It Might Have Been.

In the words of Neil Young (and others before him),
The saddest words
Of tongue or pen
Are these four words
It might have been

Once again my dreams of happiness have been dashed to the ground and trampled upon. Four years ago I wrote, in English, the resume of Olympic Figure Skater, Shizuka Arakawa and though we were destined to meet at a Rakuten Eagles game later that night, such an encounter was not to be due to the fates of the gods and scheduling conflicts.

This morning, I presided over a lovely wedding ceremony with the expectation of quaffing a brew or two at the Beer Fest afterwards, but instead I ended up watching "Brave and the Bold" on YouTube when I went home to change. Shortly thereafter, a colleague informed me that Ms. Arakawa was at that very beer fest and so I changed my garb and quickly grabbed the next bus. Upon arrival, I was informed that she had already left and thus yet again, destiny spat in my face and left my heart unrequited. I know that should we eventually meet, our lives will become entwined and we shall be inseparable. (Okay...Reality check. She may actually have still been at the fest but in all honesty, I don't really know what she looks like!)

After I realized that, yet again, our paths would not cross, I instead met up with my co-workers for a colleague's Sayonara party. We had a swell time and though I proved myself triumphant at the games we played (billiards & darts), I now type this with a slightly heavy heart for I know that I once again am destined to be alone.

As I type the above, it has just turned 4 am and seconds before, the earth shook and my life flashed before me. Frankly it was a pretty dull revelation and so I shall now retire for the evening.



Ozpicious Occurance.

I haven't found a new Ozu book in ages and the other day, I found two at a buck a pop! One is a fairly intense novelization with few drawings that I'll showcase anon.

But the other is on hard cardstock with English & Japanese on each page. I can't say the translation is very good, they take a LOT of liberties with the original script, but I do like the illustrations. Just in case you can't read the English when you click on the pic (I really need a new scanner), I've typed it out for you. Those familiar with the story may notice a few glaring changes! (I'll add some sarcastic editorial comments in italics when needed.)

