Saturday, December 20, 2014

Revisiting the not-so- Amazing Spider-Man 2

There'll be spoilers here. I mean, whatever's left to be spoiled after one of the worst ad campaigns I can imagine. Literally EVERYTHING was given away in the commercials, even some scenes that didn't make it to the film. I suppose that's a spoiler too.

So I watched the Amazing Spider-Man 2 again tonight. I promise I'm not a masochist, really, but it's Spider-Man.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Yes Virginia, multiplication is repeated addition

In my opinion, it's pretty stupid to not acknowledge this fact. Multiplication is repeated addition, it works perfectly fine as repeated addition, and that is just as true for natural numbers as it is for rational and irrational ones.
What's 3∙4? 4 + 4 + 4
What's 3∙2/7? 2/7 + 2/7 + 2/7
What's 1/2∙4?  Count four half a time, 2.
What's 1/2∙2/7? Count 2/7 half of a time, 1/7.
What's π∙3? 3 + 3 + 3 + (π - 3) ∙ 3, which is the irrational bit of pi times 3, so count 3 the irrational bit of pi times. 
. . . err, yeah, so . . .

Doctor Who Series 8 Finale Lookback

THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD.

So vamoose if you don't want to be spoiled. Spoilers after the jump:

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Thoughts on Zelda 2014-2015

First, I love the Legend of Zelda. My only tattoo is a Triforce and my next tattoo will probably be heart containers. That said, the upcoming Zelda for the Wii U (2015) marks the first time since the Gamecube that I've owned a current Nintendo system when a Zelda game came out.

I've made a playlist of the current game footage and will update it when I see new videos:

Saturday, December 6, 2014

thoughts of the day

This week I somehow managed to pull three all-nighters.

There was some blank spaces in there where I'm pretty sure I lost consciousness or at least all rational thought, but I pulled through it and thankfully had most of a weekend to coma my way to functioning again.

I'm pretty impressed that my almost-30 body was able to do something that I doubt I would have been able to do as a teenager. So yeah, go me.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Argument Against the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics

If I had to summarize all of the somewhat cogent arguments against the CCSSM, they appear to sound something like, "We've done it this way and it works, so why would we try anything else?"

This is how their argument is posed, but it makes a pretty LARGE assumption, that being that mathematics education in America has worked.

It doesn't work.

Status Update

Hi everyone,

It seems like I'm never meeting any sort of deadline when it comes to the creative parts of my life. It's unfortunate, but my day jobs have to take priority.

There's a chance, and I'm hesitant to believe in it because I've been burned so frequently before, that this next semester will be the first semester where I will be paid a living wage for an amount of work hours that is sustainable AND have job security. I've never had two of the three, let alone all three.

If that ends up being the case, there will be a lot of updates and changes 'round here.

If it isn't the case, then well, I'll still be working somewhere in the realm of 80 hours a week for barely over minimum wage—because that's how much we value college instructors in America—and this aspect of my life will continue to atrophy.

Here's hoping.

One thing I am planning on doing though is to have more "mini-blog updates" and treat this as an extended Twitter for those thoughts and rants that I have that I used to deem too short to share on here but are too long to share on Twitter.

That way at least, it won't be dozens of days between updates.

I will mention that in the last year I've gotten about ten times better at teaching and explaining mathematics from my curriculum developer job so whenever I have the time to continue Zero's Mathematics the quality will be significantly improved.

Thank you for reading,
~Zero


Monday, September 22, 2014

Scorpion

The commercials dragged me in to see the "team of geniuses" with a combined IQ over 700 (which is well, nonsense, but whatever).

These characters all say the things that normal geniuses and supergeniuses train themselves not to say. Or maybe they're just too stupid? I don't know.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

I bought a Note 3 at the end of July and I have to say that I was really completely thrilled with the device.

I'm sure I haven't unlocked its full potential yet, but I do have a bit of a troubling development.

Last month my darling fiancee went a bit overboard with our data which resulted in both of us turning off data for the last couple of weeks of the billing cycle.

My phone immediately became quite stupid.

It would take minutes for certain apps to open, things had a hard time downloading over wifi, and texting became completely unreliable—sometimes not sending at all, sometimes taking hours to send, and usually requiring a restart for text messages to come through.

I went to Verizon and they put a new SIM card in and changed my antenna defaults from Global to CDMA and this seemed to fix the problem . . . for about a day. Then it went back to being stupid.

Well, on the 7th my plan reset and ever since restarting with the data turned back on my phone's been back to 100%.

I almost never use over-the-air data; i.e. I am always on wifi, so this was pretty bothersome and troubles me for the future.

Anyway, wanted to share in case anyone else came across this.

(Delving into forum responses, there was some intelligence suggesting that this was caused by Android 4.4.2 and would be fixed in 4.4.4, but I couldn't find anyone that spoke about the data being turned off connection).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

RWBY Update

I recently wrote about RWBY and how it was a mixed bag.

The second season is currently streaming and is MUCH improved. So far the episode lengths have been consistent around 15 and every episode features SOME level of action at levels we have come to expect.

The action is still absurdly entertaining and the interplay between the characters remains hilarious and endearing.

Much improved Rooster Teeth.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Writing Again . . .

I know I know I know I know.

I suck, I've said it before. It's not new that I've disappointed you. Yes, I should have been writing more in the last 10 months, but I was working a LOT those 10 months. So deal.

But what is new is that I'm writing again.

I have lots of energy most days now (thanks to my spiffy new c-pap machine #thankyouObama), and as of this week am only working at my day jobs two days of week.

Now, that doesn't mean I'm not looking for more work. If this keeps up and I don't have an immediate windfall in the form of having the math series grow at the rate it should if I release a few extra books in the next month, then I am going to become rather desperate. 

