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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Keith Palmer's LiveJournal:

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    Monday, May 25th, 2015
    9:00 pm
    Some Partial-Media Experiences
    I bought a book at a used book store a little while ago about the silent movie era and read part of it during my vacation; afterwards, a few new thoughts in my mind, I found the time to return to a documentary series I'd recorded off Turner Classic Movies a few years ago, and by the time it was getting to the changeover from silence to sound I was thinking of all the movies I've recorded off that channel and stored away on home-made DVDs with the thought that one day, maybe, I'll squeeze out some time not spent watching anime (or doing anything else) and broaden what I take in. A few titles from the silent movie era have seemed notable enough for me to have added them to my considerable pile, but I suppose that as I was doing that I was still remembering the day back in elementary school we were assembled in the gym to watch a silent movie without context-setting or musical accompaniment and it didn't go that well. Not that long after that my family did record some Charlie Chaplin shorts off the educational channel that did have musical accompaniment, but I never seemed quite able to really get around to them.

    However, just a few years ago I'd happened to see in a museum exhibition on video games a comparison between Buster Keaton's short comedy Seven Days and the action of the Super Mario Brothers games; much more recently, I happened on a different comparison between that movie's grand finale and one particular bit of slapstick in the Star Wars movies. Just to get started, I found and watched Keaton's even shorter "two-reeler" One Week, which I could remember some very approving comments about from the documentary, and was quite able to get through it. Now, I considered myself ready to move on to something only a bit longer.
    Moving onCollapse )

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Tuesday, May 19th, 2015
    5:55 pm
    Prequel Appreciation Day: Looking Back, Looking Forward
    I suppose there won't be as quite many people reminding themselves it's "Star Wars Prequel Appreciation Day" today as were saying "May the Fourth be with you" two weeks ago, but then again, for me at least, today doesn't feel quite as arch about the whole thing. (Of course, there are those who follow up "May the Fourth" by mentioning "Revenge of the Fifth"...) I've tried to mark this day before, but at times haven't been able to say too much about it. For this particular day, though, knowing it's been ten years since Revenge of the Sith opened to general audiences has driven me to further efforts.
    Things were different for me with that movie.Collapse )

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Sunday, May 17th, 2015
    6:53 pm
    The First Days of Who
    I mentioned a little while ago that I had managed to start watching the very first episodes of Doctor Who, and now, having seen several more of them, I seem to have formed a few opinions beyond just that it's kind of interesting to "begin at the beginning" and that it was easy enough to apply "historical perspective" and decide that, as with the generally best-received episodes of the original Star Trek, things seem to have started off with an honest effort by everyone involved.
    What might have been, and might not have worked as wellCollapse )

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Friday, May 15th, 2015
    9:26 pm
    And There I Go
    Not that long after I posted about a good deal of Softalk magazine being posted on the Internet Archive, several more issues showed up, making the collection now very close to complete. That the project page there had mentioned there having been forty-eight issues of that magazine in total had left me waiting and hoping, but also wondering if there was something about the last issue not listed that made it hard to get. After all, I was waiting to receive in the mail an issue of Creative Computing that hasn't shown up in the Internet Archive yet.

    Towards the end of the week, though, the forty-eighth issue turned up in the list of Softalk, and at the end of the week I picked up the issue of Creative Computing from the local post office, filling in the last gap in a collection formed from scanned copies, reprint volumes of the early years, and a few fill-in issues. There, of course, there's a trace or more of personal boasting, but at least I am facing the perpetual issue of wishing there'd been more of the magazine. If it, or Softalk, had managed to continue into the second half of the 1980s or further it might have had some interesting takes on things. At the same time, of course, if it had continued it might not have been so easy for people to wink about making the old issues available online.

