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< Piro >

"a little push"

Tuesday - July 22, 2008

[Piro] - 10:53:38 - [link here]

This sketch is actually the result of some antagonisticly friendly back and forth between hawk and i that ended up with hawk suggesting i draw him as Batman and Piro as the Joker. I found myself doodling the idea in the margins here and there for the past week till the idea took hold a little more seriously, and this one rather rudely grew out of the margin. I blame it's emergence on listening to the Dark Knight soundtrack (because i haven't actually seen the movie yet). I'm actually a big fan of the original Batman film (the movies went quickly downhill after the first one, until the most recent two movies) so i've been very curious to see how this version of the Joker works for me. Yes, i'm fairly shure i'll be happy. In a creeped out shuddering kinda way, maybe.

When i showed it to Hawk, he asked me to send it to him, and he did this rehash of it. Spooky.

I put my original version in the DPD because ... hell, hawk's version was a little TOO scary. Don't wanna skare the kiddies too much, now, do i?

had to rehash some things in the chapter, glad i did - working much better now. Sort of like battle plans, no story i write survives actual contact with drawings on paper, it always changes. For the better usually. :) Next comic is on deck and with some luck i'll be posting it on schedule tonight.

< Dom >

"Deciphering Ghibli"

Saturday - August 9, 2008

[Dom] - 21:14:50 - [link here]

Last night, I went to a theater to see the latest Ghibli movie, Gake no Ue no Ponyo.  I had a beer or two beforehand just to enjoy the novelty of beer in a movie theater, and as soon as the movie started, I found myself wishing I'd had a few more.

The plot of the movie is simple enough, but the presentation is so creepy, the execution so haphazard, and the scenes so mashed-together that only a drunk or a child can accept the flow of the movie without asking a whole bundle of questions. "What was the point of devoting a 5-minute scene to breast milk?"  "Wait, why does everyone just accept the fact that this girl used to be a goldfish?"  "Are we supposed to like the main character after he bashes the female lead with a rock and proceeds to blow off every single one of his friends in favor of a creepy goldfish-slug-girl-thing?"

Toward the end of the movie, so many miscellaneous things had occurred all jumbled together that when I tried to answer my own questions, I found myself unable to fill in the blanks.  It's kind of sad to me that when you splice in the story of, say, BioShock with Ponyo, the movie makes a whole lot more sense than it does if you take the story at face value.  When the underwater wizard Fujimoto drinks what seems to be fish DNA near the middle of the movie, it makes much more sense to consider it to be an Adam gene treatment than to think that he gets magic power from waving flashlights at giant squids.  I'm not sure what that means, but I think it falls somewhere between "Miyazaki needs a good producer badly" and "Old man, you need to stop spending years drawing waves and think about crafting a more coherent story - you know, like you did before Howl's Moving Castle threw all that out the window."

I don't expect any of you to believe me that the movie is poorly constructed, since all the reviews of Ponyo I've seen on the English-speaking Internet have been overwhelmingly positive and Miyazaki has built up so much goodwill with wonderful movies.  But when I talked to my friend RiceSuki in Shizuoka, he agreed with my assessment, saying "This movie is only for children, because anyone else will wonder what the fuck [Miyazaki] was smoking when he made it."

Aside from the jumbled narrative and strange visuals, though, I do admit that there a lot of bright spots in the movie.  The characters, as with almost every Ghibli movie, are easy to like, especially Sousuke's mom Risa (voiced by Yamaguchi Tomoko, who J-drama fans will recognize from Long Vacation) and some of the old ladies at the nursing home she works at.  The home scenes are really fun to watch, even though there are only two of them, and...

Hmm.  That was it, really.  So, yeah - I guess that overall, I didn't like the movie much.  Time to cleanse my mental palate with Totoro, Nausicaa, and Cagliostro.

Yeah, it really did look like that.

< Dom >

"Climbing the Culinary Mountain"

Thursday - August 7, 2008

[Dom] - 18:37:52 - [link here]

Sometimes, my lifelong quest to seek out the abnormal comes back to bite me in the ass. While some of the unique Nagoya cuisine I've sampled has been great, like an eel rice bowl covered in tea and a pork cutlet slathered in miso, I was completely unprepared for what awaited me at the infamous cafe Mountain.

I first found out about Mountain through Asmodeus, which really should have been my first clue that it was a bad idea. According to him, the place is famous for its giant portions (mountains, if you will) of shaved ice and pasta. It's also famous for its strange menu, including such highlights as cactus pilaf and an extensive collection of sweet pastas. Asmodeus presented it to me as a challenge: he had eaten a plate of green tea pasta with red bean paste there, so I had to match him in order to keep up. My weapon of choice was melon pasta, which I soon learned was a terrible, terrible mistake.

The plate that came out was bright green, with an oily sheen of way too much melon glaze and a grid of whipped cream that was quickly melting and joining the excess oil and sugar in a pool at the bottom of the plate. There were chunks of cooked honeydew hidden just under the top layer of pasta like squishy, juicy land mines. and just in case there wasn't enough melon glaze used in the dish, there were clumps and clusters of green sugar clinging stubbornly to the pasta strands. All in all, it looked like some kind of play-doh nightmare.

I ate it anyway. Seiya tried some, and immediately started laughing at the sheer silliness of the flavor, which was exactly what you'd expect pasta glazed with melon and cooked with melon to taste like. He assisted me occasionally, but more often, he taunted me with such "encouragement" as "What, you're going to stop now? Asmodeus finished his..." So I kept eating.

About halfway through the plate, I started feeling a little ill - the glaze had started sticking to the inside of my mouth, and every bite of the spaghetti and meatball plate I'd ordered as a safety valve tasted strongly of honeydew. I kept soldiering on, goaded by the thought of losing to Asmodeus and having to put up with his teasing for the rest of my stay in Asia. Chewing became an afterthought, because that just kept adding more layers of green disgustingness to the inside of my mouth. Drinking water didn't help, it just spread the glaze around and made me feel like I was drinking through a confectioner's icing dispenser. I also realized that my lactose intolerance was worse than I thought, because the amount of whipped cream on the plate was playing havoc with my innards, but my inability to admit defeat kept me in the game.

As the last neon green strand of pasta made it into my mouth, I mustered up a bit of pride at my achievement, but that was quickly replaced by eater's remorse. So, after taking a quick picture to memorialize my accomplishment/folly, I rushed home to brush my teeth and forget that I'd just stuffed a heaping plate of neon green crap down my gullet. Afterward, I was told that melon pasta is perhaps the worst food available at Mountain, and that the banana pasta or the seasonal strawberry pasta was a much better choice (something I can easily believe). It wasn't much consolation, but I got a grudging amount of respect from my fellow Mountaineers after they were done mocking my pain.

The lesson I'm taking out of this is that when expanding my culinary horizons, I should at least keep some standards. There are some things that really are best left to pictures on wikipedia, and I'm adding melon pasta to that list along with scrapple, the Luther Burger, and "live" octopus.

Next up: trivia addiction


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