Archive for February, 2007

SPOILER WARNING! Version 2

22 February, 2007

Lowry is crazy
The Narrator is Tyler
The mom is Norman

The Falcon’s a fake
Aliens don’t like water
Teabing’s a bad guy

Lonestar is a prince
The Ark is put in a box
Donnie saves the world

The planet is Earth
He does build it, they do come
It’s all in Nash’s head

(And now, for the super-condensed lightening round)

Frodo lives; Pigs walk
the bus stops; the boat sinks; “Khaaaan”
It’s people; Goose dies

D & D as Literary Framework

21 February, 2007

One of my favorite examples of unintended literary framework is the Dungeons and Dragons game system.  D & D ends up being useful for understanding or highlighting aspect of character in a work (rather than aspects of plot, theme, or anything else).  Of particular use is the the alignment system.  It’s obviously not a perfect system,  but it does serve to highlight some of the conflict and undertones in texts and media. (more…)

On Blue Hair in Anime

19 February, 2007

A friend told me an interesting anecdote recently.  One of her labmates was from a rural-ish area in Asia, where everyone more or less looks the same.  Certainly the same skin tone, hair color, eye color, and general body type.  So, when identifying the looks of other people, this labmate relied on feature Americans generally don’t, like face shape.  The ancillary effect of this is that this person couldn’t remember eye color or hair color of others well, which Americans do often use for identification.  There was a gap in communication when talking about others — which makes it difficult to pass on identifying information about people with unknown names.

An observation: when Americans encounter Japanese anime for the first time, they are often confused by the unnatural hair colors — specifically blue and pink.  Or rather, Americans aren’t confused by these colors as choices for storytelling purposes (since broadening the spectrum of hair colors can help a viewer keep track of a large cast of characters), but are confused by the fact that no one in the anime universe finds these hair colors particularly odd (these hair colors can exist even in anime otherwise devious of fantastical elements). 

So, I posit this hypothesis: the non-naturalhair colors in anime don’t seem wildly outlandish to the Japanese viewership because any hair color other than black, and maybe brown, is unusual in Japan (or wasunusual, perhaps, when a lot of the norms of anime were set).  The pink or blue hair seems particularly odd to Americans because we’re used to using hair color as a major visual identifier, and have a pretty well defined parameter space of which colors are natural or not.

Generally, I’m uncomfortable about making broad generalizations about entire nations of people.  Hopefully, I didn’t somehow insult some strong contingent of genetically blue-haired Japanese folks.

How Long Does an Internet Last?

16 February, 2007

I’ve been wondering about permanence on the internet.  A book (which, fundamentally, can contain much of the same information — text and pictures) can last a long, long time.  Even if you lose one copy of a book, multiple copies will have been printed, so that bit of information or knowledge is preserved.

Is the internet the same way?  It concerns me that a personal website can just go poof and disappear, not really accessible ever again.  You may then never be able to link to that one blog post, or refer someone to that one webcomic.  Sure, a corporate or government website will probably exist forever — but the content can change without notice and without record.

Yes, yes, I know there’s a record somewhere, and I thank Google for backing up the entire internet in it’s cache history — but it’s not the same sort of accessibility or permanence as looking up a previous edition of a book.

Even though I like the things, I’m not sure I entirely trust bits and electrons over ink and paper.  Redundancy puts me at ease here.  This makes me think: maybe I should buy more print books of the webcomics I read.  Y’know, for posterity.

EB Games Calling ….

15 February, 2007

Got an odd prerecorded phone call last night.  Here’s what I remember:

“This is EB Games with a special offer for you.  Our records show that you preordered The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.  If you have finished the game, EB Games will buy it back for the special price of $35.  This offer ends soon.  Sorry for interrupting your day.”

Huh.  It’s true that I did preorder and buy Twilight Princess from EB, and that I’ve finished the game.  And $35 is a relatively good price for buyback.  And I appreciate the apology.  But really, I don’t want EB calling me.  I know that their entire business model (or at least their profit model) is founded on reselling used games, but I just really don’t want this sort of solicitation.

Also makes me wonder: am I abnormal for not selling my games back?  Generally, if I buy a game, I want to keep it.  But clearly there’s a large enough segment of folks who sell back their old games — even games they’ve preordered for their new, next-gen system — for EB to still turn a profit. 

Theory of Attraction

14 February, 2007

Not a literary theory here, but one about human behavior.  This means that this theory is much more likely to be malarkey, but whatever.  Maybe it’s actually a hypothesis?

Take as a given that males find women extra attractive when the woman is doing something.  (I know this is at least true for me.)  This can be professional in nature (writing computer code, arguing a case in front of a judge, shushing people in a library) or recreational (walking a dog, playing video games, dancing).  I posit that the reason males find a woman engaged in some activity attractive is two-and-half-fold.

