reileen: (waaah - Garet and Isaac)
It amuses me that the kanji used for "cheap"/"comfortable" consists of a component part meaning "roof/"house" and a component part meaning "woman."

Because "house" + "woman" HOBVIOUSLY = "cheap." Yes.

***

Two quick links:

If the US presidential campaign were a D&D campaign.

The Smart Bitches feature a loltastic 'shop of McCain and Palin onto the cover of a romance novel.

***

I did manage to finish Neuro 176 yesterday. Hit a couple of rough spots, but nothing too drastic (well, except for that one part where I seriously could not figure out the meaning for a pair of kanji - using the dictionary look up on the furigana didn't turn up anything, and it took me forever to wade through the radical and bushu lookups to get something that might remotely resemble the kanji in question, and when I plugged that into the Excite translator, I didn't get anything useful aflkajdfkjadkfa). I can't wait to get to 178, though. Sexy badass Sasazuka in black, heeeeee.

-Reileen
and my apple heart, it will grow again
reileen: (Default)
I should get a DePaul-related icon on here...

Wonder of wonders, I actually managed to get a hold of one of the art & design professors! I'll be meeting him tomorrow between 12:00-2:00pm to see if I can do any credit transfers from my animation classes. (Thinking back on it, I wonder if I could get my History of Animation class to count for art history credit, but I think the point is rendered moot, seeing that I'm, um, taking an art history class at the moment and it's too late to switch classes and no way am I going to withdraw.) Also need to ask him about employment/internship opportunities mentioned in a newsletter I just got last night from the art department. I'm starting to second-guess the wisdom of this, though, seeing as it wouldn't really be a good idea to overexert/overstimulate myself when I just got back into classes after a year off and am still trying to adjust to a non-vampiric schedule. *flail*

(And as if I needed more ways to procrastinate on my homework, we now have virtual bubble wrap.)

My Japanese professor suggested that, to get the most out of Japanese class, we should study the language for at least two hours a day. Which I don't have a problem with, technically speaking. It's figuring out how to use those two hours that's the problem. I'm not a very studious...er...student, and I don't have a particular system of studying that consists of anything other than "I'll read through things and maybe something will stick in my mind." Possibilities for Japanese study time include:

  • reviewing stuff from the Nakama I textbook (holy shit I need this soooo badly, you have no idea)
  • going over what we're currently studying in class (as of this entry, it's weather-related things - oh joy)
  • keeping a journal in Japanese (I started doing this around JPN102 or JPN103 but tapered off on it for obvious reasons)
  • doing translation work (under my fandom name, I translate 4-koma anthologies for Golden Sun and Bomberman, and this week I'm supposed to start translating the Weekly Jump raw chapters for Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro ("Come, slave, it's translation time..."))
  • IMing with a friend who, while not a native Japanese speaker, nevertheless is more knowledgeable about the language than I am

I'll probably attempt to re-distribute the hours a bit, though, considering that I come home later on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and it seems that myself, [livejournal.com profile] lysis_to_kill, and [livejournal.com profile] mia_noire have established Monday as "Monday Movie Matinees", which means that we probably won't be productive on that day at all. Speaking of Liz...

***

After watching The Silence of the Lambs at [livejournal.com profile] lysis_to_kill's apartment (excellent movie), I caught the season finale of this sitcom called The Big Bang Theory, which is basically the webcomic XKCD in sitcom form. F'rreal. I am dead set on finding the first season and watching it, because the geeky win is clearly over 9000. (I guess in numerical form, the sentiment could be described as win/9000...)

***

A piano instrumental currently called "Bacchanalia" has taken a hold of me over the past few days. I've been adding little bits and pieces at a time ever since I first created the main riff randomly while working on "Wasted." I really like it - and I hope Dionysos does too, because this is a song I've owed Him for a few months already. Whoops.

In far more productive news than my own, it seems that Miss Teng is pretty damn near close to finishing recording her fourth album. I am excited liekwhoah. I have to wonder how many songs will be on it, since at the moment we're aware of thirteen new songs:

White Light
Kansas
Antebellum
Grandmother Song
The Last Snowfall
Stray Italian Greyhound
No Gringo
Augustine
Olive Tree
Radio
In Another Life
Watershed
St. Stephen’s Cross

If all thirteen were on there, that would be so fucking sexy. :D

***

Okay, I needz foodz before I hop on the train to go back home.

