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Monday, November 17, 2008

What Was, What Is, and What Shall Be

I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it.
'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such
thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look
to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without
the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.
- Margaret Thatcher

Greetings All! I am not sure exactly what it is that is prompting this odd surge of postings. I guess lately I’ve had a desire to post. I don’t have a problem with that though. After all, the more I post the more you know about how things are with me, and the better I feel about the things that are actually going on. If there are things worth posting about then my life is not as boring right now as I sometimes make it out to be. So… HUZZAH! ^_^

Arkansas Anime Festival
This past weekend (Nov 8-9) was the Arkansas Anime Festival. This is the third occurrence of this particular convention, but its second year in operation. It’s a smaller convention that was started as a bet-like-thing between two competing anime stores in the area. Currently it is the only anime convention in Arkansas, but it still continues to be a small convention, which speaks volumes about the status of anime fandom in this state and surrounding areas. Unfortunately, this convention also happened to be the last convention I'll be able to attend for a long while. You might be thinking that I already said that about AnimeFest in September, but you'd be wrong. I said AnimeFest was going to be my last major convention. The Arkansas Anime Festival is hardly what I'd call major. But, it is my last for a while. The next convention I have the remote chance of being able to attend is A-Kon in June. I should be back in the states through June and should be able to attend if I can somehow get myself to Dallas. That'll be the real challenge.

Anyhoo, despite being a small upstart convention, the guests it has managed to pull this year are of extremely high quality. Samantha Inoue Harte, who’s panel on the state of the American anime industry last year inspired me to stop my support of fansubbing altogether (which included deleting my entire fansub library from my computer), returned and brought with her an American animator whose name I cannot recall. She’s a wonderful person and I always enjoy her panels, whatever they are. But, the really big name this year was Johnny Young Bosch. Johnny is a voice actor whose credits include Vash the Stampede from Trigun, Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach, and Renton Thurston from Eureka Seven. He also brought with him his currently unsigned rock band, Eyeshine, of which he is the lead singer and guitarist. They’re a highly talented group of individuals whose songs are quite good. And they were a very nice group as well! They performed two concerts, one a full rock concert on Saturday night, and on Sunday morning they did an acoustic performance (you can see some of the acoustic performance here). Then, on Sunday afternoon, they had a panel that was supposed to be instructional, but ended up being a song-writing panel. By the end of it they had written a completely new song that can be viewed here (I apologize for the bad, off-key singing from behind the camera. The entire panel wrote the song together, so the rest of the room is singing along as well.) It was fun to have them at the convention, and honestly was the highlight of the entire weekend.

But, for me, the convention was historic in the fact that I, for the first time in three years, was able to cosplay as Shugo from .hack//Legend of the Twilight. After my first day wearing this particular costume at A-Kon three years ago, it was accidentally destroyed. It has since been remade and was finally unveiled on Sunday. I hadn’t even cosplayed at a convention in two years, so getting to cosplay again was a treat in itself, but the fact that it was a costume that has been my favorite for a while made it even better! I can’t wait to wear it again and I send my deepest thanks to Kyle for his help in completing it. There is but only one problem with the costume, and that is that I am technically dressed as two characters. Y’see, Shugo, in the anime, received his character design in a contest. The original character design is of a character named Kite, from the .hack// video games. So, more than Shugo, people will say “Hey! It’s Kite!” This is a problem because I have to roll with it and I don’t know anything about the Kite character because I don’t own a PS2 and have not played the video games. I need to do some research into his character so I can more accurately portray him when somebody comes up thinking that that is who I am dressed as. It’s an irritating problem, but hopefully one that can be mended with little effort on my part.

Surprise Reconnection
Back in high school I was given the amazing opportunity to sign on with a government program called People to People. The program creates what they call “student ambassadors” and sends them to countries around the world to learn about the culture and connect with the people. The year I went, the group to which I was assigned was sent to Australia and New Zealand. We spent a week and a half in each country. The first part of the trip was in Australia. Near the end of the Australian side of the trip we stopped in a town somewhere between Brisbane and Sydney (Toowoomba, I think it was called) and spent the day going to class at a local high school. Each American student was assigned an Aussie student escort who we spent the day with. The girl who was assigned to me is named Megan. She was extremely nice and we became fast friends that day. We exchanged contact information at the days end and continued to write back and forth to each other for a while. Unfortunately we fell out of contact and I haven’t heard from her in a few years.

