Master Keaton

I’ve been thinking about Master Keaton a bit lately. I noticed that all ten volumes of the manga are listed as being banned in a certain school district in Texas, based on this article. I haven’t actually read the manga, but I’m having trouble figuring out how a manga about an insurance investigator could be problematic. (Well, it’s manga, so I’m sure there’s something…)

I have all the DVDs for the Master Keaton anime. I bought most of them in 2006, but have still only watched the first three. I’m thinking about re-watching those first few, and then going on and finishing the series.

And I poked around a bit today to see if the manga was still in print. It is, but apparently only in paperback and not digitally. As I was looking at that, I noticed that apparently Right Stuf is shutting down and getting merged into the Crunchyroll store. Right Stuf has been around since 1987, and I’ve bought a bunch of stuff from them over the years, but nothing lately. That’s partially because I have too much stuff to watch/read so I shouldn’t buy anything new, and partially because I can usually find what I’m looking for cheaper at Amazon. I always feel a little guilty buying stuff at Amazon instead of a smaller retailer, but I often do it anyway.

Returning to the subject of the Master Keaton manga being “banned,” I just dug into that a bit more by searching for it here, and apparently it had previously been classified as OK for middle school students, but has been reclassified as only for grades 9+. So maybe that’s not so bad. I remember the anime as being fine for all ages, I think, but maybe the manga is a bit more violent. Still, I’m sure most middle school kids in America have seen much worse.

Ghost in the Shell

I was looking for something to watch yesterday afternoon, and decided the finally watch the Ghost in the Shell 4K Blu-ray that I bought in 2020. I enjoyed it a lot. I hadn’t seen the original Ghost in the Shell movie in quite some time. And there’s a nice audio commentary on there too, with four folks who had a lot of interesting things to say about the movie.

Sometimes, it seems like I can’t watch or read anything without it pushing me to either buy something else or at least add something to my wishlist. In this case, it motivated me to buy the Blu-ray set for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, which was only $12 on Amazon. And to buy a digital copy of Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence from Amazon, which was only $4.

I know I’ve seen Innocence before, but I can’t remember when or how. I dug around in my piles of DVDs and Blu-rays, and couldn’t find a copy of it. So maybe I saw it in a theater. I kinda remember liking it, so I wanted to watch it again.

And I really liked SAC when I first watched it, probably on Cartoon Network. I have a couple of DVDs of the second season of that show, and one volume of the first season, but I never bothered buying the box sets or the rest of the DVDs.

Speaking of SAC, I watched the first season of SAC_2045 on Netflix in 2021. The second season is out now, so I want to watch that too. (I had mixed feelings about the first season, but it was good enough that I want to watch the second.)

So overall, watching one movie yesterday has moved me to buy a new Blu-Ray set, a new digital movie, and add a season of a TV show to my Netflix watch list.


As per my last post, I am starting a mini-vacation today, but not going to NYCC. I’ve been thinking a bit about what I might do to have fun for the next few days, and I guess I’m mostly going to just hang around the apartment, reading comics and watching movies. I put a hold on a couple of Studio Ghibli DVDs at the library, so I’ll go pick those up today and watch them.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been gradually watching or rewatching all of the Ghibli films over the last couple of years, following along with the Ghibliotheque podcast. I’m not really following their order, exactly. I recently re-watched Castle in the Sky and Howl’s Moving Castle, just because I was in the mood to rewatch those. I’m planning on watching Pom Poko today, which I’ve never seen before, and maybe Porco Rosso, which I’ve only seen once.

I could simplify this project by subscribing to HBO Max, which now has all the Ghibli films, but I still like buying Blu-rays and borrowing DVDs from the library. It makes the project more interesting, I think. I have about ten of the fancy Ghibli SteelBook Blu-rays now. I really don’t need to be accumulating more discs, but they’re not terribly expensive and there aren’t enough of them to become a storage problem.

Well, I was going to blog about a bunch of stuff that I might do on my vacation, but I wound up mostly just blogging about Ghibli. And now I feel like I should get up and go for a walk, since it is (finally) not raining, and I need some exercise.

