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Musings [Aug. 25th, 2009|10:40 pm]
Senator Edward Moore Kennedy, better known as Ted Kennedy, a member of the United States Senate since 1963, one of the last great liberal lions, and the last of the Kennedy brothers, has died tonight. May God rest his soul, for he has surely earned it, with all the years of hard work, aspirations, disappointments, setbacks, and comebacks.

Ted Kennedy lived through more history than many of his colleagues ever learned, and played a role in the making of much of that history. He was elected to his brother John's old seat in 1962. He struggled all his life with the tragedy and elusive grandeur that surrounds the Kennedy name. In the mid 60s, he was in a plane crash; a fellow Senator dragged him out of the wreckage and he survived, although he was bothered ever after by the piercing his lung had sustained in the crash. He lost two brothers in five years, John in 1963 and Robert in 1968. There were many times that he could have been President; indeed, many thought he should have been President, both for his own talent and to finish the work his brothers had left undone. In 1968, Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago and several other leaders of the Democratic Party asked him to run at the Convention against Hubert Humphrey, to take his brother's place. He refused. Many people assumed he would run in 1972, and once again give Richard Nixon nightmares of the Kennedy name. When he did not, they felt sure he would run in 1976, but he did not run then either. He seems to have felt burdened by his brothers, burdened by destiny. Perhaps he thought that if he reached for the same prize both brothers had sought, he would share their fate. And who can blame him? Particularly since his brother Robert's large family had been put into his care after his brother's death. When he finally did run, in 1980 against Jimmy Carter, it was an uphill battle against all odds, and ultimately he did not prevail. Perhaps the world would be different if he had prevailed, in the primary and in the general election, and perhaps the world would be better too. In the face of defeat, he gave himself to his work, immersing himself in committee work and the crafting of legislation. There were more crises, more setbacks, more failures, yet he persevered through all of them somehow, and every time made a comeback.

It is hard, writing this, to believe he is truly gone. Ted Kennedy was a fixture of the nation's political life for over two generations. He was part of the history of the Senate even while he was still living. The world changed around him, yet he remained much the same. God only knows how many people were fostered into politics by him, and how many more were inspired by his example.

To be fair, Ted Kennedy was not a perfect man. But he does not need to be to have our respect. Unlike other men who served long years in the Senate, such as Strom Thurmond or Jesse Helmes, Ted Kennedy will be remembered because of what he built, and what he spoke out for. For over thirty years he pushed the argument that in America, in this day and age, everyone should have health care. The tides have gone up and down and up and down and up again with that argument, and all the while, whether he was winning or losing, Ted Kennedy was there, pushing for it. He spent decades trying to get justice for the people of Northern Ireland, who have suffered dreadfully at the hands of the United Kingdom through the years. He consistently supported increasing the minimum wage.

The 2008 campaign was, it turns out, the last ride of Ted Kennedy. Oddly enough, his speech at the Democratic National Convention was the first time I had seen him give a speech. I was entranced. It was not so much the words he was saying, but the knowledge that this man had seen it all in his lifetime, and still had the fight to carry on, even though he was in cancer treatment then and probably in a great deal of pain. He never let it on. He was still talking about the future, talking about the grand things that would be done in the Congress the next year. It was said of him that he never let illness, or anything else, get in the way of his work. He could have been coughing up a lung, and he would still appear on the Senate floor for a speech or a vote.

Ted Kennedy, who was 77, was the only one of the Kennedy brothers to die a peaceful death. His eldest brother, Joe Jr., was shot down by German artillery during World War II. John, the luckiest of them all (he was given the Last Rites on four separate occasions), was assassinated. So was Robert. Compared to them, particularly John and Robert, Ted seems much smaller than they were. Perhaps this is because he was the youngest brother, or perhaps it is because John and Robert were killed while still young, their fires undimmed by age and disappointment. Yet even if Ted Kennedy were the smallest of the Kennedy brothers, he still stands tall as a giant among the petty and cringing figures that pass for statesmen today. I do not know if we will ever see his like, or the like of his brothers, again. The new generation of Kennedys seems in many ways a pale mockery of all that was and all that could have been. But it is well, in this difficult time, to remember what it was that made the Kennedy brothers great. They carried in them a sense of responsibility, a sense that they all owed something to their country. They were the sons of great wealth -- their father had made millions in the stock market -- and yet never developed the sense of entitlement that so often afflicts the sons of great wealth. Rather, they felt that everyone had a responsibility to serve their country, and because they had been born wealthy, they had a responsibility to give more of themselves to their country than other men. And give they did. John gave service to his country twice, once in the Navy during World War II and later in politics. His service in the Navy nearly killed him, and his service in politics did kill him. Robert served his country first as a counsel to Senate committees, then as his brother's Attorney General, then as Senator from New York, and then as a man who would be President. He gave and gave and gave of himself, until he gave his life. And last of all there was Ted, who served long years in the Senate, always being torn between people's expectation that he run for President and his own belief that he was unsuited to it. It is ironic that it was the descendants of a poor Irish immigrant who best embodied the principle of noblesse oblige, of service to the nation, while so many of the rest of us have forgotten it.

