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Tuesday, September 22, 2009 11:12 AM
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): Art (Not), Batman (Not), Battlestar Galactica (Not), Birthday (Not), Celebrities (Not), Comedy (Not), Comic books (Not), Food (Not), Gadgets (Not), LEGO (Not), Links (Not), Movies (Not), Music (Not), News (Not), Photography (Not), Pixar (Not), Politics (Not), Products (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Robots (Not), Sherlock Holmes (Not), Star Wars (Not), Toys (Not), Video (Not), Video games (Not), Wii (Not)
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Sunday, September 26, 2004 07:31 AM
 by Fëanor

First of all, today is poppy's birthday. Happy birthday, poppy! Yay!

Yesterday, I attended my first renaissance fair, accompanied by poppy, Super Tarzan, Sarcasmo, Dave, and some of poppy's friends. Despite incredibly bad planning (if you're in a big group, and you're going to split up, make sure you have a means of communication--read: cell phones--or, barring that, establish clearly a time and a place to meet up again!!), I think we all had a pretty good time. The place is, admittedly, mainly about commercialism. There are people in costume hawking various wares in every nook and cranny. But some of the stuff they have is pretty cool. I've been aching to own a real sword since I was about 8, so I was particularly fascinated by the various weapon stores. The guy on the pirate ship was desperate to make a sale to me for some reason. He overheard Dave and I talking about the Lord of the Rings weapons, and asked me what my favorite one was. I said Aragorn's sword, so he brought over the cheaper version of that. Dave and I then discussed poppy's disapproval of the idea of me bringing a large pointy object into the house, so he threw in Arwen's sword for only a slight increase in price (with the theory that if poppy had a sword of her own, she'd be mollified), and when I still balked, he added Sting in for free! But seeing as how I knew poppy certainly didn't want a sword of her own, and three swords was way too many, I walked away empty-handed. Some day, though--especially seeing as how poppy has now given me the green light. :)

Anyways, another cool thing at the fair was the wine. Now, I'm not really a drinking man. I only recently found a beer that I can tolerate enough to drink an entire bottle of it (that would be la cerveza mas fina--Corona), and I've never enjoyed any kind of wine. But for whatever reason, I was excited about the wine-tasting at the fair. And sure enough, we found some really good stuff, and came home with a few bottles--one of the concord (like grape juice with a nice, warm bite at the end of it), one of some apple-flavored stuff (which is to be drunk warm on a cold night), and one sangria (which simply rocks--I opened it up immediately upon returning home and had a tasty glass of it with some late dinner).

But the fair really seems to be more about food than anything else, and most of the food has been covered with breading and fried until it is as unhealthy as possible. Seeing as how I was still feeling sick from some fried food I had the night before, it probably wasn't the best stuff for me to be eating, but I soldiered on! I had a few things for the first time there--a scotch egg (which is just a hardboiled egg wrapped in some sausage and fried--yum!), and, oh holy of holies, the might fried oreo. I'd heard of these many a time before, and had always dreamed of having one, since I love oreos, and I love fried things. But it didn't come together for me until yesterday. I have to say, they are quite good, though perhaps not as good as I might have hoped. The oreo can barely be tasted, buried as it is among all the hot, fried breading. But it lingers there, as a slight chocolaty flavor that is rather nice.

Of course, what I'd heard the most about were the giant turkey legges (yes, spelled just like that). Poppy had been dying for one, and had gotten me pretty excited about them, too, so we picked up a couple of them pretty soon after entering the fair. They were good, but were also indeed giant.

The big performance events at the fair were plagued with technical difficulties and other flubs, but were still pretty fun. I took some pictures with ye olde digital camera which I will post eventually. There's a story running throughout all the main performances (the human chess match, and the various jousting performances) which has to do with the great antagonism between the noble English and the filthy, cheating Scottish. We didn't stay for the last show, to see how the punishments turned out, but (spoiler alert!) the English definitely won.

Anyways, after a long day at the fair, and another communication mix-up, our group eventually met up again and rode home. On the drive back, we had some lovely conversations, and I felt a great feeling of pleasure and well-being in the company of those excellent fellows. Thank you, my friends! Huzzah!
Tagged (?): Alcohol (Not), Birthday (Not), Drink (Not), Food (Not), Personal (Not), Renaissance fair (Not)
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Saturday, September 18, 2004 09:25 PM
Blind Swordsmen and Birthdays
 by Fëanor

I finally finished watching Takeshi Kitano's new version of Zatoichi and, as is customary when such things happen, I have added it to my list. Zatoichi is a rather popular character in Japan. He appeared first in a series of short stories, I believe, which then spawned a movie franchise, and a television show, and now this new film.

