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Oh All-Seeing Eye of Eru above
Keep careful watch on those I love
And should the Sky be filled with fire and smoke
Keep watching over Finwe's sons

If this is to end in fire
Then we will will all burn together
Watch the flames climb high
Into the night

Calling out father oh
Stand by and we will
Watch the flames burn auburn on
Cold Himring's side

And if we should die tonight
Then we will all die together
Raise Rebellion high
For the last time

Calling out father oh
Prepare as we will
Watch the flames burn auburn where
Our people cried
Desolation comes from all sides

Now I see fire
Inside Thangorodrim
I see fire
Burning Mithrim
I see fire
Hollowing souls
I see fire
Blood in the breeze
And I hope they all remember thee

Oh should my people fall
Then surely I'll do the same
Exiled from hallowed halls
Held in thrall to the Flame

Calling out father oh
Lost and abandoned
Watch the flames burn auburn where
the Sindar hide
Desolation comes from all sides

Now I see fire
Shine on Helevorn
I see fire
Burning Lothlannn
I see fire
Hollowing souls
I see fire
Blood in the breeze
And I wish that I no longer see

But if the night is burning
I will open my eyes
For if the dark returns
Then my brothers will die
And as the rivers of flame drown
Burning Ard-Galen to the ground
And that Darkness like a shroud
I hear my uncle screaming out

Now I see fire
Inside Dorthonion
I see fire
Burning Himlad
I see fire
Hollowing souls
I see fire
Blood in the breeze

I see fire (oh i saw my people burning out)(fire)
And I see fire (feel the heat upon my skin, yeah)(fire)
And I see fire (uh-uh-uh-uh)(fire
And I see fire burn auburn on
Cold Himring's side

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October

I step outside

The sky is a featureless grey. No sun to anchor it and no shadows to define anything. The air is filled with the smell of wet soil and the indescribable scent of cold. There are no sounds but the rush of the wind and crackle of dead leaves under my feet. From across the street automatic lights flicker on, but not even the shadows of people can be seen through the windows.

For just a moment, it is the end of the world.

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'Red Line' Review

Since I’m procrastinating, let’s review the movie ‘Red Line’ today.

Interstellar machine race ‘Red Line’ is apparently the hottest event in the galaxy. Due to a technical ‘malfunction’ devoted racer Sweet JP narrowly avoids qualifying, but lucky for him, he’s voted to take the place of another qualifier, who dropped out after being informed that the race would be taking place on the militant (and extremely hostile) Roboworld. JP’s challenges include his shady partner Frisbee (who has an excellent reason to seem him lose), Machinehead (the 4-time King of the Red Line) and the all the military might of Roboworld itself?

'Red Line' is the masterpiece of Takeshi Koike (also known for 'Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine') and was released in 2010 by Madhouse Studios. Taking more than half a decade to produce, the movie proves the old cliche: good things do indeed come to those who wait.

First, the animation. The movie is a visual feast. Everything, from the characters to the cars to the environments, is over the top and brilliantly executed. This is sci-fi at it’s most luxurious. No subtle, next-year-but-not effects,the cars, the spaceliner and Roboworld could have come from the mind of James White (Surgeon General series) or Michael Bay. Perhaps even more impressive, it’s all hand-drawn! Anyone who believes that traditional animation methods are dead needs to see this movie, if only to eat their words.

The plot is a bit campy and the characters are all incredibly large hams. It’s a race, and sure their using missiles and bombs on each other and taking everything as serious business, but it’s not like the fate of a world is at stake. Also some of the characters (Machinehead, the Superboins and Gori-Rider) are really just caricatures of stereotypes. But the movie lightens things up with plenty of humor, and frankly, the plot can be a relief from more serious films. There’s a bit of romance attached, but it’s not the main focus and can be ignored in favor of other aspects. All in all the movie is very cheerful (only a few named characters and mooks die, all antagonists) and the ending shows that all the major competitors were graceful losers (despite all the trash talking that went on during the race).

The final highlight is the soundtrack. Every single piece is awesome (Volton Unit) or funny or even sweet (Red Line Day Ending Theme). Even if you don’t watch the movie, you should at least purchase the soundtrack.

