpler if we had clear knowledge of who is infected and who isn't? Or if we could eliminate the long incubation times that allow foreigners and strangers to carry their unannounced pathogens to us on planes and boats? Wouldn't it be better if we could confine AIDS and Ebola to Africa and SARS to Hong Kong, and then return to repair society once the microbial damage was done — done, of course, to others and not to us?"

Nobel prize winner Harold Varmus, current president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:33 PM | Comments (2)

Terminator 3

I used the last of my vacation today to go see Terminator 3 (I hope to see either Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen this weekend).

What can I say? James Cameron could have made a better movie, had he been so inclined. Even some of the more talented 'franchise' directors would probably have been able to top this version, directed by Jonathan Mostow, whose last theatrical outing was U-571, about a fictional mission by U.S. sailors to steal an Enigma machine from a German U-boat. That was a rather annoying movie even after discounting the blatant removal of historical fact.

Big bangs, generally uninspired car chases, and weak attempts at humorous self-reference (see the bar scene, for instance) lead me to believe that even the NOVA gang would have had one or two nappers during the viewing. I don't feel cheated, after all I only spent six bucks, but I don't feel rewarded either.

Hoping Sinbad is better...

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:59 PM

July 07, 2003

Final Trip Item

I wrote most of this on the plane, and added links after the fact...

Anime Expo is over. Alan, Dan, Tom, John and I are in the airplane heading for home. As I mentioned in the last post, the Masquerade ran past midnight on Saturday. While there were one or two imaginative sketches, most were pretty boring. The nice part is that there were a lot of detailed, beautiful costumes. There was one rather impressive 'giant' robot, probably seven or eight feet tall, though it was hard to judge exactly seated among the audience.

Sunday morning was take-it-easy time. We went to Coco's for breakfast, and I got oatmeal and fruit. Very healthy! We kicked around the dealers' room, and I bought two more DVDs: 36th Chamber of Shaolin (another Shaw Brothers old school kung fu movie) and Hero (Zhang Yimou's new movie starring Jet Li, Zhang Ziyi, Maggie Cheung and Donnie Yen). Alan was so impressed by the cast that he picked up a copy as well. I managed to resist a ton of other titles that I was interested in, such as Uzumaki, Volcano High School, Versus and Returner.

The final activities of the convention were the charity auction, awards and closing ceremony. We planned to ditch after the auction, and go out for eats.

The proceeds of the auction, as usual, went to City of Hope. I don't know how much total was raised, as they usually announce that at the closing ceremony, which we skipped. Even simple sketches were going for $100. One that I would have bid for in a realistic world, a sketch by Akemi Takada (character designer for Kimagure Orange Road) of the Patlabor character Noa, went for $5000. I think the highest bid item went for $7000. This is why I attend the auction, to see how irrational folks wiil get, bidding hundreds of dollars for items that are not even signed, just posters.

Alan bid for and won a collection of Street Fighter art cards. Around $120, I think. I heard that Theo, whom I met two years ago at Anime Expo 2001, bid on and won the Silent Moebius scroll. Don't remember how much, but it was over a hundred, easily.

Once the auction was over, when they began the award ceremonies, we bailed to the room to dump all our stuff. Hanging out, chatting, deciding where we were going to eat, we settled on Catal (or it's outside bar, the Uva Bar) in Downtown Disney. It really is quite convenient, and I wish I'd figured it out years ago (hwo many years has Downtown Disney been there?). I've been going to Expo for years, sometimes consecutive, sometimes every other year, and most of those years have been across the street from Disney. I never went since I didn't want to buy a pass and skip part of the convention. But last year Jean, Kelly and I went to Disneyland for Kelly's seventh birthday, and we found out about Downtown Disney, a line of shops and restaurants open to the general public without passes.

So i agitated this year for a 'field trip' to Downtown Disney for food, and we ended up going several times. This final time, we walked around and enjoyed the music, a couple of the guys stopping in Wetzel's Pretzels for a snack before dinner. Then Alan led us to the Lego store, where I bought a couple of trinkets for Kelly.

Dinner at Catal was really nice. I had roast duck with cornbread, which came on a plate looking like nouvelle cuisine, but nevertheless filled me just fine. After dinner we went to the Confectionary so that Alan could buy a bon bon, then across the street to Haagen-Dazs. I bought a mango sorbet for my dessert. Yummy!

Finally, we tracked our way back to the hotel, winding down around midnight. This morning we got up around 5am so we could get our shuttle bus to the airport. Now I'm sitting on the plane, and this pretty much ends my vacation!

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:14 PM | Comments (3)

July 06, 2003

Masquerade

Well, the Masquerade is over. I can't even begin to list the acts, who won, or why. It's too late, I wasn't taking notes, and I'm not that dedicated to cosplay. See Tom's weblog if you care.

