Tag: list

Anime Pet Peeves


I’ve recently had the opportunity to watch more anime and it’s been good for the soul. It brings me back to simpler times in college when I had only $133 to my name but no real expenses to speak of after food. Hence, anime was the flaming garbage can I chose to dump a lot of my money into.

Over time that sort of lifestyle started to become increasingly unlivable. I mean, there was more and more money after I graduated (for reasons entirely unrelated to the diploma I received, I assure you). But the idea of spending three-quarters of my available funds on buying anime started to become more and more pathetic as I started making larger and larger amounts of money.

Not to mention the huge amount of debt (for reasons very much related to the diploma I received) I had to pay off every month.

But now anime is pretty much free to stream. (Cough, plug for Crunchyroll, cough.) So aside from that small cough, things are good here.

On the other hand, anime is a bit of an emergent property – a larger whole that isn’t obvious from its smaller pieces. Adorably stupid characters become infuriating after thirty episodes. Overpowered characters are obviously going to be the solution to any problem after you see them do just that for the tenth time. In short, you may want to think twice about binge-watching anime. Like cheese, what’s pleasant in small chunks might become essentially indigestible in large enough amounts.

Anyway, you know the drill by now. Bold first sentences. Supporting evidence. Let’s do this.

Relationships that never progress. Pretty much every series feels obligated to have a relationship these days. Even in cases where an ancient evil is on the verge of breaking out of its magical seal and bringing about the end of the world. I mean, we need to reach the top of the Mountain of Spirits in the next four hours or else fire will rain from the sky until the end of time, but you know…let’s have a filler episode where the girl takes the hero shopping and she’s not sure whether it’s a date or not.

I’ve made my peace with these, no matter how tacked on they feel. But you’d think there’d occasionally be some sort of resolution. Nope. For the most part, any time a couple seems to actually be progressing there’s some misunderstanding or a one-episode villain who steals a kiss or a fog that gets everyone drunk and they’re so embarrassed of confessing their true feelings that it sets them back again. And we’re stuck in a holding pattern until the main character’s undead ex-girlfriend dies all over again.

I actually started that paragraph speaking in a general sense, but by the end, I’m pretty sure I was just talking about “Inuyasha.” Wow. Through almost 200 episodes and four movies, the closest thing we got to romantic progress was a non-canon movie kiss.

Granted, depending on your interpretation of the ending, Inuyasha and Kagome eventually got married, but that was a pretty long walk for a thirty second payoff.

And speaking of not knowing how to resolve things…

Series that don’t know how to end. Maybe they knew how in the beginning. Maybe they had a good idea where they were headed. But by episode 800, it’s pretty clear that their actual intent is to wait until the Sun goes red giant and vaporizes the Earth, thus ending it all for them.

I don’t mind long series. In fact, I’ve rather enjoyed a number of series with an upwards of 26 or 52 episodes of very rewarding story. Both the “Fullmetal Alchemist” series were over 50 episodes. “Yu Yu Hakusho” was pretty great, too, and that was well north of 100.

“Case Closed,” on the other hand, is currently sitting around 832 and is as close to ending as it was fifteen minutes through the first episode. (The creator mentioned having an ending in mind, but that was in 2007 so I’d take it a grain of salt.) Even if it ended tomorrow it’s build itself up so far that no outcome could be worth the wait. It would be like your parents giving you nothing for Christmas for 17 years in a row. By that point you’d probably just give up on the whole mess or (more likely) assume you were Jewish.

Series with a perfectly good ending and then they just kept going. I get it. Money is a thing. And writers and artists tend to get more by continuing a series than they would by stopping and holding out their hands to random passersby on the street.

The classic example was “Dragon Ball Z.” Depending on who you ask, it was originally planned to end earlier or much, much earlier. As a result we slogged onto a few different planets, through a few more enemies who absorbed people to become stronger and what felt like seven or eight years of “Dragon Ball GT.” And say what you want about the material that followed, it’s always best for a series to end on its own terms on a high note than to be run into the ground.

A more recent example (specifically of the “running into the ground” variety) was “Bleach.” Despite having a perfectly good ending after our hero gave up his powers to defeat the enemy-turned-god-turned-butterfly-turned-god-again, they decided to head into another long training arc where he regained his power on the way to continuing his adventures. Only…he didn’t. Sure. I mean, he got his powers back, but with the sudden end of the series immediately after, it was a lot of run-up for a very short jump.