-Reileen
our innocence is all the worse for fears
reileen: (Default)
Working title for NaNo2008 is "Daemonsong." No, it's not very creative considering what the novel is supposed to be about, but it's a title!

Tetris brownies! I need to make more 1-upcakes soon. Those extra lives are gonna come in handy once school comes around.

Patrick Nielsen-Hayden reports on Pandemic: The Game. Basically, it's a flash game where you can play as a disease (either a parasite, bacterium, or a virus - each class has its pluses and minuses), and your goal is to infect the entire world before people start wising up to what's happening. LOL.

-Reileen
she lost her voice, she had no choice
reileen: (angry - Shinpachi)
Holy shit, I just realized why Sarah Palin was nagging at me so badly.

No, it's not just because of the 51 facts and counting that should cause anyone to question whether she's fit to lead anything, never mind run for the office of VPOTUS.

It's because she reminds me of my old high school principal.

That is, Dolores Umbridge.*

***

Angry Asian Man: Sheena on America's Next Top Model Cycle

The 11th season of America's Next Top Model premieres tonight on the CW. While there are very few redeeming qualities about this program, I mention it here because one of this season's contestants is Asian American (we seem to get one every three seasons or so).

According to the Top Model website, Sheena, 21, is a "Hostess/Go-Go Dancer" from Honolulu, Hawaii currently residing in Harlem, New York. Here's her model interview, where she reveals a little bit about her personality, her attitude, and where's she coming from.

There's a Tales of Symphonia joke in here somewhere, I'm just not sure where to find it...

***

I broke one of the arms of my glasses last night. It is currently being held together with superglue that held the broken pieces together long enough for me to wind masking tape around them. Will definitely be needing new frames. I'm seriously thinking of getting contacts again, if Mommykins approves (she is - rightfully - skeptical, since the last time I had contacts, I only wore them for a year before I got lazy and just went for my glasses all the time). I'd love to get colored contacts, but having astigmatism pretty much limits me to green, blue, gray, or honey brown. Come on, people! Astigmatics want purple eyes, too! Or turquoise! *sobs as her nonconformist cries go unheeded*

***

Shit, I almost forgot to put this in, but there's going to be a Gintama 10-minute original anime special about Shiroyasha and the Joui, being aired exclusively at JumpFesta.

FUCK.

YEAH.


-Reileen
the light that is not light is here



*Or, as someone on [livejournal.com profile] dark_christian put it: "She's that obnoxious woman from the PTA that everyone hates, and when she walks up to the podium, people cringe and realize they're not going to be able to get up and have a donut for at least another half hour."**
**Although, to be entirely fair, while I probably couldn't even bear sitting down and having a coffee with Ms. Nolan, I could at least respect her and the work she did and the love she had for Queen of Peace. I cannot say the same for Gov. Palin.
reileen: (waaah - Garet and Isaac)
First off, check out this teddy bear cell phone handset. I mean, seriously, what in the world?!

***

I finally got around to watching Flash Point, which my brother recommended to me a while back. It's been sitting in my room for ages because I'm so bad with taking time out to just sit down and watch something. It seems like it shouldn't be that hard to do, especially when you've had the kind of free time that I had, but...

Hardass crime detective Ma Jun (Donnie Yen) has been working on a case involving a Triad gang of vicious, drug-smuggling Vietnamese brothers, one of whom is played by Collin Chou (Seraph from The Matrix Reloaded) and who gets a final fight scene against Yen. Ma sends his partner, Wilson (Louis Koo) out as a mole to infiltrate the gang, but Wilson is eventually discovered and crippled. At the same time, one of the brothers is arrested. The two remaining brothers decide to save their sibling by destroying evidence and killing anyone who has even the slightest chance of testifying against them in court. When they attempt their clean-up job on Wilson, Ma decides he's going to bring them down no matter what it takes.