Last week I was going through my emails at the email address I now use as my junk mail address (in high school it was my primary address) and was surprised to see an email from Megan! I don’t know why, but she had decided to try to resume contact with me. I was thrilled about this! It was just so unexpected to see an email from her, and honestly it made my week. I responded immediately, of course. Like I said, she is an amazing person, and she has my deepest respect for trying to resume our conversation. I just hope we can keep in contact this time. ^_^

Clarification on the Matter of the Election
It has been brought to my attention by a very trustworthy and outspoken source (thanks Mom) that my treatment of the issue of the election in my last post was a bit less than honest. This is true, but that was the most civilized and cordial response I could muster. Let it be known that I do not agree that Obama was the best candidate for the Presidency. If I had been able to vote I would have cast my ballot for McCain (the reasons for me not being able to vote will not be elaborated upon for the sake of time, though I assure you that they are legitimate reasons). But, unlike many who cast their ballots for McCain, do not think I hold even the slightest amount of animosity against those who voted Obama into office. On the contrary, I hold pity for them. They were simply taken in by the exceedingly well-executed campaign strategy employed by the Obama camp. The man did a great job! He used all the right words and did all the right things to get his name into every American household, and even households around the world.

As a graphic designer with a high interest in advertising, allow me to approach Obama’s campaign from a purely analytical perspective. For it is his campaigning, not his stance on the issues, that got him voted into office, because, let’s face it, our government can’t even be trusted to effectively maintain the interstate highway system (have you ever tried driving through Missouri? Oklahoma? It’s a nightmare!), the educational system, or even the national debt. The national debt is close to 11 trillion dollars now! So, do we honestly want to put our health care into their hands as well? Doesn’t seem like a very smart choice. Our country is too big and too poorly managed for that to work. No, it is not the issues that got Obama elected. So, what did?

First of all, the Democratic primaries took much longer than the Republican primaries. John McCain was effectively the Republican nominee by early March, but it wasn’t until June that Obama was chosen as the Democratic nominee. That’s three full months in which very little news about the Republican side of things was reported. All reporting centered around the Democratic primaries. Obama simply had more news coverage during this time. His name was kept in the forefront of American minds, while McCain’s name faded into the background. This set Obama up, from the start, with a natural advantage.

Moving on, Obama chose wisely in his campaign to use single, highly emotional words as catchphrases and slogans. Change. Hope. Progress. Who doesn’t hope to see change or progress in government? Everybody does. The real question is what change is Obama vying for? Most people never thought that far ahead. McCain on the other hand didn’t have one slogan but many, the best of which being “Best prepared to lead from day one.” Really rolls of the tongue, doesn’t it? Yeah, that stuck to my memory like Velcro on wax paper. Even Obama’s logo was more catchy and memorable than McCain’s. A nice sky-blue O with the red stripes of the American flag arcing across the front giving the whole thing the look of a bright morning sun rising over rolling hills. Very pretty! I love the logo. McCain didn’t really have a logo per se (this is what he calls a logo). Obama used a logogram, a symbol to convey deeper meaning. McCain had what graphic designers refer to as a logotype. A logotype is exactly what it sounds like, a logo purely made up of type. It’s hard to convey a deeper meaning this way, and McCain’s logo didn’t even try. It looked very official, very governmental, but was “hip” and “cool” because it used a sans serif font. Simply put, Obama had a better logo. And what is more memorable than a logo? I say golden arches and you think McDonalds, a yellow scallop with a red outline and your mind should go to Shell gasoline, an apple with a bite out of it… do I even need to point out the company that one belongs to? These things are memorable and connect you to what they are advertising. Obama’s use of a logogram did just that, while McCain’s attempt at a logo fell far short.

In addition to his slogan and logo, Obama beat out McCain again in his creation of posters. Obama created a few posters all using his signature one-word catchphrases (the other two posters can be viewed here and here). But, what really made the posters amazing was their iconic nature. They remind me of war propaganda posters. They are highly emotional, simple, and are very memorable as well as being aesthetically pleasing. But even more important than the physical look of the posters was the paper on which the posters were printed. Every single one was printed on a cream-colored paper as opposed to the standard white, or, if the paper was standard white, a cream color was used as the background for the image. This did wonders for the posters’ marketability. With all the emphasis on the environment and “going green” that America has been experiencing lately, a cream colored paper conveys a more elemental feel. It looks more natural, more friendly, more environmentally conscious. People latch on to this on an almost subconscious level and the posters are more effective because of it. McCain’s poster had no such feel (see?). Rather, McCain’s poster was boring. It felt contrived, forced, bland, unoriginal, and wasn’t even that appealing. And, perhaps putting fighter planes in the poster wasn’t the best of ideas given the national belief regarding our war in Iraq. Fact is, McCain’s poster didn’t do the job it was supposed to, but Obama’s went above and beyond.

