Category Archive – Randomness

Week of Geek: A Brief History of Anime Fandom

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Hiya Geekling!  Enjoying the warm weather?  Ready for summer (and by extension, school to be over)?  I know I am.

So I just got back from Anime North this last weekend.  Had a lot of fun, learned some new things, got a little puppet-type critter that I hope will sit on my shoulder during my visits with the public and will delight young and old alike.  Good times.

But one of my favorite things I did this weekend was attend a panel on anime fandom in North America, presented by these guys.  I like fandoms, I like fans, I like history, and I like anime so this was a win win win win.  And in the interests of public service, I thought I’d pass some of the interesting tidbits I learned on to you guys, ’cause I’m nice like that.

So first of all, fandom for Anime on this side of the globe is much older than most people would expect.  A lot people think that it really took off in the early 2000s (or if you’re old like me, you peg it somewhere in the 1990s).  North American fans of anime have been around for about 60 years.  WHAT?!  But one of the reasons most of us may not know that was because being able to access anime was much more difficult back then than it is now.  You basically had to hope it was on broadcast TV or you had to know a guy if you wanted to see it.

One of the big things to kick it all off was a little show called Astro Boy.  It aired on NBC in 1963 and actually beat The New Adventures of Superman in the ratings.  It was followed by Speed Racer in 1968, and then more shows followed, so a lot of Baby Boomers grew up with anime shows.  Funny thing; we had protesters on Sunday convention, but the panelists pointed out that that was nothing new; there were protesters back in the 60s.  TV watch groups wrote a scathing review of Speed Racer back when it first aired.

So there’s that.

In the 1970s you got giant robots coming on the scene with Shogun Warriors.  These were toys that were popular even without a show to back them up.  The first mini festival for anime fans was held in that decade.  The first English language manga, Barefoot Gen, was published.  After Star Wars became huge a lot of related-anime was released, like Battle of the PlanetsGalaxy Express was the first anime movie to get a theatrical release in the US.  The show Star Blazers aired in 1979 and became so popular it spawned it’s own fanzine and it’s own mini cons.  It was during this decade that you got to see the first anime cosplayers at these events (though the term ‘cosplayer‘ didn’t really come into use until 1984) and where you got the first real divide among fans between heavily edited and dubbed English versions and the original Japanese versions of anime.

On to the 1980s.  Now we have Japanese arcade games and laser disc games coming onto the scene, as well as home video in 1984.  Voltron aired that same year.  Yamoto Con was the first official con in North America.  More magazines, model kits and shows came out during this decade.  You could conceivably come home from school and watch an afternoon of anime shows.  The term ‘Japanimation‘ was first coined in the 80s.  Akira was given a theatrical release in 1989 and that was a pivotal moment.  It was a film that made even the staunchest of critics, the ones who insisted all of this was ‘just for kids’, take notice and realize we had a genuine art form on our hands.

Then the 1990s, when things got even more mainstream.  It was rough for the first part of the decade because of changing economics in both the US and Japan, making it more expensive to buy and produce shows.  Some toy stores went out of business during this time, and despite studios attempting to crack down on them, bootlegged VHS tapes, merchandise and fan dubs were pretty rampant.  But when production costs went down things got much better.  Stations like the Sci Fi Channel, Toonami on the Cartoon Network, YTV and Global were all known for airing anime on television.  Sailor Moon and Pokemon came out during this time and exploded in popularity.  We had anime-inspired movies like The Matrix.  It was starting to take off globally too.Image result for anime meme sailor moon

In the 2000s though, pretty much any barrier that had existed to keep you from getting into anime dissolved.  In the early part of the decade you could still watch stuff on TV and in cable packages.  We had new franchises like Cardcaptors and Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, which was the #1 show on Cartoon Network across all demographics, even with a Japanese theme song (that hadn’t happened before).  DVDs and Blu Rays changed the game, as they took up less space, were often less expensive and could include both subtitles and dubs.

And then came the internet.  Good heavens, the internet.

That brought anime fans together worldwide, and made it so much easier to promote conventions.  Before we had search engines we had websites like Anime Web Turnpike, which listed all the anime-related sites you could visit (back in the days when the internet was small enough you could list certain sites on one page).  Fansites and webcomics exploded.  From 2000 – 2006 there was a huge spike in peer-to-peer file sharing and fan subs.  There was also an explosion of conventions and memes.

