Nov 30 2009

Matt Thorn is harsh.

To publishers of translated manga: You get what you pay for. I’ve heard industry people attribute declines in sales to any number of factors, but never to the quality of their own product. We’re both professionals, so let’s not mince words.

Your product sucks.


He is also accurate.

I re-read Del Rey’s translations of Mushishi and Sugar Sugar Rune recently. I remember being excited when Del Rey announced their manga line, because they’re an established Real Publisher, and I had the idea that the fact that they published prose books would make them a little more sensitive to, you know, prose style. Apparently not!

For the edification of the masses, I am going to assault a page from this scene in volume 3 of Sugar Sugar Rune: 1, 2, 3.

(It contains some spoilers, so don’t go any further if you’re keeping yourself pure.)

Continue reading “Matt Thorn is harsh.”

Aug 04 2009

Moon Called, Briggs; The Godmother, Scarborough

Moon Called, Patricia Briggs

Mercy Thompson is an auto mechanic and a were-coyote. She is the only one of her kind (were-coyotes, not auto mechanics), and was raised by werewolves, who never fully accepted her and forced her out when she she was a teenager. One day a young werewolf shows up at her shop looking for a job; shortly after, bad guys come looking for him. Mercy has to call for the help of the local werewolf pack and their aenal-retentive leader Adam. Werewolf politics and UST ensue.

Kinda bland urban fantasy that falls apart pretty badly in the second half. I don’t think Briggs knew what she was going to do with all these people when she introduced them. The book is the first in a series, and some characters are pretty clearly meant to be developed more in later books, while some are one-offers. My suspicion is that she didn’t decide which were going to be which until around the half-way point of the book.

We literally know nothing about the villains until the very, very end of the book. (Spoilers: The main villain doesn’t show up in person until the very last scene, and was barely mentioned before then. He’s also stupid. I will call this a douche ex machina.) A lot of the climax consists of people we’ve never met or barely know explaining the motivations of other people we’ve never met or barely know. At one point the story kind of stops dead so Mercy can fix the nice gay couple’s problems, which end up having nothing to do with the plot. As much as I appreciate the presence of the nice gay couple, this was time that should have been spent on other stuff.

On the plus side, it’s an urban fantasy book that isn’t about tracking a serial killer! That’s a refreshing change of pace! And I appreciate that Mercy’s werewolf love interests spend most of the book getting incapacitated and needing her to rescue them.

But I don’t appreciate the love interests themselves. Or Mercy? All of these characters suffer from a marked lack of charisma. I kept forgetting which was which.

Also, Mercy belongs to that long and distinguished line of urban fantasy characters who get to have Special Native American powers without actually being culturally Native American. I’ll bet a hundred internet dollars she gets a wise old Native American mentor in the next book. He/she will either 1) get killed by vampires so Mercy can have angst and revenge, or 2) turn out to be evil so Mercy can have angst and kill him/her.

The Godmother, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Rose Samson is a social worker who doesn’t believe in fairy tales. Felicity Fortune is a fairy godmother. Together, they fight social injustice, in the form of modernized iterations of several fairy tales (Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Cinderella, etc), and also of homeless shelters that need their toilets cleaned.

Better urban fantasy that doesn’t fall apart! Felicity and Rose both have a lot of personality – the way Felicity bounces off people is cute, and Rose is, to me at least, pretty believable as a social worker. It’s a very sweet, busy book. My two really big caveats relate to the, ehh, cultural decisions it makes:

1) Felicity pretends to be Kuan Yin to get a Vietnamese kid who’s in a gang back on the right track. Hooray for Caucasian people substituting themselves for other cultures’ gods. You go, Felicity. (That plotline resolved itself in ways that were a little too pat, too.)

2) So, speaking as someone who might possibly consider voting for a Republican if shown clear scientific evidence that the Democrat in the race was, in fact, an Awakened Being from Claymore?*

This book may be slightly overly politically partisan.

Cut for spoilers: Continue reading “Moon Called, Briggs; The Godmother, Scarborough”

Jul 19 2009

Jovah’s Angel, Sharon Shinn

Shinn has this problem where occasionally she doesn’t seem to buy her own romances. Summers at Castle Auburn was like that. There’s not really anything there to indicate that the heroine and the hero are in love. The book worked because of the heroine’s relationships with other characters, which were much more compelling. The romance existed independently of the plot – everything would have played out pretty much the same way if the hero and heroine hadn’t known each other. There’s no real reason for the romance to be there, but because it doesn’t clog up the workings of the plot, it doesn’t hurt anything.