First up will be finally getting "Algebra and the Algorithm" out the door. So look for some updates on that in the next week or so.

I'll also be dusting off ye' olde mailing list, so please subscribe if you haven't already! CLICK ME

And yes, you can expect some general website maintenance here, at ApocalypseDesigns.com and at the WotA Wiki.

Thank you for your interest!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy and Updated Marvel Cinematic Universe Rankings and MORE RANKINGS

I've been ridiculously looking forward to GotG since the first trailer dropped and I think I was definitely influenced by the insane amount of hype I had for the film, but it did not disappoint.

I loved the infusions of 70s and 80s Earth pop culture since that is the last bit of Earth that Chris Pratt's character knew (in the first 5 minutes he's abducted from Earth circa 1988).

It was an origin movie with a hefty amount of exposition, and was a bit slow and clunky to start off with, but after a certain point (about when the Guardians started to come together in the first 1/3 of the movie) I started smiling and didn't stop.

I don't think it's a Star Wars level film like people are saying, but at the same time, if you compare it one-to-one with Star Wars: A New Hope and not the trilogy as a whole . . .

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Continuing the Unpublishing.

In the process of unpublishing THE THRONE OF AO.

It's down on Smashwords and they say that it will take 2-3 weeks to remove completely from itunes, et al.

In the meantime, I went ahead and dropped the price to $2.99 on Amazon (probably won't take effect for 12 hours or so). In about a month, I'll remove it completely from Amazon's sites.

Why? When a new book is posted, I'll have some sort of special where previous purchasers can get the new book for free. Plus, lots and lots of people tell me that they'd buy the book if it wasn't so expensive, this is their last chance and so that it's not wasted, they can get a free new book out of it as well.

Here's the plan for those of you wondering:

Quick Thoughts on Wonder Woman

So Wonder Woman is in the new Batman v. Superman movie (follow-up to Man of Steel).

I'm not particularly fond of DC in general, although I've always loved the non-comics versions of their properties I've consumed starting with Adam West and George Reeves reruns in the 80s and 90s and progressing to the present.

In my opinion, DC in general feels like it is less real than Marvel. I've always heard that "DC has the best storylines and Marvel has the best characters", but I've never seen any evidence of these best storylines.

Regardless, let's talk about the current Wonder Woman.  There was some hubbub when Gal Gadot was cast as Wonder Woman, something about a lingerie model that can't act being cast as the most iconic female superhero warrior. There were additional comments about her being too slight to portray the Amazonian warrior. Personally, I was not particularly thrilled with the casting but I was willing to give her a chance. The entire property has me leery and I have next to no faith or confidence in anything from DC.

With the recent poster release, many have apparently abandoned their criticisms of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and even more are saying, "She looks ready to kick ass!"

I went another way. I took this poster as evidence of everything that people were worried about. First, here's the image:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Is the juice worth the squeeze?

I feel that I've been careless enough on here that my financial situation, if it's not known, can at least be guessed at.

I've made some questionable choices over the years, but each year there seems to be some reason or another to not deconstruct my life to try to improve it (i.e. go back to school, change careers, etc).

With employers feeling justified to keep their employees at permanent part-time status, it means that most people without a full-time job probably have to work multiple jobs.

However, there are some loopholes that employers are exploiting.

For instance, temporary positions are fine if they're full-time.

Also, employers are able to "smooth" hours across the entire year for some reason.

This means that at YSU for instance, I work an estimated 36 hours per week during the semester (since they cut us to 3/4 full-time due to the minority number of part-timers that work in the summer).

This last spring I was prompted to take three jobs that were ostensibly part-time, but all three ended up being full-time positions.

YSU of course, always present and clocking in at the aforementioned 36 hours per week average.

Then I took a position as a long-term substitute at St. Christine Elementary School and Cardinal Mooney High School.

I hope no one reading this has any delusions about how much teachers work.  The 35 hours per week in those schools were at least doubled out of school.

And then I managed to secure a position that if my financial means were not what they were, I'd be happy to do for free, but which immediately went from a hypothetical 20-30 hours a week in the interview/vetting portion to stretching every ounce out of 40 hours per week every week.

Amazingly enough, this position not only was a dream position in terms of the content, but it also became the first job to pay me an amount that made me feel good about myself.

But, well, I was then working 100 to 140 hours every. single. week. Some weeks I got less than 20 hours of sleep.

Thankfully, there were natural breaks.  The 8th and 9th graders started the year first, then YSU picked up, and then I got the third position sometime in February.  Not to mention the not-so-occasional snow day this year.

All told, I only maintained an 100+ hour per week schedule for about a month and a half, and an 80+ hour per week schedule from the second week of January until the second week of May.

And yet, the 100+ hour time practically killed me.

I drank coffee by the pot, started using instant coffee as flavoring to regular coffee, smoked strictly for the nicotine when I needed, took caffeine pills, and the constant sleep deprivation and being out of the house from 7 in the morning until 9 at night meant that not only was my body craving extra calories for energy, but I was eating constant junk and fast food. 

I gained 50 pounds and there were more than a few times during the 100+ hour sprint where I began collapsing and literally feared for my life.

I no longer have the bright-eyed optimism for the teaching field that I once did. To be fair, I already didn't at the beginning of the year, but one year of witnessing teachers below college in their natural settings knowing what I know now...

I mean, I know that there are bad teachers out there, but when confronted with actual obstinance against learning BY teachers. I couldn't handle it. That's like a doctor hurting her patients. That's like an artist destroying art, an arsonist firefighter, a criminal cop.