Or, maybe more accurately, a stumble directly onto its face.

Oh, and this crossed my mind while I was writing this, so consider it a bonus. It’s not technically a problem with anime itself. But it did come up an awful lot while I was trying to finish a few of the longer series that hadn’t finished getting dubbed yet.

Starting a series in one language, then switching to another. This isn’t a question of whether the original Japanese or English voice actors are better. Like the reddish stream running behind the local Pepsi bottling plant here, that’s an argument I just don’t feel like wading into at the moment.

(For me personally, it depends. Having a kid means it’s nice to watch subtitled anime when he’s around during the occasional flurry of f-bombs. And other times, well, if I wanted to read I’d get a book. Or, more likely, I’d get an audiobook so history’s most pleasant British people could read it to me.)

In any case, there’s something just fundamentally wrong with the characters switching voices in the middle of a series. Recently I tried watching “Cowboy Bebop” in the original Japanese. After listening to Steve Blum nail Spike Spiegel over the past twenty years, it’s weird to hear some other guy’s voice coming out of his mouth. It would be like your mom suddenly having a new voice when you woke up one morning. And also, she was speaking Dutch.

Unless she started out as Dutch and…well, you get my point.

Since I’ve been watching a lot more new anime as it comes out recently, I tend to watch more of it in Japanese first with English subtitles. And yes, it’s just as weird the other way. I tried watching some of it translated and it feels like everyone is talking in slow motion or something.

Also, people scream differently in English versus Japanese. You’d think being terrified would have the same sound no matter where in the world you were. Then again, you’d be just as surprised looking at one country’s list of animal sounds compared to another’s. What does the rooster say? Kikiriki? Like hell he does.

In the grand scheme of things I realize it’s a minor nitpick, but aren’t they all, really?


The Literal Lyricist

Most of the time I’m listening to music I try not to think too hard about it. If the song was just a solid beat over someone singing a recipe for good Pad Thai, I’d be fine with it.

The musicians would probably be fine with it, too, given that a lot of their writing really doesn’t hold up to even casual scrutiny.

Music Vomit.jpg

Songs with bad lyrics are a dime a dozen. It’s the reason we have so many different ways to change the radio station in our cars. But this column isn’t about those. (I’ll likely come back to those at a future date.) No, this is about a very particular kind of lyric – the sort that, if taken literally, sounds like the ravings of a crazy person as they try in desperation to defend their street corner from invisible monsters.

As with any list of stupid lyrics, the only rule is that I can only include Pitbull once.

And speaking of which…

Pitbull – “Give Me Everything (Tonight)”

Grab somebody sexy, tell ’em, “Hey! Give me everything tonight!” (Repeat 3x)

Okay. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt here and assume this is an attempt to get in some woman’s pants. As opposed to what it sounds like – armed robbery.

Of course, as a pick-up line, it’s not much better. I’m sure somebody out there would appreciate your forwardness. The majority, however, would be put off by the random stranger grabbing them and screaming demands at them.

A small but very painful minority would immediately hit you with the bear mace, putting you on the ground long before you were able to repeat it three times.

Kings of Leon – “Sex on Fire”

Youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu, your sex is on fire.

I’ll give it credit. This was pretty much what I should have expected from the title.

I realize that sex talk is filled with euphemisms, but this isn’t one of the better ones. Imagine the confusion you’d cause yelling this mid-coitus. I don’t care what’s going on, if someone yells that your sex has reached the point of auto-ignition, you’re probably going to stop and make sure everything is okay. Maybe do a precautionary “stop, drop and roll” or two.

When it comes to spontaneous genital fire, you can never be too safe.

Nirvana – “Smells like Teen Spirit”

With the lights out it’s less dangerous. Here we are now, entertain us.

It’s hard to pick a specific set of lyrics out of this song because it’s almost impossible to even understand. I never knew what the hell he was singing about until I had to do vocals during a game of “Rock Band 2” almost twenty years later.  And this is one of those odd cases where I think I understood the song a bit less once I knew the words to it.

