Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Story time, part the second

So, kiddies, time for more stories.

This post will be Sharon's Tale of Anime, in case you care.

When, that week or so ago, I was reading the random forum thread about anime, I realized that I am an extremely late bloomer, anime-wise. I got the feeling, however, that most of the posters on that forum are more my brother's age than mine, so what was ok for a 6 year old to watch wasn't so for the 12 year old. I've never been into Pokemon (or the other "mons"), and I don't really remember many anime crossing the Pacific when I was younger. I wonder if Rainbow Brite could be considered anime-ish? They do have the big eyes and giant foreheads and bangs of 80s anime...
About the time I started college was about the time I first noticed Adult Swim on Cartoon Network, but I didn't really start watching it then. No, no. If you ever get tired of me trying to force you to watch anime, you can blame Ernest. If I remember correctly, the first anime we started watching (we being me, Jenny, and Ernest) was Record of Lodoss War, which E had on VHS. He didn't force it on un until late in the year, so we didn't even finish it that year. We may have begun Escaflowne in Japanese that year, and watched the first two tapes or so of Fushigi Yuugi, but I can't remember that too well. It all gets blurred in my memory (which has never been that good).
I know we didn't finish Lodoss War until sophomore year, because I distinctly remember watching it in KP's basement, and I remember that was the year we finished Escaflowne, watching part of it in the 3rd floor or Donner Annex with Amanda. I even remember we borrowed part of it from her then-fiancee John, I guess E had left his at home. But it wasn't a very good sub, John's copy, so we watched a bit of it in English, and it was kinda scary. I think now I'd be a little more ok with it, but maybe not. Maybe the entire time I'd be sitting there saying "hey, it's Miroku and Sango!" I know that year we watched Metropolis (on my computer right before the end of the year, because my brother was there), as well as part of Outlaw Star and all of El Hazard, all on my computer, since no one else had a DVD player. I know that was the year I also saw all of Trigun in about a 24 hour period. Basically, Jenny and Amanda wanted to see what E's house was like, what his family was like, over spring break but neither of them wanted to be the only ones going, so I went too (since Valpo is close to my grandmother's, I used it as an excuse to visit her, too). While we were there, we watched all ofit, before I went to my grandma's, which is saying a lot, since we got there Friday afternoon, and Saturday evening I went to my grandma's for the night, before we headed back to campus. That was fun, though. By this time, I was also watching a bit of Adult Swim, but that was pretty much while I was at home (where my dad had me start buying Tenchi DVDs). Dunno why.
Let's see...junior year I actually joined the anime club, so I got to see more of Cowboy Bebop (on AS also), got to see Nadesico, Hellsing, the first couple of discs of Excel Saga, Trigun again, Perfect Blue, My Neighbor Totoro, the very beginning of Now and Then, Here and There (which I decided not to watch the rest of) and the first half of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Also, that year we watched Video Girl Ai on my computer.
Senior year, I saw His and Her Circumstances, Abenobashi, Ah! My Goddess, most of .Hack//Sign, the rest of Eva, and Clerks the Animated Series (I know, it's not anime, bite me) all thanks to anime club. I saw most of Witch Hunter Robin, and saw more Inuyasha (I had already begun buying it at that point) on AS, watched Read or Die, saw the beginning of Ruin Hunters (I think that's the title) thanks to Gribble, and saw the first full season of Fushigi Yuugi.
When I got out of college, I began to crave anime. I gave in and started buying Kare Kano the manga, and then I bought the anime. Then I began to abuse my library. I realized the EVPL had begun to buy anime and manga, so I began to rent it. Because of that, I have seen all of Card Captor Sakura (in Japanese), up to disc 5 of Kodocha, the Rayearth OVA, the first 3 discs of Love Hina and the Spring Special, and finally got to actually watch Princess Mononoke without being on the phone. Because of AS I have seen most of S-CRY-ED, Samurai Champloo, and Full Metal Alchemist. I found Vandread and Chrono Crusade on extended extended cable, and have begun to watch fansubs on the internet (like Mai HiME, or the beginning of Bleach or Fruits Basket).
Every day, I become more addicted. It's very sad. Do you think there's a methadone for anime??

Ok, that was, well, basically a list. Who knows, I pull this rant later cuz it's boring. Oh well, til later!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Guess what?! Another quiz!

You Have A Type B+ Personality


You're a pro at going with the flow
You love to kick back and take in everything life has to offer
A total joy to be around, people crave your stability.

While you're totally laid back, you can have bouts of hyperactivity.
Get into a project you love, and you won't stop until it's done
You're passionate - just selective about your passions

Sounds like me, don't it?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Story time......part the first

That's right, children! It's story time!