NYCC, anime, and pizza


Newsarama has an article with some additional information on last week’s NYCC ticket sale. As I posted then, I got tickets for Thursday and Sunday. The Newsarama article confirms that they did, eventually, sell out of all tickets. The article also addresses one topic I’m very curious about: “ReedPop […] confirmed they have a reduced capacity this year due to COVID-19 precautions but did not give out the exact number of badges sold.” I’ve really been curious about whether or not they’re making a meaningful attempt to reduce crowding this year, or if this is just a token gesture to ease people’s fears. There are really two numbers that matter: to what extent did they limit ticket sales, and to what extent are they going to increase (or decrease) the amount of floor space they take up? The Javits Center expansion is apparently done now, so, theoretically, NYCC could spread out over a larger space and limit attendance, which could make for a nice experience. But who knows if they’ll actually do that. I haven’t read anything from NYCC about whether or not they’ll be using the entire expanded Javits Center.

I still haven’t quite decided on my plans for the con. I might just take the train in on Thursday and Sunday. But I’d really like to book a hotel room for the full four days, and use Friday and Saturday for museum visits and other NYC stuff. I should probably start looking at hotel prices now. It I book a hotel though, that makes it harder to back out if I decide that the situation in NYC isn’t safe enough, come October.


I decided to dip into my dusty stack of unwatched anime DVDs last night. I picked out Space Pirate Captain Herlock: The Endless Odyssey, which I bought in 2006. I got a sense of déjà vu while watching the first couple of episodes. I was pretty sure I’d seen them before, so I checked this blog, and yes, I saw them at Wizard World Philly in 2004. It’s funny how I can piece together stuff like this from my blog, email archives, and Evernote. I watched the first three (of four) DVDs. I guess I’ll watch the last one later today. I also ordered a pizza last night, which I rarely do these days. There was a big storm last night, so pizza and anime made for a nice cozy evening.

I’ve probably blogged about this before, but it’s interesting to see how some of the anime DVDs I bought back in the early 2000s at clearance prices are now out of print and selling for (relatively) big bucks. I see the full set of Captain Herlock DVDs selling on eBay for $250 right now. (It’s a fun show, but I don’t think I’d ever pay $250 for it.)

Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045

I mentioned Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 in my last post. I just finished watching the first season, so I thought I’d write a little blog post about it.

It’s an enjoyable enough series, but it definitely has a lot of flaws. The animation is pretty bad CG work, so it looks more like a video game than a real anime show. The script seems pretty clunky at times too. I’m not sure if that’s bad writing, or bad translation, or some combination. The original (English language) voice cast from SAC is back for this, so that’s the one saving grace. They did a good job on the original SAC series, and they do well here too, though sometimes they don’t have much to work with. The story is all over the place, but there are some interesting ideas in it. It’s definitely more ambitious than it needs to be. (I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.) There’s a tie-in with Orwell’s 1984 that comes up at one point, though we don’t really see that play out.

The season ends on a cliffhanger. I’m pretty sure that a second season is in the works, and I’ll be interested to see where they go with this. I kind of hope they wrap things up in season 2, though. I don’t really want to see more of this CG version of the GITS story.

It occurs to me that I’ve been watching/reading GITS stuff for quite a while now. I mentioned the second season of SAC back in 2008, and the Arise series in 2017. I’m not sure when I first saw the first movie, or read any of the comics. I wasn’t keeping track of things back then, the way I do now.

Anyway, I have a lot more anime to watch. I guess that’s a recurring theme on this blog. I’m a little interested in Demon Slayer right now, since the new movie has gotten a lot of good press and was wildly popular when it came out in Japan last year. It’s not really a standalone movie, though, so I guess I’d need to watch the TV series first (which is streaming on Netflix right now). The NY Times has an article explaining all this. I probably shouldn’t jump into another new show like this right now though. I have way too much TV to watch. (And books to read, and comics to read, and so on. Which is another recurring theme on this blog…)

Ghost in the Shell – Heart Grenade

I mentioned a while back about how I couldn’t locate the song “Heart Grenade” on Apple Music. I found it today, on a collection called Ghost In The Shell Superb Music, which was released in January. I’m going to try to embed the song below.