Is there anything you can do with the lights off that’s less dangerous? I mean, whenever I don’t understand something in a song I usually just assume it’s a reference to sex that neither twelve-year-old or thirty-year-old me understood. But that makes the inclusion of a mulatto, an albino, a mosquito and his libido all the creepier.

Unless it’s, like, the most specific fetish of all time. And even then…

Harvey Danger – “Flag Pole Sitta” (a.k.a. that song you thought Green Day did, but didn’t)

I had visions, I was in them. I was looking into the mirror.

The mirror seems to be working as intended then.

Nickelback – “Figured you Out”

I love your lack of self-respect, while you’re passed out on the deck. I love my hands around your neck.

Well, I’ll say one thing for those lyrics – they very nearly all rhyme, at least.

Wow. I won’t say this one takes an ugly turn, because it starts out pretty rough. Nickelback sees a hole and just keeps digging. It’s basically a metaphor for…well, being Nickelback.

I sort of don’t get it, though. You’re choking people after they passed out at barbecues and you’re saying they have a lack of self-respect. I believe there’s an old saying about the pot calling the kettle black. And there’s an even older but less known saying about the pot choking the kettle because it doesn’t have any self-respect.

Perhaps Nickelback is the one who should be looking in the mirror, hmmm?


Where You Go, I Cannot Follow…

Game Dice

I don’t want to get into the whole argument as to whether one is born a nerd or it’s a choice they actively make.

I lean towards the former, if only because as far as my memories go back, I was doing something I would have probably hidden from my wife (if she hadn’t also been a nerd). There was the obvious stuff, like being a little too into video games. Or anime. But there were earlier signs, like channeling my early writing energies into so, so much Sonic the Hedgehog fan-fiction. (I might still hide that one from my wife, actually.)

Or possibly teaching myself how to read just to spite the teachers who said I couldn’t be taught by reading every book in our house. And consequently reading the first Wheel of Time book at the age of eight because it had the coolest cover.

People would assume, then, that I like anything and everything that’s even remotely nerdy. And for the most part that’s true. But even I have my limits.

I’ll start with probably the nerdiest thing I’m involved in and then move on from there.

Subtitled anime. I’ve actually never understood why some people just couldn’t watch anime in the original Japanese. I sort of get the argument some people make about not wanting to read while they watch a movie, but only if that’s how they feel about everything.

If you refuse to watch “KonoSuba” (arguably one of the funniest anime series ever made) and then turn around to watch “Les Miserables” (not arguably just really, really boring) in the original French then you, sir (or madame) are a filthy liar.

Japanese Pop Nightcore music. Okay. I realize I was supposed to start the list of things too nerdy for even me here, but I just remembered this one, and it’s probably a bit worse than subtitled anime.

In my defense…well, I don’t need a defense. Nightcore music is awesome. And some English song lyrics are cringe-worthy, at best. (That’s a whole other column, though. Stay tuned.)  Musical lyrics attained perfection in the Queen era and, to a slightly lesser degree, during William Shatner’s on-again, off-again interest in spoken word albums. In short, I’d much rather have no idea what anyone was saying than hear them say something really, really stupid.

Okay. Seriously. Now we’re starting the list…

Tabletop games. Let me preface this by saying that I really want to enjoy these. I should also explain that a good part of why I never got into them was because I’ve been perpetually isolated from other nerds that might even play them with me. I’ve had exactly one real experience playing Dungeons & Dragons, and it didn’t go well.

I was playing as the typical rogue/thief character and exploring the depths of one ancient ruin or another when I found a door that was locked and couldn’t be opened. I later learned that this was “flavor text” by the dungeon master just meant to flesh out the scenery. I took it as a challenge. And, after a streak of rather uncanny luck in my dice rolls (three 20’s in a row), I’d managed to pick the lock and wedge the door open so it didn’t fall again. The dungeon master promptly conjured up some chest to be in that room and told me to just loot the thing and stop derailing his story.

I then proceeded to bash my skull open on the door because I didn’t crouch low enough and died due to a rather uncannily bad streak of dice rolls.

It’s certainly not something I’d mind trying again. But for the moment, it’s not something that’s really feasible for me. And it’s probably the one item on this list I honestly regret not getting into.

Live Action Role-Playing (or LARPing). Basically, you take tabletop gaming, remove the tabletop and then go outside instead.