Fold one: a woman who is demonstrably interested in something is more interesting, having depth of character.  Despite some popular depictions, the males I know want more from their romantic interests than a pretty face or generally callipygian physique.  Women having an interest in something other than maintaining their looks shows she has some brain in her head.

Fold one-half: the interest the woman demonstrates may coincide with that of the male, giving a point of commonality.  (‘Hey, you like motorcycles?  So do I!’  or even ‘Hey, you serve me coffee?  I like coffee!’)

Fold two: a woman engaged in some activity has a greater ability to fully demonstrate her giving in to passion.  Yes, a male will find it hot for a woman to be engaged in sexual congress with him.  However, it is much hotter is it when she throws aside her previous activity to engage in said congress because the male is just that sexy.  For males, the small glimmer of hope that the attractive woman will sweep the table clean of dishes, or the desk clean of papers, and immediate jump his bones is quite captivating: it shows that she truly wants him.  And that demonstration is impossible without the woman already doing something else.

Hey, I just realized I posted this on Valentine’s Day.  I’m topical!  Neat!

SPOILER WARNING!

12 February, 2007

Rosebud is the sled
Verbal is Keyser Soze
Vader is Luke’s Dad

Snape kills Dumbledore
The chick is really a guy
Bruce Willis is dead

Now I’m Sad (about Shooter Games)

9 February, 2007

PopCap, the independent casual games developer and publisher, renowned for intuitive and addictive games like Bewjeweled, has put on their site one game I … just … don’t like.

Normally, I hold this company — one of the few internet startups to escape from the dot-com bubble burst, in the highest regard.  They know about design, and gameplay, and how to make a game visually appealing.  Their games consistently provide me with entertainment.

I guess this is the problem they have with being a publisher now: they themselves do not make all the games on their site.  So, this new game, Platypus, does one thing and a half things right and lots of things wrong.  Let’s dissect.

(more…)

Literary Frameworks, in General

8 February, 2007

Academics have lots of frameworks.  This makes sense as academics are human, and human being naturally like to categorize things.  (Adam, for example, names the animals in the Bible — as much an act of categorization as of simple dubbing.  Or witness the phenomenon of Pokemon.)   Literary scholars, especially, have lots of frameworks, since frameworks are good methods for quickly teasing out meaning of a work, and are a good way for seeing the connections between works.

The test (or, rather, my test) of a literary framework — the litmus as to whether it is useful and usable as opposed to inapplicable or irrelevant — is if it can give new understanding to works not included in the original formulation of the framework.

(I should note here that there is no such thing as an end-all-be-all literary framework.  Different framework are needed in different situations: it may not be relevant to apply a theory about panel layout in comics to a romance movie or a horror novel.  Different frameworks are also useful for seeing different things: sometimes you want to understand the class structure exhibited in Harry Potter and sometimes you want to understand the depiction of romance.  Frameworks are tools, and it helps to have a box of them when examining a work of art.)

The ability to reveal new information is the reason that Marxism has survived in the West as a literary theory more than it has as a political endeavor.  When viewed through the lens of class struggle, new aspects of many books becomes apparent — books such as Dracula, Wuthering Heights, and, yes the Harry Potter series.  Of course, Harry Potterincludes class struggle explicitly, but there’s more there than just Hermione and Dobby’s ill-conceived attempts at socialism.  But Marxism isn’t my literary theory, and I doubt I need to write more on the fact that is a one.

So, yeah — later, I’ll post my theories.  Probably slowly.

Winter Sunset

7 February, 2007

I don’t think I’ll ever quite get used to how quickly darkness falls in the winter.  Summertime (and even spring and autumn) allow for a gradual adjustment of the light — a period in which one can still function just fine, but it’s more convenient to turn on the house lights.  Winter, in this way — and in a lot of ways — is less forgiving. 

The world is light, then quick twilight.  Before I’ve had time to register the transmutation of all colors to rich blue, even that blue seeps out of the world … and I’m left in darkness.

One benefit of modern society is that even the winter darkness is not complete.  If I am outside, then I’m left with the overflow light from houses or offices.  If I’m on the street, there are (usually too-far-apart) streetlamps to lend me some yellow-tinged sight, and if I’m at home I usually have the faint glow of a computer monitor or a television.  Those last ones are also blue (though not like the twilight), and only show me their immediate areas.

At some point I realize I need more light than that those LCD-generated photons (the type whose personality is to highlight the surrounding shadows rather than make the world clearer) and I turn on a light.  But the act of choosing full artificial light over natural — so binary and definite — always comes much too soon in winter.   I’ll never get used to that.