I bought a KitKat bar because Google is running a promotion for the release of the new version of Android. You can win a Nexus 7 by entering a code you find on the inside of the chocolate bar’s wrapping, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but with less child endangerment. But there was no code in mine.
Damn you, KitKat, I broke my vow not to eat transfats any more because of you. How dare you not reward me for this sacrifice.
Okay, fine, I already have a Nexus 7 but this is still definitely a miscarriage of justice. You will rue this day in the future, KitKat.
Posted in Ineffable
So I wasn’t kidding when I mentioned I’m into Dragon’s Dogma. I’m at that particular stage of video game obsession where when I’m not playing it, I’m thinking of playing it.
A related obsession has sprung up for me, though, and that’s the obsession of posting screenshots. You can take and upload screenshots directly from the game. This is not such a big thing for computer players, but trust me when I say this feature is fairly novel for this generation of video game consoles.
See for yourself how much I’m uploading to the official video game website (the answer is several pics everyday). It’s fun to document your fictional adventures and put them up for strangers to view. It’s fun even when no one sees your pics, but it’s even better when random people on the Internet actually compliment you on them.
I did notice, however, that the majority of the screenshots posted are from Japanese players. Not only that, but the uploaders often write a short blurb to which other players respond. I can’t read Japanese but it’s obvious that there’s a community of Japanese players carrying on conversations and connecting with each other through their enjoyment of the game.
However, there is no similar community of English speaking players on the game website. There are anglophone players, but compared to the number and visibility of the Japanese players they’re a drop in the bucket.
It’s not as if the narcissism of the screenshot is unknown outside of Japan. Do I even need to mention that the word “selfie” exists?
I would theorize that the dominance of Japanese players is due to a couple of reasons. The first is that the Japanese Internet is more centralized than that of other linguistic communities. A gigantic amount of Internet traffic in Japan goes through one website, 2ch. It’s my understanding that it’s basically an old school BBS with a few modifications and apparently still has that terrible web design from the 1990s that oldsters might remember. Even if they’re not on it, a Japanese Internet user will at least have heard of the site.
No equivalent website exists for the English Internet. Players would be on several different message boards, blogs, and gaming sites, so one single service would not dominate.
Of course, the Dragon’s Dogma site is integrated directly into the game, so players should at least be discovering it that way. Thus, the second reason I would say that so few English speakers can be found on the game site is due to is popularity – namely, its popularity with Japanese players. An English-speaking player might share a few screenshots and go to the game site hoping for some discussion, then discover that most of the existing conversation is in another language. They might make a few attempts at connecting with other English-speaking players, and a few die hards might stick around, but the majority will retreat to their own gaming forums or even just give up on connecting at all.
There might be all this rhetoric about the Internet allowing one to connect with a yak herder in Nepal, but in truth the Internet is a very segregated place. Users talk mostly to people in their own country. This does make sense, after all – how many Korean TV shows are shown in the USA, for example? Who else would Korean fans talk about their favourite TV show with but with other Koreans? Of course, there are languages with international reach and emigrant diasporas, so there’s still a bit of internationalism online. But not as much as all the ads back in the 90’s would make you think.
Posted in Theorizing
Language Log discusses an article about the president of the Philippines’ refusal to apologize to Hong Kong over the death of a group of Hong Kong tourists when they were holidaying in the Philippines. The post is about a particular claim that part of the problem is that Tagalog has no word for “sorry”. The claim is of course complete crap.
However, one of the comments on the post gives a very old-fashioned way to apologize in Tagalog: “Ipagpaumanhin po ninyo ang aking pagkakamali.” This sounds seriously formal to me. If I were to translate this into English with approximately the same connotations I would render it as “I humbly beseech you for your forgiveness for the grievous wrong I have committed”. Somehow I can’t imagine saying it in any other position besides kneeling in abject supplication on the ground, clothes perhaps rent in anguish.
My admittedly poor translation sounds kind of hokey, or it can if not intoned with the proper gravitas. However, saying the Tagalog sentence with anything less than utter sincerity somehow seems wrong and even faintly immoral. I honestly can’t think of any situation where I would need to deploy this linguistic equivalent of the nuclear option. Perhaps if I’d accidentally killed my neighbour’s child or something like that.