Sometimes you dress up in cosplay first.

I have nothing against it, strictly-speaking. My only real issue is that its one of those things that requires all the individual gears to be moving in the same direction. All you need is one person who decides they’d rather never be hit and it turns into a bad day playing pretend at recess. “I throw fireball! It hit you and…” “Nope. You missed.” “Um…I throw a lightning bolt! It paralyzed you.” “Nuh-uh. It made me stronger!”

My problem with this is, I had too many friends at recess who were “that kid.” If we were playing superheroes, they were Superman. Oh, and kryptonite couldn’t hurt him. Also, he had a gun for some reason? It made my Batman infected with the Venom symbiote look downright reasonable in comparison.

Latching onto some scrap of nerdy territory and then judging everyone who wanders by. When I grew up, being a nerd wasn’t socially acceptable like it is today. You had to do that sort of thing on the down-low.

So I understand why some people who have defended comics, anime, etc., for decades being a little annoyed that now everyone and their kid dressed as a stormtrooper is getting involved. These people put a lot of hard work into being part of a counter-culture that everyone hated them for. It’s like driving in the slow lane for miles and then having someone cut over at the last moment to skip all the waiting – except replace “miles” with “thirty-six years.”

And “waiting” with “having goat blood poured on you at prom.”

I don’t believe in judging people as being “true fans” or “real gamers” or the like, because I want these things to be welcoming and hospitable to newcomers. Because as much as some people might hate people not as devoted as they are getting involved in their interests, they should just be happy that this is something they can openly enjoy now without being stuffed into a locker. That or, you know, the goat blood thing.

Not to mention, there’s always someone nerdier out there. So before you go judging someone for only watching Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z, remember there are people out there who could just as easily put you to shame. Only they won’t, because they’re too busy actually enjoying their lives.

A Bunch of Hacks


The original title of this article was “Life Hacks are a Load of Garbage and if You Like Them, So are You.” But brevity is the soul of wit, I suppose.

Even if that title was a remarkably straightforward explanation of my true feelings on the subject.

It isn’t entirely clear who coined the term “life hacks,” or when. Many facts about the Internet era are muddied by multiple people claiming credit for the same meme or tiny scrap of Internet fame. It doesn’t help that I didn’t bother looking it up either.

If it wasn’t obvious by now, I’m not a fan. The exact reasons why vary based on the specific hack. A lot of them simply don’t work. Others were pranks intended to make your life worse somehow. Others still offer no appreciably different results one way or another. And a few will just straight-up give you second-degree burns even when you do them right. But you don’t know which are which until you try, so…good luck with that.

And ideally, keep a fire extinguisher handy. Yes, even for the one about amplifying your iPod headphones with a roll of toilet paper. You never know…

What people don’t realize is that we’ve had something very much like life hacks for more than a thousand years now. They’re called “old wives’ tales.” And their aim is to offer you secret techniques to make your life better. You know, unless they do nothing.

The only difference now is that the Internet has allowed every idiot who could paw at a keyboard to offer their own two cents. So I feel like life hacks skew a lot more towards just not working. Add to that the people outright hoping people will drink bleach to make their toilet fresher in just two weeks, and it’s sort of a nightmare scenario. I’d go as far as saying that maybe one out of every ten life hacks actually works as intended, with another one of ten leaving you rolling your eyes at a shattered pickle jar and saying, “I guess?”

I could probably go into a whole article as to what’s wrong with each kind of life hack – and I eventually might – but for now, here are some of the key problems:

Not everyone knows about the secret menus – even people working at the restaurants. Secret menus are a thing, but only kind of. They are in that they exist and some people might even know what you’re talking about if you order a “McGangbang” (and yes, that’s a real fake item). But if you have to explain what it is to 95% of cashiers anyway, how is this making things easier for anyone involved?

The food service industry is made of mostly underpaid and angry people who have no time for your nonsense. Ordering an item off a secret menu is only one degree better than ordering spaghetti at McDonalds or a hamburger at Taco Bell. There’s really only one surefire restaurant hack, and it’s how to make people spit in your food by being annoying.

Also, stop talking about the one about ordering two kinds of meat at Chipotle to get 10% more meat than usual like it’s the second coming of Jesus Christ and Ecto Cooler combined.

