2009-02-28

Manga's Papa!

Thanks to a brief interruption by a little event called the Oscars, I'm still playing catchup on that weekend in Omiya/Tokyo. I managed to hit a couple of Museums in Omiya just so I could boast about being culturally enlightened. I'll speak of the Saitama Museum of History & Folklore later, for now it's time to mention
北澤 楽天 Rakuten Kitazawa. Click his name to learn more about him, but he is the dude who coined the term Manga to refer to comics & cartoons and started his own magazine in 1905 called Tokyo Puck. His work is a cross between Punch Magazine, The Yellow Kid & The Katzenjammer Kids.

Here are some scans of his more famous works. The coolest ones (like this cover of Tokyo Puck showing a guy biting his own navel), I'll present individually. The others will be en masse. (Give them a click to MAGNAfy them!)








I'm considering buying a piece of history by bidding on this unless you beat me to it!

2009-02-27

Stick It To The Man!

Since new KitKats have been absent of late, I've had to munch on a few healthier treats. First up is a cheap pretzel stick by Kabaya that is 梅/うめ味(Ume)-flavoured! It has a tangy taste to it thanks to a sour plum dusting. I quite like it but it's not for everyone's palate. It's running about 50-50 in my co-worker taste-test.


My next stick-trick is a swell
アスパラガス/ Asparagus-Pretz (try the Pretz-game at that link!) Baked with オリーブオイル &
スパイス (olive oil & spice) it has a distinct asparagal flavour. I haven't taste-tested this amongst the peers, it was too yummy to share!


Our Pocky of the month is a limited edition of Kiwi flavour. I enjoyed it, but again not all enjoy its sweet/tangy taste. Call me now and I can get it for you for 168¥, this E-Bay bid is for 5 bucks!





I've tried other shaped snacks as well, including a triangular Gourmet Doritos inundated with the powerful taste of
わさびマヨネーズ味 (Wasabi-mayonnaise.) It is very pungent, almost to the point of eye-watering, but goes nicely with a medium-salsa.



Oh right, before I forget, tomorrow is the latest Echophonyk at Shaft. Come on down if you're in the neighbourhood. I still haven't decided if I'm going. I may just stay home and pig out on the above!

2009-02-26

Roll Out The Barrel.

As BoingBoing attests, the Barrelfish has a transparent head and rotating eyes but they don't really mention why it has a transparent head! When I read this story a few days ago from Yahoo Japan, I did some research of my own and discovered that its head is transparent in order to protect its eyes from the stinging tentacles of its favourite dish, a form of jellyfish called a siphonophore.

Try this link for a video, I couldn't get it to work, but maybe you'll have better luck.) Fortunately you can see some more images here. (Too bad this amazing fish has to snuff it in order to learn more about it!)

In other news, I never knew that there was a Bourbon Street in Tokyo upon which Mardi Gras is celebrated. I will definitely have to check it out next year. (There's less chance of getting shot in Tokyo than New Orleans too.)


Japan has an earlier more bizarre version of Mardi Gras called 西大寺裸祭り, the Saidaiji Hadaka Matsuri Eyou or the "Naked Festival" where over 9000 guys wearing giant diapers (褌=fundoshi) compete to catch some sticks of wood tossed by a priest. Here's some info about this festival.

Finally there's a helpful video for those of you who want to try and fold your own Fundoshi, grunting is not optional!

2009-02-24

Got Nailed.

Last year, I did quite well with my predictions, nailing more than naught. Alas I was not so much Nostradamus as Nostromo (and we all know what happened to that Alien ship!) (I'm embarrassed to see that my last year's post of winners has the same title as yesterday's post. I gotta check these more carefully.) Anywho...I'm not going to bother a tally of all my efforts, only those I wanted to win or predicted would win. Here goes:
(Before I begin a brief aside: While I'm writing about the celebration of Movie's best, I'm watching a devastation of its worst...Mr. Bean's Holiday! UPDATE: I turned it off!)

My prediction for what won will be in BOLD, for what I wanted will be ITALICIZED and if they coincide, it'll be BOTH.

Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire --Christian Colson
Best Foreign Language Film: Departures - Japan --Yojiro Takita
Best Documentary Feature: Man on Wire --Simon Chinn
Best Animated Feature: WALL·E --Andrew Stanton
Best Director: Danny Boyle --Slumdog Millionaire
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Sean Penn --Milk
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Kate Winslet --The Reader
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Heath Ledger --The Dark Knight
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Penélope Cruz --Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Best Writing - Original Screenplay: Dustin Lance Black --Milk
Best Writing - Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy --Slumdog Millionaire

Documentary Short (Missed it!)
Film Editing (Missed it!)
Makeup (Missed it!)
Music (Score) (Missed it!)
Music (Song) Nailed it! Jai Ho
Short Film (Live Action) Toyland (Guessed it!)
Sound Editing (Missed it!)
Sound Mixing (Missed it!)
Visual Effects (Missed it!)

Holy Crap, Batman! All my desired picks went to either Benjamin Button or Slumdog! TDK, Hellboy & Iron Man got snubbed for everything!! (Okay, not Heath, but you know what I mean.)

As pointed out by the Japan Times, two big winners were Japanese. (Any Canadian Content anyone??) Similarly, Alex pointed out in my comments that
Departure is a pretty good pic. He was surprised to learn that there has never been a Japanese Best Foreign Film winner and further amazed that Kurosawa had never won. Actually it's the first win since 1954's 地獄門 (Jigokumon) or Gate of Hell, Directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa but that was before the BFF Category was invented and prior to that it was only an Honourary Category.

As for Kurosawa, his only film to have ever received the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar was for Dersu Uzala (1975)...his only film not done in Japanese (it was in Russian). His movie, Ran, was not nominated as a Foreign Film nor as Best Picture but Akira himself was nominated as Best Director!

I can be forgiven for not choosing the Best Short Film (Animated) for with a title like La Maison en Petits Cubes who knew that it'd be a Japanese entry directed by Kunio Kato?

In summation, I nailed a lot of the obvious ones & missed out on the ones I liked.

Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award: Jerry Lewis --Comedic film and humanitarian work. He's a goof in real life, but I did like some of his early work...and I'm not even French!

Dead Guys tribute: apparently they neglected to mention Eartha Kitt (Hissss!) or George Carlin
(%$&#$%)!

I hope buddy Bob taped it for me. It sounds like Wolverine did a great job!

2009-02-23

Oscar Meyer Weiners.

You know how hard it is to remain ignorant of the big news? I've had a very busy day so I didn't have time to do my Annual Oscar Predictions. Thus I've shied away from the net hoping to stay "out of the know". Of course, once I did click on any page the big news just leaps out at you: Slumdog Millionaire wins 8 including Best Picture! Fortunately, I don't know the other 7 O's that it won, but it will make it more difficult for me to make predictions without prejudice, though an attempt will be made...

As usual, I have seen less than 10% of the movies up for Oscars, but I'll polish the old crystal ball and do my best. My prediction for what won will be in BOLD, for what I want will be ITALICIZED and if they coincide, it'll be BOTH.
Comments will be at a minimum unless it contains Canadian or Japanese content or if it of particular interest to me. (OR if there's a bad pun to be made!)

BEST PICTURE
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Frost/Nixon
Milk
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

This was a bit of a gimme. I don't think Button should win, Frost/Nixon looked intriguing but not Oscar bait. Milk & The Reader are unknowns to me. But I'd read a bit about Slumdog and I thought it looked interesting. (Besides I already know it won!)

BEST DIRECTOR
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
Stephen Daldry, The Reader
Gus Van Sant, Milk

Fincher should stick to Horror; Opie tries to emulate Stone; Stephen Daldry should go back to The Who (oops, that's Roger Daltry); Gus deserves all kinds of Sundance awards, but not an Oscar; which leaves Danny Boyle who should've won for Trainspotting & must win for this!

BEST ACTOR
Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn, Milk
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

I'm taking a shot in the dark on this one. I think the Academy may take a dark horse and give the nod to Dracula. That being said, I would love to see Mickey win it, though I'm not a big wrestling fan.