And I wasn't doing any of my students at the college or junior high/high school levels any favors by not putting in the time needed. I justified, I always justify, by convincing myself that my "winging it" is probably better than most people that are prepared, but even if that's true that doesn't make it OK.

(But even if I only had one job, would I put in that time? I mentioned earlier that this new job is the first time I've ever felt like I was being paid an amount that didn't make me feel like shit.  Could I justify that much time for a position that by itself meant that I was going without food more often than I had it? I still don't know the answer to that now that I am a quote-unquote experienced teacher.  I know when I was a kid starting out that I absolutely wouldn't have put in that time because I didn't put in that time then and I definitely wasn't going hungry living on my parents' dime. . . but I was a lot more arrogant back then.)

The beginning of this year was a nightmare to me.  I am grateful for the employment and being able to pay bills, but was it worth it? Have I done irreparable harm to my body? Did I make a difference in either of the school districts I substituted in?

I know I didn't change the atmosphere or attitudes of the teachers at either institution, not that I tried as hard as I should have.  I kept my head down unless spoken to and fell hook, line and sinker for the few so-called teachers that pretended like they cared only to find out that they actively didn't care to the point that they felt it was their job to hurt the students.

I doubt any of the students at Cardinal Mooney felt that I was a good teacher or that they learned something from me. So what was my tenure there for? A giant waste of time for everyone? Did it help at all? Did I help? I don't know. It was just a stop-gap for kids without a teacher. I let the brick wall of the establishment beat me when I shouldn't have cared about a theoretical future position and done what I thought was right and damn the consequences.

I just didn't have the money necessary to be able to have convictions.

In "When the Last Sword is Drawn", it makes it pretty clear that providing for your family is more important than doing the quote-unquote honorable thing. I completely agree, although it had never been put in such startling clarity for me before.

My paycheck was more important than upsetting the establishment. Maybe the academic ennui had beaten my optimism down, but I truly doubted that I could change anyone's mind about how mathematics should be taught when they were so set in their ways. At the time I viewed it as a flaw in others, but. . . When I realized that certain individuals only pretended to care, or convinced themselves that they cared without real merit, it was like hitting a brick wall. I let it bother me more than I should and I probably gave up more than a little when that house of cards came down. Any chance I had of leaving an imprint with the teaching populations at that point obliterated to zero. I didn't have the energy to fight for what was right. I'm weak.

As for the other school . . . I am not going to be arrogant to the point of saying that I made a difference with anyone, but just being given the opportunity to be in the classroom with the students at St. Christine's was a breath of fresh air.

Here were students, maybe not excited for math class, but that actually thought of themselves as students. Willing to learn. And I tried to teach.

The times I felt like I wouldn't be able to last through the position, the times my fiancee begged me to quit or to stop caring and stop pushing myself so hard, if it wasn't for the students at St. Christine's I would have quit. I didn't want to abandon them. I didn't want to ruin math for them by making them switch to another teacher.

But still, it could have been so much better than it was. How arrogant to think that I would have an effect like that? Would anyone have even noticed if I did quit?

They were the best students I've had in the last 10 years of teaching. So when the question came up about filling in as a day-to-day substitute, I of course accepted gladly even though the pay was right around minimum wage (which is probably more than I was being paid as a long-term substitute with all the extra work there was to be honest). The school called me in once and then never again.  Was I that bad?

Regardless, I am grateful to those students. I could have come out of this experience a lot more soul-crushed and it's thanks to them that I'm not. Whether I actually helped or not may be debatable, but at least I left feeling like I helped. I wish I could have done more.

Once I was only working two full-time jobs I started to recover physically from the stresses I had put my body through. 80 hours felt like a vacation at first, but I was glad when I could finally work a single job, rewarding in both spirit and pocketbook.

And now that's coming to a close.

. . .

And I have one and a half jobs lined up for the fall, the first month or more of which I'll also be still at the current position.  And it probably won't be enough, and because of the way teaching is, I probably need to find something now.

Meaning that I'll have to go back to working 100+ hours per week, and that's only if I'm lucky.

I am so blessed for this position. So very lucky.

I don't want to go back to the nightmare of working 3+ jobs. I don't want to go back to not having time for anything but work.

And this time around, there's probably not much hope of getting another class like the ones I got this year. Even my YSU engineering class was one of the best classes I'd ever had the chance to teach and my other YSU class was small enough that it was completely manageable. 

So I guess I am going to start applying to some places.

One year of success. Not even. Eight months.

One year of feeling like I'm not an asshole for having the job I have.

Eight months of feeling like I could finally have a real career.

It was nice while it lasted. 






Friday, July 18, 2014

RWBY Thoughts

Every time I look at or say "RWBY", I can't stop myself but singing "Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby" a la the Kaiser Chiefs.

That aside, the show, or perhaps more accurately the web series, is a mixed bag.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How to Tune a Ukulele Using a Guitar Tuner

So, I bought a ukulele and you would think that there would be innumerable resources on how to tune the damn thing on the WORLD WIDE WEB—you know, the repository of all human knowledge on Earth—but it came up annoyingly short.

Anyway, if you personally have a soprano ukulele, but only possess a guitar tuner (mine is a guitar/bass tuner, but I won't be using the bass side), then here's the easy way:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Numbers

I suppose humans don't really understand numbers.

You don't even have to get to crazy numbers like quaternions or complex numbers (which are understandably . . . complex).

Humans don't understand real numbers.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Attack on Titan—Where have I been?

So if you've been present in popular culture for the last year or so, you've probably started to see Attack on Titan (進撃の巨人) merchandise cropping up in your periphery. If you're an anime fan, it's likely been unavoidable.

I was one of the naysayers that took one look at the childish designs of the titular titans and scoffed, knowing that I would never give an anime with such crap art a chance.