Food hacks are often harder and cost more than the original. I have a little rule in cooking. If I can’t make something either much better or much cheaper by buying the individual ingredients and making it myself, I’ll buy the store version. Why wouldn’t I? It’s exactly the reason I make my own sandwiches instead of paying $7 at Subway, and why I buy jar tomato sauce because it costs $1.

The best example of this is that one about making your own ice cream sandwiches by baking your own cookies and then cutting a slice out of a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. The minimum cost of that is maybe $7, and while it’s true that you could make more than one, is it really worth all that extra time, energy and money? Not to mention that many ice cream cookie sandwiches are less than a buck fifty in the freezer case. That’s not a life hack. That’s a moral victory. At best.

You want a real “food hack?” Make a pound of a spaghetti at once. You’ll want more later anyway, and that way you don’t have to keep boiling water. You’re welcome.

A lot of the kitchen hacks seem like they were made my people who’ve never been in a kitchen before. That little hole in the pot handle isn’t for holding a wooden spoon. It’s for hanging it up. And pouring Capri Sun into a glass doesn’t make you a visionary. It makes you history’s greatest monster.

Oh. And that one about turning a Chinese takeout box into a plate? Good idea. Let’s turn our container that holds noodles and liquid perfectly fine into a flat sheet that does none of those things for no reason.

But fear not. I’m sure there’s some life hack about getting out soy sauce stains by rubbing aloe on it or something. Which leads me to…

Some life hacks seem like they were something that worked for someone one time and they lost their mind over it. I don’t even think the majority of life hacks are meant to be malicious or cruel. I honestly think there was a guy who once microwaved his pizza with a glass of water and it came out crispy. Of course, this makes about as much logical sense as drying out a wet shirt by peeing on it. But one guy got lucky and decided to share his secret with the world.

About the pizza and water, I mean – not the pee shirt.

And lastly, people need to stop claiming credit for common knowledge. Fold the end of a roll of tape to make the next piece easier to get. Put a sponge below a leaky faucet to stop the noise. Freeze wine into cubes to cool your wine because you have a problem.

We’re about one day from people telling us to reuse old water bottles by filling them with tap water for a tasty summertime treat.

Anyway, I’ve said my piece. And I’m still pretty irritated. So there’s a good chance you’ll be hearing about this topic again.


An Excess of NX (Rumors)


Assuming you’ve been online for at least the past fifteen minutes, you’ve probably seen the latest seven or eight leaks for the NX – Nintendo’s upcoming home console.

Okay. That’s an exaggeration. But only just.

Since the NX was first announced, there hasn’t been much official information available. And as almost anyone knows, in the absence of official word, a vacuum is filled by those willing to risk legal action by posting leaked pictures and product specs. Unfortunately, if all of these are to be taken as simultaneously true, then the NX is a seventeen-foot-tall cyborg Tyrannosaurus Rex with a built-in Blu-Ray player that plays flash cartridges by plugging them into its time-traveling water filter.

Of course, it’s just as likely that most (or all) of these supposed leaks aren’t real leaks at all. But (gasp) that would mean people are outright lying online just for the attention. And I’m simply not willing to accept such a bleak worldview.

Whatever the case, there’s no denying that with all these leaks and rumors, it’s gotten hard to keep track of everything. So I’ve done the legwork for you and gathered them all here. You’re welcome.

1) The NX will have the graphical power of a late-model Ford F-150.

2) The NX will wear band shirts for bands it’s never seen in concert. And it didn’t even buy the CDs. It just went on Pirate Bay. Ugh.

3) The NX’s favorite John Hughes movies will be “Maid in Manhattan.” Yeah. I looked it up when I heard the rumor. He seriously wrote that one.

4) The NX will prefer “going Dutch” on dates.

5) The NX will be vegan, but won’t be all in your face about it.

6) The NX will play so-called “video games” using “storage media” via some form of “controller peripheral.” Or so the rumors go. (Seeing Nintendo’s track record, this might be the rumor I’m least sure about.)

7) The NX will be filled with rich, creamy caramel.

8) The NX will be innovative while maintaining a classic feel. Whatever makes people buy it. Or maybe Nintendo will just print “We Made the Wii, Remember?” on all the boxes.