BEST ACTRESS
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie, Changeling
Melissa Leo, Frozen River
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Kate Winslet, The Reader

I know nothing about any of these movies except that Changeling is Clint's remake of a creepy Canadian movie called The Changeling (not really but it was creepy!) So let's give it to Angelina! I think the Academy will honour Kate with this one for no reason at all.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Josh Brolin, Milk
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road

It MUST go to Heath if only to endow upon him a Lifetime Achievement Award. If he were not nominated, I would definitely vote for Robert Downey Jr.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams, Doubt
Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis, Doubt
Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler

No Doubt, one of the Doubt girls will win but I Doubt if it'll be Viola cause she's just a mini-cello. For no particular reason, I will choose Taraji because she has a cool first name.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Frozen River, Courtney Hunt
Happy-Go-Lucky, Mike Leigh
In Bruges, Martin McDonagh
Milk, Dustin Lance Black
WALL-E, Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Pete Docter

Though WALL-E was a fun movie and it's nice to see an Animated Feature be nominated for Screenplay, it comes across as a preachy episode of Captain Planet. I haven't seen it, but In Bruges sounds like an awesome movie so it gets my vote. Let's see if the Academy Milks this one for all its worth.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Eric Roth
Doubt, John Patrick Shanley
Frost/Nixon, Peter Morgan
The Reader, David Hare
Slumdog Millionaire, Simon Beaufoy

This is where my knowledge of Slumdog's sweep takes over and I'll cheat and say it's the winner. I would though like to have seen Frost/Nixon get it (or at least a Tony) cuz I like David Frost and dislike Nixon.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Bolt
Kung Fu Panda
WALL-E

I have seen nothing but a preview of Bolt, though I'm sure it'll get released over here now (with poorly dubbed Japanese voices.) I didn't see Panda either but I do have some of the toys! I do have a cute fridge magnet of WALL-E so it gets my thumbs up.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT
La Maison en Petits Cubes
Lavatory — Lovestory
Oktapodi
Presto
This Way Up

I like Aquaman so my pod-nod goes to Oktapodi. On the other hand, I think the Academy will Skip to the Loo because of this catchphrase: "A public bathroom provides the backdrop for this charming story of sweet love that can't be stalled."

BEST ART DIRECTION
Changeling
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
The Duchess
Revolutionary Road

If Batman, TDK doesn't win this, I'll eat my cowl. Break out the Ketchup since the Oscar always goes to the Epic.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Changeling
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

I'm fairly certain that this is one of Slumdog's innumerable wins, I vie for Clint just because it's Clint! I want TDK to win as much as possible though!

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Australia
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Duchess
Milk
Revolutionary Road

Costume also always goes to the Epic (I'm just assuming Duchess is an epic by the title, I know nuthin' about it.) Then again Australia has the unenviable task of making Nicole's new boobs look believable, so it gets my boomerang vote.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)
Encounters at the End of the World
The Garden
Man on Wire
Trouble the Water

I know nothing about this except that it looks like the coolest Documentary ever! Furthermore, there won't ever be a sequel to it.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
The Conscience of Nhem En
The Final Inch
Smile Pinki
The Witness — From the Balcony of Room 306

I remain in ignorant bliss of these but Nhem En sounds meaningful enough to win it. Is The Final Inch about circumcision?

BEST EDITING
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Frost/Nixon
Milk
Slumdog Millionaire

Let's Button this one up for a win (ignoring my foreknowledge yet again.) Iron Man should have been nominated more often so it'd get my vote rather than TDK.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Baader Meinhof Complex (Germany)
The Class (France)
Departures (Japan)
Revanche (Austria)
Waltz with Bashir (Israel)

I gotta vote for Departures obviously but the Academy may have other plans, how about Waltz?

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
Auf der Strecke (On the Line)
Manon on the Asphalt
New Boy
The Pig
Spielzeugland (Toyland)

No idea but I do like Toys! The Academy are all Pig lovers!

BEST MAKEUP
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Hellboy II: The Golden Army

If this goes to Button, I will be so disappointed. A coin toss between TDK & Hellboy but the Golden Army gets my vote for using real makeup and not a CGI Two-Face.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Alexandre Desplat
Defiance, James Newton Howard
Milk, Danny Elfman
Slumdog Millionaire, A.R. Rahman
WALL-E, Thomas Newman

Can't go wrong with an Elfman score!

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
''Down to Earth,'' WALL-E
''Jai Ho,'' Slumdog Millionaire
''O Saya,'' Slumdog Millionaire

Pixar couldn't afford Randy Newman this time so they're stuck with his cousin, Thomas. Besides Peter Gabriel was pissed off for some reason and the Academy doesn't like whiners. I love Indian music these days so I'll go Jai Ho because it sounds like Heigh Ho!