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Sunday, May 10th, 2015
    9:33 am
    It's (More Than) a Start
    I've already mentioned how the "old computer magazine most intriguing to me for being out of reach" changed from Creative Computing to Softalk. With the first title, when I began digging into online archives of scanned magazines I'd at least managed quite a while before to take in its last year of publication (starting with a self-congratulatory tenth anniversary issue), books reprinting articles from its first years, and some issues from in between. With Softalk, I was just going on comments from other people how its sudden disappearance had seemed to mark the end of an era for Apple users. (It also so happened that I came upon the short run of another Apple magazine that had included a column by Softalk's former editor, dwelling to some extent on the mid-1980s hangover from the cyber-utopianism of the first few years of that decade, and at one point trying to put a brave face on the thought the computer market had saturated at as insignificant a size as "the avid reader population.")

    Along the way, I did happen on what proclaimed itself an organised project to scan in Softalk, but for all the length of time the site had been around it didn't seem to have any genuine content. I bookmarked it anyway and kept checking it every so often, and a news item did show up about how the project was going to be working with the Internet Archive, now home to great quantities of other scanned magazines. Again, though, I still had a bit of a feeling of "promises, promises."

    On getting back from vacation, however, I managed to see in the Twitter feed in a sidebar on the site that the first two issues of the magazine had been uploaded to the Internet Archive. While I already had a different, higher-quality scan of the first issue, it was something tangible, and I contemplated making a post about it only to wind up thinking it still might be better to wait for this to be something more than a "one-time accomplishment." The waiting came to a sudden end, though, when I did a bit more checking and saw that all of a sudden the archive had expanded from two of forty-eight issues to forty-two of forty-eight. A comment I'd seen years ago sprang to mind: "You could have knocked me down with a feather."

    Of course, even as I begin downloading the issues (not quite as small in file size or nearly as sludgy-looking in their graphics as some of the material I've found on the Internet Archive) and starting a journey that will end with having to face how a potential experience has become reality and boundless imagination will have to be compared to mundane reality, I'm wondering about the last six issues not in the archive yet. There remain two Creative Computing magazines from 1983 not in the archive; I managed to buy one of them in an online auction a while ago, and I've now paid for the other one, but until it shows up I suppose I'm left thinking I can't be certain I'll actually get it until I have it.

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Monday, May 4th, 2015
    6:23 pm
    A (Perhaps) Lugubrious Fourth
    Today's the day people say "May the Fourth be with you" to each other, but while I know that dates as far back as 1979 (and the use I saw recorded from back then wasn't as "fannish" as you might think) it does sort of feel a bit too much like a winking nudge in the ribs to me; there are, after all, several "anniversary days" later this month. However, today did seem to be a chance to bestir myself to watching the second teaser for The Force Awakens for just the second time.

    I'd managed to hear the second teaser had been released while sitting in the airport waiting to fly to England, which is at least a memorable setting. Beyond engaging a Youtube embedded video in a less than perfect presentation for an iPad screen, though, I guess the heavy use of "new Imperials" and continued coyness about just what the sort of story the pointed emphasis on presumably nostalgic visuals might be used in the service added up to something other than the overwrought reactions I heard of second or third-hand. Even when I'd got back from vacation and had access to a bigger screen, the urge to watch the video again still seemed elusive.

    On finally watching the teaser for a second time, though, I did seem more charitable towards the whole thing. I've been reminded that having given the new Star Wars movies a chance shouldn't mean preparing to reject some even newer ones out of hand. If the second trailer for JJ Abram's Star Trek was where things started feeling sort of "off" for me, this didn't seem quite so extreme. Against that, however, does remain the thought that with a continuation in comic books and a continuation in novels and comics having both been relegated to "retired" status, it may not be that hard to let a continuation in film remain "another possibility" as I wonder if I'll ever know just was in those ideas that George Lucas had when Lucasfilm was sold but which weren't used in the end.