9) The NX’s grandfather is sort of racist. But it’s, like, that folksy racism. And you’re like, “Well, it’s not cool, but as long as he’s only around family it’s sort of funny. I mean, he grew up in a different time, right?”

10) However it pans out, the NX almost certainly won’t be the worst system Nintendo ever made. As long as it’s not the Wii 2 or X or some garbage like that. If that’s the case, God help us.

I realize that list sounds a bit negative and…it is. Look, I’m not what you’d call a fanboy of any system. So I’d be more than happy for Nintendo to make another smash hit like the Wii. But when I say “like the Wii” I don’t mean “literally, the Wii again but with a weird tablet.” Nor do I mean, “like the Wii, in that it relies entirely on some half-assed gimmick no one was asking for.”

So, rather than concluding with some grim assessment of the system’s future failure (like I did for the Wii U half a year before its release), I’ll just say, good luck. And I hope only the good rumors I’ve heard are true.

Basically, not the one where it’s portable and can be taken apart like a pizza so two people can play.

The Game-Changing World of Fast Food Hyperbole


Did you hear about the new item at Taco Bell?

The answer to that question is probably “no.” Or rather, “yes, but there’s an even newer one than the one you’re thinking of….so, no.”

New items are big business now. They were always a thing, but now we’re hearing about these things years in advance, with all the hype and lead-up of a new hit comedy on a major network. And while the outcome (in both cases) is generally disappointment, it’s definitely starting to take up a larger and larger part of my online news feed as something people legitimately think is actual news.

And frankly, it’s wearing a bit thin.

I like new items. In fact, my wife would probably (correctly) say I have an unhealthy interest in them. What I don’t like, however, is the way they’re portrayed in the media – as good or bad in the way that cures for diseases and wars are, respectively.

In short, it’s a list article of the things I’m tired of hearing about new items.

1) I’m tired of hearing that (insert restaurant) has “gone too far.” No one’s denying the world might not have been ready for a bacon-filled sandwich with chicken instead of bread. But it’s fast food. It has the same ability to go too far as a snack-food company, a hardware wholesaler or a roadside sweetcorn seller.

2) I’m tired of hearing that a new item fundamentally changes things. It’s food. As long as it still goes in and out of the same holes, it’s pretty much business as usual.

The guys at Taco Bell didn’t have some eureka moment about putting Cheetos in a burrito after decades of research. They sat twelve guys together in a meeting and asked, “What else can we throw inside a tortilla?” And after three separate people were shouted down for suggesting Fritos, because they’ve already done that, this is what we got.

3) I’m specifically tired of hearing that something is a “game-changer.” What game? This is a matter of personal taste, but this expression gets tacked onto everything from a new taco with a flavored shell all the way to…well, that, but a third kind of flavored shell.

4) I’m tired of hearing about “new” items. Burger joints are especially disadvantaged here, because there are only so many ways to put things between two buns. It’s a similar story for putting things in, on top of and beside tortillas. In most cases, “new” is being pretty generous.

5) And I can’t stand hearing about old “new” items. Just because the reviewer wasn’t alive the first time cheese and bacon stuffed crust pizzas came around doesn’t mean it’s a new item. Is it still delicious? Sure. It was also delicious in 1978, 1982, 1983, 1988, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2004, 2006 and 2011.

6) I’m skeptical when I hear a new item will make me a loyal customer. Specifically because “customer loyalty” is a joke. More specifically because I hear it most about new items at Burger King and Pizza Hut, which are, frankly, jokes in their own right.

Your mileage may vary on this one. But I’ve gotten food poisoning the last three times I’ve eaten at Burger King. At this point, I’m not sure if there’s anything they could put between two buns to even make me chase a rolling quarter inside, let alone actually eat there.

7) Most of all, I’m tired of the wait. I used to be able to see a commercial for a burger with twelve strips of bacon, get in my car and then eat one. The time between learning about it and putting it into my face was often less than forty minutes. And it was a good system.

Nowadays, companies announce items on social media. They open to limited markets in the worst places to live in America. And then, after a year of reviewers talking about it like the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, you might actually get to eat one. I’m not sure I’ll stay excited from one season of Game of Thrones to the next. I don’t know how they expect me to stay excited about the newest combination of two Spanish words at Taco Bell.

And just think of how disappointed I am, after ten months, when it once again fails to change the game.