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 I loosely call this movie Steampunk.  The ONLY thing Steampunk about this movie is the clockwork gears in the time travel sequences.  Nonetheless, here is the review:
Speaking as someone who is literally into time travel and alternate realities,
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is an intriguing film. I discovered it on the
Steam Boy DVD previews last week and was intrigued. Could I actually enjoy
another anime? My lab assistant is an English major, and she usually sees every
cliched twist and turn any movie usually tries to pull off as original after the
first 20 minutes. I actually think that Hollywood would play an adaptation out
in the exact same way, we'll get into to all that in a moment. I am amused that
my little lab rat was wrong.
The premise of the film is that a 17 year old girl suddenly gains the power to
leap back and forth through time. Being 17 years old, she doesn't do something
as history altering as go back to 1941 and kill Hitler. She goes back to
earlier in her day to make it better - improve her pop quiz score, not be late
for school, etc - actually mundane thing that the average person would do if
they suddenly gained such powers. The movie then follows the trouble that is
caused be her altering the timeline. As I can attest to via personal experience
(and watching The Butterfly Effect) you do not want to mess with the littlest
thing in the past or you face dire consequences.
As always I will keep the review fairly spoiler free, but I wanted to get into
one plot twist I thought was neat. The girl has a sort of number tattoo appear
on her arm. In the film it counts down how many time she leaps. Now if this
were an American film the plot resolution would have made this countdown
culminate in the girl making an "ultimate sacrifice" to restore the timeline.
This is what makes this film refreshing for a Weterner, as we don't get such a
heart wretching thing thrown at our heroine. (And this is what my assistant
guessed wrong.). The second half of the film throws us a curve ball that opens
up the door to many other possibilities. The film does drag in places toward
the end of the film and the ending isn't what you expect. The love story aspect
is really good and does keep you interested. I suspect there may be a series, I
don't know. The only gripe I has as an afterthought is the character of Aunt
Witch. Does she really serve a purpose? And why doesn't the film get into why
she knows what she does about time travel. Kind of a plot hole, it didn't play
out, but it didn't make me not enjoy the film. I really want to give this film
5 stars, but the ending and the Aunt make me take one away and give it a 4.
Overall a really good, different film. The Japanese influences are present, but
do not get lost in translation. I can't help but wonder if an Americanised
version could work, maybe as a live action film, or dare I say, television
series ala Buffy? There is plenty of story here to mine through multiple parts
and a series could probably be sustained on the concept for several years.

The Old Ones. In Colorado?

 I finally cleared some memory from the DVR between experiments today.  What a delight to see Cthulu, the dark lord, bringing death and destruction on South Park's final three episodes for this year!  To boot, we get an explanation for Kenny's constant resurrections and another grand appearance from the Goth Kids!  The animation for Cthulu is definitely CGI, but this is by no means a complaint.  The tendrils and whole shape of his body, limbs and wings was perfect.  His interactions with Cartman were laugh out loud funny.  I say, this trilogy is better than ....(dare I say it?)...Imaginationland!
 Halloween is over and the costumes and decorations are put away.  Things in the lab and dungeon are getting back to normal, well as normal is around here!  There is still the matter of an unwanted "guest" mooching around the mansion.  I'm hoping to open a portal to a world populated with nothing but pine trees and felines to hurl this person into so I can take great pleasure in knowing their sinuses will be horrifically infected, but alas.  In the meantime, here are some groovy tunes set with a slight feel of Americana and the Old West.  Enjoy!

