I don't know what to call this entry.

Played against a new guy this morning, lost 6-4 6-4, tight game but for some reason felt like we were both holding something back. Enjoyable, nonetheless. I'm trying out the Wilson NPro Surge at the moment; seems quite nice, have to try a few others to get a good comparison.

I finished Never Let Me Go...overall, I thought the actual basis was weak if evaulated as speculative fiction, but if you just accepted the premise and went with the book as it was written, it was superb. I was also amazed at how much some reviewers managed to utterly miss the point, but that's critics for you.


Been doing some more work on the Knowledge Base; last night I updated the page on services, which I thought would be a fifteen minute quicky and turned out to be an all night slog. Tom B., when he wrote the stuff initially, included a comprehensive list of all the services in MDK. When I came to it last night, this hadn't been updated since 8.1. I quickly discovered just how many new services we've added since 8.1...took me about three hours to rewrite just the A-H section with all the new stuff. Got to do the rest of the alphabet soon. That's going to be fun. Sigh.

Back to playing tennis this morning - my ankle's not 100% yet, I can't move to the backhand side very fast and there's no way I can chase down a lob, but I can play OK otherwise. Strange game; I went 5-0 up in the first set and won it 6-2, lost the second 6-1, and was serving at 5-6, 15-30 in an extremely tight third when my opponent had to leave to take his wife to work. Playing again tomorrow, hope I'll be closer to 100% by then!

For one reason or another I haven't had a chance to read very much lately, but I had some quiet time last night and sat down with Kazuo Ishiguro's latest, Never Let Me Go. It's wonderful so far, and I can't wait to see what he's going to do with the ending...


The ankle is now somewhat less swollen but impressively multi-coloured. I can more or less walk in a straight line but any kind of physical exercise is still a couple of days off, I think. Oh well, more time to work. :)

Just wanted to throw up a couple of pictures I took recently. First, one of English Bay, one of the reasons I love Vancouver:

I wasn't concentrating very hard on the composition of the picture when I took it, just wanted to get the guy building his little stone towers against the background of the bay, but when I looked at it later I noticed the happy accident that the ships in the background line up almost perfectly with the guy and the towers. Neat. Second, some friends in a restuarant - I always prefer to take pictures of people when they don't know you're taking a picture. It almost always works out better that way. After I took this one they noticed I was taking pictures and all turned and looked at the camera and I got a much less interesting picture. I like the way the cigarette came out with a little motion blur, completely accidental.


Sometimes, you do really stupid things in the name of enjoyment. At 5-6 in the first set of my tennis game today, I chased a lob back from the net, turned sharply and hit a nice forehand winner into the corner of the ad court. As I did this, I went right over on my right ankle at about 90 degrees. It hurt quite a bit. We were having a really good game, though, so I kept playing. Four points, a tiebreak, another 12 games and another tiebreak later, this is the result...


On the left, my happy, fully-functioning left ankle. On the right, my right ankle, which now resembles a WWE wrestler's arm. Anyone who's sprained their ankle before can probably imagine fairly accurately exactly how much it hurts.

How I managed to play twelve games serving and volleying on it is an exercise left to the reader. It's dicey trying to limp to the fridge now. Must've been pure adrenaline. I was planning to go and look at new rackets this afternoon, but I think I'll be laid up in front of the telly instead...

Hell of a good game, though. 7-6 6-7. We're hoping to play again tomorrow, ankle permitting. I'll have to see if the swelling goes down overnight.


Hold the front page! I am now syndicated. Yay me. Thanks to Michael Scherer and the rest of the Planet Mandriva team (there's a Planet Mandriva team? That seems scary. Are they like Team Rocket?) for setting up this planet to aggregate the sites of Mandriva-related people. Check it out now, it's spiffy. Go on.

Tennis, and things.

So I did go and play tennis again this morning, this time I won, 6-3 7-5. Very nice game. I serve-volleyed every point and chip-charged every return, which is a great play against just about anyone who's not a very, very good player, even if you're only an average volleyer. You'll win 50% or more of the points where you get to the net without having to hit a volley. It's such an aggressive play it tends to make the opponent get worried, rush, and become too ambitious; you'll see a lot of balls go wide, long or into the net. Add to that the fact that almost no-one seems to play serve and volley these days, which gives you the added benefit of surprise and unfamiliarity, and you can't really go wrong. Probably going to play again on Monday, it's nice to have a regular game again...

