Showing posts from February, 2013
The Gyakuten Saiban/Ace Attorney series that I've been poking at is basically made of terrible puns. The Japanese, if you haven't noticed, love these things. Both spoken and written puns are much easier to construct in Japanese than in many other languages -- although the visual ones don't always work when read aloud, and the aural ones don't always work in text -- for a number of reasons.

First and foremost are the borrowed Chinese characters. Called kanji in Japanese and hanzì in Mandarin (both written 漢字), they came into widespread use back in the ancient court days, when the high-ranking men would keep official records in Chinese script, mostly as a status symbol ("behold, I have to do so little physical peasant labor that I can learn an entire other complicated language without starving") to prevent the plebs from getting into them. I can't swear that women were never taught Chinese, but educated women wrote in the vernacular, using hiragana, which a…
This has been a hell of a week, so I'm trying to think of other, less important things, to keep myself from going completely gonzo. Right now, I'm having an enormous, but ultimately inconsequential, sad over the fact that Gyakuten Kenji 2 is not going to be released in English, pretty much ever.

Gyakuten Kenji translates as Turnabout Prosecutor -- the series English speakers would know as Ace Attorney Investigations, the semi-spinoff line to the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney games for the Nintendo DS. (The main series is known in Japan as Gyakuten Saiban, or Turnabout Trial Court. The reference is to Phoenix's habit of letting the prosecution get thiiiiiiiiiiis close to grinding his metaphorical face into the dirt before he remembers something horribly important and snatches victory, and usually some amount of insanity, from the jaws of defeat.) I love these things like you would not believe. They are tremendously clever, and the entire writing staff are devout worshipers at…
I finally lost the broken rat yesterday.

He fell or jumped out of the cage the night before; I woke up to find him sleeping in one of my shoes, next to the bed. I tried to put him back into the nest box with his brothers, but he emphatically did not want to be set down -- every time I tried it, he hauled himself back up to the cage door and went NO, UPMOMMYUP! So, aside from a few times I had to run to the bathroom, and once out to the grocery store, he spent his last few hours wrapped in a warm towel, and draped over my shoulder like a sleepy baby.

I think I am proud to report that my rats are so spoiled that this one felt free to complain about bits of carrot in his baby food -- and flick them distastefully in random directions with his nose -- while he was being hand-fed out of a spoon, lying across my lap. I capitulated and just gave him my own cheese and broccoli soup the night before. His last nibbles were chunks of canned peaches, which he quite enjoyed.

One of nature's sma…
It's very difficult sometimes to properly convey what my family is like to normal people. Fortunately, I have a convenient shortcut for nerds: My mother is Lwaxana Troi, only without the telepathic powers, and she's married to her Mr. Homm. She's very intelligent, independent, and has a total lack of shame that very occasionally comes in handy, such as when one has been kidnapped and stripped naked by a number of rogue Ferengi; but overall, her refusal to respect pretty much any social norm that strikes her as stupid, or capitulate gracefully to other peoples' requests, drives most everyone bats.

A number of people have independently drawn this comparison over the years, one of them actually being my mother. She's thrilled. She has no idea why everyone on the Enterprise has sticks lodged up their unmentionables and thinks they should all just lighten up. She's also aware that I used to play a sort of gallows-humor game with my friends in high school that we cal…
Discussions of physical attractiveness are often fraught. Often, it trolls itself rapidly down into a shouting match between people who see themselves as the "haves" and the people who see themselves as the "have-nots". It doesn't always break down according to who the average observer would consider attractive. "Anecdote" is not the singular of "data", but it's been my experience that overwhelmingly, the people who would disagree with a disinterested third-party over which group they were in are the ones who are generally considered attractive but don't believe so.

Eventually, someone will get frustrated with all the talk of what should be and shout, "Yeah, but all other things being equal, wouldn't you rather be pretty?" It's the Godwin's Law of the topic. What do you call that, anyway? Wolf's Law?

There are two ways you can take that question. One of them is a near-instant way to trip everyone's tempe…

Weekend Radio Theater

The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - "The Manor House Case"

The Adventures of Sam Spade - "The Sugar Kane Caper"

Box 13 - "The Dowager And Dan Holiday"
I find myself in need of money again. The money sink is desperately, disappointingly mundane, made worse by someone having tremendously fucking inconsiderate timing. It is not as exciting as blackmail nor as romantic as a heroin habit, so literally any reason you fill in here will be more interesting than what is actually going on. I hate this part like hell, and it is making me have nightmares. Thurs/Fri were blocked off for my contract work, and it is not an immediate life-or-death matter, so I literally refuse to deal with this at all until business hours on Monday.

I do not think anyone quite understands the kind of budget I am working with here. I make about $800/mo with my permanent contract work. My rent is nearly $500/mo, which is quite good for Medford/Somerville. Money for other things -- like, say, food -- comes out of my freelancing, which depends entirely on people reading the résumés and comps I give them, and then actually calling me back. I frequently have to drop phon…
The thing about the whole people-sense is that, like the language-sense, it kicks me in the brain at the weirdest times.

