Pre-re-undeinterlacing primary and secondary matchmaking parameters…

— Blizzard Matchmaker

This company understands me…

The Evil That Is Sqyntz

Sqyntz are evil. Sqyntz are tasty. Sqyntz are addictive. And, fortunately, they’re low-calorie. Unfortunately, they’re also hard to find in stores. In the Bay Area, I’ve only seen them at Nob Hill and REI. And the way we go through them during gaming sessions, I buy an awful lot of overpriced little tins of the stuff.

So when I decided to write up a brief article in praise of the best darn sour candy on the market, I went to their web site to snag a picture of the tin. And I found an online store selling them by the six-pack, and they even had a flavor that I’ve never seen in stores. Cha-ching!

Update: they shipped promptly, but while I enjoy being able to stock up on Tropical Fruit Sqyntz at a discount, I am saddened to report that Orchard Blend Sqyntz aren’t nearly as good. They’re decent candy, but they’re just not irresistible.

Recent anime

Quick takes on stuff I’ve watched in the past week.

Kaleido Star, disc 4 — Damn, this show is so good that I’m afraid to say anything that might spoil it. Just don’t read the back-cover blurbs or liner notes, don’t watch the next-episode previews or the special features, and stay away from the episode list on ADV’s web site, because they love to spoil things for you. Worse, many of their spoilers are misleading or just plain wrong. I’ll be buying the rest of the series (eight more discs!). [update: ADV puts spoilers into their press releases, too! I was just looking at a list of release dates, and wham!]

R.O.D The TV, disc 2 — Things are building up nicely, and the paper is flying. Good work on developing the relationships between the characters. I’ll definitely buy the next disc.

Chrono Crusade, disc 1 — Good stuff. A sexy, heavily-armed teenage nun who fights demons in New York City during the Roaring Twenties, leaving a trail of destruction in her wake like a one-woman Dirty Pair. The most glaring flaw is some poorly-integrated 3D CGI, but they either got better at it quickly or I got used to it by the time I reached episode 4. I’ll definitely buy the next disc.

Galaxy Angel, disc 4 — Fluff. Fluffy McFluff, with a side order of Fluff. This show goes nowhere, and is proud to admit it. If you’re in the mood for old-school anime wackiness with modern production values and no pretense at continuity between episodes, Galaxy Angel is the show for you. There’s really not much difference between the four volumes, and no matter how much you learn about the characters, they don’t actually grow and change, so you can pretty much watch them in any order. I’ll buy the first disc of season two when it comes out, because I like fluff. And Mint is evil, in a good way.

Kiddy Grade, disc 6 — Eh. Not impressed.

Ikkitousen, disc 1 — I can’t describe just how much this show sucks. I’ve read the available manga volumes, as well as reviews of the fansubs, so I wasn’t expecting it to be good, but I thought it might at least be amusing, in a “she kicks high” combat-fan-service way. It’s not. It does manage to be about 70% less raunchy and 50% less poorly-plotted than the manga, but also at least 20% more sucky.

What really stood out for me is that it’s just sloppy, both in execution and translation. I expect Geneon to do a good job on their releases, but this back-cover blurb is actually representative of their care and attention to detail on this product:

Once again blood flows in the streets of Kanto. The eternal fate that has been handed down for over 1800 years is now being fought by ancient warriors who have been reincarnated into the students of the seven top schools. One such student, Hakufu Sonsaku, arrives on the scene and is rumored to be the legendary Shou Haou (The one who is said to be the one to defeat many in battle). But can this blonde airhead with the overly-endowed assets actually be the legendary Shou-Haou?

I originally figured it was just a case of putting the junior translator on box work (like the charming example in Hyper Police where the box-cover claimed a character “begins acting like a little child”, but in the actual episode he becomes a child), but no, the subtitles are just like it. And I have to say that the show doesn’t really deserve better. Anyone who thought that Agent Aika’s panty-flashing was obtrusive or that Mahoromatic was in some way misogynistic should stay far, far away from this turkey.

Actually, everyone should just stay away. This show makes Amazing Nurse Nanako look wholesome and well-written. I won’t be buying disc 2.

