nenena: (Fairy Tail - Yer a wizard Lucy)
Long story short:

I'm going to be teaching a unit on graphic fiction to my Art History students.

I've been working with our school librarian (who is AWESOME when it comes to comics) to curate a list of sample texts to use. I mean "sample texts" both in terms of texts that I will make the whole class read AND an approved reading list of comics for students to choose for their independent reading at the end of the unit.

Awesome Librarian and I mutually decided that list of optional comics for students to choose for their independent reading should include a least one representative example of puzzle-game-style-adventure-partially-generated-by-reader-input-type comic, since it's a format that's intriguing, interesting to the kids, and easy to use as discussion fodder for a variety of themes developed in the unit (that they WILL have to address in their final critique of their chosen comic).

And for our representative example of said type-of-comic-that-we-really-need-a-better-name-for, we really want to go with Rubyquest.

It's short, it's complete, and it's the best representation of reader-input-driven storytelling I've seen in the genre. I know that the content can be really disturbing, but it's an optional reading (one of over thirty titles that the kids will be able to choose from) and believe me I know that said disturbing content will definitely appeal to more than a few of my students. Best of all, it's available in a super-convenient format for us to use: these beautifully-compiled SWF files that WILL, believe it or not, play on the Sony pocketbooks that the kids have been issued. Complete with all the extras like the rejected reader commands and reader theories and fanart and stuff all nicely compiled together right there in the SWF.

Aaaaaaaaaaand therein lies the problem. The fanart that our intrepid TekStation compiled into the SWF files contains some Rule 34 and there is no way in hell I can give my students SWF files with bunny porn on them.

Yes, I am totally okay with putting a comic full of shockingly violent imagery and lots of body horror on my approved comic reading list. It wouldn't be the only comic full of shockingly violent imagery and lots of body horror on the list, either. (Swamp Thing, Akira, Sharaz-De, and Courtney Crumrin are on the reading list too.) But anything even mildly sexual is a huge no-no (hence me being unable to get administrative approval to add Craig Thompson's Blankets to the list) so it goes without saying that the fanart porn in the Rubyquest files has got to be removed. And to be totally honest I think that all Rubyquest porn is horrible weird gross and wrong, no I don't feel particularly bad being judgmental about that, and as far as I'm concerned it detracts nothing from the experience if you can't see that shit in the SWF files.

So I've got this great comic that somebody on the interbutts has already compiled into super-convenient SWF files for me, but said compiler also included some fanart in the SWF compilations and said fanart also happens to include some porn.

I've tried contacting TekStation on his deviantart to explain my situation and ask him if he would be so kind as to help a poor teacher out and send me (or post on the internet somewhere) versions of his SWF files with the porn removed. But that was over a week ago, I haven't heard back from him yet, and he doesn't appear to have logged into his deviantart account since last summer. So I don't have much hope there.

Right now my options, as I see them, are:

1. Edit out the porn myself.

But HELP I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO DO THIS and neither the Awesome Librarian nor I are nearly tech-savvy enough to even know what program to use to edit SWF files I mean what program DO you use?! Can anybody recommend a good (free) program that would help a total SWF newbie like me edit a few images out of a file? Or is this not even a thing that can be done that easily?

2. Ask somebody else to edit out the porn.

Problem so far: None of my RL friends are tech-savvy enough to do so, and there's no way in hell I'm going to ask anybody that works for my school district to do it for me because, you know, it's bunny porn. Not worth losing my job over.

3. Find an alternative compilation/presentation of the comic.

Does anybody know of an alternative compilation/presentation of Rubyquest that they would recommend? So far Google has only given me TekStation's SWF files and this which is unfortunately just a horrible way to experience the comic.

4. Give up and settle for a different representative example of a puzzle-game-style-adventure-partially-generated-by-reader-input-type comic to add to the approved reading list.

I'm open for suggestions. Parameters: Works must be complete, not more than a few hundred pages long, and not contain too much sexual content. Gore is totally fine, though!

So anywhoo I would very much appreciate help with any of the four options above.
nenena: (Default)
So it's finals week and for their traditional post-final treat I let my Art History students watch Red Cliff. Before the film I explained a little bit about the historical context of the film (although I didn't have to explain much because a group of students had already given a fabulous presentation about the Han Dynasty as one of their semester-final projects last week), who the characters in the film were, and how the film was based on a mixture of historical fact and Romance of the Three Kingdoms fictionalization. We did a couple of activities comparing/contrasting Three Kingdoms to Arthurian myths, and we talked about the differences in technology levels between China and Europe of the time period (mind-blowing for some of the students), but mostly it was just letting the kids turn off their brains and enjoy the film.

