2007-07-31

Try Hard to Die Hard.

I have to wrap up a few loose posts before I trek to Canuckle-head land and they become too obscure to bother posting. So here goes...

I saw Die Hard 4.0 (and I guess that's a marginally better title than "Live Free or Die Hard" due to the computer references) and it was exactly what I expected. 2 hours plus with John McLane getting his ass kicked and kicking some ass, lots of "blowed up real good" effects, sarcastic quips and a few surprises. I'd say it ranks below DH1 (of course), but above DH 2 & 3. I don't really know his co-protagonist, Justin Long at all, but he was a welcome addition as a tag-along partner. The antagonist played by Tim Olyphant was meh (that means ママ or so-so to the uninitiated.) But his side-kick, Maggie Q was a great baddie who could kick sides with the best of them. John's daughter was a tooth & nails little vixen, but the true joy of the whole movie was the cameo by Kevin Smith as Warlock. He puts the geek in uber-geek!

Check out a trailer here.
It's Pandemonia!

A popular pandemic of Panda products presently proliferates the populus and panders to my psyche!

This train conducter is eating 南部せんべい (nanbu senbei-a peanut encrusted snack) from the Southern part of Iwate.

These cute little attachments to Kirin brand, 玉露の生茶 (gyokuro no namacha = refined tea) are now sprung on the masses. It showcases 48 different pandas wearing a variety of costumes and promoting an edible specialty from different regions throughout the country. Unfortunately, I take off for Canada on Thursday, so I won't be able to buy many. But I'll get a few and pawn them off on my pals in the Great White North.
This Hawaiian beauty is offering up some 喜多方ラーメン (kitakata ramen), a noodle dish famous in the Central Fukushima prefecture.


I'll leave you with this panda anime, but caution, the music is awful, you may want to turn it off!

Less Snider than the next guy.

Tom Snyder has died at the age of 71. Growing up, my only knowledge of him was due to Dan Ackroyd's uncanny impersonation of him on SNL in the mid-70s ("...the key to impersonating Tom Snyder -- is to wet and stick out your lower lip.") Later, I'd catch him occasionally on The Late Late Show after Letterman and though brusque, I found him to be a witty and erudite individual with a knack for getting to the truth without insulting or chastising his guests, an art lost by today's interviewers. Mark Evanier has a good writeup of him over here.



Here is Tom in conversation with Harlan Ellison and a few members of the Star Trek troupe...


I can't find any clips of Ackroyd as Tom, but this ST parody has Ackroyd as Bones, sounding an awful lot like his Snyder persona. (It's infringing copyright to show the whole thing, so it's been spliced with In Living Color & The Wonder Years.)



And finally, last night I caught an episode of Home Movies which was produced by Snyder's production company, Soup2Nuts.

2007-07-29

Snoopy Doggy Dogg.

I honestly believe that Charles M. Schulz started going senile in the 80s. I was hard pressed to find many even remotely amusing strips and I think when he expanded his Peanuts universe to include Spike & Snoopy's extended family, Rerun and such one-shots as Tapioca Pudding, he began to lose it.

Here are a few of the only somewhat funny strips he had from a 1986 book that was translated into Japanese (why bother?)








But, boyohboy, did Japan fall in love with the character of Snoopy. Sure, I loved him in the 60s, I religiously bought all the books when they were 50 or 60 cents and I even bought The Gospel According to Peanuts for my dad one year for Father's Day (he was an Anglican Minister, in case ya didn't know.) There are entire stores devoted to ONLY Snoopy paraphernalia, just like the stores devoted to Hello Kitty, Ghibli or Pooh. But Japanese people know next to nothing about the strip or its characters.



Here are some Premiums that came with Pepsi NEX Zero last month. I got all except Joe Cool, but I never really cared for that Snoopy persona, so I'm not too broken up about it. You should know who they all are, so I won't elaborate.

























Here's a blurb from the man himself:

Brit's Don't Quit!

