Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Besides being an awesome tune from Herb Alpert’s amazing Rise album, it is also a word that means going around in circles.

In this case, I am writing about the reviews of series I cycle around. With too many in rotation, it is time to finish out two to streamline things a little. So for the near future, Squid Girl season one and Bleach season one will be fast tracked since they are almost completed. Then the rest will resume their normal places.

The movie reviews will get loose rotation too. Marx Brothers films will be joined by Godzilla movies and Studio Ghibli animes, with other movies slotted in between. A couple of relatively unknown foreign films will be prioritized before I fully start rolling on that rotation.

But before any of that gets posted, I have to put up the 1979 video of the title tune. While Rise is a great tune and made the album a huge hit, this is by far my favorite track from it:

Pure music, late ‘70s style.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Fractale Episode 4: Departure

Clain reunites with Phryne, but the light hearted adventure is gone when the price paid for the carnage ending the last episode begins to hit home for the Granite clan. While there are comic moments to be found, the series is darkening quickly as the Temple responds to the terrorist attack. Fractale: Reiterated continues with HD screen captures & revised text.

Fractale TitleFractale 04 Departure

After the shock, if not whiplash, induced by the change in tone at the end of the third episode I had wondered where Fractale was headed.  Departure shows that the change is no fluke and integral to the storyline. More than that, it depicts that there are consequences for what you do in this fictional world. Harsh consequences…

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Renovations to the Blog

This summer, I decided to do a little remodeling to the blog. Rather than change the visuals, I decided to change the accessibility of older posts. It has been a work in progress and I will continue to refine the layout as time goes on. One of these days I may even replace the old photo of me with something more recent, which will not be easy since I avoid having my ugly mug photographed.

The latest change involves using Blogger’s pages feature which was introduced last autumn. In keeping with the KISS model, there are now simple indexes to reviews with a new bar near the top allowing easy access. Eventually there may be new pages, but for the moment the categories of Home, Movie Reviews, Anime Series Reviews, and Television Series Reviews will be it in the tabs.

Hopefully, this will help people searching for more content they are interested in, since tags have turned out to be a little messier than I expected. With people clicking in from countries all over the world and from many different languages, simplicity is a must. Enough people have been using the tags for me to realize there might be a better way to go about things. It means a little more work for me, but it it should be worth it.

Comments are not allowed on the index pages in order to keep them neat, but any feedback is appreciated on individual posts, of course.

I never expected to have many hits on this blog, but I passed the 20,000 page view mark a month ago to my amazement. While it started out as a journal of sorts, it has become something more experimental than that. Being in on the Web relatively early, I find myself missing the random surfing of web rings and the excitement of finding something unusual. The Web may be more useful now, but it was a lot more fun back then.

So From the Sidelines is not going to be the usual blog that is purely personal, political, or other niche oriented. It is going to be an  oddball mix of some of my many interests with no apologies for any of it. Much like my DVD/Blu-ray collection has anime sitting next to highly acclaimed films next to cult classics next to box office hits without segregation, the posts here will be the same.

If I have managed to inform, entertain, or intrigue just one person having trouble sleeping or simply surfing the Net, then I am satisfied that I have returned a little of what I got to experience back in the 1990s when the World Wide Web was new.

So I thank all who have visited thereby keeping me intrigued and entertained from showing up in my stats and comments. It adds something to my life here on the sidelines.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Blogger Referral Spam and Twitter

After digging into my monthly stats on Blogger, a pattern emerged of links to apparently legitimate sites that really were not genuine. Instead, they used Twitter’s URL shortening service, T.co, to disguise the page. It turns out that some hits that I thought were real from stumbleupon.com were actually the exact same kind of spam as I previously wrote about here and here. Another falsified website referral using t.co I found was for cultek.com which is a biomedical company.

I have never liked link abbreviating services due to the amount of malicious code, pages, and photos they have been used for. Twitter has launched lawsuits and claim to be filtering how t.co handles links, but so far I am not impressed. It seems like services are always falling behind the black hats in cyberspace, so the moral of the story is for people to be very careful about what they click. Examine the entire link and be reluctant to click on a shortened one.


