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Hand of Five Poisons

December 28, 2015 | 20:59 | Written by: snake911

Took a while to get this posted even though I watched it live. No real reason for the delay except for it aired during the week of Christmas, so I was busy getting some last minute Christmas gifts, wrapping them, and doing other miscellaneous things before the special day arrived.

Since this is the last episode, I figured I would hide it behind a link to prevent spoilers. So if you want to read my ramblings about the season finale, click the link below (or the title of this post).

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Miracle at 129 West 81st Street, Apartment 5A

December 21, 2015 | 21:57 | Written by: snake911

It seems like everyone this past weekend was waiting in lines to see what is probably going to be the biggest, record busting film of all time -- Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And just like everyone else, I was waiting in line too, but not to see a movie about Jedi’s, aliens, robots, and such. No, I was waiting in line to see Jerry Seinfeld’s apartment!

Hulu, who earlier this year acquired the rights to stream Seinfeld on their service brought an exhibit of sorts that includes a replica of Jerry’s apartment from the show to a gallery in Hollywood. In addition there were props and other interactive pieces to gander at up close. The event itself is called “Seinfeld: The Apartment” and was up for a few days between Wednesday, 12/16 through Sunday, 12/20. We went there Saturday morning, and boy were we surprised to see how long the line was.

Although, we shouldn’t have been surprised considering Seinfeld was (still is) one of most popular shows of all time, so it was naïve for us to think that. The line for this gallery event was long; like really loooong. The entrance was on Melrose Ave. in Hollywood, and the line for it snaked down the street eastward, turned onto Melrose Alley going west, then up La Cienega Blvd northward about one block. This is where the line started for us when we got there at 11am.

Around the half way point (about 2 hours waiting in line) signs were setup as a way for cheap entertainment, but were still enjoyable and broke up the mundane from standing in line nonetheless. They were contests where you submit your answers via Instagram to earn prizes. Some games included matching quotes from the show, guessing quotes via emojis, and singing the theme song to the show. Well, more like mouthing the bassline than singing actual lyrics.

Weather was mixed as standing in direct sunlight was bright and warm while standing in the shadows of buildings felt like a drop in temperature of about 20 degrees. It rained later in the evening so I’m glad we got there in the morning. While in line, a video production crew walked by a few times filming everyone there. One time as they passed by, they interviewed someone a few spots ahead of us. Not sure where any of that footage is going to air at, but probably on Hulu’s “behind the scenes” kind of thing or on the Seinfeld website. Probably the latter because the mic had the Seinfeld logo as oppose to the Hulu logo.

While waiting, you’re able to observe and soak in a part of Hollywood living. People there dress trendy, wear goofy sunglasses, and saw my share of young, skinny dudes wearing beards waking down the street. Meaning, I saw a bunch of hipster doofuses. Heck, we even saw a guy pushing a baby stroller with a dog sitting in the carriage. We saw him walk into a store with the dog still in the stroller…he walked out 30 seconds later, probably asked to leave. And since the event was on Melrose Avenue, there were a ton of trendy businesses where half the names don’t really tell what the store is selling. Some of these businesses even have graffiti as their front décor (so edgy). At the same time, there were a bunch of “for lease” signs on the windows, so I’m guessing most stores there have a short life span and go out of style like the clothes everyone there wears. Glad I’m just visiting and don’t live there.

After rounding the corner and passing a food truck, we were at the front of the line; nearly four hours later. The front of the building has a portrait of George in his sexy pose. It was surprising to see that it was actually painted on the building rather than being a wrapper covering the front of the entrance. Once we were inside, it was a total eye full.

The gallery was setup like an amusement ride, like a haunted house where you follow a set path and go through a number of rooms. The first room was a large open space with quotes from the show spewed across the walls with green and black colored text. There were many ushers there (who by the way were all wearing white t-shirts where the front was an outline of the puffy shirt) willing to help by taking pictures of you or your group as there was a bunch of things to stand next to and take a picture with. There were many interactive exhibits there and that’s why so many of them were there to assist with taking pictures. More on that later.

The first room with the quotes on the walls also had the booth from Monk’s Café where the characters of the show would normally meet up. Unfortunately you were not allowed to sit on it. Along the wall were a number of props laid out on display. Each had a display stand next to them which also noted the season number and episode title where the prop was seen. Some included the Tropic of Cancer book, the Maestro’s bent wand, and the photo of George’s boss being photoshopped out, but then hand drawn back in. Next to the props was a parody portrait of The Last Supper, but with all the writers for the last episode with Jerry in the middle as Jesus.

