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July 2014
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Spock Laughs

Nimoy posted this behind the scenes shot the other day, and since he was nice enough to include an embed function, I figured that meant he wanted folks to share it. It is nice to get a glimpse of the man behind the character while in full makeup and costume on set.

Once in a while. LLAP on Twitpic

Guardians of the Galaxy Lego Version

Yes, someone actually did convert the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer into a Legos version. Enjoy!

Something to Do: Movies

After quite a long wait, Guardians Of The Galaxy is finally on the big screen this weekend. This group of criminals may be the only hope civilization has left, and boy, is civilization in trouble! It is not your only choice for the weekend; if you love Rock-N-Roll, you should also have Get On Up> on your list of films to check out, so you can get an idea of the struggle James Brown had getting his music out to the people. And Outpost 37 will be available in a limited number of theaters, a movie about a documentary crew who follows an elite unit of soldiers in the wake of an alien invasion. So you have a range of interesting choices this time around.

Something to Watch: DVDs 29Jul14

There don’t seem to be any new genre movies or TV shows being released this week, although in martial arts The Protector 2 is another Thai story of combat among the elephants starring Tony Jaa. We only get one real new title in anime as well, Problem children are coming from another world, aren’t they?, about three human girls who get invited to another planet to engage in games with combat they may not survive. Sadly, that’s about it this time around, or at least all that I have found that wasn’t a re-release from years gone by.

Peace DadaD

I love good music and I enjoy animation, and this tune combines them both. This has won a few film fest awards for the animation work for Alvaro Les Riel, and the band who recorded this, DadaD, have a decent body of work. This song is called Peace, and it has been getting quite a lot of airplay for the Tokyo band.

Ubuntu 14.04.01

Actually, every specialist variant of Ubuntu just came out with their build of Ubuntu 14.04.01, a maintenance update of the current stable release. I have two personal favorites of this family, Xubuntu and Ubuntu Studio.

Xubuntu is a minimal footprint build that allows my surviving computers from the 1990s to run as if they were built a mere decade ago. It runs all the latest versions of my favorite programs, and it’s Virus, Intrusion, and Identity Theft protection is up to the minute. That one I have installed on a few computers that otherwise would have been relegated to the status of doorstop, since no one would remember what they were going to do with them by the time Windows finished booting.

Even more impressive is Ubuntu Studio, a Live Disc version that boots straight off of the DVD without messing up the OS on your hard drive. It is filled with the most amazing collection of software for capturing, creating, editing, burning, and broadcasting your media in any format. Want to create a 3D animation, run your own radio station, turn your home video footage into a high quality movie, or burn that movie onto DVD complete with a great menu system and lots of special features? Those are just four of the hundreds of projects in all aspects of media production and creation that this OS and its related software suites are designed to help you achieve. To make it even easier, they have broken the menu system down into workflow driven tracks, so once you decide on a project you will find every tool you could ever want for that project within that track’s folder. Whatever multimedia project you want to create, this is the perfect tool set to use.

Viz Select has some classics

If you are a Manga fan, you need to be aware that Viz has now launched Viz Select. These are some classic Manga’s that have been out of print for a while, and have now been re-released in a digital media format. Some of them started life as light novels, got turned into manga, and finally became Anime. Other stories went in a different order, such as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, which started out as a novel, got turned into an Anime, followed by a live action movie, and then was developed as a Manga. However they got that way, there are some classic Manga titles in this collection, such as Future Diary, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Fate/stay night, Trinity Blood, D・N・ANGEL, and more. Enjoy!

Only Lovers Left Alive trailer

Only Lovers Left Alive was a British/German romantic vampire drama that came out in 2013, but not anywhere near where I lived. It has been nominated for a number of awards, and received a lot of critical attention, including getting an 87% at Rotten Tomatoes. One of the vampires writes music and does scientific research, using Tesla’s inventions to power his house and vehicles. Another wrote about half of Shakespeare’s plays. It will finally be released in the US on August 19th, and I am looking forward to finally being able to see it.

