365 DAYS LATER...
I wasn't really planning on taking a day off from blogging yesterday, but, as you may have heard, we got quite a bit of snow here in Ottawa
. 30 centimetres or so (1 foot). Not quite as severe a dumping as Montreal got
, but still quite an impressive dusting.
Especially funny is how 54 OC Transpo buses, almost 7% of the fleet, broke down yesterday
, including 6 of the articulated buses at a single intersection in Hull (Gatineau).
The picture on the front page of the Ottawa Citizen
is pretty he-fricking-larious.
The problem is that OC Transpo buses don't have snow tires, because snow in December in the city of Ottawa, Canada, is such a heretofore unexpected phenomena. It ranks right up there with the shocking announcement that Christmas is to be held Sunday next weekend, on December 25th
As you can imagine, that also means that there is a lot of snow to be cleared. Unlike the house in Pincourt, our current house doesn't have a downward-sloping (towards the garage) driveway, so there isn't the snow trap effect that often led to banks being 2 or 3 feet high outside the garage door, but the disadvantage of our current driveway is that it is at least, by my estimate, 60% longer. After listening to Rush Limbaugh yesterday afternoon, I had to shovel (or rather scoop) the damn thing for the best part of an hour. The snow seemed to be looser than the really wet snow we get this time of year some years, so it wasn't too heavy, at least relatively-speaking, but, once I had made little mountain ranges out of snow at the edges of the driveway, it became harder and harder pushing the snow up the hills. And there's a lot more paved around this house than at the old house, where there was really just the driveway and steps leading up to the house, so I had to scrape the brick-tiled front patio and the concrete walkway at the side of the house, and the patio-bricked area around the backyard. It's a lot more work than in Pincourt, but, conversely, I put a lot more effort into clearing the snow than I ever would have done in Pincourt because the bigger area there is to clear, the more incentive there is to clear it and make it look good. I am pleased to say that I scraped the snow down to such an extent that the sun melted a good portion of the area I scraped right down to the pavement and patio stones. Last winter, we never saw that because the snow and ice was already quite thick on the ground that would have been too much effort to chip away at by the time we moved here a year ago today.
That's right, it's been exactly a year since we fled Pincourt for greener pastures in Ottawa. I can't give every reason why we moved, but, generally speaking, it was because my parents and I were stuck in a rut and we needed a big change to shock us out of complacency. Plus, the Bloc Québecois had just won in Vaudreuil-Soulanges, which didn't bode well for Anglophones, and, due to depression, I had mostly bombed at Concordia the previous year, so, without university, nothing was keeping us in Quebec.
I wanted to write a comprehensive moving story post, but I was just too shell-shocked the first couple of months that I was in Ottawa to really do it, and, by the time I was a little more comfortable here, it just seemed like "old news" that wasn't really relevant to write about it. An anniversary is a good chance to get around to something I never really got around to writing about, but, since memories of the move are fractured in my mind, I'll just write sentences and paragraphs in "point" format rather than attempt to write a complete narrative.
- My mother and I dropped off our dogs at the Possumplace kennels right on the border between Quebec and Ontario on Thursday, December 16th.
- On the way back, we made an illicit (not sanctioned by dad) trip to Fairview Pointe-Claire shopping centre so my mother could get something specific which escapes me at the moment. Or she might have been doing something bank related. Weirdly, just as my life was changing, so to was Fairview undergoing big changes, with several big new stores including Old Navy and Renaud-Bray bookstore opening where the Sears store had been before it had moved to the larger premises vacated by Eaton's several years prior.
- At home, the movers were already packing stuff for the big move the next day, though they left around 6 p.m. or so.
- I think we had supper on disposable plates.
- Got up on Friday, December 17th very early, like around 6:30 a.m.
- Had to shower pretty much right away due to movers getting to the house by 8 a.m. I also had to put my clothes in a plastic bag rather than just put them in a hamper.
- Even though the movers and us had done a lot of packing the previous day, we still had a lot of packing left to do, so it was a small miracle that we had most stuff that we weren't going to junk packed and put in boxes just after noon.
- The movers had put the last big items on the truck and left by around 1 p.m., but we stuck around the house another hour or so, just to collect some smaller items and contemplate things.
- It was disconcerting, almost completely terrifying, to see the rooms I had lived in for almost a quarter-century stripped of all furnishings. I had to lie down for a while on the plush blue carpeting of the spare bedroom downstairs that had used to be my sister's room and, before that, my father's den/library. I might have been feeling a bit sad, but, mostly, I was feeling numb.
- My cat, Ember, was completely terrified, when the movers were taking away all of the places that she hid under, and she let out a large noise that, for the life of me, sounded like a scream. I put her away in the blue carrier, the last semi-normal place to her, and played with her a little while through the grating.
- We left the house round about 2 p.m., and I looked back at the house from our blue Hyundai Sonata one last time as an inhabitant before my mother turned from Dumas onto Island (Boul. de l'Île).
- We stopped off at the Couche-Tard dépanneur (convenience store) on Don Quichotte to get gas.
- In Dorion (Vaudreuil), we turned off highway 20 at Saint-Charles to get up to the 40. One weird thing I distinctly remember was that, in the parking lot of the PFK (KFC), there was a rabbit or a hare sitting up on its hind legs, staring at traffic. I almost feel like that was some sort of good luck rabbit, because I had never seen a rabbit there before.
- The trip was mostly uneventful, or, at least, I don't remember much driving along the 417. I remember that we were originally intending to get off at Casselman, Ontario, to grab a bite to eat, but we passed it, and I said we might as well not bother, since I didn't want our cat getting cold in the car, since it was a damn cold day.
- I don't remember where we got off exactly, but, even though our new home was (well, is) in Nepean, to the southwest of downtown Ottawa, we got off at some point east of downtown Ottawa, possibly around Saint Laurent in Orleans, since we wanted to avoid rush hour traffic on the Queensway. We also didn't want to get to our new home too too early, as we wanted the movers to have at least unloaded a lot of the boxes before getting home.
- We drove around Walkley and whatever road Walkley merges with before crossing the Rideau River all of the way to Merivale, I think, and then we drove up Merivale to Meadowlands, and found our way home from there.
- Most of the boxes had been unloaded, but the big furniture still needed to be moved in.
