Jun 29 2011

Not-Sucking Is Magic: My Little Pony

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Well, I binged on the first five (six? I lost count after the Ursa Minor) episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic via YouTube last night, while workin’ on various stuff. It was enjoyable and I can see why it’s popular, although it didn’t cause me to squee with the light of a thousand suns the way it has some others.

I can see the Powerpuff Girls influence in it, and that can be nothing but good. I also wholeheartedly applaud a Very Girly Show For Girls That Is Girly that has things like well-defined and likeable characters, plots with conflict, and themes of self-reliance and personal development, without actually being a show for boys where the characters all have long hair and squeaky voices (a pitfall PPG could occasionally fall prey to).

In the episodes I watched, it never quite reached the level of awesome, although it did have moments that approached it, such as “I cannot tolerate such a crime against fabulosity!” and “But … the rainbow one kicked me…” With a few nudges in the right direction, it could easily become awesome, but my gut feeling is that Hasbro wouldn’t tolerate it.

So what’s my analysis of the whole Brony thing? Well, some of it is the same “breath of fresh air” phenomenon that made the original Star Wars such a hit after a decade of sci-fi movies that made you want to kill yourself. My Little Pony is a well-written, enjoyable, decently-animated show, which means it blows the doors off of anything else happening right now. Since the collapse of TV animation in the late ’90s, there’s been painfully little that wasn’t outright crap, and since it’s not crap, MLP shines like gold. And while I don’t want to belittle the quality of the show, I do think the lack of competition has a lot to do with the sheer enthusiasm of the fandom that’s building up around it.

Fans are gonna glomp onto something, and if there’s only the one thing around worth glomping onto, it wins. Once upon a time, animation fans could geek out about Animaniacs, Chip and Dale’s Rescue Rangers, Powerfpuff Girls, Balto, Cardcaptor Sakura, Dexter’s Laboratory, The Lion King, even the good old-fashioned Looney Tunes, and all still be fairly current. But all those things are old now (sorry, but it’s true, people like the New Hotness), and even if they weren’t old, they’re not being broadcast. You have to already be a fan of those for them to still be relevant to you.

If MLP was going up against the WB at its height, or even Cartoon Network during the Space Ghost: Coast to Coast era, it would have had a harder time of it, true, but on the other hand, it is a show being made right now that could stand up to those and give them a run for their money, and in the current climate that’s an accomplishment in and of itself.

-The Gneech

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Jun 28 2011

My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels

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So I live in the ‘burbs of Washington D.C., and its a very diverse, cosmopolitan place. Around here it’s common to encounter people from all over the world, who speak widely-varying levels of English. But even given the linguistic barrier, occasionally there are things that just make you go, “Buh?”

This morning, Mrs. Gneech and I were taking our usual 10:45 walk around outside the office when a scrappy young teenage guy carrying a backpack, looking bronzed from much walking in the sun, approached us and said in a vaguely-slavic way, “I am zorry, but can you tell me, vere is Target?”

This is Tyson’s Corner: there is nothing as pedestrian as a Target within 10 miles. If he wanted expensive designer clothes or possibly a diamond-encrusted wristwatch, he’d be all set. So Mrs. Gneech and I blinked at him and went, “Uhh…” as we tried to think of the best option for this wayward pedestrian.

“Oh, no, vait,” he said, and checked his crumpled sheet of scribbled notes. “I mean, vere is Perfect Pita?”

Well, I can certainly see how one might confuse “Target” with “Perfect Pita.” (Wait, what?) Fortunately, Perfect Pita was right in the same Coke-bottle-green skyscraper as our office, so all we had to do was point at it and say, “In the lobby, all the way back, on the right.” He thanked us and went his way, and we went ours.

Naturally, he went up to the side door that read “Lasik Procedure,” and wondered where the pitas were. Fortunately, from there it was easy for him to spot the main lobby doors and go on in. By the time we were finished with our walk and coming into the building, we met him coming out again, after having spent a grand total of maybe 30 seconds inside.

Worried that he might have just stepped into the lobby, not seen the Perfect Pita, and stepped out again, Mrs. Gneech asked, “Did you find it?”

“Uh, yes, zank you,” said the kid, smiled in vague embarrassment, and took off, leaving us to wonder what the story was.

“I’m geocaching,” suggested Mrs. Gneech.

“It’s on my ‘bucket list,'” was my response.

Hell of it is, we’ll never know. But life is like that, around here.

-The Gneech

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Jun 27 2011

Double Rainbow All the Way O.o

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I have more to say about AnthroCon and I’ll say it later, but I do want to mention this before it gets lost in the shuffle.