Then from 2007 to 2008 there was an anime crash, due to low-quality and much too expensive DVDs causing certain companies to fold, including Bandai.  But what emerges from that?  Crunchyroll.  We now have other online streaming services like Funimation, Netflix and Amazon Prime, often airing their episodes within a few weeks of them airing in Japan, or sometimes the next day.

And that brings us to now.

WHEW!

OK, that was REALLY fast and short, but you get the idea.  Anime in North America has a long and rich history, not just confined to the last couple of decades.  And the main thing to realize now is how much more accessible everything is; we can now watch and discuss these series as they air, which is really cool.

Anything else I left out?  Post away in the comments.  Have a great week Geeklings, and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek Bonus: Geek Pride Day 2018

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Happy Geek Pride Day Geeklings!

I posted last year about this most awesome of days, and now the time has come again to celebrate what we love and who we are.  In honor of the occasion I’ve got some updated lists of geeky books and docs…

And we can read up on the subject by checking out some common types of geeks, and we’ll watch a classic of comedy together.

Thanks Geeklings!  Until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek: Happy MerMay!

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Hiya Geeklings?  How’s your May going so far?

In addtition to all the other fun stuff happening this month (like AniMay, more on that in a couple weeks), today let’s talk about a seldom seen side of the month… MerMay!

What the heck is that, you may ask?  Simply put, it is a month-long celebration of mermaids and it encourages artists to draw their best under sea dwellers and post them online.  As you can see, the results are super cool!  It tickles that tween me who fell in love with The Little Mermaid and wanted to swim with Ariel under the sea.

So in honor of the occasion, here are a few Mermaid-themed YA books to get you reading and dreaming… and not all happy pretty dreams, either.

The Seafarer's KissThe Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember – A heady mix of mermaids, Vikings and Norse mythology.  “Having long wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the merfolk’s fortress. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: Say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from the divine Loki. But such deals are never straightforward, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies.”

Deep BlueDeep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly – Book one of the Waterfire Saga.  “When Serafina, a mermaid of the Mediterranean Sea, awakens on the morning of her betrothal, her biggest worry should be winning the love of handsome Prince Mahdi. And yet Sera finds herself haunted by strange dreams that foretell the return of an ancient evil. Her dark premonitions are confirmed when an assassin’s arrow poisons Sera’s mother. Now, Serafina must embark on a quest to find the assassin’s master and prevent a war between the Mer nations.”

FathomlessFathomless by Jackson Pearce – “Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant — until Celia meets Lo.
Lo doesn’t know who she is. Or who she was. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea — a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid — all terms too pretty for the soulless monster she knows she’s becoming. Lo clings to shreds of her former self, fighting to remember her past, even as she’s tempted to embrace her dark immortality.  When a handsome boy named Jude falls off a pier and into the ocean, Celia and Lo work together to rescue him from the waves. The two form a friendship, but soon they find themselves competing for Jude’s affection. Lo wants more than that, though. According to the ocean girls, there’s only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her . . . and steal his soul.”

The Twice LostThe Twice Lost by Sarah Porter – “Mermaids have been sinking ships and drowning humans for centuries, and now the government is determined to put an end to the mermaid problem–by slaughtering all of them. Luce, a mermaid with exceptionally threatening abilities, becomes their number-one target, hunted as she flees down the coast toward San Francisco.  There she finds hundreds of mermaids living in exile under the docks of the bay. These are the Twice Lost: once-human girls lost first when a trauma turned them into mermaids, and lost a second time when they broke mermaid law and were rejected by their tribes. Luce is stunned when they elect her as their leader. But she won’t be their queen. She’ll be their general. And they will become the Twice Lost Army–because this is war.”

The Vicious DeepThe Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova – “He was gone for three days. Sucked out to sea in a tidal wave and spit back ashore at Coney Island with no memory of what happened. Now his dreams are haunted by a terrifying silver mermaid with razor-sharp teeth.  His best friend Layla is convinced something is wrong. But how can he explain he can sense emotions like never before? How can he explain he’s the heir to a kingdom he never knew existed? That he’s suddenly a pawn in a battle as ancient as the gods?  Something happened to him in those three days. He was claimed by the sea…and now it wants him back.”

