This animated series based on the comic books of the same name by Carlos Meglia and Carlos Trillo has excellent animation, but is lacking in every other department. I wanted to say all the characters are written as if they were kids, even the grown-up, but that would be unkind toward kids, even they don’t talk and act as ridiculous as the characters in Cybersix. Despite some nice action sequences all the episodes manage to be boring and pedestrian, the overall story arc of the whole series feels like you’ve seen it a thousands times before and doesn’t manage to either engage or surprise you. In the end, the excellent animation feels wasted on this one.
CoC is in a certain sense a follow-up to Blackmore’s introduction to consciousness. The book features interviews with many prominent people from the consciousness-research-scene, philosophers, scientists or both. It’s a follow-up, because many of the concepts discussed were explained in-depth in Blackmore’s introduction. The book is far more interesting and far more easier to follow if you understand the questions without needing to go to wikipedia every second word.
The reason why CoC is interesting has less to do with learning something about consciousness per se, as this was already done well in Blackmore’s introduction, than in showing the diverse approaches and opinions regarding consciousness by giving a voice to the people for whom this research is something that deeply matters. And despite how smart these people seem from what we learn about their background and their answers, these interviews show that they are as human as the rest of us, pig-headed, dismissive, arrogant at times but also curious, self-critical and open-minded at other times. In many ways its refreshing and the only sad thing is that the mystery of consciousness will probably not be solved during their and our lifetime.
Of all my interests, music is probably the one I have the least knowledge about. I never understood anything about it in school, thinking math easy while never managing to learn the musical scale. It may have as much to do with laziness as with my approach to it, music for me is something completely emotional, something to be experienced and not analyzed. I know what I like, but I rarely know why.
So, let’s start with one of my favorite albums, the third and final stage of the transformation of the German EBM/Industrial band Die Krupps to a full blown industrial metal act, called Odyssey of the Mind. It showed me that there may be other interesting stuff beyond mere metal and since then I tried some stuff from the industrial side of the equation. While I’ve heard and liked most of the other albums by Die Krupps, this one is still the best, the perfect mix of two styles, the aggressiveness from the metal side, the machinelike voices, electronic distortions and repetitive structure from the industrial side.
Based on the manga by Saki Okuse, this animated adaption is downright awful. Since I haven’t read the original it’s based on, I can’t say where the rot set in, but this movie just stinks. I’m always wary when a movie tries to explains its backstory through an introduction. It’s about some eon-long fight between demons and protectors of mankind and shit, but it’s not really important.
The real movie starts with a sex scene, then the man transforms into a monster, takes a bite out of the woman and goes away. The woman survives and wants to find out what happened to her lover and commissions a guy who happens to be the last protector of mankind to find out where he is and so on. As it turns out, behind all that is the last demon, who has survived the last conflict with the protector and now has a scheme going with drugs that transform people.
The biggest problem of the movie is that it never successfully establishes a main character whom one can follow, the woman is only there for the beginning and the protector too much of a walking cliche of anime-stereotypes to care. Second to that is stupid dialog and a convoluted and yet laughable stupid story.
At the end of the movie, when the protector and the demon face each other, there’s a story twists that was so laughable stupid I nearly fell out of many chair. It’s also boring, which is even worse considering the short running time of the movie. I was sitting there, hoping it would be over soon, trying not get brain damage.
This well done platformer by Polestar, which was fan-translated by Aeon Genesis, is a bit on the easy side concerning difficulty, but manages to convince with atmosphere and solid gameplay.
The backstory is pretty generic, it’s about a nice kingdom invaded by some evil guys, but then the hyperactive princess fights back. The intro is done in an extreme saccharine style that brings a smile to even the most hardened guys (or not, some might find it too cute). The early levels are very linear, the later allow a modest bit of exploration and sometimes even some small puzzles. To advance you have to collect spells. That’s it, but while it doesn’t sound like much, it’s really fun. Well done graphics, excellent controls and just plain fun to play.
