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Messages - ironmage

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Brush and Quill / Re: Book Thread Continued
« on: May 25, 2018, 08:26:01 PM »
The Forge of God (Greg Bear):  An interesting take on first contact with an alien species, but it didn't really take me anywhere new.  Despite the claims on the cover, I wouldn't classify this as "hard" science fiction.

GOod OMeNS (Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman):  What if Armageddon was run by incompetents?  It would be pretty damn funny, that's what.

Caves of Steel (Isaac Asimov):  This is one of Asimov's "Murder Spaaaace!" stories.  An entertaining read, but I prefer Asimov when he writes more traditional science fiction.  I'm not much of a mystery fan.

Anime, TV, and Movies / Re: Anime/Manga Journal
« on: April 30, 2018, 10:49:28 PM »
New season notes below.  TL,DR:  I recommend Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Hinamatsuri, and Megalobox.  I'm not including any comments on continuing series.  This post is long enough as it is.

Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These (3 episodes, continuing):  The older incarnation of this is one of my favorite series, so I was bound to have strong feelings about this remake.  Although I won't call it an unqualified improvement (I liked the old character designs better), it's good in most of the ways that count.

Megalobox (4 episodes, continuing):  The artwork looks like it's from a late-90s sci-fi anime movie, and the writing wouldn't be out of place in a noir-era film.

Hinamatsuri (3 episodes, continuing):  A biological superweapon moves in with a yakuza boss; hilarity ensues.  If you liked Alice and Zoroku, you might like this.

PERSONA5 the Animation (4-episode meh):  If you haven't played the game, I expect you would find the pacing of this terrible; without any gameplay to break up the scenes, it feels really rushed.  If you've already played the game...this doesn't provide much of a change in perspective.

Golden Kamuy (3-episodes, continuing):  The insight into Ainu culture is interesting, but it feels a bit too didactic in tone, and the character development is a bit lacking.

Steins; Gate 0 (3-episodes, continuing):  There's potential here, but it's starting a bit slow.

Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online (1-episode drop):  An MC wearing bright pink combat gear was silly enough, but when I saw the "professionals" advancing down the middle of the street, completely out of cover, I knew this was going to be too stupid to bother with.

Umamusume: Pretty Derby (5-episode drop):  Horse-girls (as in, with ears and tails) race each other in this decidedly odd series.  I assumed this would be a complete disaster, but since P.A. Works is involved, it's actually not that bad.  Unfortunately, there's no plot to speak of.

MAJOR 2nd (4-episodes, continuing):  Not bad for a baseball anime.

Kakuriyo -Bed & Breakfast for Spirits- (2-episodes, continuing):  I've seen this pattern before.  I expect them to run out of material by episode four.

Space Battleship Tiramisu (1-episode drop):  Was this supposed to be funny?  I didn't find this funny.

Fist of the Blue Sky: Regenesis (1-episode drop):  I'm not really a fan of the Fist of the North Star, and nothing here gave me reason to reconsider.  Decent animation, I guess.

Comic Girls (1-episode drop):  Yet another slice-of-life with recycled characters.

Love To-LIE-Angle (1-episode drop):  Three minutes of pointless fanservice in a three-and-a-half minute episode.

Dances with the Dragons (1-episode drop):  I really don't care whether your magic is based on quantum physics, or unicorn feathers.  If your world and your characters are boring, it doesn't matter how clever your exposition is.

Gurazeni: Money Pitch (1-episode drop):  A slightly bland slice-of-life about professional baseball.

GeGeGe no Kitaro (2-episode drop):  I'm okay with Japanese supernatural fare, and although the production quality is decent, nothing here really caught my attention.

You Don't Know Gunma Yet (1-episode drop):  Doesn't seem like a great tourist destination.

Libra of Nil Admirari (12-minute drop):  Anime based on otome games are almost invariably garbage.

Caligula (1.5 episode drop):  It isn't immediately obvious if this is high art, or pretentious, incoherent crap.  I'm assuming the latter.

Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori (14-minute drop):  Host cafe series, possibly with reverse harem elements.  I'm not the target audience for this.

Last Period (6-minute drop):  Fantasy anime doesn't get much more generic than this.

Isekai Izakaya Nobu (4-minute drop): I really don't think we need two series about a Japanese restaurant that connects to another world.

Butler X Battlers (8-minute drop):  After eight minutes, I didn't know the premise of the series, hadn't been given any significant plot points, and had no interest in any of the characters.

