December 16, 2011

RĂ©gine Chassagne dances through the video for Arcade Fire’s “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”

If you’ve ever seen Arcade Fire in concert, or watched a video of them in concert, then you know that one of the more interesting aspects of their live show is Régine Chassagne’s dancing — she spins and twirls across the stage like a whirling dervish. That dancing is on display throughout their video for "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)", in which Chassagne leaves her house and wanders through neighborhoods of faceless people, empty malls, and fields. I’m not sure what it all means — a headphone-fuelled nightmare/dream, perhaps? — but it is a video for one of my favorite songs of 2010.

Related: “I Need The Darkness”

Via Stereogum

The live-action “Rurouni Kenshin” looks promising

I was going to take this opportunity to make some snarky comments about Hollywood’s live-action adaptation of Akira, but that’s just too easy. Suffice to say, I much more interested in Keishi Ōtomo’s upcoming live-action version of Nobuhiro Watsuki's Rurouni Kenshin manga. I’m not too familiar with the manga, but I am a fan of the anime and OVA adaptations. (The OVAs were released under the Samurai X title.) The series follows the exploits of Kenshin, a bumbling samurai who was once a legendary assassin called the “Hitokiri Battōsai”, and the various people he encounters on his search for redemption.

If the short teaser above is any indication, then Ōtomo’s film eschews the more light-hearted, comedic tone of the anime series and instead, opts for the OVAs’ darker, grittier feel. The Rurouni Kenshin movie will be released August 25, 2012 in Japan and stars Takeru Satoh as Kenshin and Emi Takei as Kaoru, a young woman whose dojo becomes Kenshin's adopted home.

Related: My reviews of Samurai X: TrustSamurai X: Betrayal, and Samurai X: Reflection. (I’ve been meaning to write something about Rurouni Kenshin’s first season, which I really enjoyed.)

Congress’ approach to Internet policy is “pathetic and sad”

Joshua Kopstein on Congress’ embrace of ignorance when it comes to understanding how the Internet works:

We get it. You think you can be cute and old-fashioned by openly admitting that you don’t know what a DNS server is. You relish in the opportunity to put on a half-cocked smile and ask to skip over the techno-jargon, conveniently masking your ignorance by making yourselves seem better aligned with the average American joe or jane — the “non-nerds” among us. But to anyone of moderate intelligence that tuned in to yesterday’s Congressional mark-up of SOPA, the legislation that seeks to fundamentally change how the internet works, you kind of just looked like a bunch of jack-asses.

[...]

We’re dealing with legislation that will completely change the face of the internet and free speech for years to come. Yet here we are, still at the mercy of underachieving Congressional know-nothings that have more in common with the slacker students sitting in the back of math class than elected representatives.

The nightmarish SOPA hearings

Alexandra Petri (emphasis mine):

Last night I had a horrifying dream that a group of well-intentioned middle-aged people who could not distinguish between a domain name and an IP address were trying to regulate the Internet. Then I woke up and the Judiciary Committee’s SOPA hearings markup was on.

[...]

There ought to be a law, I think, that in order to regulate something you have to have some understanding of it. And when people are saying things like, “This is just the rogue foreign Web sites” and “This only targets the bad actors” and “So you want universities to host illegal pirated versions of copyrighted content?,” it’s enough to make you claw out large fistfuls of your hair. No! No! Nobody is hosting anything. This bill would require service providers to cut off access to entire Web sites where users are deemed to be engaging in copyright infringement, not take down stolen content they posted themselves. That’s already against the law. But no one seemed to be able to express this.

I completely agree. However, methinks such a law would force a number of politicians to find a new line of work. Where, maybe, they would receive a basic education in how the Internet actually works.

December 15, 2011

Ten 2011 Albums for Christians Who Hate Christian Music

Andy Whitman:

I can’t stand Christian music. But I’m a Christian whose favorite music often addresses the deep and abiding big questions, and that doesn’t conform to easily labeled genres. Some of this music was made by Christians. Some of it was made by atheists. A lot of it was made by people whose religious/spiritual views are utterly unknown to me. All of it was released in 2011, and resonates in deep ways for me.

December 14, 2011

Mondo announces Studio Ghibli poster series

This is all kinds of nerdy goodness:

Austin, TX --- Wednesday, December 14, 2011 --- Mondo, the collectible art boutique arm of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, is excited to announce their first-ever print for a Studio Ghibli film, from living legend Hayao Miyazaki and his incomparable classic MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO. The first poster in Mondo’s Studio Ghibli series is from world-renowned artist Olly Moss. The limited edition, hand-numbered prints will go on sale Friday, December 16th.