Clearly Obama’s marketing campaign was better than McCain’s. The men behind his campaign strategy obviously understood that marketing the candidate rather than allowing him to win on the issues was a better plan. And, it worked. He marketed himself like he was selling detergent or cars. If the goal was to make me want to buy the best looking brand, then I choose Obama, it’s as simple as that. But, even apart from his ingenious marketing strategy, Obama was a more pleasing candidate from his physical appearance alone. He is an attractive man. He is fit, tall, young, and charismatic. Honestly, I look at him and I get the feeling he is a very likable individual. McCain looks like a chipmunk. He is old, saggy, unfit, and appears awkward in front of a camera. America is tired of a president who doesn’t present himself well, and Obama is the stark opposite of Bush. And, to top it all off, he’s black. He is a walking symbol of American progress and individuality. It’s quite a thing to say we have finally elected a black president while even 50 years ago blacks were still having to drink out of separate fountains and sit in the backs of busses. It’s hard to say no to progress like that when it stares you in the face and says “vote for me.”

This is how Obama won. It was not his stance on the issues, it was not what he believed in or even his experience in government. No, it was his marketing campaign that won him his presidency and I applaud him for it. That is why I pity those who voted for the man. Because they did exactly what his marketing managers wanted them to do. They fell for the hook, the look, the brand, the idea. They voted for him because he looked more appealing. There are other men in history who won for similar reasons. Kennedy won because of this as well. In contrast to Nixon, Kennedy appeared more likable on TV. He was younger and more relatable. Hitler gained power by marketing himself like this as well. Don’t think that I am calling Obama Hitler, I’m not, I’m merely using Hitler as an example. Hitler was young, attractive, highly charismatic and played on people’s emotions. He even had a marketing campaign and a logo. It was a very appealing logo at that. High contrast, bright colors, simple shape, easily memorable and it has proven to be able to capitalize on people’s emotions even now. He gained the support of the people this way and Obama has simply followed suit. It works. This has been proven.

So, as I stated in my last post, I pray the man makes the right decisions. I pray he does what is right for this country, it’s people, and the world as a whole. Because that is what is at stake… the world. Currently America is the only superpower. What we do, whether we like it or not, affects the rest of the world. Let’s all just pray and “Hope” that this “Change” is a good one and that we as a country don't "Progress" down the wrong path.

On a Lighter Note…
And by that I do mean a physical note. As I stated in a post not too long ago, Dido’s new album is coming out this next week and I am greatly looking forward to that event. There have been a few songs released from the album already, and I have listened to two of them. One of these songs, “Don’t Believe in Love,” has already been made into a video of exceedingly high quality. It’s a beautiful video and a beautiful song and I present it for you now. Unfortunately, the official video did not have a link to embed in a blog, this feature was disabled at Dido’s request, below is another occurrence of this video on YouTube, but if you want to see it in higher quality, then go here. Enjoy the video!

With that I conclude this post. I hope you have all enjoyed it and I hope that I have not offended too many people, but if I have please hold no reservations in telling me so. I love to get responses to my posts. ^_^ Have a great day and I’ll see ya ‘round!

Caesar1280's Anime Ticker

.hack//Legend of the Twilight, Air, Air: The Movie, Akira, The Animatrix, Appleseed, Aquatic Language, Ayakashi: Japanese Classic Horror, Beck, Black Lagoon, Blame!, Blood the Last Vampire, Bokurano, Burst Angel, Castle in the Sky, Cowboy Bebop, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, Digimon Tamers: The Runaway Digimon Express, Egao, FLCL, Fullmetal Alchemist, Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shambala, Gankutsuou, Gatekeepers, Genshiken, Ghost in the Shell, Ghost in the Shell: Innocence, Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society, Gin-iro no Kami no Agito, Grave of the Fireflies, Grenadier, Haibane Renmei, Hellsing, Highlander: The Search for Vengeance, Hikaru no Go, Howl?s Moving Castle, Jin Roh: The Wolf Brigade, Jyu Oh Sei, Karas: The Prophecy, Last Exile, Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, Midori?s Days, Milennium Actress, Mushi-shi, My Neighbor Totoro, Naruto, Naruto: The Movie, Nausicaa, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death And Rebirth, Ninja Scroll: The Movie, Other Worlds, Paprika, Perfect Blue, Pet Shop of Horrors, The Place Promised In Our Early Days, Prétear, Princess Mononoke, Read Or Die, Read Or Die: The TV, Samurai Champloo, Samurai Seven, Samurai X: Trust & Betrayal, She and Her Cat, Spirited Away, Steamboy, Tide-Line Blue, Tokyo Babylon, Tokyo Godfathers, Trigun, Voices of a Distant Star, Witch Hunter Robin, Wonderful Days, Wrath of the Ninja, X