The British invasion happened at Shaft on Friday and it was a pretty rocking event. I don't think as many people came as desired, but those who did were appreciative of some darn good tunes, courtesy of DJs Mixture, Jools, Ed & Mokugohan (and some guys I don't know.)

Mixture, a Brit by birth but not by girth, spun via cds for a change for his normal repetoire of funky dance music includes very little music from the Motherland.

Jools (on the right), the baldest and boldest of the bunch, had a bit of vinyl, but he too had to succomb to those laser-enhanced discs. Ed, the man with the plan, who flew all the way from England for this event, (of course, he also organized it) played a magnificent set of Brit-rock new & old. These two have both moved onto greener pastures, but they were the founding fathers of Shaft. What a legacy!

Fortunately Mokugohan weaseled his way into a gig, sure he's not British, but we Canucks are Colonists (the dang Queen is on our currency). Thank God he showed up, for I suspect that he was the only DJ of the night who used only vinyl. His first half was all the cool esoteric stuff that he's famous for, and then for his second half got the dance floor packed with the likes of New Order and Blur. Alas, his bit got cut short due to some miscommunication, for he was just starting to rock the joint.
Aussie Ando & Canuck Rob representing the colonies.
Guy whose name I always forget (John?...it's something unusual like that) and another guy.
Akari brought a friend.












Apple sporting his Tattoos.
Ed's wife, Ayako in the centre, flanked by Mizuho?? & Noburo. They used to come to every Echophonyk event back in the Stefan era, but haven't returned since he moved to Vancouver.
Apple Mixture...Mmmm. Yummy!
Ando making the moves on Akari.

You should be dancing, yeah.
I am your father!
Darth Mixture dies an ignominious death.



A very fetching Akari. Check out the autographed Monkey Majik poster behind her.
Is that Jabba with a light sabre?
I left early (alone!) due to an upset tummy from a nasty Barium cocktail that I had earlier in the day for a health check at work.




We Echo-types need to organize our own Brit night. Only we'll invite other countries to play as well.

2007-07-28

Abe-nai, Abunai! 安倍ない、危ない!

Tomorrow is another election, it seems like we had one only last April. Oh, we did. I can't pretend to know the first thing about Japanese politics (or for that matter, Canadian, American or Peruvian politics), but I do know that Mr. Abe didn't have much of a chance to prove his worth while in office. He was overcome with scandals with fellow party members from the get-go and got no support from anyone else in his cabinet. As per this article, @In the brief 10 months of Abe's administration, three ministers have departed — one committing suicide and two others resigning. Another, new agriculture minister Norihiko Akagi, is also under fire over questions about official funds."

Who knows what he might have accomplished if he had the chance. But we'll never know. for it appears that he'll be ousted as PM. He'll stick around though, but who knows what other scandals he'll get involved in?

I am impressed by the voter turnout of the Japanese people. 10,000,000 have already prevoted and tomorrow promises to be a zoo around the polls. We'll never see numbers like that in North America.

Btw, speaking of Peruvian politics, today is Peru's Independence Day (from Spain's rule back in 1821). Their 10th Prez, just happened to be one, 藤森 謙也 (Fujimori Kenya), who was President of Peru from July 28, 1990 to November 17, 2000. He was the first Asian to ever hold office in South America, but he wasn't much of a leader. Human's Rights abuses and other scandals were part of the reason that he left Peru and resigned by fax. Well, lo and behold, if, in June 2007, Fujimori hadn't announced his candidacy for the House of Councillors, under the banner of the People's New Party.

My roving reporter in Tokyo snapped this revealing photo about him. There were absolutely know people in attendance at his rally the other day. Who knows if he'll be successful, he might be a future PM over here!

As for the post title, it loosely translates as 安倍ない、危ない or Beware, No Abe! (Abe-nai = No Abe; abunai = Beware/ Danger!) My other title was going to be Abeyance, but I thought it wasn't as catchy.
Beauty is only skin deep.