- I got inside, found my way to the basement, went into the large game room (which we would later use as a library), and... ummm... this is one of the times where my memory of what happened interferes with logic. I remember it as that I set her free and we both explored the house at the same time, but, logically, I wouldn't have let her out while the movers were bringing in furniture from the truck through the wide open back door, as she might have run out, which wouldn't have been a good idea before the house had left any kind of imprint in her. (Even after the house had imprinted in her for three months, she still took a week to find her way home after getting herself lost in March.) I probably just kept her in the carrier downstairs while the movers brought in the furniture.
- Since I didn't get a chance to look at the house prior to moving (unlike my brother), my choice of bedroom was pretty much determined by the movers, but they put my furniture in the room right next to my parents, and it's a pretty big bedroom too, so I got off lucky.
- I had them put my TV unit in the basement in the smaller sub-room next to the game room that had the shag carpeting and the cable already hooked up. The advantage of having it there was that I could put the computer I'm typing this on in a corner to the northwest of the television about 3 yards away, so the distance and viewing angle from this chair is almost equal to that in the family room of my old house.
- The weird thing about the basement was that the old occupant, who was a widowed grandmother, had left several objects behind, including a blue easychair, which I use in front of the computer, a couple of tables, and, this is the cool part, a late 1960s/early 1970s era Sony "solid state" stereo/turntable unit complete with stereo speakers. And the best thing is... it still worked great. It took a minute for the turntable to get warmed up because it hadn't worked in years, but, once it did, it worked normally. The radio worked normally too. The only thing that doesn't work is the tape deck, but we have plenty of tape decks. I was thrilled that I had something to play vinyl on besides my father's turntable, and having an object with an emotional connection to the previous occupant in my new home somewhat softened the sadness I had upon leaving the place I had truly considered home for good.
- Also, she had left a few records, mostly singles, some English, but some were in Polish, which amused my father (who is British born, but of Polish origin).
- And, also in the basement, besides the game room, the family room with the plush orange carpeting (and wood panelling), and my own little bathroom/shower, is a large furnace room/laundry room/storage room/workshop, complete with a washer, a dryer, a freezer, and large, deep shelves of the sort that you'd find in a hardware store. (These are the shelves where we would eventually put the flattened cardboard boxes from moving.) On the top shelf, there's a whole collection of tacky lamps and lampshades. My father got a bit annoyed, as he needed light to find things, and none of these lamps seemed to work (or, at least, had burned-out lightbulbd), except for the very last one we tried.
- I forget exactly when the movers were finished, but it must have been by 8 p.m. Once the back door was closed, the house warmed up.
- We had a lot of unpacking to do, but we didn't do it all immediately. One of the first things I unpacked was my DVD collection, since I wanted something to feel at home. I put it on these very handy inset record shelves in the northeast corner of the room, next to the television unit (though, eventually, my father took most of my non-anime movies and shelved them on a different bookshelf along with his). Today, the top shelf has vinyl albums and LaserDiscs, the three shelves under it have oversized books, and the two shelves under that have my anime DVD collection. I also keep all DVD box sets I have along the top of my TV unit.
- My television (well, the big one), we didn't put in a box, so it was the easiest thing for me to find. We didn't get the cable hooked up here for another couple of days, but the wiring for the cable was already there, so it served as kind of a defacto (but very weak) TV antenna, pulling in fuzzy local stations, so at least I was able to watch Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Saturday Night Live through the snow.
- I found my DVD player and VCR too, though I didn't find the remotes for a couple more days, so I had to play DVDs by putting in the disk, pressing STOP on the player (to kill any menu), and then pressing PLAY.
- It took us something like a week to find some items, in the ziggaraut of boxes in the games room. I don't think I saw my Playstation or Dreamcast or the LaserDisc player until about Christmas weekend.
- We ate a picnic style dinner that night, but I was so discombobulated, I don't remember what I had. We also ate on a tiny table (that we now use as a breakfast table) in the kitchen for a week or two before all of the boxes had been emptied from the dining area and we could once again eat at our normal supper table.
- On Saturday December 18th, we drove back to Possumplace to pick up my dogs. As of this writing, that was the last time I entered the province of Quebec. (Possumplace is technically completely in Ontario, but it's on a road called the "Interprovincial Road" that runs along the border for a few kilometres near Pointe-Fortune, so the northbound lane is in Quebec and the southbound lane is in Ontario.
- Upon getting back, my mother let the dogs free in the backyard, thinking the fence and hedges would keep them in. Bad idea. Luke, our golden retreiver/husky mix, found a passage in the back hedge large enough for even him to slip through, and, after a few minutes of him running free, he disappeared from sight. We searched for him up and down the road our house is on and the road behind our house to no avail. We had to go grocery shopping, so we went anyway, with our missing dog weighing heavily on our minds. Once we got back, we called the pound, and, sure enough, someone had called animal control on our dog, so they had him, but we couldn't pick him up until Monday, as the pound was closed to visitors on weekends. Sam, our black Labrador/mix, had to spend two anxious nights without his companion/rival.
- I could go on, but it's already 4 a.m., and I think I covered all of the main points. Most other things you can get from my blog entries from the era, once I got Internet access back.
Anyway, while I, and my father, are still looking for work a year later (with the only current income coming from my mother), I'm definitely feeling a bit more optimistic about things, and, while I still miss Pincourt and Montreal immensely, since the bus comes within 50 metres of my house, it's certainly much easier getting around than it was in Pincourt. And the stores on Merivale are way better than those on Cardinal Leger.
THE GHOST OF A CHRISTMAS LONG PAST...
I don't know why, but 5 hours of shopping really took the wind out of my sails this evening. I never got to finish the article (which I will finish tomorrow). I will try to write something about the election tomorrow. I watched the French debate for a little while, but I was a little too pooped for it to make much of an impression.
From Christmas 1980, here I am with my middle brother and sister with a snowman that "we" built, though, as you can probably guess from the height discrepancy, obviously, my father really was the one who made it.
Note that my father didn't go for the traditional "three ball" construction method, instead opting for something a little more phallic. I think he might have started by making balls, but the snow must have been a little too lose for it to hold its shape like that, so he had to really pack it around evenly.
The townhouse just had a patio in our private area in front of out yard instead of a real lawn (though there was some grass in between the pathway and Alton Drive, but it was a common ground), but we got plenty of snow anyway because the wall on the side acted as kind of a snow trap.
