Tuesday, February 26

And The Eyes Have It

This is a loosely Oscars related blog entry, motivated by boredom, coffee and hormones.

How fucking gorgeous is Diablo Cody!

That's all... back to twiddling my thumbs I think.

Monday, February 25

DiCaprio Kickstarts Akira

Leonardo DiCaprio will put a big screen spin on anime classic Akira. With backing from Warner Bros he'll produce what could turn out to be a two part epic. In the original film by Katsuhiro Otomo the action unfolds in 'New Tokyo' shortly after a nuclear holocaust. It centres on a teen biker who is subjected to a government experiment that unleashes his latent powers. Oh, and he has to, like, save the world and stuff.

The Hollywood version will relocate the story to New Manhattan, a city kindly rebuilt from the rubble with Japanese money. It's the stuff of fantasy.

I went to Nagasaki the other day and visited the war museum there. Now without getting into the politics, history or morals of the atomic bomb attack on Nagasaki let me just say that I was shocked and disgusted by what can only be considered a disgustingly callous chapter of human history.

However, it doesn't seem to matter how sobering and serious a thing I presented with, I can always seem to bring it back to pop-culture, cult classics and otaku-obsessiveness. In this case my first thoughts were about The Watchmen, another comic that Holywood has set out to butcher. In this graphic novel a superhero called Mr Manhattan protects America during the cold war, I only realised when I visited the museum that Dr Manhattan represented the nuclear threat, and the character was losing his humanity and his ability to empathize as he became more powerful. Oh... so that wasn't just a plot device but a commentary on the nuclear arms race.

My second thought went to a film I've not seen but really need to make the effort to see, Dr Strangelove: Or, how I Learnt How to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, another film about the lunacy of the nuclear war. And any film that has this dialouge has to be on the top of your to-watch-list:

General Jack D. Ripper: Were you ever a prisoner of war?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Well, yes I was, matter of fact, Jack, I was.
General Jack D. Ripper: Did they torture you?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Uh, yes they did. I was tortured by the Japanese, Jack, if you must know; not a pretty story.
General Jack D. Ripper: Well, what happened?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Oh, well, I don't know, Jack, difficult to think of under these conditions; but, well, what happened was they got me on the old Rangoon-Ichinawa railway. I was laying train lines for the bloody Japanese puff-puff's.
General Jack D. Ripper: No, I mean when they tortured you did you talk?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Ah, oh, no... well, I don't think they wanted me to talk really. I don't think they wanted me to say anything. It was just their way of having a bit of fun, the swines. Strange thing is they make such bloody good cameras.

This from the BBC website:

And now to the quote from the BBC: Akira, the original Anime, was one of the things that first got me interested in Japan. I watched it and was captured by it's philosophy, art, style and it's pace. If there is one thing I could possibly attribute to my being here in Japan now, then it's this film.

Akira begins by showing a nuclear explosion that destroys Tokyo. It is later suggested that the explosion was caused by experiments by the Japanese on a young boy, the namesake of the film, Akira. Akira represented a step forward in the human races evolutionary process, he was becoming something akin to a superhero, but due to military interference his power became unstable, uncontrollable and then atomic. The aftermath of this was a Japan where teenagers were lawless hoodlums, the military policed the curfew restricted streets and protest to their oppressive regime was answered with tear gas and battery. Amongst all this another boy discovers the same power inside of him that Akira had, but angry, rejected and disenfranchised, he chooses, well maybe chooses is wrong, but he uses his powers to destroy and kill.

What does Akira say about Japan's feelings about atom weapons? Or at least what does it say about the authors thoughts?

Anyway, my thoughts have wandered enough, I don't know what the point of this post was, maybe it was just a way to suggest some conversation starters or to start a conversation in on itself.

Got to Catch Them All

So I bought myself a DS not to long ago. I think that I have already blogged about my DS and how much time I'm putting into the little beauty. Well I thought that my gaming taste may have matured and that I would of joined the Touch Generation and maybe I was a casual gamer like the legions of Wii and DS owners out there who only have their systems for Wii Sports or Brain Training. It tuns out that I'm hardcore to the core, but my tastes have indeed changed.

First Person Shooters used to be the order of the day, those and role playing games in the form of Zelda and Final Fantasy. The occasional shooter and brick matching or colour matching puzzler would slip in and I will always have room in my heart for button basher friendly fighters (Soul Calibur Anyone?). But now my new thing isn't testing my Brain Age or a quick game of Suduko, no, it's a long drawn out game of Pokemon, the monster collecting game. This game is so ridiculousy in depth that it's cutesy graphics belie the truly overwhelming and stat heavy geekery of the game.