My Sweet Tyrant (3-episode drop):  The episodes are 3.5 minutes, and they used up most of their ideas in the first one.  Also, the idea of a male tsundere is somewhat creepy.

General Discussions / Re: Whats the haps?
« on: April 30, 2018, 09:32:03 PM »
Thanks for your encouragement, everyone.

Just be careful not to fall into the trap of "I feel just fine, I don't need meds any more" because it's the meds that are mimicking neurotransmitters in your brain to make you feel normal, and that feeling of normalcy is subtle. 
Absolutely not.  It took three months and two dosage increases before this stuff started to work, I'm not going to mess with it.  I've been dealing with this most of my life (I'm ~39.5), so my standard for "normal" is rather skewed, anyway.

Psychological/mental health is no joke and I'm glad that progress is being made to have it not be a stigma.  We take sick days and medicine when we have the flu, yet we don't when our minds are sick?  You can't just "snap out of it" when it comes to anxiety or depression.
Part of me still thinks that if I was just a bit stronger I could have fought my way clear on my own.  But the fact is, I'd have to be waaay stronger.  Like, bench-pressing 1200 lbs stronger.  But when someone needs to lift 1200 lbs in real life, they're probably not embarrassed to use a forklift.

Instead of reflexively resisting, utilize the Bruce Lee wisdom of water becoming the cup and teapot.  Instead of seeing the crisis as a liability, how can I turn that into an advantage?
True, but keep your options open.  If the crisis comes at you with a broken bottle, sometimes you just gotta knock it down and stomp on it.

I also have my own share of anxieties, coupled with sensory issues. Isn't the human brain fun?
My brain knows when I have work that day, and wakes me up well before the alarm goes off.  I'd give good money to shut that feature off.  I need that sleep, dammit!  Quit trying to be helpful, brain!

From my experience, just having your problems acknowledged and having some sort of plan for dealing with them removes a lot of pressure, because then you can actually get somewhere.
Simply doing something helps me a lot.  I don't know if the coping techniques I learned from the psychologist are directly effective, but having something to do when my nerves start to take over at least makes me feel like I have some control over the situation.

I'm terrible at meditation. I can do the whole 'emptying the mind' part (and there are EEGs to prove it), but after that all the 'not calm' comes crashing down again. Fortunately, I've found some 'reset buttons' that work a lot better for me, like a few games of fast-paced Tetris or a hot shower. So, uh, don't worry if typical meditation fails at more than just superpower-distribution. There are other methods to achieve an atleast similar effect.
I'm not very good at clearing my mind (my inner monologue practically never shuts up), but the relaxation effect seems to persist for a little while, anyway.  I've also had some success with focussing on the sounds around me, even if it's only the sound of my own footsteps.

Haps:  I'm going to try starting tomatoes from seed this year.

General Discussions / Re: Whats the haps?
« on: April 25, 2018, 09:47:26 PM »
I hit a rough patch a few months back.  The whole depression/anxiety thing compounded with work-related stress started to have significant physical side effects, and although desperation isn't in my repertoire, the situation became a bit much to deal with.

I ended up asking for help throwing myself on the mercy of the system.  I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, with some OCD on the side.

I don't think any of the personnel involved understood exactly how bad it was--I'm really good at concealing my internal state--but I guess that doesn't matter.  I got myself a prescription for happy pills and a few sessions with a psychologist, and I'm feeling better.  Better than I have in years.

Now just because I've had a couple good weeks doesn't mean I'm out of the quicksand.  But y'know?  I think this might turn out okay.

On the downside, the meditation exercises haven't given me any superpowers yet.

General Discussions / Re: Whats the haps?
« on: February 17, 2018, 11:15:53 AM »
I always thought people "enjoyed" curling due to it being so different from most of the other events, and so people who weren't so into sports would be into it ironically.  I have absolutely no idea if that's true or not.
I find curling interesting because it alternates a tactical element with a skill-based element.  In the planning stage, you try to figure out how best to get your stones into scoring position, while blocking your opponent from doing the same thing on their turn.  In the execution stage, you throw the stone as accurately as possible...and then desperately try to fine-tune its trajectory without touching it.

Since I live in a part of Canada where curling rinks are as plentiful as bowling alleys, I went on a curling field trip in elementary school.  It's not really the sort of thing I'd do for recreation, but I got enough of an appreciation for it to enjoy watching it occasionally.

So curling is a "hipster" sport then.
Curling is about as hipster as golf.

Anime, TV, and Movies / Re: Anime/Manga Journal
« on: January 23, 2018, 07:09:34 PM »
Yakitate Japan (28-episode peacock):   I guess this captures my sentiments.