Morrissey - Satan Rejected My Soul
Lady Gaga - Paper Gangster
Madonna - Back in Business
Bow Wow Wow - I Want Candy (Kevin Shields remix)
Thomas Dolby - Eastern Bloc
The Bastard Fairies - Apple Pie
Paul Young Gentlemen - Fraulein
Professor Gall - A Smile Can't Be Forced
Blue Dahlia - Annabel Lee
The Ocean Blue - Between Something And Nothing
The Divine Comedy - Our Mutual Friend
The Beatles - Maxwell's Silver Hammer
John Barrowman - All I Ask Of You
Scarling - So Long, Scarecrow
Beirut - Postcards From Italy
The 6ths - The Sailor In Love With The Sea
Siouxsie And The Banshees - Song From The Edge Of The World (JVC version)
Arcade Fire - Suburban War
Garbage - Special
Paul Hartnoll - Nothing Else Matters
Paula Cole - Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?
The Avalanches - Frontier Psychiatrist
Sugarhill Gang - Apache
Asylum Street Spankers - Dance This Mess Around
The Be Good Tanyas - Crow Waltz
Max Raabe - Dance With Me (Fernando's Hideaway)
Rasputina - All Tomorrow's Parties
Nouvelle Vague - Our Lips Are Sealed
 The Bride was released in 1985 with much herald and acclaim for the MTV generation.  I never paid much attention to it until I found it in a $3 bin at Big Lots this week.  For $3 i couldn't resist picking up something Victorian, pseudo Steampunk, plus it's got Sting and Jennifer Beals in it. I figured it could end up as a nice coaster if it sucked.  I was happily surprised as the credits opened the movie that Cary Elwes and Quentin Crisp also had roles in the film.  I was starting to like this movie already, before the first scene started!
The film opens after Baron Frankenstein (Sting) has created his first monster (Clancy Brown), and the Baron is now working on a mate for said first monster.   I kind of like how we are spared the whole drama and spectacle of the first creature's creation and issues.  We've all been there, done that several times.  Creature #1 is presented as coherent and not completely inept as other adaptations have presented him.  Mr. Brown does a fine job playing second banana, as his creature is not the focus.  Moving on to our title character, Ms. Beales, fresh from her early 80's popularity in Flashdance, does a decent job.  The Baron was able to perfect his craft by the time he creates The Bride.  In the opening creation scene we are treated to various other creature spectacles in the background, hinting that this isn't his first foray into reanimation.  The film follows The Bride and her acclimation to the world.  Cary Elwes plays a douchebag noble that vies for the attention of The Bride, causing jealousy between creator and his creation.  We are treated to a fine performance from little person David Rappaport, who reminds me of Billy Barty for some reason.  The scenes between David and Clancy's creature are a lot of fun.  The costuming is excellent, the scenery is topnotch.  There's not much in the effects department, but it's not really needed for a Frankenstein film.  The story is not really full of anything new or overly exciting or unexpected, in fact it's downright predictable.  ******************SPOILER ALERT**********************
I was not a fan of the psychic link between the creatures.  It was an unnecessary plot point.  Couldn't Clancy's creature just want to be with Beale's creature, and that be the reason for him going back after her?  We're really expected to buy into them feeling each other's pain and emotion?  I'm good with the aspect of soul mates and all that, finding my significant other someone I want to be with all the time.  I'm  not down with feeling someone else's emotions all the time, I want my emotions to be my own.  *******END RANT AND SPOILER ALERT********  The film reaches a satisfying climax.  You get an overall feel good ending.  I didn't feel like I wasted my time or $3.  I can see me pulling this film out for  some kitschy fun around Halloween or a fun "let's watch cheesy movies and get smashed night".  I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Steampunk Movie Series - Post #1 - Steamboy

 I am sure we've all watched a film that we were enjoying wholeheartedly and praying "please don't suck" or "please don't let the end suck."  I personally say this most often watching horror or anime movies.  For me, anime movies are always enjoyable because a lot of the material is foreign and doesn't adapt to my Western frame of mind.  Not that I can't or don't enjoy some of the culture of Japan or any other country, but most often I tend to get bored or lost in translation.  I am extremely happy to say that Steamboy was a pleasant surprise.
I regard Steamboy as one of the finest Steampunk movies, ranking in the top 5 of the genre.  Yes, I said top 5.  Is this a perfect movie?  Of course not, I know of few movies that truly achieve perfection from start to finish.  This movie, however, has the Steampunk genre down pat.  The setting is Victorian England.  The use of steam power is a major plot point (duh) and it's use if highly imaginative.  There are imaginative machines ran by steam with many metal parts and cogs.  Sure, some of the plot points start to resemble plots that other anime films tend to delve into, and there is the stereotypical annoying female character, but it all works together.  The film races to it's climax after a few stumbles about halfway through. And yes, I was worried that even though I was thoroughly enjoying the film, that the ending was going to be a let down.  Happily, not only did the ending occur in a way that makes sense based on what was shown before, I was left wanting more.  The end credits run and show glimpses of what happens next.  Oh, how I would love to see a sequel or an animated series that picks up where this movie ends!
I want to keep this review spoiler free to entice potential Steampunks to view this film.  In summary, this film is a must for fans of the Steampunk and/or anime genres.  The Victorian era is well presented.  The costuming is authentic and any Steampunk elements, such as bio-mechanical arms. do not detract from the time frame the film is set in.  The machinery is outstanding, highly imaginative and I want toys of everything!  The themes of war, the global community, militaristic greed and corporate leadership are presented with modern sensibilities, but I doubt they've really changed all that much in 150 years.  Mankind is not as progressive as we want to think we are.  The story is overall fun and the tech grounded in reality, even if ahead of it's time.  Buy this movie already!
The DVD I purchased is the Director's Cut.  There are several language dubs available and many options if you choose to utilize the subtitles.  I only watched the English dub so far.  The English cast is all-star with the likes of Patrick Stewart and Alfred Molina.  I've heard of other anime translations where the dubbed version wasn't accurately portraying what the director or writer intended, but I had no issues with this version whatsoever.  I can't comment on any special features, as I didn't care to bother to look into it.  The film was so good, I really didn't care to be bothered with looking into it.  Just buy this movie - it is awesome!