Around the corner was Puddy’s Jersey Devils hockey jersey. That was displayed behind a glass case, but next it was the Frogger machine. In front of it was an iPad that showed the clip from the show where the arcade cabinet was seen. I forgot to check if the first place score had the initials G.L.C. Next was the Tweety Bird Pez dispenser placed on a theater chair from the episode where Elaine busted out laughing when Jerry placed it on her while they watched a piano recital. By the way, sorry for the poor quality of photos. Me, plus phones, plus shaky hands equal blurry images.

While waiting in line to see the replica apartment, there’s a spot where you can view people sitting and posing the same way George did in the show, similar to what is painted on the front of the building. Surprisingly, many people did this, with ushers acting the part of the flamboyant photographer telling their muse to stick out there hand and do the tiger claw. The crowd went wild when a super skinny guy went “all the way” and took everything off but his underwear and posed for shots. The crowd went wild again a minute later when a dad placed his baby in the same pose too, but unlike the skinny nerd the baby was fully clothed.

Seinfeld’s apartment was fully replicated and was cool to walk around. They captured the apartment hallway, the living room, kitchen, bathroom, and hallway with the bike hanging on the wall. Sorry, but I don’t want to share the majority images here of the apartment as I’m in many of the shots, but to focus on video games, I took a picture of the shelving that has his stereo and VHS tapes. And it’s true: up close you can see he has a copy of games like Tetris, SimCity, and Super Spike V'Ball. It makes me wonder if Jerry had an NES next to his TV.


When you leave the apartment, you exit through the hallway leading to his bedroom, but instead of the bedroom it’s the next room in the gallery, which is a Festivus setup where you can get a picture of cardboard standups of both George and Frank Costanza with a banner overhead reading “Another Festivus miracle!” All around, you are surrounded by dozens of unadorned aluminum Festivus poles. This was probably the cheesiest part of the gallery, but with it currently the season for the holiday, it had an excuse to be there.

What was cool, though, was seeing a vinyl replica of a brick wall that had signatures from what seems like everyone who has worked on the show. I didn’t recognize the majority of the signatures, but I did see some familiar names like Kathy Griffin, Larry Thomas (the Soup Nazi), and Jerry Stiller. Another interactive piece is standing in front of a red curtain, a mic, and a spotlight so you can reenact Jerry’s intro scene where he’s doing standup comedy.

Towards the end of the gallery you’re back in the front room with more props to look at. Some of them include the Superman figure on the shelf in the living room, George’s sable Russian hat, and the script to the final episode signed by the cast. When you leave the gallery, you are given two items. The first is a Festivus postcard and second is a box of Junior Mints. I thought that was clever.

It was a pretty cool experience and I thought it was worth the wait in line. If I were to add something to make it better, it would have been neat to have a Seinfeld store towards the end to buy related items from the show like shirts, DVDs, or dumb things like a Tweety Bird Pez dispenser or a pack of John Voight pencils. It also would have been cool to see a video playing while waiting in line for the apartment room where each of the cast members are thanking everyone for coming to the event, or possibly even having one of them show up to the gallery unexpectedly, but that’s just wishful thinking.

Happy Festivus, everybody! Now let the airing of grievances begin.

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Snake Creeps Down

December 17, 2015 | 20:36 | Written by: snake911

Ryder is doing some investigating to find out the importance of M.K.’s pendant. Waldo tells him to ask his grandfather, who Ryder hasn’t seen since he was a child, but not surprising since he’s living in the badlands in what looks like a peasant’s living, which is a stark contrast to the lavish life style as a baron’s son. Interesting thing is his grandfather (who by the way is played by Lance Henriksen!) appears to be a leader of a religion. It appears he knows about M.K.’s powers, but kept it a secret from Ryder.

With Quinn’s health deteriorating, he -- surprisingly -- takes Jade’s advice of having part of his clipper army take place of the cogs in his opium fields until they can get more recruits. And to top it off, he has her take charge in leading the task! Lydia, now understanding what the cogs toil with every day by assisting in the opium fields is beginning to understand where Jade is coming from and wants to be her friend more than her rival, but we’ll see if she sticks to what she says.

And as for Sunny, things are getting tangled for him from all sides. Quinn wants him to stop seeing Veil so there’s no resentment from her with the patient-doctor relationship he has with her, he found out the friendship between M.K. and Tilda and needs to hide it from the other clippers, and knowing that The Window has figured out who she’s been looking for: M.K. And time is not on his side too because Veil can’t hide her pregnancy forever, so he needs to decide on his escape. Next week’s episode is the season finale, and the preview makes it look like it’s full of action and drama, so can’t wait to see it!

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Buyer's remorse

December 15, 2015 | 19:27 | Written by: snake911

I really love Patlabor. I think most of it comes from the interactions between everyone at the division and how all of them have unique characteristics of not only their attitudes and emotions, but the skills they bring to the job as well, adding layers to each character. It definitely causes for some funny moments when you mix a hot head with a stern leader; a quiet and humble person with a nerd; or all of them seeking advice from a lazy leader who just goes with the flow.

