August 8th, 2007

#482: Sickblog part XYZ-WTF

Yeah, still sick. And I hate it. Tomorrow will be 21 days' worth of illness. Three weeks.

Monday I saw the doc. He gave me Levaquin and cough syrup. The Levaquin costs thirteen freaking dollars per pill; at least I can tell it's working, because my cough has gotten somewhat better in the past couple of days.

I had planned to go to work tonight; but when I got up around 6, I felt dizzy and weak again, and after sitting on the sofa for a little while, when I tried to get up, I fell back onto the sofa.

Every antibiotic I've had since this started--and the Levaquin makes four, now--with the exception of the Amoxicillin, has done this: start taking it, and 48 hours later, dizzy! And the dizziness has gotten worse since 6 PM, too. The nurse told me to stop the Keflex, but there's no way in hell I was going to stop the Zithromax when it cost around $7 per tablet, and I sure as hell am not stopping the Levaquin when it costs twice that. Cripes!

As for the tests, they took blood, urine, chest X-rays, and an EKG, and we'll see what those turn up.

I'm trying to remember the last time I took four different antibiotics in three weeks, and I only come up with two occasions.

When I was still a little kid, I got some kind of infection in my right knee which laid me up for a couple of weeks. I don't know if it was a spider bite or what, but I seem to remember being sick on my actual birthday. Or it might have been in the summertime; I'm not really sure. Anyway I was on a couple of antibiotics and unable to do anything outside.

When I was 12, in 7th grade, I had a powerfully bad ear infection. It struck a couple of weeks or so before Christmas vacation, and I was taking antibiotics and stuck at home the entire time. I recall being upset because I was going to be out of school on the last day of school, and I thought that meant I wouldn't be able to go outside during the entire Christmas break, even if I did get better. I don't remember how long it took me to get better. I do remember being given a spoonful of some kind of cough syrup with morphine in it, which was the most powerfully bad-tasting cough syrup I have ever ingested, bar none. (It had to be. Morphine is addictive.) The ear hurt that much. To put it delicately, it sucked.

But I'm not sure how those illnesses stack up against this one. A seemingly innocuous URI that knocks me on my kiester for three weeks--that's got to be some kind of record for me.

I'm really worried about my long-term work prospects, but I can't work if I can't even get off the sofa without falling down, damn it. And I won't get better if I don't take the antibiotics, so that's a non-starter. What the hell am I supposed to do?

Still, today I felt better than I've felt in three weeks. Every day I have had a little more energy; now it's a matter of getting my endurance back. The walk into the doctor's office winded me on Monday; on Tuesday it was a little less exhausting. I'm hoping this trend continues.

#483: Lovely Complex (again) and anime in general

I have reached the 17th episode of Rabu*Con and now I must wait for each succeeding episode to trickle out from the fansubbers. *sigh* But, holy crap: it looks like the fansubbers are releasing it here about as quickly as it's coming out in Japan, if my arthritic grasp of Japanese has not failed me. It looks like episode 18 was only just broadcast a few days ago, on Saturday!

Once I have seen the whole series I'm going to go back to the beginning and watch it over again, as quickly as time permits. I'm guessing it'll be a 26-episode series when all is said and done.

Interesting note: the guy who does the voice for Haruka also did the voice for Takakura in Mahou Tsukai Tai.

* * *

Ikkitousen: Dragon Destiny gradually begins to make more sense to me--as much sense as it can make, considering I came into the middle of the story (apparently).

The story is almost intriguing enough to make me want to see the stuff that comes before what I'm seeing now. Almost.

*

Mamotte Shugogetten has not improved; I continue to be unimpressed with it, to a surprising degree. I usually get a kick out of the "unearthly girlfriend" and "harem comedy" genres. I guess Ruuan's stupidity and monomania, as plot devices, are just that poisonous to my overall enjoyment of the series.

Well, it isn't just Ruuan. There are three other characters who are similarly one-dimensional, except that they're ordinary humans and don't have the power to royally screw things up the way Ruuan does. (I don't even know their names; how sad is that?) Two of them are fixated on Shaorin, the eponymous Shugogetten; the other is fixated on Ruuan. And they make various linear and semi-sentient attempts to romance Shao and Ruuan.

Shao, of course, has only eyes for Tasuke, her master, and at that she is only interested in protecting him from harm.

Ruuan's function is to make her master happy; since Tasuke is her master, she is jealous of Shao, and nearly every episode features one bone-headed attempt or another to get Tasuke to herself. Usually this results in severe property damage, and Tasuke is never happy.

