2008-02-29

Ten Lords a'Leaping.

February 29th has come and gone (I started this post yesterday but didn't have time to finish it) and I can't say it was too eventful.

The Japanese word for Leap Year is 閏年 (uruu-doshi; 閏 uruu = remainder + 年 toshi = year.) The specific kanji for uruu literally means "king in the gate", so it's considered a temporary situation where he won't leave his castle. Apparently what did finally lure him out of the castle was the seduction of a strip tease! (Maybe the dancer was LEAPing?)

For a really long story about
Amaterasu (the sun deity) and 12 Princesses (representing 12 phases of the moon), click if you're interested.

I did have a few last night and during a joke exchange between myself and Adam, heard a good one (completely unrelated to Leap Year though.)

This guy walks into a bar with a giraffe and they start pounding back the whiskeys, getting drunker and drunker. It's nearing last call and and after one more shot, the giraffe passes out on the floor. The guy pays up and goes to leave when the bartender says, "Hey, you can't leave that lying there!"
He says, "That's not a lion, that's a giraffe!"

2008-02-26

The Oscar-Meyer Weiners.

Let's see how well I did:

Best motion picture of the year: Almost nailed it.
"No Country for Old Men" Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers

Performance by an actor in a leading role: Nailed it.
Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood". Not bad for a guy with two left feet. (I saw Sweeney Todd last night and adored it. "Johnny gets passed over yet again.)

Performance by an actress in a leading role: Not even close.
Marion Cotillard in "La Vie en Rose". She won it for playing Edith Piaf...sounds like a rice dish. (I've liked Julie Christie ever since Fahrenheit 451. No luck, this time.)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role: Nailed it, even though I've never heard of the guy.
Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men".

Performance by an actress in a supporting role: Not even close.
Tilda Swinton in "Michael Clayton". Good for the White Witch.

Achievement in directing: Nailed it and desired it.
"No Country for Old Men" Joel Coen and Ethan Coen. Gotta see it someday.

Best animated feature film of the year: Nailed it.
"Ratatouille" Brad Bird.



Achievement in art direction: Almost nailed it.
"Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" Art Direction: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo. After watching this movie, it certainly deserves any accolades heaped upon it.



Achievement in cinematography: Nailed it.
"There Will Be Blood" Robert Elswit. Sounds bloody great.

Achievement in costume design: Not even close.
"Elizabeth: The Golden Age" - Alexandra Byrne. She missed out for the Costume award for the prequel, so I guess she deserved it. Sweeney had great costumes too, but they got covered in blood.

Best documentary feature: Not even close.
"Taxi to the Dark Side" - Alex Gibney and Eva Orner. I hear it is torture to sit through it.

Best documentary short subject: Nailed it, even though I'd never heard of it.
"Freeheld" - Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth. Yay, lesbians!

Achievement in film editing: Not even close.
"The Bourne Ultimatum" - Christopher Rouse. Still don't like the shakey-cam and all the copycats we're going to be subjected to (Can anyone say bullit-time?)

Best foreign language film of the year: Not even close, but who knew Nazis would become popular again.
"The Counterfeiters" - Stefan Ruzowitzky (Austria)

Achievement in makeup: Nailed it.
"La Vie en Rose" - Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald. Thank gawd it didn't go to Norbit (winner of several Razzies!)

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score): Nailed it.
"Atonement" - Dario Marianelli. He missed out on V for Vendetta, so he was due.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song): Almost nailed it.
"Falling Slowly" from "Once" - Music and Lyrics by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. I knew the Enchanted songs would cancel each other out. Explain why Sweeney Todd was overlooked for both Score & Songs. Is it because the tunes are old?

Best animated short film: Nailed it.
"Peter & the Wolf" - Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman. Though the Canadian one didn't win, I am very impressed with this.



Best live action short film: Nailed it.
"Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)" - Philippe Pollet-Villard. The French really cleaned up these Awards. Next year expect a Documentary on Poutine.

Achievement in sound editing: Not even close.
"The Bourne Ultimatum" - Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg. Louder than Transformers I guess.

Achievement in sound mixing: Almost nailed it.
"The Bourne Ultimatum" - Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis. Granted it was certainly mixed well.