I'm not certain how I feel it. It's very...odd. Not odd in the way that Kitano's films normally are. Takeshi Kitano is a fascinating director of action films that tend to be slowly paced and artsy, and that tend to concentrate more on the moments just before and just after the action. They're about vivid, violent characters more than they're about events. My favorite of his that I've seen is probably Sonatine, although Violent Cop and Fireworks (or Hana-Bi) are also really good. I read a great interview with him on Onion AV club (which I can't give you a link to because the page doesn't work on their site anymore due to an error in their coding--the fools!) that really kind of informed and colored my vision of the film. He mentioned there that the film wasn't really one of his own films. Basically he just took the job and made the film the producers wanted. Sure, it has some of his artistic touches, but it's not really his piece. Plus, he says that he sees the main character--whom he plays, as usual--as not really a "good guy"--in fact, he's more of a villain. He comes in and stirs things up, kills lots and lots of people, and ruins more than a few lives. And he remains a bit of an enigma. His motives are mysterious, his feelings unknown.

Kitano also put a dance number at the end of the film. It's quite good, and reminiscent of Stomp, but also kind of out of place. I guess he was trying to do some kind of artistic riff on the sound and rhythm of Zatoichi's cane/sword tapping everywhere. But it's still weird to have a bunch of tap dancing after tons of violent, bloody death.

Said scenes of death are created with the help of lots of computer effects that, unfortunately, are a bit clunky and obvious. I kind of wish they'd been done better so the action were more seamless. It brings you out of the film a bit when you can "see the wires." Another thing that brought me out of the film a bit is something it really isn't right to complain about--Takeshi Kitano's facial tic. I think it's a result of a really bad motorcycle accident he was in some years ago. You see it in all his films, and it's very distinctive. Every time Zatoichi jerked his face in that way, it made me think, "Hey, it's Takeshi Kitano!" I don't know why this affects me the way it does. I mean, I see Harrison Ford in lots of movies, but I don't have too much trouble pretending he's someone else when I recognize the distinctive scar on his chin.

But anyway, the film is pretty neat. It's got lots of interesting flashbacks incorporated into the story that help explain the story and the characters, and that make the current events of the film really resonate across time. Plus, there's plenty of sword-fighting and bloody death, which is always fun. And I've always found the concept of a blind swordsman to be an interesting one. According to the interview, Takeshi actually thought the whole Zatoichi thing was pretty ridiculous, and used to make fun of the character a lot in his days as a stand-up comedian (yeah, he was a comic; you may have seen him on that weird and wonderful show on Spike TV, "Most Extreme Sports"--it was called "Takeshi's Castle" when it originally aired on Japanese TV).

And it is pretty ridiculous. But it's also pretty great. Kung fu and samurai movies usually have a central character that can perform superhuman feats, and the Zatoichi films are no different.

Anyways, enough said about that. On another topic altogether, today my parents had poppy and I and bloginator and his wife over their house to celebrate a bunch of birthdays--bloginator's and mine as well as poppy's. They're all pretty close together, so it makes sense to take care of them all at once. My parents let me know that the Star Wars DVDs will be coming my way as soon as they're released (woo hoo!). In terms of actual physical presents, I received Soul Calibur II for the Game Cube (which I'm pretty excited about, since the first one, which I have for the poor, defunct Dreamcast system, rocked so very, very hard, and this one has Link in it!), season one of "Sealab 2021" (I do love Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block--I have the first two seasons of "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," as well; poppy likes that show possibly even more than myself) and Sonic Youth's new album, "Sonic Nurse." Good stuff.

I'm looking forward to having a huge, all day long Star Wars saga viewing party as soon as all of the movies are out on DVD (which should probably be around the end of 2005, perhaps early 2006). We will gorge ourselves on Star Wars, and it will be sweet.

Damn! I see that it has become Sunday while I was writing my Saturday post. Ah, well. I started it on Saturday, and that's what counts.
Tagged (?): Birthday (Not), Movies (Not), Music (Not), Personal (Not), Presents (Not), Star Wars (Not), Video games (Not)
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