M2 Ball

Did you buy anything recently?

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The detail on that Return of Godzilla blue ray is so high, you can almost see the actor's facial skin through the holes in the neck. Definitely an upgrade over my old, worn-out VHS!

And I think it works really well as a reboot of the franchise, neatly cutting off the other Showa-era films that came before it, and transitioning well into the Hisei era that came afterwards.

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Released in 2015, but new to me:

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EDIT (01/29): Turns out I was slightly familiar with this. My wife has the individual issues of this miniseries!

Edited by Otaku-sempai
Note.
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Some dip pens with crowquill nibs, and some India ink. My experiments with a pocket brush pen have encouraged me to try more methods for inking art. The ol' pigment liners are getting a little long in the tooth, and I can't get very good strokes with them; especially not with variable line widths. Got some real inking sketchpad paper, too, since this ink is somewhat bleedy on my usual copier paper.

Also a Godzilla action figure. I haven't had any of the Legendary series and this one was as good as the others, plus he's got the atomic breath accessory. Now he sits with my vintage Imperial 6" figure from 1989, and my 2007 soft vinyl Bandai 7" 1968 Godzilla and his rogues gallery! Including the new Gigan figure I bought! The paint job looks awesome. Way better than the old bootleg "Gigan-ish?" figure I had as a kid.
I will say that one thing I don't care for much is what I guess to be the new process of licensed toymaking: taking the 3D files from the movies and down-rezzing them for the toy molds. I'm pretty sure this is how it works, because these new Monsterverse toys are made by Playmates and the previous (King of the Monsters, Godzilla 2014) line was made by Jakks Pacific, but they look almost identical except for subtle differences in how the figures articulate.
I mean, sure it's probably faster and cheaper than doing a new sculpt for each variation. But a lot of times it results in less articulation and a duller look to the final figures. BACK IN MY DAY your plastic doll could fully loop their arms or necks 360 degrees, now there are tons of sculpt in the way and articulation seems to be an afterthought. Big G can't even turn his head despite it clearly being a separate piece from the rest of him.

I also bought various tools to try and fix up my old 10" Trendmasters Godzilla figure. A stripped screw was keeping me from getting to the battery compartment to remove some leaking alkalines, so I wound up order a couple of different screw removal sets before finding one that worked. In the process, I also had to snip a couple of wires. I'll probably reconnect those, and replace the stripped screw with a set of neodymium magnets to keep the battery cover in place. That way, I won't have to worry about stripping screws in the future.

 

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I purchased some groceries and a replacement blower motor for a 2013 Toyota Highlander.

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On 2/15/2021 at 2:29 PM, M2 Ball said:

I purchased some groceries and a replacement blower motor for a 2013 Toyota Highlander.

The one that drives the squirrel cage fan for the AC?

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43 minutes ago, ABronyAccount said:

The one that drives the squirrel cage fan for the AC?

Yes.  The bearings in the original one were starting to make a consistent "squealing" noise, so I decided to replace it before it became problematic (being able to run "defrost" is a definite safety issue in the Minnesota winter).  Fortunately, it was an easy fix that only cost me around $130.00 or so (it isn't an OEM part, but there is a lifetime warranty on it).  I will take having to replace a basic part worn out by a couple of previous owners over paying "through the nose" for a brand new vehicle with a $40K price tag.

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A crapton of pens and paper.

A 3-pack of Pilot Varsity fountain pens to try them out. They're not labeled as refillable, but you can do it. I haven't yet. They write super smoothly with minimal pressure. However, they also sometimes skip if held at certain angles other pens can handled, and their ink either bleeds or feathers on most of my paper stock. So I'm not entirely sold on fountain pens.

What I do love are gel pens. My favorite are Pilot G-2, and the smoothest to be had among them are the "fine" 0.7mm and "bold" 1.0mm sizes. Just a pleasure to write with, minimal bleed-through, and nice rich colors. The black is the blackest "regular" pen ink I've ever come across, and the lines are uniform with little skipping. I got hooked on these as an ISP technician (we carried memo pads for writing down job info that had to be used rain or shine). They're just great pens, and you can find them anywhere for a good price. I've done a direct comparison to another popular gel pen, the Uniball Signo. The latter has grayer black ink that smears, even days after being written.

I've also bought a few journals. Not because I'm a super organized or creative person, but because recently I've been trying to revive my handwriting habit (and maybe even improve it?). So I keep a dream journal by my night stand, and a general purpose journal in my hobby room. So far my favorite brand is Exceed, a surprisingly awesome journal sold exclusively through Walmart. The paper is super smooth and ghosts very little, even with my fountain pens or (gasp!) those dip pens I bought earlier.

Yes, I sometimes write journal entries with a pen you have to continually dip back into the inkwell, like some kind of wizard. Most of them are impractical for everyday use, but I've found the Hunt 107 to be almost practical. It's frugal with ink but can be used to write smoothly despite its sharp tip. I actually filled up half a page of lousy quality printer paper with an excessively flowery version of the Navy Seal Copypasta with it.
Anyway, these Wally-world specials write better than the much ballyhooed, more expensive Moleskine offerings.  The only things I wish they had were 1) page numbers and 2) acid-free paper, which I didn't know going in. Since my Pilot pens and India ink are "archival" in that they're non-acidic and UV-resistant, I thought I was getting some similarly durable paper. There's something enticing about being able to write something down in pen and paper and have that writing survive for potentially hundreds of years. Sadly, that's less likely without verified acid-free paper. I have mass-market paperbacks that are already falling apart after a few decades from the lousy paper they're printed on.