Anyway, now you know how to apologize in Tagalog if you ever commit manslaughter.
Posted in Stuff Found Online
If the history of workers’ rights was an object then it would be a seesaw tipping between capital and labour. Sometimes capital has the upper hand, sometimes labour does. Well, labour is never dominant but sometimes it doesn’t entirely suck to be a worker.
The seesaw of workers’ rights occurred to me as I was watching The Devil is a Part-Timer, which is an anime about Satan being kicked out of his kingdom and exiled to modern Japan, where to survive he has to work part-time at McDonald’s.
The series is hilarious. Watching the Adversary coming home exhausted to his shithole apartment panicking about how he’s going to pay for his new refrigerator is comedy gold. A lot of the stories are in that vein: The Devil gets promoted to shift manager. The Devil goes on a date with a co-worker. The Devil gets scammed by a door to door salesman.
The series is funny, but I couldn’t help feeling put off by the implicit normalization of living on the economic precipice. Lots of people live paycheque to paycheque and it’s probably not funny from their point of view. There are moments recognizing that precariousness in the series, such as the utter loneliness one of the otherworldly refugees suffers from or the way something as simple as free noodles is an incredible gift to the working poor characters.
I’m reminded of Welcome to the NHK, which is about what one possible reaction to the modern world is: complete and almost total withdrawal. On the one hand, what does retreat do in improving one’s lot? On the other hand, what does struggling do in improving one’s lot as well? Because The Devil sure works his butt off in The Devil is a Part-Timer but he still isn’t even a full-time worker yet. And goodness knows those poor Kentuckians trying to make a living just seem to be digging themselves in deeper. The article is a decade old, but The Onion hit the target dead-on: “Report: Poor People Pretty Much Fucked”.
Is this the new normal, then? Is this life what Thatcher meant when she said There Is No Alternative? Because it seems that in this brave new world even our fantasies participate in our own subjugation.
I don’t mean to criticize the anime for not offering a solution. Comedy can be a site of political awareness, but by its very nature it can never be a site of struggle. It’s always too easy to say that it’s all just a joke. But comedy and art in general can still be a mirror to the society it depicts, and for The Devil is a Part-Timer, that society is trying hard to laugh at its own misery.
Posted in Theorizing
Important news from Dragon’s Dogma:
You can throw rabbits off a cliff.
I spent twenty minutes last night doing so.
There’s a quest for killing 45 rabbits, but mostly I did it because it was funny.
Their terrified squeaking was hilarious.
That is all.
I submitted this to the Capcom Dragon’s Dogma website and when I woke up a whole bunch of Japanese people had clicked Like on my screenshot. I guess Asians are united in their hatred of lapines.
Posted in Ineffable
It seems that a handful of Swedish movie theatres have introduced a ratings system based on the Bechdel test. It’s just four movie theatres and they’re known for being purveyors of independent cinema, so it’s not like this is a massive revision of the current age-based ratings system. In fact, this is just a voluntary addition to the existing ratings mandated by the Swedish government. And let us not forget that the Bechdel test was originally created in service of a joke in a comic strip.
The test by itself tells you rather little in exactly how well a movie addresses gender. For example, I think Sucker Punch passes the test, and that movie was so very problematic in how it treated its mostly female cast of characters. But hey, it’s something.
Posted in Stuff Found Online
It strikes me that perhaps the people coming here from Noiseless Chatter might like to see what else I’ve written in the way of fiction. The vast majority is of the fanfiction variety. If you’re really interested, you can visit my page on Archive of Our Own. I’ve only finished a couple of those fics. I hope you enjoy my stories about a twenty year old anime and a children’s cartoon show. Point of trivia: one of the fanfics in my bookmarks was written by a published fantasy author. Try to guess which fic and which author.
Posted in Announcements
I just got Dragon’s Dogma, which basically means for the next month I’ll only be leaving the house for work and buying groceries. Mostly I got it because it was free on PS+ and I was hoping for some kind of hybrid of fighting game combat and RPG adventuring like I mentioned here. I didn’t get my wish, but I do still like the game.