Anywhoo the movie was met with rave reviews (and from a very tough crowd, might I add!). But on Friday at the end of class one of the students asked me, "Do you have any more Three Kingdoms stuff?" Which was followed immediately by a chorus of nearly the entire class echoing his question.

Aaaaaand I told him that I would get back to him about that because honestly, I kind of don't. Or rather, I know that there's a ton of Three Kingdoms-based media out there but I have no idea how much of it is available in English, appropriate for high school students, or even, er, good.

So, flist! I come to you with a question: I've got a group of high school students who are very interested in The Fabulous Adventures of Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang and The Knights of the Peach Orchard. What would you recommend for them to watch, read, or play?

They do not speak or read Chinese, so anything that you recommend to them will have to be available in translation. They are pretty savvy about acquiring material online, so stuff that's only available via piracy is okay to rec. They seems to be mostly interested in the military and martial arts aspects of the stories, so action-based stuff would be best. Any films, books, comics, or video games y'all could recommend for these kids would be very appreciated!
nenena: (Devi - Flaming Tara)
Trying to finish up the "pre-approved reading choices" list for next year's Asian Arts and Humanities before school starts next year. I am currently having trouble finding fiction by authors from the following countries:

Saudi Arabia


(I already have Life Under the Banyan but I really would like to find more.)

Malaysia (I have Tash Aw, Preeta Samarasan, and Shirley Geok-lin Lim tentatively on the list, but I would REALLY like to find some more young adult-oriented and less "literary" authors. Not all of my students have the patience for Grownup Books and I think that they can still learn a whole heckuva lot from reading contemporary young adult fiction from foreign countries instead.)

So I guess it's time for me to ask for help. Does anybody have any suggestions?


1. Any work of fiction - novel, short story collection, or graphic novel - is okay. I love trashy young adult novels as much as I love literary fiction, and I'm trying to get a good balance of both on the reading list.

2. Books MUST be by an author from one of the countries listed, but do not necessarily have to be set *in* that country. Speculative fiction is a-okay, too.

3. English or Spanish recommendations only, please. Books that have been written in a different language and then translated into English or Spanish are perfectly fine.

4. I do teach in the Bible Belt, so please, nothing with excessive, graphic sexual content. LGBT themes and characters are totally fine, and I'm willing to risk parental disapproval to stand by those books. Just don't give me anything that might border on softcore porn, okay? Helpful examples: Seba al-Herz's The Others is way too racy to go on a reading list for high school students (and it also portrays lesbians as evil and deviant so uh NO THANK YOU), but something like Ping Wang's The Last Communist Virgin - which has a little bit of sex, really nothing more graphic than you would find in whatever books these kids are reading for their English classes - is totally fine. Also, The Great Singapore Penis Panic is on the non-fiction reading list for the class, so it's not as if any mention of genitals is automatically taboo here. But you get my drift.

Wow okay I guess this whole list sounds really demanding and nitpicky. Er. But I'm still throwing this out there just in case anybody reading this has some awesome book suggestions that would fit the requirements for being on my reading list.
nenena: (Soul Eater - Have a nice dream!)
First! Tonight on Tumblr, A Brief Nostalgia Trip: The Best of the Soul Eater Late Show Ending Cards.

Because many people new to the fandom who watched the series on Hulu (and missed out on the original Late Show segments) are clearly being deprived of exposure to such existential masterpieces as Abe Mutsumi's "Butt-Bird" and the surrealist watercolor Soul Eater fanart painted by Atsushi Ohkubo's father.

Second! A very special screencap behind the cut. )

Third! Does anybody know a decent method for taking screencaps of Blu-Ray discs? Neither Arcsoft TMT nor VLC can get past the anti-screencapping encryption on my discs (fuck you so much Blu-Ray why the fuck would you DO THAT I mean come on). I tried installing MPlayer/SMPlayer on my computer, because I heard that it's actually capable of taking screencaps of a BD, but unfortunately I can't get it to actually play any discs. So does anybody know of any other tips/tricks/hacks for taking screenshots of a BD? Help?

