Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blog Needs Design Revisions... Badly


Gaming Roundup: Dead Rising 2, VOOT 360, Tekken 6, Monster Hunter G

So Monster Hunter dropped for the Wii last week in Japan, and it's off to a stellar start. 132,000 copies from what Kotaku says. The other titles that are new releases in the top 10 last week pale in comparison with the next highest being Killzone 2 & only reaching 41,000 sold. There seems to be a lot of validity to the stats about the declining Japanese interest in video games. I was thinking today about how I like Monster Hunter so much but have only played one of the games (MH Freedom 2). I love the franchise and its depth and concepts a lot, it's just super frustrating to play. Either that, or I'm playing it wrong, lulz. As far as a US/international release? No idea, I looked for a good 10 minutes and couldn't find anything on a date for those of us abroad. I did however find this really entertaining fake news promo from (I'm assuming) the UK:

Other bits:
Dead Rising 2 trailer:Virtual-On Oratorio Tangram released for XBox 360 via Live Arcade this week. Gameplay trailer:HD Tekken 6 trailer:

Tokyo Burger

Buncha regurgitive stuff today. I found via Peter of J-List's Twitter, an awesome site about burgers in Tokyo. Yes, that Tokyo. Apparently Tokyo has some tasty burgers. There was an article a while back on Akiba Channel, albeit not as big, on burgers specifically in Akihabara. I think it's funny that most foodies are fairly Euro-centric as far as dishes they relish are concerned but that the greatest pizza chef in the world (proven via competition) was determined to be Japanese in 2006 at least, as well as the world's greatest bartender. Granted, pizza and booze aren't sushi, Beef Wellington and John Dory, but non-snobs shouldn't care about making a distinction like that if it tastes good and isn't mass-produced. It's really funny because if you read these articles, you'll see that some of the more famous burger joints have 'New York' or 'Seattle' in their name but their burgers are purely Japanese in invention/innovation. I, for one, would kill for burgers here to regularly include an egg on top of them. (ala - the Tamago Mac at Makudonarudo)

Next up is a modded mouse that uses actual NES controller parts. Not much to say about this, other than it's really awesome. Makes me wish I didn't sell my NES and controllers, and also knew how to make a mouse out of them.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Awesome Stop Motion Animation

A quick post to share this stop-motion movie that's been going around. A Japanese guy that took a ton of photos to make this happen, produced this.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

This Week's Mighty Haul

Decent-sized haul this past week (as in last Mon-Fri, I've been meaning to write this since Friday). I ended up with two proxy service packages in the same week, which is a first for me. I've ceased proxy bidding as of this week, it is waaaaay too expensive. I don't necessarily like posting how much I spent on stuff on here because I think it's rude. Dot dot dot, but for example, I got a new Monster Hunter shirt (difficult franchise, awesome merchandising) and special Puchi Nendoroids that came with a Japanese DS game called Cross of Venus, it's a collaborative (RPG) effort between all/most of Dengeki's mangaka. No matter who you go with it's generally fairly expensive to import something "middle of the road" -- like $15-$75 -- and this case was no exception. For this $30 shirt and $60 set of 'droids it was $164 after all was said and done. That's $74 for fees and shipping in case you weren't counting. That said, I don't dislike or think that these services are a ripoff. They're performing a service that would otherwise be nearly impossible unless you have friends or family in Japan that you're willing to bother, so I think they're entitled to their fair share. I just happen to think that the fees outweight the importance of what I'm getting at this point and I need to just cool it till I make it back to Japan or make more money or hopefully both. I also think that I'm going to let my existing pre-orders run out and just be a grown up (that has impulse control) and wait until I make a respectable amount of money and have my feet on the ground before I buy anything else that isn't a life essential.

Now on to the haul. I keep slowly amassing modeling materials, and heard that Tamiya Putty was the best, so I grabbed a tube of that for 266yen when I was getting everything else from Hobby Search here. The other things that came from HS were a Nendoroid of Kyouka Midarezaki from Kyouran Kazoku Nikki (or Diary of a Crazed Family), Kanzaki Kaori from To Aru Majutsu no Index by Kotobukiya, 1/100 HG Aile Strike Gundam to begin my Gunpla modeling and two Keropla models Garuru and Musha Keroro. Then from Goody Japan came my long-awaited Mama Chapp doll (yeah I totally bought a doll, shut up ^^;). And then from Shopping Mall Japan came the aforementioned Cross of Venus omake Puchi Nendoroids and a really awesome Monster Hunter shirt. In retrospect I sorta wish I would've passed on the 'droid of Kyouka-san and gotten Kotobukiya's Index figure. I may do that this week, depending on how the wind blows (i.e. - how my auctions go). I also have 3 occasions this month where I need to buy gifts, including one that's belated that I haven't forgotten about but still need to get something for. Luckily either people don't like Kotobukiya's sculpts or To Aru Index isn't a popular series (which is honestly not the case) because both Index (released in October of last year) and Kanzaki (released in Jan or Feb of this year) were still in stock as of this writing.

As far as this blog is concerned and how cessation of purchases will affect it, only time will tell. Most of my posts are either centered around "I got this today," or dealing with Company X that screwed me on shipping, or was a delight to deal with or whatever. But I have confidence that it'll continue in some form, fansubs and RAWs are still free, right? ^^;

Haikyo - Japanese Ruins

Image courtesy of

I've been meaning to post something about this for a while now. 廃墟 'haikyo' is Japanese for 'ruins', as in the physical kind, and there appears to be a kind of haikyo otaku movement growing out there, especially amongst the foreigners-living-in-Japan blogosphere. These "haikyoists" explore many different types of abandoned sites and take pictures of their adventures, and then post them on their blog. Many hook up and adventure together, visiting abandoned military bases, theme parks, hotels, resorts and more. I was honestly surprised when I stumbled upon the sites covering this type of stuff, because you always hear about how many people live in Japan versus how little land is actually able to be developed due to how mountainous the islands generally are.

This hobby isn't exclusive to Japan, in fact it's been going on for a long time all over the world, it is called Urban Exploration. Naturally, since there are abandoned facilities and buildings everywhere this would exist anywhere and everywhere so long as someone is interested in it. I have a general interest in UE, though I like the Japanese sites in particular, not only because that is how I found out about the hobby as a whole, but because of the variety of sites that there are in Japan.