Jovah’s Angel, unfortunately, has a clog in its system.

The book is the second in Shinn’s Samaria series, which can be categorized as Sci-Fi Where There’s Magic That Is Actually Bad Science (as opposed to Magic That Is Actually Believable Science, like I can’t say the title of this series because it’s actually a spoiler ack). Genetically engineered angels rule the planet Samaria, a human colony that has forgotten the advanced technology that brought them there, and is just on the verge of an industrial revolution. The world is inhospitable due to extreme weather, so the angels were created to keep the weather in check, which they do by singing weather-related “prayers” to the god Jovah – who is obviously an AI.

But something has gone wrong, and the only angel whose voice Jovah still hears is shy, insecure Alleya. When the previous archangel, the brilliant and charismatic Delilah, loses the use of her wings in an accident, Alleya is forced to step into her shoes. She must work together with Caleb, the world’s most brilliant engineer and an atheist, to solve the problem, while searching for the husband Jovah has chosen for her. Meanwhile, Caleb’s best friend Noah, another engineer, has become obsessed with the idea of repairing the despairing Delilah’s wings.

Cut for spoilers.

Continue reading “Jovah’s Angel, Sharon Shinn”

Jul 15 2009


My 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM hour today was on my schedule as a demo class with three middle schoolers. I didn’t recognize their names, but because the school’s presently doing a marketing thing where the juku students can get three free English classes, I assumed they were juku kids.

Twenty minutes before my last period started, as I was carefully drawing a homemade Chutes and Ladders board, Madonna and one of her friends, Cheese, burst in. “Hello! Hello! Can we come!”

I do not, in fact, know Madonna’s real name. She and Peter Pan and Jack’o'Lantern have continued their policy of lying creatively when I ask them their names. I know Peter Pan’s now because I got the manager to tell me, but I haven’t had a chance to make him rat out the others.

So I had two middle school girls, so I assumed they were going to be the demo lesson, and had gotten bored and shown up early. I got them to help me finish the game board, and then we played Jenga and formed sentences involving fruit (because the fruit poster was right over the table, and Madonna is for some reason eternally fascinated by the fruit poster). Some sentences involving One Piece also got in there, because Madonna’s taste in manga apparently extends beyond Saiyuki.

Then at 8:00, the manager showed up with not one unknown kid but three. “So, wait. Five students?” I asked him, pointing to the Jenga-players. “Should I take all five?”

Apparently not; he told Madonna and Cheese that they couldn’t stay in the classroom because I had to teach a class (oh, come on, don’t make me the bad guy here). “No! No!” said Madonna in English. “It’s cool! Let us! It’s cool!” Then, in Japanese, “Suzushii!”

Suzushii means “cool” in the literal sense. The juku classroom’s AC is pretty crappy, and the owner won’t let them turn it up all the way. The English classroom’s AC, on the other hand, is under my control, and he will wrest that control from cold, dead hands.* Gosh, you guys, it’s so nice to be wanted for my classroom’s air conditioner.

But they bowed to the manager’s demands and left, and I taught the demo. (It was fine, if not as cheerful as a demo involving Madonna and Cheese would have been. The boy had clearly been forced into this by his parents, and wouldn’t talk above a mutter until I started calling him Ponyo and got the girls to go along with it. Then his outrage gave him strength.)

* Sniping About My Bosses Corner, Do Not Read If You’re Not In The Mood For Morons: Continue reading “English”

May 17 2009

Persistence of location

There used to be an empty lot I had to go through on my way to the mall. One morning at the end of March or beginning of April, still sleepy, I was walking to the mall, and found that there was suddenly construction in that lot. Cement had been poured, and the ground was higher than it had been. This seemed unlikely to me; for a moment I wasn’t sure if I was in the real world or in a video game. I tried to check my inventory.

Continue reading “Persistence of location”

May 16 2009


I made another kid cry today. Cut for length.

Feb 23 2009

From last week.

Miss Minnow is in my first class on Wednesday. She’s six years old, and when she grows up she wants to be Nicolo Machiavelli. She’s very smart, very cute, and very manipulative. When Miss Minnow is in a bad mood, she wants everyone else to be in a bad mood, too. So she modifies the situation.