I have a few more pictures taken at the same time, but I opted to go with this one simply because you can see the Christmas lights (and a Christmas tree in the window, if you look closely).
A COUPLE OF CARTOON-RELATED ITEMS.
Want to know how Sailor Moon
ends? Since Toei's very mysterious withdrawal of the entire Sailor Moon
franchise from the North American market over the past few years, where it seemed for a while a certainty that they'd re-release Sailor Moon
onto the North American market themselves as the flagship title for Toei's own anime distribution label (only to have said label land with a thud and disappear with a fizzle when their initial DVDs were a notch below even being a half-assed effort), the prospects of future domestic releases of Sailor Moon
, especially Sailor Stars
, the forbidden fifth season that has never been licensed for a North American release, remains very hazy and unclear.
Well, it seems that some enterprising young Italian has thrown legal caution to the wind and has uploaded an English fansub of episode 200 of Sailor Moon Sailor Stars to Google Video
, so those of you who no longer feel comfortable using file-sharing software can see how it all ends, at long last. (It's sort of like a more convoluted version of the Sailor Moon/Princess Serenity vs. Queen Beryl/Metallia battle from the final episode of the first season.) I wouldn't normally provide such a link, but I think it's absolutely re-fricking-diculous that, over a decade after the franchise initially appeared in North America and over half a decade after legitimate subtitled versions of the series (starting with the movies and Sailor Moon Super
) began to be sold, North Americans are still denied an entire season of the show because of spurious concerns over content (when I don't honestly think the content is any more "mature" than certain things from the third season, which was shown on television mostly intact. at least relatively-speaking compared to Cardcaptors
and such, and subtitled on DVD completely intact, and also when they haven't even really tried selling Sailor Moon
to little kids since the initial appearance of the franchise in 1995; by the time YTV and Toonami revived the franchise around 2000, they were selling it more to older children and younger teens), and, since Toei has repeatedly failed to give North American fans a legitimate alternative, what other choice is there for fans not willing to buy untranslated, expensive imports? Besides, I'm not giving a link to the entire series, and it's only a streaming Flash file that you can't save to your hard drive (unless you're really savvy about such things).
Also, I'm not giving any other such links, but I'm surprised how many full episodes of things are available for your viewing pleasure at Google Video
. When I uploaded my own 30-second animated extravaganza "More than Meets the Eye"
back last spring, after a couple of weeks of nothing happening, I got a form e-mail that seemed to be incinuating that they weren't going to host my file because of rights concerns (presumably because I didn't exactly ask Colgate for permission to use video footage from their classic 1980s Colgate Pump commercial
on the screen of my character, whose name is "Terry the Television", by the way). Eventually, I think they changed their minds, since it's obviously just a class demo that I was obviously not using to make money, and the Colgate commercial is really just a small detail. But now people will submit entire episodes of stuff that they obviously don't have the rights for, and Google does nothing? Very odd.
I'll add a couple of more items later. I'm going Christmas shopping with my mother.
THE GHOST OF A CHRISTMAS LONG PAST...
Don't expect too many more of these. This wasn't intended to be a daily countdown to Christmas, and, in fact, it wasn't originally intended to be more than a once-off entry. I'll keep it going until I run out of pictures sufficiently different from one another to be worth posting here, but there's not many left that I can use.
Yes! The actual nativity scene from my nursery school pageant in 1978
. How adorable is that? You remember that I was one of the three kings/wise men, but, if you didn't already see this picture
, I'm the kid in the group in front towards the right with the red dressing gown trimmed by gold tinsel garland and the cotton-ball-lined "crown" (second kid to the right of "Mary").
Is Baby Jesus a lightbulb? I'm trying to figure out where that light is coming from, though, if the clock is to be believed (assuming it's working), it's around 11:20 a.m., so I suppose it could be ordinary sunlight.
The costumes of the kids dressed as shepherds look almost like stereotypical Saudi Arabian oil sheiks common in the American media in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the with the sort of robes and keffiyeh headscarf I associate with 1980s WWF wrestler "the Iron Shiek"
For a preschool production, those costumes aren't half bad. I think a lot of these costumes were provided by the Beaconsfield United Church, where the preschool was, but I think my mother made my own costume, since the dressing gown was mine.
NUTS AND GUM: TOGETHER AT LAST!
("I'm a white male. Ages 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me! No matter how dumb my suggestions are.")
I'm going to write a letter to Santa Claus, and, by "Santa Claus", I mean Umbria Inc.
, a company that monitors blog opinions as a form of market research for high-powered corporate clients. Since the middle of November, I've been getting a couple of hits from UmbriaListens.com a day, which probably means that their database computer has flagged this blog as one of the ones they keep an eye on as a source of meaningful and valuable consumer opinion. Don't snicker, it's true (though they accumulate and aggregate opinions from millions of blogs, according to their site)
Still, even if I'm just one voice out of thousands, if not millions, of bloggers, I'll pretend my opinion matters and avail myself of this golden opportunity to list a wholebuncha stuff I want back, and, hopefully, at least a couple of these companies are clients.
- First and foremost, Nestlé should bring back Orange Aero (officially-called Aero Orange, by the way) chocolate bars to the Canadian market on a permanent basis. They seem to roll Orange Aero out in Canada once every six or seven years for a few months at a time, but I don't care for this "Limited Edition" bullshit. It's the best chocolate bar in the world, I should be able to buy it any time I want.
- Other "limited edition" chocolate bars I want back (mostly the former Rowntree brands now owned by Nestlé): Coffee Aero/Cappucino Aero, Orange Coffee Crisp, Raspberry Coffee Crisp, Orange Kit Kat, Strawberry Kit Kat, Orange Smarties, Orange Crunchie (which is from Cadbury, not Nestlé, I know).
- Oh, and I want Coca-Cola to continue selling plain Vanilla Coke and not replace it with Cherry Vanilla Coke. (I wrote about that last month, so I'm not going to repeat myself.) And it's about time to bring back New Coke (a.k.a. Coke II), which I liked, at least. And Coca-Cola should distribute Mexican Coca-Cola, made with real sugarcane sugar, in North America north of southern Texas and southern California, at least as an item for premium or speciality supermarkets. Maybe call it "Coke Fiesta" or "Coke Viva!".