口裂け女, (Kuchisake-onna or Slit-Mouth Woman) refers to both a story in Japanese mythology, as well as a modern version of the tale of a woman, mutilated by a jealous husband, and returned as a malicious spirit bent on committing the same acts done to her.

This story resurfaced in 1979 with several school children claiming they were accosted by the eponymous woman. It also cropped up in Korea with a similar story.



This charming little romp is one of the first Japanese urban legends I'd heard several months ago. It seems that this lovely tale is now featured on our pay-TV station, but I won't be seeing it anytime soon. I'll wait for it to come on one of my other stations. If you're interested in reading a review, click away.

My recommendation, should you be approached by a young lady wearing a surgical mask and inquiring about their beauty, respond, "You look ordinary." If you respond any other way or try to escape and you'll become her next victim. Bwaa-Ha-Ha!

For a dispelled Urban legend, go no further than here.

2007-07-26

BLAH, BLAH, BLAHG.

I've just been informed that I've been transgressing school policy by posting photos of students without their parents' permission. I suspected this was the case, but now it's been confirmed.

So, I'll be expunging all photos of students from this blog. Apparently, mentioning festivals, and school activities that I'm involved in is also taboo. So they, too, will be expunged! Sorry if anyone will miss the posts, but I don't want them to be used for nefarious purposes (and I really don't want to lose my job!)

If you see the label "school life (edited)", you'll know that the entry has been altered.

(Besides, that'll save me lots of space on my allotted megabytes from Blogger.)
Homer: "It's pronounced nucular, honey. Nu-cu-lar".

I love Godzilla and all the other nuclear-spawned monsters, but I certainly don't think that Japan should jump the gun by creating more. I know there aren't many places to build them in Japan, but of our 55 Nuclear Power plants, several of them are built on volatile tectonic plates. So it was no surprise that damage was done when a 6.8 quake hit the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant a few weeks ago. But the repercussions are slowly beginning to leak.

My favourite physicist blogger can speak more eloquently on the subject than I, so I'll trust you to go there to look up some facts. In the interim, life goes on, scandals abound and problems with inspections continue.

For example, "Crane damage at reactor may delay core checks." Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki expressed concern stating, "If new cases of damage are found in the operator's inspections of the facilities, the government will conduct strict investigations,"
He voiced concern that such damage may erode public trust in nuclear plants. I frankly never had much trust in Japan's nuclear facilities and this does nothing to avert those concerns. When there is sabotage and arson at a power plant, who needs to worry about a piddling earthquake. Just the thought of it makes me tremour.

Furthermore, some facilities are just not up to snuff when it comes to preparedness for temblors. Now who's at fault, the inspectors, the designers, the saboteurs, the workers or God? I think one of the culprits would be the public.

Do we really need 2-5 vending machines at every street corner in Urban areas? Is it really necessary to have them outside of a Convenience store where you can buy the same item inside? Fortunately, they shut down the cigarette and booze vending machines at midnight, so that children under 20 can't get at them. How many times when you were 13-19 did you want to sneak out of bed in the wee hours of the night so you could grab a pack of fags or a cold one? And now 'tis the season to put the air conditioners at full blast so that you need to wear a sweater indoors, sweat like a pig when you go to the corner to grab a soft drink and a smoke and then freeze those droplets of perspiration once you're back in the building. No wonder everyone has the sniffles in the summer and everyone one walks around looking like Hawkeye Pierce in surgery.

But at least we don't have this guy in office so we can rest a little easier!

As for Gojira, BRING IT ON!

2007-07-25

Another milestone breached!

I have surpassed 700 posts! Since I have a lot of down time between now and a trek to Canada next week, I may make it to 800 posts.

I'm taking this opportunity to add labels to all my earlier posts. I'll also try and expunge the unlinkable and put up caveats for unviewable YouTubes.

In honour of this, here's a YouTube of Puffy that hasn't been expunged!