One of the other girls, Spaztastic, is Minnow’s age, but as suggested by the name, is hyperactive and not big on thinking things through. She also gets upset when she starts losing a game. The other girl, Blue, is younger than the other two and a little slower, but really, really wants to Be A Good Student. This means that for most of the class, she’s focusing all her limited attention on me – she doesn’t notice when Spaztastic is about to freak out. And she claps her hands and gets all happy when she gets something right or wins a game, which invariably infuriates Spaztastic.

So what Miss Minnow does when she’s angry is, she tries to fix the games so Blue is winning. Because she’s the only one of the girls with a functioning attention span (and I’m probably busy pulling Spaztastic down off the curtains), she doesn’t have much trouble doing it – we’ll be playing marbles, and she’ll wait until Blue’s looking at me and Spaztastic’s trying to sneak across the room to get her crayon box or something, and she slips some of her own marbles in with Blue’s.

And when Blue’s turn is over, Blue looks down at her marbles and says happily, “Blue is winning!”* And Spaztastic pouts ominously, glares at her, and throws something at the wall.

When she’s in a good mood, she doesn’t want to have to hear me yell at Spaztastic and harsh her buzz, so she fixes the game in the other direction – she makes sure Blue never gets more than one point ahead of Spaztastic. This requires some more delicacy, because unlike Blue, Spaztastic can and does count her points – obsessively, even. She will eventually notice that they’ve been moving around, even if she never actually catches Miss Minnow at it. She can’t figure out whether to blame Miss Minnow or me (it doesn’t occur to her to blame Blue), but either one is clearly insupportable.

So what Miss Minnow does is, she keeps winning herself (she never has any trouble with this), but then visibly gives her own points to Blue, who will happily accept them because Miss Minnow is her hero and she likes getting “presents” from her. This allows Spaztastic to consider the definition of “winning” the game as something more fluid, so she eventually stops keeping such careful count of her points, allowing Miss Minnow to start slipping them in.

For Miss Minnow’s bad moods, I switch to games where no one wins, but for the good ones I’ve just been letting her manage things. Hey, she’s developed a strategy for quieting Spaztastic down for five minutes. I have no complaints.

Miss Minnow heard me speaking Japanese to her Mom at one point, and really wants to get me to do it during class, or at least to prove that I understand words more complicated than “English,” “Japanese,” and “homework.” I’m not supposed to do that, but if I’m distracted and a kid talks at me in Japanese, I sometimes forget.

So last week, while I was grading homework, Spaztastic tugged on my arm and gleefully showed me how she’d covered her entire coloring sheet with pink. I said, “Heeee.” (Approximate translation: “You iz weird, honey.”)

Miss Minnow said, “Teacher just spoke Japanese! She said “heeee!”"

I said, “No, no! That’s English. It’s, uh… it’s Canadian English. I said “Eh.” Canada English.”

Blue said, “Canada!”

I pointed it out on the map. “Here. Near America, on top of America.”

Miss Minnow explained helpfully to the other two, “Canada is a very cold place. Winter there is really cold.”

I said in English, “Excuse me? You live in Niigata. Winter’s cold here.” I said this without expecting them to understand it, but apparently the word “Niigata” rendered the comment comprehensible to Miss Minnow – she smirked at me, and I realized I had just totally proven I could understand their conversation.

I hope Miss Minnow uses her powers for good.


* Little Japanese girls seriously do refer to themselves in the third person a lot, it turns out. I’d vaguely thought the extent of the phenomenon was fictionalized by anime for purposes of cuteness, but no.

Feb 22 2009


I just realized that iTunes* went crazy at some point in the past year, and I have two or three copies of about half of my music collection – all in the same folder as the originals, but with different filenames and metadata. The apparently random nature of which files were copied and how many copies I ended up with makes it less than convenient for me to go through and clean the folder up manually.

Is there a program that can search through and identify the duplicate files, even accounting for the differing metadata, and allow me to bulk-delete them? I’ve tried MediaMonkey and Duplicate Music Files Finder, and they both seem to choke on the different-metadata problem.

* I assume this to be iTunes’ fault because it is the only media player/organizer that I have ever used on this computer.

Mar 16 2007

Heracles is asleep in Gandalf’s bed.

Gandalf is afraid of what’ll happen if he wakes him up, so he’s sitting down over here instead.

This family strongly believes that names for pets must, out-of-context, make all descriptions of their behavior appear to be excerpts from NC-17-rated crossover fanfic.