The full “Superb” collection seems to be a 5-CD set in a metal can. Pretty cool. The version in Apple Music is missing a bunch of tracks, but that’s fine. The part of my brain that was never going to be happy until “Heart Grenade” was in my iTunes library is now satisfied.

And all this reminds me that I still haven’t gotten around to watching the Netflix GITS show, Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045. It’s gotten mixed reviews, but I liked the earlier SAC stuff, so I’ll probably like this one too.

Nor have I watched the 25th anniversary edition of the original Ghost in the Shell movie that I got on Blu-Ray a while back (SteelBook 4K Ultra HD version, of course).

(So much to watch and so little time…)

Where I’m Calling From

I’ve had a lot of thoughts banging around in my head lately that I’ve wanted to write up as blog posts, but I haven’t had the time. I’ve also been ruminating on ways to link some ideas together into a theme that would make for a clever post. Nothing has really come together quite right though. This morning, I started going through that exercise again, while doing laundry, and the title of my favorite Raymond Carver story, Where I’m Calling From, popped into my head, so I thought I’d use that as a title, just start writing, and see where things went. (To be clear, this post has nothing to do with alcohol. I haven’t really been drinking at all over the last year. The link is more to the general idea of evaluating where I am right now.)

I’ve been very aware of this month being the one-year anniversary of the pandemic lockdown. That was the subject of my last post, from a couple of weeks ago. And I guess it’s going to be the starting point for this post too.

I’m almost exactly a year behind in my email “read/review” folder, where I file all of my email newsletters, so I’m just now reading some articles about the start of the lockdown. At the start of 2021, I briefly considered simply wiping out all of 2020 from the folder and starting fresh, but I didn’t do that. I’m definitely tired of reading about Trump, and there’s not much point in reading articles about the Democratic primaries, so I’m skipping those. But it’s interesting to read (or at least skim) some of the early articles about coronavirus, with the benefit of hindsight. A few people definitely saw what was coming, but most people didn’t. I’m reading stuff from early March, where people were still assuming that 2020 would progress normally, with little or no disruption to international travel, movie theaters, comic book conventions, and so on.

For the rest of this post, I’m going to write up some thoughts on various sub-topics, under individual headings. I’m not sure yet if this is all going to come together, or just be random, but here goes…


The last movie I saw in a theater was Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, at the end of December 2019. I had been planning to see Pixar’s Onward in a theater, but hadn’t gotten around to it when the pandemic shut everything down. Movie theaters in NJ were allowed to reopen in September, though many are still closed, apparently. Movie theaters in NYC are only just now being allowed to reopen. I’m on the mailing list for Film at Lincoln Center and Film Forum, both of which are reopening in April. I can’t see myself going into NYC to see a movie any time soon though. Over the course of the last year, I’ve had good intentions about watching a film or two from the virtual cinema selections that these NYC theaters have provided. But I didn’t get around to watching even one. Meanwhile, though, I watched a bunch of movies on the various streaming services to which I subscribe, and have also bought a bunch of Blu-rays, some of which I’ve watched. There’s a good overview of the NYC movie theater situation here. That article also gets into the overall situation for movie theaters right now. For me, I guess I’m going to stick to streaming and Blu-rays for the foreseeable future.

Speaking of Blu-rays, I may have gone a bit overboard with them over the last year. (I mean, I haven’t gone too far overboard, but I did buy a bunch.) Near the start of the pandemic, I picked up a box set of all four Avengers movies. And I’ve picked up the Steelbook Blu-rays for eight Ghibli films. and the big Criterion Godzilla box set. I’ve watched all four of the Avengers Blu-rays (including most of the special features). But I haven’t watched even one of the Ghibli or Godzilla films yet. (Or course, I’ve seen nearly all of them before, but not recently.)