I have no words left, and in fact have spoken too long on this matter. I will only say this much more: god speed, Ted Kennedy.
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And so it begins... (and Black Lagoon questions at the end) [Apr. 10th, 2009|01:25 am]
... another three day descent into madness, sleep deprivation (well, more than usual), and walking around dressed up like fictional characters. Yes, my friends, convention season is upon us, and I am about to go down to Sakuracon tomorrow. It should be fun. It helps my mood immensely that I have lately, almost by coincidence, been getting back into watching AMVs. And Hellsing Ultimate. Gotta love it.

But most of all, there is my touchstone, my all time favorite, the thing that surpasses and outdays practically everything in my book.

Black Lagoon.

I love Revy so damn much. She's amazingly hot, of course, and the fact that she's incredibly dangerous and could kick my ass eighty-five ways to Sunday makes her even more hot. But it's more than that. She has a way about her, a don't-give-a-damn attitude, a free spiritedness, a willingness to take whatever life throws at her and persevere in spite of it. I admire that. At the same time she has a tragic air about her as well, the air of someone who has suffered immensely and endured far more than I ever likely will. And yet she rejects pity. She doesn't usually make a habit of pitying herself, and doesn't take it from others.

Her and Rock are an awesome couple. At least, they are in my head. Rei Hiroe (the author) has been making hints in that direction for some time now, but it's all been kept very quiet, which rather frustrates me. I don't want to see them being all lovey-dovey; that would defeat the point of the show, and in any case would break character in all kinds of ways. At the same time though I'd like to see a little bit more than a hint every chapter or two. Ultimately, I guess, I'd like to know if I'm just imagining things, or if I and everyone else who noticed this really were right all along. And her childhood. Revy's youth is a great mystery. Again we've had little hints here and there. We know she grew up poor in Mott Street in New York City's Chinatown. We know she committed her first murder at 14. We know that she racked up quite a record with the NYPD before she skipped the country and relocated to warmer climates. We know people at the NYC 27th Precinct still remember her (crossover with Law and Order anyone? I'd like to see what Goren thought of her, lol...). We're pretty sure that while she taught herself how to shoot, it was Boss Chang who taught her the two-fisted gun fu that she uses with such beautiful deadliness. I, for one, would like to know what the hell went on with her in her younger years. Was she always an orphan, or did she have parents once? Who is that man with the pillow over his face, the first man she ever killed? Was it just a random killing or was there a dark purpose to it, or was it vengeance for something? What did she do to make the hardbitten cops of the 27th precinct remember a teenage hoodlum from Chinatown? Teenage hoodlums from Chinatown are usually a dime a dozen. Which leads one to believe that she must have done something more, something to distinguish herself from your run of the mill, garden variety punk. And how the hell did she meet Boss Chang anyway, and how did she come to learn gun fu from him? So many questions...

... which, I suppose, is what fan fiction is for. XD I'd rather not write it out, but at the same time I don't know that Hiroe will ever actually get around to it. So in the meantime that he doesn't, I'll probably end up writing my own speculations. That is, when I'm not working on my own creative projects :D

And now, I'm freaking tired. I should be sleeping. I've gotta get up at 7pm if I'm gonna catch the train tomorrow, and if I don't catch the train I'm, well, kinda boned. Not badly, I suppose, but it would be a pain.

Black Lagoon euphoria keeps me awake. It always does. Maybe I can persuade my body that it needs to sleep, and my mind can be filled with dreams of a glorious, violent heroine, drenched in blood and sweat and gunsmoke, a hurricane of passion and fury and sorrow and pathos. It was my housemate who once said that if I met her I would kiss her, even if she wound up shooting me afterwards. Thinking back on it, I'd have to agree with him. It's one of those things that demands to be done, even if it looks as crazy as jumping off a cliff.



Now, for the Black Lagoon question, to all the people who read this who have seen/cared about Black Lagoon, a completely hypothetical question for you:

Casting call for a live action Black Lagoon movie, with John Woo and Quentin Tarantino to direct! If you were to pick the cast, who would you pick?