I sat down and watched a whole bunch of Mock the Week recently, because I love Dara Ó Briain. Also current events shows are way less anxiety-inducing when they're many years out of date, and I have the comfort of knowing that I will never wake up one morning and find that my country has handed control of part of the government to what appears to be a 400-year old Scottish man named "Ming". As a note that is completely tangential to what the rest of this post will be about, I'm always surprised at how much US news leaks into y'all's television programming, including the satire. (The Dubya years were such a goldmine, weren't they? The one American accent Brits appear to be able to get a reliable handle on is 'mentally-deficient Texan'.) We, on the other hand, kind of vaguely know that you still have a Queen, and that Prince Charle…
One of my readers wrote me the other day and mentioned an intention to embark on the grand adventure of owning rats. I don't know if she's already got them or not, but if anyone else is interested in acquiring rodents, here are a few pieces of advice.

Assuming that you haven't inherited your rats by accident or necessity -- I know several people who have ended up with rescue rats -- there's an easy way to ensure you get friendly, sociable critters.

First, you find a pet shop that sells rats. Note that I do not say 'find a shop that sells pet rats'. Unless you specifically want a particular breed of fancy rat, like a dumbo or a rex, rats is rats is rats. The ones in the pet terrarium are exactly the same as the ones in the bin marked "snake food (small)". Snake food is often cheaper.

(We took some un-fancy rats to the veterinarian once. I had a hell of a time making the appointment. The receptionist kept asking me what kind of rats they were. I eventu…
One of the stranger people on my playlist -- in an absolute sense, rather than in the contextual sense that I'm American and normally we're kind of blind to anything outside our national borders -- is Yoshiki. Yoshiki is...

Well. Yoshiki is something.

The best way to explain this is probably to point out that his initial claim to fame was as the drummer (and main composer) for the visual-kei metal band X Japan...


...and his second claim to fame was as a classical pianist who was once invited to compose and perform a piece for the 10th anniversary of the Emperor's ascension to the throne.


There are a lot of echoes of the one in the other; he handles drums and piano both like he has about five hands, and the vocalist for X Japan up there is screaming some oddly poetic things at the top of his lungs. (Probably more obvious to English speakers in the ballad "Crucify My Love" -- also Yoshiki's doing, and a pretty good rep…
Whilst I have been following people like Gackt for years and years, and am not always much for the new visual kei acts, a few of them are indeed interesting. One of these is exist†trace.

The whole visual kei thing, as a coherent style, started out in the early 1980s in what were essentially heavy metal bands trying specifically to be outrageous. If you look at pictures of early X Japan, one of the first acts in the genre, their style can probably be best described as 'kabuki punk'.

(Those are all guys, by the way. Androgyny has become a very big intentional part of the look in more recent times, but the Japanese standard of male beauty has always involved some amount of effeminate prettiness -- in Genji Monogatari, a serial romance novel from about a thousand years ago, one of the running jokes is basically that in a room full of stunning court women, Prince Genji is still the prettiest of them all.)

One of the most consistent things is that all of the early bands were compose…
One thing I did not get much flak for as a kid was being short. This is because I grew up in Phoenix. I don't know whether it's ethnic variation or environmental conditions or what, but a lot of Mexican women are itty-bitty, and Mexican men have been conditioned to expect that there is an inverse relationship between the size of the lady and the size of the lady's temper. You do not mess with the tiny little chicas if you value either your life or your cojones. Especially if she has her kids with her -- a sufficiently-enraged mamacíta is perfectly capable of turning around and just fucking killing you without putting the baby down.

Shakira is one of these pocket-sized bombshells. She's something just shy of five feet tall, exact height depending on which bio you read. I first ran into her music in 1998 or so, while taking a Spanish class that I had signed up for because my high school required me to be on campus for at least half the school day, and they had completely…

Weekend Radio Theater

The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - "The Mystery of the Vanishing White Elephant"

The Adventures of Sam Spade - "The Dick Foley Caper"

Box 13 - "The Professor And The Puzzle"
I venture forth and read the Gawker sites from time to time, because sometimes I am a catty bitch and I want company. The last time I did it, I found a piece about "pretty person jobs" and the role they play in this, our total-shithole economy. Despite being on Jezebel, there are actually a couple of reasonably intelligent points buried in there, particularly the one about how pretty-person jobs are not universally awesome or degrading.
It took me forever and a day to say 'fuck it' and start writing about gifted-kid issues online. The sheer overwhelming hostility in the comments on that piece are why I don't write more about pretty-person issues here. The hatred and resentment from people who perceive themselves as not part of the smart/pretty in-group -- and it is very much about their self-perception; attractive and intelligent people are just as apt to be delusional as anyone else -- is some of the trolliest trolling troll-bait I've seen outside of politic…
The good Captain has posted yet another piece of excellent advice about compliments and why it's not a really great thing to always argue with them. She is pragmatic and insightful, as always, and if she keeps this up I'm going to have to resort to just writing mash notes when I don't have anything to add. Hope AwkwardPartner doesn't mind, Jenn.

For those who feel much more socially adrift and panic at the thought of trying this out without some visual examples, this is how you politely take a compliment:

(Snaffled from Rikki Sixx, who conveniently just posted them to tumblr. I can't actually reblog on Blogger, so this'll have to do.)
Note that it is totally okay to be really bashful, if that's how you feel. You can look away, or duck your head, or fiddle with your fingernails, or close your eyes briefly, if nice things still overload your thinky parts. You do not need to be regally unruffled at all times. You are not Grace Kelly. Even people who are awesom…