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Tuesday, April 28th, 2015
    6:59 pm
    Back From Vacation
    It's been longer since my last post than I usually try to be, but I might have a bit of an excuse. After my parents said they would be flying over to Scotland to go to a conference on wind turbine noise in Glasgow and my brother decided that was an opportunity to also get back to London, which he'd last visited very nearly twenty-five years ago on a previous family vacation, I decided I could go too. It hadn't been quite as long for me thanks to a one-day "shore excursion" on a cruise I was on just a few years ago (I went on a short Thames cruise from the Tower to Westminster, rode the London Eye, and stepped into Westminster Abbey), but I did think I could certainly stand to go back.
    Pictures are linked withinCollapse )

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Wednesday, April 15th, 2015
    7:48 pm
    From the Bookshelf: Becoming Steve Jobs
    I went and bought Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs (produced with the cooperation of Jobs himself, as the promotional talk said) right when it was published; the national bookstore chain did seem to be pushing it, and it was that much easier to get it with the small bookstore in the shopping mall on my corner still open then. As I read through it, though, I did seem to wind up somehow dispirited that the Jobs presented in it, for all of his increased success as a businessman, never seemed to get past petty tantrums and casual, unfeeling cruelty to those in the wrong place at the wrong time: the closest he might have come in the biography to personal growth was a broken-down admission near the end of his life that he was who he was and couldn't change.
    Maybe you can"t discuss one book without discussing anotherCollapse )

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
    8:38 pm
    Better Luck Next Time (again)
    After the scheduled launch of a Falcon 9 rocket with a supply capsule for the space station was cancelled yesterday, I knew I'd only be able to find out what had happened today after I'd got back from work. On arriving, though, I saw that the rocket had made a successful launch, and even managed to see the last minute of powered flight and the solar panels extending from the capsule. I also happened to see the SpaceX mission control is in a glass-walled enclosure with a crowd of other employees gathered around it; hopefully, the controllers can get used to that.

    I also knew another effort would be made to try and land the first stage on a barge at sea, but the first brief reports seemed to indicate the landing had been too hard to get anything recoverable from. The stage might have at least come in straighter than the last time that had been tried, so it could still yet be a matter of "try, try again."

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Saturday, April 11th, 2015
    10:48 am
    The Representative MST3K Set (noticed at last)
    When the latest official Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD set started shipping I was among those people checking Satellite News every so often for the titles to be included in the set to follow, but they weren't quick to show up. Then, instead, we got an "announcement of no announcement," which prompted a few comments that as the number of episodes left to be released on DVD shrinks it gets harder for Shout! Factory to negotiate the rights to the movies in them.

    After receiving the latest set in the mail but not quite having the time to get around to starting to watch it, I might have let my own thoughts on the subject slip from my mind. When I thought to check Satellite News today, It was just with the thought of seeing what the "weekend discussion" topic was. Instead, though, part of the way down the page I saw an announcement at last of the titles to come, with quite a bit of excited discussion about them already; a few more movies grouped by rights-holder ought to be available in the future. For the set just ahead, we're going to get "Daddy-O", the point where the third season's "American episodes" shifted from fairly recent "Film Ventures International" re-packagings to old black and white movies, although this particular movie was an "attempting to create a singing star" outing instead of the more traditional "mystery science" to follow. An example of that, though, just happens to be included too with "Earth vs. the Spider". Heading from the "Joel episodes" to the "Mike episodes," we'll get "Teenage Crime Wave", a "juvenile delinquency exploitation" film which may be a bit more of an acquired taste for some as an episode but one which I do seem to have acquired, and "Agent For H.A.R.M.", which rounds out the "James Bond ripoffs" in cheap close-to-the-studio style. With all those examples of notable subgenres in the Mystery Science Theater canon, it should be an interesting set.