An alternative I've also tried are the Artist's Loft journals from Michael's. Nice, thicker paper that comes in white instead of cream color and shows even less ghosting with most inks. Not to mention the one I bought has numbered pages and several set aside as an Index/Table of Contents at the front. Apparently it's designed explicitly as a "bullet journal," which wasn't a thing when I was a kid. They're still good with my gel pens, but the slightly rougher finish of the pages tends to make my fountain pen ink feather out and fuzz up my letters. Compared to the Exceed journals, however, the paper has more "tooth" and I've poked into the page a few times with some of my Speedball nibs.

On the subject of nibs, I also bought several Brause nibs and pen holders for them to give me more options. Most of them don't seem practical for use, but the 361 "Blue Pumpkin" is extremely well-behaved even on bad paper, and writes everyday cursive quite smoothly. The 65 L'Ecoliere is also quite nice for handwriting, making a finer line and holding a little more ink than the blue pumpkin. I've also used it for inking drawings, but not as much as originally intended.

This all spiraled out from those Speedball dip pens I bought to ink my drawings, but I'm using them way less for that purpose than for random journal scribbling. Not that I'm complaining, it's at least a lower barrier-to-entry habit where I don't have to be so invested in getting a particular outcome after an hour or two of effort. Beats sitting around staring at a computer monitor for the same amount of time.

 

Oh, I also bought some of the stuff that originally got me into anime way back in the video rental era. This is what you call weebing it up Japanimation style!

Project A-Ko on DVD. I had already bought and paid for it when I found out there's going to be a Blu-Ray remaster from the original filmstock. Crap! You're welcome, though. The latter obviously only happened because I bought it on DVD, just like the Batman: The Animated Series BR remaster that only came out after I spent a cool $100 on the DVDs.
If this wasn't THE first real non-DBZ, non-Sailor Moon anime I ever saw, well, it was dang close. I might have been responsible for more wear and tear on the VHS at Blockbuster than anyone else. The OST track 'Explosion' is a real earworm; something I strongly associate with anime, the early 90s, and where my headspace was at that time.  I think it might be pretty iconic for all the Xillennials like me who could only get a few select bits of anime that had been imported and dubbed on a shoestring budget, since I'm pretty sure the original American distributor used it to promote their other "Japanimation" offerings.

I also bought the 3rd sequel on DVD. It stars MLP alumns Cathy Weseluck in multiple roles, as well as Scott McNeil (Flam), and Venus Terzo (Gen 3 Rainbow Dash)! Why the 3rd sequel and not the other two? Because between the time I put them on my wishlist in late December 2020 and the time I pulled the trigger, those two disappeared from virtual shelves. Rats!

Bubblegum Crisis High-Definition Disctopia. All 8 of the original OAVs on one disk, remastered and looking better than ever! Based on a Kickstarter I didn't know about at the time. The first two volumes were another perennial video rental for me, while I had to wait for the rest to be aired on STARZ Action in the early 2000s because they weren't available on tape anywhere local. You kids with your newfangled CrispySushi or whatever don't know how good you have it! You don't even have to rewind when you're done!

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I have fallen down a rabbit hole because of something I COULD NOT buy.

Godzilla Vs. Biollante on DVD or Blu-Ray.

Most of the copies listed for sale are bootlegs. The official copies are going for up to $300 on the secondary market.

But I remembered having a copy on VHS! Small problem: no VCR. Also, I want to have a digital copy to watch with my other Godzilla movies (see previous page). So I figured, no problem! I'll borrow a VCR and look up online how to make digital copies from analog sources.

This is a warren of doom leading to places that will destroy your wallet.

There's the cheaper way. It works. I got a watchable digital file with the help of MKVTooolNix (which I bought through the MS Store to support the developer), a kind of janky DVD capture device, and a really nice S-Video/RCA to HDMI converter. I also had to buy new S-video cables.

But my digitized version is not great. Some of that, I'm sure, is from the VHS being VHS. Some is from the fact that this VHS was probably NOT given the spotlight treatment when it was transferred in the early 90s for the US market. Some is from the fact that this VHS is old enough to be a parent itself. But some of it is also due to the VCR I'm using not having certain picture-enhancing features.

So after a couple of weeks I found a really nice semi-pro S-VHS/MiniDV deck. I paid a lot for it. Almost as much as it cost new 20 years ago.

And to make for a really good capture, I could go further. I could hunt around for a working capture device that does raw uncompressed video capture (hard to find for modern platforms), and most importantly a "full-frame time base corrector." That's where this gets really expensive. Used TBCs are going on eBay for nearly $2k. I'm not prepared to pay that for this project, even if I could justify it by also using it to transfer all the family's personal videos. I kinda want to, though...

I also bought a new battery and charger for my family's old Samsung Hi8 camcorder to help get the video transfer project rolling.

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Superman Smashes the Klan, adapted from "The Clan of the Fiery Cross" from the old Superman radio show. I've ordered the graphic novel collection after reading the 3-issue miniseries.

 

Superman Smashes the Klan

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