Oh the irony. From the time I started writing this post to actually publishing it, another site with referral spam hit me, but not using t.co. This one is ultrafiles . net and is again out of Russia. The title of their website is Linkbucks . com and is another make money off of links site.

UPDATE: A day later, another fake link using devscripts.net and t.co, so the beat goes on.

UPDATE: July 31st brought a new falsified link using the same method, this time posing as myhealthscore.com.

UPDATE: Another one supposedly from filmhill.com that links to a video of how to get “lucky” using a fish. The absurdity is amazing and I am glad I have a little used browser in a sandbox to check these things.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Dark Knight (2008) Review

After successfully rebooting Batman with a serious origin in Batman Begins, director Christopher Nolan had high expectations to meet with both critics and movie goers. Determined to go “bigger” in every way often  and by unleashing an unforgettable version of the Joker, Nolan created a masterpiece. Brilliant, beautiful, thrilling, and contemplative, The Dark Knight is film making at its best. It is also a twisted bromance for the ages.

The Dark Knight TitleThe Dark Knight Opening Logo

A sequel to a popular film is a very tricky thing to make for recapturing lightning in a bottle is rare. When successful, it can result in a superior film under the right hands. The Dark Knight is not that. Instead it transcends its predecessor to become a work of art that stands on its own. What is even more amazing is that it became a box office record breaker, which is unusual for such an intellectual film which also turned out to be surprising commentary on the War on Terror.

Let us dig into the film and see how he did it.

Health 7-26-2012

The bout with Lyme Disease took more out of me than I thought and it has been hard to get going this week. Allergies are flaring, so they share at least a little of the blame. What has surprised me is how physically weak I have gotten and it looks like it will be awhile before I get my strength back. My always shaky hands are now erratic at times and I have been accidently knocking things due to the large tremors. Irritating.

On a positive note, I have been hiking up the driveway in hot and humid weather to get the mail with no ill effects. It is strange the stamina is recovering faster than the strength. Headaches are subsiding too, which is good since those combined with allergies is true misery. Still it is not the summer I was hoping for.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Life or Something Approximating It

The past week was busy by my standards and this week looks to begin that way. Saturday and Sunday combined to make for a marathon run of events, so I am not feeling terribly good today. Two D&D sessions in a row contributed mightily to that, but at least we had one TPW (Total Party Wipeout). I did try to get the party killed in the first session, but the level five party managed to survive a mummy lord thanks to me and defeat a young adult green dragon that I attacked. He did have it coming after torturing my character, I must say.

I was rather surprised to be given the Diablo III Book of Cain hardcover by my friends hosting the second session. While I cannot yet afford the game, I always enjoyed the lore and storyline contained in the series which this book covers. It looks like it will be a fun read.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises Theater Review

Despite the horrific events in the early morning, I decided to go see the movie to spite the shooter’s desire to instill fear in people. I also did it so I could be a proxy for the people who waited with such fervent desire to see the film, but were permanently denied the chance to. So I dedicate this review to the victims in Aurora.

Super hero film series have a bad tendency to go south in the third installment for some strange reason. Batman Forever, Spider-Man 3, and X-3 all were terrible disappointments. So the question of whether Christopher Nolan could deliver was very valid to ask.

The good news is he delivered a worthy conclusion to the trilogy that is at once familiar, yet very different than the previous movies. Duality has been a theme throughout, so that is fitting. The Dark Knight Rises is a more emotion driven piece that explores how people handle things in a worst case scenario. While neither Batman Begins or The Dark Knight were cheerful, this is a story about losing hope and trying to find it again in an utterly grim setting.

14 Dead and 50 Wounded at The Dark Knight Rises Premiere

Having trouble sleeping thanks to a mouse running around (since dispatched), I got online to find out that a midnight showing in Aurora, a suburb of Denver, Colorado was attacked by a gunman wearing body armor and a gas mask. Just watched an interview here with a survivor who had friends in the specific theater and it sounds like the shooter used an AR-15 and at least one tear gas grenade. Also, the killer waited in the parking lot for the police to arrive and is in custody.