Update: expunged...
Yabba-dabba-doo!

I love 恐竜 (kyouryuu = dinosaurs.) Who doesn't? There's a dino-rama at the Science Museum here in Sendai right now.

If Alex can drag his daughter away from her cucumber long enough, I want us to go check it out.









If we're lucky, we can have Cup Noodle for lunch. Just watching these, makes me clamour for some...

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The Uintatherium is a pretty fascinating dino, and I don't think it gets enough airplay. (Enough with the Mammoths and Sabretooths!) I gotta check my dino-collection at home and see if I have one. There are about a dozen of these Cup Noodle ads, click around YouTube to find them.
It makes Crop Circles look like Crap Circles.

Thanks to good old Boingboing, I have discovered yet another fascinating aspect of Japan. The originating source, Pink Tentacle reports about Inakadate, they sprinkle a little yellow-leafed kodaimai rice amongst the regular rice in their fields to create magnificent works of art.

For those of you who believe it to be photoshopped, here are some
time-frame photos.

I really wanna fly above Japan in a blimp and check these out!
Vroooom!

I'm a Chevrolet Corvette!



You're a classic - powerful, athletic, and competitive. You're all about winning the race and getting the job done. While you have a practical everyday side, you get wild when anyone pushes your pedal. You hate to lose, but you hardly ever do.


Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.



I don't know how accurate that is, but I did have one of them as a Hot Wheels as a kid! The only car I've ever out and out owned was this '89 black Mustang. I got it used and drove that bugger into the ground with a road trip to New Orleans from Toronto and innumerable camping trips including the infamous Hooters tour of Northern New York. After sinking tons of $ into it on repairs, it was sold for junk.

(Idea for this quiz is thanks to Kelly at Mixed Nuts, an up'n'coming TV bigwig.)

2007-07-24

I'm Rich!

Now, I just sit back and wait for all the cash to roll in.


My blog is worth $1,129.08.
How much is your blog worth?



Top 10 Money songs:

10. Money Rock...Schoolhouse Rocks.
9. How Much is That Doggie in the Window?...Patti Page. (Not really about money, but it is cute. I once had this on 78. Does anyone remember 78s?)
8. Pennies From Heaven...Written by Johnny Burke and Arthur Johnston, but I like the Arthur Tracy version used in the Steve Martin movie. (Sure it isn't about Money per se, but I love this song. I often sing the Bing Crosby version at karaoke.)
7. Money for Nothing...Dire Straits.
6. Money, That's what I want...Beatles, but the Blues Brothers' version is pretty kickass too. Here is a Jose Feliciano version. (He's a sexy blind man!)
5. Mony, Mony...Billy Idol (sorry, this song isn't about Money at all.)
4. We're in the Money...From Gold Diggers of 1933, Music & Lyrics by Al Dubin & Harry Warren, Sung by Ginger Rogers & chorus.
3. Money, Money...Cabaret.
2. Money...Pink Floyd.

And the #1 Money song is:

The Money Song...Monty Python (Eric Idle)

I've got ninety thousand pounds in my pajamas,
I've got forty thousand French francs in my fridge.
I've got lots of lovely lire,
Now the Deutschemark's getting dearer,
And my dollar bills would buy the Brooklyn Bridge.

Chorus: There is nothing quite as wonderful as money,
There is nothing quite as beautiful as cash.
Some people say it's folly,
But I'd rather have the lolly,
With money you can ma-ake a splash.

Finale: There is nothing quite as wonderful as money,
(money, money, money, money)
There is nothing like a newly minted pound,
(money, money, money, money)
All: Everyone must hanker for the butchness of a banker,
It's accountancy that makes the world go round.
(round, round, round)
You can keep your Marxist ways
For it's only just a phase.
For it's money money money makes the world go round.
(money, money, money, money, money, money, money, money, moneeeeeeeeeeeyyyy)

(I play this song as an introduction when I teach Money to my students.)

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