- I want the Zinger to come back to KFC. That was the best spicy chicken sandwich from any major fast-food chain. They replaced it with the Spicy Colonel's Big Crunch, which is okay, but the spiciness is in the sauce, whilst the chicken patty for the Zinger was marinated in hot sauce, which makes it more evenly distributed. Also at KFC, I want to see Hot Wings back. I love those things.
- Either Dunkin Donuts should bring back or Tim Horton's should introduce a banana-cream donut, since banana is the best donut flavour ever. And there should be a lot more banana-flavored stuff in general, like Banana shakes at McDonald's, which McDonald's used to have for a while in the 1980s.
- Why the hell hasn't Carlsberg yet brought Carlsberg's Special Brew beer over to North America? Add some British football hooligan street cred to the malt liquor cooler.
- A&W should try selling the brown-coloured Cream Soda in Canada again. I have no idea why that failed the first time around.
- Remember Sparkies, the Canadian rip-off version of Skittles? I think Mars eventually sued and won and shut down production of Sparkies, which was fine for the fruit-flavoured varieties, where there was very little difference compared to the real Skittles, but I miss Sparkies III, the ice-cream flavoured variety, and, especially, Sparkies IV, the kind that were soft drink-flavoured. Even after a decade and a half, I can remember the cola and root beer-flavoured Sparkies like it was yesterday.
- Speaking of soft drink-flavoured candies, I wish Nestlé's Wonka label would bring back Fizzy Bottle Caps.
- Nissin should really put the freeze-dried egg back in the Nissin Cup Noodles. I miss that. And make the Shrimp Cup Noodles easier to find in Canada.
- Speaking of shrimp, Pizza Hut should bring shrimp back as a topping option.
- Oh, and remember how they had Marks and Spencers in Canada up until about 1999, when the domestic version of the British retail chain went out of business? I remember hearing a couple of years back that they'd start selling Marks and Spencers St. Michael-branded at a Canadian supermarket chain, I think Loblaws, but I don't think anything ever came of that. Well, it should, because I really miss St. Michael's shrimp curry. And the blue-wrappered toffees. And the "Shrimp Cocktail" chips.
- Why is it so fricking difficult to find Old El Paso-brand burritos at Canadian supermarkets now? They used to be all over the place, but now all I can seem to find are store brands.
- McCain should bring back the Microwave Burgers and Fries in a box. I remember that some kids on Street Cents found them unappetizing, but I loved them.
- I also miss Chef Boyardee Roller Coasters, with the noodles that are like the Chef Boyardee Lasagna noodles, but also meatballs. And the tomato sauce was the best of all the Chef Boyardee canned lunch food items.
- I'm annoyed that Kraft, while they still sell the Spicy Chicken Delissio pizzas, doesn't seem to offer personal-sized Spicy Chicken Delissio pizzas anymore. Just the full-size ones, which are fairly useless to me since neither my mother or my father really care for Spicy Chicken pizza all that much.
- They should bring Sara Lee cheesecake in a cup back to Canadian vending machines. That stuff was heavenly. Jell-O sells cheesecake in a cup too, and it's pretty good, but the Sara Lee version was much more like real cheesecake, complete with a crumbly cake base.
- Why is it that Glade, Wizard, and the other air freshener companies won't sell pine scent anymore? I think the problem is that too many people associate pine scent with Pine-Sol, which is a industrial cleaner smell that doesn't even really smell like pines. Put natural-smelling pine scent in a spray can, and it would be like Christmas year round.
- You know how they sell those classic videogames in self-contained plug-in controllers? Sega, Atari, and Taito should team up and do one that has early 3D arcade games from the late 1980s and early 1990s, with the bright and colourful untextured polygons. I love that retro-3D look. Games this contoller should include are Hard Drivin', Race Drivin', Virtua Racing, Virtua Cop, the first Virtua Fighters, Air Inferno, and, especially, Top Landing (a.k.a. Landing Gear), still my all-time favourite arcade game. And Sega should also do one with arcade-perfect Outrun, Turbo Outrun, and Outrunners.
- Microsoft should do a driving game that merges the inch-by-inch accuracy and licensed storefronts of their (well, Bizarre Creations') Project Gotham Racing franchise with the freedom to roam anywhere you want of their Midtown Madness franchise (which needs to be resurrected). And Project Gotham Racing 4 should include Montreal as one of the cities. And I wish Microsoft would bring back Train Simulator.
- Isn't LaserDisc about past due for a revival? It should become the video version of vinyl for those of us who miss the "warmth" of analogue.
Hey, Pierre Bernard, if you want to use any of these as material or inspiration for a rant on your "Pierre Bernard's Recliner of Rage" segments on Late Night with Conan O'Brien
, you have my full permission.
THE GHOST OF A CHRISTMAS LONG PAST...
Checking the box with the photo archives some more, there are disappointingly few Christmas photos of any sort taken after 1980. For whatever reason, it seems like my parents were big "photobugs" during the three years that we lived in the townhouse in Beaconsfield (1978-1981), but, after we moved to Pincourt, their photo-taking was a lot more sporadic, mainly restricted to special occasions or when we had a relative come over and stay for a couple of weeks. While Christmas is undoubtably special, it doesn't have seem "special" enough for them to actually whip out the cameras to record the magic. I have a couple of Pincourt Christmas pics, but they're pretty lackluster static shots of me and my siblings posing without any interesting details for me to comment on. They're not great "candids" like the Beaconsfield Christmas photos were. Maybe I'll post one for the sake of having some Christmas photo taken after 1980, but not today.
Another Christmas 1980 photo, this time of me at Christmas dinner, or "supper", as I probably would have called it, which appears to have been turkey. There's some cranberry sauce too, I think. And, I'm drinking Coca-Cola, as I always did when I was a kid. Aww, I was still eating my meals on a green plastic plate.
I'm wearing a Christmas cracker "crown", something I've already described last week
On the wall behind me, you can see some sort of construction paper and cotton ball Santa Claus that I must have made in Mrs. Steiner's Kindergarten class.
The big-ass Grundig shortwave radio behind me is something we actually still have. My father keeps it in good working order, and it was made back when most electronics were built "solid state" and expected to last for decades, not just a couple of years until the warranty runs out like many electronic items now.