Comic Book Conventions

WonderCon@Home is being held this weekend. I watched a few of the panels from last year’s virtual WonderCon, and it was kind of fun, but these virtual cons pale in comparison to the real thing. I last went to WonderCon in 2019. In retrospect, I’m really glad I went. That was the first time I’d gone to the con since they’d moved it to Anaheim. And it was the first time I’d been in Anaheim in many years. After that con, I’d fully intended to go back in 2020, and maybe make WonderCon an annual thing for me again. (I went to WonderCon regularly for a few years when it was in San Francisco. Looking back, I guess that was 2005-2008.) When the 2020 con was canceled, I think most folks assumed that things would be back to normal in 2021, and the virtual con would be a one-time thing. This year, we’re all hoping that the vaccine rollout will go great, and we’ll be back to normal for 2022. Honestly, I’m really hoping for that, but I’m not making any plans yet.

Anyway, I intend to watch a few of the panels for this year’s virtual con. I definitely want to watch all three of Mark Evanier’s panels. And there are probably a few other good ones. I should probably try to visit the virtual exhibition hall, but I haven’t had much luck with those, from the last few virtual cons I’ve “attended.” They’ve generally been poorly organized and underwhelming. But I’ll take a look.

The San Diego con has also been canceled for this year. They’ll do a virtual con again, in July, and they’re planning on doing some kind of in-person con in November. I wish them luck with that, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be making it out to any San Diego con, any time soon. Meanwhile, the San Diego Convention Center, which had been used as a homeless shelter earlier in the pandemic, is now being used to house migrant children, apparently.

Comic Books

This isn’t really directly pandemic-related, but I’ve finally stopped ordering monthly comics through Westfield. My last order was in February, so I’ll probably get my last few books from them in April or May. I’m way behind in my reading, and there’s not a lot of new stuff coming out that I’m really excited about, so I guess it’s a good time to jump off the wagon again.

I’ve been keeping an eye on all the recent changes in the comic book industry, and a lot of that is kind of weird and a little scary. The latest thing is Marvel moving to Penguin Random House for distribution. I could really go down a rabbit hole on the subject of the many changes at Marvel and DC, and generally in the direct market, over the last year, but that’s probably not a great use of my time. For me, personally, I have a good supply of comics and graphic novels to read over the next year or two, in both physical and digital formats, so I should just be happy with that, and wish everyone who makes their living creating and/or selling comics the best of luck. I could probably go through the rest of 2021 without buying another comic, and I’d be fine. (But, of course, I won’t do that. I’m sure to be tempted into buying at least a handful of new books.)


Well, that covers a few of the things that were rattling around in my head. I have quite a few that I didn’t get around to here, but they’ll have to wait for another day. It’s almost 11 AM and I haven’t done much with the day yet (aside from laundry). I need to get some exercise, and pay some bills, and stuff like that.

still fiddling with Apple Music

I spent some more time today fiddling with Apple Music. (I may have even let myself get a little too distracted from work today. I’ll have to be more careful tomorrow.)

I noticed this article on MacRumors, about Disney adding some new content to Apple Music. And I remembered that I’d added the Legacy Collection version of the Fantasia soundtrack to my Amazon wish list some time ago. It’s a 4 CD version of the soundtrack. It’s actually not that expensive, only $20 from Amazon, but I’d never gotten around to ordering it. So I checked Apple Music, and it’s up there. So I started my work day listening to that.

Later, I started messing around a bit with the idea of replacing some old purchased and matched tracks with higher bitrate versions from Apple. I’d read this article some time ago, and found it again today, and thought it’d be fun to try it out. My first attempt was a bust. I had purchased the original version of the Allman Brothers At Fillmore East album years ago, from iTunes. So the files on my hard drive were .m4p files, encoded at a relatively low bitrate. So my hope was that I could replace them with 256k .m4a files. Long story short, I managed to accidentally delete them from my library, rather than just from my hard drive, and that apparently removes even the entry for the album in your purchase history. So that didn’t work out so well. But I had the original files backed up, so I just put them back. Meanwhile, I looked around in Apple Music, and I see that there’s a 2 CD deluxe edition, and a 6 CD super deluxe edition too. So I added the 2 CD version to my library and decided not to worry about the old one. (I might look at the 6 CD version at some point, but I don’t really need six hours of Allman Brothers right now.)