Summer 2014 Anime Shows

The 2014 summer anime season just started, and we are in episode 2 or 3 for most shows this week. There are a lot of great shows this season, with both returning favorites and a bunch of new programs, some of which look quite good even though it is still early in the season. I have my own favorites, but I will wait for one more week’s worth of episodes before sharing them. That is partly because I want an additional episode of each to make sure they are consistently good, and partly because I am still trying out new stuff I haven’t seen yet to decide whether or not to add them to my watched list. What I wanted to share today was a couple of good places to find out about the shows.

Crunchyroll has the Final Summer 2014 Anime Season Chart, with each show individually detailed to include the studio that made it, a description of the program/premise it was built on, what kind of media it began life as (Game, Manga, Light Novel, etc.), the date the show began, and a link to the Anime’s home page (the BAKA.BZ entry for each one). You can find the details about how this grid was created at Neregate, which includes all the entries, not just the ones Crunchyroll is associated with. This is a wonderful resource for figuring out what is available and where it began, but a pretty poor tool for basing your decisions on. With this one, you read about each entry and decide for yourself which ones to check out, without any kind of descriptive streamlining, trailers, rating system, or recommendation. Still, there is a ton of good info here, well worth your time to explore!

Kotaku has Your Complete Summer 2014 Anime Guide, and I do like the format. They give you the title, the genre, when it starts, where you can watch it, a single sentence description of the plot/premise, and a trailer for each show. It doesn’t take much time to go through the article and get a short list of interesting series to check out, with an idea of what other ones might be worth watching once you have discarded the less than stellar members of that first set. This way to go about your decision making takes a personal approach, meaning you have to be involved at every step of the process. While the initial run through the guide doesn’t take long, watching the shows themselves to decide which ones are worth following can take a bit. For instance, if you start by checking the first 3 episodes of the 5 shows you find interesting, you have burned 345 minutes, or just under 6 hours. Drop the 2 you find least interesting and check out a different show, and you have burned an additional 150 minutes. This is way better than doing everything yourself so I find it a serious improvement over the previous method.

Anime News Network has the Summer 2014 Preview Guide, which is built more on a crowd-sourcing basis than a traditional top down reporting structure. Any given show has reviews by multiple people, each of whom has their own perspective on the program. This kind of reporting system has its own advantages, such as allowing you to compare and contrast the different reviews against your own impressions about a given entry in order to build a rating system for the reviewers themselves. Once you rate the reviewers from 1 to 5 in terms of the ones who’s opinions always match yours at 5 to the ones who’s opinions never match yours at 1, the next step is simple. You build a spread sheet or database (depending on which environment you are most comfortable working in) that creates a matrix with your reviewer rating as the X axis and that reviewer’s rating of each show as the Y axis. It takes some time to do the original analysis of the reviewers and then build the matrix, my guestimate being around 12 hours total. But once you have the matrix built, it is just a matter of dropping the current seasons reviews into place, rating any new reviewers since last season, and running the report.

I admit, my conclusions are more about my being lazy while in geek mode than about your own best use of the resources to come to your own conclusions. So you will have to check out the sources for yourself, and see which source/technique makes the most sense for how you like to do things. Please let me know about any new resources or processes you find that I haven’t mentioned here; I am sure there are a number of them, and I would like to add them to the collection.

Something to Do: Movies 25Jul15

One of the choices this Friday is Lucy, the latest Luc Besson science fiction film. Scarlett Johansson is kidnapped and has an experimental drug surgically implanted in her, so she can be used to smuggle it somewhere. But when the container bursts inside her it triggers a series of genetic changes that act like accelerated evolution, and as her power grows she takes on those who tried to victimize her. Also this weekend, another version of Hercules, this time based on the graphic novels from Radical Comics and starring Dwayne The Rock Johnson. They both look like excellent choices to me, but before you make up your own mind about which to see you might want to check out Alan Moore’s call for a boycott of the Hercules film. It seems the writer of the comics, Steven Moore (no relation), wasn’t getting any money for the movie and had no creative input, but the company did agree not to put his name on it. Since his death earlier this year they have been promoting it as Steve Moore’s Hercules without paying his estate for using his name to try to increase their profits.