NEW ON DVD...
This DVD release kind of slipped in under my "upcoming releases" radar, but the first three episodes (yeah, only three, but I's takes what I's can gets) of the terrific Canadian cartoon series, 6Teen
, about six ambiguously Canadian teenagers having fun at the mall, are now available on DVD. Oh, pardon me, actually, checking the episode order listed in the 6Teen
episode guide at the slick-but-unofficial 6Teen
, it's actually the first two episodes, "Take this Job and Squeeze It" and "The Big Sickie", followed by the fifth
episode, "A Lime to Party". Note to KaBoom Entertainment: Jesse Betteridge
thinks random episodes are "the worst kind of evil", and says that you should only do that if you sell the boxsets separately.
I'll probably buy it regardless, but I wish this DVD would include the absolute best first season episode, "Employee of the Month", the one wherein Nikki Wong, who usually despises the conformity and business practices of Khaki Barn, the Gap-like fashion chain she works at because it was the only place that would hire her, mysteriously gets named "employee of the month" only to be brainwashed by a machine in the exclusive private employee washroom and becomes the perfect Khaki Barn salesgirl, outperforming even the "Clones". (That episode's an ideal candidate for the list of hypnosis and/or mind-control in cartoons
This DVD costs $12.99 Canadian from Amazon.ca
; it doesn't seem to be available on the American Amazon.com site yet.
Speaking of 6Teen
, Tuesday also sees a "Thinpak" re-release of the first 26 episodes of Super GALS!
("The Iron-Clad Collection"), the Japanese anime series which inspired it (just kidding; that's my completely facetious rip-off conspiracy theory, though the similarity between Caitlin Cooke and Miyu Yamazaki, not to mention, to a lesser degree, the Khaki Barn "Clones" and the Ganguro "Tan Faces" (more in terms of personality and their overall comic foil roles as trios of annoying, simple-minded girls than for their looks), does make me do a double take occasionally). Now you can see half of the adventures of Ran Kotobuki and her garishly-dressed kogal friends (and their guy pals) as they have fun, solve crises-of-the-week, deal with high school pressures, and, maybe, find love on the neon-and-pastel-coloured streets of Tokyo's fashionable Shibuya district, all for a price less than half of the old individual disks ($49.98 U.S. Suggested Retail Price, $44.98 U.S. at Amazon.com
One thing about this set that does bother me, though, is that ADV is pushing this ridiculous idea that everyone who likes the show and who wants them to license the other half of this series should buy this set to show their "support". Maybe that logic plays well to a small minority of anime fans on the Anime On DVD board who are the ones with seemingly bottomless wallets who post lists of the 20 anime DVDs they preorder every week, but, for those of us with very limited budgets, asking us to buy something we already own just to show "support" is absurd. I've already shown my "support" for the show by buying all six of the singles at full price; as much as I love the show, which is, for my money, my favourite anime TV series made over the past decade, I'm not going to buy it twice. But, if you haven't already bought it, I heartily encourage you to buy this set.
(Fortunately, for those of us who, perhaps, are hoping that another company might pick it up if ADV's going to continue playing "silly buggers" as to whether or not they're going to bother with the other half, one small ray of hope could come in the form of Bandai Visual's new HONNEAMISE label for the North American market, as Super Gals!
is distributed on DVD in Japan by Bandai Visual under the EMOTION moniker. If that happened, hopefully, they could come with some sort of arrangement with ADV to use the Industrial Smoke and Mirrors studio for a dub consistent with the first 26 episode, with the talents of Luci Christian and Chris Patton and others.)
Also new on DVD is the "Don't Call Me Shirley" edition of Airplane!
, the airplane disaster movie spoof which is one of the members of my personal all-time top eight live-action films list. With this version you get a couple of interviews and a few deleted scenes (probably mostly scenes anyone who watched the heavily-edited version, like the one my parents taped off CTV in 1983, have already seen, like "Hi, Jack!", as they had to re-insert a few scenes trimmed from the theatrical cut to fill in all the gaps left when they cut out the breasts, drug references, and swearing for broadcast TV), but the commentary track, with producer Jon Davison and writer/directors Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker, and David Zucker, seems to be the same one that was included on the 2000 DVD, and since the director's commentary track is usually the only special feature I give a rat's ass about really, I'll pass on buying this again (though, certainly, if you don't have it already, buy it).
In January, Paramount is also issuing a special edition Ferris Bueller's Day Off
(the "Bueller, Bueller" edition) as part of the same special edition series, and that's an even weirder example because, while the original DVD version had a John Hughes commentary track (which I found interesting, even if it was a little too dry for a lot of people), I can't find that mentioned in the DVD specs for the new edition
. So, not only is Paramount not actually adding new commentary tracks for these "special editions", they're actually taking some commentary tracks that were on the original editions away? I'm not paying good money for retrospective-type documentaries that are just navel-gazing studio fluff. Paramount should re-release some films on DVDs that got total "bare bones" treatment the first time around, like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut
, and Beavis and Butt-Head Do America
THE GHOST OF A CHRISTMAS LONG PAST...
Ah, I don't know what happened with the dates last night. I was sleepy, so I must have started a new Christmas photo entry, dated today, from scratch, rather than using the one I started on Sunday evening. Well, I guess you'll just get a "twofer" today.
Anyway, I did a preliminary check of the very disordered box of old photos and pulled out several photos, though only a couple of them were Christmas-related. I think I put most of the best childhood Christmas photos in the autobiographical photo album project I assembled for Grade 8 English when I was 14, which is where most of the Christmas pictures I've posted so far have come from. I did find a lot more great photos from my first trip back to England in 1984, which I'll add to my England album, "The Great London & England Photo Dumpatorium"
, eventually. (I'll try scanning one or two tonight.)
Here I am "rocking around the Christmas tree" in either 1979 or 1980, though probably 1980, since I look a little older than I did on Christmas morning in 1979
. (This can't be any Christmas after 1980, since this is the townhouse in Beaconsfield, and I moved to Pincourt in June 1981.)