Only, I kept hearing about it. Then finally, just to see what the hubbub was about, I checked in for an episode.

And I couldn't check out.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sailor Moon Crystal First Impressions

So the first episode of the long-awaited reboot of Sailor Moon is up and available (check hulu, crunchyroll, etc) aaaaanddddd.....

It's pretty much exactly what they told us to expect.

The art is gorgeous but somehow closer to Naoko Takeuchi's original manga work (by the way, you know you like Sailor Moon when you can spell Takeuchi without even hesitating).  It feels dated but fresh.  Luna is young again like she is supposed to be (as much as the original American dub is part of my childhood, having an old matronly Luna is one of its more egregious sins).

They've said over and over again that this new reboot is going to be "closer to the manga". Well, that's good and bad.  The original anime had a crap-ton more character development that the manga was pretty lacking in, although it also made Mamoru a douchebag that made people fall for Seiya (or "fucking Seiya" as I refer to her). The manga has a breakneck pace throughout all of the original material that made it to the original dub.

If this series is merely a faithful reproduction of a twenty+ year old manga with gorgeous art, then well, it won't live up to what I want it to be, but it will be impossible to not enjoy (at least for me).

Sailor Moon was such a huge part of my childhood I can't personally process it.  In spite of the fact that I would completely rewrite the series (which many fanfic authors have done to great effect) if I was at the helm (maintain all the plot points, but develop characters, twist the feels, maybe finally put Minako and Rei together somewhere outside of the live action series (OK, that's a personal bias. I probably wouldn't do that without Takeuchi-sama's explicit permission) and for the love of all that is holy have the battles have some actual weight and real action to them.  In spite of all that, if this series is just a manga-to-anime translation, I will love it.

Even with all of the great that it could have been, I won't be able to not watch it with a smile across my face the entire time.  'cuz approximately five seconds after realizing that they're doing the same episode 1 that we've seen at least two previous times (first anime and first manga), in spite of being let down and disappointed and seriously feeling the lack of what could have been, I was smiling.

Sailor Moon's got its hooks firmly into me and even though I half-heartedly deny their existence by not spending money on manga re-releases and anime DVDs, if Sailor Moon is on, you can bet I'll be watching.

Please though, for the love of god, please have Motoki and Mamoru be in fucking high school, not college. And please don't force Mamoru's character into some sort of pinnacle of douchebaggery.

Monday, June 30, 2014

I've given up on SyFy's Defiance

I watched the season opener and recorded the second episode, but couldn't bring myself to go any farther and ultimately ended up deleting the episode without starting it.

There are a few reasons.
1. Franchisitis
This is the word I think of when I think of Batman post Tim Burton, Spider-Man 3 and Amazing Spider-Man 2, any mainstream comic book series since "The Death of Superman", any soap opera.

It can also be thought of as sequelitis or just a fucking cash grab.  Anytime a villain survives a battle in a movie when there isn't a really good fucking reason, I start to feel a case of any of these diseases coming on. In fact, with each new Marvel Cinematic Universe movie since the Avengers, I've been pretty concerned. Loki? Responsible for billions of dollars in property damage and countless human lives? On house arrest. OK. That's lucid.

It's why in comic books you can't ever say anyone is dead even if they are dead. Seriously Spider-Man? Clone Gwen Stacy? What the fuck?

And Defiance has always suffered from this as it's been tied to some dumb game.  The show's actors and creators touting it as a great feature where characters go to and from the TV show to the game.

So this is just some world we're watching and there's no real point even if there are the occasional plot points. Soap opera.
Comic book.
Dumb.

And a cash grab more than it is a fan service.
2. Cool kid syndrome
I don't have a problem with dark. I really don't. I devoured "Game of Thrones" before losing faith in Martin as a writer and creator.

I don't have a problem with darkness. But darkness for darkness's sake? I get it, the world sucks. Move the fuck on. Fallout at least is humorous. The Book of Eli was riveting. Are any of the characters here at all sympathetic? They all have some dark skeleton that you'd think might be mitigable or understandable or something, but in the end they're really just douchebags.

They're written as douchebags because douchebags are "cool", but not really. Badasses can be cool, but they have to actively be badasses to be cool. They can't just phone it in during an episode or you have nothing other than douchebags running around performing douchebaggery.

Even characters that you want to like are annoying.


Battlestar Galactica almost lost me as a viewer when there was a shift in power and they settled on that dumbass planet for a year or more or whatever.  This entire show feels like being stuck on that dumbass planet.

I've checked out. I will continue to watch Dominion, because angels, demons and the apocalypse are some krytonitey shit for this particular consumer (could you tell? Zero Angel. Apocalypse Designs), but I won't watch Defiance anymore.

I've begun to lose faith in Marvel cinematic universe even though Cap 2 was the best Marvel film I've ever seen (entirely because of fears of franchisitis). I've lost faith in Amazing Spider-Man. I've regularly lost faith in a variety of television programs because of this (Inu-yasha, Heroes, Smallville, Doctor Who, to name a few).

I'm just so sick of getting my hopes dashed. I'm not going to tolerate some show that doesn't even inspire me to the same emotional heights as good television and movies do.

The pilot was pretty good.  After saying all of that above, if the show had been just a little less drawn out (which is yet another symptom of franchisitis. Inu-Yasha made up an entire season of filler episodes while they waited for the manga to catch up.  Can you imagine Game of Thrones TV doing this? Heroes started sucking when practically nothing happened for entire episodes.  ) then it may have held my attention. At least I wouldn't have felt like my time's been wasted.