The combat so far reminds me of Dynasty Warriors. There are special moves but mostly I’m hacking and slashing over and over. Possibly I should try out the rogue or the mage. I’ve only had one God of War fight against a gigantic beast and I was mostly wondering what the hell was going on, after which I won. Fights don’t seem especially difficult yet so I’m thinking I’ll try Hard mode. On a scale of one to ten, ten being Tekken‘s online mode, I would rate the combat difficulty as a three.
However, the game is still pretty damn fun. I’m a sucker for RPGs, especially the open world type, and this hits that sweet spot of stamp collecting and mathematical progression. It’s not a game for playing for short periods, though, you need several hours to properly get into the groove.
The pawn system is great, at least in theory. Your character has a sidekick and can also hire more minions, which are actually the sidekicks created by other players. Pawns only level up when their creator plays so you’re forced to keep replacing your employees. However, most players either half-ass the design of their pawns or they should be arrested for crimes against fashion. I was up until 1 AM last night looking for pawns to hire and I freely admit I was entirely superficial in my hiring criteria. “Too fat. Too short. Name has numbers in it. Outfit looks like shit.”
Speaking of which, who else out there just got Dragon’s Dogma on PS+? Because I hereby propose a pawn exchange. Someone hire my pawn, I spent a long time customizing her to get the right look. She’s a Strider with only the basic gear so far, but I love her like my own daughter. I release her into your care.
Posted in Media
Gameological alerted me to this peculiar project to create even more crappily written novellas based on video games released for the Nintendo Entertainment System console. Well, there’s nothing demanding that the submissions be terrible but apparently the original editions were really bad. I wondered exactly what kinds of stories would be submitted so I started looking through lists of NES games, then one thing led to another and before I knew it I was writing a fanfic for Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. An excerpt:
Mike versus Mac
Most of the people reading this weren’t alive during the Moon landings. Most of the people reading this weren’t alive during the Kennedy assassination. A few might be too young to remember 9/11. Somehow, history refuses to be conveniently accessed. Somehow, history happens without us being there.
I think about this as I drive through Los Angeles on my way to a certain house in Carson. Most of the people in the neighbourhood are Filipino, and I even pass Jollibee, a restaurant franchise which has almost all of its locations in the Philippines. Finally I pull into the driveway of a modest home and before I even open my car door the owner comes out and shakes my hand. How are you, he asks. How was the drive?
I’ve never had an interview subject so eager to talk to me. Before I know it, I’m ushered through the house and into the den. “This is where I keep my old stuff,” says my apparent new best friend. There might have been several things on fire in that room, but I don’t notice because my eyes are drawn to a poster on the wall. It’s screaming about a boxing match set for October 5, 1987. Two men, one white, one black, face off with grim determination. Mike versus Mac, it says. The Battle of the Decade.
We’ll see if my inspiration will continue. I’ll have to read some Sports Illustrated articles to check the writing style.
Edit: Hmm, I hadn’t realized how much of a first draft this was but it really needs some revision. Still, the seed has been planted, I just need to build on this.
Posted in Announcements
I posted quite a while back about the Alias comic book series being developed for TV. The series is about a superhero washout lurchingly eking out a living as a private detective in New York. The comic book was actually heavily influenced by Sex and the City, of all things, what with its foul-mouthed protagonist living the single life in The Big Apple.
Anyway, the news about TV show was all the way back in 2010 so I was afraid that deal fell through like so many things in the entertainment world. But guess what? Netflix is producing the Jessica Jones series along with TV shows for Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist.
I’d been wondering why the street level superheroes were absent from Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (and may I remark that I greatly dislike the unnecessary reminder of which company owns the franchise in the title of the show?). It seems like a no-brainer to have low-ranked costumed vigilantes in a TV show. The kind of superheroes who fight bank robbers and purse snatchers instead of alien menaces or vast armies of evil minions are also the kind of superheroes who don’t have flashy powers that would be expensive to fake decently on a TV show’s budget.
So it turns out Marvel was saving Stilt Man and The White Tiger for these TV shows. I’m just hoping they’ll be able to do something like what Arrow did for DC’s street level characters, because then I might die of a massive nerdic superhero overload.
Or the shows might turn out to be like House of Cards but with superheroes. Which would still be pretty entertaining.
Posted in Stuff Found Online