apollo 13

Reused Rocket

I managed to notice that not only was SpaceX about to launch another satellite, but that launch would use one of the first stages they've begun collecting by managing soft landings on floating barges with in-jokey names or even heading all the way back to where they've started. The launch was scheduled for when I'd have a chance to watch it via streaming video, but I suppose I was conscious of the chance of something going wrong. That thought only got stronger as I saw the Falcon 9 rocket standing on the launch pad repurposed from Apollo's Saturns to the space shuttles and now to another generation of rockets, aware all the same SpaceX had moved in after blowing up a rocket at the launch pad they had used to use.

The rocket lifted off into a clear evening sky, though, and the second stage separated. The first stage was left to descend towards its barge, and I did notice its pop-out stabilizing grids starting to glow from re-entry before the video cut out. To the accompaniment of a very enthusiastic crowd at the SpaceX headquarters, though, the picture returned to show the first stage once more standing in one piece on the barge. Knowing the space shuttles wound up needing a lot more refurbishing in between flights than they were supposed to require, I am still wondering what it'll take in the end to turn the first stage around again, but it is something that it managed to land a second time.

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apollo 13

Nostalgia Strikes: "Voltron '84"

The episodes of "Star Trek: The Animated Series" were engaging enough to watch while exercising on weekend mornings; I'd been thinking a bit, more or less from the start, that they somehow somewhat dodged the sense of "familiarity" and even "set consensus" that can settle over all of the live-action series, along with "if you are convinced Star Trek 'has' to involve its original characters..." They came to an end, though (with an episode I'd read Alan Dean Foster's novelization, considerable expansion upon, and rationalization many years ago), and I did get to wondering how I'd keep myself occupied on my ski machine from then on.

Right then, however, I saw an announcement the people working on the new Voltron Legendary Defender had selected some of the original Voltron episodes to be streamed on Netflix as an adjunct to their own series. That did get my attention, although I was quite ready to remember that when the original Voltron had had its "nostalgia release" on DVD a decade ago, I'd held out for the anime series it had been made from instead. The thought's occasionally come to me, though, that I just might be dismissive of Voltron because of the accident of having had "the other Voltron" stick in my mind a bit more, and just perhaps that "other" science fiction action had been more vulnerable than the space fantasy it seems just about everyone else remembers better to having all that careful "this is a cartoon; nobody ever dies in a cartoon" redubbing stand out. I went ahead and took a chance on "Voltron '84."
The complications of a single episodeCollapse )

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anime

Manga Thoughts: Secret of the Princess

When deciding to take a chance at last on beginning to read Milk Morinaga's "Gakuen Polizi" manga (only to surprise myself discovering it really was complete in two volumes), it's at least possible I was thinking ahead to news another one of her "girls' love" titles was going to be published in English. I did understood "Secret of the Princess" was complete in one volume (with a larger page size than normal), but perhaps I was still wondering how this one would turn out.
It did wind up with one advantage...Collapse )

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mst3k

Things Could Be Worse

Even before I was remembering today can be marked as "Pi Day," I was thinking ahead to Joel Hodgson's announcement the new Mystery Science Theater 3000 will be appearing on Netflix on April 14. As that date gets closer, though, I'm still struggling with what kept me from taking in any of his previous "Cinematic Titanic" project and what keeps me from trying any "Rifftrax," namely the suspicion that to comment on even a "cheesy movie" these days is perpetually to springboard into taking shots at specific "outside" targets, jabs some would proclaim "cathartic" but which just seem to grate on me after all these years. I went so far as to admit this in a "Satellite News" thread about "watching the new series," if without stating just what targets would most grate on me; nobody seemed to notice and take me to task for that, though. However, later on in the thread some were worried the backgrounds of the new people involved with the series meant not that they'd be dwelling on the party line for that ambiguous term of "geek culture," but that they'd be making "political" comments... The specific case invoked, at least, doesn't seem to bother me. It even got me thinking that to have felt sorry for some movies to the point of thinking they weren't bad after all could have some differences from humourless ideological commitment too.

(Then, thinking I'd take one more look at the "countdown" on Satellite News, I happened to notice a selection of "classic episodes" will show up in advance of the new premiere on Netflix. It's sort of intriguing to contemplate "a direct comparison" being welcomed.)

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anime

Manga Catch-up: Gakuen Polizi

After taking much interest in two of Milk Morinaga's "girls' love" manga series, I was more than ready to start reading another one, and one Seven Seas was now publishing in regular-thickness volumes as well. As I bought the first volume of "Gakuen Polizi," though, I did notice a few comments that the flirty, slashy preliminaries seemed less undeniable to start with, and I suppose I decided to wait until I had the second volume as well for a bit more impact. Once that had been published, I didn't quite get around to the series right away, and then I realised there weren't any more volumes being solicited...
One day, though...Collapse )

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apollo 13

A Burst of Adventure (Mapped, too)

Something about reading news about text adventures and interactive fiction every day but seldom getting around to playing any of those games I read about can get to me just a bit. On one trip to the Interactive Fiction Database, though, a new review on the front page managed to pique my interest and point me onward. For all the games I haven't played, I do still seem to have picked up enough knowledge of "familiar adventure genres" that a game promising to poke fun at "the psychological landscape of an incapacitated protagonist" evoked amused expectations. I downloaded Ryan Veeder's "Nautilisia" into my iPad's interactive fiction interpreter and started into it.
The adventurous pushCollapse )

