September 13th, 2011

tv tivo cookies

I blame Chelle

So the last several days have been pretty unproductive, even by my ridiculously low expectations of the word. For this, I know exactly who is at fault. You see, for the last 4 days or so, I've been having my own little How I Met Your Mother marathon. For those of you who might recall, I caught three episodes of it while visiting Chelle and Todd in Ohio and found I sorta liked it. That was apparently enough impetus for me to snag every episode of it from bittorrent and start plowing my way through obsessive fan style. Part of me wants to stop but I can't...I just can't.

I think part of the problem is that the episodes are just 22 minutes long and yet packs a lot of content in those 22 minutes. In fact, I had thought it was a hour show when I was watching it with Chelle and it wasn't until I snagged the first episode that I discovered it wasn't. I think this might actually be an interesting byproduct of how cutthroat tv has gotten in the past decade or so. After all, I'm sure we all have shows that we loved which were canceled before its time. If nothing else, I'm sure there are at least a bunch of you Firefly nuts out there still frothing at the mouth. Well, that sort of quick draw, hair trigger action has meant that the remaining shows on tv have had to evolve into leaner, meaner, and better version of themselves in order to survive and not get mauled and dragged down like an impala with its neck broken. Think of this as Darwin's theory of evolution applied to network tv. It's not like the old days where a shitty show would be allowed to run season after season after season until the actors and writers finally find a formula that worked. If you need an example, Cheers would be a good one or even Family Ties which I ended up loving. Now, it's either you hit the mark right from the start or you're tossed out on your ass and your weepy fans have to buy your dozen episodes on dvd to ever see it again.

Anyway, all of this fine tuning means that you feel like you get more bang for your buck in 22 minutes. It's easy to say, 'Oh, it's just 22 minutes. I'll watch another episode.' And a half dozen episodes latter, you realize almost three hours have gone by so you tell yourself it was too late to do whatever it was you wanted to do and you should just watch a few more. I'm currently halfway through the third season, which if you think about it, is around 25 hours worth of viewing and only halfway through at this point. So far, it's been pretty spiffy. I like the storylines and the habit of jumping and cutting from scene to scene to fill in events. I also like the characters though I feel a little schizophrenic about it. Maybe it's just me but it seems that the character consistency is often a bit shaky. I can't quite figure out if Robin is both a sweet person and a jerk, or a jerk transforming slowly into a sweet person. She seems to flip back and forth based almost totally on what would be funny at the time. For some reason I find her character more troubling than Barney, who's obviously just there for comic relief and as a foil. Not to mention the Price is Right thing was Legen....wait for it....dary. As much as he would drive you crazy, I'm starting to think that everyone should have a Barney in their lives, if for no other reason than to keep life interesting. Just remember, anything which doesn't kill you automatically makes a great story 5 years down the line. Of course, if it does kill you then you're screwed.

So far, there hasn't been much info put out about the Mother, and I'm curious on how they're going to wrap it up. I read on wiki that if the show had been canceled after the first season, Victoria would have been the Mother, which sounds spiffy to me. She was absolutely adorable. I'm sad to see her character doesn't make a return even after when the whole baking scholarship thing should have ended. It must be sort of hard to plan a storyline like this when you're never sure how many seasons you'll have. You can't let the secret out too soon, but you definitely want to be able to do it before the show ends and preferably as more than a 1-episode BAM ending. About the only way to set some groundwork is to have it be someone who was already in the show and simply returns to win in the end, but I think that's been pretty Jossed. I almost wish they would just film the last 3-4 episodes in advance to be pulled out whenever the series ends rather than running the risk of a rushed and crappy end. I can only imagine it's probably hard to get the studio to greenlight the money for something like that and pay for it in advance, not to mention adjusting for unforseen story events like if someone squirts our a rugrat in the meantime or drastically changes somehow.