My own answer: I think it'd probably have to be mostly a cast of unknowns, like Star Wars was back in the 70s. I'd probably have to go to New York City and wander around Chinatown to find someone who could play Revy... the closest I can think of among established actresses is Zhang Ziyi. As my housemates have said many a time, she seems to be really good at playing crazy sluts, and while Revy isn't exactly a slut (at least not anymore... she did work for Rowan "Jackpot" Pigeon, heheh) she definitely has a fairly large helping of crazy. The only problem with Zhang Ziyi is her English. Revy speaks English as her native tongue. It would take a hell of a lot of voice training to get Zhang Ziyi to sound like a New Yorker. Anyway, tell me what you think!
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post-election analysis [Nov. 5th, 2008|11:11 am]
Okay, so it was a very good night last night. I now feel satisfied that America doesn't fuck up everything it touches and that maybe, just maybe we have a chance of getting this stuff right now.

Barack Obama completely thumped John McCain in the electoral vote, winning now by 349 electoral votes to 162 for McCain, with 26 votes currently unassigned due to the closeness of the race in Missouri and North Carolina. He also won the popular vote by 52.4% to 46.3%, with 1.3% divided among third party candidates. Pretty good work, I'd say. A lot of people, particularly in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and the upper Midwest, have said that if Obama was white, he would have had this thing in the bag months ago. As it is, he had it in the bag anyway. Whatever people who are still afraid of him may think, I think they will be proven wrong. Or proven right, but not how they think. Diana believes that the average American wants everything to improve without having to sacrifice anything for it, for things to get better without anything actually changing. Of course this is impossible, and Obama knows this; he just called for a new spirit of sacrifice for the greater good in his victory speech last night.

All I know for sure is that, somewhere, the spirits of Jack Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy are smiling and tears are streaming down their ghostly faces.

That said, a mountain of work still needs to be done. The Republican Party, as presently constituted, will not die an easy death. The radical wing of the party will probably gain more influence; I would rather this didn't happen, but it's something that I and everyone else has to prepare for.

As far as specific results on the down ticket races, some of them were very disappointing. Gary Trauner didn't win in Wyoming, which sucks. Bob Lord, Judy Baker, Joe Garcia, and Dennis Shulman seem to have all lost. Charlie Brown in CA-04 is stuck in an extremely close race. Dan Maffei and Eric Massa did both win in New York though. The biggest, and most pleasant, surprise of the night (apart from the enormity of Obama's victory) was that the voters of Idaho's first district elected Walt Minnick, the Democratic candidate, as their new representative. This is mildly personal for me. My grandmother grew up in Post Falls, a village in Northern Idaho. This place is also where the Aryan Nations camped out in the 90s. It is vindicating to see that this place has, maybe, begun to turn around.

Senate races are crazy business. Al Franken and Jeff Merkley might still win, but it will probably be close, although Minnesota will be closer than Oregon. The populous counties in Oregon still have to finish counting their votes. Jeanne Shaheen, Kay Hagan, and the two Udall boys all won. Lunsford and Musgrove lost. Martin may have to face Chambliss in a runoff election in December.

Oh, and Alaska seems to have decided that it wants to be the new capital of crazy people. WTF mates? You seem to have reelected one convicted felon to the Senate, and another one to the House of Representatives, and your governor is a woman who believes that the end of the world is coming and that this is a good thing! WTF mate?! I mean, sure, vote for who you want to, but good god, against a rogues gallery like that, we still lost? I realize Ted Stevens is an incumbent and brings home the bacon in spades, but for heaven's sake, the man was convicted! Does that mean nothing?! *fumes* ... okay, Alaska ain't as bad as all that. Realistically that Congressman and Senator were incumbents of extremely long standing, but still...

Anyway, more later.
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and now for the bigger thing that happens in November... [Nov. 1st, 2008|01:09 am]
SO! Who all's doing Nanowrimo this year? *looks out into the crowd hopefully*

You don't have to be doing it at full tilt, goodness knows I'm not. But at the very least, all us writing buddies ought to get back into the old novel writing mode. It's been far too long since we were all working on something, together, with the singleness of purpose that we felt in the past. No excuses now. I know I've been a less than stellar example/participant/fellow writer in the past, but those days are gone. Let's get out and DO THIS THING!

And to all of you who are new to Nanowrimo? Best of luck, go get it! YOU CAN DO IT!

*goes back to working on his own novel that he should really be working more on than he is, heheh*
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a funny string of sentences [Sep. 18th, 2008|06:32 pm]
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Before our roleplay session today, I had to clean the kitchen so that there was room to make tonight's dinner. As I was finishing up and Diana was starting to make potato soup, this is what I said:

Me: "Well, it turns out that this kitchen is only mostly clean. There's a big difference between mostly clean and all clean.

Now mostly clean is slightly dirty, but with all clean, there's really only one thing you can do with all clean.

You pull out some pots and make a new mess."

