Experiments and Anime

Jul 08 2006

I’m in day three of an experiment: Except for checking e-mails and blogs, I’m only accessing the internet during one block of time on the weekend.

The experiment started when my laptop died on Thursday. I came home and, while I knew I could jump onto the internet using my secondary laptop (the one I plan to sell once I’ve convinced myself that I haven’t forgotten anything else on it), I decided to just ignore the internet for the night. I did, and enjoyed myself as I watched some Russian animations, and I thought to myself, “Why not do this every night?”

Luckily, I had no meetings at work on Friday, so I took the laptop to the Apple store that morning. The “Genius Bar” (a.k.a. tech support) was understaffed, so I ended up waiting for an hour and a half to get serviced. But that was okay; I chatted a bit with one of the women who was being helped, and just observed my environment. Was nice being in the Apple store when it’s not massively crowded, too; it seems to be stuffed with people on evenings and weekends. And fortunately, the laptop was fine; I hadn’t installed some new RAM correctly.

So I came home and, after spending about fifteen minutes processing e-mail and blogs, I had the rest of the evening free. I made two batches of ice cream, started on some cinnamon buns for tomorrow, and wrote a few hundred more words of Giant Armors. I feel all creative ‘n’ stuff now.

That’s partly due to these Russian animations I’ve been watching. I ordered volume 2 on Amazon.com about a year ago, and was blown away by some of them. I bought volumes 1 and 3 recently, and while there are more duds in these volumes, there were a few amazing works in there. In particular, the stop-motion shorts were fantastic.

So, here are my top thirteen favorite short films from the “Masters of Russian Animation” collection:

  • “My Green Crocodile,” stop-motion fable by Vadim Kurchevsky (1966)
  • “Ball of Wool,” stop-motion fable by Nikolai Serebryakov (1968)
  • “Film Film Film,” comedy about the filmmaking process by Fyodor Khitruk (1968)
  • “Battle at Kerzehenets,” an animation of religious iconographic paintings by Ivan Ivanov-Vano and Yuri Norstein (1971)
  • “Heron and Crane,” a fable by Yuri Norstein (1974)
  • “Hedgehog in the Fog,” a fairy tale by Yuri Norstein (1975)
  • “Crane Feathers,” stop-motion adaptation of a Japanese fairy tale by Ideya Garanina (1977)
  • “Firing Range,” modern SF story by Anatoly Petrov (1977)
  • “Hunt,” modern fable by Eduard Nazarov (1979)
  • “Travels of an Ant,” in which an ant is flung from its nest and entreats others to help it get home, by Eduard Nazarov (1983)
  • “Lion and Ox,” African fable by Fyodor Khitruk (1983)
  • “Wolf and Calf,” humorous stop-motion fairy tale by Mikhail Kamenetsky
  • “Cabaret,” an amazing stop-motion operetta by Ideya Garanina (1984)

You may note quite a few animations in there by Yuri Norstein. Oddly, he also made an animation, “Tale of Tales,” which was voted the greatest animation of all time by a San Francisco festival, and I can’t stand to watch it. Nothing at all happens. Nicely done, certainly, but it consists entirely of characters walking around. At least, I assume it does; I couldn’t sit through it all.

Which is such a contrast to an anime series called Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid, an under-appreciated work of raw genius which I’m halfway through. They’ve taken a solid concept with previously lackluster adaptations and made a fantastic action series and character drama out of it. It’s brilliant on numerous levels. I hope someday I will make something this good; this is a masterpiece (a word I rarely use, and that I only use in its full meaning of a once-in-a-lifetime, defining work).

I also finished The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, which started strong and ended strong. It’s another series that works well on numerous levels, though it’s primarily a comedy.

Anyvay. After all that, with several days’ diet of no internet, I woke up this morning and made this:

[Cinnamon Rolls]

Maybe taking leave of the internet is a good idea….

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Cantnever Mouthwatering photo!

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