A Place Further Than the Universe (3-episodes, continuing):  A girl plans a trip to Antarctica to search for her mother; the problem is convincing an expeditionary team to take her along.  This is my surprise hit of the season.  Likeable characters, quick pacing.

Darling in the Franxx (2-episodes, continuing):  *whistles*  Now that's good giant robot anime.

Record of Grancrest War (3-episode provisional continuance):  This looked to be a decent fantasy series during the first two episodes, but the third felt a bit rushed, and the animation quality began to drop.  I'm cautiously pessimistic.

citrus (3-episode no-comment):  This is something I'm watching.  It belongs to a particular genre, and has characters and plot elements. *cough*

Pop Team Epic (3-episode what-is-this-I-don't-even):  You will either find this very funny, or consider it a complete mess.  Both viewpoints are correct.

Laid-back Camp ( far):  I'm enjoying this slice-of-life highschool-camping-club series at the moment, but I usually get bored with slice-of-life around episode four.  Let's see how it goes.

Hakyu Hoshin Engi (2-episode drop):  I liked the Chinese mythological setting, but the writing was a bit of a mess.  The abrupt scene changes gave me brain whiplash.

Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody (2-episode drop):  I'm not looking for an isekai with an absurdly overpowered protagonist right now, thanks.

And here's the rest:
Spoiler: show

Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles (1-episode drop):  If you thought a series focussed on eating ramen would be boring, you'd be right.

Working Buddies! (1-episode drop):  In the first episode, some cats delivered some packages....and that was basically it.

Katana Maidens ~ Toji no Miko (1-episode drop):  It started out as a "schoolgirls with katanas battle generic monsters" series, but after a brief onsen scene, transitioned to some sort of tournament.

Junji Ito Collection (10-minute drop):   I guess this was supposed to be horror, but I found myself laughing at how silly it was.

Sanrio Boys (5-minute drop):  I'm not the target audience for this.

Slow Start (6-minute drop):  Vapid slice-of-life loli something-or-other.

School Babysitters (1-episode drop):  Too cutesy for my taste.  Sometimes I get the suspicion certain anime series have social engineering as an underlying motivation (e.g., Japan's birthrate is dropping, so let's sponsor a series that makes young children seem cute).

The Ryuo's Work is Never Done! (1-episode drop): Another Shougi series?  But far from being a potential competitor to "The Lion of March", this is just another crappy harem anime.  I'm somewhat insulted that this even exists.

Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san (1-episode drop):  A boy gets teased by the girl who sits to him in class; his attempts at turnaround invariably backfire.  This could have been funny, but the execution wasn't strong enough.

Mitchiri Neko (1-episode drop): Well, that was stupid.

Maerchen Maedchen (1-episode drop):  Having a female protagonist in an isekai isn't all that common, but this is otherwise pretty generic.

How to Keep a Mummy (12-minute drop): Saccharine.

Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens [sic] (1-episode drop):  If you're a professional hitman, hiding in someone's house, waiting for them to come home so you can kill them, why would you answer the doorbell?  That level of stupid can't come naturally.

Brush and Quill / Re: Book Thread Continued
« on: January 21, 2018, 11:25:40 AM »
Leviathan Wakes:  This was entertaining, and a quick read, but I couldn't help but be somewhat disappointed.  Although this is in the science-fiction / space opera genre, there wasn't anything original happening here; although well-executed, it was largely a rehash of old ideas.

The characters were well written...but I didn't like any of them very much. One of the characters was a police detective, which you would think would imply a twisty story, but none of the plot twists surprised me, and frankly, for anyone who has seen Farscape, the title alone makes the ending pretty obvious.

The style of the book is very visual and dialog driven, making it suitable for adaptation to TV (which has apparently already happened:  The Expanse).  I think I might enjoy that series more than this book, but I haven't subscribed to the Space channel in years.

But beyond all that, Leviathan commits a cardinal sin.  There's a scene where a major space battle occurs, and the main characters are stuck in a room in a battleship.  We don't get to see what happens outside.  I get what the author was trying to do here:  being stuck in a room with Big Things happening outside that you have no direct knowledge about, no control over, and could kill you in a blink would be an incredibly dramatic experience.  But you know what would be even more dramatic?  GETTING TO WATCH THE DAMN SPACE BATTLE.

Also minor thing, but is it possible to change the way streams are announced? Even if I mute the channel it will still give me notifications because the function ignores anything that mentions you specifically, and apparently that includes the @Everyone.
Right-click on RPGFan server icon -> click "Notification Settings"
Turn on "Suppress @everyone and @here".