A day or so ago, I was on an anime radio site, and decided to read random forum threads. The thread I ended up reading part of was a "what was your gateway anime?" type question, and it really made me want to answer. But, since I haven't (yet?) registered on that site, I thought my blog, the home of my ravings and rantings, was as good a place as any to answer it. But, I thought I should start younger for my first foray into storytelling, so instead you get to be treated to how I got into reading the genre of books I currently read.

Now, any of the few of you who read this and are also a Treehugginmonkey, this is gonna sound really familiar, since I'm pretty much just gonna cut and paste my 2 long posts about authors and books here. So, I guess you can probably stop reading now, unless you've forgotten what I wrote previously, or are really enamored of my ramblin' writin' style.

A couple of days ago I was talking to Laurie about the books I read, and as I thought about it, I realized that except for the few that were written by two people, almost all of the books I personally own can be divided into 3 authors. Terry Pratchett (of course), Mercedes Lackey, and Andre Norton. I think I have one single book that is not written or co-written by any of those three. Of course, quite a few books I thoroughly enjoy I feel no need to purchase since my dad owns them, but some day in the far-off future I will move out of my parents house and will have to buy some of these for myself. But quite a few of them will be by those core 3. Now, I understand that not everyone has the exact same taste in literature that I have, but I suppose I should attempt to encourage those who might like them to read them (especially since while at Hanover, I decided it was my calling to get as many people as possible hooked on Lackey...I think I got 4). So here goes.

Mercedes Lackey:
The core of my love of Lackey is her Valdemar novels (of which there are over 24). They are fantasy, so they take place in a world with magic and very little in the way of technology, the normal based off Medieval Europe-type thing. She seems to be pro-sexual choice, so I do not recommend them if you find yourself with any homophobic tendencies (one of the "heroes" of a trilogy is gay). Although I don't really think any of you will have a problem with it, I thought I'd warn you. If you decide to try these books, there are about 3 ways to start yourself in the world. You can start with the books she wrote first (Arrows of the Queen, Arrows Flight, Arrows Fall); you can start more chronologically (if you're borrowing from me, that means Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise, Magic's Price); or you can start where I did, sort of in the middle and out of the country (The Oathbound, Oathbreakers, By the Sword (my favorite!)).
Another, different, Lackey book that is good is one called A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows, also released as the first half of Bedlam's Bard. It takes place in the early 90s in California and is about elves, ren faires, and bards. But really, the first one is the only one I've read that I really liked. The second half of Bedlam's Bard, Summoned to Tourney, I didn't like as much, despite the fact it delt a little with earthquakes (or maybe because of that). There is at least one newer sequel that I read maybe the first chapter of, but didn't like some of the "off-camera" goings-on (like a character that was supposed to be with someone drifting away, I didn't like the way the character dynamic changed).
Somewhere between those two is her Free Bards series (The Robin and the Kestrel, The Lark and the Wren, just to name a couple). It has bards, and music magic, but takes place in some medieval-based world, and I don't remember any elves. But they're still good. I just haven't read them in a while.
One stand alone book that I dearly love is The Black Swan, her version of the Swan Princess. It's sorta a what-if type book, what if magic was real and happening in not-quite-Renaissance Germany. Similar, but not quite as good, is The Firebird, her version of the story behind the Firebird Suite by Tchiacovsky (or however that's spelled).
She has others, but these are some of the best. Oh, and the ones I'll mention at the very last.

Andre Norton:
Called "The Lady" because she's been writing science fiction/fantasy since before it was split into the two, she has a hellavah lot of work under her belt. If you find yourself with a lot of time and a craving for fantasy, try her Witch World books, if you can find them. I know the library has quite a few, but I've only really read a fraction of them, and I started at the end (silly me). However, the books of hers owned by me do not consist of any of the Witch World books.
The Hands of Lyr. I'm not quite sure why I like this one so much, I just do. Norton's writing style is not as easy to get into as Lackey, she's much more formal and sorta old-fashioned. Anyways, the Hands of Lyr is pretty standard; quest, unlikely heroes that don't want the job, but I still really like it.
The Shadow of Albion. This is very different from the others on this page. Alternate history meets Regency romance. But I find the similarites between Wessex and James Bond very amusing. Imagine James Bond fighting Napoleon instead of the Russians, with his regular identity being a Duke. Now add a reluctant wife who can't remember her childhood well because she is in reality transplanted from an alternate reality, our reality. Dump that all in an England not ruled by George III, where in 1805 America is still a British colony run by Thomas Jefferson, the Earl of Monticello. This one's just fun. And there is a sequel, in which our heroes follow the Marquis de Sade to America to find the Holy Grail. Doesn't that just make you curious?