We all know that Japan is home to wacky and outlandish everything, and haikyo sites are no exception. During the late 80's until 1990 Japan experienced an economic boom where prices of land and stock became greatly inflated, and then the "bubble burst" leading to widespread economic downturn that lasted well over a decade. You can read more about the land bubble, here. In and around that time, lots of projects were started that weren't finished for various reasons, like banks taking on high risk loans for real estate projects, then folding when borrowers couldn't pay them back. So you have crazy theme parks like a Gulliver's Travels park with a giant Gulliver in the middle laying down, that existed for about 3-4 years in the 90's, closed, explored by haikyo enthusiasts, ransacked by vandals and then demolished. There are also several mining towns, a cave hotel carved by HAND for 21 years by one man, resorts, hospitals, there's actually even a whole island that used to house a few thousand people that became abandoned when it lost its purpose.

Which is primarily why I was spurred on to do a writeup on this. This past week, Gunkanjima, or 'Battleship Island' was opened to the public after 35 years of being abandoned, and is being considered for incorporation as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is named Gunkanjima because from afar it looks like a battleship (gunkan = battleship shima = island). Its real name is Hashima. For 87 years, from 1887 to 1974, Hashima played a major role in Japan's industrialization, housing as many as 5,200 workers and their families helping to mine coal under seabed. Eventually the Mitsubishi Zaibatsu bought the land and in 1890 began building a large concrete apartment complex and a town complete with schools, a hospital, movie theater, etc in 1916. As petroleum surpassed coal, the island was no longer needed and was announced to be closing in 1974 by Mitsubishi. In 1959, the island actually set the record for highest population density worldwide. Now the island is in complete disrepair, but was sought after as the king of all haikyo sites until those dreams were dashed last week with its reopening, and the inevitable stepping up of security. Japan Probe has a good post on it.

The other reason I wrote this was because while looking for a title picture and links and other material, I ran across this on a haikyo site I frequent. This was just to freaky not to spread around. This guy has done multiple interesting sites, but this one takes the cake. Apparently he stumbled upon it when he was looking at some other site deep in the countryside. A giant concrete dome that has a dedication to "our ancestors" and then inside there is a wall with 5 very eerie logos that look sorta cultish and then if that wasn't strange enough, a giant vault with a double-thick vault door with 3 combination locks on it (which is open, he goes inside a bit and takes pics and a video). The whole thing is very fact-is-stranger-than-fiction and I urge you all to check it out. A lot of this stuff could be a setting for manga or anime, and has probably inspired a few here and there.

Here are some great links to check out:

Michael John Grist's Ruins Gallery - This is a wonderful site for haikyo, Grist is an excellent photographer and he does excellent writeups of his adventures, of which there are a lot. Updated regularly.

Tokyo Times - Another great site that's updated a lot, also with phenomenal photographs of haikyo adventures.

Opacity - A non-Japanese urban exploration site, mainly US sites here, some Denmark and Germany shoots. This guy takes a lot of pictures, and the site is text-heavy as he "narrates" a lot.

UER Forums - Urban Explorer Forums where the society of UErs meet on the web. There's a host webzine too at which used to be headed up by a Canadian fellow named Ninjalicious who has since died at the age of 31 from cholangiocarcinoma believed to have been caused by his exploring abandoned industrial sites filled with asbestos, lead paint and other toxic things. Poor guy, but at least he went doing what he loved: on Infiltration, there's an article of his where he and his friends explored an abandoned pirate ship restaurant (La Grande Hermine) off the coast of lake Ontario. PROTIP: If you go spelunking on these forums, especially the topic of "What's the weirdest thing you've found while exploring?" consider it all NSFW for one. For two, if you are grossed out easily and the forum topic is suspect, DON'T CLICK. I did and one of the first things I ran across in the aforementioned thread was a crumbling fetus in a jar, several unflattering shots of cats and dogs in various states of decomposition and pigeons nailed to walls. Bon appetite.

I hope I've encapsulated the world of modern ruins exploration so that it would capture your attention, and who knows maybe a few of you will find it as riveting as I do!

Video about Gunkanjima (with subs):

Saturday, April 25, 2009

午前三時のオレンジジュース - 3 AM - Orange Juice

It is exponentially darker in here with my overhead Ikea lamp off. (Which would probably explain why whenever I first got it, it smelled like burning plastic in here) It's also semi cave-like in here with it off. Also due to the fact that one of my Target light sets has burned out, taking away part of the whimsy of my little jinja/otera, boo. Having a little oj right now with Nendoroid Itoshiki-sensei sitting on my desk, next to my glass.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Interesting Package Note

I really love that little tiger

So I got a package from Goody Japan yesterday that they apparently recycled from ToranoAna, whose mascot I love. So good on them -- twice! But that wasn't the best part. The best part was upon picking it up one of the first things I noticed was the fact that there was a post-it on the side with my "account name" on it from the website. Yes, a post-it, stuck with a narrow margin of adhesive versus regular paper made it from Japan aaaaaaaall the way to my post office intact. Call me "easily amused" but this made me smile. Perhaps it was the placebo effect of the ToranoAna mascot I can hang on my bulletin board. ^^;

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Another Chuck-date

So apparently the real push has begun for Chuck's renewal. Everyone is commanded to go to Subway on Monday before the season finale. There's the Twitter campaign that's going on, as well. Even the show's executive producer and co-creator Josh Schwartz is commenting on it:

In an interview at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, Schwartz said he had a good meeting with NBC about “Chuck’s” future, but he would not speculate on whether the show would survive. NBC, which is stripping Jay Leno across the 10 p.m. time period five nights a week, does not have a lot of real estate for shows like Schwartz’s that are on the bubble.