I love this game, is slow paced, it takes place in an open world and allows me the freedom to challenge the game at my own pace, there is a requirement for strategy, planning and dedication that appeals to me, but more than that it's really cute. All the people are represented as these stumpy legged big-eyed Kubrick-eque cartoon characters. The things characters say in the game range from inane to bizare, and insightful to absurd, but are always fun. As a demonstration of usability the interface is good (improvements could be made but not without damaging it's simplicity), easy to navigate and to memorise.

What makes this a hardcore game? It's the fact that so much effort needs to go into it to really play it. It isn't a throw away curio like Brain Training, Pokemon training, the in game characters would suggest, is a way of life, it's a whole world to explore and it's an adventure to be had. This is a game that asks it's players to dedicate considerable time exploring it, something I'm all to happy to give it.

Wednesday, February 20


There are no words running through my mind
They were there (Now they’re not)
As if the thought of speaking them made me numb
I thought them
But can’t say them because the thought struck me dumb

I still know these thoughts (they’re in the core of me)
They’re my hearts desire (they’re my whole being)
Yet still, I can’t quite seem
To say the words, which my soul means

Just three little words (not words enough)
I bandied those words around before
The words I want now must mean much more
They can’t be little, of that my mind is sure
For if they were little, what would I hesitate for?

Perhaps my soul isn’t sure
My heart, my being, my core

My mental block is doubt

Thursday, February 14

Mobile Phone Pictures: Singapore

The cats of Sarawak.
Dodgy and fake Nintendo Wii's being sold in Singapore.

The greasiest burger I have ever attempted to eat. It was so fatty that it turned the bun grey... I couldn't finish it.

Mango... yum! Ridiculously expensive in Japan, but plentiful and cheap in Singapore. In fact all the food was reasonable and delicious.

These are the same as the statues in Nara and Kyoto apparently, and people are shocked when I tell them that they aren't actually Japanese but Chinese.

Imagine mistaking a sit down toilet for a squatter toiler.

Beautiful and colour bridge near to Boat Quay.

The Merlion.

Virtual Reality

Always seem to be governed by this love we have
For useless,
Our new technology
Oh now there is no sound
For we all live underground

Jamiroquai - Virtual Insanity

So, it was recently suggested that I may be better in a 'virtual relationship' than a 'real' one. At first hearing this I was taken aback that someone would want to insult me like that, and then on giving it some thought I wondered, 'what makes a real relationship'?

Aren't all my relationships real by the very virtue that they exist? Is it proximity or locality that makes a relationship more real? I don't think so. Now that I live in Japan and my friends are scattered all over the world, sometimes the only contact I have with them are through e-mail, text or by phone. That doesn't mean they no longer exist to me in a very real way, they existence hasn't become virtual.

All of my relationships, whether it be with friends of family, have merit despite the fact that I can not talk to these people face to face. And what is the value of face to face interaction with someone like me anyway? I'm introverted and somewhat closed, I make no secret of it, that is who I am, people have their faults and people change and overcome their shortcomings given the right impetus. For the moment I am happy to express myself here, in this place, on this blog, because this is as real as anything else in my life. And what I can't say to your face, I can say here or in a letter, there are people who can't say those things at all.

Hhmm.. vague.

Anyway, I found an interesting article that argues my point far more eloquently. Here.

Wednesday, February 6

The Charlie Clempson Fan Club

I lived with a girl once, not something I will encourage anyone to do in a hurry. It's a tough gig, you're in close proximity of your lover all the time, and unless you feel that you can relax with this person, that you can truly feel comfortable with the, then you're up shit's creek without a fuck-oar.

Fortunately I loved this girl so living with her was a whole heap of fun most of the time. We fought sometimes, and there were many an occasion when I didn't understand why she seemed to stubbornly refuse to see things from my far more rational POV.

Fighting escalated, and those things that I thought were cute and endearing became boring and in some cases irritating. I consequently became less considerate, more irritable in her presence and less eager to be in her around her too. Many a night I came home late without calling, or went out with the boys with no word on whether I would be home or where I was going.

one of us was crying in a comedy club and the other was rolling their eyes and making very audible and exasperated sighs

On one of our dates I had invited most of my friends to come with us not realizing that the girlfriend and I were supposed to be enjoying the evening alone, and on realizing my mistake instead of being apologetic I became defensive; "Why can't you just enjoy the evening anyway? Do you have to make a scene now?"