On the way home yesterday evening, as we approached the Allegheny Mountain tunnel on Route 70, Lee and I were privileged to see a gorgeous, vibrant rainbow created by the storm that was in front of us and the sunset behind us. However, that was nothing compared to the vision we received on the other side of the tunnel: it was, as the man said, “a double rainbow, all the way,” and it was spectacular. It easily spanned half the horizon, stretching from one mountaintop to another, with route 70 shooting the gap. All seven colors of the spectrum were clearly visible, with the edges “fraying” into a fuzzy red-purple on either side.

Drastic action was required, so we took an emergency pull-off spot and got out to gawk. My little phone camera was not up to the task of capturing the whole thing, so I just took a pic of the most vibrant arc to send off to friends. Lee tried to get some better pics with his craptacular little point’n’shoot, but I’ll be very surprised if that was up to the task either.

Neither of us blissed out and starting ranting about it — that’s just not how we roll — but it was still a very cool experience.

-The Gneech

PS: At the time, we were pointed in the general direction of New York, which had just legalized gay marriage over the weekend. COINCIDENCE???

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Jun 20 2011

Printer Fail: Fallout

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Well, the revised Volume II proof arrived from primary printer, so the order went in. Unfortunately, the earliest they can get copies to me is the Tuesday after AnthroCon, and that would cost an extra hundred bucks as it is. As for Volume I, I’ll be lucky to see those by the end of July at this stage.

So yeah … they might not like their feedback survey too much this time around.

The good news is that Mammallamadevil’s back-up plan has made it so that there will be at least some copies of Vols I-II at the con. Thank you, Kerry! However, this also means that if you’re wanting to pick up copies of Vol I or II at AC, you’d better come grab ’em early, because quantities will be very limited.

-The Gneech

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Jun 20 2011

Printer Fail, Continued

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The downside of self-publishing, of course, is that when things go all pear-shaped, you’re the one who has to scramble to fix it.

In this particular case, I’m referring to Volumes I and II of No Predation Allowed, which are currently floundering in the Hell of Printers Who Don’t Q.A. Ironically, Volume III, which is the one they received last, had no problems whatsoever and will be on my doorstep tomorrow, ready to take to AnthroCon on Thursday.

The sticking point in both cases is the text on the spine, which for some unspecified reason, keeps being mucked with by their tech department. First, Volume I came in with the text at the right size, but reading “No     Predation Allowed.” What the heck? So I poked ’em and they said, “Oops, we’ll send you a fixed one.”

Then, Volume II came in with the spine all disproportionately crunched, so the letters were all wide and short. Why people who are presumably trained in at least the basics of typography would not see this as an unacceptable gaffe, I can’t imagine, but again, I poked ’em and they said, “Oops, well send you a fixed one.”

On Friday, the “fixed” Volume I arrived (a day after it was supposed to): the giant empty space between “No” and “Predation” was gone — but the text was now scrunched like the initial Volume II proof.

Dude. Seriously?

So I called and beat ’em up in my nice and non-antagonistic way; they said “Uh … it doesn’t look squooshed to us.” So I took a photo of the squooshed Vol I next to the correct Vol III and sent it to them, and they replied, “Oooh, you mean squooshed! We see that now. We’ll show the tech team. They are working on Saturday, you might hear then.”

Oh, and no sign of the corrected proof for Volume II yet.

So I call this morning, to be told, “The tech team doesn’t work on Saturday, they’ll get back to you as soon as they can.”

Okay. Time for Plan B.

So now my plan is, with the gracious help of Mammallamadevil, to get some “emergency copies” printed posthaste (and probably at very high cost, le sigh) so that I can have at least some on hand for AC, hand-carried by Bill Holbrook and John Lotshaw. If my current printer manages to get their heads out of whatever orifices they’re stuck in quick enough, I might be able to get them to ship copies to the hotel, but I would be very surprised at this stage to see that happen in time.

The part that drives me craziest is that these are the books they had first! So it’s not like they haven’t had time to get it right — they got Volume I fourteen days ago. They got Volume III last Sunday. Nuts.

The part that drives me next-craziest is that the people there can’t seem to see what’s wrong with these books they’re shipping out. How hard is it to figure out that “No     Predation Allowed” is wrong? What are you doing in the print business if you can’t see it when proportions are scrunched? Argh.

-The Gneech, now in scramble mode ’cause somebody else screwed up

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Jun 17 2011


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Greg looked wistful. “Sometimes, when we touch? The honesty’s too much.” He shrugged. “But most of the time it’s not really an issue.”

“You touch me once and you’ll be pulling back bloody stumps,” Brigid replied.

“You two have the weirdest ‘straight Will and Grace’ thing going on ever,” said Alex.

-The Gneech

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