Achievement in visual effects: Not even close.
"The Golden Compass" - Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood. I'm sorry but CGI animals look like CGI animals to me. Now CGI robots look like robots!

Adapted screenplay: Not even close. But hey, if you're going to sweep, you need a big broom (I don't even know what that means.)
"No Country for Old Men" - Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

Original screenplay: Nailed it.
"Juno" - Written by Diablo Cody Right on for this one. Though the stripper-writer is American, the lead and director were both Canajuns.

Wow! Pretty good! Nailed it 11 times! (45.8%) Almost nailed it 4 times! (16.7%) Not even close 9 times (37.5%) but most of the not even close were for obscure categories.

For an amusing take on the Awards, I recommend Ken Levine, writer of MASH, Cheers & Frasier.
I'm going to steal a line that he, himself, stole from writer Allan Katz: "Jessica Alba; a perfect color dress to go with her present shape -- eggplant."

2008-02-24

The Envelope Please.

Last year I had a modicum of success in choosing the Oscar winners. Here are my picks from a year ago. I had seen many more movies from last year's entries than I have for this year. Here are last year's picks & winners.

Thanks to the Writer's strike, we almost didn't have a broadcast and just like last year, I can't find a Japanese station that will show the show. We get to see the Red Carpet celebs before and after, but nada during. I guess I'll have to YouTube it to get John Stewart's best lines.

Without further ado, here are my predictions. Who I think will win will be in bold and who I'd like to win will be in italics. Since 90% have been unseen by my little eyes, it'll be very arbitrary indeed! As far as I know, there are next to NO Japanese entries and very few Canadian ones either.

Performance by an actor in a leading role:
George Clooney in “Michael Clayton”
Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood”
Johnny Depp in “Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (C'mon, it's Depp, dude!)
Tommy Lee Jones in “In the Valley of Elah”
Viggo Mortensen in “Eastern Promises”

Performance by an actress in a leading role:
Cate Blanchett in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”
Julie Christie in “Away from Her”
Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose”
Laura Linney in “The Savages”
Ellen Page in “Juno” (I'd like to see the underdog get a chance.)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role:
Casey Affleck in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”
Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men”
Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Charlie Wilson's War”
Hal Holbrook in “Into the Wild” (No particular insight, but I like him.)
Tom Wilkinson in “Michael Clayton”

Performance by an actress in a supporting role:
Cate Blanchett in “I'm Not There”
Ruby Dee in “American Gangster” (The ONLY nomination I've seen, and she was great.)
Saoirse Ronan in “Atonement”
Amy Ryan in “Gone Baby Gone”
Tilda Swinton in “Michael Clayton”

Achievement in directing
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” Julian Schnabel
“Juno” Jason Reitman
“Michael Clayton” Tony Gilroy
No Country for Old Men” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (I like the Coen-heads!)
“There Will Be Blood” Paul Thomas Anderson

Best animated feature film of the year:
Persepolis” Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud (It'd be nice to see some intelligent animation win it.)
Ratatouille” Brad Bird (I loved it, but I want it to win screenplay.)
“Surf's Up” Ash Brannon and Chris Buck (If there is a God, this won't win.)

Achievement in art direction:
“American Gangster”Art Direction: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Beth A. Rubino
“Atonement” Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
“The Golden Compass” Art Direction: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (I hope to see this movie tomorrow.) Art Direction: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
There Will Be Blood” (I predict a sweep of this movie.) Art Direction: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Achievement in cinematography:
“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” Roger Deakins
“Atonement” Seamus McGarvey
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” Janusz Kaminski
No Country for Old Men” Roger Deakins (It has to win something.)
There Will Be Blood” Robert Elswit

Achievement in costume design
“Across the Universe” Albert Wolsky
Atonement” Jacqueline Durran (I don't even know what its about!)
“Elizabeth: The Golden Age” Alexandra Byrne
“La Vie en Rose” Marit Allen
Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” Colleen Atwood

Best documentary feature:
“No End in Sight”Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience” Richard E. Robbins (It looks like the kind of Rah-Rah movie the Academy would vote for.)
Sicko” Michael Moore and Meghan O'Hara (Only one I've heard of and I really want to hear his speech this time!)
“Taxi to the Dark Side” Alex Gibney and Eva Orner
“War/Dance” Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine

Best documentary short subject: (Never heard of ANY of these.)
Freeheld”Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth
“La Corona (The Crown)”Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega
Salim Baba”Tim Sternberg and Francisco Bello (Cool name, ergo my pick.)
“Sari's Mother” James Longley

Achievement in film editing
“The Bourne Ultimatum” Christopher Rouse (Saw it, but didn't like the vertigo-inducing shakey-cam.)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” Juliette Welfling (Sounds good.)
“Into the Wild” Jay Cassidy
No Country for Old Men” Roderick Jaynes
“There Will Be Blood” Dylan Tichenor

Best foreign language film of the year: (Again, NO insight whatsoever.)
“Beaufort” Israel
“The Counterfeiters”Austria
Katyń” Poland (I have a few Polish friends, I have no friends from the other countries.)
Mongol” Kazakhstan
“12” Russia

Achievement in makeup"
La Vie en Rose” Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald (Why not?)
“Norbit” Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji (Even though, there is a Japanese makeup artist, and I love Rick Baker, I can't believe this was even nominated!)
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” Ve Neill and Martin Samuel (Errr, the makeup in the first two was okay, so maybe this was good too.)

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score):
Atonement” Dario Marianelli
“The Kite Runner” Alberto Iglesias
“Michael Clayton” James Newton Howard
“Ratatouille” Michael Giacchino
3:10 to Yuma” Marco Beltrami (I heard one song.)

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
Falling Slowly” from “Once”Music and Lyrics by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
“Happy Working Song” from “Enchanted” Music - Alan Menken; Lyrics - Stephen Schwartz
Raise It Up” from “August Rush”Music and lyrics by Jamal Joseph, Charles Mack and Tevin Thomas
“So Close”from “Enchanted”Music by Alan Menken Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
“That's How You Know” from “Enchanted”Music - Alan Menken Lyrics - Stephen Schwartz (I'd like“Enchanted”to win something, but 3 songs from the same movie eliminates them from the running!)

Best animated short film:
“I Met the Walrus” Josh Raskin
Madame Tutli-Putli” Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski (It's Canadian, so it has my backing.)
“Même les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven)”Samuel Tourneux and Simon Vanesse
“My Love (Moya Lyubov)” Alexander Petrov
Peter & the Wolf” Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman (I saw a bit of this one and it looks great!)

Best live action short film
“At Night”Christian E. Christiansen and Louise Vesth
“Il Supplente (The Substitute)” Andrea Jublin
Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)” Philippe Pollet-Villard
“Tanghi Argentini” Guido Thys and Anja Daelemans
The Tonto Woman” Daniel Barber and Matthew Brown (I like the title.)

Achievement in sound editing
“The Bourne Ultimatum” Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg
“No Country for Old Men” Skip Lievsay
“Ratatouille” Randy Thom and Michael Silvers
“There Will Be Blood” Christopher Scarabosio and Matthew Wood
Transformers” Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins (It was really loud!)

Achievement in sound mixing
The Bourne Ultimatum” Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis (It needs to win something!)
“No Country for Old Men” Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter Kurland
Ratatouille” Randy Thom, Michael Semanick and Doc Kane
“3:10 to Yuma” Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Jim Stuebe
“Transformers” Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin

Achievement in visual effects
“The Golden Compass” Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood
“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and John Frazier
Transformers” Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier (Good effects, even if I did fall asleep during the climax...story of my life!)

Adapted screenplay
“Atonement” Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
Away from Her” Written by Sarah Polley (Hey, she's a Canuck!)
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
“No Country for Old Men” Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
There Will Be Blood” Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson

Original screenplay
Juno” Written by Diablo Cody (Maybe the Academy will throw the underdog a bone.)
“Lars and the Real Girl” Written by Nancy Oliver
“Michael Clayton” Written by Tony Gilroy
“Ratatouille” Screenplay by Brad Bird; Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird (I'd love to see this win, just to bring some legitimate clout to Animation.)
“The Savages” Written by Tamara Jenkins

Best motion picture of the year: (NO insight, only guesswork.)
“Atonement” Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster, Producers
“Juno” Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick and Russell Smith, Producers
Michael Clayton” Sydney Pollack, Jennifer Fox and Kerry Orent, Producers
No Country for Old Men” Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
“There Will Be Blood” JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Lupi, Producers

Let's see how well I did, once the show is broadcast...