When it comes to anime I, for whatever reason, prefer comedy over action. Don’t get me wrong though as I love action (my collection is mostly filled with action titles more than anything else), but comedy is something I always look for first.

Of course most shows with action have a little bit of comedy stirred in, but Patlabor flips it around by having comedy be first and action second. Well, I guess the comedy part might be more of a slice of life type with the show since the majority of each episode has the cast of characters dodiling around their workplace but then get serious when it comes to going out on field to an incident.

It took me over a course of about two years to collect the whole set of DVDs for the Patlabor TV series. I got the last set a few months back on eBay when I saw someone selling it for a good price. The series was released in three large sets where each one included four volumes. It was licensed by Central Park Media and distributed by U.S. Manga Corps in North America in the early 2000s but the company went under back in 2009, so I’ve been collecting the sets that were released back in the mid-2000s. And since they normally license odd anime shows from the ‘80s, I figured this would be the only way to get the series with English dubs because of their unique selection of titles. But I was wrong.

I never checked Amazon for Patlabor episodes. I only checked on eBay. And when I recently saw that they re-released the whole series on Blu-Ray, I was totally ticked off. Are you kidding me?! These new sets are beautiful! Look at the covers for each volume!

I was totally surprised to find out another company got the license for Patlabor and not only released the TV show but the OVA, movies, and specials as well, and each of those have gorgeous covers, too. The back cover is no slouch as they got a section on it that shows what part of the Patlabor universe that volume is for, giving a handy visual reference for every volume. The U.S. Manga Corps versions have no competition with the re-releases and I now regret spending all that money in acquiring those ones when I could have gotten the Blu-Ray versions where they take less shelf space and are uprezzed to 1080p but keeping the 4x3 aspect ratio; which is what I prefer!

I guess that’s the lesson for today: research everywhere before buying.

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Two Tigers Subdue Dragons

December 12, 2015 | 20:52 | Written by: snake911

The Widow is setting up for the barons to go at one another, making them believe the other has is against them. For example, she captured one of Quinn’s clippers and sent his head to him with a message making him believe it was from Jacobee, the baron he wants to bond an alliance with.

Sunny, trying to train M.K. to control his special powers didn’t know how strong his actually were, causing him to get knocked out in one punch. But it looks like he’s on his way to do so.

Meanwhile Quinn finds out there’s a slim chance of hope for Veil to get rid of the cancer residing in his brain, but this contradicts her father’s statement where he said there was nothing he can do and he wouldn’t live to see the Winter solstice. This puts some doubt into Quinn because she said that her father was better at resolving cancers than she was, so the idea of a slim chance for a cure coming from her puzzles him. As of now, it doesn’t look like he knows that she knows that he killed her parents.

Behind the scenes, The Widow seems to have teamed up with Ryder, having him believe that he can’t become the baron of his land unless he gets rid of his father. So he sets up a trap when Quinn and Jacobee meet. A battle between the two breaks out, but Sunny was able to supply some evidence showing that The Widow was behind it, so they stop with just a few clippers that survived between the two. By the way, this fight was pretttttyyyyy, pretty good.

Finally, Sunny feels he needs to leave now, so with the help of Waldo, he gives him a ticket out of there by allowing him to meet with the River King who can supply him with a ship out of the region, but the trick is he as to bring back the head of someone who killed a number of cogs that were being transported via a ship under his command. To Sunny’s surprise…it’s M.K.! *Dramatic stinger music*

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White Stork Spreads Wings

December 5, 2015 | 18:42 | Written by: snake911

Quinn is full of surprises! He beings by declaring war on The Widow and storming into her compound. With thanks in part to his small army of clippers they were able to take over and have The Widow and her elite soldiers retreat into hiding in the woods. This act would put him in hot water as the other barons see this as him unbalancing the powers each one possesses. He’s done all this while he’s still struggling with his health issues.

Back at the Fort, Ryder’s own health is deteriorating after he stepped into a trap set by nomads hired by The Widow, which left his brain swelling. Quinn’s newly second wife, Jade, has a solution but it involves someone who practically hates his guts. At time same time, Quinn’s first wife is getting cheesed off with Jade, which he mainly has around just for fun time. Man, lot of soap opera-esc relations are starting to crop up.

Elsewhere Sunny begins M.K.’s training so they can split town, but a visit to Waldo -- who’s confined to a wheelchair -- makes him realize how weak he is in both mind and body. And finally Sunny has to meet up with an old acquaintance who’s a clipper for another baron in hopes to form an ally so things could cool down because of Quinn’s little war.

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