I have no idea if this is before or after Christmas Day either, though, if it was after
Christmas Day, it couldn't have been too long after, since the Christmas tree still has needles. This was the era when we still bought a real Christmas tree every year. My father stopped buying them and got an artificial tree in, I think, 1983 because, the previous year, there had been a small fire started by a natural Christmas tree in the lobby of the Sun Life Building
. I can't say I was that thrilled by the move to an artificial tree when I was a kid, since I love that pine tree smell, but I support it now, since I find the idea of having a real tree just a little wasteful (yes, even though I know that Christmas trees are crops grown on "farms" and aren't chopped down at random in forests, and, yes, even though I also know that they can be recycled into paper). I mean, I wouldn't want the big "landmark" Christmas trees, like that at the Rockefeller Center in New York, to be artificial, but for my own purposes, whenever it is that I get my own place, I'll choose the needle-and-water-free convenience of an artificial tree. Or get a bonsai, though I've had bonsais before, but they both died within a couple of months.
You can see the weak left-eye squint I had as a kid in this picture too, but it's a little less obvious. It looks like I'm winking. Face-wise, I think this is one of the cuter photos of me that I have posted. My face looks a little impish and mischevous. Also, the contour of my nose-line is a bit more well-defined than in some of those other overexposed photos.
Looking at the small details now: I'm wearing Oscar the Grouch again, except on my pants. That thing, presumably Kindergarten-made, on top of the Christman trees, looks, in a weird way, kind of like "Jack" the mascot from the Jack in the Box commercials
(though that's purely coincidence since I don't think we've ever gotten Jack in the Box in Canada, and I have no idea if he was the corporate mascot back then). That picture on the wall seems to be of an unusual abstract face. Add a few lines for hair, and you'd almost have a John Lennon self-portrait. And I think there's a Santa Claus candle on one of the shelves.
MOTHER EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT MANGA; ANIME FANS WHINE ABOUT MOTHER.
From Local 6 (WKMG), a CBS affiliate in Orlando, Florida, comes this story of a mother in Florida's Orange County was shocked by the content of the manga Peach Girl that her daughter brought home from the library
"Parents of a girl in Orange County, Fla., were shocked to discover that a comic book featuring adult-themed topics, like swinging and drugged and raped girls, was checked out by the 11-year-old at a library, according to a Local 6 News report.
The controversial Japanese comic book is part of a series that can be found in the young adult collection at the Orange County Library's Southeast Branch.
Local 6 News reported that the comic titled "Peach Girl" is about a young girl drugged by her friends and then set up to be raped."
I haven't personally read Peach Girl
myself, but, according to this synopsis
, that appears to be only a small portion of the story. But, yeah, reading the plot outline beyond the fake rapes, that's something I would be uncomfortable having an 11-year old reading. Or even a 13-year old, even though Tokyopop, Peach Girl's domestic distributor
, rates it as being suitable for ages "13 and up"
, the same age rating they give to manga like Digimon
. Peach Girl
should at least be the next age rating up (I think "15 and up").
Anyway, back to the article.
""As I was going through it, I said, 'Oh my God, do parents know what their kids are reading?'" mother Raynelle White said.
One of the comics found by Problem Solver Nancy Alvarez featured parents who swap spouses.
"That's swinging and this is a girl no older than my daughter," parent Travis White said.
"Sex, drugs and violence are the themes in this series published by TokyoPop," Alvarez said.
White believes no one looked past the cover of the comic and it is time that things changed at the library.
"I don't want to see it; I don't want her seeing it," Travis White said. "The whole time, I'm like, 'I can't believe we're seeing these things.'"
A spokeswoman for Orange County Libraries would not speak on camera but admitted there is not a screening process in place for books bound for the children's or young adult sections, Alvarez said.
The same comics are also available at the main branch in downtown Orlando.
A spokeswoman said it would be impossible to review all of the books the library receives at its locations. However, if it receives complaints, it will do its own review."
Anime News Network posted a link to this article
, and, as expected, it's causing a lot of discussion
(8 pages and counting).
Here's the opinion, which happens to be the only correct one, of a reasonable, level-headed, non-inflammatory, mature, and intelligent anime fan who has "perspective". That's right, I wrote it
Seems like very responsible parenting to me: the parents aren't holding the daughter's hand and do give her some degree of freedom of choice as to what she reads but they are still taking an active interest in what she chooses to read, and, if they discover some content that they find objectionable, they're perfectly correct to let other parents know about it.
I know some people will ask, "Well, if they're so responsible, why is the daughter in the young adults section?", but, at many libraries, the "Young Adults" section is pretty much everything aimed at younger readers that isn't a 32-page picture storybook (i.e. any kind of prose novels). I was reading some stuff out of the young adults section when I was 4 or 5 years younger than that.
If they were negligent parents, the daughter probably wouldn't be at the library in the first place.
I could probably have added that I was already borrowing some books out of the adult section of the library by the time that I was that age, though it was mostly non-fiction books about trains and stuff. Nothing my parents would object to. If I had borrowed something truly "adult" from the adult section, I'm sure my parents would have talked to me about it, but they wouldn't have had any reason to complain to the media. But the "Young Adults" section of the library is different, since "Young Adults" is somewhat of a misnomer, being really for, not just teenagers, but also "tweens" (pre-pubescent children of about 9 to 12), and any kid younger than that who is at a reading level where they can handle Roald Dahl and J.K. Rowling (and stuff written at a younger level than even that). In fact, by the time you're an actual young adult (meaning, I suppose, 18 to 25), you're actually above
the target age of the books in the "Young Adult" section. I don't think it's outrageous that some serious attention should be paid to the content and age-appropriateness of books in the "Young Adult" section, and that merely printing "13 and up" on the back of a manga does not mean that it doesn't deserve some degree of scrutiny.
In any event, Raynelle and Travis White are not advocating censorship (or so-called "censorship" in the perjorative sense, which is when the government isn't directly involved). They're merely letting other parents know about the content of some books in the "Young Adult" section which many parents would not consider appropriate material for young readers, especially those in the younger age range within the "Young Adult" section.