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Saturday, April 4th, 2015
    9:15 am
    2015: My First Quarter in Anime
    This year will mark thirty years since I first happened on Robotech on TV and became so interested in one story (even if certain people might put quotation marks around "one") told through animation that I eventually (if not nearly as fast as some) pieced together it hadn't been just a singular achievement from a vanished time and indistinct place; it'll also be twenty years since I went off to university and started going to the anime club showings there, primed by that old interest (even if I hadn't had the cash or the courage to seek out and watch more animation from Japan in my last years at high school) and ten years since the tempo of my purchasing anime DVDs picked up to where I wasn't taking breaks in between watching series. I know there are anime fans older than I am, and certainly fans who know much more than I do, but I do still feel like there's a certain patina of experience on me by now. That longevity still surprises me at times, though, and all I can say is that I got over realising how the "limited animation" gets parcelled out among "standing around and talking," "stock sequences," and "things that do look pretty good," and then got over what a lot of other people seemed to wind up fixating on as "fixed settings" and "fixed characters," to contemplate the possibility that after everything the character styles appeal to me and that's a good part of that. I've also wondered if coasting on memories of Robotech until I got to university might have helped in its own way, too: I might have avoided the feeling that something picked up in the teenaged years would be left behind with them.
    Starting off way back when: Mazinger ZCollapse )
    The continuation: Clannad After StoryCollapse )
    More revisiting: Cat"s Eye and Sailor MoonCollapse )
    Continuing on: Ace of the Diamond, Gundam Build Fighters Try, Parasyte, and ShirobakoCollapse )
    Challenges and responses: Aldnoah Zero, KanColle, and Strike WitchesCollapse )
    Finishing off: Steins;Gate and Hidamari Sketch SPCollapse )

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Monday, March 30th, 2015
    6:03 pm
    A Genuine New Juxtaposition
    I was looking through a food supplement in my newspaper when I happened on a big ad featuring four names for food I can say with truth I'd never seen strung together before: maple bacon onion jam.

    My first reaction was at once amused and convinced the jam wasn't for me, but on thinking it over, I did get to reflecting on how my own cooking is so plain and limited that I really couldn't make too big a deal of anything anyone else eats. "Jam," too, doesn't just have to be spread on toasted bread and eaten at breakfast. Perhaps, though, it was the "bacon" that really got to me. While I'm not opposed to that foodstuff on general principle, sometimes it does seem the contemporary interest in it is more of a self-amused obsession, an obscure statement exaggerated to the point of being overdone.

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Thursday, March 26th, 2015
    6:34 pm
    The Potential Movie Franchise That Won't Die
    I was starting to wonder what I could post about next, and even toying with a thing or two I'd heard but without much enthusiasm about how it seemed it would turn out, when a genuine surprise showed up. After years with the rights for a live-action Robotech movie held by Warner Brothers, the rights had now been transferred to Sony Pictures.

    That did, though, get me remembering how I'd taken particular note of the first announcement and even kept track of script writers being replaced for a while before the whole thing just sort of faded into the background. I had got to wondering if the people who'd actually produced a bit of new animation after long years (and not a few of them years of holding out promises) had reacted with glee to the thought of a bigger company responding to that by promising to "do things for them," and the attempt last year to raise crowd-sourced money to make a bit more animation could then even be seen as "realising they'd have to do something themselves"; unfortunately, the attempt didn't work out, and I had really got to thinking Robotech really ought to be filed away as something that could be thought well of so long as it was kept in the past. After all, there had been a full-fledged Macross anime series (with some theatrical movies included) in the years since the live-action movie announcement, and there's supposed to be another new Macross anime coming up in the near future.

    However, something about this news also got me thinking that if the live-action movie announcement had just preceded several of the North American anime-releasing companies being shut down or at least hitting the skids among apocalyptic fan comments that what was being made in Japan was intended to only sell to a minuscule group of people, these days some new series may be attracting somewhat more positive attention over here. I also contemplated comments overheard that if Warner Brothers has the DC Comics movies and the promise of Harry Potter spinoffs (and they even also made Pacific Rim), Sony Pictures may be a bit more ready to try and build up something new and "big." Thoughts about "don't let your expectations creep into areas where they might not pay off" come to mind, of course, but at least I can keep up a bit of idle interest yet.