Speculation is rampant, but there is no given reason for the shooting yet. It could be terrorism, but it probably is a nutcase again. Since the theme of the movie is terrorism, it no surprise that people are thinking that. One thing is for sure, he wanted to be caught and get attention.

Hearsay is that a baby was shot and children are among the victims, including a little girl seen with bullet holes in her back.

It is horrific and sure to generate a lot of political blame all over the place, but I wish people would just leave that alone until we get the motives of the shooter.

Another local talked on camera that the theater was not considered one of the safest in the area and usually had three police officers in the lobby. With so many people dressing in costumes for the movie, how would anyone tell the threat was real at first?

It is the typical confusion and it will be awhile before a true picture emerges.

The irony of the movie being about a society disintegrating into violence and terrorism is profound, not to mention depressing. My fear is that we will see a lot more of this kind of thing once the economy collapses completely.

My prayers go out to the victims, their families, and their friends.


Things are still murky, but at least the death toll has been reduced to twelve. The baby has been verified as being three months old and being treated at a hospital and so is a six year old girl.

People commenting online are angering me greatly from both the left and the right. It may be my lack of sleep, but I wish I could slap them silly. Attempts to make it a racial or religious issue irks me no end. The area is mixed and so was the audience.

Name of suspect is James Holmes, 24, with only a traffic ticket for a record in Aurora.


The baby was uninjured, the parents were concerned and wanted the child checked out. Tear gas is confirmed and that was smart of them to do.

Supposedly the gunman entered the theater by kicking down an exit door by the screen during an on screen gun fight.

Mitt Romney is being dinged by idiots for saying 15 killed, for awhile the live coverage said that an additional person had died at a hospital raising it to that number. I know that because I was watching it and that tells me Mr. Romney was too. Non issue folks.

Likewise, the proximity of a large Muslim community to Aurora has nothing to do with what happened. It is like people want this to be worse than it already is so they can grind axes. Sigh.


Imagine surviving a crazed gunman on the rampage only to be killed by another six weeks later. This may turn out to be one of the most tragic stories out of the shootings. It is made even more poignant by her last tweet waiting for the movie to start.

Meanwhile, the media has decided to try to pin the killings on Rush Limbaugh and the Tea Party movement both. And they wonder why they only have a 26% approval rating with the American public.

Then there is one of Howard Stern's pranksters calling in and posing as cop with a local TV station. What slime.

After those last two items, I do not feel very motivated to keep up with the news.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Health 7-18-2012

Not the best day, but far from the worst of late. Either allergies have kicked into overdrive or I have gotten a cold. Given how bleary I am, it is probably the latter. Despite the sniffles, I did go out to eat with my father.

Now that the antibiotics are done, I am free to wander in sunlight again. The past two days I have hiked up to the mailbox in high heat without too much trouble, though today took a small eternity.

One lingering side effect from the bout with Lyme Disease has been bad headaches accompanied by swelling along the fissure lines of the skull. While this happens with very bad cycles of CFS for me, it is different in that it never completely subsides. I am hoping this fades in time, since it is making listening to music, watching movies, and playing video games painful.

Maybe things will be better tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I am Now Officially a Weird Uncle

My sister gave birth to a healthy baby girl with an impressive set of lungs, I must note. So after years of aspiring to be an eccentric uncle, it is time to settle for being a weird one since I don’t have enough money to be eccentric.

Congratulations to my sister and her husband, may they one day get normal sleep again.

This, That, and the Other Thing

Things have been what I would classify as eventful since the weekend. Though in at least one case, more like eventful stalled – but more on that later. This is going to be a long post since I want to record the happenings for posterity. Hopefully it will not be too boring for other to read!

It all started with the celebration of a five year old’s birthday party. One of the families I home teach (explained here) is a young family with small children. The oldest one is a boy who has taken a shine to me for some inexplicable reason and is something of a problem child. Being very big and strong for his age, he is also very willful. He is also a miracle baby who should not exist according to doctors, for his mother was not supposed to be able to have children.