In the meantime, “Chuck” fans are taking matters into their own hands. According to Schwartz, there is a push on the Internet to get fans to go to Subway on Monday before the season finale to buy sandwiches in support of the show. Why Subway? Because the sandwich shop was featured prominently in a recent episode. So much for product placement turning off viewers. “It shows a real sophistication on the part of the viewer,” Schwartz said.
The site that I got this from, TV By the Numbers, also speculated that perhaps if 40,000 people went to buy an Insight from Honda on Monday (pointing to the commercial posted below, that Zachary Levi did last Monday during the show, Heroes' Greg Grunberg also did one during his show) that would make a statement, but that 40,000 subs would probably not. I personally concur with TVbtn about a "fan push" not making a difference right now, simply because the economy is so crappy and NBC -- if I didn't mention it before -- is 4th out of the major FOUR networks, so that extra meaning you probably would get out of fans vying for a show's renewal will probably just get buried by pure, hard numbers now. Sad though it is, it's kind of a relief that it won't make a difference, because I'm more of a Quizno's man. =P

Weird, one of the main articles on that site says that "Chuck idles" in it's headline, but then there's a contradictory article about "Strong Results Highlight NBC's Primetime Week April 13-19" specifically mentioning how strong Chuck was:

* Also on Monday, “Chuck” hit a six-week high in both adults 18-49 and total viewers, and “Medium” conjured up its highest 18-49 rating in eight weeks (up 23 percent vs. the prior week), while making contact with its biggest overall audience in seven weeks.
Interesting. Well, enough speculation for now, still hoping for that golden renewal news.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Still haven't built that damned train set...

Once again, the lovely Misaka-san ^^;

So I still haven't built the train set that I posted a while back. It's still sitting in the box on the floor. I was going to purchase some more track accessories yesterday when I made an order to Hobby Search, but I decided to buy some Keroro Gunsou Plamo instead. Hobby Putty, a few models (which was the whole impetus for this order) and two figures. I'm looking forward to using my compressor/airbrush setup, if it ever stops fucking raining here. See, I live in the worst state on the northern part of the east coast of the US. So naturally the days where I have zero やる気 (that's yaruki for those of you who don't read Japanese) - or ambition, "drive" - it's sunny and pushing 70 degrees outside. The days where I want to do something there's a glut of 45 degree weather with rain/snow. I love the rain, but not when I'm trying not to suffocate myself with paint fumes and painting outside for the above reason.

I have a 1/144 Gundam Rose and a primered semi-assembled 1/144 Gundam Maxter that I have to paint currently. The 1/144 Gundams that Bandai put out before are little more than toys, which is evidenced by their 500yen pricetag, but I enjoy putting them together nonetheless. And since this is my first real outing with the airbrush and compressor, I kinda don't want to go in buying a Perfect Grade and screwing it up. (as PGs are several hundred more yen than a 1/144 non-HG Gunpla kit =P) I, however wanted more of a challenge than these two and purchased a 1/100 Aile Strike Gundam kit. I also got a few Keropla (Keroro + plastic model) kits of Musha Keroro (which I have one of already, but screwed it up because I didn't have anything to spray it with and just did it by hand) and a Garuru kit. Even though I really didn't care for Gundam SEED, I like the mobile suits of this series, especially Strike and it's many, many incarnations.

I once again broke my rule of only ordering merch from series that I watch/read (Not that it is a rule, heh). I want to watch this series after ordering this Nendroid (Nendoroid? I've been spelling it Nendroid for a while now, the last syllable doesn't have the 'o' when it's romanized, shrug) because she's awesome, does that count? ^^; She's Midarezaki Kyoka from Kyouran Kazoku Nikki, aaaaand that's all I know about her so far. Oh I lied, she's got somes nekomimi, which I also dig - and a tail! Lastly, I snatched up the bewitching Kanzaki Kaori from my new favoritist anime in the whole wide world, To Aru Majutsu no Index. I lied again, Geass still takes my heart more than any other for the most part, but Index is up there. ^_^ I like how Koto's figures aren't that expensive, I was able to get Biribiri - aka Misaka Mikoto - (who has yet to return from Robert's Corner Anime Store, btw -_-;), Shiroi Kuroko and Kanzaki for what I'd normally pay for two 1/8 PVCs. I'll have plenty of pics once I get them, hopefully by Friday. That is if Hobby Search doesn't drag their feet which they seem to have been more often than not lately.

I also need to catch up on this season's anime. Fullmetal Alchemist is already up to episode 3 and there are several others that I've only seen the premiere of so far. Everything so far this season has lived up (or down) to what I expected it to be. Eden of the East looks to be the front-runner for me this season so far. I'm just saddened that after the epic Gundam of the last two seasons I'm sure we won't see a new TV series for a while. QQ

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mreh @ TV, i.e. - american audiences suck

I'm not normally one of those people that goes crazy over TV shows. I usually take it for granted that shows I like will be renewed, and if they aren't, then oh well. I mean, I do get pissy when something I like is canceled or on the verge of cancellation, but I'm not some fat Joss Whedon fangirl (is that redundant?) that signs a bunch of e-petitions and goes to cons with a paper petition and makes t-shirts that they still wear 5 years after the show is canceled. But as of late with the economy (dun dun dun I finally dropped the E-bomb) the way it is networks are kinda slimming down their "pickins'" to nothing and the network that I thought was doing better than everyone is actually doing the worst out of the major four.

Apparently NBC is shit at this point. It's funny how quickly things can change, Heroes was this "breakout hit" and then the next season they're calling it crap. With shows like The Office (which I don't watch for the most part), 30 Rock (which I don't watch but heard is good), My Name is Earl, the aforementioned Heroes, that Life show that I hated (which I assumed would make it wonderful in the ratings) and all of those crappy Law & Order shows that everyone seems to love, I figured that NBC was on the top of the heap. How mistaken I was.

So that brings me to my point of order: Chuck. Chuck is apparently on the precipice of getting hucked off the TV cliff. I like Chuck, a lot. I have sat idly by and watched The Riche$ get canceled, 10 Items or Less (even though it might've deserved it in its 3rd season) and many others I'm sure I'm forgetting that did not make the cut. And if there were superior-performing shows around I wouldn't be too miffed about Chuck riding the cancellation fence, but goddamn. First, I'd like to preface this rant with a fact or two. One, NBC is paying Jay Leno a varitable mint to do his show at 10 PM five nights a week, this working two-fold: one being that dumping more money into Mr. Leno's pockets means less money to make more shows with and two -- perhaps more importantly -- it eliminates five hours of primetime programming from the lineup every week. Also, Chuck goes up against Fox's House every week, and has been since the beginning of this season, that's gotta spell doom for every show up against it. House is pretty much Fox's number one show, it's #1 in the scripted department and only loses to American Idol (groan) in terms of overall viewership. I love House. In fact, House is the only show that I will drop everything for to watch, even if I've seen the ep 20 times already.

