Sunday, April 29, 2007

Film — Curse of the Golden Flower

Third of the sequence of visually stunning tragedies that started with Hero and continued with House of Flying Daggers.

Plot and counterplot amongst the Imperial Family wind up to a climax on the night of the Chrysanthemum Festival — the eponymous golden flower — to yield something like a Jacobean revenge tragedy with added ninja.

All style, very little substance — but what style it is.

[Now playing - Planet Rock]

Nature notes

Sitting out in the garden blogging, after having done another batch of garden work, and tidying up the garage. Still a lot of stuff for the tip, and more for jumble. Cherry blossom is falling in the breeze, carpeting the lawn like snow.

There's a lot of tidying to do after last year's total neglect, but when there are wanted plants in amongst the weeds, simple clear to the surface and suppress won't do, so it goes more slowly. And unexpected tasks like removing the suddenly expired clematis add to the work. At least there's a natural limit — stop when the green bin is full.

The frogs are appearing in the pond again, lurking at the surface; and there's at least one newt as well.

[Now playing - Planet Rock]

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Anime — Hataraki Man

A rare thing, a josei anime, i.e. aimed at the 20-something woman.

Hiro is an editor at a weekly magazine that does news, comment, investigative journalism, and serial novels; possibly a little bit too masculine in her drive for her job for her colleagues : she gets called a “Hataraki man” — a working man — and her managing editor, on hearing she has date, wonders if it's with another woman.

But with all this work, she also has a problem with her lifestyle. She and her boyfriend never seem to have gaps in their schedules at the same time.

I just wonder if Shinji is a name like Kevin, with associations of being feeble; whether Ikari-kun has had a pervasive influence; or if this wimpish Shinji is just a coincidence.

In the usual way, to be thought half as good as a man, she had to do twice as well. And again, for her, this is not difficult…

This, in 11 episodes, is a slice of her life, its ups, downs, praise from and friction with, her colleagues.

Surprisingly compulsive viewing, for all that it is entirely mundane. — the Man Switch gag being a one-off.

And then there was one…

Friday night, Penny was walking a bit stiffly — she didn't seem to find any of my prodding her painful, so I didn't think it could have been serious damage. Perhaps another case of a bit of a muscle strain from getting a claw caught in the throws over the furniture. That had happened in the autumn, when I'd come hom to find her hanging like a bat from the side of one chair, and going into all sorts of muscle spasm when unhooked.

Saturday morning, I came downstairs soon after seven to see her floundering about on the kitchen floor, trying to escape from the fetters that were making her hindquarters useless, and front legs almost so. Unlike Lady May, who had just sat herself into a tidy little bundle and purred as she faded, after she had a stroke, Penny was clearly going to fight with all the strength left to her.

So, the unpleasant task of bundling her into a towel, into the cat-box, for the one-way journey to the vet on an emergency call-out.

And after, cycle into town for the shopping I was going to do anyway, and stop at Grantchester on the way back to get hammered.

More about Penny.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

More progress

The on-going cycle-path saga has really geared up. From last week's state, the entire run across the M11 from roundabout to roundabout has been taken up, except the unblemished surface on the bridge; and now the edging and bedding is being replaced. At the current rate, in a couple of weeks, it might at last be all done!

Anime — Simoun

Simply the best anime title of 2006 (because the closest competitors, Akagi and Mushishi are technically 2005 titles that ran through the winter half 05-06.

And a woefully under-appreciated title it was.

The original fan-sub group that picked it up usually handles shoujo-ai titles; and the “key-turn” ritual (middle left) for starting up the Simoun (the flying machines, see top left) made it look like just another excuse for very pretty backgrounds and girls getting friendly together. But it turned out more complicated than that, and was left to languish in favour of more accessible highschool-romance titles, until picked up by the most dedicated and special-purpose group of fansubbers whose product I have followed.

Simoun-Fans, an essentially ad hoc grouping, put together the most polished translations and sub-titling (including credits for the seiyuu against the characters during the OP, rather than the usual self-congratulation; that was left for a brief screen at the very start, before the TV footage). Of course, the polish came at a price — episode 26 wasn't subbed until a year after the first episode aired.

OK, the story, and why you should watch this title…

On a world that is not ours — two suns in the sky, for one thing — a transcendent civilisation rose and vanished. In its wake, the remaining people could unearth the helical motors, the snail-shell parts of both the Simoun and other powered devices (trains, boats, the old “tramp steamer” Messis top right, …). But only the Holy Land of Simulacrum has harnessed them, and the casual flight it offers. Other lands have more steam-punk technology, and seek the secret of the simoun. So war breaks out…

In that world, all children are born as girls, and in Simulacrum choose to be man or woman at coming of age in their late teens. All the parts — even the men, are voiced by women; and, of course, young men are hard to tell from young women — the adulthood change is not instantaneous, as shown in the character of Wapourif, the chief mechanic to the simoun.

While lesser flying craft can be piloted by anyone, the simoun needs to be driven by two girls; and these pilots are drawn from the ranks of the priestesses of Tempus-Spatium. While two priestesses at the helm they can produce magical effects by drawing glyphs in the air (called Ri-Maajon; middle right is the Silver Ri-Maajon), as part of religious ceremonial aerobatics. And as priestesses, they are allowed to defer a while the choice to become adult.

So, a group of priestesses become, overnight, the necessary front line of the Simulacran fighting forces. Few can handle the mismatch between their vocation and their new orders — and when the new overwhelming forces of Argentum actually bring down a choir of simoun, many depart into adulthood. Only the latecomer, Aaeru (lower left), even refers to what they do in military terms, rather than liturgical ones.

So, it's a war-story; but it's character driven drama, of love, sacrifice, choices, and growing up (or not, as the case may be).

After 25 episodes of brilliance, I was anticipating the finale with some trepidation — too many series drop the ball at the end. This, however concluded with an understated and open ending which was as satisfying as could be, knowing that this story had at last come to its ending.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Undocumented Jython — Java callable Jython class idiom

You have to do

and not

in order to make jythonc generate the function calls you want in the intermediate Java code.

And as I'm in a “Jython calls Java calls Jython” state, doing some transcoding/refactoring, I have still not managed to get Jython at the front to call nicely into the Jython at the back.


method myPackage.Backplane.performSetup of myPackage.Backplane instance 1
Traceback (innermost last):
AttributeError: abstract method "performSetup" not implemented

despite it being there quite plain as day:-

and despite Java code calling it quite happily.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Anime — Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS

Suddenly -- fansubs.

OK, so the only raws to hand are poor quality, but this was out within about 24 hours of the show airing.

This episode was hyperkinetic -- and had enough Engrish in it to make it roughly comprehensible even with minimal Nihongo -- I wonder if they can all keep it up like this. I didn't think it was really possible, but the casual magic use level has escalated from A's high points -- I'm getting serious 'Doc' Smith flashbacks here.

I would hope that after this all-action grab-your-attention episode, next time gives us a bit of exposition.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

New Season

A bright sunny day -- good for pottering about in the garden and trying to beat back the worst of the weeds. Suddenly, it was hot enough to get hot and sweaty working out in the direct sun.

Meanwhile, in other news …

…first episode aired this afternoon local time, and this evening I was a sad enough bunny to hunt down the first LQ raws to watch. Beamspam being a universal language, and Raging Heart still giving occasional commentary, I could figure out most of what was going on. Probably a couple of weeks for subs, though.