2008-02-23

Cry, 'Havoc!', and Let Slip the Dogs of War.

Did you know that there was a time when dogs were more revered than people in Japan?

徳川 綱吉 (Tokugawa Tsunayoshi , 1646-1709) was the fifth shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty of Japan. Some of his laws, which prohibited the harming of dogs and ordered the establishment of dog kennels, earned him the nickname of "dog shogun" or 犬公方 (Inu-Kubo.) In the 1690s and 1700s, Tsunayoshi, who (like me) was born in the Year of the Dog, thought he should take several measures concerning dogs. Edicts which told the populace to protect dogs were released every day and one could be executed for wounding a dog.

On the other hand, prior to him in the Edo period (1603-1868,) dogs were bred as fighters, including this massive mastiff known as the 土佐犬 (Tosa-inu) or sumo dog. Originally bred to hunt wild boar, the Tosa is today considered a loyal and affectionate pet that can be a guard or guide. Japan is one of the few areas in the world where it is still legal to pit dogs against one another, though this is more like a wrestling match than bloodfest. Winning sumo-dogs can raise up the ranks to the master level of Yokozuna (be sure to click that link to see a real picture of the dog, not the Kittified version.)

There are several other breeds of dogs in Japan, the most famous of which is probably the 秋田犬 (Akita-Ken.) Shibuya's most popular meeting place is the Hachiko statue, honouring the truly loyal Akita who faithfully (in my opinion, stubbornly stupid) awaited his master every day, even 10 years after the professor's death.

This manga/anime called 銀牙 流れ星銀 or Ginga Nagareboshi Gin looks intriguing. Amongst several non-Japanese breeds, it features Akita (the titular Gin as well as Riki, Fuji, Shiro) and Tosa (Musashi & half-breed Benizakura.) While I'm hunting for my Oz stuff, I may try to find it as well.)

Here is the opening...



Buddy Nori, who made his Echophonyk DJ debut last night, owns a few wiener dogs. He occasionally dresses them up in cute doggie-cosplay outfits, but if he ever dressed them up like these Samurai Dogs, he would have my utmost respect!

ps. Today's title comes from line 270, scene 1, Act III of the play "Julius Caesar"...famously uttered by Christopher Plummer as General Chang in "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country".

2008-02-22

A Retroactive Night.

I have been looking forward to this event all month, but I forgot to blog about it and remind you all. Here are the details for tonight's gig:





2008年2月22日
ECHOPHONYK presents RETRO NIGHT
@CLUB SHAFT.

START 20:00-LATE

BRITPOP 8Os DISCO ROCK ELECTRO
HIP HOP

□GUEST-LIST□
¥1500 1 Drink

EMAIL NAME TO
guestlist.

チケットについて
お名前/電話番号/枚数をご記入の上下記アドレスへ送信してください。
guestlist.
その後「予約完了メール」を送信致します

□DOOR□
¥2000 1 drink
¥2000 2 drinks (With Flyer!)

□INTERNATIONAL DJ’s□

MOKUGOHAN (CANADA)
MIXTURE (UK)
DITA (JAPAN)
JULIAN (UK)
NORI (JAPAN)

□VJ NORI

FLYER DESIGNER/WEBSITE DESIGN
N DESIGN STUDIO


■SOUND RECORDING■ DUG (USA)

ECHOPHONYK PODCAST

INFO

EMAIL

Be There or Be Square!

2008-02-21

Animal Crackers.

I also got a box of Animal Crackers. What you see here is the result of two opened boxes and here are the mammals I got.








(From Left to Right:) polar bear シロクマ (shiro-kuma, literally "white bear"); wild boar イノシシ (inoshishi); bear 熊 (kuma); cow 牛 (ushi); rabbit ウサギ (usagi); horse 馬 (uma); tapir バク (baku); rhinoceros サイ (sai); elephant ゾウ (zou); raccoon アライグマ (arai-guma, literally "washing bear"); bat コウモリ (koumori); bear (oops: kuma #2); sheep 羊 (hitsuji); deer シカ (shika); porcupine ヤマアラシ (yama-arashi, literally "mountain storm!"); cow (oops: ushi #2); lynx オオヤマネコ (oo-yama-neko, literally "large mountain cat", sorry I broke it!); squirrel リス (risu); monkey サル (saru).
(Click on the picture to make it ZOO-sized!)