Lastly, there is a series of three (The Elvenbane, Elvenblood, Elvenborn) written by both Norton and Lackey. It has elves, their human slaves, the "wizards" (usually half-elven children with both elven magic and human magic), and dragons (who can shapechange!). These three are really good.

If you couldn't tell, writing this much has made me stupid ("these three are really good") so I'll quit for now. Next installment: books I really like by John DeChancie and Christopher Stasheff.

Ok! It's time for the next installment!!

First, I must digress into how I got started reading SciFi/Fantasy books (Laurie, I know I've told you, so you can skip this if you want).
It all started in the 6th grade. Before then, the most adult books I had read were R.L. Stine (pre-Goosebumps era) and Christopher Pike style teen horror. I was a big fan of an authour by the name of Joan Lowry Nixon, and had taken one of her books with me up to my grandmother's one holiday. It was either Thanksgiving or Easter, but I think more likely Thanksgiving. Within the first day or 2 I had finished the book I had brought along, and stupid me hadn't brought any others. Well, not too long after I was finished, my dad finished the book he was reading and offered it to me "in case I was bored". At first I was like "Um, no...I don't wanna be weird like you." But after a couple of days of boredom with nothing to watch on TV but the football or whatever sport my grandmother was watching, I finally gave in, and the night before we left for home I started the book, "Majyk by Accident" by Esther Freisner. I read one chapter before faling asleep, but it was the greatest thing I head read. It was a weird book about "majyk" which was transferred as a cloud when a wizard died, absorbed by whoever got into the cloud first. Well, the main character was a ratcatcher in the home of a dying wizard, and one day he chased the largest rat he'd ever seen into the master's chambers right when he died, so the "rat" and the ratcatcher absorbed all the majyk. Only then do you find out that the "rat" is really a cat from New York City that came through a mousehole to this other world, and now he can speak and do simple majyk. It was very interesting to me, at least. Anyways, that next day we drove home, and there I was in the back of the car, straining to get the last bits of light when the sun began to set.

What does all this have to do with John DeChancie and Christopher Stasheff, the promised authors of this installment? The melding of the familiar with the fantastic.

John DeChancie has, as far as my knowledge goes, written only a trilogy and a series. I've never read his trilogy, and I probably never will, seeing as they are about truckers in space. But his series is wonderful. It's the Castle Perilous series. I've only read 6 of the books (and there are supposedly more), but really the first 5 are the best. The first book is Castle Perilous, followed by Castle for Rent, Castle Kidnapped, Castle War, and Castle Murders. Basically, it's about a magical castle that exists between universes and is the bridge between them. Your main characters are almost all from Earth. Take for example a character you meet in the first book, Gene Ferraro. Gene lives in Pittsburgh and has been through a lot of college (like starting one degree, dropping out to go to medical school, then dropping out of that to go to law school, and dropping that cuz he's not cold-hearted enough) but is currently unemployed and desperate to get a job to pay off debts (sound like anyone we know??) On his way to a job interview, trying to find a parking spot in an underground garage, deciding to drive down to see how far it goes, and then trying to find an elevator back up, he begins thinking about how his life sucks, and half comtemplates suicide. Then he notices the walls are different, and realizes that unless the parking garage had a medieval era, he's no longer in the garage. He is, in fact, in the castle. Basically, each of the other characters have a similar beginning, of almost suicide followed by "rescue" by the castle. They are highly amusing books, though.

Christopher Stasheff has written a few series, but really I've only read the beginning of one and quite a few of another. He has quite a few books in the "Warlock in Spite of HImself" series, but I've only read the first one. But, basically, they're about the future and a guy who goes to a planet to spread democracy and finds a planet that believes in magic and was founded by a bunch of SCA members (renn re-enactors). It's rather amusing. The real love of mine, though, is his "Wizard in Rhyme" series, about a guy who, while working on his doctorate, comes across a bit of parchment in no language he can decipher. He keeps trying to figure it out insteand of working on his thesis, and suddenly he's transported to an alternate earth, where among other things, magic works by rhyme and Heaven and Hell are definately real. He becomes the wizard of the rightful queen and they must defeat the evil sorcerer and put her back on her throne. Some of the best parts of these books (Her Majesty's Wizard, The Oathbound Wizard, etc.) is the intelligence they're written with. You can learn alot about science and literature and history from them.

Anyways, that's about it for this really, really long post.
Who knows what I'll write about next.

Now,I would like to point out that since I wrote that first part, Andre Norton has since passed away, but I would guess many of you already knew that. Or didn't and don't care, and are reading this only because you are extremely bored.