I'm personally not blaming anyone in this situation, either the parents, the library, or Tokyopop. Perhaps the library should be a little more wary about the content of the manga they acquire for those manga that they don't put in the regular adult section, and that not all manga should be placed in the section for younger readers, even if they're rated "13 and up". Not every manga out there is simple adventure stories like Inu Yasha
(Kagome, Inu Yasha, and the other characters wander to village, fight one of Sesshomaru's minions, Inu Yasha goes into demon mode and kills the minion but fails to kill Sesshomaru, acquires shard, rinse, repeat) or Dragonball Z
(musclebound alien wrestlers stand around in mid-air doing tough-guy poses and staring each other down for 80 pages, bad guy attacks with unprecedented new technique, good guy loses, good guy learns ultimate new technique, mid-air rematch, another 80 pages of staring and posing, good guy unleashes huge mental fireball and defeats bad guy, rinse, repeat). As a manga reader for over 10 years (well, nearly 18 years, if you count a couple of issues of Marvel's original colourized release of Akira
), I know there's plenty of stuff in even the "13 and up"-rated manga that parents would find salacious and controversial that so far hasn't created much controversy in North America (mostly because anime and manga is simply considered too niche to cause much alarm with the cultural watchdog types). For example, the article mentions that the parents in an unnamed manga that is probably Marmalade Boy
were "swingers", yet it fails to mention a far more disturbing plot element in the series. And I'm not talking about the central plot element of the series, Miki Kobayakawa's pseudo-incestuous romance with her step-brother Yuu Matsura (which isn't really that disturbing because they didn't even meet until they were teenagers), I'm talking about Miki's friend Meiko Akizuki's romance with her teacher, Shinichi Namura, where they eventually run off together and elope, a sex offender registry-worthy offense in America.
But, oh dear, as with the Julie McBride-Wyatt incident a couple of years back
(see also here
), where a mother wrote a guest column (!) in a medium-circulation, uninfluentual regional newspaper in Tacoma complaining about the age rating for FLCL
(which she got wrong, but someone on rec.arts.anime.misc pointed out that the same erroneous age rating was printed in TV Guide, so it was probably an honest mistake, and, in any event, the newspaper printed a correction), some anime fans are getting hysterical over very, very little, making all sorts of ad hominum attacks on the woman and her motives.
The simple truth of this item is that it was a throwaway "Channel _ cares about you!" viewers' concerns segment on a *local*
newscast, probably something that aired between the 10 and 15 minute mark, 5 minutes after the real news is over most nights, and it was probably long forgotten by 99% of the viewers, of those who didn't change the channel after the real news was over, by the time the sports scores rolled around 10 minutes later. Absolutely nothing worth pressing the "censorship" alarm button about. It's not like it's a national talk radio host with millions of listeners, like Dr. Laura Schlessinger, giving marching orders to boycott all stores that are selling anime.
I could write a "get a grip, fanboys" essay on some of the things said in that thread, but it's not worth the time or the effort. Instead, I'll just cut-and-paste five choice quotes and write a short-but-pithy response to each, so you can see who the real knee-jerk reactionaries are."After the mother got over her initial shock she consoled herself by doing some crack and sleeping with the husband of her next door neighbor"
(What a charming sentiment that is. So, Raynelle White, on the odd chance that you're Googling your own name to see what people are saying about you, let me summarize: this poster thinks that you're a crack addict and an adulterer just because you have sincere concerns about what your daughter is reading.)"To me, this seems like a very clear case of bad parenting. The woman is obviously a reactionary imbecile who took no time to try to understand what it was her child was reading and judging it after thorough review. People shouldn't be having children if they expect everyone else to do the work for them."
(To me, this seems like a very clear case of bad message board posting. The poster is obviously a reactionary imbecile who doesn't quite understand that it's impossible to have an informed opinion about Raynelle White's parenting ability in general based solely on a single 14-sentence article in which Raynelle White seems sincerely concerned about what her daughter is reading. People shouldn't be having children if they're not going to teach them to think logically before posting and not draw broad conclusions based on stereotypical portrayals of "soccer moms" as being Bible-thumping women with some sort of censorious agenda who are only superficially concerned about their own children but don't really care.)"Let them read manga, let them watch Anime, but if your not sure of the content, then as a parent take the time to watch or read it before you condemn it. That is what I did."
(And... uhhh... that's exactly what she did too. How do you think she discovered the objectionable content, genius? By "remote viewing"? Or osmosis? Also "Y-O-U-R, Y-O-U-apostrophe-R-E, they're as different as night and day. Don't you think night and day are different? What's wrong with you?
")"Instead of biching about the book, why don't you talk with your damn daughter about it? What kind of parent are you? Always blaming everyone else for how your kid is raised? Try being a damned parent. I bet she's gonna find even worse things in high school in a few years. Maybe it's a dman godo thing she's reading about it now and a damn good thing it was brought up so you can talk to your daughter about it."
(Yay! Another guy who evidently has some sort of magical ability to determine everything that Raynelle White didn't
do based on a short 14-sentence article, and then offer her insulting "Internet advice" about her parenting ability based upon his psychic determinations regarding her deficiencies. I wish I had your powers; they must be "dman godo" powers to have.)"And so.....it begins. After years of wondering whent he first wave would hit...here it is. A whisper at first. it will grow, over time. I have forseen it."
(News flash: Anime fans have been predicting the big backlash in North America against anime and manga since the days when I first got into the fandom in the mid-1990s. Probably fans were predicting it since before I really got into it. Such a widespread backlash has never materialized and it never will, because anime and manga is just too niche to warrant all that much attention. There's the occasional not-entirely-positive article about anime
from groups like Focus on the Family, but those are but small blips on the radar screen and there's no organized, ongoing opposition to it. The American Family Association
, a clearing house for "Action Alerts" against easy pop culture targets, has zilch against anime on their site. If there was ever going to be a massive backlash against anime, it would have happened by now. I wrote more about the backlash myth here
, and I don't think there's been a huge sea change in the overall popularity of anime since I wrote that almost two and a half years ago, so everything I said then still stands.)"This is why we need to make a political interest group who will represent the fans when the time comes."
(Oh, yippee! A "nobody should dare to say anything bad about anime ever" special interest group, presumably which will be housed in "your parents' basement" and which will be funded by "the Cheat's pencil shavings". Why will this group be taken any more seriously than the dime-a-dozen Geocities or Tripod-hosted "YEH! LET'S SMASH TEH EVIL 4KID$! RAAAWWWWRRRRGGGHHHH!" groups out there, and why would the media and the politicians listen to a couple of self-appointed representatives from an obscure niche fandom, especially when the backlash threat is ridiculously exaggerated anyway? And can't anyone come along and declare themselves to be a "special interest group"? I hereby declare the formation of the "Let's get everyone to send Steve Brandon money to buy a 1/16th scale Airbus A380 remote-controlled airplane"
special interest group, because Steve Brandon's lack of funds with which to buy such an expensive, custom-built model is a pressing issue I would really like to see the media address.)"A word comes to mind I've seen alot in the replies here, PROACTIVE!! She needs to get off her ass and do some parenting instead of waiting for something to scream about to the local station so the problem will be "solved" with out her doing anything."