A Steampunk Scavenger Hunt

 In October 2009 there was a small gathering of myself and several friends to host a Steampunk scavenger hunt.  we had a grand time and intended to hold another one soon.  Alas, our busy lives prevented such a thing to occur.  We had joked that we should do it annually and had intended to do it for Halloween.  Several of us already had Halloween plans, so we pushed it out two weeks.  Today a total of 12 of us gathered and traveled around Winston-Salem with lists in hand.
For your viewing pleasure and to inspire you to partake in such merriment, I present our list and the rules!  FYI - we were able to split into three groups and had a blast!


1)a coffin nail
2)10 pieces of candy corn
3)a wooden stake
4)a Halloween cookie (a leftover I forgot to remove from the original intended date, but we found some 2 weeks later - yuck!)
5)an Autumn squash
6)a bouquet of dead flowers
7)a garlic clove
8)pumpkin seeds
9)a picture of the tin man
10)an acorn
11)a pinecone
12)write a sea shanty about octopi and prepare to share with the group
13)a ring from a bubblegum machine
14)a picture of someone (NOT from your group) wrapped up like  a mummy
15)a living spider in a jar
16)take a picture of someone in your group in front of  a  DEAD END sign
17)a red leaf, a yellow leaf and an orange leaf
18)any coin with a date older than 1950
19)a Buy One Get One Free coupon
20)a picture of graffiti
21)take a picture of the Moravian coffee pot that's downtown
22)take a picture of a tombstone that's older than 1900
23)the dish ran away with the spoon, find them!
24)a container of fairy dust
25)find something with the Jolly roger on it
26)find something Jules Verne would be proud of
27)Dr. Herbert West lost his vial of reanimating formula - find a suitable replacement
28)a bowtie
29)find an airship!
30)a used drink napkin
31)something with the Edward McKay logo on it
32)a paperclip necklace
33)a red balloon
34)a glass marble (BONUS 5 points if it's blue!)
35)a clear, old-fashioned light bulb (NOT one of those new fangled spiral ones!)
36)a ray gun
37)something Victorian
38)what is the answer to life, the universe, everything?
39)if it ain't easy bein' green, that what is easy?
40)a diagram of a steam engine
41)42 is missing, where did it go?
43)a picture of the Crypt Keeper
44)a recipe for taffy apples
45)find where the wild roses grow
46)a dead Muppet
47)the king of the moon
48)what is the flavor of the day at Kernel Kustard?
49)a copy of Skirt! magazine
50)a picture of the group at a playground (one of you may abstain to take the picture)
51)a picture of a bearded lady
52)mmmmmm..............pie.(gurgle)
53)a take out menu from a Chinese restaurant
54)five points each if you get ALL five - pictures of FIVE different state license plates, excluding the state we're in
55)a feather
56)a picture of someone getting tickled by said feather
57)the 57th variety

The Rules
1-The team must stay together at all times - you may not split up to get tasks completed quicker - nobody said you couldn't multi-task together :)
2-All items must be obtained legally, with respect to individuals you are interacting with
3-Creativity counts - some of the items listed are ambiguous, others are specific - HAVE FUN!
4)Costumes count - the team gets five (5) points if everyone is in costume
5)The ultimate goal is to complete the list.  You get one (1) point per list item and two (2) points per BONUS item.  Exceptions are questions 31 and 38.
6-All teams must meet at the designated meeting spot at the set time - DO NOT BE LATE!  One point is deducted from the score for every minute you are late, up to a total of ten (10) minutes.

This was Halloween.