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apollo 13

One Year's Tumble

I got an email today reminding me it's been a year since I signed up on Tumblr. At the time, I'd been feeling just a bit fatigued at putting together a new post here every week "just to keep my streak running." After a few "crosspost" posts listing the old computer magazine covers I was putting up in order, though, the ideas for here did seem to start coming with a bit more ease, and I let the two streams flow in parallel (although I usually try to cross-promote posts here over there, just in case). Sometimes it's easier to just look at where my queue of covers is, but in any case I am beginning to round out 1981's computer magazines; I'm a bit conscious of plans to add more titles around 1983 or so, though, a while yet before the ebullient "8-bit boom" went bust.

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charlie brown

From the Bookshelf: Peanuts Every Sunday 1966-1970

"The Complete Peanuts" may be more than complete, but the spinoff project to release the Sunday pages in colour is still under way. It did take me a while to get the latest volume of "Peanuts Every Sunday." I had ordered the previous large and pricy volumes from amazon.ca, but this time the wait for the listing to offer physical copies had stretched on until at last I ordered it through my local bookstore, which with my discount card was cheaper than going through an online reseller. In any case, I had a definite interest in this volume. The second half of the 1960s, as I understand it, were "the phenomenon years" for Peanuts, where all the developments of the fifteen years before added up to more attention than most comic strips get as the television specials added up along with the magazine covers, followed by appearances on stage and screen and going to the moon, with the World War I Flying Ace more or less leading the way.
'I scan the air carefully searching for the Red Baron.. I *must* bring him down!'Collapse )

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apollo 13

AI-Anime Apocalypse or Multiplication of Moguls?

A piece on Anime News Network described the president of a Japanese television network speculating about artificial intelligence taking over the production of anime. I have to admit one of my first reactions was that this felt so much one of those "one of these days" cyber-utopian visions that there did seem an edge of "trying to provoke a strong reaction just for the sake of attracting attention" to the posting of the article itself. Anime fandom, at least that part of it I can follow, does seem to have a strong undercurrent of disdain for what computer animation has worked its way into the industry. An AI-produced work might look like it was drawn by human hands (assuming tastes don't change at last by then, even if only by the fandom itself turning over), but I can still imagine other people looking ahead with specific aesthetic concerns for the future, given how ready some seem to make accusations about "stuff produced by formula." Beyond that, there's the whole deal with and issue of "sharing the profits of production out to as few people as possible"; the piece made a point of mentioning the familiar worries about how little money gets to the actual people with the pencils.

I can manage to think beyond even all of that, though, and there seems at least the possibility what might begin as "expert systems in the hands of the existing producers" might yet wind up "available to everyone." There, I could remember an online anime magazine from years ago (even if not which one it was to try and delve into the Internet Archive) that had looked ahead with apparent enthusiasm to the moment when people will just have to tell computers what they want to get entertainment tailored to them. The thought of everyone becoming more-or-less inarticulate moguls with endlessly patient creative staffs at their disposal can seem to hold the solution to some very familiar fan woes; the only cost would seem to be collective experiences dissolving into a certain kind of solipsism.

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anime

Down a New Road: RWBY series 4

The unexpected buildup of its third series, from "I suppose it's playing to its strengths" to "did it just leave a part of its familiar setting behind?", did a lot to revitalize my interest in the computer-animated, "anime-esque" RWBY. I wound up buying its Blu-Rays and watching through them with a full awareness of where they were headed, perhaps still helped along by the thought it was "an indie production" but getting past "it's something it was done at all." (This might reflect a bit on how I did just stop watching the slightly connected "Red vs. Blue" without making a big deal of it.) As the fourth series got under way, I was pleased to see it available on Crunchyroll, even if this might bring to mind "it's perhaps even an all too comfortable way to convince myself I'm not just watching anime."

In any case, as the fourth series got under way the characters did remain scattered and in new places, and that pushed from my mind the wondering I'd done right at the end of the third series of if things might be put too much together again. That did, though, connect to how it might be all too easy to pile up a list of anime series where the characters have fantastic adventures but never have to go very far from the safe base of their high school, although when I think a little bit more about that not all of them can be called "recent" in the way just perhaps used by some for who every "fannish" diversion is forever falling from the heights they started at. Noting the different ways "family" got involved in the plot threads, I stayed interested all the way through. It was only thinking back that I did wonder a bit about the story having taken its time dwelling on large and staggering things having happened, but that might have been inspired by one comment from someone else I did look just a bit for, which may only have reminded me of all those suspicions that to delve too much into the opinions of others for reassurance your own opinions are valid can feel like a zero-sum game. In any case, I'm wondering where things might go next, even with new episodes of Voltron: Legendary Defender available to keep taking that trifling step away from outright anime. (Some of the first episodes in its own new series, though, seem, without having made a big, showy deal of it, to have stepped away from "this is a cartoon; nobody ever dies in a cartoon.")

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