Other mental exercises:

Ophelia bitch-slapped Kim Jong Il* at dinner, and I had to separate them.

Gigi‘s probably not going to come down until we get Lenin inside.

Michael Faraday is having his testicles removed next week.

* The cat was actually named after the original Pink Ranger. I have since mentally changed the attribution several times (she was Kim from Doonesbury for a while) because she’s technically my cat and I can.

Nov 15 2006

(I am never, ever going to get to sleep.)

(This text was originally posted on LiveJournal. It has been reformatted (awkwardly) for use on WordPress.)

Apparently, Yukito Kishiro is taking some time off the main Last Order plotline to start a series called GUNNM Gaiden/write some side stories? Or something? You’re not helpful today, internet.

I’d actually be kind of okay with that. I feel like Last Order is moving really slow. Over the first seven volumes of the original GUNNM, we had like six plot arcs spanning about fifteen years. That was one of the things I liked so much about it. It was a fighting manga with no filler! No monsters-of-the-day! A new, absurdly melodramatic plotline that completely breaks Alita’s heart almost every volume! This was awesome.

But at seven volumes of Last Order, we’ve only covered a few months of time – the past three volumes have just been a couple of days. And they haven’t really been eventful days, by Kishiro’s usual standards. An eventful day for Alita used to be:

( cut for massive spoilers for first series, minor spoilers for Last Order )

Continue reading “(I am never, ever going to get to sleep.)”

Oct 13 2006

(The cat should definitely be an orange tabby with a light blue collar.)

The United States has given me mutant paranoia senses. Coming outside this morning, I realized that everything smelled really bad, and also that there was a loud grinding or pouring noise from somewhere. I did not think, “Dude, the celestial cat pissed on god’s stove*,” then “They must be doing some kind of weird construction again.” No, for that is the reasonable response.

I thought, “Dude, the celestial cat pissed on god’s stove,” then, “Oh shit we’re getting biological warfare’ed with grindy-sound burnt-cat-pee bombs why does international law not forbid grindy-sound burnt-cat-pee bombs why.”

This concern actually seriously affected my concentration on studying for this morning’s history midterm. I was sitting in the basement of the library thinking about those biological weapons I read about for essaypocalypse, trying to remember if any of them somehow involved urea.

I started composing this post in my head then, to shut my paranoia centers down. However, I did not let myself post it until now, because first I had to check the internet to make sure no one did use biological weapons on my campus. They might not tell us!

But now that I’m sure it’s safe, I think I might go into town to get stuff to make sushi.


* I can only hope that this metaphor is not as vividly familiar to others as it is to me.

Aug 27 2006


(This text was originally posted on LiveJournal. It has been reformatted (awkwardly) for use on WordPress.)

I guess the internet’s been having Big Creepy Bugs Week or something? There seem to be more people than usual having horrible bug encounters on my friends list, and there was a thing on one of the _wank comms about people wanting bug pictures kept under lj-cuts.

In middle school I would always carry a thing of dental floss in my bag, which I would use to make little leashes for the preying mantises I beat out of the bushes at recess. That sentence should be giving you a pretty accurate picture of my social life at the time.

But it also means that I can totally look at those centipede pictures on FW and then go right back to my crunchy sandwich.

Today, however, I looked at Boing Boing. And there was the fucking hummingbird hawkmoth.

I seriously don’t think you should click on that link. ( You probably shouldn’t read the rest of this, either. )

Oh my god that thing is awful. It took me a second to realize it wasn’t a hummingbird. That’s what’s so bad about it. Hummingbirds are nice, and big moths are okay, but a really big moth that looks like a hummingbird, with a thick body and a bunch of ineffectual little tapered legs with no feet – that is Lovecraft. And its eyes aren’t where it looks like they are, and its front half is shaped like a vibrator, and it would be the worst thing ever to have come flying at your neck because it’s so much more fragile than a bird and its little proboscis-thing would break off and it would be hurt so it wouldn’t stop flying around and shit.

And I’m not going to be able to fix this by fucking looking at kitten pictures, either, because I’m going to suddenly became convinced that one of them is actually a freaky bug that only looks kind of like a kitten, and its eyes are actually infrared bits or sticky traps for smaller bugs. Please, someone tell me that a mad biologist bioengineered that thing, so I can go kill him for it.