BEST SOUND EDITING
The Dark Knight
Iron Man
Slumdog Millionaire
WALL-E
Wanted

Iron Man was really loud! With a comic movie, that's a positive!

BEST SOUND MIXING
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire
WALL-E
Wanted

Without knowledge of the sweep, I may have chosen Slumdog anyway. Of course, my vote must go to TDK! (Did it win anything, I wonder?)

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Iron Man

TDK was great but Iron Man was Stark Stupendous!


I'm going to bed, I'll read all about the Weiners & Loosers tomorrow.
Resurrected.










Reports of my death have been greatly exagerrated. Though my last post may have stated my demise, I'm happy to report that I am alive! For some odd reason though, my cyberspace self has become an apparition...

2009-02-22

CSI Sendai!

Catherine, we're going to need the entire team assembled for this one. A rather gruesome demise of one Michael Jones at a bar called Liga.




The whole team? I'll see what I can do, but Sara & Greg are busy with the Russian hooker case over at Ernies. I think I can spare Nick for you.

I confiscated the decedent's camera and hope to puzzle together the pieces to try and make some sense of it all. It appears that there was some kind of birthday celebration; let's try and discern what occurred and maybe we can sort out a motive for this mess.

Good work Nick, but you know we only follow the evidence, we don't need motivation. That's Brass's job. Whose birthday was it?










Two different girls, a Hitomi & a Michiko.

What presents did they get? Perhaps we can figure out something from that.


Hitomi
received a
スパイダーマン book, she seems fairly content with it.

I dunno. It's from that crappy Ultimates line and it looks like a used copy. Cheap bastard!

Enough Nick, how about the other girl. Michiko, was it?










She got a single red rose, some lipstick, what looks like a husky and a CSI科学捜査班 DVD. He really skimped on the wrapping paper, didn't he? And it's one of those D'Agostini deals. The first DVD is inexpensive and then you pay through the teeth for subsequent ones. We've got a real stingy bugger here. Maybe that's why someone offed him.

Quit the editorializing, Stokes. Who were the other guests? Maybe we'll find some answers there.

The one on the left, that's Fumika. She's dated the vic a few times, but from what I understand, he never even got to first base with her. The others are Ai & Eriko, but they met him for the first time that night.

I haven't been able to contact the woman in the middle, but the one on the left is Tomoko who's a hair designer at Blanket. I've been trying to reach her at 022-711-2586.










How about the guys? I think I recognize this guy, Dave, aka DJ Mixture. He looks pretty out of it, maybe he got loaded and did him in. And is he grabbing at Jones' crotch there?



Naw, as far as I know, he's straight. Though you won't know it in that get-up. The other guy is this huge Oilers fan. Name's Rob. Clean as a whistle and a proud Canadian.









This guy crops up in several pics. What's his story?

DJ Mokgohan? He's known the victim for decades. No bad blood between them.










I don't know about that. I heard that Michael kept interrupting the Commemorative Birthday CD he made in order to sing some Bobby Darin! You know how tempermental those djs get.




True, but they seem to have patched things up. They sang several duets together. "Hitomi" sung to the tune of Let It Be and "Magical Michiko Tour". They make a pretty good team from what I hear.










I understand that Mr. Jones catered the entire deal himself. Here he is making Caesars for everyone! He made one doubly-spicy and served them up Russian Roulette style, maybe someone didn't take kindly to that.







Say Al, have you finished the autopsy yet?











Yes I have and I've analysed his stomach contents. It appears that he went all out with this Canadian theme. It looks like Smoked Salmon, some Salmon Pâté with capers on a Ritz, authentic Poutine, and some Canuck cookies & bars. Oh and some chocolate cake and what appears to be a きなこ (kinako) KitKat.

That just shows he's patriotic. It still doesn't get us any closer as to a cause of death. Did you talk to the Bartender?

Yeah, Satomu said that after everyone left, Michael and Michiko hung around until after 3am. He isn't certain, but he thinks he overheard her say something about a new boyfriend.

Okay there you go, that's the answer!

Come on Gil, spill it what are you talking about?

It's obvious, he died of a broken heart!!

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