As far as Mandriva goes, now I have some more spare time, I've started doing a little work on the Knowledge Base, cleaning up and updating the old articles. I hope this will kickstart some interest in it.

Stuff and things

Apart from ruminating, I've had quite a nice week. I stopped working for Shaw (or rather, was informed by my agency - by email - that I'd stopped working for Shaw. That's employee relations for you!), so I now have lots more time for things. At Mandriva, we launched the updated Club 2005 LE release, which is cool, and the new Club, which is cooler. So yay for that. I obtained much in the way of new music - My Little Lover's Fantasy, the two soundtracks from the Beck anime, a couple more Dears records, Dear Leader's Instant Live CD from last month, and Foo Fighters' The Colour And The Shape (yes, I am aware everyone else bought it nine years ago, ta muchly). Played a pick-up game of tennis this morning with a guy who was practicing on his own at the local courts, and lost 6-4 6-3, which was annoying as I could've won both sets. Ah well. I blame the balls and my slightly too small shoes, that'll do. Will probably go and play again tomorrow. With blister-preventative plasters on my toes, and very thin socks...


Those of you who do not avail yourselves of fine Japanese televisual entertainment are probably unaware of the concept of 'filler' as applied in this context. So be educated!

Japanese animated television shows (anime) are, almost invariably, based on Japanese comics (manga). They usually start their run fairly soon after the manga begins. Each TV episode, as a rule of thumb, covers two issues of a manga. Manga are released weekly. Japanese TV shows are aired weekly. They also very rarely take breaks - they don't have clearly defined seasons, like American TV, or series, like UK TV. Generally speaking, they start, they run, and when the story ends, people stop watching, or something goes wrong, they finish.

If you were paying attention above, you will have noticed the logistical problem with this system. Anime go about twice as fast as manga. Combined with the fact they usually start, at most, a year (or maybe, possibly, two) behind the manga, this means if they just followed the manga, they'd run flat out material within a year or two of starting their run. Shows can do this, and then take a break while more manga gets written. This loses your continous audience, though, and due to the way Japanese TV works, there's no guarantee you'll get back on the air. So they don't generally do that.

Hence, filler. To slow down the progression of the manga's story in the anime, filler episodes are written. These are generally slipped in between the major 'arcs' of the manga story (although some shows slip in filler episodes during major story arcs...) and are very simply episodes which don't come from the manga plot, written (usually) by jobbing writers who often specialise in it.

Filler episodes are rather like those novels that occasionally get written as prequels / sequels / in betweens / different perspectives on famous novels, usually because the author (or author's estate...) is getting a bit hard-up. Like that kind of novel, they're extremely hard to write, usually fall into fairly predictable categories, and almost all the time aren't very good. I do feel for the filler authors, because you somehow have to write an episode (or an entire arc) which is exciting, engaging, somehow significant but also can somehow have taken place entirely in the background from the main story, which when it starts up again will roll along more or less without acknowledgement of the filler ever having happened. (The people who adapt the manga for the anime are not the same people who write the filler, and they rarely pay any attention to the filler writers' work. Filler also often seems to be drawn by different people from the main story arcs; it seems that apprentice animators get to do the filler before they get to do main-story episodes. The quality of the art in filler episodes is noticeably poorer on most series). This usually leads to comedy episodes or backstory, neither of which are very easy to do well.

Sometimes you do get good filler. Naruto has done this well in the past, slipping in a couple of rather well-done joke episodes after huge climaxes in the main story. They were a change of pace, served the purpose of buying a couple of weeks breathing space from the manga, and made people laugh. Sometimes, though, you get really, really, terrible filler. Horrible filler. One Piece's 'rainbow mist' arc springs to mind. Sometimes, the whole time gap / filler problem can entirely sink a series. Prince of Tennis, which ran together with Naruto in a one-hour slot for a long while and was very popular, was basically sunk by a badly handled filler situation, and never managed to reach the manga's conclusion. This happens surprisingly often, and to an outsider it's amazing that the TV world doesn't just adopt a season / series formula. But it seems the viewers won't have it; they must have an episode a week, and until that changes, struggling young Japanese writers will be cutting their teeth on writing filler for the foreseeable future. The only series that manage to escape the problem are short series which are often based on manga that already finished, series which manage to start several years after the manga, or original series. It's an intriguing thing to watch, from the outside.