HannahHannah by Kathryn Lasky – “Hannah Albury is not like other girls in the turn of-the-century Boston orphanage where she grew up. Instead of seasickness, she gets land-sickness. Billowing waves exhilarate her, but flat plains away from the ocean leave her dried out, parched, and ill. She leaves a ring of salt in the tub when she bathes, and sometimes she sees a faint tracing of scales on her delicate feet. It’s freakish, horrifying and deeply thrilling.As Hannah becomes a young woman, she can sense that a powerful change is coming. A choice lies ahead, and Hannah must discover if she is a creature of the land–or of the sea.”

Tangled TidesTangled Tides by Karen Amanda Hooper – “Yara Jones doesn’t believe in sea monsters–until she becomes one. When a hurricane hits her island home and she wakes up with fins, Yara finds herself tangled up in an underwater world of mysterious merfolk and secretive selkies. Both sides believe Yara can save them by fulfilling a broken promise and opening the sealed gateway to their realm, but they are battling over how it should be done. The selkies want to take her life. The merfolk want something far more precious. Treygan, the stormy-eyed merman who turned Yara mer, will stop at nothing and sacrifice everything to protect his people–until he falls for Yara. The tides turn as Yara fights to save herself, hundreds of sea creatures, and the merman who has her heart. She could lose her soul in the process–or she might open the gateway to a love that’s deeper than the oceans.”

Between the Sea and SkyBetween the Sea and the Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore – “Esmerine can’t wait to become a siren-the highest calling for a mermaid-just like her sister, Dosinia. But then Dosinia goes missing, and it’s up to Esmerine to find her. On the way, she runs into her childhood friend Alandare, a handsome, winged man. Will forbidden love conquer all in this dreamlike fairytale?”

So there’s a few to get you started.  A lot of romance, some danger and so much water.  Any really good books or movies or TV shows I left off?  Sound away in the comments section or post away on WriteIt.

Thanks guys!  Happy MerMay!  Until next time, End of Line.

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Week of Geek: 2 Iconic Ghost-Hunting Shows, Together at Last!

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What up Geeklings?  How’s the last week been?  I just got back from Philadelphia, so I’m ready to keep regaling you all on what we should be excited for in the world of pop culture.

Anyhoo, we’ve got a crossover to end all crossovers this week.  Supernatural, the reigning show about good looking people fighting scary stuff, is in it’s lucky 13th season, and the Winchesters and company have been through all kinds of adventures over the years.  Well, in this week’s episode, things get animated for a classic cartoon crossover, and not just any cartoon; we’re talking the original monster hunters and their talking, snack loving dog.  Yup, Supernatural is crossing over with Scooby-Doo!, and they’re calling it “Scoobynatural“.

Look at this!  LOOK AT IT!  It’s adorable!   The Winchesters, Castiel and the honest-to-goodness Scooby Gang!  In an official crossover!  I am officially dying!

One of the most famous properties to come out of the Hanna-Barbera Production company, Scooby-Doo! first premiered all the way back in 1969, and has been a steady presence on TV ever since, both in reruns and in a variety of newer series.  You’ve got the stylish (for the 1960s) and earnest Fred and Daphne, the brainy Velma, the slacker and voracious eater Shaggy and the talking Great Dane Scooby Doo, and they drive around in their brightly colored Mystery Machine solving mysteries.  If you watched TV as a kid, chances are you watched Scooby-Doo! at some point (I know I did).

And now you’ve got the somewhat way more serious Team Free Will showing up in this universe?  With their black Ford Impala, rock salt and penchant for low-level swearing?  This is gonna get real interesting real fast.

Here’s the real question though.  As much as the Scooby Gang solve mysteries featuring ghosts and other creatures that go bump in the night, ghosts and monsters don’t actually exist in the Scooby universe.  It’s always a perfectly human criminal trying to make themselves look like something scary in order to keep people away or find a treasure or whatever, and they would’ve totally have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling kids.  In the world of Supernatural though… ghosts be real.  Monsters be real.  All manner of dangerous and mythical creatures be real.  How will the Mystery Machine teens deal with something like that?  Heck, they meet Castiel, and he’s an honest-to-goodness angel.  It’s going to blow their minds and I almost literally cannot wait.  Mostly I just want to see everyone do the funny chase scene that inevitably shows up in a Scooby episode.