Here are the birds that I received.
horned owl アメリカワシミミズク (amerika-washi mimi-zuku, literally, "American eagle with ear shaped feathers"); hawk タカ (taka); macaw
コンゴウインコ (congou-inko, literally, "golden parrot"); eagle ワシ (washi); parrot オウム(oumu); pigeon ハト (hato); peafowl クジャク (kujaku); duck アヒル (ahiru).

Of course I got several doubles, but who'd have thought that I'd get four cocks (the puerile adolescent in me couldn't resist.) A rooster (cock) is known as おんどり (ondori) here and the famous cock-a-doodle-doo cry is a more realistic コケコッコ (ko-ke-kokko).




Because I'm talking about Animal Crackers, I need to make mention of the comic strip and I had to include Groucho's famous tune, "Hello, I Must Be Going" from the 1930 movie.



For no particular reason apart from the fact that I adore the tune, check out Lydia The Tattooed Lady, sung by Groucho and the same tune sung by Kermit! (Purists, hold your horses, I know that the song is from At the Circus, not Animal Crackers!

2008-02-20

Yamato-flavoured Snacks.

When I last attended Alex's hockey game, I popped into the local supermarket to grab a snack. I came across this package of snacks for 398¥.



It includes a Yamato battleship that normally retails for 399¥. So I feel it's a pretty good bargain.







Okita's Battleship.









Middlesize Carrier Naska.









Supercarrier Valsey.


I need two more to complete the set! That's a lotta snacks!

2008-02-19

Santa Goes to Japan!


Lyman Frank Baum was a busy boy. In addition to his 14 Oz books, he also wrote dozens of other stories, including The Life and Adventures
of Santa Claus
, (which you can read for free!) Of course Japan has anime-ted it and called it 少年サンタの大冒険 which is pronounced as Shonen Santa no Daiboken and literally translates as The Adventures of Santa as a Boy.


The show ran as 24 half-hour episodes between 1996-04-06 and 1996-09-21. The cast consisted of:
Mifuyu Hiiragi as Claus
Hekiru Shiina as Blinky
Masato Yamanouchi as Santa Claus
Megumi Hayashibara as Mary
Mika Kanai as May
Fumihiko Tachiki as Ricky
Mie Suzuki as Marza
Naoki Tatsuta as Flossy
Nobuko Shinokura as Nishil
Rei Sakuma as Ion
Tomohiro Nishimura as Beezle
Urara Miura as Cathy
Urara Takano as Segra
You Inoue as Queen Zaraine
Yuji Ueda as Goozle


I'm in the process of tracking down the series, manga or soundtrack and if I get it, I can relay a few more details. If you're so inclined, you can order any of these soundtracks here, though it helps if you can read Japanese to do so.


The singer of the opening and closing themes was Takako Okamura, but I couldn't find her singing the themes.

So, here is the opening theme "いつも心に太陽を (Itsumo Kokoro ni Taiyou wo) as sung by U-ka Saegusa.



The closing theme is called, 愛という名の翼 (Kimi toiu na no tsubasa) but I couldn't find a copy of it either.

HOHOHO!

UPDATE: I've removed two of the pictures I had previously posted here, since I discovered that they belong to a different Santa series, not the Baum one.
Happy Family Day!

Before I retire, my brother pointed out to me that Monday is Family Day. A brand new statutory holiday in Ontario to tide people over from New Year's Day to Easter. Oh, and Happy Presidents Day to the Americans! (I believe this picture covers both holidays!)

2008-02-18

Ozu In Space.

Hey, it's my 900th post, so here's a treat for you. I'd spoken in the past about the anime/manga version of Dorothy and the gang, but did you know they did a Josie & the Pussycats gig and blasted off to Outer Space? (Hmmm. This post just got hijacked...that Josie link drew me to Cartoon Network Japan with a whole bunch of classic Hanna Barbera toons that have been manga-tized. I'll have to get back to this page another time.)

