Friday, August 13, 2004


Je me suis retourné

Not an unusually bad vacation, but the usual trappings were there. Nice hotel room, except for the incredibly noisy air conditioner and a nightly rate apparently calculated using a hyperbolic function. Horrendous traffic getting there, and the family was decidedly uninterested in hearing about the wave phenomenon in traffic jams, even despite two portable DVD players in The Proprietormobile to keep them occupied (and speaking of which, you haven't lived until you've got two competing players blaring anime from the left and Monsters, Inc. from the right while sitting in traffic; headphones are considered a superfluous appendage by the young'uns). A couple of minor cultural activities were mixed in with the sun and fun, the former of course being dismissed by the young set as entirely prosaic. Too many complaints about missing the game console at home (one night in the lounge, some kids from another family actually schlepped their XBox along with them and conned the attendant into letting them connect the thing to the large screen; apart from the kids spending entirely too much time and money on the games, the damn thing is so ubiquitous I really want a break from seeing the latest shoot 'em up or sports simulation).

Speaking of anime, I've been deputized to take the kids to see the Yu-Gi-Oh movie today. I suppose that the purists in the readership would duly chastise me for referring to this as anime, but to my rather uninitiated eyes almost any Japanese animation falls into this category. Of course as a kid, I was into Astro Boy, Gigantor, Eighth Man and Speed Racer, and I probably wouldn't mind seeing some of those shows again just to see how I'd like them as an adult (disclaimer here, I did buy a Speed Racer DVD for the family, even Mrs. Proprietor wanted to check it out, but I glanced in while everyone was watching and a character who surely ranks up there in the Top Ten Of Insufferable Cartoons - Spridle - was onscreen. I beat a hasty retreat from the family room). I will report on Yu-Gi-Oh tomorrow (and I promise no sarcastic comments on the ahem value of the experience).

One thing that I noticed in Gigantor (and I believe in Eighth Man as well) was the er, interesting way the translated scripts danced around World War II references. I clearly remember seeing weaponry in those shows (the ones I'm specifically recalling looked like artillery shells) emblazoned with swastikas, and hearing the soundtrack say something inane like, "These must have been from some war long ago". I presume that they were referring to the ancient tribes who used the swastika as a symbol of the circle of life, or good luck. That actually brings up an interesting point, in that traditionally, swastikas used in benign contexts had their hooks pointing to the left (you can see this in some Indian neighborhoods or Hindu temples), whereas the Nazi swastika's hooks point to the right. Despite the extreme anger that happens when you see a swastika daubing, sometimes it's good to have a minor laugh over the fact that half the time the idiots who do such things can't even point their graffito in the correct direction. An interesting little tidbit about Gigantor that didn't seem to make the translation from the original Japanese version (Tetsujin 28) was that the robot had been designed as a Japanese vergeltungswaffe, of course being converted to good use by the wide-eyed hero.

I'm somewhat sorry I missed afternoon talk radio driving back yesterday in that it would've been hilarious to hear Bob Grant's commentary on l'affaire McGreevey. Grant is a cipher in some ways, as I once heard him spend an entire segment discussing Mr. Stern in a respectful manner, and in other cases his view on popular culture is completely ossified (a discourse on why "The Golden Girls" was the funniest thing on TV was painful). However, when he digs into a politician, the skewering can be occasionally hilariously satisfying, witness his memorable "Mario, assenza me. Tu se propio uno sfaccime" shtick (apologies on the spelling, it's been a while and for some reason Google doesn't have the quote). Politicians messing up is of course a major part of the spice of life, and far more impactful in a general sense than say, Mr. Jackson's antics. I presume that the good burghers in Jersey will end up footing the bill for an investigation of some sort in the same manner the freeholders of Connecticut are still sorting out the Rowland mess, but it will at least give some fodder to the old lion. He's been a bit toothless since his move to WOR, but since he has a stake in this one as a Jersey taxpayer, I imagine it might liven up metro NY talk radio a tiny bit (unless Sean Hannity jumps on this one). Darn, I miss the good old days when folks like Alan Burke and Joe Pyne could get really into meaty messes like this one.....


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