Another symptom of franchisitis by the way? Multiple part seasons. Season 1 Part 1. Season 1 Part 2. Blah blah blah. Fuck you Stargate Universe, Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica. And I loved those shows.

Friday, June 20, 2014

What happens when your favorite character is the villain?

So as it turns out, there is a character of mine that I connect with above all other characters. There is a single entity that I myself have created and poured so much of everything into that this one character is my favorite above all others.

And I mean, I've created dozens, if not hundreds, of characters. I've created shadow assassins literally made of shadows, I've made dwarves that the earth itself bowed down before, I've made undersea shark wranglers and outcast dragons and blood magi, but there's one character that stands above all the rest.

And he's a villain. He's black as pitch.

Melek.

TV Recommendation: Arrow

The CW's Arrow is the best superhero television show I've seen outside of Spectacular Spider-Man (RIP).

The show follows the exploits of the titular character, based on DC's Green Arrow AKA Oliver Queen. You may remember the character as having a pretty major role in the last few years of Smallville on the same network (although this is a different version), but chances are that this is one comic book character you've never heard of.

And it's all the better for not having any preconceived biases. I confess to being a fan of Smallville, particularly the first few seasons, but the show definitely suffered from its naming and never became the Superman that we (or I suppose, maybe just me) wanted it to be. Although you can definitely tell that Arrow is playing on the CW (for instance, the need to have a party every other episode and the main character placing his base under a nightclub, which logistically, is a pretty absurd hideout), but surprisingly, IT DOESN'T SUCK.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Evangelion Twelve Years Later

Neon Genesis Evangelion is the single most influential anime on my childhood.  I'm using the word "childhood" a little loosely, in that I grew up during the running of the series. It helped make me who I am.

The "End of Evangelion" released in 2002 (in America), and it effectively shut the series off from me unfortunately. Not because I found it lacking. As a reimagining of the final two episodes of the original series, I found it deeply rewarding. Unfortunately, Manga fucked the dog with the DVD release and a series of botched discs made their way to the market. I got one, returned it and got another. Making it halfway through the film to stop at Rei's absorption and not able to continue past that point in the film resulted in me repeating the word "fuck" while my processes rebooted and a deep terrible disappointment settled in. (By the way, this really is not a spoiler for the new stuff because I'm pretty sure they're going a different route.)

Eventually, my best friend managed to procure a disc that was able to play on one of the DVD players we had between us and I managed to watch the final interpretation of the series.

Still, I've seen most of the episodes at a minimum of ten times.

I can't describe what this series was to me. The psychological issues, trust issues, everything. It was incredibly important for me to experience it. Growing up and being the same age as the main characters is something I've rarely experienced and it only contributed to the intimacy I felt with this show.

My very first exposure to evangelion, besides osmosis of course, was a VHS version of 2 episodes introducing Asuka. I'm not quite sure how I came to own that actually. But soon enough I began purchasing DVDs of the series at the store Suncoast for a whopping $30 per disc (and then they started dropping the number of episodes to 3 per disc).

The Hedgehog's Dilemma. Self-Hatred. Loathing.

It was such a powerful experience that even in hindsight I'm bowled over from the burgeoning resurfacing emotions and memories.

And then the terrible action.

And I say "terrible" in the sense that God is terrible. That devils and angels are terrible. Truly, truly terrible.

Watching Shinji explode from the Sea of Dirac. Watching the Eva release. Things that I've seen dozens of times that never stopped affecting me.

It's more than a favorite series. It's part of me.

So I naturally had more than a little inertia resisting watching the rebuilds: 1.11 and 2.22.

Not knowing exactly what the rebuilds were and fearing a money-grab raping my childhood added to the morass preventing me from consuming these. It turns out that they are the first two of four films remaking the series.

My fiancee bought 1.11 for me months ago and it took until this last week for me to finally put it into the Playstation to watch.

I have to keep stopping myself from going off on a stream-of-consciousness explosion, so please forgive the short, fragmented paragraphs.

Let me start by saying 1.11 is definitely worth the watch. Nostalgia abounds and many scenes are take-for-take identical to the original series, but with just enough of a change to turn your head. Besides being redrawn gorgeously.

The fact that I already knew the lines characters were supposed to say and then to hear them said differently really drove into me how well I knew the series originally. I've seen the series once when I introduced my future wife to it, but otherwise have probably not watched it an additional time in 10 years.

That said, I don't know if the Japanese was unchanged and it's a result of a different translation. I've probably only seen the series in Japanese 2 or 3 times and I immediately turned off the Japanese on 1.11 due to the subtitles being lost against the background (unfortunately my Japanese is not anywhere near what it was 10 years ago).

They make some pretty major changes as the show continues, I'll avoid spoilers. I can understand people getting emotional about the changes, but fuck your attachment. Many of them make sense and others contribute to the film being fresh and new while still retaining the nostalgia. If you want to watch the original series, go watch the original series. If you want to watch how you think the series should be, then write fanfiction or something.

2.22 really accelerates the changes and the culminating battle is one of the most exciting battles of the original series, but so much better now. I just finished watching this at 3 AM in the morning and was screaming "FUCK" at the television, forcing myself to not cover my eyes and trying to unclench my fists.

There are not words. My nostalgia has been erased and I just want to see where this new film series is going.

These are theatrical films. Amazing, amazing theatrical films. Easily the most approachable entrypoint for people that have never taken the time to watch this pillar of animedom before. If you've enjoyed Evangelion in the past, there is so much to enjoy about this new version, you have to watch it.

I did not think that Eva was capable of mind-fucking me in a whole new way, but these first two films are testament to its ability to do so. They dropped a lot of the heavy-duty psychological analysis stuff and ALL of the filler; which you know, modern audiences wouldn't be able to handle the long-shots of scenery with cicadas droning on in the background like a warning buzzer and most would probably be unable to deal with the discussions of ego and id etc too.