Did I have fun? Sure, though I'd prefer that they do a better job of crowd control. It's ironic, considering that they're across the street from Disneyland, home of the experts of crowd control. What they could use is a consultant to spend one convention walking around taking notes, watching how they handle events. As an impartial observer I saw at least three things they could do to improve crowd control and communication. Of course, it's easy to say, when you're not in the hotseat...

So tomorrow's the auction, which I like a lot more. Now to bed, so we can make it to breakfast somewhere nice. Bye!

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:16 AM

July 05, 2003

QOTD

Prior to the Internet, the last technology that had any real effect on the way people sat down and talked together was the table.

Clay Shirky

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:10 PM

ADV Mob Marketing

I was wandering the dealers' room and heard shrieks, whistles, shouts and roars. It was coming from the vicinity of the AD Vision super-kiosk. They have a tower in the middle of their setup, and there were several employees there, tossing out T-shirts and other gimmes and egging on the crowd.

People were crowded together shoulder to shoulder some twenty or thirty deep. I watched from the periphery for awhile, then moved on. I don't want to get crushed!

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:33 PM | Comments (3)

Morning Activities

Ate a 'suitcase breakfast' this morning, and then it was off to see Koushi Rikudo, the creator of the Excel Saga manga. He is a quiet fellow with a rather tricky sense of humour. You'd pass him by confidently on the street, but beware, as he apparently likes practical jokes a lot. He told an anecdote about taking his assistants to lunch, but failing to tell them the restaurant was 500 miles away. As he was pulling his van onto the freeway, they asked 'where are we going, sir?' But of course they had a nice lunch when they got there.

Some of the other guys stayed to see Kazuki Yao, a voice actor (or seiyu). I was getting a sore butt, so I went to check out the art show instead. Tom and Dan came along, but were not as interested as I, so I lost track of them after awhile. I saw a few pieces that I'd consider bidding for, but I wanted time to think, and to see if any other new pieces would get put out before the bidding closes today.

Since then I've been on my own. It's a big Con, and lose track of someone once, and you won't find them again easily. I went back to the room for some down time (introvert, remember). I ate a 'suitcase lunch', then headed down to the dealers' room. I'd heard that Bandai was giving away free T-shirts to those who sat through a presentation, so I went looking for their booth.

It's hard to miss, being one of the big mega-booths. I waited in line, playing Iridion II on my Gameboy Advance SP, and was in in no time. The presentation was a series of video clips of their upcoming releases, set to electronica and hard rock rhythms. It was short and easy to handle. When I left, I got a Witch Hunter Robin T-shirt. They're promoting that series bigtime.

I moseyed about, resisted buying another Hong Kong movie (so far) and picked up some freebies. On exiting, I went to the Convention T-shirt booth and looked into their shirt choices. I ended up buying a small Gundam (giant robot) shirt for Kelly, and an XL for me. Buy two, and get a third, AX Disneyland T-shirt for free! Cool. I'm going to wear that one tomorrow, since it appears I packed one shirt light, and then offer it to Jean, even though she said she didn't want any souvenirs.

I think I'll go back to the Art Show and decide if I want to bid on something.

Tonight's big activity is the Masquerade, or as I call it, the cosplay. See you later!

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:15 PM

Day Two Photos

Alan finished all his hard post-processing work late last night, but I was already abed, so here are Day Two's photos!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:04 AM

July 04, 2003

Food

We went past Coco's to an Italian restaurant Dan remembered from 2000 (I think it was called Maria's). I had the Spinach and Shrimp Salad, and a side of veggies with brocolli and zucchini. I'm starting to get wise to the ways of seeking out the minimally healthy stuff among the typical protein and starch rich restaurant fare.

We went to the restaurant straight from the 'Big O II' showing. It was really corny, but in a good way.

Oooo, I found a DVD of King Hu's Touch of Zen, which was sort of the forerunner for all the modern wu xia movies out of Hong Kong. I'm resisting more purchases, but you know how that goes!

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:09 PM

Yes I'm Having Fun

Afternoon highlights:

Panel with Robert Woodhead, founder/owner of AnimEigo. He's always a hoot. I've never missed an opportunity to hit a panel where he's in charge.

Time passed, walking around with Alan while he snapped cosplayers all over the place. Man, there are some really great costumes this year. I hope we can get more of them online.

We just got back from the Yuki Kajiura concert. That was sweet, if loud. She's the composer of several tunes off of the series Noir and .hack//Sign. We got six tunes, and an encore of a 'remix' of one of the tunes. Now we're camping out in the room prior to attending the premiere of 'Big O II'. Two episodes of Roger Smith and his giant robot. Sweet!

Dunno where or if we'll eat out afterwards...

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:56 PM | Comments (2)

Punchy

Feeling just a tad punchy today, as we all went to sleep around 2am last night/morning. We were spending a lot of time winnowing through Alan's collection of photos he'd taken during the day. I put up a small selection as a web gallery here. I reserve the right to take them down again if I run low on storage.