Anyway, it looks like I'm going to be trucking my way through the series for at least another few days. Till then, most everything else has been put on hold. It's like my own particular form of OCD.
anume naruto onigiri

Immaturity powers, activate!

You know, I was just thinking about how you can tell what you really love when it comes to media. We see so many movies and tv shows that I've never quite understood how people manage to make lists of their favorites. How can you really measure the difference between two shows you love and rank order them? Maybe it's just something I've never been able to manage but I think there is one way to more easily sort it out. When you really love something, you often find yourself coming back to it over and over. This is probably even more indicative in my case since usually I can't stand to watch things repeatedly unless I really like it. So for all of the anime I've seen over the past couple of years that I've written about and also those I've seen and meant to write about and never got around to, what have I seen most often? Naruto and Naruto Shippuden.

I just love watching Naruto and I'm almost a bit embarrassed to mention it. I think it was just something embedded in my psyche from when I was a kid and watching old shounen cartoons on tv like Voltron or Thundercats, or even the American equivalents like Gi-Joe. Whereas the whole boy's cartoon genre had its hey day in the US in the 80's, it pretty much started to die out over time and from what I can see of the festering pile of putrid vomit they throw on tv nowadays, it's a pale of shadow of what it used to be. This is probably why any guy in their 30's will, even now, reminisce fondly about 80's cartoons because there has really been no adequate replacement for them. In Japan however, the entire boy's cartoon genre has continued to bloom and flourish, shaped by the forces of natural selection until it whittles itself down to a chewy center of pure awesome. Everything about shounen anime sends a clarion call right to the very soul of any person with a Y chromosome. Well, okay, maybe there are some more evolved males out there who have outgrown it but safe in my bubble of Toys 'R Us brand immaturity, I still hear the it.

The plucky boy hero and his band of friends. The never give up attitude and hard work which allows him to overcome adversity and develop new powers. The way he clashes with evil and you know that no matter how overwhelming the danger or real the peril, that the shining beacon inside him will eventually overcome the darkness. It just about brings a tear to my eye.

Yes, I'm not completely stupid. I know on some level that it's trite and hackneyed. I know that these same plots have often been rehashed over and over and the main hero is often just one of an infinite number of clones of one another. I also know that the writing is often weak and all too often the hero will develop some new ridiculous power just in time to save himself and his friends from imminent destruction at the very last moment. I don't care. You can pick it apart and know that parts of it are just stupid and immature, but it still calls to something inside me. It's like when everyone you knew was making fun of Michael Bolton songs but you just couldn't help liking them whenever you heard them on the radio.

So there it is. I <3 Naruto. I know there are hoards of teenage wannabes out there all sporting ninja forehead protectors and playing the CCG or cosplaying like Naruto. I know all of that and yet I can't help feeling that rush of excitement when a new manga chapter comes out or when they finally get around to animating a story arc I particularly love. I often find myself watching old Naruto episodes, making my own little 'best of' arc as I skip around to all of my favorite scenes. Hell, I think I must've watched the Invasion of Pain arc at least a dozen times by now if not more. That's almost certainly more times then I've watched any anime series with the possible exception of Love Hina and that's only because I began watching that around a decade ago. Even after all this time, I always feel a little thrill when Naruto shows up rockin' his badass longcoat with Sennin Mode going.

About the only thing I cannot stand about the show (other than the ridiculous number of crappy filler episodes) is Uchiha Sasuke. This is probably a case of cultural dissonance more than anything else. It's hard to find a single Naruto fan from the US, other than a small minority of whacked out fangirls, who don't loathe the character. Even before his over the top Kick the Dog actions, everything about his personality generally inclined you to hate him. Emo and arrogance do not make an attractive combination of personality traits as far as I'm concerned. Despite that, from everything I read he seems to have quite a fanbase in Japan. Maybe with its stronger emphasis on family ties, the viewers over there are willing to cut him more slack given the trauma he suffered in the past. All I know is The Sauce seems to have rubbed every American, myself included, the wrong way almost from the start. You thought he would end up being a redemption character who thaws over time but he just became more and more of an unbearable asshole. It's bad enough I can't even figure out why the other characters would want to 'save him from himself'. He's obviously more than happy being evil and like a rabid dog, someone should put him down. It gets harder and harder to justify Naruto's actions when it comes to Sauce Gay and you can't help but wonder if he's developed a very specific form of localized brain damage.