Susan Blackmore’s diverse and exhaustive coverage of everything consciousness is the most interesting and enjoyable non-fiction book I’ve read in recent times. The interesting comes from the content, but the enjoyable comes not only from the interesting parts, but how those are delivered. Too many non-fiction books I’ve tried in recent times gave me the feeling like someone’s preaching to me, which I find especially annoying in books covering science, not theology or politics.
Blackmore, despite giving obvious clues to where her sympathies lie, gives you the feeling that she is open to to other viewpoints and more interested in readers who form their own opinions than in enforcing them. This makes the book a very relaxed read. I may feel uncomfortably with a few of the themes she is covering under the heading consciousness, but at least I never got the feeling that she was trying to convert me.
One thing I found interesting was the discovery why some people wouldn’t mind teleporting themselves, why other find the idea abhorrent, something that gets discussed from time to time in SF circles. It’s tied to what concept of self you have, either you’re a bundle theorist or an ego theorist.
Billed as the second Super Mario World, this almost perfect platformer sports Yoshi and his many colored kin as the main characters, trying to reach Bowser’s castle to save baby Luigi while carrying baby Mario on their backs. The only thing that could prevent one from enjoying the game is the overly cute design, as it’s as child friendly as possible. The main gameplay is made up of typical yet still very enjoyable platformer levels.
The major new addition to Yoshi’s skills is the ability to collect eggs and shoot them at will, which is a welcome change to the usual platformer fare of merely jumping on everything. But the best part of the game is the inventive boss design. Each time you think you’ve seen it all and each time the game manages again to surprise you with a boss who can’t be beaten with the old jump on the head, but requires a new unique tactic.
Since the mini brouhaha over young adult fiction in the sf circles on the net last year, I thought it was time to actually try something out myself. In recent times I realized that I’ve grown apart from children’s fiction, books I once enjoyed I find lacking in depth now. The same with new ones as well. Unconsciously I had put young adult fiction into the same category, but at least the first entry in the midnighter series by Scott Westerfeld proved me wrong. Like children’s fiction the characters are young, albeit not kids, but their characterization has the same depth as everything published for adults.
Another big draw of the book is the setting. Monsters that have hunted humans since the dawn of time, but are afraid of new things, have retreated into a magical 25th hour, where time is frozen. Some kids in the small town of Bixby have access to this hour and both groups leave each other alone, until a new girl arrives in town and is hunted by the monsters. It’s hard to pinpoint whether the book is fantasy or not, since the way how the kids explore the 25th hour and confront its creatures has a very modern, rational element. In the end, if you want to go completely meta, the book dances on the edge between fantasy and sf, showcasing a battle between magic and science.
Pushing Daisies is a show that I find more interesting than a show that I really like. Like Tim Burton did in his movies, it uses live action to create a world that feels slightly surreal, an effect more often generated with animation than live action. It’s also slightly detached, partly due to the surreal feel of the show, partly due to the narrator and how he comments on everything that happens, which also reminds you that you’re just watching a show and which stops you from feeling completely engrossed.
Since I must admit I find the overall narrative arc of the show and most of the characters and their little stories less than interesting, once the surreal feel of the show had lost its newness factor, my overall interest was waning till the end of the first season. I probably pass on the next one.
Chuck is one of these series about whose main premise I don’t want to think too deeply, or the stupid concept would detract from all the fun I have with this show. And if I hadn’t seen one episode due to chance, I probably would have missed the show. It’s not so much the story that compels you to watch, but the characters. In a short time you begin to root for them, be it rude John Casey or lazy Morgan. While the show is very formulaic in many ways, it does manage to bring the characters to live and with that everything else, story or action, becomes interesting too.
I also like the seemingly unholy synthesis of two worlds, the action of the (movie concept of the) espionage world and the work day at Buy More. Which reminds me that another dramedy series, Reaper, has its main characters working at a retailer. Makes you wonder whether that has become such a strong shared cultural experience that it makes the characters of a TV-show more accessible for the current crop of watchers.