But you should definitely watch the movie. Grade: A

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Windy Tales

Today I'm reviewing a little known anime series called 'Windy Tales'. This series by Production IG in 2005 (shut up, I know I'm always behind). It's a slice-of-life series about a middle schooler named Nao who discovers a secret about her math teacher; Taiki-sensei is actually capable of manipulating the wind!

First things first, let's go over the part that's probably going to turn most people off: the animation. Another reviewer of the series generously states that the series is "a refreshing departure from the giant-eyed, noodle-limbed characters that are so common in anime." Unfortunately, it looks like the animators were taking cues from the Rob Liefeld school of drawing. Feet that taper to ridiculous points, and eyes with pupils so huge that they swallow the iris and sclera which make the characters look bug-eyed are just some of the flaws of the animation. To be fair though, the animators did manage to avoid Liefeld's more . . . egregious flaws. And the cats are cute.

If you can get past the animation, the series itself is quite sweet and light-hearted. If you're tired of dramatic, must-save-the-world series, or even worse, the dramatic, not-actually-saving-the-world-but-we're-acting-like-it-does (card games, tennis, cooking, etc.) then you'll find this a breath of fresh air (pun intended). However 'Windy Tales' manages to avoid being too saccharine. The episodes range from sweet to bitter, covering first kisses, a photography contest, teen suicide, the loss of imagination as part of growing up, unrequited love (which thankfully spells the ruin of no one's life), and even the death of Nao and friends first teacher. Despite the somewhat fantastic opening (Adolescent Girls Discover Magic!), the actual control over the wind serves more as a framing device, rather than being the focus of the series. Nao, her friends, and even her teacher grow and learn about themselves and the world while relating it to the context of the wind around them.

This is in no way an epic series; it will never be among the greats such as Evangelion, Bleach, One Piece or Naruto. And at 13 episodes only, it's not a long-runner that you can sink your teeth into. However for those who want something a little lighter, or a little more realistic, this is a good, solid choice.

Grade: B+

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Tiger and Bunny

I’ve been watching Tiger and Bunny for a while now and I’m just not that into Bunny. Which is weird, since I liked Sasuke from Naruto (at least before he went nuts) and since their essentially the same character (dead family, multiple cases of mind rape by a trusted someone, committing entire life to revenge). But I just don’t like Bunny.
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Random thoughts on a Weekend

(To the tune of ‘12 Days of Christmas’)

FFFIIIVVVEEE PILES OF LAUNDRY (Because only 2 of us match but M is female and E is male so they won’t be sharing clothes anyway)

Four personal computers (2 laptops, 1 desktop and 1 desktop shared by the 2 computer-illiterate people)

Three sets of toiletries (1 for the guy with the heart catheter, 1 hypo-allergenic and the last shared by everyone else)

Two types of meal plans (1 for the guy with renal failure, 1 for everyone else)

And one big screwed-up family! (Any robber is going to be seriously confused.)
Okay, I have to admit, I originally watched this because I was watching ‘Les Miserables’ with Depardieu, and I didn’t really like that movie (these are both TV series, but whatever, not trying to be professional here). I also saw him in that movie with the imaginary friend, I think I hated that one even more.

This series was far more faithful to the book than some other adaptations I’ve seen (Gankutsuou, anyone?). Depardieu is perhaps a touch too emotional when portraying the count, but it’s pretty clear he’s having fun, which actually makes it okay. Other changes remove most of the Benedetto (renamed Toussaint for some reason) subplot; the Danglars’s don’t even have a daughter for him to marry. Bertuccio and Dantes are much closer; I’m surprised no one has written any Ho Yay about these two already. The plot moves somewhat faster than the book (no surprise, even 4 hours isn’t enough when you have over 1000 pages), which has the unfortunate effect of removing most of the sympathetic traits of the characters. This is perhaps best seen with the Villeforts: Franz d’Epinay is clearly accepting this marriage for the money, Heloise no longer has a son that she is trying to provide for. On the other hand, Villefort himself actually does seem to care more for Valentine and with less time to angst, I felt much less need to strangle Valentine. What I can’t forgive them for is adding Mme. Richardais, she feels less like a character and more someone who they included for a sex scene- which this movie didn’t need at all! Haydee’s role is also diminished, and once again, at the end, Dantes has ended up with Mercedes (but what can you expect when Haydee doesn’t show up until the last part?)

