This is your brain on anime

19 04 2008

In the last decade, Pixar has all but taken over the animated movie scene with their state of the art graphics and captivating stories. Leave in some room for Dreamworks and their couple successes, and there’s not much for anyone else. However, the surge in popularity of anime in America over the last decade has helped to detract some attention from the CGI studios.

The two biggest names to start becoming more familiar with are Hayao Miyazaki and Satoshi Kon. Both are masters at showing why 2D animation still remains, in many ways superior to 3D. If we examine all 3D movies every released, we’ll notice something very peculiar. Nearly every movie is light-hearted, comedic, and directed primarily at children. That isn’t to say they’re bad; Pixar has all but mastered their genre. It just means that any attempts at serious CGI movies will be incredibly awkward to watch.

The only way to alleviate the problem is to make the quality of graphics so amazing that the audience can’t tell if it’s real or not. At that point, the movie may as well be live action anyway.

2D animation, however, has proven once and again that it can succeed in any genre. In this year’s Academy Awards, there were two light-hearted CGI films, Ratatouille and Surf’s Up, and an extremely serious 2D film, Persepolis. However, there is one other 2D film that should have been nominated had the Academy not continued to be so stuck-up. That movie is Paprika.

It’s innovative, enjoyable, mind-blowing, captivating, and beautiful in every way. The 3D effects are also seamlessly combined into the animation unlike any movie I’ve ever seen.  While this movie didn’t get to enjoy a wide-release – R-rated animated foreign films usually don’t – I recommend that everyone see it. Keep an open mind and let the anime flood your brain as it was meant to.

The character Paprika also reminded me of Amelie from the movie of the same name. Their likeness is uncanny considering one is a real person and one is animated. The two movies share a certain weirdness, but it’s that weirdness that sets them apart from the hundreds of other films released each year.





Oprah’s Big Give mocks Idol Gives Back

14 04 2008

NewsAnyone who watches American Idol regularly – I watch it irregularly, but in this case, that’s enough – knows that the Australian Michael Johns was voted off this week, to the shock and disappointment of many viewers. Even those who didn’t like him can’t act unsurprised. Simon Cowell had placed him in the likely top three with the only other two that hadn’t yet been in the bottom three: the Davids Cook and Archuleta.

People can talk conspiracy all they want, but clearly someone dropped the ball with this one. No indicator exists that predicted for him to go home. His songs, including the rendition of “Dream On” that subsequently sent him home were (and still are) selling well on iTunes.

More than likely, he just suffered from second-place-ism. In a season where there are three singers that lean toward rock (Michael, David Cook, and Carly), people couldn’t decide which to support. As a result, David Cook received nearly all of the votes for his renditions of songs like Billie Jean and Eleanor Rigby. Though Michael Johns probably places second or third on millions of people’s lists, second and third doesn’t keep them on the show. People have cried out for a correction of this flaw since the very first season when Tamyra Gray was booted before Nikki McKibbin.

In other news, Oprah’s Big Give did not get rid of a contestant this week. They had already slimmed down to three contestants, but apparently decided to let all three participate in the finale. (This was met with cries of “I love this show!” as if she had had no idea). The find their given reason a bit sketchy. The judges said simply, “We couldn’t decide who to send home.” Right…

Clearly, they are mocking Idol, whose host Ryan Seacrest all but said, “Michael Johns, you are going home. Just kidding, no one is going home. Haha, gotcha, you really are going home.” The show that had every reason in the world to keep someone around didn’t. The show that had absolutely no reason to keep someone around did. What is wrong with the people who run these shows?





It appears you are a virus

9 04 2008

News

We’re sorry…

… but your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application. To protect our users, we can’t process your request right now.

We’ll restore your access as quickly as possible, so try again soon. In the meantime, if you suspect that your computer or network has been infected, you might want to run a virus checker or spyware remover to make sure that your systems are free of viruses and other spurious software.

If you’re continually receiving this error, you may be able to resolve the problem by deleting your Google cookie and revisiting Google. For browser-specific instructions, please consult your browser’s online support center.

If your entire network is affected, more information is available in the Google Web Search Help Center.

We apologize for the inconvenience, and hope we’ll see you again on Google. [End of Message]

Everyone who uses the internet is familiar with the famous “403 Forbidden” displayed across various unavailable web pages. The message above has been added to the long list by Google in an effort to reduce site traffic. Obviously, any computer that appears to have a virus that attempts to use the search engine, a red flag goes up and the site blocks the computer.

However, this all brings up one very big question: When did viruses learn to read?

