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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Goblin Songs

It's no secret that I love pretty much everything done by Rankin-Bass, from Rudolph right up to Thundercats and Silverhawks. The one that really got me as a kid, though, was their adaption of The Hobbit. Yes, some things (like Beorn) were trimmed for time, but the overall story is incredibly faithful to the book. Heck, they even use the lyrics that Tolkien wrote for the songs.

It's those songs that I want to talk about today. I think that they did a great job translating them for the screen and I really enjoy each one. However, it seems like the Goblin songs are the ones that tend to be a bit more toe-tapping. I think it's because of that, and my love for classic rock type music, that they tend to stick out in my mind.

The Hobbit has two of these songs in it. The first is "Down to Goblin Town", which is sung as the Dwarves and Bilbo are captured while crossing the Misty Mountains. Here it is:

The second is sung while the Goblins and Wargs have the party trapped in the pine trees:

Both of these are really down songs, being about how the goblins are going to do horrible things to our heroes, but they've got an infectious beat that just sticks in my head.

A third song exists, from the adaption of The Return of the King. This is a completely original song, but it keeps the same style as the first two. More of a rock tempo, even with the upsetting ideas behind the lyrics. Check it out:

So, am I just odd (don't answer that) or do others gravitate towards the goblin music?

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Convention Report - Zenkaikon

Jad Saxton's Q&A Panel. Note Kira in her Sailor Moon shirt right up front.
This past weekend our family traveled back to Lancaster, PA to attend Zenkaikon. This was the first Anime specific convention that any of us had been to, so it was an interesting time. We attended more panels than we normally do. This was partially due to more stuff that we were interested in and partially because there wasn't much else to do there.

Let me start out by saying that this is not a huge convention, but it's also not tiny. It took up pretty much every room of the Lancaster County Convention Center and I would say it was moderately attended. There wasn't any point that I felt it was over crowded, which is my normal complaint with conventions.

Kira with Sarah and Jad. She was HUGELY excited both before and after this.
Our primary draw to this convention, other than it being convenient, were two of the guests, both of whom are from Miss Kobayashi's Dragon MaidSarah Wiedenheft (who plays the titular maid, Tohru) and Jad Saxton (who plays Kira's favorite dragon Kanna). We were able to get autographs from both ladies and Kira got pictures with them as well. I also gave them each a business card and an invitation to appear on Anime Freaks, should they have the time.

Kira asking how Jad relaxes
We attended the Meet Jad Saxton panel you see above, where Kira was able to ask her two questions, and the voice actors panel which also had Jessica CalvelloQuinton Flynn, and Phil LaMarr. They had some interesting stories to tell, but if anyone is looking to become a voice actor just read this rather than asking, since that was their standard answer.

On the panel side of things, the first one we attended was on Saturday morning where Brandon DeCoster presented different anime openings and what they look like around the world. This isn't just a language thing, either. Apparently different countries have varying standard lengths of openings, which means things need to be added/subtracted depending on where you are. They also shift focus depending on who they think the anime is targeted to, like adding more costume changes to Gundam Wing in Italy, to help target girls.

Saturday afternoon we went to a panel conducted by a group called Manly Battleships titled "Before An Unexpected Journey: The Anime Legacy of Rankin/Bass". They went over the outsourcing of animation, both stop action and hand drawn, to Japan and how many of the creators went on to work on some important anime. They also agree with me that the Rankin Bass Hobbit is far superior to the bloated Peter Jackson movies.

Sunday we attended another Manly Battleships panel, this one about the career of Don Bluth. It has Mrs. Brisby in the title, so we weren't going to keep Michelle away. There were many interesting points brought up, and they even touched on some movies that I didn't know about. Kira now wants to see Thumbelina, so I need to find that somewhere.

A couple of cool cosplayers. Sailor Moon on the left and the Red Dragon Emperor from High School DxD on the right.
The rest of our time was spent people watching and going through the dealer's room, which only had one booth selling Anime & Manga, and another that was just selling Manga. The rest were artists and merchandise vendors. We bought some stuff (probably too much) and generally had a good time. They've already announced their dates for next year, and we'll think about going back. It all depends on scheduling, both of our activities and their guests. I would certainly recommend this convention, though. At the risk of sounding like Goldilocks, it's just the right size and mixture of things to see and do.