They're just not holding back. Where the series took its time developing, the films are not taking anything for granted. Watching the films you feel like you just sat through 4 hours of anime when it's only 2. I cannot recommend these films enough. You HAVE to watch these movies if you care at all about animated media, you HAVE to watch these movies if you care at all about Evangelion, you HAVE to watch these movies if you want to understand me at all, you HAVE to watch these movies.

3.33 is supposed to be out in August.

Jya

Friday, May 23, 2014

Some anime recs: Fate / Stay Night, Fate / Zero, and Sword Art Online

こんにちわ皆さん!

すいません, one of the issues I encounter when I immerse myself in anything Japanese is my brain disconnects and starts thinking in 日本語. Unfortunately, since I haven't really been studying Japanese formally since 2004, that means that half the time my brain basically shuts off because I don't have the vocabulary necessary to think in language when I'm thinking in Japanese.

So I'm a bit behind in my reading list (ごめんなさい!), I have a couple books that were sent to me that I feel especially churlish over, but I've been unexpectedly swamped in my day job every single week, to the point that all I have the energy for is television. Hopefully, I'll rectify that sooner than later, so if you've been waiting on me to finish something, well, hang in there お願いします!

There are a couple anime I'd like to share with everyone today with quick impressions.

First, Fate/Stay Night (フェイト/ステイナイト) hits all of the right buttons for me. Legendary characters that are initially a mystery with named weapons and other hints to their identities fighting in a battle for the holy grail under the command of modern day mages. Shiro is a fantastic heroic spirit that is always willing to sacrifice himself (which is a good thing for my heroes IMO).

Note: the blu-rays are a bit overpriced and there are two of them, while the single DVD set is more than reasonable. Currently, I haven't seen this on Netflix or Crunchyroll. 

The prequel, Fate/Zero (フェイト/ゼロ), although possessing a great name is not as good as Fate/Stay Night, but has some excellent bits, shedding a lot more light into everything that came before (obviously) without sucking anywhere near as much as the other obvious prequels that explained everything in today's zeitgeist (*cough* Star Wars *cough).

Still, whereas I found myself loving Rin and Shiro a lot in Stay Night (ステイナイト), I did not fall in love with any of the "masters" in Zero (), even if they were sympathetic. The "servants" on the other hand were even better than in Stay Night (ステイナイト).

Note: Zero is currently on Netflix and Crunchyroll.

Sword Art Online (ソードアート・オンライン) is another series I've watched recently. The first season is a masterpiece. I could not possibly say enough positive things about it. I only wish we could have seen even more about their adventures.

They cover two years in 13 episodes, but it never seems rushed or lacking, it only seems like we are seeing the highlights and points in the characters' lives that develop them past what we know. Surprisingly, both the male and female leads are strong characters and their developing friendship is a true delight to watch. It was incredibly satisfying.

The second season castrates Asuna into a damsel-in-distress unfortunately, but it almost seems like this is meant for us to have a gut-reaction to it. Having such a strong character brutally stripped of power is abhorrent and certain scenes will have you white-knuckling in impotent rage. Leafa is the true female lead of the second season, although she is always inferior to Kirihito whereas Asuna always approached Kirihito as an equal from their very first battle in Season 1.

I don't know what the future holds (season 3 starts this summer), and I was glad to discover Leafa's story in the second season, but it is definitely a drop-off from the first. The first season is self-contained enough that even though there are lingering questions at its end, they do not need to be answered. By the end of the second season, and indeed, even with the "extra episode" "movie", the developments of the first season have backtracked somewhat. It's...unsatisfying.

Asuna doesn't even reclaim her role as a frontline fighter in the extra. One of the two instrumental characters in defeating SAO, and she's relegated to a support caster? WTF? I'm very concerned for the future and am currently wondering if it would not have been better to leave the series after Season 1. 

でも, that first season is amazing.

Anyway, please check these anime out!

Again, the first season of SAO is one of the best single seasons of anything, and it's only 13 episodes.
Next, Fate/Stay Night is really great if you're interested in history and myth.
After that, if either of these two shows have piqued your interest, then please consider the second season of SAO and the prequel to Fate/Stay Night.

I haven't gotten a chance to watch the movie, "Unlimited Blade Works" that goes along with Fate/Stay Night, and I also haven't seen the spin-off that follows Illya as a magickal girl.

Back to work for me. じゃあまた!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Spectacular Spider-Man

I admit to being pretty depressed after seeing the Amazing Spider-Man 2. Now, I don't get to say that I am a "huge fan" of Spider-Man because I don't collect comics. #1 the cost, #2 the neverending soap opera-esque storylines with characters being killed off and brought back all the time, and #3 I wasn't born in the 60s.

I mean, by the time I was born, Gwen Stacy had already become backstory like Uncle Ben, except she was the ugly backstory you never hear about in the light of day. She didn't have a great catchphrase "With great power, comes great responsibility," she only had guilt and shame and depression.

But well, I do love Spidey.

And I did love the Amazing Spider-Man the first. I don't really know why people don't particularly care for Andrew Garfield, although one I keep hearing is that he is too attractive to be Peter Parker. He was socially awkward and he definitely had the stammer thing going in the first one, and becoming Spider-Man actually caused him to put ON glasses, instead of take them off (I keep trying to tell everyone that glasses are cool).

But the Amazing Spider-Man 2. Ugh.

There was so much potential, so much amazing, and there's a lot to like about this movie if you saw it chopped up into its itsy-bitsy pieces.