We all got up around 8:30, and have been lounging around posting articles and surfing the web until the next activity. I think Alan and I will be hitting the road for some food soon regardless. Later!

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:10 AM | Comments (2)

The DVDs

I may fold like a cheap suit and buy more, but here are the HK and Korean DVDs I grabbed so far:

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:05 AM

Healthy

We went back to Downtown Disney, using a route I was sure was shorter than last time, but alas no. I enjoyed the walk, but John and Tom both got blisters. This time we ate at the ESPN Sports Restaurant. I had a chicken sausage sandwich, a bowl of green beans, and a bowl of brocolli (brocolli and cheddar, hold the cheddar). My body thanked me profusely.

It's late, so I'll wait until tomorrow (sometime) to detail all the Hong Kong and Korean DVDs I bought in the dealers' room. 'Night all!

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:08 AM

July 03, 2003

Idol

We did quite a bit of wandering around the con before and after the Idol Contest, and they got a rocky start, running over an hour late. But I enjoyed it quite a bit. These kids have got a lot of guts getting up on stage in front of a hundred or two tired anime fans. The competition was either voice acting or pop singing. We only stayed for about six competitors, as they ran so late, but some of them showed real promise.

The one that stuck with me was a young woman reading Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. She had a really nice voice, perfect for narrative. I was trying to decide if she was British and nervous, or awkwardly trying to imitate a British accent, but it seemed stilted. And she slurred some of her words. But I surely hope she gets professional training, because I actually closed my eyes and listened to her voice for a minute there. It's got something to do with the fact that I've always loved that poem fragment (it's a crowd pleaser, so that's no surprise), but it also had to do with my love of a fine voice. Very nice.

On another note, poor Ross Johnson! He's down here working on AX staff, and is trapped working some of the nastiest panels (BBS get-togethers, Sailor Moon musicals, for instance). The guy who is supposed to be helping him and giving him breaks is a no show. If I had any knowledge of the equipment I'd offer to help him, some. But we'll be meeting with him after he gets off, around 11pm...

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:59 PM

Opening Ceremony

Opening ceremony was par for the course. It was improved by the introduction of two 'special' mini-events. One guest (Akira Kamiya) brought an anime his students at Nipon Engineering College produced. It was a cute little short about a boy who wakes up and has turned into a dinosaur, from the waist up. Pretty funny.

The second special was a song performed by pianist/composer Yuki Kajiura and a vocalist whose name I didn't catch. These two events are atypical in my experience.

After the open we milled about while Alan took a bunch of digipics with his digital SLR (Nikon D100) and then we met with Chris and Valeska. She wanted breakfast, even though it was 11:30am by then, so we went to Coco's. I had a turkey and brocolli quiche, and lots of orange juice and copious caffeinated bevies. Now we are resting before hitting the dealer's room.

Tonight we'll probably go to the Idol contest (Idol's are the Japanese equivalent of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera -- manufactured pop stars), then hit the road in search of a late night snack. I found out that taking the right route we could easily walk to Downtown Disney, not even needing a shuttle. So maybe Sunday for the next try...

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:17 PM

Beyond the Thunderdome

<entry wiped by accident>

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:05 AM | Comments (4)

July 02, 2003

Six Days and Five Nights

First post from Anime Expo! I brought my laptop (an original Blueberry iBook) and our room has broadband available, so I'm able to dash off a post now and then. Don't expect too many, as I'll be busy doing, but...

Of course I had to launch the trip with a burst of bad health choices. In the concourse of the Portland Airport Dan and Alan and I went to Good Dog, Bad Dog (botique sausage restaurant) and had sandwiches for lunch. I had the BratReuben, a bratwurst with Reuben toppings. Yum, yum!

The flight down was uneventful, and I even escaped the nasty sinus pain that sometimes afflicts me when we descend rapidly. We caught a shuttle to the hotel, and checked in with little trouble, although the room assignments were somewhat flakey (we got rooms across the hall from each other, and the rooms were 'smoking' -- I keep forgetting that not all states are as healthy as Oregon).

Tom and I were both 'paid pre-registered' and got our badges and other material in a matter of five minutes. Dan, Alan and John had to wait for two hours to get through the lines for their registration.

While we waited for them, we joined James and Jeremy to check out their weird Japanese import Playstation 2 games. One was a 'Killer Trout' fishing game, with mutant zombie fish. The other was a disc with dozens of mini games, such as the wedding pie toss and the afro growing game. Lotsa crazy stuff.

Finally, we marched out in search of food, and ended up going to Downtown Disney (we took the long way around, due to some misnavigation, turns out the shuttle entrance was right across the street). We ate in the restaurant portion of 'House of Blues'. We skipped the club since there was a $13 cover charge to get in and it was really loud. I had a salad and veggies, other folks had major dishes. Now we are back, and winding down for the night. Gotta get those earplugs ready!

Kelly, I miss you already. Jean, I miss you too! Take care.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:43 PM | Comments (1)