Okay, back to earth. From 1992/10/05~1993/04/04, there was another anime based on L. Frank Baum's cast of characters. This one was called スペースオズの冒険 or Supe-su Ozu no Boukan = The Wonderful Galaxy of Oz. The plot is similar to the original storyline, but the characters have been transposed into space. There were 26 episodes in Japan and those were squished down into a 76-minute dubbed version for an American video release. I have never seen that version and am now on the prowl for the Japanese version.

Here is the cast, which seems to be made up of several J-pop stars of the early 90s and a few Dramatic actors. (I've translated and linked the first two; for the rest, you're on your own.)
ドロシー:國府田マリ子 Dorothy: Mariko Kouda
チョッパー:竹村拓 Chopper: Hiroshi Takemura
グルーミルダ:上村典子
アルヘリヒト:稲葉実
ブランティ:塩屋浩三
ビスティ:掛川裕彦
ヘンリーおじさん:岡和男
エミリーおばさん:さとうあい
オズ:飯塚昭三
オズ軍将軍:鈴木勝美
ラクドー:辻村真人
オガタン:愛河里花子

The Opening Theme is "To a Dream Adventure (夢の冒険へ)" and the Ending Theme is "Hikari no tabibito" by Yukari Morikawa. (An American version?? I'm not sure.) The Japanese soundtrack was the 9th album of a group called S.E.N.S. It shouldn't be too hard to track down.

The DVD/Video is proving to be a little more difficult to find, but in the interim, I present you with the opening theme...



Tomorrow, be on the look out for Baum's Santa Claus Adventures!

2008-02-15

Happy National Flag of Canada Day!

Enough of my past blathering about Valentine's Day, now on to important holidays, like Flag Day. No one has actually heard of this holiday, I think there's a parade in Ottawa, but that's about it. (Of course, I no longer live in Canada, it could be all over the news with every home boasting its own flag-raising ceremony...but I doubt it.) If no one else is celebrating, I'm sure that Captain Canuck is!

The day the holiday was established in 1996 shall live on in infamy as the day that our then Prime Minister, Jean Cretien, strangled a protester with his Shawinigan Handshake. We need more World Leaders strangling their constituents, don't you think?

2008-02-14

Lots of Giri; Hope No Geri!

Giri-choco (義理-チョコ) is obligation-chocolate, given today from female to male co-workers or from students to teachers. No emotion included, only duty. (Check out last year for more detail.) Slightly disappointing so far, it's not as good a haul as last year. (That may be a good thing, so as to avoid 下痢 (geri)...which is diarrhoea!)

What I (and every other male teacher) received was a lovely box of German chocolate with 3 hearts of chocolate cake and one of vanilla. Yummy!








I did get a mini-chocolate bar from the lunch-lady and a piece of ごえんがあるよ (goenga aruyo = chocolate in the shape of a 5-yen coin) from two different students this morning, so there's still hope.

2008-02-13

Better Red Than Dead!

When you think of Valentine's Day, one automatically thinks of the colour red, doesn't one? 赤 (aka or red) in Japan has a similar connotation but there are several idioms using red that mean something other than love. For example:

赤子の手をひねる akago no te o hineru To describe something easily done. Literally means, "To twist a baby's hand."

赤裸 akahadaka Stark-naked, completely nude.

赤恥をかく akahaji o kaku Be put to shame in public, be humiliated.

赤字 akaji A deficit.

赤くなる akaku naru To blush, to turn red with embarrassment.

赤の他人 aka no tanin A complete stranger.

赤信号 akashingou A red traffic light, a danger signal.

To learn more about the Japanese concept of red, go for it. Here is a very cool colour guide showing all the various shades of red. (Here is the colour guide in Japanese only.)

Voila my pre-Valentine video:



On a more sombre note, February 13th marks the anniversary of my father's death way back in '81. He actually died in the wee hours of the 14th, but we don't need to put a damper on Valentine's Day, do we?
Survival of the Fattest.

Happy Darwin Day everyone! (Here's the site in Japanese for interested parties. If you have a better command of Japanese than I, you may want to clean up the babel-fish's translation.)

In honour of Sir Charles, I offer up this candidate as a contender for beating the evolutionary odds. A giant lobster named Goliath was saved from the crockpot by a Superbowl lottery winner. She then wanted to return him to the wild (open seas) but found that a more difficult task than she'd thought. After some calls, she discovered that the Montreal Biodome is looking for just such a crustacean. And he'll presumably live happily ever after...