Anime I've Seen

- .hack//Legend of the Twilight
- .hack//Sign
- 5 Centimeters per Second
- Air
- Air: The Movie
- Akira
- The Animatrix
- Appleseed
- Aquatic Language
- Ayakashi: Japanese Classic Horror
- Baby Blue
- Beck
- Black Lagoon
- Blame!
- Blood the Last Vampire
- Bokurano
- Burst Angel
- Castle in the Sky
- Cowboy Bebop
- Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
- Digimon Tamers: The Runaway Digimon Express
- Doorbell
- Egao
- Fullmetal Alchemist
- Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shambala
- Gankutsuou
- Gatekeepers
- Genius Party
- Genshiken
- Genshiken OAV
- Ghost in the Shell
- Ghost in the Shell: Innocence
- Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society
- Gin-iro no Kami no Agito
- The Gokusen
- Grave of the Fireflies
- Grenadier
- Haibane Renmei
- Happy Machine
- Hellsing
- Highlander: The Search for Vengeance
- Hikaru no Go
- Howl's Moving Castle
- Innocent Venus
- Jin Roh: The Wolf Brigade
- Jyu Oh Sei
- Karas: The Prophecy
- Karas: The Revelation
- Last Exile
- Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi
- Midori?s Days
- Milennium Actress
- Mushi-shi
- My Neighbor Totoro
- Naruto
- Naruto: The Movie
- Nausicaa
- Neon Genesis Evangelion
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death And Rebirth
- Ninja Scroll: The Movie
- Other Worlds
- Ouran High School Host Club
- Paprika
- Perfect Blue
- Pet Shop of Horrors
- The Place Promised In Our Early Days
- Prétear
- Princess Mononoke
- Read Or Die
- Read Or Die: The TV
- Samurai Champloo
- Samurai Seven
- Samurai X: Trust & Betrayal
- Serial Experiments Lain
- Shanghai Dragon
- She and Her Cat
- Spirited Away
- Steamboy
- Tekkonkinkreet
- Tide-Line Blue
- Tokyo Babylon
- Tokyo Godfathers
- Trigun
- Trinity Blood
- Vampire Hunter D
- Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust
- Voices of a Distant Star
- Witch Hunter Robin
- Wolf's Rain
- Wonderful Days
- Wrath of the Ninja
- X

Total: 93
Anime I Haven't Completed

- .hack//Roots
- Ah! My Goddess
- Angelic Layer
- Avenger
- Baccano!
- Bamboo Blade
- Basilisk
- Binchou-tan
- Black Cat
- Bleach
- Blood+
- Boogiepop Phantom
- Case Closed
- Le Chevalier d'Eon
- Chobits
- Chrono Crusade
- Code Geass
- Coyote Ragtime Show
- D.Gray-Man
- D.N.Angel
- DearS
- Death Note
- Dennou Coil
- Desert Punk
- Digimon
- Dragon Ball Z
- Ergo Proxy
- Eureka Seven
- Excel Saga
- Fighting Beauty Wulong
- Final Fantasy Unlimited
- Flag
- Freedom
- Full Moon
- Gantz
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
- Gintama
- Glass Fleet
- Great Teacher Onizuka
- Gundam Seed
- Gundam Wing
- Hayate the Combat Butler
- Hellsing OVA
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
- Ikki Tousen
- InuYasha
- Jigoku Shojo
- Kage Kara Mamoru
- Karin
- Kino's Journey
- Love Hina
- Loveless
- Lovely Complex
- Lucky Star
- Makai Senki Disgaea
- Marchen Awakens Romance
- Meine Liebe
- The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
- Mononoke
- Monster
- Moon Phase
- Mr Stain on Junk Alley
- Naruto Shippuuden
- Negima?!
- Negima!
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: End of Evangelion
- Nerima Daikon Brothers
- NHK ni Youkoso
- Night Walker
- Ninja Nonsense
- Noir
- Peacemaker Kurogane
- Pokemon
- Prince of Tennis
- R.G. Veda
- Ragnarok
- Rec
- Red Garden
- Robotech
- Romeo x Juliet
- Rosen Maiden
- Rurouni Kenshin
- Saikano
- Sailor Moon
- Samurai Deeper Kyo
- Sci-fi Harry
- School Rumble
- Scrapped Princess
- Shin-chan
- Shingu
- Shion no Oh
- Shuffle!
- Shrine of the Morning Mist
- So Long, Mr. Despair
- Solty Rei
- Sousei no Aquarion
- Speed Grapher
- Spice and Wolf
- Super Milk Chan
- Tales of Phantasia
- Tenchi Muyo
- Tenjhou Tenge
- Texnolyze
- The Third
- Tsubasa Chronicles
- Urusei Yatsura
- Venus Versus Virus
- Welcome to the N.H.K.
- Winter Cicada
- X-1999
- Xenosaga
- XxxHolic
- Yu Yu Hakushou
- Yume Tsukai
- Zero no Tsukaima
- Zipang