I don't have a problem with the concept of the down-and-dirty, justice-at-any-cost police officer or someone otherwise working in law enforcement with a vigilante streak. Sure, it's a character that's been done to death even outside of martial arts movies, but it can make for a compelling narrative. What is it that drives this person so fiercely? we ask ourselves. Why is this his view of rightness? How far will he go for it? It provides us with a character study containing contradictory qualities within the same person. Officially, he's (gonna use the masculine pronoun here because we're talking about Donnie Yen's character), on the side of "good", but his means of upholding that good tend to be quite questionable, at the very least. In the end, though, we're usually supposed to be cheering for this character, because he did what had to be done in the name of Justice. Eat up, motherfuckers, 'cause you just got served.

Ma Jun has an outstanding police record, in two ways. Not only does he have a reputation for solving nearly every case he's on, he's also got a reputation for being extraordinarily brutal to the criminals that he drags in. At the beginning of the movie, we see him lash out and restrain a suspect after said suspect defiantly splashes alcohol on Ma's face. Later, as his superiors are scolding him for his conduct, we find out that this particular suspect ended up with three broken ribs and a sprained wrist from this incident. This sets off a litany of other heavy injuries sustained by other criminals that Ma has brought in. Ma simply blows it off, saying that in the time that he was stuck being reprimanded, he could've solved another case, brought in another wrongdoer.

Okay, we say. This detective, this hardass Ma Jun, he's got some issues. His heart's in the right place, and certainly he's got drive and a desire to do his job right, but maybe he's pushing it too far. Why is he as brutal as he is when pursuing justice? The usual answer to this question in these kinds of scenarios is that there was some sort of trauma in the character's past that planted the seeds of vigilante justice in his soul. Maybe a person close to him was collateral damage in an unfolding crime a while back, and he's doing that work in that person's memory. Even better - we find out in the present story that the criminal(s) that he's currently tracking has some connection to this past trauma. Maybe they were the perps involved in hurting his beloved person, or otherwise inflicting harm on him. It's a standard trope in hardass cop stories, but for good reason: it lets us sympathize and understand the humanity of the character. If we see where he comes from in terms of his current mental and emotional state, we're more inclined to cheer for him, or at least to understand his story.

We don't get that from Ma in Flash Point. It's pretty easy to understand why he gets pissed later on in the movie: the Triad brothers, realizing that Wilson is a potential witness against them, set out to put him six feet under. They don't succeed, but that doesn't change the fact that they tried, and that they're the kinds of characters that will do it again. Not everyone would act as Ma did, tracking them down personally for a bloody, deadly beatdown, though certainly many people would want to do such a thing. We can also understand why Ma literally beat one of them to death: not only did this brother just try to assassinate Wilson while Wilson was visiting his girlfriend in the hospital, but while on the run from Ma, he temporarily took a little girl as hostage. When Ma tossed away his gun in exchange for letting the girl go free, the brother flings the girl aside in such a way that she lands on her neck and breaks it, dying from the injury. Definitely despicable, and the Gods know I wanted to beat the shit out of him for that.

But those are only short-term motivations. What we never get from this movie, at least as far as I remember, is Ma's long-term motivations for being the kind of cop that he is. He's the main character, but Wilson and even the Triad brothers get more character development than Ma does. Wilson has a girlfriend that he's in love with and who, in turn, loves him back; the Triad brothers care very deeply for their elderly, slightly-out-of-it mother. We have a concrete idea of what drives their actions. Ma Jun, though? Has nothing of that sort, not until Wilson gets outed as a mole by the Triad brothers and is nearly killed by them. There's nothing to distinguish Ma Jun outside of the fact that he's a cop with a brutal record. With nothing to develop his motivations, he just comes off as a one-dimensional bully, who has no real life in his fictional world before or after the movie. He just exists to represent the side of Good.

Of course, martial arts movies aren't usually paragons of deep character portrayals, since their basic aim is to show off crazy-ass fight sequences in a mostly believable context - or at least a context that has internally consistent logic. As long as the action scenes are epic, it's likely the audience will forgive shoddy character-building and plot-building. I hadn't even played FF7 prior to watching (in the raw Japanese, even!) Final Fantasy: Advent Children. I just wanted to see those physics-defying fights, and boy oh boy, did it ever deliver on that. Plot? What plot? Fight scenes are shiiiiinnny.