But, yeah, I really will rant about anime coming soon, and maybe more about authors, like Terry Pratchett.

Aren't you excited?!?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Not quite a quiz.....

So, this is an actual post, not a quiz. Amazing, ain't it. But, it sorta has to do with quizzes, so I don't think I'm cured quite yet. A few days ago (a week, maybe?) I was over a Laurie's house, sucked in like always, and we were taking a Geek Test her brother and some of his 'net friends had found. And while I did like the format of the quiz, I felt it was lacking in some major spots. It didn't have enough authors, for example. Or enough conventions. So, I'm gonna try to write my own. Any suggestions are welcome, and I may be asking some people (like Laurie and Ellie) to help me with certain categories, like comics.
But, this is what I have for the blurb at the beginning:
This Geek test has been written by me, Sharon, because I feel that so many geek tests are lacking in all over geek content. It is based on a recent geek test I took, that I felt had some major gaps. So, I felt that it was my duty as a burgeoning geek to expand upon its contents and create my own version. Many of the instances of geekdom that this test measures are based on people I know (or on myself), so it can never be the pinnacle of geek tests, in that I am not an uber-geek (though that is a goal I one day wish to achieve).
The rules are simple. The test is broken up into categories. Each category is headed by a disclaimer. If the disclaimer fits you, take those points and head on to the next. If you feel that your geekhood lies in that category, even a small portion, read down the category. For every statement you agree with, award yourself the points. If you do not agree, move on. I would find it easiest to take this test with a calculator on hand, unless you are a math genius and can keep track of all of this in your head. And if that’s the case, give yourself X points, since a math genius can never be considered normal by the masses.

Thought I'd let everyone kno what I've been up to, anyway.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Are quizzes all I do?

Another day, another quiz...

This Is My Life, Rated
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

Monday, April 03, 2006

It feels kinda weird for me to "Spank the Monkey"...

Monkey Challenge Trivia Quiz
I beat the monkey by 18 points.
Monkey Challenge Trivia Quiz

Your Final Quiz Score: 36 right out of a possible 60
The Monkey's Final Score: 18 right out of 60

Well done, you have sent the monkey to his defeat. Your score is unquestionably higher, and thus the lowly monkey has been proven once again to be humankind's intellectual inferior. Good work, however your score does leave room for improvement. We should like to see the human dominate even more completely!

You scored in the 86th percentile.
(86% of quiz takers scored worse than you)

Your score: 9
Monkey's score: 3
-- Quite a sufficient job.
Your score: 10
Monkey's score: 3
-- Nicely done.
Your score: 8
Monkey's score: 8
-- Rather embarrassing, wouldn't you say?
Random Trivia
Your score: 9
Monkey's score: 4
-- Good but not great.

Link: Monkey Challenge Trivia Quiz

But as far as I know, I don't howl at the moon.....

You scored as Remus Lupin. You are a wise and caring wizard and a good, loyal friend to boot. However sometimes in an effort to be liked by others you can let things slide by, which ordinarily you would protest about.

Remus Lupin


Ron Weasley


Albus Dumbledore


Hermione Granger


Severus Snape


Ginny Weasley


Draco Malfoy


Harry Potter


Sirius Black


Lord Voldemort


Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with QuizFarm.com

Nuthin' important

So, yeah, as the title says, this post is nothing, and about nothing, important. It's pretty much just a post to keep things going, cuz heaven forbid I go another month before I update again. :P

An update on my Effort to Keep Sharon Amused(tm).
I purchased vols. 1 & 2 of the Mai HiME soundtrack off of Ebay, and find it just as beautiful as I had expected.
I finally read the first entire book, without pictures and not written by Terry Pratchett that I had not already read, since graduating college. It seemed for a while there that college had burned out my brain, but I seem to be recovering. Although...it was a Mercedes Lackey book, so maybe it doesn't really count that much, seeing as she's my second favorite author after Pratchett.
I bought the Robot Chicken season 1 DVD, and finally found my favotie episode again (apparently it's ep. 17). Anime is weird.
I completed my acquisition of Witch Hunter Robin, so now all I have to do is gather my friends together and make them watch it, since I think it's an anime that my less-than-enthusiatic-about-anime friends could enjoy.
I've read all that has been translated to English of Tsubasa: Resevoir Chronicle by CLAMP, and really enjoyed the alternate reality versions of everything, and especially enjoyed the "Where's Waldo"-like cameos of Miyuki-chan in all of the worlds with people. But one would expect her to be in these other dimensions.

Hmm....this appears to be the end of my post for this evening, since I can't think of anything else to talk about.

Til later!