(A word comes to mind when I read your response, "DUMBASS"!! She is being very proactive, and, sometimes, being proactive involves going to the media to raise awareness about age-inappropriate material being available to children in portions of the library where the content of the books should be examined with some degree of scrutiny.)"And their whole, 'Cartoons are for children' comment; in Japan, anime are like tv shows! It's their culture, and we should be ACCEPTING to all cultures, like they *used* to teach in school. Be respectful, and accept everyone for each others differences. Pff, looks like they've forgotten those leasons."
(That's a touchy-feely politically correct myth. The civilized western world is not accepting of all aspects of all cultures, nor should it be completely "accepting" either. We don't accept genital mutilation (at least when it comes to females). We don't accept, at least for the past few decades, restricting women from driving, voting, or going to school beyond the first few grades. We don't accept cannibalism, which was practiced in certain tribes in New Guinea and the Amazon up until about a century ago. I could go on and on, but you get the point. And being critical about the content of one specific Japanese comic book is not the same as being intolerant to the Japanese in general, anymore than not liking one specific American movie makes you hate Americans in general. I don't recall the practice of drugging women and setting them up to believe they were raped being any part of traditional Japanese culture. And, though it has nothing to do with my main point, here's a myth that's a personal bugaboo. Most Japanese adults don't watch cartoons either. It's a niche that does watch them, just like in North America.)"Great, I can just see it now. "Manga is corrupting our children!!" Ugh....so long as Jack Thompson stays away."
(Eh, this is more of an aside, but I'm no fan of Jack Thompson
either. I had pondered writing something about him, but, eventually, I decided that people like him are best ignored. Jack Thompson isn't even worth a pithy one-line dismissal, and, yes, I'm fully aware of the irony that saying he's not worth a pithy one-line dismissal is actually a pithy one-line dismissal in and of itself, so nobody needs to point it out. I think Penny Arcade
is a funny strip and all, but Tycho and company are giving Jack Thompson way too much nore credit than he actually deserves with their on-going anti-Jack Thompson campaign. And, yes, I know the counter-arguments that you must keep an eye on people like him otherwise, soon, everything people like him might object to will be banned, but that's the "slippery slope" fallacy and I have too much faith in the free market to be fearful of Jack Thompson and his ilk. As long as there's a large market for adult-oriented games with graphic sex and violence, these games will continue to be made, whether Jack Thompson likes it or not. At worst, you won't be able to buy Grand Theft Auto
games from Wal-Mart, but, if Wal-Mart doesn't sell it, twenty other national chains will, just as Blockbuster's porn ban hasn't killed the pornography industry. And this story shows up at least once every 5 ot 6 years, and games on the adult end of the scale have only gotten more graphic, not less so. It was far more hilarious twelve years ago, when the game that got the most scrutiny was fricking Night Trap
, a nigh-unplayable full-motion video Sega CD game with corny comedy violence whose only real asset is the comedy irony of attempting to save Diff'rent Strokes
's Dana Plato from an early grave. Anyway, as I said before, anime and manga is just too niche to attract a Jack Thompson-type "crusader", and the closest person there ever was to being an anime-hating equivalent of Jack Thompson, Berit Kjos
, seems to have lost interest in anime a long time ago, not long after the peak of Pokémon
's popularity.) "I believe it's better for the 11 year old to learn about date rape from a book rather than first hand experience."
& "Heck, I would gladly let my daughter read about dealing with date-rape and other issues. Its an important part of growing up in this day and age. (not to mention the fact that the average girl seems to lose her virginity somewhere around 13-14 if I recall correctly.)"
(Those are the parents that are the problem, the ones who are so negligent that they don't know or don't care that their 14 year old is having sex, not the parents who are so involved with their childrens' lives that they will want to increase awareness about age-inappropriate content in manga marketed to young teens. As for it being better for an 11-year old to read about date rape than experience it, that's a false dichotomy. I still think that's a few years too young for them to really be exposed to that kind of thing, because, really, if you accept as a reasonable premise that an 11-year old should know about everything negative related to sex, why not start earlier? Have Ernie and Bert warn 4-year olds about the consequences of not paying attention at a party and letting a guy slip a "roofie" in your drink many years in the future. Obviously, an 11-year old is going to be a fair bit more savvy than a 4-year old, but I don't accept the premise that you need to expose absolutely everything to them at that age, and I don't think a comic book about romantic hijinks is really the appropriate place to learn about it.)
Okay, that was way more than five choice quotes. Well, it's like Clerks director Kevin Smith responding to pissy post Ain't It Cool News "Talkbackers"
in that, once you start, it's so hard to stop. Or, like the Pringles commercial, "Try to eat just one." Hey, shooting fish in a barrel is fun every once in a while.
(Though, to be fair, there are a couple of other pragmatic anime fans in the ANN thread.)
THE GHOST OF A CHRISTMAS LONG PAST...
Meh... I have an actual article 3/4th
s written, but I didn't feel like finishing it tonight as I'd rather finish it properly tomorrow than do a rush job tonight. Anyway, technically, I started this entry yesterday evening, so it counts for Sunday.
Eh, I'm running out of decent pictures in the small stash I have, so, on Monday (December 12th
), I will raid the big box of old photos and see if I can squeeze out a few more good Christmas pics.
This one is an "alternate angle" of me as an angel at my preschool Christmas pageant at Beaconsfield United Church in 1979, when I was 5 years old.
Not much to say that I didn't say already whwn I submitted rhw muxh better angel pic, but it looks okay.
While I didn't seriously notice a difference in vision quality between my eyes until around 1984, you can already see that my left eye is squinting a bit compared to my wide-open right eye, which is the stronger, dominant eye. (It's a bit more pronounced in some non-Christmas pictures of me taken the same era.)
I vaguely remember that banner.