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Sunday, March 22nd, 2015
    4:39 pm
    On Getting Through "Ascension"
    While I don't seem to make a great deal of use of the newspaper TV guide I included in my subscription, a promotional covey story about a short miniseries about to premiere did get my attention. The show was called "Ascension," and its story was "sold" by inviting us to imagine that at the beginning of the space age a "generation starship" was launched in secret, such that half a century later there's a small group of people still dressed in "Mad Men style" out in space. Even if "secret history" can seem to me a over-tilled seedbed for the breeding of unproductive suspicion, I supposed the specific idea appealed just enough that I could suspend disbelief that far. More than that, I have to admit the thought I "ought" to watch something not only in "live action" but "recent" had caught up to me.

    Things started off with a distinct impression of being "over-TV-sexed," but that perhaps didn't get to me as much as a sudden revelation at the end of the second episode. It's the sort of thing that seems best befitted to some slight effort at hiding it from casual glances, but without dealing with it I can't get any further into the series.
    The revelationCollapse )

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Monday, March 16th, 2015
    7:19 pm
    Manga Thoughts: Neon Genesis Evangelion volume 14
    There was another long wait for the last chapters to be drawn and collected, a wait for that final volume to be translated and available in print (it was released "digitally" months earlier, but as I already had the thirteen previous volumes on a bookshelf I decided I could wait out the extra months and avoid "buying it twice"), a wait to see if the local bookstore would get copies in, and at last a wait for the copy I ordered to arrive at the bookstore, but approaching two decades after I first heard about the anime I had the concluding instalment of the Neon Genesis Evangelion manga... and as I started into it, I was wondering if, with the way the penultimate volume had been shaped, after all the interesting and perhaps sometimes even "more positive" changes rung over the manga's full length on the original anime things would converge after all on one ending that had long seemed oppressive and bleak and I'd just have to deal with it.
    Beginnings and endingsCollapse )
    And the manga"s ending, tooCollapse )

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Monday, March 9th, 2015
    5:37 pm
    From the (Library) Bookshelf: An Empire of Ice
    I happened to look in the right direction at the library to see the books on polar exploration, and one of the titles, "An Empire of Ice," caught my eye. Even though I might have imagined the book from that to bring up the usual arguments for "British polar incompetence," I took it off the shelf anyway to see the subtitle brought up "science" in the Antarctic, and remembered an article in Scientific American from a few years ago during the centennial of the first journeys to the South Pole. (After finishing the book, I hunted out the issue and saw the article had also been written by the book's author Edward J. Larson.) In the introduction, Larson mentioned how whenever someone learned just what he was writing about they would dwell on the contemporary conventional wisdom of Robert Falcon Scott as the compleat incompetent and Ernest Shackleton as the man who brought the men under his immediate command back alive. (Roald Amundsen, who closed out the era when polar explorers would only get "nearest" to their goals through repeated success, seems to have made it look so easy that efforts to make a big deal of him still don't seem to direct too much attention his way.) He promised that in focusing on the scientific efforts of the two British explorers he wouldn't dwell on the contemporary perceptions, which got my attention enough to make me sign the book out.

    While there have certainly been efforts made to condemn Scott's scientific ambitions too by pointing out how Edward Wilson, "Birdie" Bowers, and Apsley Cherry-Garrard went through "The Worst Journey in the World" to collect emperor penguin eggs during the months-long Antarctic night on the hope the embryos in them would prove some theories soon disproven anyway or making a big deal of Scott's party pausing to collect some geological samples on their doomed journey back from the South Pole, the book puts them and the other efforts in perspective, connecting them to previous scientific expeditions and contemporary theories. Along with the collecting of biological and geological samples, the study of ice (although I wondered if the explorers suggesting the Antarctic ice had retreated when they reached it might attract undue attention from some) and plenty of meteorology (Larson brings up Susan Solomon's "The Coldest March," which argues Scott was caught by unexpectedly and unusually cold weather, but doesn't make as much of a point of that himself), there does happen to be some pointing out of the contemporary racism that sought "scientific" justification. In the end, though, the book suggests that the scientific side of the expeditions, in being downplayed in favour of mere "ordeals," left things open to be taken apart by a later and less easily impressed age. The question that gets asked in different contexts about whether "knowledge" is "worth losing lives for" may still lurk all the same, although I did get to thinking how Cherry-Garrard's own book tries to tackle it in closing. Given that my strange sympathy for "convenient targets" can extend to some historical figures, I was willing to accept this book in any case.