I have a code I live by that goes something like this: If a person who is not a moocher or leech attaches themselves to me, I feel an obligation to be as good a friend I can be to them. Now this is not a reluctant, foot dragging kind of “I have to do this” kind of feeling. Rather it is a sign to me that I need to make an effort and that the likelihood that God set this up is high.

So in this case, I have a little kid doing it and that is a first for me. It is also terrifying for a hopeless bachelor such as myself. While I am told I am good with children, my lack of experience with them makes it a very scary experience indeed. Maybe one day I will get past that, but not today.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Link Referral Spam from aptratings

One of the banes of blogging is link referral spam that is only visible to the website’s administrator, or in this case, the owner of the blog. Much of it comes from Russia and I note the rare occasions when a legitimate search from there lands on my blog. 99% of hits on the blog from Russia are from spammers.

The latest to come out of there is falsified links from aptratings . com, which poses as apartmentratings.com which is a real site of questionable reliability, but no spammer. They do this by having a banner link to the real site on top, but the content is a come on to make money by clicking on links or pushing links on social media sites. I suspect the fake site content changes from time to time, but do not want to waste time finding out.

The only ones making money off this are the people running that site in Russia, so do not fall for it. I have seen novice bloggers online getting excited to get linked to without realizing what it is really about. Sorry to burst your bubbles, but they randomly scour blogger looking for people to sucker in.

Then there are the post spammers, which is why you need to enable reviewing post before they are put up. One got by me this week when I missed with the mouse cursor and had to go delete it. Forget idle hands, shaky hands are really the devil’s plaything.

You will not get a virus from clicking on the referral spam, but you most likely will get more of it showing up in your stats in the control panel.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fractale Episode 3: The Village of Granites

Fractale finally earns its TV-14 rating as the tone of the series shifts dramatically from light hearted adventure to a darker and more serious story in this pivotal episode. Innocence is lost when the truth about the Temple is revealed to Clain in an episode centered around the Granite faction of the terrorist organization Lost Millennium. Fractale: Reiterated continues with updated HD screen captures and text.

Fractale TitleFractale 03 The Village of Granites

I originally avoided Fractale when it started streaming because the promo art looked too “kiddie” to me. It was not until I read posts talking about the dramatic ending to the third episode that I was sufficiently intrigued enough to sample the first episode. If I had not been browsing message boards in search of intelligent anime, I would have never seen what ultimately became my favorite one. The Village of Granites is a game changer in the series, one that shocked quite a few viewers.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fractale Episode 2: Nessa

A ten year old redheaded girl pops into being and extreme cuteness follows when Clain meets the second girl to invade his solitary life.   A whirlwind of happiness, the girl tests the teen’s ability to cope at every turn. But who, or more importantly what, is Nessa? Fractale: Reiterated continues with updated HD captures and text – July 2012.

Fractale TitleFractale 02 Nessa

The information about day to day life in the world of Fractale continues to be revealed and the plot advances quickly. But it is character development that takes center stage, with much of it being surprisingly emotional. A complicated plot does not a good series make on its own and here we find out if Fractale has more to offer.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

You Ever Have One of Those Days?

You know, the ones where absolutely everything goes right?

That was yesterday for me and while grateful for it, I am still confused by it. Such a thing has not happened for me in many years. The only reason I know that has been so long is because I could not remember anything like it at all. It felt surreal, though I did remember to be thankful for the day. Even the little things all went perfectly.

Today should be more normal. It is time to pull books off of a book shelf and move it next to the HDTV, since the video collection has outgrown the built in storage in the living room. I can tell the Lyme Disease is pretty much gone by the fact that such a physical thing is on my to do list.