I would love to be able to take screencaps of the Late Show ending cards for episodes 12, 49, and 50. The quality and size of a screencap that I could take from my Blu-Ray discs would be ten times better than what I was able to cap from my old TV raws, and even better, the BD episodes don't have that annoying text all over the screen. But alas, Blu-Ray technology seems determined to thwart me.

Seriously, what the hell are you doing, Blu-Ray? You got rid of region encoding but then you started encrypting your discs to prevent screencapping of all things?!

I don't understand. I just don't.
nenena: (Soul Eater - Blair kitty)
So excited for new Soul Eater Not! tomorrow. I don't even care if we get another nine-page chapter of Tsugumi hatching romantic plots revolving around omelets or whatever. Which to be fair is never an unlikely possibility, because Not! may be a lot of things but quality manga it most certainly is not, but IDGAF I enjoy it anyway, especially the parts about the main Soul Eater cast members.

Speaking of which! [personal profile] terajk is posting some excellent short Soul Eater fics on her journal right now.

Also! The Not Prime Time multifandom fic exchange (for fandoms that are too large to be eligible for Yuletide but still small enough to not be megafandoms) is currently accepting fandom promotions. Soul Eater, Fairy Tail, and a whole bucketload of anime, manga, TV, movie, and video game fandoms are going to be eligible this year. So if you have a fandom that you would like to promote before the nomination process officially begins, here's your chance.

Related: Does anybody have any good Lucy/Erza fic they could recommend? I'm dying for some friendship!fic or femmeslash, either flavor.

Unrelated: Pop Culture Boyfriends. Highly tongue-in-cheek and yet surprisingly revealing in terms of the pop media landscape that teen and twenty-something girls are devouring at the moment. Granted, I was surprised to see only three pieces of Western media in there (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and A:TLA) and VERY surprised to see no Homestuck references.

So speaking of Homestuck... I started re-reading parts of it a couple weeks ago when I was down and out with the flu, and sadly I believe that my love for Vriska/Tavros has been rekindled all over again. I say "sadly" because this is the most unfortunate thing that I have ever shipped. EVER. Because it has got to be one of the most disasterous relationships in the history of epic speculative literature ever created EVER. To put this trainwreck of a romance in context: Vriska and Tavros are alien trolls from an another planet in an alternative universe, and products of a culture that requires them to, at some point, have a hate-fueled "black romance" mating with another member of their species. Most teenage trolls seem to dream of having, as another troll puts it, the type of epic black romance that results in "blood rivers runnin through star systems and all nebulizin like liquid fireworks, beautiful and heartbreaking all at once." And yet even by troll standards Vriska and Tavros have a romantic arc that is such an utter disaster that the other trolls consider it to have crossed the line. Even by troll standards. This relationship isn't just a trainwreck, it's a trainwreck and a volcanic eruption and a hurricane and a tsunami and the sun collapsing into a black hole and swallowing the entire solar system all at once. And it all started so innocently, too: Vriska and Tavros were both nerdy teenage trolls who liked to roleplay, cosplay, and even play a certain children's game involving collectible tiny monsters. But then their relationship quickly escalated into murder attempts, spiderweb bondage, amputations, and eventually - of course - a duel to the death. They were poison to each other and even worse, they didn't just manage to doom themselves, but their trainwreck of an aborted romance managed to doom most of their friends too, at least to the point where it directly resulted in Tavros's RP partner getting killed and Vriska's RP partner permanently maimed. And yet - AND YET - for some reason I still have ~so many feelings~ for this pairing, horrible as it was and as horribly as it ended. I think that the horribleness of it all is part of the appeal, of course - who doesn't love a good tragedy? - but I also am kind of fascinated by the way that these two characters stuck together despite Vriska being Vriska and Tavros being so utterly terrified of her, how Vriska believed in Tavros until the bitter end and how Tavros wouldn't stay away from her despite every other troll telling him to do so, and how the fandom around the pairing does some much more insightful and interesting things with the disabilities of these two characters (NSFW) than the canon text ever did. It also doesn't help that despite everything, there is so much about this pairing that is so blackly hilarious - from Vriska's cosplay fetish to ROCKET WHEELCHAIR to "Well I'm lying on the floor in Vriska's room and we're both wearing costumes and I'm not explaining this very well, am I?" to That Thing that Vriska Did With Tavros's Severed Legs - that it's kind of hard not to laugh at it, just like it's kind of hard not to laugh at any of the doomed, doomed romantic pairings that Homestuck loves to revel in.