That said, there are a lot of shows that are just awful that I cannot fathom how they stay on the air, other than audiences having really bad tastes. Now I'm not even going to bother bringing up Lost, because that's a moot point. I will, however bring up FRINGE and Dollhouse and Lie to Me. I've pretty much made peace with the fact that shitty shows like Dancing with the Stars and American Idol are cash cows and cost the network little to nothing and enthrall the dumbass masses. Fringe began airing at the same time as Chuck, and I watched both. I thought that Chuck had kind of a silly premise at first, but it quickly grew on me. Fringe never really held my interest at all, and when they brought the stereotypical characters in, the crappy "plot" and compared it to the X-Files -- ew. Then it became "acclaimed", wow, I thought, "People cannot have that bad a taste in shows." Then that Lie to Me show came along, and that was gimmicky, poorly cast, poorly acted and generic. Somehow this show is probably getting a renewal. And Dollhouse, despite having the combination of getting the Friday night death slot and being abyssimal, has somehow weaseled it's way to "50-50" on getting a renewal.

And all you can blame are the numbers. The studio isn't really at fault. If not enough people watch a show, it's gone. TV is a business, afterall. So that brings me to the conclusion that the typical viewer in this country has a room temperature IQ and loves repetitive, regurgative idiocy and loathes new and innovative entertainment. They also love namesakes, Southland is made by the creators of ER and I can guarantee that'll get picked up, and Law & Order and all of its incarnations are in like their 20,000th seasons now, right? I don't see them getting canceled anytime soon. And don't tell me that the idea of karaoke being televised and then judged and then spit back into 6 other forms like dancing, is innovative.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

WTB Weather Machine

House totally looks like the T-800 in this picture. After a stroke.

Goddamn is the weather unbalanced here. To add to that horribleness, it's like a sauna in this room, what with every essential and plenty of non-essential electronics running at all hours. (Fish clock, USB owl and beerbot anyone?) I wish it would just climb over 55, 45 is uncomfortable to leave the window open all the time.

Just a pic post

Doraemon Mikan (tangerines), Lelouch on the 'pod and Kitty Sushi!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

An expensive mistake...

Yes, this was $160 (with shipping).

So about 4 and a 1/2 years ago now I began my regrettable flirtation with World of Warcraft. In the summer of 2004 I got a copy of Final Fantasy XI because I was still an FF fanboy. FFXI would work for sporadic amounts of time and freeze my computer. Also, it wasn't that fun. Fast forward a few months to September-October, my best friend gets a beta copy of World of Warcraft. Now I've always loved the Warcraft series, and Blizzard lore in general. I saw how much deeper and more graphically pleasing this game was than FFXI, and was sold. I played on and off for the next 4 years, getting utterly disinterested and quitting, and then coming back for more punishment, generally when new content like an xpac came out. But ultimately I dropped the habit in January and really have zero interest in returning -- for any reason.

Thus began my ritualized monthly throwing of $15 into the sewer, as well as countless hours of my life (actually Blizzard has a function in the game where you can type /played and see how much you've played on that character. I never bothered with a final total, though.). Now as if flushing a percentage of my life down the toilet, as well as enough for 2 or 3 car payments, wasn't bad enough, Blizzard found its way into my -- and many others' -- pockets other ways too.

A few years after the explosive popularity of WoW, Blizzard released a trading card game based around the game. This TCG had one major difference from others based on popular franchises -- the invention of the loot card. Loot cards were special cards inserted in packs at a certain ratio that when scratched off and entered into the Blizzard/Upper Deck website, allowed you to get some goofy trinket, mount or other cosmetic thing that didn't affect the game in any way but were fun nonetheless. Not being a particular fan of TCGs the idea of the loot cards intrigued me, but I wasn't about to buy boxes and boxes of cards to get an in-game item. Enter the enterprising souls on ebay. Over time I bet I spent over $250 on loot cards for in-game crap. I had the Hippogryph Hatchling, Goblin Gumbo Kettle, Paper Flying Machine Kit, D.I.S.C.O., Picnic Set, and Goblin Personal Weather Maker. I'm really glad I didn't end up getting the Onyxia Kite or Spectral Tiger mount, two of the most expensive loot card items on ebay.

Though I spent less on this item, because it was all in one lump sum, and I didn't get to have fun with it in-game like the other stuff, I guess I'm regretful of it more than the cards. The item in question? A Figureprint. Figureprints are representations of 3-D model data fed by a program into a machine that interprets and configures them into an "action" figure. More like a statue, and I'm convinced that these are little more than fancy papercraft (they look like painted styrofoam when you look at them up close). I think the technology to create these is probably amazing, but could ultimately use refining. Anyway, Figureprints hooked up with Blizzard and started producing scale representations of your character for like $100. Originally, and for about 2 years they had a lottery that governed who was able to throw their cash at FP to have a figure of their character made. When I got my chance, the price went up to $140 for some reason. I was in the last 2 months of the lottery, which made it even less special when a big news item came out 8 weeks later saying "Get all the Figureprints you want now!" and I got my FP like a week after that, lulz. (Yeah they take a while to make) Supposedly before, with the lottery system, you had to enter every month. I had quit for about 9 months when I got the news that I had been drawn as a winner in the FP drawing for November. The xpac was one reason I started playing again, but the fact that you had to have an active WoW account to get a Figureprint made was a big baiting factor as well. I honestly think that Blizzard used this on "retired subscribers" as a ploy to get them to play again. Being that they retired the lottery system a scant 2 months later. I'm now trying to offload my personal Figureprint for $50 on ebay (nearly 2/3 of the price off), but honestly, who wants to buy a figure of someone else's character?

I would honestly love to sell my account because I think people would pay a decent amount for the loot cards alone, and the fact that I have an 80 DK with some tier 7.5 gear and a Mechano-hog, plus a 77 lock with epics and over 50 mounts, etc, cosmetic stuff that people that want to buy "pretty shinies" look for. But I've heard that most account sales, unless done in person are scam-worthy. And there are companies that buy your account, but I don't necessarily want some "company" rummaging through my personal data in Blizzard's files, because who knows what Blizz keeps on file even though they claim to have deleted all relevant financial data. I'm not about to give over the contents of my bank account over a matter of $200-300 for my blood, sweat and tears.