Next up: 7 of 7 disc 1 (fluff), 50 Years of Playmates (the Playboy box set), and something called Star Wars. I think it’s a comedy. Or maybe a tragedy, the way Lucas keeps pissing in his whiskey.

Next potential purchase: Gokusen disc 1.

“Obedience to the law is freedom”

In their continuing efforts to ban all forms of discrimination except anti-Americanism, the EU Commission has ruled that it’s illegal to reject potential roommates and tenants based on their gender, even if you’re, say, a battered women’s shelter.

It’s claimed the new ruling would also prevent insurance companies from offering lower rates to women, despite their longer lives and lower car-accident rates. ’Cause that’s sex-based discrimination, y’see, and any sort of discrimination is always wrong.

Coming soon, new laws prohibiting discrimination against ugly people who want to be cover models, fat people who want to be runway models, infants who want to drive backhoes, and grade-school dropouts who want to be doctors. Or at least EU commissioners.

It’s time for a movement to decriminalize “discrimination”. It is not inherently a dirty word, despite decades of negative associations. I discriminate dozens of times every day, and I’m damn proud of it. I discriminate against the restaurants that have given me food poisoning, against bad drivers when they suddenly realize they need to merge into my lane, against any store whose prices are too high or whose employees are rude, and, in my most shocking admission, I cheerfully discriminate against unattractive women when girl-watching or chatting up potential models.

I discriminate quite viciously when buying groceries. Not just by getting my steaks at Costco (the only place that cuts them nice and thick), my cocktail sausages at Dorothy McNett’s Place, or my bagels at the Safeway on Shoreline (where they don’t overbake them, and still have a decent selection at 11pm), but by spending most of my money at Nob Hill. Because they don’t use those stupid customer-tracking “savings” cards.

Okay, they also have the best-looking female employees, at least in my neighborhood. But I even discriminate against most of them when they offer to push my cart full of groceries out to my car. Only Danielle gets to do that…

What a Jiffy scam!

Just got back from the grocery, and happened to notice the recent carb-faddish Simply Jif line of peanut butter. I was picking up a jar of the regular stuff, and on a whim I decided to compare the nutritional labels.

A standard two-tablespoon serving of regular Creamy Jif: 190 calories. Low-carb Simply Jif: 190 calories. Reduced Fat Creamy Jif: 190 calories. It’s the same for their entire product line. The reduced-fat version eliminates a whopping 4 grams of fat but compensates by adding 8 grams of carbohydrates. The low-carb version removes a majestic 1 gram of sugar.

(and, yes, I know they round off the calories to the nearest 10)

Why isn’t this man smiling?

Is it just me, or does the new Miss America’s father look like he’d go after you with a shotgun if you asked her out? And this picture was taken before she won…

Miss America and happy dad

Thanks for noticing…

So, I just received email from Apple, thanking me for registering iLife ’04 and GarageBand Jam Pack. Which I registered in January.

Out with the chad, in with the pencil

Just received the bilingual instructions for how to vote in Monterey County in the November elections. Apparently we’re abandoning the aging punch-card machines in favor of an optical scan system that requires you to draw a line completing an arrow that points to your choice.

They’re also encouraging everyone to apply for absentee ballots to avoid long lines due to the projected record-high turnout.

Pushing back the Borders…

I figure the best response to this, whether it reflects widespread Borders employee opinion or not, is to ride down there tonight, walk in wearing my motorcycle jacket and Call of Cthulhu Elder Sign t-shirt, and buy copies of Unfit for Command, Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man, a few gun magazines, a copy of Playboy, a red-meat-oriented cookbook, the latest issue of The Skeptical Enquirer, and a pile of translated manga.

That ought to confuse them.

As for the predictable outrage at discovering that chain bookstore employees tend to be virulently Leftie college students, I can only ask, “…and this surprises you how, exactly?”.

Of course, used bookstore employees lean to the Left in my experience as well, but at least they tend to be older and more well-rounded in their opinions. Like the guy who bored me stiff at ConQuest talking about San Francisco politics and the editorials he writes for a local communist paper, but who was happy to shift the topic to “guns that are fun to shoot” when my lack of interest in the Commies and Greens became obvious. Oh, and I hope he didn’t burn off too much hair lighting that cigarette; at our age, it doesn’t come back as easily.