I think that's the series' largest failing: it is filled with one-trick ponies. Almost every episode features Ruuan trying to get Tasuke; Tasuke's friends trying to get Shao or Ruuan; Shao trying to protect Tasuke (and not doing very well); and Tasuke himself trying to survive. There are a few other characters thrown into the mix, but every time a new character is established, he immediately falls into a set role which never changes.

I had thought that my initial impressions of Mamotte Shugogetten were unfair, which is why I looked it up again; but I see now that my initial impressions were dead on. The characters do not grow or change; it's like watching an American sitcom--and that's pretty damning, IMHO.

I expect I'll watch the rest of it, but once I have, the videos will get archived off-line.

*

Floral Magician Mary Bell continues to be saccharine. It develops that Mary Bell herself is thousands of years old--which was a nice touch--and has quite a bit of history behind her. It looks like there may be a larger story behind all the "flower magic", but as of episode 5 I have only the barest inkling of its existence.

The series is clearly aimed at young children, with simple stories and no really evil characters, but it is just barely interesting enough that I keep watching it, to see if anything happens other than Mary Bell using her magic to solve minor crises. But it's not something I can sit and watch by itself; I have to watch other things around it.

I'm willing to bet that there was a ton of merchandise for this show, though.

*

If Wonderduck is right, and Hidamari Sketch (HS) was trying to be another Azumanga Daioh (AD), it failed. (Here is Wonderduck's Pond.)

AD, at least, has enough story around the characters that I cared about them. HS suffers in this regard; by dropping us into the middle of the narrative--showing us the middle of the story first--the writers fail to properly introduce the characters to us. The series has too much ART!!! in it, and not enough basic storytelling; as of episode 8 (out of 12!) I don't really know enough about any of the characters.

Episode 8 is the "end" of the series, but not the last episode; the producers are running the 12 episodes out of chronological order, though I have no clue what the point of that is. Again, I wonder if that is more ART!!! inserted simply for the sake of being avant garde, rather than having any real purpose, story-wise.

Steven Den Beste says that the scrambled episode order of Haruhi Suzumiya served a purpose, and I'll take his word for it since I haven't seen any of it yet. But for HS, it seems just to be useless frippery--"me-too"-ism.

I enjoy AD and care about the characters. Even though the characters of HS have just as much going for them (I assume) I don't really care about them, and so my curiosity about "what happens next" in their lives is really not all that great.

For a "slice of life" story, the viewer must want to know what's next; otherwise he'll lose interest. Generally these kinds of series have no real conflict in them, other than the everyday interactions of people with differing goals, so if the viewer is not engaged by the characters he won't keep watching. That's how it is with me and HS.

But, again, there are only four episodes left, so I will watch them; and maybe my impressions will change.

*

The list of other fansubs I have to watch is pretty impressive, once these are done. I've seen a few other titles which pique my interest, but as of yet I haven't looked into them. Eventually I'll yank a few Torrents into uTorrent and let them trickle in, but I'm going to wait on that until I've had a chance to make sure I can trust the new internal drive, and move some of the "B" fansubs to it.

I'm going to probably research the titles a bit before downloading--at least, I'll look up artwork samples and synopses. I grabbed Lovely Complex solely because the title sounded interesting--same with Rocket Girls--but I don't know how long that formula will work.

Speaking of Rocket Girls, I finished watching it, and found it thoroughly enjoyable. Once you swallow the conceit of high school girls being astronauts--which is the biggest issue the series has--the rest is pretty entertaining. And the even get a lot of the engineering and science right, which is unusual.

For example, NASA astronauts are amazed that the girls don't need to pre-breathe before going EVA--they just pump out the air and open the door, because their suits rely on mechanical pressure to prevent decompression. NASA's suits run at a fraction of atmospheric pressure, with a greater partial pressure of oxygen; but the astronaut who is going outside must pre-breathe that mixture for two hours so he doesn't get the bends. The SSA suits worn by the girls have a helmet that runs normal air at normal pressure, and the rest of the suit is simply a bit tighter than skin-tight, and elastic. (This type of suit was researched in the 1960s, but not very seriously.)

In the last episode, there is a crisis which involves a high and fast orbit from which the SSA capsule cannot safely re-enter. I immediately thought, "Skip off the atmosphere a few times!" And I was glad to see that that is exactly what they did. (There is a BS moment when the main character, Yukari, flies the right re-entry path by the seat of her pants. But if you accept the idea of a high school girl being an astronaut....)

If you don't take Rocket Girls too seriously, and just think of it as a harmless joyride with usually-right science and engineering, it's enjoyable. It's meant to be lightweight present-day SF, I think, and it meets that goal rather well.

Heck, with a few minor adjustments, it would be hard SF, and still enjoyable.

And that'll do for now, I think.