I did make $40 profit on my Blizzard Authenticator keyfob that is now apparently sold out at the Blizzard store, that originally cost $6.50. I was paranoid about account security, but by the time I got it, I'd quit, so hey why not make a profit? I also managed to sell my Talking Murloc from Jinx for about $20 over the retail, so... In the end, I really wish I hadn't bought the Figureprints figure of my lock, but the cards weren't really that regretable a decision, and I profitted off of the rest. =P

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dead by comparison: Chopping Block vs. Hell's Kitchen

A few weeks back the show The Chopping Block debuted on NBC, and as I'm not a real TV-o-phile unless I know a show I like is flagging, I just assumed that it was doing okay. The big tagline surrounding the show was that Marco Pierre White had made Chef Gordon Ramsay cry when he was training him or whatever. I got sucked into the hype a little bit. I was also enthused by the first ep because the people that were on here seemed to not be so "organic" as was the case in a lot of contestants on Hell's Kitchen. So after seeing the first episode I told a friend just that. I think it went something like: "This Chopping Block show is good, it doesn't have that white trashy element that a lot of the Hell's Kitchen groups have had so far."

But after the "new" wore off, it was exactly that that was the problem. All of those people in the first episode that were "new and refreshing", were now just the opposite, boring and cardboard. The show played out like something you'd see on Food Network or Home & Garden -- this was primetime, not cable showing you how to make a souflee. Not even this supposedly merciless Marco was being pushy, let alone showing this mysterious fierceness that put Ramsay on his ass or whatever. Honestly it wasn't even like Marco was in charge, it was more like he was an observer or something, he always seemed very disaffected or disinterested and like he was there in a narrative capacity more than a chef.

The contestants weren't much better. Hell's Kitchen makes you feel like -- for better or worse -- the people vying for the title they're driving at really need that job. (Which couldn't be further from the truth, apparently, if you read the Wiki about what the winners of each season are doing now. One even turned down the initial job immediately after they won it.) The people on The Chopping Block all seem to range from "Weeeeell me and my friend thought this might make a neat weekend project!" to, "Well we already have a diversified portfolio and a chain of restaurants back home but we're looking to expand." Thus making you not really give a shit about them. Individually, the people don't seem that interesting, in fact I can't remember a single person's name or what their backstory is from TCB. Aaaaaand apparently I wasn't the only one. The Chopping Block failed hardcore, being replaced after only 3 episodes (With episodes of fucking law and order no less. No show deserves that fate.).

So I ate my initial words. Everyone knows I'm not a reality fan at all, so it's a miracle that I like either of these shows. And I think I do like them because they are reality. The situations may be set up for the purpose of sifting through the garbage so to speak, but this will be an actual job opportunity for someone. It isn't B-list celebs and fucking Steve-O and other retards dancing around with bimbos, or some mental-defective, deranged idiot or rich little snot trying to caterwaul for some drugged up bitch and self-aggrandizing English egomaniac. I respect Ramsay, he didn't bullshit his way into the limelight, he doesn't pretend to be anything he's not.

The one thing these two shows do have in common is the fact that for any reality show to work, you need your dramatic idiot types with weak character and little to no skills and then you need your "the drama's in there but you have to work to draw it out of me" with skills-balanced type. Of course there are varying degrees of these two extremes, but I guess what I'm trying to say is you need drama to make it work. You need people that are going to react. If you just throw in a bunch of professionals that are going to do everything right into the kitchen together, no one's going to tune in. If you throw a bunch of people that know how to cradle themselves and cry and fight and piss and moan at each other but have no skills -- well then you really don't have a show, at least not one with a goal. Hell's Kitchen normally has a cast that has this catalyst in a mixture where the results are entertaining. You may or may not give a crap about them as people, or about who wins, but the rotating HK cast is most certainly entertaining more often than not.

The Chopping Block had that drama, but not in the right mixture. There were people that butted heads, but not really in an entertaining way. You need to set it up so there is a dominant type and another dominant type going head-to-head, maybe more than a few in some instances. TBC had a few people that were bitchy and bullied others, but the other side either blew them off or relented, and that just isn't interesting television. By comparison, Hell's Kitchen this season had a cast where I did not find myself rooting for anyone but that's okay because I did want people off of there, which is equally as good a catalyst for continued-watching. I thought pretty much everyone on HK this season was obnoxious. If I was really hard-pressed to pick someone that I wanted to win, it'd be Andrea. I'm convinced there's a "fodder" catergory that they use to pick applicants that are for sure not going to make it to the end, how else would you explain Lacey -- the bitchiest lardass that ever existed's presence? I'm really glad that HK is returning for its 6th and 7th seasons, the 6th being broadcast in July (yay!), and hopefully the cast will remain as reactionary and pushy as ever.

ebay is a ripoff for sellers and wtf is up with collecting sealed games?!

Here's the $11,000 Ninja Gaiden cartridge, with the ALMIGHTY H SEAM! "FACTORY SEALED WITH THE H SEAAAAAAAMMMMMM" I had retarded neighbors that thought that the game was called Ninja Ame when I had it when I was little because the kanji for Gaiden sorta resembled the letters A-M-E apparently (there's that word again), despite the fact that the fucking kanji had GAIDEN clearly written directly underneath them.

ebay is a TOTAL EFFING RIPOFF for sellers. There, that felt good. I'm pretty fed up and irritated with them right now. Granted, I haven't been selling that much lately, and I'll soon be out of things to sell, but I'm pissed nonetheless. I go to post an auction today and get some shitty message saying that one of my seller ratings has fallen below 4.3/5.0. Okay, well what the fuck does that mean? I go to the supposed official seller ratings where people click the little stars and give you a rating in 5 areas with a 0.0-5.0 rating system as well. Apparently I was confusing things, apparently there are TWO systems of rating that share the same set of integers and same areas. If you look at the stars that everyone sees on my profile/feedback page, you'll see that none of my ratings are below 4.7. Now for some reason the ratings in the super-secret-ultra-hidden ratings system are at a lower point. Who votes for that system? I have no fucking idea. Where does this system even come from? No clue. So apparently I need to apease some invisible customers buying pretend products or something.