[...]

The poster release coincides with a recently announced 15-title, 25-year retrospective from Japan’s beloved Studio Ghibli, which plays the IFC Center in New York City from Friday, December 16 to Thursday, January 12. The 15-film retrospective is presented by GKIDS, a distributor of award-winning animated films. The full schedule can be found on the GKIDS website. Following the NYC engagement the Studio Ghibli retrospective will be visiting Los Angeles, Boston, Toronto, San Francisco, Washington DC, Chicago, Seattle and other major North American cities.

Mondo and Studio Ghibli will donate all profits from the MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO print to Ghetto Film School, an organization of educators and students who share a love for storytelling and filmmaking. Ghetto Film School is a non-profit organization with the mission to educate, develop and celebrate the next generation of great American storytellers.

Moss’ My Neighbor Totoro poster is gorgeous. Christmas might just come a little early to Opus HQ this year: I need one of those prints hanging on my wall.

Related: “GKIDS bringing Studio Ghibli films to a theatre (hopefully) near you”

Enough With the Apps Already

Dave Winer touches on one of my pet peeves: websites that launch ads for their app when you visit them with an iPhone or some other mobile device.

Tablets are almost ideal reading environments. I don’t think, as some developers do, that the iPad is the ultimate. I think it’s heavy and cold, and makes my arm fall asleep when I read lying down. I think the software is a glitchy. Like great movies, great computer experiences are all about suspension of disbelief. If I forget I’m reading on an iPad and get consumed by the story, then the technology is working perfectly. The iPad experience is good, but there’s still a way to go. And all this business about apps is a real spoiler for suspension of disbelief. I’m clicking a link, expecting to learn more about what I was reading (that was certainly the author’s intent) but instead I get an ad for an app. If I seriously consider it, I’ve lost my train of thought. If I actually take the detour and install it, I’ve lost big time. The best way to minimize the loss is hit the Back button and skip it. But that’s a loss too. I clicked the link for a reason. And that was thwarted.

A better solution would be to design websites in such a way that they adapt and optimize themselves for iPhones, iPads, and other mobile devices. The Boston Globe’s recent redesign is a perfect example of this approach.

Why The Cure deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

PopMatters’ AJ Ramirez:

Why is the fact that the Cure only made the ballot this year after years of eligibility an egregious snub to be filed among the baffling ranks of current Hall non-inductees that range from Kiss to Donna Summer to the Smiths? Ok, the long-running British group (led by Robert Smith, its only consistent member) was by no means the first post-punk band or even the most influential, and Bauhaus created and defined goth, the genre the Cure is most associated with.  What makes the Cure worthy enough to belong to alongside the ranks of the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, and U2 is a combination of trailblazing inroads into the musical mainstream, an extensive influence over later musicians, and a diverse body of songs that could’ve formed the basis of the careers of four or five lesser groups.

I’d love to see The Cure get inducted, but I also kind of agree with Joseph P. Fisher’s comment:

The Cure should continue to be snubbed, because if they are, Smith might get miserable again.  And if he does, there might be good Cure music again. I'm not holding my breath, though.

4:13 Dream and The Cure had their moments, but let’s be honest: it’s been nearly two decades since the Cure’s last consistently solid album (1992’s Wish).

December 13, 2011

CAPC Podcast: “Choosing Sides in the War on Christmas”

The most recent edition of the Christ and Pop Culture podcast, featuring yours truly, dives into the “war on Christmas”.

...what is the truth about the war on Christmas, and what does it mean for those of us that view the incarnation as something true and deeply profound? In this episode, Richard Clark (editor-in-chief), Drew Dixon (editor), Alan Noble (co-founder and editor), and Jason Morehead (associate editor) discuss their approach to Christmas, commercialism, and those darned atheist Christmas terrorists.

Ugh... atheist Christmas terrorists are the worst.

New anime from Mamoru Hosoda: “The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki”

New anime from Mamoru Hosoda: “The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki”

Mamoru Hosoda, currently one of anime’s rising stars thanks to The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars, is working on a new film titled The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki that will be released in July 2012. The film’s story follows a woman struggling to raise her two half-wolf children after the death of their “wolf man” father. The premise may seem a little odd, but I have a lot of confidence that Hosoda can pull it off and come up with something wonderful.

Via Anime News Network