It was so disparate and dichotomous and discordant. Most of the individual pieces were GREAT, but suffered from either too little screen time or not enough screen time. And nothing felt like it fit together. So rushed and railroaded to the what-should-have-been ending.

And the rubbish trailers and commercials, all of them, which gave away the ending everyone knew was coming.

Well, at least to anyone that knows the story.

But whatever. So, back to the present with the Amazing Spider-Man 2. The Amazing Spider-Man the First made me so happy. I was so thrilled to see Spidey in action with an actor that (I feel at least) does him and Peter Parker justice. Gwen was amazing with another great actor with great chemistry between her and Peter if nothing else. I was surprised at the omission of the Lizard's family and his working at Oscorp, but I can understand changes and accept them.

It was...it IS fantastic. I've seen it at least half a dozen times. I really don't understand people that didn't like it and I have no idea what people are smoking that think TASM2 is better than TASM the first.

Here finally was the dream I've had since a child watching the steadily devolving Spider-Man the Animated Series on TV. A larger-than-life, heroic, representation of the character I angsted with before I had ever heard the word angst. The character I mourned with, that I grew up with, the character that I love more than any other hero in fiction. 

...and they dropped the ball.

They dropped the ball so fucking hard.

They dropped the ball with arms outstretched running to the endzone from ten yards out to have it recovered by the enemy and not carried to the opposing endzone, to have sex with that ball in the middle of the field for all to watch like your one-true love's new boyfriend screwing her in front of you on the 50 yard line in a football stadium and then disrespecting her BUT SHE LIKES IT.

It hurt.

I was in shock for hours after. What just happened? Did I really watch that? Why didn't they end it when they should have ended it? Why did they do that? Why? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? Do I have to lose you too? WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?

And I locked myself away with YouTube to see if anyone could make sense of the trainwreck of my childhood dreams burning away on the screen.

And cries of Sony mismanaging, forcing the hand of not just Mark Webb, but also the motivator behind Sam Raimi's descent into madness with Spider-Man 3 of the Maguire era! Sinister Six and Venom movies already announced! The Amazing Spider-Man 2 more of a Sony presentation to stockholders about what the future of their movie studio looks like for the next 5 years. Mismanagement was the first word to come to mind when I walked out of the theater and apparently is the word of the entire future of this character.

Because really, there are three Spider related sequels on the way already. TASM-3, Sinister Six, and Venom.  THREE. Three Spider-Man movies that will take at least three years to realize, and, IF they fail, which I'm not sure they will in the strictest sense of "Sony will want to stop making Spider-Man movies after those disasters," then another 5 years before their contract reverts to Disney and then how long until Joss Whedon can finally make the Spider-Man we deserve? Will he even still be alive? Will I be alive to enjoy it? Is there any worthwhile Spider-Man fanfiction out there that isn't just shipping and more of the soap opera bullshit that I dread from the comics???

And then there was the Spectacular Spider-Man.

I'd seen a few episodes here and there over the course of the last few years, and I always enjoyed it, but I'll admit to not being able to keep the different animated webhead series in place with how many there seemed to be lately. Some of them were decidedly not entertaining, some of them on the other hand, were.

YouTube turned me on to the Spectacular Spider-Man yet again, one reviewer ("Sam's Review" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJfb6DvPxz8) had a ridiculous number of great things to say about Spectacular Spider-Man and the twisted downward spiral of a web I found myself caught in latched onto Spectacular Spider-Man as possible salvation.

I knew going into it that the series was already killed and there were unresolved aspects to it, but I dismissed those and actually went out and bought the complete series of the Spectacular Spider-Man.

I didn't watch it all in one go (because I have a real life and a job), but I did devour it in a couple of days.

It started good and it got way better. There were a couple parts that generated sincere emotional responses from my synapses, whether from Spidey being heroic or getting the crap beat out of him physically and emotionally and the end just left me wanting more and more.

It was therapeutic to get to experience Spider-Man in a way that was not just palatable, but in a way that the character deserves. It was extremely unfinished though. There's a lot more in front of the character that we will never get to explore.

Oh, and the reason why is because although Sony kept the movie rights, they lost the TV rights. So Disney screwed up the animated series with the Ultimate Spider-Man and Sony screwed up the movie series with The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

It's still worth it though.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Roots

Most people know that there are two square roots for every number, but for some reason we insert a disconnect and start lying to students that there is only 1 root for roots with an odd index and 2 for roots with an even index. Why is that? Isn't the truth better? Doesn't it make sense that there are n nth roots for every number? Isn't that elegant? Isn't that beautiful?

Oh, it's harder and we like our students to be idiots. I keep forgetting that.

You're right, it's much better to have people learn mathematics as a series of abstract rules that make no sense because understanding was never valued in American mathematics classrooms. Let's approach mathematics the same way as we do the Ten Commandments (#HandedDownFromOnHigh).

So, every number can be visualized as a circle. Specifically, let's imagine the number 1 as the unit circle, the circle with radius 1 centered on the origin.  Then the second root (or square root) of 1 are the two numbers located on the circle, such that when we square them, we get back to one.  In this case, it turns out that -1 and 1 are the second roots of 1, and these clearly split the circle in half.

For third roots, these are the three locations on the circle that when cubed, get back to one.  We can easily visualize this by rotations on the circle.  If you travel 1/3 of a revolution from 1, you get to the first 3rd root of 1, another 1/3 gets to the second 3rd root of 1, and a final 3rd gets us back to 1, the third 3rd root of 1.

For fourth roots, we rotate 1/4 of a revolution, fifth roots, 1/5 of a revolution, and so on. This idea that we can visualize roots as rotations is beautiful in and of itself, but it gets even better.