My second try worked out a bit better. I had an old Afro Celt Sound System album that I’d ripped a long time ago, at a low bitrate. All the songs on it had matched, so I went ahead and deleted them (from my drive this time, and not from my library), and re-downloaded them. Now I have a good 256k, DRM-free, version of it. I might have some more albums I could try that on, but I’m not sure it’s worth the effort.

One more thing I messed around with today was poking through my old iTunes wish list and seeing if anything on it was available in Apple Music. I hadn’t added anything to that wish list in a long time, but there were a few interesting things on there. One big one was Itzhak Perlman – The Complete Warner Recordings 1972 – 1980. I’m not even sure how many CDs that would be, but it’s 23 hours of music. And I see they also have his complete recordings for 1980 – 2002, which is another 44 hours of stuff! I didn’t add either of those to my library yet, but I’ve bookmarked them for the next time I’m on a big Itzhak Perlman kick.

And one very little thing I had on my wish list was the song Heart Grenade by Sean Lennon and Cornelius. It’s used over the end credits for the anime series Ghost in the Shell: Arise, and it’s just a great song. Unfortunately, while it’s available in iTunes to buy for $1.29, it’s not in Apple Music. I found that to be true for a few other oddball songs and albums I tried. Oh well, I guess you can’t get everything for $10/month. Anyway, when I want to listen to Heart Grenade, I can just find it on YouTube. Though maybe I should go ahead and shell out that $1.29.

So, yeah, I need to rein in my natural tendency to start poking around too much during the work day. Maybe I should listen to Ludovico Einaudi’s Seven Days Walking tomorrow, and just stick with that. That’s long enough to fill almost an entire work day, so if I can just commit to that, maybe I can avoid getting too distracted from work.

Con crud, NYCC, Picard, Apple Music, and other distractions

One of the good things about a virtual con is that it should be impossible to get the con crud when you don’t leave your apartment. But after NYCC last weekend, I woke up on Monday feeling pretty bad. I guess I caught a cold at some point over the weekend. I probably picked it up while out grocery shopping. So I was nursing a cold through the first half of the work week, and eventually gave up and took a half-day on Wednesday to rest. It seems like taking time off for a cold shouldn’t be necessary if you’re just working from home anyway, but taking an afternoon off to nap and listen to podcasts did help.

I may watch some panels from Baltimore Comic Con next weekend. They’re supposed to be streaming their panels live, unlike SDCC and NYCC, where most panels were prerecorded, and they have some interesting stuff on their schedule. Also, unlike SDCC and NYCC, nearly all of the panels are actually about comics books! (I’m not knocking SDCC or NYCC. They both did great jobs of putting on a fun virtual event on short notice.)

I’ve been continuing to overdo it on Picard, as I mentioned last weekend. I’ve now watched all the episodes of season one, all the Ready Room episodes, all of the extras on the Blu-ray discs, and listened to about half of the Greatest Discovery podcasts. I also watched the “Trek the Vote to Victory” Biden fundraiser event on Tuesday night, which was a lot of fun, and included a number of the Picard actors, including Patrick Stewart. I guess I’m almost done with Picard for now, though I may keep going through those podcasts. They’re enjoyable, though I’m falling behind in all my other podcasts.

In my continuing quest to lose myself in diverting entertainment, I watched Weathering With You last night. It was almost as good as Your Name, though I think the general consensus is that it’s not quite as good. (Your Name has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while Weathering With You has 91%.) For me, Makoto Shinkai still isn’t up there with Miyazaki or Satoshi Kon, but he’s pretty good. I have thoughts about Weathering With You, but they’re not terribly well-organized yet. In some ways, it follows a lot of pretty standard anime tropes, but it makes some really weird decisions along the way, and I’m not sure what kind of conclusions I should draw about those. I’m pretty sure that trying to analyze this movie too literally would be a mistake though.