What I don't understand more than what the above paragraph outlines, is the fact that ebay seems to think that everyone is an ultra-millionaire just selling their stuff into the drain for swap meet fun! Now, I don't mind giving my standard 80% per transaction to ebay, they have to keep their hookers and Cristal both on tap! But when you factor in what Paypal (also owned by ebay and used by I'd guess 99% of ebay sellers at this point) takes from you for accepting payments, you're not making that much selling a game that you bought new for $50, for $14.99 plus that paltry $2 shipping charge. And therein lies ebay's problem. I've always padded my shipping (I do it by weight) by about 6-7 ounces. When people get an item and they see that they overpaid on shipping, they give you a bad rating for shipping charges. (Or so they'd have you think, my "true" shipping charges rating was 4.7/5.0, the made up one is like 4.2 or whatever triggered the ebay spasm, threatening me) Why do I pad the S&H charges, you ask? Well, padded envelopes aren't free, tape isn't free, packing materials weigh something and therefore aren't free, GAS is not free. I don't think that adding in 75 cents or so to every transaction is too much to ask to (not) cover these things. Ebay provides no ability to add for shipping and handling, and if you raise the price... welp nobody buys overpriced products. However, ebay still makes money even if your item doesn't sell. So now I'm apparently (I use that word a lot) on the verge of being disabled from posting new auctions. Fuck you, ebay. Instead of harrassing people that are trying to sell their old NES games for 1/1000th of their original retail price, go after the Chinese bootleggers that are profiting from making crapped-up versions of otaku merch and then buying shitty rebranded american cars with the profits they make.

So my second topic is, why the fuck do people buy sealed videogames? And they buy them at INSANE prices, too. I was seeing how much my Ninja Gaiden cartridge for the NES would fetch. I'm going along, I see $3.87, $11.00 w. instructions, etc, and then I come upon $87.22. WHAT?! Oh, it's sealed. What the fuck does that matter? You get a game to PLAY it right? Otherwise it's just a lump of gray plastic with a sticker on it and some electronics inside. I mean maybe if you were a Terminator and had a Famicom cart slot in place of your exoskeleton having an asscrack because sentient robots don't have a waste system, you'd have some use for it without a Control Deck. But not only will these people never see the lump of gray gaming goodness, they'll never read the manual or open the box! Now I'm normally a "to each their own" kind of guy, but this actually makes me throw my hands in the air and roll my eyes. Another auction had 33 "sealed" games (including Ninja Gaiden) that went for $1095 -- but with free shipping. Granted, they're still less than they would've been at retail -- just $33.18 a piece, so that's somewhat vindicating if they kept games they paid over $40-$50 for expressly for the purpose of reselling them for profit. If they didn't, they must be some OCD freak, or rich idiot that bought multiple copies of games so they could re-enact episodes of Video Power or whatever in their house. I see a purpose in collecting games if you enjoy them. I do not, however, see a point in keeping a bunch of factory-wrapped boxes in your house just waiting for doomsday to come and burn them and you to a crisp.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

It's 4 AM...

Biribiri needs to come back =/

Well it's 4 in the morning and I haven't yet set up my train, which I said I'd do today. Tomorrow, I promise! I actually just ordered my compressor/airbrush setup, after much deliberation. Got both items from Amazon. Got this compressor, suggested by Bolt on and this airbrush by Iwata suggested by me because I know Iwata is a good company. =P Now I just need to pick an HG model to start with and some colors and miscellaneous equipment and I'm off to being a junior modeler! Hopefully I'll have some train setups and models that I can be proud of soon enough.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Restless Days

My mind usually does not rest, it's just one of those things that I've come to accept in the past few years. But in the past four days or so, it's just been this weird chronic non-ending stream of consciousness. Last night I had a dream that lasted pretty much the entire 9 or so hours that I slept. It wasn't bad, it was just monotonous for the most part. I'd really like when I'm unconscious to feel nothing so I can wake up feeling like I've actually rested to some degree. I think if I had some peace of mind, or I knew where I was actually going or what I'm doing with myself, I'd probably be able to calm a little or a lot. Even a change of scenery at this point would probably do me a world of good.

As of a minute from when I'm typing this, it will be an even week since I sent my Misaka Mikoto/Biribiri figure back to Robert's Anime Store to be replaced... I sent it Priority Mail, which should've been there by Wednesday at the latest. I should've had the replacement back today or tomorrow... Blah. The saddest part is, I can't blame them. Kotobukiya sent it to them unopened and the box wasn't damaged to any large degree, so it was Koto's fault in the first place, and I've heard a good experience from everyone on that's ordered from there so I would guess that the slowness/loss of the package is the post office's fault.

In that vein... I'm getting a compressor and airbrush -- as a matter of fact I'm narrowing down choices right now. I figure that in my downtime I might as well do something productive like Gundam-building. More to come on that front... I'm taking advice from an apparent 15-year veteran of model building on Danny Choo, Bolt. He's been writing a series of Plamo tips that so far have been very helpful. =) This article on airbrush and compressor buying tips was what spurred me on (well that and the fact that I've been wanting to break into serious Gunpla modeling for a while now) to buy the airbrush/compressor set. And then there are the articles he's done so far on: gluing, puttying and seam filling, and sanding. I'm glad someone finally made a detailed writeup of specifics on model building from a Gunpla sort of perspective. Anything I've read so far either glosses over the important bits that need explaining or does like model cars or Games' Workshop miniatures or something that I'm not concerned with. Danny did a fairly okay article on Gundam building for busy people or whatever, but there really wasn't enough detail in that, like primer, specifics about painting, etc.

When I used to build Gundams a few years ago, I actually (and I'm totally ashamed to admit this knowing what I know now) used brush and paint and Gundam Markers for the whole thing! If you'll all remember, I lacked the funds to get the right tools before, and lacked the patience to wait to put my Keroro Shogun together, so I intentionally just colored him with the Gundam Markers and brushes. See, this is why the internet needs tutorials like Bolt's! Now that I'm getting the proper tools, I really want to get as good as the people in Hobby Japan magazine. ^^;

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

T Scale Train

Got a 1/450, 3mm wide T Scale train today! Finally, after several days of customs tie ups, that and my Shirai Kuroko 1/8 figure from Koto came today, too. Now if I could just get my Biribiri 1/8 replacement back from Robert's Corner Anime Store... Also got a Taiko no Tatsujin tenugui, or handtowel, which I'm going to hang as a tapestry in any case.