It's nice to report some good news for a change!

Let's go back to my University days and listen to...

Find Me Somebody to Love!

I forgot to post a pre-Valentines video last night, so here you go. The lyrics speak for themselves...

2008-02-12

It's Gromitable.

I'd seen the W&G shorts way before they started winning Oscars. Whenever I caught an Animation Fest in Toronto (back in the day), I anxiously awaited a new Aardman short, whether it be Creature Comforts or Wallace & Gromit. Amazing stuff!

Someone linked to my mention of Wallace & Gromit the other day, so I thought I'd up the ante and present my stuffed Aardman collection. All of these (and several more, doubles of which have been given out as presents) were all UFO caught a few years back.




No commentary, just check out the picks. If you don't already know the characters, you have no business visiting this blog. Here we go...











To whet your whistle for more Gulico pudding, here ya go...

I'm Miffed!

I started eating the MIKE popcorn mentioned in the last post and needed something to wash it down. Well, just today, I purchased some Qoo Orange drink and that quenched my thirst adequately. I don't buy it regularly, but there was a purple Miffy ハッピスタンプ (happi-stanpu = happy stamp)attached to it and I couldn't resist. (Click on either of those sites and jump around. There's lots of fun stuff.)

I don't think I'll bother getting the other ones in the set, they're not as cute. (Oh, who am I kidding...of course I'll get them!) Click the pic to enlarge!




Speaking of Miffy, I think I'll wear my Miffy ネクタイ (necktie) to work tomorrow. It always elicits squeals of joy.
What's In a Name?

I've spoken about my name before: Michael Jones. Now it's time to ramble about my nomenclature again.

Did you know that people don't sign their names over here? Everyone uses a はんこ (hanko or personal seal.) Personally, I don't think it's all that personal when the personnel of a stationery store can impersonate it easily. Sure, signatures can be forged, but one can buy a hanko in a 100¥ store.

What I just discovered is that there are two kinds of seals: 認印 (mitome-in = "personal seal") and 実印 (jitsu-in = "registered seal"). A personal seal is used for everyday activities, such as signing for packages. A registered seal is needed to open a bank account or to purchase a car. I use my seal for opening accounts and signing in at work daily. Since there's a chance of losing my seal, I should probably get another.

This is the hanko and its case that I use daily.

The kanji in my name,
舞蹴 (ma-i keru), means "high kick jump" (like the can-can I guess.) The vice-principal at my old school chose it for me. It always spurs a giggle out of people when they read it.

Then there's my nickname, Mike. It's pronounced like マイク (as in
カラオケマイク or Karaoke-mike), short for microphone of course.

Finally MIKE is the brand name of a popcorn that FritoLay puts out. This particular flavour is こんぶ (konbu) which is kelp! (Tastes okay.)









Finally, if you break down my name into MI-KE, it's pronounced ミケ (mee-kay) which is the name for a calico or tortoise-shell cat. ミケネコ are very popular around here and cost a mittload to purchase. If you're into cosplay, check out this hideous cat costume.
ps. one of the blogs I read, Mixed Nuts has a picture of her adorable ミケネコ and will soon have her own personal graphic novel coming out called The Black Tower. It looks promising.
Rest in Peace, Steve Gerber.

I was hoping I wouldn't have to mention another in my Trio of Death series for a long time, but Steve Gerber has shuffled off this mortal coil. Who is he, you might ask? He was a comic book writer extraordinaire who wrote several bizarre books in the 70's that I just adored. Man-Thing, Howard the Duck, The Defenders were just a smattering of his work. He became a spokesperson for all writers by suing Marvel Comics for the right to Howard and almost the entire comics community backed him up.

Mark Evanier has spoken more eloquently about him than I ever could. Suffice to say, he will be missed. I started reading his blog about a year ago, but gave up reading because I knew its demise was imminent. Mr. Evanier has taken it over for the time being and I believe I'll resume reading it.

When I get home, I'll add a photo of my Howard the Duck for President campaign button from 1976!

ps. I'm not looking forward to posting about my third addition to the Trio of Death if I care more about them than the above guy...

2008-02-11

Catch Ya Later!