A similar incident on Valentines where I pointed out several of her faults that particularly annoyed me, forgot my wallet and didn't comfort her when I pushed her to tears, led to us breaking up.

I felt angry... unfairly treated, unjustly rejected, I felt that I deserved a second chance...

It's odd, from this point in time, looking back with the aid of hindsight I can see that we were on the rocks and things were not good. If I had been more attentive to the relationship I may have tried to weather the storm or had ended it before it had got so bad that one of us was crying in a comedy club and the other was rolling their eyes and making very audible and exasperated sighs.

However when that fateful day came, and the tables were turned and it was Charlie telling me what it was exactly that she didn't like about me, I found myself totally unprepared. I felt angry, I felt unfairly treated, unjustly rejected, I felt that I deserved a second chance, totally unaware that I had taken liberties with second and third chances already, the relationship was over.

I wish now that I had only take the time to think about everything, to see things from Charlie's point of view and then to think about myself and how I'd been acting, and more importantly why I'd been acting that way. I was inconsiderate, uncaring and thoughtless because it's in my nature to be, but because I had become bored of Charlie, bored of our relationship and resentful of her for being the part of the relationship I no longer enjoyed.

Living with someone has it's benefits you see, companionship being the biggest and one, and with companionship sometimes dependancy. I had grown dependent on Charlie through friendship and love, and then in the later stages of our relationship, just out of habit.

I learnt to never pretend that something is something it is not on the basis of what it once was

It was Charlie who realised that I wasn't in love with her first, she then acted on that, mostly because she needed love and affection as well as companionship, and she found it in someone else.

It took a while to get over what I felt was a betrayal, I felt that if there were problems with our relationship then she should have come to me before going to someone else. I feel like a hypocrite now, because I felt there were problems in our relationship but instead of facing them I ignored them, in doing so I betrayed my own feelings and was just as dishonest to her.

The end of that relationship was a pivotal point in my life, initially it meant that I would later live with Brin and consider going to Japan on the JET programme as a result, I would find work in London and decide to become a Project Manager and I would refocus my efforts at University and come out the other end having done pretty well. But more than that I learnt to never let myself become that same coward again, who would stay in a relationship just because the alternative is being alone, or pretend that something is something it is not on the basis of what it once was.

And that is why I'm a Charlie Clempson fan, because without her brave example of self preservation highlighting my comparable example of cowardice, I wouldn't be the person I am today. And I may be at fault in many ways but I like myself and know my own worth enough to know what I deserve and when I deserve better.

Friday, February 1

4 Seasons!

Japan has four seasons, count them! FOUR! Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Mr. Rest Of The World, because we don't care how many seasons you have,we are better because we have, not one, not two, not three but FOUR, yep... go knock your head on the corner of a block of tofu and die!

Hmmm... anyway, got this email yesterday and thought I would post it here for the amusement of passing traffic.

    Check out this article....


    So C found the webpage of the people who are behind this campaign and it begins with something like "Japan has 4 unique seasons..... blah blah blah.. therefore we have a unique cuisine...."

    K says that sometimes when people ask him how he feels about life in Japan he explains that he found it difficult to adjust because in Canada they have 4 seasons and it's not the same in Japan. Apparently you can almost see people's heads exploding when you throw that at them. Gotta give it a try one day.

    I went to an elementary school today and I was explaining to some 2nd graders that northern Australia is hot all year round. But southern Australia is hot during summer and it even gets cold enough to snow in places in winter. At that point one of the teachers asked me if we have spring and autumn too.

    Is it possible to turn from summer to winter without an autumn? Can it turn from winter to summer without a spring? Can it be summer one day and winter the next?

    Anyways, C reckons he's going to send an email to the people in charge of the campaign for Japanese food. He's going to suggest that restaurants in Japan get stickers of approval for all of the foreign foods they make... and then explain that no restaurant in Japan will manage to get the sticker because Japan has screwed up most foods they've adopted from other countries. Here is a list...
  • Pizza
  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Curry
  • Christmas Cake
  • Kimchi
  • Wine
  • Sausages
  • Breakfast Cereal        
Anyone who has ever eaten a Japanese equivalent of any foreign food will appreciate the irony.

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