And furthermore, how does the virus react to the horrible discovery that its only purpose has been thwarted? Someone obviously created the virus in the first place to fulfill a specific task on the internet, so now, upon reading this message, how can they carry on like normal individuals.  Personally, I would be hopping mad if I was a virus and came across this page.

Plus, the message instructs the virus to try either destroying itself or deleting Google cookies.  I think the first option is out of the question, and the second is just another task that the poor viruses are probably not capable of handling.  I mean, unless the virus was specifically programmed to do so, deleting cookies is probably about as hard as trying to eat one.

Maybe they have viruses that read now, but I think Google is still overestimating their problem-solving skills by a few decades.  Being such a huge source of money, it seems ridiculous that Google would make such a blunder by targeting unknowing viruses.

Unless, of course, Google’s intention was to direct this message at users and not the viruses, but no… that wouldn’t make sense.  I would like to think that the quality of my searches is at least a little above a virus’s, and Google would be foolish to incense it’s users with millions of 403 forbidden pages.

If you would like an example, type forum topic into Google and go to the 19th page.  For the record, I believe there are many people with a great interest in the 181st through 190th sites exemplifying what it means to have a true “forum topic.”

On a last note, I like the ending message, “Hope we’ll see you again on Google.”  It has a very smiley-McDonald’s-cashier tone to it, and could potentially prevent some viruses from committing suicide after finding out their lives are worthless.  After all, they are the victims here.





Never too late to change bad traditions

7 04 2008

NewsI don’t go to grocery stores regularly, so it was somewhat surprising when I approached the checkout line and saw television screens at every lane for people to watch. The only thing that surprised me more was that the lady in front of me was carrying totes to put her groceries in instead of disposable bags. It’s like the most obvious way to save resources that the U.S. hasn’t promoted for decades.

plastic bag

Finally, things are about to change. Countries across the world are banning or taxing the use of plastic bags, including Italy, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, and China beginning in June. Why customers have become so attached to their wasteful plastic bags, I’ll never know. Personally, I feel pretty bad any time I stuff a pile of them into a trash can. I think to myself, there has to be a way this could have been avoided. Finally, someone’s getting something right.





Putin meets with NATO leaders and algaculture

4 04 2008

ArticlesI personally have nothing against the University of Cincinnati’s newspaper, The News Record, but seriously…

On the front page of the April 3, 2008 issue, there is a headline above a picture reading Solar-power alternative. The picture depicts a field in front of one of the college buildings covered with pinwheels. Then beneath that is the caption for the photograph, which reads, “Pinwheels in the ground on McMicken Commons represented the 1,000 people that die from some form of terminal cancer every day.”

pinwheel2

I am now absolutely lost on the intended meaning of the photo.

Perhaps the headline is implying that, because solar-power is not a worthwhile endeavor, we should offer our resources to some alternative cause, such as curing cancer. The irony, of course, would be that the pinwheels imitate sources of wind power, which is an alternative to solar-power. But what then does wind power have to do with terminal cancer? I would really like to know.

Or perhaps the the headline implies that a good alternative to solar power is wasting resources. Solar power is usually tagged when speaking of alternative forms of energy and environmental causes, but here there is none of that at all. All I see is a magnificent waste of plastic, in the form of pinwheels, promoting ideas completely contrary to those usually related to solar power. What else are we to believe other than that the university does not support environmental causes?

That last possibility is that someone wished to tag a photograph with a completely irrelevant headline to make it appear as if the University has some sort of relationship with alternative energy research that is most easily disseminated subliminally. If this is the case, I recommend insert random keywords like green, conservation, and algaculture into headlines whenever possible. Nothing sends subliminal messages like “Ethnic Unrest Continues in China and Algaculture.”





Portuguese authorities lengthen cruise

3 04 2008

NewsThe Portuguese government interfered with the vacations of many as it detained the cruise ship Van Gogh in the Madeira Islands. The cruise was meant to be 93 days long, but unfortunately no one knows how long dealing with the legal troubles will take. Passengers were allowed to leave if they wished, but the majority have decided to stay and wait for the dispute to resolve.

Van Gogh

Many of the passengers are now wondering how they got into this mess. After handing out tens of thousands of dollars, how can they be betrayed by the ship’s owners? The entire dispute, after all, is between the owners of a Dutch company called Club Cruise and another called Travelscope. Unfortunately, the passengers simply got caught in the middle. Why Travelscope decided to catch the cruise ship during mid-cruise instead of waiting until after is anybody’s guess. Perhaps they thought it would be amusing to ruin the vacations of hundreds of people.

It pains me to think of anyone who might have to give the bad news: “Honey, our vacation is going to last longer than we expected. Sorry.”