I also seem to be mentally sharper than recent memory records. Whether it is the NADH kicking in or getting over the Lyme bout, I cannot say. It could be both for all I know. What I do know is that writing and rewriting multiple reviews came easily instead of like pulling teeth, which is the norm for me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Black Hole (1979) Review

After Star Wars was a huge success, Disney decided to try to try their hand at a serious science fiction film. The result was a very uneven, but visually impressive movie about explorers finding a derelict spaceship near a black hole. Filled with robots, lasers, and an underlying mystery, it was not a great success. But for those of us who saw it in the theater it was a memorable experience and I have a fondness for this very flawed film.  Come, enter The Black Hole with me…

UPDATED & REVISED July 2012: In memory of Ernest Borgnine

The Black Hole Title

The movie has an overture that plays before it starts, which was a relic of a bygone era even in 1979. John Barry’s brilliant soundtrack is introduced here and can be argued to be the best thing about the entire film. It is grand, dark, and mysterious with stately marches mixing with somber swirling statements. An interesting statement of tone, it sets the mood in a very un-Disney way. This was an announcement that the studio would be branching out from their standard family fare.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Fractale Episode 1: Encounter

An ambitious anime aimed at an older and worldwide audience hints at its many layers in a very Studio Ghibli like first episode.  A remarkable amount of story is presented and set up, but just how much can only be fully appreciated after having watched the entire series.  What appears to be an innocent and light hearted series, Fractale is a much more complicated and multilayered journey into darkness. July 2012 – The Fractale: Reiterated project begins with here with new HD screen captures and revisions.

Fractale 01 Main TitleFractale 01 Encounter

Having younger friends much into anime and being a Studio Ghibli fan myself, I decided to check out what the state of Japanese cartoons is these days.  I can’t say I’m impressed since most of what I found was childish, sleazy, mindless, or a combination of all three.  But I did unearth a few gems and this recently completed but commercially unsuccessful series is a crown jewel.  It reached for the stars and fell just short, all the while criticizing its own main audience, otaku’s (obsessive anime/manga fans) --  which was ratings and sales suicide. That alone would have made it interesting to me, but the complexity  and depth of emotion contained within Fractale’s storyline pulled me completely in.

Fractale is a science fiction story set on an unnamed island that appears to be Ireland roughly around the 32nd Century. Society is peaceful and people rarely directly interact with each other since they all have cybernetic terminals that links them through the Fractale system, that era’s version of the Internet. Holographic doppels (doppelgangers) that are the equivalent of current day avatars are the way people socialize, get around, and do everything without having to do anything.

Fractale: The Complete Series DVD and Blu-ray Box Set

Funimation puts out one of the best anime box sets I have seen and gives the Fractale  television series the deluxe treatment it richly deserves. Featuring exceptional packaging, a bevy of extras, and a top notch English dub, it is a fantastic bargain for fans of the science fiction anime.

Fractale Complete Series Title

Fractale tells the story of a young teenage boy living more than one thousand years from now in a world where the Fractale system connects everyone to an augmented and mostly virtual existence. There is no war, no hunger, and no need to work as the system takes care of your every need. Families are a quaint concept of the past and relationships are all remote since you can tailor your entire existence to be whatever you desire.

One day, a girl falls into his life and Clain’s peaceful solitary existence is changed forever. With the Fractale system beginning to fail and an armed terrorist movement rising to finish it off, the boy finds himself caught up in a conflict he does not understand and that will not leave him alone. So begins his journey toward adulthood with the fate of an entire world at stake. It is trip where innocence is lost and the mystery of Fractale is finally revealed at terrible cost.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) in Theater Review

A desperate bid to escape the 100 F weather involved sitting through two showings of the reboot of everyone’s favorite wall crawler. Having been turned off by a clip from the film, I decided to give it a chance after all in 2D and 3D. The audiences at both showings loved the film, from kids to senior citizens.

I did not.

Perhaps my reaction would have been more positive if Sam Raimi’s excellent Spider-Man had never been made ten years before.

On second thought, no.

This simply is not a good film by my standards. It is not even technically proficient in regards to cinematography and direction. The script is melodramatic, overwrought, and full of plot holes while the acting… oh boy.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Official Results: Lyme Disease Verified

So I contracted Lyme Disease according to the Western blot and had it for two to four weeks before the blood sample was pulled. Not shocking news and ameliorated by the success of antibiotics knocking it down. Another course should nuke it for good.

As for the moment, while the symptoms are still mildly there, I am functional enough to resume my normal routine for the weekend. Today was something of a turning point for that, thankfully.

