apollo 13

Into the Sierras

When iTunes announces there's been another iPad operating system upgrade I tend to be pretty quick giving the okay to download and install it, but I can be a lot slower when it comes to the operating system of the iMac that first program runs on to begin with. I guess I always feel I have to fight past a miasma of "fear, uncertainty, and doubt" and the lurking presence of those people who've refused to upgrade for half a dozen major revisions by now. It does so happen I have a black plastic Macbook bought used that can't be upgraded much past system 10.6.8, but the awareness of the recent programs that can't be run on it is now getting to me. I did get around to setting up a double-boot system on it with a version of Mint Linux (which does seem to get more updates than some hypothetical scenario of "settling on perfection to be followed by lots of security updates" might seem to have it), but the unfortunate feeling of not being clever enough to really get things configured and installed just the way I like it gets to me in turn.

While last year I "upgraded" to "El Capitan" by the expensive method of buying a new iMac with the operating system pre-installed on it, I knew I'd have to resort to a more typical method when it came to "Sierra." The one thing I did pick up on was that the interactive fiction programming language Inform, and all the major text adventure game engines, weren't working properly with the new system. After a few months of waiting (and the peculiar awareness that "Sierra On-Line" had been a historical force in the however-ambiguous rise of graphic adventures), though, I'd heard about the language and some of the interpreters being revised in turn to work. Waiting just a little longer turned up one more point revision to the system, and I stepped off the deep end.

After making several backups of the old system, I ran the installer in place to save on having to reload old files, and yet it all started up again. So far I've only used the new operating system for a few days, but even so things do seem to be working and I'm settling in. I might not have noticed but for creating some custom folder icons that the regular folder icons are just a shade darker than they'd been in the system previous; I've begun a bit of work on that with another program that continued to work afterwards.

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charlie brown

From the Bookshelf: The Complete Peanuts Comics and Stories

For the unexpected twenty-sixth volume of The Complete Peanuts, I pondered over just how to get a copy of it and wound up ordering one online, almost "for old time's sake" remembering how I'd got a certain number of volumes that way over the years. There was something a little "Charlie Brown-like" about that, though, when I received the book in the mail and found its hardcover boards were warped. I had it anyway, though, and could contemplate seeing what had been selected to go in it. Hearing what would be in it a little while before it was published did get me realising that, for all that I seldom suppose myself "an assiduous collector," I'd lucked into getting a good number of the stories promised to be in it back when they were still generally for sale. Even with that, though, there did turn out to be surprises.
'Now, I can go back to worrying about soil erosion!'Collapse )
'Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia.'Collapse )

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From the Bookshelf: Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Endurance

In getting to read the Legend of the Galactic Heroes novels in translation at last, I am always sort of conscious of having managed to see their anime adaptation first. (At times, too, buying the novels does sort of seem a no doubt inadequate effort to try and "make up" for just how I saw the anime...) At the end of the second novel, I was as inclined as anything to keep seeing the story as pausing at a moment of great impact, but remembering a change in the anime's opening and closing credits (after a good number of episodes spun out of two novels) was one more sign of that. As the third novel picked up, I could see the Galactic Empire's protagonist Reinhard von Lohengramm as having been isolated by that, with his not nearly as totipotent counterpart on the other side of the interstellar space opera war, Free Planets Alliance Admiral Yang Wen-li, isolated in turn by being hauled before a kangaroo board of inquiry. I can understand this steady emphasis on the degradation of the Alliance (with an enigmatic third party meddling all the while) troubling people who might read the novel now; at the same time, I'm conscious of having become more dubious about invocations of "front-line military leaders who possess inbuilt dignity and reasonableness" since I first read the Robotech novelizations long years ago. The one point that might be made in favour of Legend of the Galactic Heroes could be that by this point in the story, the aggressive Alliance commanders have been killed off.
Space opera in the meantimeCollapse )

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europa, mimas

Past the Other Side

When I got around to watching the Star Wars movies this year and, halfway through "hybrid order," found any possible previous concerns that this time things would be different seemingly overcome by invigoration, I went ahead and posted about it. After I'd done that, though, I did get to wondering if I'd "set myself up at last," if Attack of the Clones in particular would feel "stuck as the middle movie" or something. I got through it in turn just fine, however, and thoughts that maybe Revenge of the Sith would pose personal problems somehow might not have had the chance to get started. On getting back to the old movies with Return of the Jedi, though, I suppose I was at least conscious of the laments of others on interpreting most of the major performances as "burnt out," as much as I tried to bring to mind other, more positive interpretations I've seen. At least since reading the modern "making of" book, I sometimes find myself wondering if George Lucas saw the important part of the movie as "redemption," but with the big secret of The Empire Strikes Back having leaked (if perhaps not to as widespread publicity as might happen nowadays) he tried even harder to keep that part restricted to those who needed to know, only to leave everyone else kind of underwhelmed at the impression the movie was "about" "creatures..."

I was perhaps following more Star Wars discussions in the late 1990s since I've done since, and I'm ready to suppose a "golden age" wasn't "lost" in sudden and shocking fashion in 1999 (or even 1997) because I'm aware of the complaints about Return of the Jedi from back then. It's at least possible I fell away from possible "groupthink" just out of the inarticulate conviction the then-third Star Wars movie was the conclusion and getting upset about it wouldn't make a difference except to yourself, but in since coming to think I could really shock some by declaring the three new movies a more interesting and compelling unit I always feel that also has to face the possibility all the "blame" then falls on Return of the Jedi itself. That, of course, might not even really touch on the unpleasant feeling that the latest of three "official" continuations from that point (and the one that has the apparent advantage of existing in the same medium as the previous movies) involves the celebrated heroes of the apparently beloved movies having failed off-screen in just about every way for the sake of getting new product with a drab ethos and a barrage of snappy dialogue rolling. Still, that hasn't quite stopped me from thinking "roll on Rogue One" so far.