Jisatsu Shitai Zetsubou Sensei?

Also found that my TV is a really great photo backdrop when turned off.

Decided to have a mini-photo shoot with Itoshiki-sensei's Nendroid. He comes with a rope and an extra head piece with a hole in it so you can hang him and recreate the first scene from the anime. With this face he looks like someone gave him a shove, not like he was trying to do himself in, but I like that face better than the other two. =P

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Not meaning to post two "life stuff" posts back to back (not that anyone really reads this religiously =P), but I've noticed a horrid trend in my sleeping lately. I mean, I've had insomnia before, but it seems that lately I've fallen into this habit of getting to a "point of no return" -- around 3AM usually, and then I'm up till 5 or later. Various things set this off, has posed a rather large distraction lately as well as reupping at Facebook, redecorating urges at like 2:30 AM don't help either, nor does watching "just one more!" episode of anime (or nick at nite or something on Hulu if I don't feel like paying attention and just want background noise). My life is so goddamned off the rails lately *impending geek reference* that it might as well be Galaxy Express 999.

Personally, I think I'm just looking for something to fill the holes, which explains my sudden striving for validation over at Danny's site and my rampant anti-social behavior. I think possibly the worst thing I've ever done is take time off of school, because it's led to a dead end of sorts. Socially. Educationally. And by consequently, by sheer domino effect career-wise and will-to-live-wise as well. Subconsciously, I think my mind wants me to stay awake during the hours when I can't really do anything about this stuff so I can be placated and not have to deal with any of it. Take, for example, choosing a major/career path. I have been tossing this decision around for years now, and I simply cannot come to a decision. I weigh the pros and cons and feel like I'm making a mistake no matter what I invest myself in. So I lose myself in mundane activities and collecting and arbitrary stuff. I need to start tackling the important aspects before I start losing my grip here. I should also probably attempt to make social contact at some point, too, all of this anti-socializing cabin fever is getting to me gradually. And all of it has to start with sleep I think. =P

On ebay and Mortality...

Misaka-san is just too cute for words, imo. ^^;

For about 8 months now I've been on and off heavily selling things on ebay. Now all of these have been personal possessions, nothing retailed to me and resold by me, no flea market trawling and reselling, etc. At first I was really resistant to selling certain things -- my videogame collection for one was something that two, three years ago I couldn't even fathom selling. As time marched forward though, even stuff I thought of as "out of the question" when I started up in August of last year has come into play as fair game (even that aforementioned videogame collection).

And then I thought about it as I was going to post my "NES and 56 games" for sale today. My rationalization behind hoarding games and DVDs and anime and movies and whatever else to this point has always been either: "What if I want to watch/play this again someday?" or, "This is in my backlog, I can't get rid of it!" I don't know if I'm beginning to lose that "invincible youth" feeling or recognizing that I don't have all the time in the world or whatever, but certainly some part of me has recognized some degree of mortality in this world. i.e. - If I haven't even opened up Silent Hill 4 from xmas of 2005, I doubt I will ever get around to playing it. Same with playing the classics. Chances are, if I want to play Zelda 1 or 2 again, I will play it on an emulator, or digitally get it for the Wii (should I ever get a Wii). I do have a limited amount of time on this earth, and I never really thought about it in such a measurement as having games stockpiled, having 2-3 seasons worth of anime to watch at a time, etc. I want to experience a lot of things, and there simply won't ever be enough time to do so with every little thing that I want to.

That said, even things that I once considered "sacred" and therefore unsalable are even making way for more dosh in the wallet and more space in the drawer. I don't see a point in keeping my Castlevania games, of which 3 DS titles were sold last week. I like aesthetically pleasing things, don't get me wrong, but the days of me liking seeing a wall of games is kinda gone. Just like manga, I sold all of my manga off last year since I had read most of it and it was just taking up space. Perhaps when/if I ever move to Japan I'll replenish what I bought with sleeker Japanese language volumes. The funny thing is, I used to be a TOTAL packrat. I'd find the smallest reason to keep anything and everything. I kept the manga because I liked looking at all of those similar spines lined up side-by-side. But just like that *snap*, I changed directions. I look at the stuff I collect now, and how much more aesthetically pleasing it is than a gray cartridge with a sticker and title on it, but then I think, "Will I want to get rid of this someday?" I have not even the slightest idea, because a lot of the stuff I had was from childhood/being a teenager is what I'm selling off now, and I've leveled off as far as impulse purchases for the most part. So who knows, in 20-30 years I will probably have returned Robocco/Beerbot to his native shores, should I fulfill my heart's desire. ^^; Even now, it's sorta funny that I'm thinking about 20-30 years down the road and my possessions, but as I said above, I guess that's how people contemplate their mortality. Through odd channels because the don't want to deal with the fact of getting older in any "real" sort of way.

Honestly and moreover ironically, I would probably still be packratting away all of the shit I sold, had I not dug deeper into my Japan fetish. If there existed a machine that would take the plastic and materials of an NES cartridge and made it into a Shana figure for instance, it would just be cutting out the middle man here. I've saved quite a bit of money, but I've recycled a lot of stuff that I was packratting away into more hobby-oriented stuff. Basically, I took stuff I merely was okay with having around, turned it into cash, and then bought items of better taste with it, and socked the rest away for a rainy day. And bought an XBox 360. =P

Saturday, April 04, 2009

My stance has not changed...

I made a comment the other day on Danny's site about how K-ON! was going to probably get licensed and how white fanboys are going to go apeshit about it for two years until something else comes along. I was responded to by someone that for various reasons, I really do not like. A very negative person, whose archetype I've known four, maybe ten times throughout my life. The last person I knew like this was a pretentious movie fan who bought "hand shot" books (yes, as in with a gun) for $50 and was the same sad, constantly-critical-of-everything "eeyore" type. This person, however, has an interest shift, if you will. Rather than arguing back and forcing everyone to read or at least scroll past pointless flaming on, I've decided to let it all out, here.