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Heathen Trek

The other day I was thinking about Star Trek, which is not out of the ordinary for me, and my mind went to the Galactic Barrier. This is the energy field seen in the episodes "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "By Any Other Name", and "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" from The Original Series. It surrounds the Milky Way Galaxy and, while it doesn't prevent intergalactic travel, it certainly makes it extremely dangerous.

So we have this huge, dangerous thing that surround where humans are. Of course I then went to J√∂rmungandr, the Midgard Serpent, and then my entire world view had a seismic shift. As an abstract, I have always considered our "reality" or "dimension" to be Midgard. What if it's simpler than that, though, and Midgard is actually our galaxy? That would make J√∂rmungandr the Galactic Barrier and, while not as huge as if he was encircling our dimension, he would be of an epic scale. You can see why Hymir was a little nervous when Thor hooked the serpent during a fishing trip.

This makes the Nine Worlds a little smaller. I would still consider Hel/Niflheim and Muspelheim to be different dimensions, but the remainder would be other galaxies. That means that getting to and from them would be difficult, but not like getting back from Hel. It also makes the Marvel version a bit closer to being acceptable to me. I don't buy the one planet idea for places like Jotenheim, but I can accept a galaxy.

I don't know about you, but I love it when my varied interests can cross over like this.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Why I'm Anti Class and Level

Like most gamers, my first table-top RPG was Dungeons and Dragons. I didn't start quite early enough to have played First Edition. No, I came in with Advance Dungeons and Dragons, Second Edition. The basics are the same as First, just with more stuff attached. A player in the game decides on a character to play, choosing between Fighters, Magic Users, Clerics, and Rogues, and starting out at 1st level. As one adventures, the character gains experience points until, at a set number, the character increases in level, gaining more skills and abilities.

All of that is great, until you look at it from a more objective sense. If you were to place a 1st Level Fighter up against a 10th Level Fighter, it would be no contest. Each level, a Fighter gains 1d10 Hit Points, meaning that the maximum a 1st Level Fighter could have would be 10, and the max the 10th level could have would be 100. That means that the 1st Level guy has to do 10 times the amount of damage to win that the 10th Level guy does. The odds of this happening at pretty slim before our 1st level guy croaks.

A little while after I started playing AD&D, I also started playing the West End Games version of the Star Wars RPG. In this game, there are no classes or levels. Oh, there are templates that you can use to start out with, but nothing like a class. This game is entirely skill based, meaning that as you go along, you increase your skills or gain new ones.

Similarly, I played the Marvel Superheroes RPG, put out by TSR, the same people behind AD&D. This game had Powers and Skill, that you could use your Karma rewards from adventures to increase.

In either Marvel or Star Wars, it was conceivable that a lower level character could take down someone much more powerful. The way the dice rolls were structured you had the possibility of shifting your result up high enough to take down a much more formidable opponent. It wasn't easy, but it was a lot more likely than rolling a critical in AD&D.

Increasing skills and abilities over time, but physically staying pretty much the same just makes more sense to me. I could get healthier and stronger, but there's no way that I would be 10 times harder to kill because of it. I could increase my fighting abilities, though, and that would make me much more effective in combat.

This is not to say that I don't enjoy playing class & level games. I'm in a (mostly) monthly Pathfinder campaign that it really fun. But if I'm choosing a game, I'm going to lean more towards things like WEG Star Wars, Marvel Superheroes, or Pendragon than AD&D.

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Cartoon TV Themes 2

I was under the weather at the beginning of the week, so I didn't have time to write up a post. So enjoy these cartoon themes that might just be coming to a podcast episode at some point.

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Superman is 80?!?!?

So Superman turns 80 this year. I remember back when it was a big deal that he turned 50, right down to this ad for commemorative coins.

Of course, this also comes with the knowledge that I'll be in my 60's when he turns 100. While some people might find that depressing, I don't. Why would I? I'll be around for the celebration of Superman's 100th birthday!

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Amish Paradise

As you're reading this, our family is winding up our vacation in Lancaster, PA. In the spirit of that, enjoy an appropriate song by Weird Al. See you next week.

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