Diana: *giggles*
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Black Lagoon - insert incomprehensible fanboyish sputtering here [Sep. 8th, 2008|01:35 am]
gjkjgajghdkjagkasdjhgdgdkkjaldsjkjaajk

Black Lagoon novel! Black Lagoon third season! Black Lagoon scanlations!

Why haven't I been paying closer attention to this fandom? Why? I love it so!

Realistically, the novel may not be as good as I'd hope it to be; the English translation, if we ever get it, will almost certainly be no great shakes. Even the Twelve Kingdoms English novel was a little bit iffy in spots, even if over all it was spot on. On the other hand this is an excellent incentive to improve my Japanese...

And the idea of a third season of Black Lagoon just warms my fanboy heart. Warms it, I tell ya!~

A public service announcement: a large amount of Black Lagoon manga is found in scanlated form at OneManga.com, if anybody didn't know already.

I love this stuff so much. XD

DAMN IT! I could have bought that novel while I was in Japaaaaaaan XDDD

Oh well, Kinokuniya might have it. They have the Black Lagoon manga in Japanese, why not the novel? And otherwise there's always the internet...
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Robert Kennedy, 1925-1968 [Aug. 8th, 2008|09:23 pm]
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[mood |contemplativecontemplative]

a longish essay of sorts about Robert Kennedy, and thus about politics and societyCollapse )
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Zetsubou-Sensei vs. Kemonozume, presented by Marusaia [Mar. 9th, 2008|05:57 pm]
You can find a lot of weird, interesting, and funny stuff on Youtube. This is one such thing. It's a mashup of the Sayounara Zetsubou-sensei opening animation and the Kemonozume opening theme song. It's a surprisingly good match. The song and the images match up nicely, and both of them (to me at least) evoke the flavor of pre-World War II Showa Japan, a world that had a foot in two centuries, a world that was a madcap blend of kimono and suits, shamisen and jazz music, katana and trains. Pre-war Showa fascinates me. It's a world that, looking back on it, seems beautiful, melancholy, flashy, and understated all at once, and the fact that the era was such a mix of old and new only adds to the fascination. It's no wonder I'm writing fiction based in the period.

Anwyay, here it is. minako134, this is for you! Doesn't it fit well? Heheh, watching this is making me really want to see Sayounara Zetsubou-sensei. Time to finally take your advice XD



This isn't mine. You can see the original and comment on it here
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In Memory of a Great Man [Mar. 6th, 2008|10:18 am]
After some thought, I've decided to write something brief on the topic of Gary Gygax's death.

Gary Gygax was born in 1938, and died this last Tuesday, March 4, 2008, at the age of 69. To a very large extent, he is the one we all have to thank for developing the D&D roleplaying game. Without him, it's anybody's guess if the game would have come about or not, and it's anybody's good guess if the roleplaying genre in general would have developed. All things considered, even if we don't know it, many of us owe a lot to the crazy guy who thought up the idea of combining fantasy novels with tabletop wargaming in the late 60s. Here was a man who did something amazing.

Gygax cut his teeth on fantasy and science fiction novels, enjoyed them throughout his life, and wrote a few of them himself over the years. While I have no way to vouch for whether they were good or not, and while some of you may not be big fans of D&D, here is a man who is truly inspiring: he went out and lived his dream, grabbed it with both hands and lived it. How many people can say they have pursued their dreams as he did? He loved gaming, he was obsessed with gaming, so therefore, he tried to go into business as a gamer. He didn't always succeed, but he did well for himself. He also never stopped playing, never left the hobby that had so inspired him. Even though his health had been in decline for the last several years, he had been gaming actively up until January of this year. Here was a man who would not be kept down by anything.

In his own words: "I would like the world to remember me as the guy who really enjoyed playing games and sharing his knowledge and his fun pastimes with everybody else."

Go well, Gary Gygax. You've certainly had an effect.
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Weird Stuff Spam [Mar. 5th, 2008|12:12 pm]
Phoenix Wrong: No Shit Sherlock flash video from New Grounds. Two things: Numa Numa, and the 4chan Dio WRYYYYYYYYYYYYY flash video audio. THIS MAKES IT WORTH WATCHING, DAMMIT~!

Phoenix Wrong 3 flash video from New Grounds. Got soem funny stuff in it. Ted Stevens once again rears his head in the world of internet jokedom (because, after all, "The Internet isn't something you dump something on, it's not a big truck, the internet is a series of tubes." I'm sorry, whether the man's idea was right or not, that line has to be one of the funniest I've ever heard.

MUDAH DA! This is the original Jojo's Bizarre Adventure flash video from 4chan that started it all (I think...). It may not make much sense if you've seen Jojo's...
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