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MST3K K02: Revenge of the Mysterons from Mars

According to the official Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode guide's brief section on the show's formative instalments aired on a UHF station in Minnesota ("Oh, and trust us--you don't want to see the KTMA episodes."), "Invaders from the Deep" and "Revenge of the Mysterons from Mars" were a double feature on American Thanksgiving in 1988. When those two long-lost episodes were made available to the revival Kickstarter backers, though, I took my usual week in getting to the second show. I knew it was another "Supermarionation" epic, but could only guess how it might come across in turn.
'Who says puppets don't have a sense of humour?'Collapse )
'I would never say that.'Collapse )

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apollo 13

Manga Thoughts: Monster

Naoki Urasawa's manga was respectable. At the time I'd started hearing that, it was also being translated into English and published in a specific order, with promises of some works that sounded particularly interesting only to follow other series. I more or less accepted that and started buying "Monster," about a Japanese neurosurgeon who just happens to be working in Germany, where he jeopardizes his career by operating on an injured boy instead of the mayor, only for that boy to reappear in his life years later as a serial killer... I was only three volumes into that series, though, when a few panels in another manga Viz was also publishing at the time were retouched in an another apparent attempt not to offend the moral, and in the second fit of pique that had gripped me over that I stopped buying all Viz titles (save, that is, for the occasional appearances of the Neon Genesis Evangelion manga).
That was it for a while, but...Collapse )

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MST3K K01: Invaders from the Deep

When I filled in the last space on my list of "episode thoughts" about Mystery Science Theater 3000, there were some "end of an era" thoughts, and yet there still could have been a certain negative space left open on that list. I'd commented on every episode shown on cable, the movie, and Joel Hodgson's proof-of-concept pilot, which he'd shown at a convention where someone had made a fully adequate recording that had wound up an online video encoding. I could have followed the pilot by seeking out those episodes people had managed to videotape off an Minnesota UHF station in 1988 and 1989, but along with all the comments overheard how the improvisational "KTMA episodes" had a lot of "unriffed space" in them and the personal impression the first cable episodes themselves can feel sort of tedious, I had what might seem the convenient excuse there were no fan copies of the first three episodes. Starting close to one beginning seemed fine to some, but somehow I was a little too conscious of the gap.
'I think it's a good time to point out these puppets do their own stunts.'Collapse )

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Invasion Colossus Big Shot Track (or, one more MST3K collection)

Many people may be searching for "good news" right now. I suppose this only means that to a certain number of them, but I was at least surprised in a pleased sort of way to see the titles announced for one more official collection of Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVDs. The case will be crowded with lettering for the set number in Roman numerals, and as for the episodes itself they all happen to be from the "Mike years," but most of them have a fair bit of resonance for me. "Invasion USA" is an entertaining slice of cheaply produced Cold War agit-prop (which I suppose I compare to the "Joel episode" "Rocket Attack USA"), and "Colossus and the Headhunters" sort of keeps up the pattern by being Mike's counterpart to the Hercules movies of the Joel years. "High School Big Shot" is a depressing yet perhaps compelling skewed take on "juvenile delinquency exploitation," and "Track of the Moon Beast" does at least jump out of the sixth season to the tenth with a bleak sort of 1970s monster movie.

There was also a limited-time preorder bonus announced when buying from the Shout! Factory site. I haven't ordered many of those (save for the cardboard slipcase to go around the DVDs in a "canned set"), but the promise of a certain number of "host segments" from the initial "KTMA episodes" did get my attention and leave me wondering. It would be something to see whatever introduction was offered to those watching the very first episode (unless the opening credits were more or less that), but if it's just excerpted from the well-worn fan copies of the later episodes that have been passed along for years that might not be quite as compelling. The very first episodes not having been recorded that way may be my excuse for not plugging through the apparently very improvised beginning of the series.

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apollo 13

Movie Thoughts: Arrival

Cleaning up some piles of old correspondence a while ago, I managed to find two free movie passes in an envelope trying to get me to go back to a particular car service. Aware the passes would expire in the middle of next year, I got to wondering just what two movies I would try and see with them. One option opened up when I heard of a science fiction movie called Arrival. On going to see it, though, I did find myself thinking that what I'd managed to hear hadn't given too much about the movie away. That might have made it more interesting for me, but also left me half-convinced there'd be something gauche about turning around and saying too much to someone else in turn, as much as I want to share a positive opinion.
What I say might be vague anywayCollapse )

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europa, mimas

Accidental Addendum

A few hours after putting together a post yesterday suggesting it seems at least possible to escape indignation at the conviction that the "battle for Naboo" hinged altogether on a "whoops" moment, I had a "whoops" moment of my own remembering an additional thought I'd had but forgotten to set down in writing. That "not everything depended on Anakin" doesn't have to lead to the smug conclusion he should have just been left with his mother on Tatooine and everyone would have wound up happier; he did also happen to clear some "destroyer droids" out of Queen Amidala and company's path to get his Naboo starfighter moving. (I suppose this could be seen as beginning to set up the suggestion a larger power was guiding him, anyway.)

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