And I’m continuing to play around with Apple Music. I think I’ve got my library in pretty good shape now. Everything on my PC and Mac has been either matched or uploaded. My iTunes/Music library now says that I’ve got 14,000 items taking up 95 GB. I guess that’s now showing the total size of everything in the cloud. I wish there was an easy way to see how much you have in the cloud vs local from within Music/iTunes, but you need to go into Finder/Explorer to do that. I still have about 44 GB on my Mac. At some point, I think I’ll start deleting stuff from my local library there, and just rely on streaming on the Mac. I’ll keep local copies of everything on my PC, in case I decide to discontinue Apple Music.

I spent a lot of time yesterday fiddling with my library, trying stuff out, and moving stuff around. I found that a lot of the stuff I bought via iTunes back in the early days confused Apple Music a bit. I had to delete some old files and replace them with new ones. And a bunch of files with weird characters in their file names needed to be cleaned up too. (Those might already have been broken, and I just hadn’t noticed before.)

Streaming from Apple Music to my Sonos works pretty well. I’m currently listening to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde on the Sonos, and it sounds pretty good. This is a version that I ripped from CD and that isn’t available in Apple Music, so I guess I’m just listening to my own ripped version, but streaming from Apple’s servers. I’m curious about how that stuff works. How many other Apple Music subscribers have ripped that particular CD set? Any, or is it just me? If so, does Apple keep all the individual rips, or do they just point to a common base set? If two people encode different rips of the same album, at different bit rates, can Apple tell that they’re the same work, and just keep whichever one is the best rip? If I were to re-rip some of my old stuff to lossless, then re-match it in Apple Music, would Apple keep and stream my lossless files? Or would that be pointless? I’m probably spending too much time overthinking this stuff.

The general theme of this blog post, and honestly about 90% of my recent blog posts, has been distraction and self-absorption, generally in stuff that doesn’t much matter. But I think that’s OK. I voted. I’m supporting charitable (and political) causes that I care about. I’m staying informed on current events. I’m wearing my mask. And I’m showing up to work every day and doing my best. If I want to spend my Sunday morning thinking about doing a lossless re-rip of all my opera CDs, that’s fine!

Sunday stuff, and Legend of Korra

After taking a sick day on Friday, I felt a lot better yesterday, but was still taking it pretty easy. I read some more Buffy comics, and also started watching The Legend of Korra on DVD. I thought I was even better this morning, but then had to cut my usual Sunday walk short because I started getting tired at around the 15-minute mark. So I guess today will also be mostly Buffy and Korra and hot tea and maybe a nap or two.

Avatar and Korra both started streaming on Netflix recently, so there’s been a surge of interest and popularity for both series. I’d watched Avatar some time ago, when it was streaming… somewhere. I don’t really remember. I know I didn’t watch it when it first aired, and I know I don’t have the DVD set. But I never got around to watching Korra. I got interested in it early this year, and bought the DVD set from Amazon. At the time, it wasn’t streaming anywhere that I had access to, and the DVD set was less than $20.

When Netflix got both shows, I started seeing a lot of references to them on the web, so that reminded me that I hadn’t gotten around to Korra yet, and now seemed like a good time to start watching it. Generally, there’s a dearth of new shows coming out right now, for obvious reasons, so there’s been a lot of articles and podcasts that are mining old ones. I listened to a Pop Culture Happy Hour episode on Avatar recently that was pretty good. I was going to link to a few more articles here, but one of them turned out to have a big spoiler in it for something I haven’t gotten to yet, so I think I’m going to avoid reading any more Korra articles until I’ve finished the series.

Anyway, I finished “book one” yesterday, and I’m really enjoying the series so far. It’s got a bit of a steampunk feel to it. Steampunk definitely had a peak at some point, maybe around the same time this was originally airing, so I might have rolled my eyes at it then, but now it seems kind of cool again. It’s kind of amazing what they did with this show, on what I assume must have been a fairly limited budget. I’m not sure how well it holds up over the next three seasons, but it’s well-respected enough that I assume it continues to be pretty good, at least.