Total: 116
Manga I've Completed

- Cowboy Bebop
- Manga Messiah
- Manga Metamorphosis
- Q*Ko-chan
- Saiyuki
- Shirahime-Syo

Total: 7

Manga I Haven't Completed

- .hack//Legend of the Twilight
- Black Cat
- Blame!
- Chobits
- D.Gray-man
- Darkside Blues
- Death Note
- The Demon Ororon
- Desert Coral
- Disgaea
- Eureka Seven: Gravity Boys and Lifting Girl
- Fruits Basket
- Getbackers
- Hayate the Combat Butler
- Kamunagara
- Legal Drug
- Love Hina
- Loveless
- Megatokyo
- Naruto
- Negima
- Read Or Die
- Rurouni Kenshin
- Tactics
- Trigun Maximum
- XXXHolic

Total: 26

Anime I'm Currently Watching
Samurai 7, InuYasha, Samurai Deeper Kyo,
Boogiepop Phantom, and Shrine of the Morning Mist

Manga I'm Currently Reading
Read Or Die, Hayate the Combat Butler, and Megatokyo.hack//Roots, .hack//Sign, 5 cm per Second, Ah! My Goddess, Angelic Layer, Avenger, Basilisk, Binchou-tan, Black Cat, Bleach, Blood+, Boogiepop Phantom, Case Closed, Le Chevalier d'Eon, Chobits, Chrono Crusade, Coyote Ragtime Show, D.Gray-Man, D.N.Angel, DearS, Death Note, Dennou Coil, Desert Punk, Digimon, Dragon Ball Z, Ergo Proxy, Eureka 7, Excel Saga, Fighting Beauty Wulong, Final Fantasy Unlimited, Flag, Full Moon, Gantz, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Gintama, Great Teacher Onizuka, Gundam Seed, Gundam Wing, Hayate the Combat Butler, Hellsing Ultimate, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Innocent Venus, InuYasha, Jigoku Shojo, Kage Kara Mamoru, Karin, Kino?s Journey, Love Hina, Loveless, Lovely Complex, Lucky Star, Makai Senki Disgaea, Marchen Awakens Romance, Meine Liebe, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Mononoke, Monster, Naruto Shippuuden, Negima?!, Neon Genesis Evangelion: End of Evangelion, Nerima Daikon Brothers, NHK ni Youkoso, Night Walker, Ninja Nonsense, Noir, Ouran High School Host Club, Peacemaker Kurogane, Pokemon, Prince of Tennis, R.G. Veda, Ragnarok, Rec, Red Garden, Robotech, Romeo x Juliet, Rosen Maiden, Rurouni Kenshin, Saikano, Sailor Moon, Samurai Deeper Kyo, Sci-fi Harry, School Rumble, Scrapped Princess, Serial Experiments Lain, Shingu, Shuffle!, Shrine of the Morning Mist, So Long Mr. Despair, Solty Rei, Sousei no Aquarion, Speed Grapher, Super Milk Chan, Tales of Phantasia, Tenchi Muyo, Tenjhou Tenge, Texnolyze, The Third. Trinity Blood, Tsubasa Chronicles, Urusei Yatsura, Welcome to the N.H.K., Winter Cicada, X-1999, Xenosaga, XxxHolic, Yu Yu Hakushou, Yume Tsukai, Zero no Tsukaima, Zipang

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