Before, the only Boing Boing person I had conceived a personal hatred for was Cory Doctorow, because he shares my basic politics, but fills them full of a kind of viscerally unpleasant self-absorption and paranoia. But now I hate Frauenfelder, too, for the much sounder reason that he thought the creepyfuck bug was pretty and just slammed the picture up on the main page with no warning. I want to slap him really hard.

I had a nightmare a few years ago about a computer virus getting printed out, and getting up off the paper as a really big, really thin, translucent bug with a lot of wings that it didn’t actually use to fly – because it was a program, it was immune to air, so you couldn’t wave a magazine at it to blow it away from you, so it just kept coming. This moth is actually worse than my made-up dream monster. I would still hate the moth if you told me that every last one of them had died last night because of air pollution.


Also, here is a webcomic.

(edited a couple times to correct the date and put a cut in)

Continue reading “AAAAAAAGH”

Apr 13 2006

Deranged muttering.

A combination of the quality of the material my cheap jeans were made with, and the positioning of the expensive MP3 player in my pocket over the past couple of hours, has inflicted upon me an irritating dermatological condition which I term “nerdrash.”

Don’t steal my term, jerks.*

The buds on the tree I can see out the hall window get bigger every day. Tomorrow morning I expect to find that they have, sometime during the night, suddenly exploded into monstrous, bloated, cabbage-like growths, smashing some poor frat dude too drunk to ever have known what hit him into the window. His slow slide to the ground will leave a sickening smear of blood and pollen trailing down the glass. Also, arbitrary alliteration.

Spring is malevolent. I keep *sneezing* and stuff.

* It’d be even better if I could somehow connect this with Passover.

Apr 06 2006

And while we’re talking about the POKEMON COMICS

I finally got volumes six and seven in from ILL yesterday, and I read them last night, and it was almost unbelievably slashy* and I was right about everything it just all came out at the end of volume six, and now I can completely truthfully say that I’m using Pokemon comic as one of the primary sources for my senior research.

I think I’m going to ruin some people on scans_daily‘s day when I’ve got some more free time; I don’t feel up to explaining the awesomeness of this manga right now and without plenty of visual aids scanned in.

* and I looked up the illustrator, MATO, last night, and saw that she does Gundam Wing doujinshi for-Christ’s-sake, so it’s not my imagination

Mar 16 2006

What even brought this on?

ladyringolane is having a grande mal emo-zure in there. She woke me up a while ago playing something about girlfriends and the color brown, and just now it was “Iris” (which she claims is the world’s emo-est song) and then something really loud with a hoarse guy yelling stuff*.

Yet even over this, I could hear her pounding on her keyboard, having been spurred on to a pivotal emotional point in her latest story about gay cowboys in Nazi Germany who own restaurants in the rain.**

Go, ladyringolane, go! Ganbatte, imouto! Fight! Show the rest of who’s boss.

And turn down the volume at some point before I go back to bed, please, I’m still looking over my shoulder thinking a girlfriend is breaking into the house to steal all our brown.


* It wasn’t Conor Oberst; unbeknownst to many, Oberst suffered a tragic marching band accident in his youth that permanently shattered his yellin’ bone. With access to today’s cutting-edge technologies, he might have recovered – but physical therapy was not as advanced a discipline in early-80′s Whingeiana as it is today, and the treatment he received basically just consisted of being slapped for forty-five minutes each day. It was later determined that this has no real medical value.

** This sentence may not accurately describe my sister’s oeuvre; it may, rather, stem from a hallucination induced by being woken up all of a sudden.

Jan 20 2006

Ash/Gary – it’s *almost* canon.

It is completely ridiculous that I cannot find a single copy of Pokemon Adventures: A Trainer in Yellow. Viz obviously printed at least a *couple* – they admit as much on their website – and I’m the only person alive who actually *wants* one. So where *are* they?

There ought to be all these self-conscious high school and college students quietly selling off all their really incriminating manga cheap – I mean, I am *prepared* to take advantage of these people. But I *can’t find any*.

This is going to turn into one of these things where I’ve got to order the damn manga in French from Quebec, because the Anglophone publishers don’t properly appreciate it, isn’t it? I thought we’d put those days behind us, Viz. I’m very disappointed in you.

If anyone reading this thinks they might possibly own a Pokemon manga with a blond kid in a straw hat on the cover, talk to me. You can pretend a confused aunt gave it to you for Chrismukkah or you bought it thinking it was gay porn*, I don’t care. I just need this thing. I am looking at right now.

* It’s all subtext.