I never decorate for Halloween.  I never decorate for Christmas either.  Not really due to laziness, more just because I hate spending the time doing such things as I stay so busy with so many other things that I can't justify spending the time.  You know those homes you drive past that still have Christmas stuff up well into February and March, well that's me! 
I've decided to try to be a little Martha (ne: Mark) Stewart in the future.  I've been inspired by some awesome Halloween decor I've been eying and went out Clearance shopping today.
I came home with many treasures!

Target was the place I found my biggest haul:
A set of 3 delicious velvet skull pillows what DJ Mouse had in the back of Davenport and Winkleperry that I assumed were handmade but I saw them today and HAD to have them.
Some really cool window clips with steampunk gears and skeletons.
Steampunk/skeleton gift bags.
These little poison jar gift bags that would be perfect for a HP Lovecraft party!
Some spiderweb stuff, which Mrs. Snickerdoodle said was just cotton - whatever!
Two bags of plastic spiders.
A cocktail shaker that reads "Poison"
Five strings of skull lights!
Three bags of M&M's - woot!

A.C. Moore had crap!  Nothing left - BOO!

Michaels had a few things:
A glorious fur rat with beady little eyes.
An awesome candy dish that looks like it came from Beetlejuices's house.
A metal sign that read "EEK!"

I am packing all of this stuff away to drag out next year to decorate my humble abode.
When is the right time to drag out the Halloween decor?  If I had my way it would be up year round, but the wife would complain.
I was thinking after Labor day would be perfect to bring out the Fall type stuff like pumpkins and leaves, then around the 15th you could get the Halloween out.  On November 1st you could pack the Halloween up and leave the Fall stuff out until after Thanksgiving, then drag out Christmas.  No matter what, Christmas must always be out away by January 2nd or you are so done with looking at it, you want to die.

Oh My Goth!

 I have followed the recent resurgence of the goth movement for the past 7 or so years.  Here in the south many clubs hosted or attempted to host goth nights with resident DJ's or different theme nights.  A website dedicated to goth events, ncgoth.com, was the place to find something for your dark heart to delve into.  And lo, around 2007, the scene appeared to die.  What happened?  No, seriously.  WHAT happened?!?!  
I had the privilege of asking the opinion of someone who I follow intently.  A highly respected DJ whom I shall not name out of respect to her opinions.  But, I agree with her.  I think goth became several things no one intended it to.  
(1)It became a clique.  
It was high school all over again.  The folks that had been in it weren't accepting of the folks trying to come along and join the fun, blah, blah, blah.  
(2)It was too scary to be mainstream.
Not that we like it to be mainstream.   Consider what the average person on the street thinks about goth.  Devil worship.  Marilyn Manson and devil worship.  Or they watch NCIS and think of the character Abby and still judge her for her looks.  Maybe the mall retailer Hot Topic scares them.  I don't have the magic answer on this one.  I believe there were too many negative connotations for moms and dads to accept their kids liking the scene, the fashion and the music and thus goth has died down....for now.
So what happened to all those folks who enjoy gloom, doom, black humor and eye liner?  They migrated to the Steampunk movement.
I hate to generalize, but Steampunk is safety goth.  People kind of understand the Victorian aesthetic.  The fashion is generally tame.  Plus, I think that many folks enjoy it because it is not so clearly defined.  There are many trailblazers out there defining the genre now as we speak.
In the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina the radio program The Clockwork Cabaret on radio station WCOM is defining what Steampunk music is.  Across the country website Sepiachord is doing the same thing, albeit much differently and with little similarities.
Steampunk has entered the national consciousness thatnks to a recent episode of the ABC drama Castle featuring an episode centered on a murder concerning Steampunk club patrons.
I pose the question - is goth truly gone?  A resounding "NO!"  echoes from some deep dark pit.  The Goths are still here, however they are carrying rayguns and wearing bustles.  Steampunk has opened doors to many more options for people to participate and not worry about judgement from co-workers, family members and neighbors (sad, but true).  The trappings of goth are still evident, but the focus is no longer on being dark for the sake of being dark.  Now the world has opened up to scientific wonder and many other entertainment options have grafted themselves onto the genre.  
I feel there is room for both in our world.  A pastiche of gothic and steampunk sensibilities, culminating in many fun times to be had by all.  Let's see where the journey leads.
I the meantime, I will share the delights I discover with you.  And as the Davenport sisters of the Clockwork Cabaret say "We will force our music upon their ears with the power of bustles and rayguns!"

I wonder what this lever does....

 After much consideration I have decided that the best place to share my discoveries with the world is through LiveJournal.  This is not a test!  Repeat.  This is NOT a test!  More to come.....

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