So where to watch?  Well, if you have cable, you can check it out this Thursday night on Space.  If you have access to American channels it’ll be on the CW.  We will eventually get the full season here in the library when it’s released on DVD/Blu ray, though it might take a while for that to happen.  In the meantime, catch up on Sam and Dean’s trials and tribulations, and also give Scooby a try.  May I recommend Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, which has gorgeous animation and a great, creepy retro vibe.  Or Be Cool Scooby-Doo!, which has a new take on the style of the characters and is just flat-out hilarious (plus, I love what they did with Daphne in that one).

Happy hunting Geeklings, whether dramatic or cartoony, and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek: Food, glorious food!

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Hi again Geeklings!  How’s the summer going?  Reading those books for TSRC?  Make sure to register and log in to keep those pages coming and increase your chances to win that GoPro.  We believe in you!  And check out the WriteIt site while you’re at it.

So, you know what I like?  Food.  You know what a lot of people like?  Food.  You know what a lot of people also like?  Fandoms.  So a lot of fandoms feature food.  Specific food.  Special food.  Food that may not ever be completely and perfectly replicated in real life but that hasn’t stopped many fans from trying.

Let us count the ways…

Cookie Cat – He’s a pet for your tummy!  He’s super duper yummy!  *sad voice from out of nowhere* He left his family behind!  Now available at Gurgens off Route 109.  So the jingle goes in one of the first episodes of Steven Universe about the title character’s favorite treat; an ice cream sandwich shaped like a cat.  It’s one of those treats that give you that warm, happy feeling.  We could all of use a Cookie Cat every now and then.

Pork Cutlet Bowls – Known in Japan as Katsudon, this is Yuri Katsuki’s favorite dish on Yuri!!! on Ice, and the inspiration for his Eros skating routine.  Yes, really.  It even inspires the grandfather of fellow skater Yuri Plisentsky to create a katsudon-inspired pirozhki, which is a Russian staple.  Yay for fusion cuisine!

ALL THE FOOD featured in Miyazaki films – The movies of Studio Ghibli are famous for the various delicious edibles you see animated on the big screen.  Too many to list here, but here’s a helpful article from Buzzfeed that you can peruse, with links to recipes so you can try to cook them yourself.  Eat up!

Pie – Supernatural‘s Dean Winchester loves many things.  His family.  His friends.  His car.  But one true love that will never die is his love of pie.  A love we can all share.

Fish Fingers and Custard – Combining fish sticks with a dessert sauce.  A weird one, admittedly, but a big part of the 11th Doctor’s persona, as it was the first food he discovered after his regeneration that he liked (getting used to new taste buds is hard you guys).

Butterbeer and various pumpkin foods – Butterbeer is awesome, no matter what recipe you use, and it’s no surprise the wizards of Harry Potter all enjoy it.  But, a personal favorite of mine from the books is the pumpkin treats.  I LOVE using pumpkin in baking!  All-year-round but especially in the fall!  Pumpkin cookies are my favorite!  So kudos to wizardkind for apparently agreeing with me.

Lembas Bread – Hobbits from The Lord of the Rings all love their comfort foods.  But for the adventurer, Lembas bread is the way to go, as one bite can keep you full for a whole day, so you don’t need to bring much of it.  Travel light.

Turkish Delight – How often do YOU betray your family for something sweet?  Hopefully not often, but this sugary treat (which is a little obscure in our neck of the woods, and a bit more common in Europe) had Edmund Pevensie siding with the vicious White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the WardrobeConfections have rarely been so devious.

Spiced Warm Milk – If you’re not lucky enough to live in one of the wealthier parts of the Hunger Games‘ Panem, your food options are scarce and simple.  Little milk, little spice, heat it up, surprisingly satisfying.  Gotta enjoy the little things.

So there’s a few examples.  What are some of your favorites?  Post away below!

And if you’re looking to try your hand at a few recipes I’ve got a list of nerdy-themed cookbooks.

But there’s more!  Here’s another list from our friend Sarah.

And one from our friend Michel for some good, old-fashioned comfort food.  It’s hard not to love comfort food.  It’s so comforting!

So eat up Geeklings!  (But don’t overdo it.  Too much of anything is never good.)  Keep having fun this summer and until next time, End of Line.