Batman Begins (2005) Review

Bringing indy film style directing to an iconic comic book character, Batman Begins resets the story from the beginning (shocking, I know) and shows how Bruce Wayne became Batman.  But is it more than just another comic book movie adaptation? More importantly, is it more than yet another Batman film?

Batman Begins TitleBatman Begins Opening

After the 1990s Batman films devolved from a gothic take on the caped vigilante into a horrible camp fest, there was barely a sliver of hope that a serious version would be attempted again. Taking a calculated risk, Warner Brothers hired Christopher Nolan to write and direct a reboot figuring a back to basics approach could save the franchise.

Known for edgy and complicated films featuring plots bouncing back and forth in settings and time, Nolan was not a big budget director of summer blockbusters. Fortunately for all involved, he had a passion for making the movie – one that was infectious. Make no mistake about it, Batman Begins is a Christopher Nolan film first and foremost – and that is a very good thing.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Independence Day 2012

It is scorching hot and getting worse with a high of 101 F predicted for this afternoon. Being ill and on antibiotics that prevent being in sunlight, I will not be making it to the parade in Eitzen yet again. We may fire off a few fireworks later tonight, though.

I often think of how much was sacrificed to found this country and then maintain its freedoms. Another Pat, but not a Patrick, I know posted about this on her blog today. One has to wonder if anyone is willing to make those kind of sacrifices these days.

Over at the Telegraph, I ran into this column by a Brit writing that the United States was Britain’s greatest gift to the world. I cannot argue with that or his reasoning for why. Too much is taken for granted and modern people have forgotten just how bad it once was – and could be again.

Maybe it is the illness, but I am having trouble feeling positive about the future of the nation. Things are not going well in any facet of our culture and it looks like we will be finding out if any of the strengths that our founders had still remain in us. Hopefully, I will turn out to be wrong about this.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

If It Is Tuesday, Why Does It Feel Like Monday?

All day has felt like an extended case of déjà vu, but not in a good sense. Some of the symptoms of the possible case of Lyme Disease have come back and besides that it just feels like a Monday. Tomorrow being Independence Day is not going to help with the weekday confusion, is it?

Maybe it is the headache that is making me feel off, since it certainly messed me up in one of the League of Legends matches I played today. Good thing it was only a bot match.  I had planned to start playing PVP matches this week, but the health has not been up to it so far. My hands were shaking so badly I wondered if I was going to make it through the second match. Getting killed four times while playing Sona against beginner bots was atrocious.

Not that it was a bad day, there were good things including playing the afore mentioned game with real life friends. Also, I got to preorder Fractale on Blu-ray over at RightStuf. Though I could have saved money with free shipping from Amazon, I live close enough to RightStuf to get the set faster. Though Amazon did succeed in luring me into getting some classics on sale that were in my wish list.

A Passage to India on Blu-ray, Bad Day at Black Rock (truly awesome film) and No Time for Sergeants on DVD were too much to pass up. The last selection was inspired by the need to get free shipping and the fact that Andy Griffith died. It was either that or A Face in the Crowd, but it was the very funny No Time that made him a star.

It looks like my big plans to get a pair of reviews up by the 17th may not work out. The pain is making writing with any signs of intelligence very difficult. Oh well, we will see. I may see the new Spiderman, but I have to say I will go into it with some hostility after watching clips from it. That’s a pity since the Lizard was always my favorite foe of Spidey. I even had the Mego action figure of him when I was a kid.

And suddenly I cannot think of anything more to type. With no clue how to even end the post, I will just end it with a period.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Seeking Things of Worth

Please pardon my rambling style today; it is not one of my better days. Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I often marvel at how much misrepresentation of our beliefs is out there. This has always been the case, but this post is not going to be about that. Instead it will be related to one of what we call the Articles of Faith which were written to explain what we believe in to a newspaper back in the 1800s.

In the thirteenth and last article, it says:

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul-We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

The italics are mine and the focus of a lot of thought in the last few years by me. Right now it seems like finding things that fit that description is getting harder, but I think it is more of a signal to noise ratio problem. Like an overcrowded radio tuner, so much garbage is put out that the good things get lost in the din.