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Wednesday, March 4th, 2015
    8:23 pm
    General Anticipations on a Specific Anniversary
    I just happened to see today that Robotech started airing in syndication exactly thirty years ago. Although that had been something I'd been more or less aware of, it didn't start airing in every market on the same date; I happened to see my first episodes of it on WUTV-29 from Buffalo on the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, and by going to the library and checking microfilmed newspaper TV guides I'm now more or less certain it didn't start airing the series until the fall season. (I haven't yet looked far enough into that microfilm to confirm reports that CHCH-11 from Hamilton also aired the show back then; I wasn't as inclined to tune to that channel when I was visiting my grandparents and didn't see the show on it then. Perhaps I don't want to acknowledge a missed chance, even if I keep telling myself I'm not wondering if I might have wound up more interested in "that anime stuff" if only I'd seen a few more episodes of Robotech years ago...) As I'm always wondering about topics to post about, though, a few thoughts did happen to fall together right now.
    The thoughtsCollapse )

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Sunday, March 1st, 2015
    6:54 pm
    DVD Thoughts: The Dream Is Alive
    Passing through the public library, I happened on a shelf of "non-fiction" DVDs, and when, going by the familiar Dewey decimal system, I saw how many discs on space exploration were there I took a closer look. Seeing that one of the discs was the IMAX documentary The Dream Is Alive, I decided to sign it out. While I've known for a while now how a fair number of short IMAX films are available on DVD, squashing one of them down into even the biggest "home theatre" (and my setup isn't close to being one of them) hadn't seemed worth spending money on even before DVD changed from "the advanced format" to "the plebeian format." This, of course, was different.
    It"s nostalgia for meCollapse )

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Tuesday, February 24th, 2015
    8:45 pm
    The Dream System of 1986
    A bit over a year ago now, I ordered a new piece of hardware that plugged into the back of the old Macintosh Plus I'd managed to get several years before that and served as a floppy drive. Instead of having to load the programs that can be found in various corners online onto a handful of old 800K disks through a multi-stage process, I could just copy disk images to a thoroughly compact camera memory card and load them in... one at a time. Even with part of the Plus's four megabytes of memory devoted to a RAM disk to hold some system software arranged with care to fit into one startup disk image, loading new programs still meant going around to the back of the computer and pushing small buttons attached to a seemingly vulnerable circuit board. What with needing the dining room table for other things and the awareness the computer is getting close to three decades old and might not last forever being turned on and off (especially since the fan pack that had come with it had a damaged power cord which made me reluctant to try and cool the "beige toaster"), I suppose I wound up not trying out the new setup that much more often than I'd tried using what floppies I did have.
    Upgrades do happen, thoughCollapse )

    This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there (using OpenID) as you please.
    Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
    8:06 pm
    Manga Thoughts: From the New World
    The anime series "From the New World" caught my attention and kept my interest when I saw it streaming. There seemed a good deal of "world-building" complexity to the future society of psychics elaborated in it, and its story had some suspenseful developments. I wound up hearing it had been adapted from a science fiction novel (as opposed to the more familiar adaptations of less involved "light novel" series), which in itself did keep me thinking how English-language written science fiction has seemed to me inclined since the 1970s or so to step away from presenting "psychic phenomena" as if abandoning it to the "visual SF" its fans then turn around and dismiss as much less thoughtful and reasoned. As much as I'm inclined to skepticism about "the paranormal" in the real world and aware that even the most reasonable and non-conspiratorial "psychic SF" of the 1950s might amount in the end to invoking phenomena without plausible mechanisms, the whole subject getting narrowed down to "superpowers" does sometimes seem to miss new opportunities for storytelling, opportunities that just might have been presented in the anime series.
    Differences in adaptationCollapse )

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