Say this while pointing thumb and fore-finger in a gun fashion, clicking your tongue and miming a trigger being pulled. Use your best Malcolm Mcdowell posh-Brit impression and state this catch-phrase from Blue Thunder. Then go one step further and imitate Roy Scheider imitating Malcolm after blowing up his helicopter.

This line, among innumerable others, is how I will remember Roy who died on the 10th.
I just rewatched Jaws (for the umpteenth time) and my favourite bit of his (other than "We're gonna to need a bigger boat!") is when he humbly checks his appendix scar while Quint & Hooper are comparing old wounds.





I thought he was robbed for the Oscar in All That Jazz. Here's one of many quotes pertaining to him (I'll ignore all the death references.)
Joe Gideon: Katie, I tried to give you everything I could give.
Kate Jagger: Oh, you give all right; presents, clothes. I just wish you weren't so generous with your cock.

Or Night Moves or Naked Lunch or French Connection or even Punisher. That's from the top of my head, if I head to his imbd, I can dig up several more favourites. (For a Japanese listing, try this.



Bye Roy...
Foundation and Empire.

Today is Japan's birthday. Actually 建国記念の日 (kenkoku kinen-no-hi) known as National Foundation Day dates back to 660 B.C according to the 日本書紀 or Nihon Shoki, The Chronicles of Japan.

Apparently, celebration of the story of the foundation of Japan by Emperor Jinmu stretches back into Japanese history, National Foundation Day did not become an official holiday until January 1873, when Japan switched from its lunisolar calendar to the Gregorian calendar.

All I know about the holiday is that it allowed me to have a long weekend and thus see an 18 hour Marathon of Heroes! So a fine holiday it has been indeed!

Have a Heart!

Today's mini-pre-Valentines post is one from the Wizard of Oz series from the early 60's. It doesn't score high on the lovey-dovey scale, but it does have something to do with Hearts!

2008-02-10

Come Not Between The Dragon and His Wrath. (King Lear, Act 1 Scene1.)

The great director, 黒澤 明 (Akira Kurosawa) made 乱 (Ran=War/Chaos) in 1985. I'm not sure where I picked up this book, but it includes the original screenplay and storyboards of the Academy Award-winning film. I won't go into great detail here, you can always check out this essay or the Wiki entry. Most people know that it is based on Shakespeare's King Lear though I have yet to read it in that form (but you can if you click the link.)






So let's take a pictorial trip through Akira Kurosawa's illustrations for Ran! (Check out this cool figure of Kurosawa that I got in a Seven Samurai set.)










"The Samurai in the lead, old but tough, draws his bow, aiming a the prey. His long white hair and beard billow in the wind; his hawkish eyes shine in his sun-tanned face--the magnificent vision of a great warrior who has survived hundreds of battles. This is the Great Lord, Hidetora Ichimonji." (Tatsuya Nakadai)





Nobohiro Fujimaki played by Hitoshi Ueki.













Seiji Ayabe played by Jun Tazaki.













父と子 (chichi to kodomo or Father & Sons.)










姫路かえで or Princess Kaede. I must say the actress, Mieko Harada, looks better than this drawing.












Kyoami is played by "Peter", a famous celebrity cross-dresser who goes by the stage name of 池畑 慎之介, Ikehata Shinnosuke.












One heck of an archer.






One heck of a pincushion.











Is this a dagger I see before me? (Oops, sorry wrong play.) Check out Kurosawa's version of the Scottish play, Throne of Blood. (蜘蛛巣城 or Kumonosu Jo which is literally "Spiderweb Castle".)






No, he's not a zombie, but he is 'armless.











Hidetoro has gone Kuru. At this point Lord Ichimonji has gone a bit mad.













"Hidetora staggering over the fild scattered with autumn flowers in the moonlight, as if running from something fearful."








Saburo Naotora (Daisuke Ryu) and Seiji Ayabe (Jun Tazaki.)










"On top of the steep stone wall, Tsurumaru is at a loss. The evening glow is no in its final stages. The last light of day will soon fade, and darkness will reign over the realm."











"Against the background of the last glow of evening, the small figure of Tsurumaru is standing alone on the lofty stone wall in the remains of the castle.
Wretchedness!"





If you're interesting in your own copy, try this Amazon link.

Finally, here's a few minutes of the movie for your YouTubing pleasure.

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