Does this do what you want?

Game Journals / Re: A Game Journal Reborn
« on: January 16, 2018, 08:07:48 PM »
I replayed Ni no Kuni, partly to refresh my memory before the release of the sequel, partly because "platinum cleanup".

I love the artwork, world design, and the music (even if the battle theme doesn't loop properly).

The story and characters are charming, if not particularly inspired.  However, although the localization has high production quality, I have "artistic issues" with the mismatch between the English text and Japanese audio.  The pointless renaming of several characters is bad enough (e.g., Mark->Phillip, Sherry->Myrtle).  But I really get irritated when a translator introduces their own sense of humour.  If the source material has puns?  Sure, go nuts.  You're haven't got a chance of anything near a literal translation at that point, so pretty much anything goes.  But if the source material has a serious tone, and you drop in an unnecessary pun?  I'll hate you forever.  I'm hardly a zealot about exact translations (sometimes a translation even improves on the original), but don't screw with the tone of the material.

The gameplay was passable right up to the third stage of the final boss.  Then its weaknesses became obvious.  Issuing commands to a character only to have them cancelled a few seconds later by an enemy attack, getting stuck waiting to regain control before I can switch to another character...I spent more time fighting the battle system than the boss.  As far as real-time/turn-based hybrid systems go, this isn't a very good one.  I'd rather play FF12 without gambits.

It's not like I actively dislike the game, but I'm not exactly brimming with adulation, either.  I'm not going to pick up the sequel at release.  I'll wait for the reviews.

And now back to farming for the platinum.  (It won't be worth it).

Resonance of Fate - Still in Chapter 2. I think I'm getting a good hang on the battle system, and have managed to fight well without using the action point-draining run-and-gun mechanic.

Resonance of Fate dumps all the game mechanics in your lap right at the start, but it isn't until you're a bit further along that you really need to start exploiting them (or have enough bezels to do so).

Anime, TV, and Movies / Re: Anime/Manga Journal
« on: January 04, 2018, 05:21:04 PM »
Kiddy Grade (7-episode drop):  A duo of female protagonists perform problem-solving missions for a government agency, in a science fiction setting.  Sound familiar?  Yup, this is the same basic formula as Dirty Pair, but without the light comedy and gratuitous collateral damage.

I feel like you should've stuck this one out as it goes to somewhat weird and interesting places later on...
Well, it's not like I hated it, it just wasn't doing anything particularly original (Eclair's lipstick notwithstanding).  If this season turns out to be as weak as the last, I might give it a few more episodes.

You may want to look up "Yakitate Japan".
"Along with his friend Kawachi, he’ll go up against koala karate masters, Harvard bread scientists, samurai with rolling-pin swords and more as he bakes his way to glory!"

Sounds like my kind of show.

Anime, TV, and Movies / Re: Anime/Manga Journal
« on: January 02, 2018, 10:35:51 PM »
Net-juu no Susume (finished):  Cuuuuuuuuuuuute.

March Comes in Like a Lion (season finished):  This series has a way of punching its fist through my ribcage, wrapping its fingers around my heart, and squeezing.  The artwork is good, too.

Food Wars! (season finished):  I've enjoyed the series up to this point;  I think the idea of translating the shounen formula into a cooking anime works well.  However, the "arch-antagonist who wants to take over the world" trope isn't one they should have attempted.  It doesn't fit naturally into a cooking show, unless you're willing to crank it up to Kill-la-Kill or JoJo levels of absurdity.   This series has picked a bad time to start taking itself seriously.

Juuni Taisen (finished):  I was surprised to see Nisioisin's name in the credits, since the dialogue wasn't up to the level of Monogatari, nor was the combat at the level of Medaka Box.  The last episode, at least, had interesting writing, but I'm not sure if it was worth the trip.

Dragonball Super (continuing):  Good pacing in a long running fighting anime?  In a tournament arc, no less?  Doesn't this violate some sort of physical law?

Baka & Test (finished):  This series contains elements of military strategy, slice-of-life, harem, monster summoning, and even (briefly) serious drama; but mostly, it's just funny.

Kiddy Grade (7-episode drop):  A duo of female protagonists perform problem-solving missions for a government agency, in a science fiction setting.  Sound familiar?  Yup, this is the same basic formula as Dirty Pair, but without the light comedy and gratuitous collateral damage.