More fluff than introspection, but fun if you have the time.

'Unnatural Issue' by Mercedes Lackey

Seventh in the Elemental Masters series, based on the fable ‘Deerskin’. For those of you who don’t know, the fable in question is about a king who loses his wife, then eventually decides to marry his daughter (versions differ on whether it is solely due to her resemblance to her mother, or to fulfill a certain vow). She escapes, hides in a neighboring kingdom, and eventually marries a prince and punishes her father for his sins.

Here, Lackey sets the fable against the backdrop of WWI (for those who have read earlier books in the series, it takes place before ‘Phoenix and Ashes’). Susanne Whitestone lives a lonely, but not unloved existence on her father’s estate, in the limbo between gentry and servants. Her father has all but disowned her, due to grief at the death of his wife in childbirth, but the staff of the household do their best for her. Eventually, he finally takes an interest in his abandoned child. Unfortunately for Susanne, what she doesn’t realize is that Richard Whitestone happens to be a powerful necromancer and his plans for her have nothing to do with fatherly affection …

Another great entry to the series. WWI England is brought back, in both the charm of country life, and the frustrations of the class system. Susanne isn’t necessarily the strongest of Lackey’s protagonists, but she has both her strengths (in serving as a nurse in the trenches) and her foibles (fangirling over her neighbor). Recurring characters include Peter Scott, Dr. Maya, and Peter Almsley, who plays an important role in the plot. Also remarkable for featuring Lord Alderscroft actually fighting, instead of just sitting in the back room of the Exeter club. Worth the time to read.

'Vurt' by Jeff Noon

I actually read the sequel ‘Pollen’ a few years ago, but I had never had a chance to read the rest of the universe.

The reviews said they were two very different books, and that’s certainly true. ’Vurt’ has many of the now cliche-cyberpunk tropes, and is one of those works that definitely feels like it was made on drugs (the main action takes place over a month, and reads like one long trip). It flips back and forth between the main action, and the protagonists history.

The protagonist is Scribble, a young 20-something looking for his lover/sister Desdemona, who was lost in the dream-world of the Vurt. He does this by hanging around with the Stash Riders: Beetle, abusive leader; Bridget, Beetle’s psychic girlfriend, Mandy, the new girl whose Desdemona’s replacement with a fetish for violence; and the Thing from Outer Space, a blob that Scribble hopes to exchange for Desdemona.

In the course of exploring the Vurt through illegal feathers, the Stash Riders get chased by Murdoch, a vindictive cop, and caught up between the plots of Tanshaka, an escaped being of the Vurt, and the Game Cat, another mysterious exile. Not to mention a lot of other people. In the end Scribble manages to free Desdemona, not before losing most of his acquaintances and making a permanent sacrifice. No real closure to the ending, if that’s what you’re looking for.

I suppose the book was a marvel at the time it first came out, but frankly those tropes have been used too many times now to feel fresh. I found most of the characters unsympathetic; I couldn’t even bring myself to care about Scribble and Desdemona’s abusive father (although that certainly explains quite a bit about Scribble’s relationship with Beetle) And if I had ever really wanted to experience a bad, psychotic breakdown, I could go out and get my own drugs.

In comparison to ‘Pollen’ it feels like Noon, came off his bender, looked at what he wrote, then tried to write the exact opposite. Instead of 20-something (not even a rebel, he’s too weak for that) drug addict, we have a middle-aged cop. Instead of a personal quest, we have a threat to the entire city. Instead of a dreamer, we see through the eyes of a ‘flightless’ one who is unable to dream at all. Instead of flipping back and forth from present and past, we see from the perspective of the cop, and her estranged daughter. Both books raise more questions about the environment than they answer, and both leave us feeling unfulfilled at the ending.
Okay, so I was reading 'Ghost Hunt' over the last week. Being at least a little insane, I decided to look up some of Ono Fuyumi's other work. Having liked 'Tokei Ibun', I decided to try out 'Shiki'. Let's just say that was the stupidest decision I've made in a while.

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