Frankly, I've been overjoyed that The Sauce hasn't shown up in the manga in months now other than a quick cameo scene. It seems that he brings nothing but inexplicable angst while what I want to see is ninjas whooping ass. The current Shinobi World War arc has been pretty spiffy and I can't wait to see it animated. I think I've mentioned this before, but I have a hard time seeing 'action scenes' in my head from reading manga. Maybe I just never developed that knack during some critical period in my early teens that most others got by reading comic books. Half the time, I can't figure out exactly what's supposed to be happening as far as body movements go and it only makes sense once the anime catches up and animates the scene. That's obviously a liability when you're reading shounen action manga. Still, even if I don't get everything out of it that I should, the story is still enough to hook me and I always look forward to every tuesday when a new manga chapter comes out and every thursday when a new anime episode appears.
chinese cherry

They may have ridiculously large foreheads, but they can fry one hell of a chicken

So we went back to the Korean grocery store for lunch this past weekend. It was still pretty spiffy this time though we ended up getting a bit delayed. There was some miscommunication and Connie and Shelley didn't realize we were going there to have lunch. That meant they thought they could dawdle since they had already had breakfast whereas my mom was starving. Not to mention that the place is incredibly crowded right around lunch time. I ended up standing vulture-like near a bunch of occupied tables, waiting for the first sign that someone was finished so I could swoop down and call dibs. It was impossible to get two of them together so once I managed to claim one, I stood guard there while my mom and grandmother found another. Of course, since Connie and Shelley were taking their own sweet damn time, I ended up holding that table for over 20 minutes, snarling at people who wanted to snag chairs or snipe the table out from under me. That didn't put me in the best of moods, but the fried chicken did a lot of fix that.

I have no clue what those Koreans do to fry their chicken but it's fantastic. Everything is crisp on the outside and then moist and yummy on the inside. As far as I'm concerned, it kicks the crap out of your average fried chicken. In addition to that, I also had a bowl of udon from the Japanese place which came with an assortment of fishballs of all shapes and sizes. Frankly, I thought the square ones were tofu until I bit into it.

It even had one of those Naruto Fishcake slices with the red swirl that I'm always seeing in anime but have never had before. I still get an unreasoning little thrill whenever I run across something like this that I've seen on 'tv'. For some reason, this doesn't work with American products though. I wonder if that just makes me a giant weeaboo though I guess I would have to be the non-white version thereof.

Anyway, afterward we walked around the inside of the supermarket though I didn't find anything interesting I really wanted to buy. Luckily though, I did have my camera and it turns out that pork festival thingie was still going on so I was able to snap a shot of that banner.

I just snicker to myself whenever I see this sign. I just love the idea of little korean hunters going out the back to beat a wild boar to death in the middle of suburbia.

I also spent some time going down the aisles looking at the various products. It's always spiffy when naming conventions don't translate over as well as they could.

I've actually had Pucca before, having found the name humorous while I was in an asian grocery store in Chicago. As I recall, it was surprisingly good. I could only remember there being the generic variety of Pucca back then, but I guess they must've add some since then. Everyone loves a good Pucca.

Screw a screw pop. dum de dum dum. Screw a screw pop. Screw it for flavor. Screw a screw pop. Screw some for later.

Ya, I know.

On the way out I also got more Taiyaki, those red bean paste filled fish whozits. I never liked red bean paste as a kid but I find it's growing on me. Either my taste is changing or my weeaboo infection is spreading and reaching some sort of terminal stage.