I have loved and studied the Japanese language for a long time, I have loved and studied Japanese culture and history for a long time as well. One of the biggest reasons I stuck with, and came to adore is because of the wide range, and overall depth of content regarding nearly every aspect of Japanese culture and also anime/manga/mecha, et cetera. Most of Danny's community is of a like mind, in that they are open-minded individuals with a general passion for Japan. It wasn't just a bunch of morons eating Pocky and watching series that are 5+ years old because that's all that "adult swim" shows.

I think dubs are shit, because they are. But it goes way beyond that. As a student and lover of all things Japanese, I view dubbing as a bastardization of culture. Not only because it's being translated, or because of the horrible porno-grade voice acting, (though those are both high up on the list) but because of the forced americanization and lack of culture. The word "localization" is synonymous with bastardization to me. Though not a dub, the English version of Gyakuten Saiban is a prime example. God forbid they allow the word bento into the game and someone learn something! No it gets made into "box" or "box lunch", or my favorite: how onigiri used to be made into "donut" in everything. The game also has a girl from Kansai as a witness in one trial, and apparently she's "from the south". So instead of embracing another culture of WHERE THE GAME IS FROM, and reading one, maybe two sentences of explanation and LEARNING something, we make a ramen/udon stand owner into a "spaghetti shop" owner.

Second, I hate pretentious little shits that like "the newest anime!" and then proceed to tell me about a title I watched 2-3 years ago. Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu came out about 3 years ago now and I wore a shirt from J-List to work one time and had people saying, "Oh I can't wait, I have the first DVD on preorder, I heard about Mee-kou-ruo she's supposed to be kaw-waa-eeeeee!" That was the last time I wore the shirt in public. Fake-taku are a unique class of people. See, if I wear my +20 Frost Resistence hoodie from World of Warcraft, if some guy comes up and asks me about it, he will know about Warcraft and can hold a discussion. If I wear a Gurren-Lagann shirt, you can bet some pseudotaku pretentious indie skank with buttons on her bag that say "Kara-okay?" will try and start a conversation with me about Pocky or some bullshit about Adult Swim or cosplay assuming I'm interested in those things, and then try to demonstrate the four or so words of Japanese that she knows until I roll my eyes and make an excuse to walk away. Or worse, they try and work american comics into the conversation, especially if it's a dude talking, and I am really not a fan of american comics. (Precisely why I don't shop at Borders anymore...)

In short, I'm probably an elitist or a snob, but I'm okay with that. I would rather converse with people in the know who have a genuine interest linked to culture, than people that need their stuff spoon-fed to them by tokyopop after it's been run through the americanization machine. This was extremely disorganized and I had much more to say, but it's really late and I just spewed out hateful rhetoric about the sector of society I hate more than all else. And as I said over at Danny's, I'm very glad that the general interest in anime in america is waning.

Friday, April 03, 2009

What a Week...

Part of my Strapya haul, a Baby Tree from Central America

The reason behind it is going to sound like a spoiled brat, but this week has been a pile of crap. I was supposed to get five packages this week. That didn't happen. I got three -- and one has to go back, which means even more waiting. I got my Nendroid haul intact on Tuesday, then yesterday I got my Strapya World order and my Misaka Mikoto figure, which I reviewed yesterday. Well... after I noticed the small orange paint fleck on her shoe, I noticed two others, and a few small spots where paint was missing on the same shoe. Now I don't know if I just started getting overtly-scrutinous or what, but I started finding more blemishes. The base had a chip taken out of it and the seams on her socks had swirls or marks that looked like they might've been a paint blemish, might've been where the parts had been cut from the runner they were on or whatever. Originally I wasn't going to return her, but it bothered me that the figure that I had gotten that I liked so much had blemishes, and then finding further problems sealed the deal. I may be being a bit of a baby about this here, because if you pose her the way she's supposed to be posed you can't even see the blemish on her shoe, but "I'll know it's there," (so cliche I know). I've already gotten a return confirmation number, so I guess it's a race between getting a new one of her and my other stuff arriving.

The aforementioned "other stuff" are two packages from Hobby Search. HS doesn't combine orders, even if I made them a minute apart because I forgot something or whatever, they basically tell you to piss off. Grant you, I cannot complain because I've never had a bad experience with them for the most part. So along with the Strapya package, I had 3 EMS packages in the mailstream at once earlier this week, the Strapya one made it through, but the two that HS had sent out simultaneously got snagged by customs at JFK, and have been there for the better part of 3 days now. I bought another Index figure, this time it's Shirai Kuroko, and the other package contains a T scale train, track with power box and a few small assorted other things. The only thing I can figure that would be the hinderance here would be the power box. However, the box runs on 3 AA batteries, how the hell dangerous could it be? I just assume that if people are assholes (which they are) and we're in an economic crisis (which we are) they might want to flex their patriotic muscles and impede the delivery of my stuff because I'm exporting dollars out of the country which could otherwise be used to help inner city youths read books or something. Cough. Then again I could just be paranoid.

I really hope next week is better than this one.

My USB Pet Owl ^^

Just a quick post about getting a cute USB owl today from Strapya World. He blinks and bobs his head and sits on his little stump. ^^;

1/8 Misaka Mikoto by Kotobukiya

New figure ゲット!Though apparently she has been out since October of last year, Misaka-san landed on my doorstep today, courtesy of Robert's Corner Anime Store. They actually had her on sale for $37 (which at any non-reputable store would've raised suspicion for something that's been sold out everywhere else for a long time) and she's made by Kotobukiya which has a US division, so I guess that's the reasoning behind the price. She did have a tiny paint fleck taken off of the tip of her shoe, but meh, I'm a reasonable man. From the series To Aru Majutsu no Index, Misaka Mikoto is a level 5 psychic power user who can create instant railgun shots by using a coin as a conductor for her power. Overall, she's gorgeous, her facial expression is actually what made me want her so much, well that and actually watching the anime. The pose is pretty awesome, too, she comes with two different arms, one bent with electricity crackling and one with her ready to flip a coin. Tomorrow (I hope) the other half of this pair will arrive: Shiroi Kuroko, from Hobby Search. Their bases attach to make a sort of diorama setup. I've taken lots of pics to drool over, as you can see.