Unfortunately, Flash Point falls short on its fight scenes as well. They're competently done, to be sure. But they feel as though they've been toned down for realism and believability - there's no weaving in and out of a playground swing set like there was in Jackie Chan's Police Story or anything like that. There's nothing wrong with that in and of itself. But because there's that realistic, down-to-earth feel for the fights, we also expect that same resonance with reality in the characters and plot. We expect the focus to be on the characters and how they react to their circumstances; we want to feel for them, to understand the emotions that drive their actions. If we don't think we'll get that, then we decide that we'll content ourselves with awesometastic action scenes.

But the climactic fight between Ma Jun and brother Tony isn't visually spectacular - nothing we haven't seen before. This leads me to suspect that the drawing power behind the fight was meant to be mostly emotional, not physical. We're supposed to be cheering Ma on as he beats down this son-of-a-bitch that tried to kill his partner (twice!) and committed various other crimes. This is the part where we're supposed to get ready to go "OH YOU TOTALLY JUST GOT OWNED" at brother Tony, because he got what was coming to him for pissing off Ma.

Deprived of any sort of sympathy for Ma's character, though, I found myself utterly bored by the ultimate showdown. To be honest, when Ma delivered the fatal blow to Tony, I sort of hated him for a bit. It's like, wow, you're such a bastard, you didn't have to strangle the guy and break his neck! Then again, I can't decide if my reaction was supposed to be the point of the movie. Was the director making a commentary on the trope of the hardass cop? Was he trying to convey, through Ma's lack of likeability (or at least deeper sympathies), that these hardass cops that we like to glorify in movies are actually just bullies with badges? Maybe it wouldn't have mattered whether the Triad brothers went after Wilson or not; they were going to get beat down anyway when Ma got his hands on them, because they were criminals and they deserved it. I don't think I buy this argument, though, because Ma isn't portrayed as being malicious, exactly - just overzealous.

But without some sort of sympathetic context in which to understand what influenced his extreme actions, Ma Jun ultimately just comes off as being a one-dimensional jerk. It feels like that we're supposed to accept Ma as the "hero" of this story just because, as a hardass law enforcement officer who went after the Triad brothers in the most vicious way possible, especially after they hurt his partner, he represents capital-J Justice.* But I'm not willing to do such a thing unless you give me either characters with meaty personalities or action eye candy.** I got neither in this movie, and thus Flash Point was, at best, a way for me to exercise my TL;DR-fu, as evidenced by this semi-rant/semi-review thing you just read.

Next time, I'm raiding my brother's collection of martial arts flicks myself instead of letting him choose a movie for me.

-Reileen
we are the children who cry at night



*I'd almost argue that this represents a hidden authoritarian streak in the movie, but fully expanding on that is beyond my abilities.
**Preferably I'd like both, but I try not to be too greedy with these types of things.
reileen: (gaming - Bomberman)
Yahoo!Video Games: British gymnast is new Tomb Raider

Move over, Angelina Jolie. There's a new Lara Croft in town, and she's a 23-year-old gymnast from South London, Tomb Raider publisher Eidos announced this week.

Ever since actress Rhonda Mitra first took on the role of Tomb Raider heroine Lara Croft in 1997, Eidos has sought real-life counterparts for its acrobatic archaeologist heroine, and they've helped propel the video game series to worldwide sales topping 32 million. Up until now the British publisher's picks have tended to be models or, like Jolie, movie stars, but Alison Carroll might just be the first Croft to have the physical abilities to do her famously acrobatic opposite number justice.

She's got this ridiculous quasi bad-ass pout in the first couple of promo pictures, but I guess you can't really blame her for trying to compensate for Jolie's...er, Croft's...Lips O' Doom. She doesn't really resemble Croft, but I like the fact that she'd be able to pull off Croft's more acrobatic stunts. Out of the seven pictures this article has of her, I kinda like this one the best. Mostly because she doesn't have that over-compensating pout but still manages to look suitably badass.

Looking at the Wikipedia entry for Tomb Raider: Underworld, it actually does sound like a pretty awesome game. And it's seriously being released for PS2?! Ohh, I think I need to get my hands on this game never mind that I still have, like, God of War and Xenosaga and a couple of Final Fantasy games to work through. It'd be so kickass if I could play it on a 360, but alas.

-Reileen
still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest

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Reileen van Kaile

April 2010

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