Game Journals / Re: A Game Journal Reborn
« on: December 28, 2017, 03:43:19 PM »
ME1 is, by a sizeable margin, the most inferior Mass Effect title. go play 2

Thanks.  I was wondering if it was typical of the series; if it had been, I'd have stopped there, and written the whole thing off as overrated.

Mass Effect
... the characters and the plot don't really do it for me.
Not even Tali??

My primary reaction to Tali was "her voice actress has a cute accent".  None of the characters were well developed enough for me to feel much of anything for them.  Maybe that changes in ME2/3?  Or maybe I missed some conversations somewhere.  Maybe on my third playthrough (hooray for trophy hunting!) I'll make a point of talking to everyone between story missions.

Game Journals / Re: A Game Journal Reborn
« on: December 28, 2017, 02:09:09 PM »
I've been playing Mass Effect (the original).  I've finished one playthrough, and I'm partway into my second.  I'm enjoying it, I suppose...but I'm a bit underwhelmed.

I like the setting (spaaace), but the characters and the plot don't really do it for me.  I had some difficulty with the gameplay at first (shooters aren't really my thing), but it was okay once I was sufficiently overlevelled got used to it.  I like some of the artwork (the skies on alien planets can be quite extraordinary).  The music is mostly forgettable.

Some of the sidequests are just silly.  People are just walking up to Shepard and asking him to spy on their competitors...for money.  This sort of thing might work in a fantasy setting, but Shepard is a military officer.  Why would you ask him to do such a thing?  Why would he accept?  Spectre or not, he's got a job to do, and it's not like he isn't drawing a salary.  My disbelief was not suspended.  If they had made Shepard a mercenary (instead of a marine), this might have worked a whole lot better.

In my opinion, this production doesn't qualify as science fiction, or even space opera.  It's a boilerplate fantasy plot in space.

And I think the plot has a hole.
Spoiler: show
Most of this game is centered around Shepard and Saren seeking The Conduit.  The Conduit is, as I understand it, basically a one-way stargate into the Citadel; the Protheans used it to hop over, and reprogram the keepers so that the reapers couldn't issue the signal to open the door to dark space.

Which, considered from the context of the beginning of the game, makes The Conduit completely unnecessary.  At the beginning of the game, Saren is still a respected Spectre, and has access to the Citadel.  He doesn't need The Conduit at all.  All he has to do is walk in the front door, reprogram the keepers, and it's done.  Why is he risking his reputation by messing around with Prothean beacons, which don't do anything but show people funny pictures and give them a headache?

So, no, I'm not impressed with the writing here.

However, I did make it with a hot alien babe. And in the end, is that not what man has dreamt of since first he looked up at the stars? Don't answer that.

I was clearing up some space on my PVR.

Annie Hall (1977):  This critically acclaimed romantic comedy won four Academy Awards (including beating Star Wars for Best Picture).  I think these accolades undeserved.  The characters were unlikeable, the relationship uninteresting, and the plot practically nonexistent.
The overall effect was that of a badly-paced, overlength Seinfeld episode, with most of the comedy edited out.  Allen's one-liners consistently failed to amuse; although he tries to present himself as an intellectual, he comes across as more pretentious than anything else.  (There's more insight into the human condition in the opening narration of a certain Monogatari episode than in this whole movie).
Perhaps if I stretch it, I could try to appreciate this as some sort of self-parody (a movie that mocks pretentiousness).  But given how tedious it was as a whole, I think that would be giving it too much credit.
The breaking of the fourth wall was an interesting device, and admittedly done effectively here...and perhaps if I wasn't so horribly bored I might have appreciated it better.

The H-Man (1958): This is a Japanese monster film by the same production team as Godzilla.  H-bomb testing creates a liquid monster which consumes people, leaving nothing behind but their clothes  (it occasionally assumes vaguely humanoid form, hence the "-Man").  Although there are some creepy moments, this isn't at the same level as Godzilla, and doesn't offer enough to make it recommendable.  However, it easily outclasses Annie Hall for entertainment value.

The Soundroom / Re: Random VGM
« on: December 03, 2017, 07:10:25 PM »
Some favorites from VC3.  (Composer: Sakimoto).

With Pride in the Heart
Are the Customers Simply Money?  This plays in the equipment shop.  I like the violin around 0:42.
Calamity Raven
A Momentary Rest.  The use of flutes and woodwinds here reminds me of the Cerobi Steppe.
OPEN FIRE!  This music plays while Imca blows everything up ^_^.
Signs of Unrest.  The FFT vibe is strong with this one.

Or maybe you could just listen to the whole playlist.

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