In order to conceptualize this two-dimensional location as a single number, we need to append an entirely different dimension to our original numbers. We can do this by attaching an arbitrary direction variable, say i. If we let i be the variable that represents traveling 1 unit "up", then -i would be 1 unit down, 5i would be 5 units up, and we can immediately start talking about a two dimensional location with a single "number", say 1+3i, which would represent traveling 1 unit right, followed by 3 units up.

According to this then, the fourth roots of i would be i after one-quarter of a revolution, -1, after another one-quarter, -i, after a third one-quarter revolution, and finally back to 1 after four one-quarter revolutions.

If we wanted to find the values of the third roots of 1, we could turn to trigonometry to find values of the unit circle at any given angle. What? We're incorporating trigonometry into our geometrical discussion of the algebraic principle of roots? Oh my God, it's almost like mathematics is completely consistent and true, and yes, again, beautiful and elegant. Trig tells us that a 1/3 rotation would result in traveling 1/2 of a unit to the left, and \sqrt(3 / 2 units up (where "\sqrt(3)" means "the square root of 3").  Then the first third root of 1 could be expressed by the single number -1/2 + \sqrt(3) / 2 i.

You could plug this into any calculator that understands complex numbers (which is what these numbers I've sneakily described with vectors actually are), cube it, and the calculator would tell you that the result of your cubing is the number 1.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Best Math Teacher Ever

I'm not a very good teacher. I really am not. I'm scattered and disorganized and I work multiple jobs to make ends meet which means that I have never EVER been able to give 100% to a single class.

However, what I am, to MANY students, is the best math teacher they've ever had.

How's that work?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Captain America is out-of-control amazing

I don't know how Marvel keeps getting sequels that are better than the originals, but Captain America does not just top the first Captain America, but it tops the Avengers as well.

 http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/11/113883/3696199-3205188831-35140.jpg

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

On the Dearth of Works, Blog Posts, and Updates

Hi All,

I've been working my butt off with my mundane jobs unfortunately and have not had the time to do more than check e-mails and comments. If you leave me a message, I'll be sure to reply within a day or so like I usually do, but for the foreseeable future (through March at least), I'll be working more hours than I can sustain while also writing and working for Apocalypse Designs. So I'll be off from AD through March.

Thankfully, by doing this, I should be in a better position than ever to produce quality work and not have to worry about finances as much. It's amazing how much that effects my writing, and I am more amazed than ever by the "starving artists" types that barely subsist for their art.

Thank you for your support and I look forward to seeing everyone in March!

Best Regards,
~Zero

Monday, January 6, 2014

Reuben overload

I've had like 5 New Year's Reubens in the last week.

I can't stop.

They're better than an actual Reuben.

I'm concerned for my life.

There's only enough kielbasa for one more.

Sadness.

Cooking Secrets

There are two things that you hear time and time again that make good food amazing.
  • Use the best and freshest ingredients.
  • Butter. Lots and lots of butter.
The first applies to pretty much everything you can make. Fresh ingredients are always going to taste better than frozen, and if you can find a reliable source of a "good" ingredient, it's worth the extra cost if you care about taste (not worth the extra cost if it means you're not getting enough calories to live on obviously...well, maybe in some situations).

The second applies to only, well, pretty much everything also. Whatever it is that you're cooking, butter will probably make it better. Eggs, vegetables, fish, steak, pancakes, everything. If there's heat enough to melt butter involved in the preparation, then butter should enter into the mix at some point in the recipe.

And by the way, when I say use butter, I mean, a LOT of butter. You can't be worried about eating healthy if you want your food to taste the best, and any recipe that doesn't have butter probably has a poor substitute for one.

I recently made some chocolate coffee chocolate chip cookies and the recipe called for so much vegetable oil and water. Upon careful consideration, I substituted two sticks of butter.

I've recently mastered cooking pancakes (they're cheap, quick and easy and if you make the batter in a tupperware container, you can save it for future uses), and the number one secret is to add more butter for each pancake (at that point, you don't need to spread butter on them after either).

And, if you think that you can get away with skipping butter by using margarine, well you're correct, if you want your food to taste terrible and completely destroy the point of using butter in the first place.

Now, I'm not saying or advocating a butter only diet any more than I'm advocating a bacon only diet. I'm just saying that it tastes freaking amazing to add butter to your food while cooking.

By the way, I actually don't like butter as a condiment usually.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year's Reuben Recipe

Hello everyone!

Just a quick original recipe I'd like to share to help you get rid of your New Year's leftovers.

I assume everyone's made kielbasa and sauerkraut for New Year's Eve/Day, but if you haven't, then you'll have to for this recipe.

Twelfth Day of Christmas

Today is the twelfth day of Christmas! Traditionally (and I mean wayyy back in the day), this was the biggest party night of the year that brought to a close the 13-day long non-stop party that was Christmas (from Christmas Eve through the Twelfth Night).

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Stay away from ValuTime Coffee

Just in case anyone was at all curious, valu-time coffee is in no way an acceptable substitute for ANY type of coffee. It doesn't even taste like coffee. It doesn't even smell like coffee.

I'm not going to say it was terrible, because Satan is terrible, but it's right up there near that level, or maybe I should say down there. It's terrible-lite. Maybe not Satan terrible, but perhaps a Mephistopheles level of terrible-ness.

It's just bad, and not in a secretly awesome way. I mean tattoos are "bad" but that just means cool. Valu-time coffee is hot, but not in a sexually attracted to way, just in the temperature sense.

I suppose it probably has caffeine, so if you're in an end-of-the-world, post-apocalypse, there-are-no-more-coffee-plants-in-existence kind of situation, then I would recommend training yourself to function without caffeine because there is no reason why you should be drinking this.