TL;DR version: This is the worst thing that I have ever shipped, and I have recently fallen in love with the pairing all over again, and I REGRET NOTHING.

Fortunately The Serendipity Gospels updated last week with so much deliciously horrible Vriska/Tavros shipping that it is glorious. Glorious.
nenena: (Soul Eater - Blair kitty)
What would be a good term for a "pimp post" that doesn't actually use the word "pimp"?

Is there an alternative term or two already out there?

I know I could always default to saying "rec post," but I'm wondering if fandom hasn't come up with something more colorful/interesting already.

Inquiring minds want to know.
nenena: (Default)
Do any of y'all have any advice as to how to make a laptop running Windows Vista stop throwing a temper tantrum every ten minutes when connected to a wireless router using WPA2 encryption?

I know, I know, the obvious solution is to upgrade to Windows 7. But due to a compatibility issue with a district-specific piece of DINOSAUR SOFTWARE that I need to use for my job, that's not going to be able to happen for a while. The other obvious solution is to change my wireless router over to WEP encryption, but again that's not an option because then my iPad won't connect to my wireless internet. iPad-chan is a prissy prissy little princess and she refuses to accept anything less than WPA2 encryption for her wireless connection.

So I'm stuck with my wireless router on WPA2 and my laptop still running Windows Vista. Which is frustrating because since February my computer has been doing this thing where every ten minutes it just sort of drops the wireless internet signal, and it can take up to three minutes to get it back. At first I thought that the problem was with my wireless router dropping the signal, but six phone calls and approximately 4.2 billion hours (rough estimate) on the phone with Belkin customer support later, we have most definitively concluded that the problem is not with the router dropping the signal, but rather with Vista just being a turd when it comes to WPA encryption, which a quick Google search shows me is apparently a common issue. Awesome.

I've upgraded my Vista so that it's current, tried installing the KB935222 Hotfix (which didn't work as it had already been included in one of my past Vista updates), and am now totally baffled as to what I can do next.

I know that my laptop can work just fine with WPA2 encryption because it did work just fine for several months. And then this trouble started. I'm not a computer person and I have no idea what I could have done to cause Vista to start pitching hissy-fits with my wireless connection, but the fact that this hasn't been a problem since the beginning is giving me hope that maybe there's something that I can do to fix it...?

So I'm just throwing this out here on the off-chance that maybe somebody reading this has had a similar problem and was able to find or come up with a solution.

nenena: (Default)
I'm sticking the SE Moment of Zen behind a cut because it's a couple of images this time. )

In other news.... Well, it took them a good five months after they originally promised to do so, but GanGan Online comics are now accesible for iPhone/iPad devices. And they finally have their own app instead of using the godawful Actibook app to deliver their content, too!

Unfortunately, I took the app for a test drive today, and sadly it is not very good. The way that the app works is rather convoluted: You have to visit the GGO website with Safari, click on the "iPhone/iPad" links to open up the comics in the app interface, and then read things that way. The good news is that the comics that I read appear to be downloaded to my iPad, so maybe they won't disappear after a month the way that the chapters normally do on the GGO website. The bad news is that the app is incredibly non-user-friendly and counter-intuitive: it takes four buttons to get to your "library" page, the menu often freezes or just plain doesn't show up when you click on the bottom of comic pages, and the "bookmark" feature didn't actually work the first three times that I tried it.

But at least Umineko looks completely fabulous in my iPad. All of the comics do. They just look LIGHTYEARS better on the iPad than they do on the Flash interface that GGO has been using until now.

All of the other content on GGO is still Flash-based and inaccessible, though. And there is, of course, still absolutely no hint of making any of Squeenix's print magazines digitally available any time within the forseeable future. Why so twentieth century, Squeenix? We're more than a decade into the twenty-first century now and it's about time you got with the program!

Speaking of manga-ish things... Flist, may I ask for your expertise? I have a seventh-grade student who asked me if I could recommend any books for learning to draw anime and manga. That is not my area of interest so I had nothing to recommend for him, but maybe one of you guys might have a good book rec or two? Any help would be very much appreciated!

And finally, I'm going to go ahead and link to this post on sf_drama (it's a locked post but the comm has open membership) because the comments are a collective beautiful smackdown of that horrible stereotype about how medication for mental illnesses stifles creativity. That's definitely ranking up there among Nena's Least Favorite Offensive Stereotypes About Mental Illness EVER and seeing it get the takedown that it deserves made my day.