In the middle of the great Kansas plains, there lived a little girl Dorothy with her Uncle Henry and Aunt Em who were farmers. “Be good while we’re out!” Uncle Henry and Aunt Em are off to do the shopping. Dorothy is staying at home with her dog Toto.
(Okay, send Uncle Henry and Aunt Em off to the Walmart. No need to have any of that chasing after Toto & storm cellar business.)
That day, a tremendous cyclone struck the plains and Dorothy’s house was swept up into the sky. The house landed in a country to the east that Dorothy had never seen before. The country was very beautiful with flowers blooming all around. “Welcome to the land of the Munchkins!”
(It may be the land of the Munchkins, but there are NO Munchkins anywhere around.)
The Wizard of the North was standing there. “I am the Wizard of the North. Thank you for squashing the evil Wizard of the East.” Dorothy looked an saw the evil Wizard of the East trapped under Dorothy’s home. Only a pair of silver colored shoes remained. “So this is not Kansas? What do I need to return to Kansas?”
(Even though まじょ translates to "Witch", apparently the Compass pointed sorcerors are referred to as Wizards! I blame Harry Potter.)
“I’d like to help you but Kansas is very far away and my magic won’t reach that far. But the Wizard of Oz is a great wizard and he may be able to help you. The Wizard of Oz lives in a beautiful city made of emeralds. You will surely be able to meet him if you follow this road made of yellow bricks.”
(This particular story was written to help kids learn English so the lack of adjectives is odd. To whit, "city made of emeralds", "road made of yellow bricks".)
The Wizard of the north gave Dorothy the silver shoes that the Wizard of the East had been wearing saying that they would certainly be of use some day. “Come Toto. We’re off. We’re going to the city of emeralds to ask the Wizard of Oz how to get back to Kansas.”
(At least they got the colour of the shoes right, silver not ruby-red.)
Dorothy and Toto followed the road made of yellow bricks and after a while, they came to a field of corn. There was a scarecrow standing in the field of corn. “Hi, where are you going?” Dorothy told her story to the scarecrow.
(Cornfield = field of corn.)
To this, the scarecrow said, “Well, well. Then please take me with you. My head is filled with straw and I want the Wizard of Oz to give me brains.” And so Dorothy and Toto continued along the road with the scarecrow when they heard a groaning sound from the forest.
A man made of tin was standing there with his axe in the air. The tin man says he is all out of oil and cannot move. So Dorothy oiled him and the tin man could now move. “A bad wizard has stolen my heart. So I want to get a heart from the Wizard of Oz.”
(I don't think his heart was actually stolen by a witch wizard, he was built without one in the first place.)
So the tin woodsman joined the group and the group walked deeper into the forest. Suddenly a lion came out of the forest. “Aaagh! It’s a lion!!” everyone was very astonished. “Aaagh.” It was now the lion who was screaming! I am a very cowardly lion.
(I really adore the look on the lion's face when it frightens itself.)
I become afraid at the slightest thing. I want to meet the Wizard of Oz to get courage from him.” And so the cowardly lion joined the group and they kept following the road made of bricks. “Aaagh, Karidahs are coming!” screamed the scarecrow. This was terrible just as the group was about to cross a bridge, a creature with the body of a bear and the head of a tiger came after them!
(Kalidahs/Karidahs, same diff. But you can't get a more literal illustration than this bear with a tiger head.)
(I love this creature so much, here's a close-up.)
“That’s it! Hey tin woodsman! Use your axe and cut down this bridge!” said the scarecrow. The woodsman raised his axe and cut the bridge right in half. Splash! The creature fell head first straight into the river. And so they all pooled their strengths and Dorothy and the group finally arrived in the great city made of emeralds.
(Scarecrow uses his straw-filled head and saves the day and they quickly make it to the city of emeralds.)
The city was beautiful with glistening emeralds everywhere. Dorothy and her friends immediately went to meet the great Wizard of Oz. The great Wizard of Oz was sitting on a throne but this wizard had only a large head.
(Oz is naught but a big purple lump of playdough with a face. Cool!)
I am the great Wizard of Oz. What do you want from me?” “I need your help, oh great Oz, to go back to Kansas.” said Dorothy. “Please give me brains!” said the scarecrow. “I want courage” said the lion. “Please give me a heart” said the tin woodsman.
I see. I will grant your wishes if you will defeat the evil Wizard of the West.” Said the great Wizard of Oz. Dorothy and her friends did not know what to do. There was no way they could defeat such a fearful wizard. But Dorothy and her friends decided to support each other and to fight the Wizard of West.
“Huh? A guest?” The Wizard of the West who found out that Dorothy and here friends had arrived sent an army of 40 wolves. “Watch out! Dorothy!” The tin woodsman used his axe to defeat the wolves.
(This is by far the sexiest witch wizard of the West ever!)
(So sexy, here's a close-up!)
Next 40 crows started to attack them. “Help, Mr. Lion, help me!” cried the scarecrow. The cowardly lion only shook in fear. But the lion overcame his fear and roared out fiercely, “Roooar!” and with this, all the crows disappeared!
(The lion proves his gumption.)
The Wizard of the West was very angry and next sent for an army of bees! “He, he, he. Defy me and this is what happens!” At that moment, Dorothy’s silver shoes began to speak. “The Wizard of the West is weak against water!” and with this, water appeared in front of Dorothy.
(This is where I call Shenanigans! The shoes become the Deus Ex Machina and tell Dorothy what to do and even provide the water! Convenient!)
“Take this water!” “Ghaaa!!” When Dorothy splashed the wizard with the water, the wizard disappeared. Dorothy and her friends immediately returned to the city of emeralds and went to meet the Wizard of Oz. They found a small old man sitting there.
(After melting the sexy witch wizard, they meet up with a little old man with a cool patriotic hat.)
The Wizard of Oz was really an ordinary person who had been blown here on a hot air balloon. “This man is a terrible liar. What are you going to do about your promise to give me courage. The lion is very angry. Just then, the beautiful Wizard of the South appeared.
(Before the lion can eat him, the new young & sexy witch wizard of the South appears in a negligee.)
The Wizard of the South said, “You helped each other to defeat the horrible Wizard of the West. You already have courage, wisdom and a heart.” The group finally understood. Wisdom, courage and a kind heart are not things you can get from others.
(She, not the actual Wiz tells them about their virtues. I can live with that.)
The Wizard of the South said, “Dorothy, I have put a spell on those silver shoes so that three steps will take you back to Kansas. Go. Your Uncle and Aunt are waiting!” Dorothy said goodbye to the lion scarecrow and the tin woodsman and left to return to Kansas with Toto.
(She couldn't have thought of that spell when they first met, could she?)
“One…two…three!!” Dorothy returned to the plains of Kansas in only three steps. Uncle Henry and Aunt Em were waiting for Dorothy when she returned. And this was the end of Dorothy’s adventure.
The end.
All in all, a cute version of the story and I am now using that sexy witch wizard as my Facebook avatar.

I'm finally getting around to reading a couple of the graphic novels I bought in Toronto. The first one by Chavelle & Fernandez is quite good, though Dorothy was a tad too tomboyish for my taste. Could have used a better editor, I caught at least three glaring grammatical errors and c'mon, the past tense of "know" is not "new"!!
I've just started this Shanower & Young version and it is simply gorgeous!



I know absolutely nil about K-Pop except for a band called Kara that is topping the charts these days. While surfing for other stuff, I came across a rather sweet tune about "a guy searching for his girlfriend who has become lost in Oz". I don't recollect Dorothy ever having a beau nor do I recall the RubySilver shoes becoming Dancing shoes but it could be in one of the later novels.

The performers of this tune go by クラジクワイ・プロジェクト in Japanese, CLAZZIQUAI PROJECT in English and by 클래지콰이 프로젝트 in their native tongue. For more info, you can always access their Wiki page.

Here's a version of the song with some English subtitles linked with pictures of Oz and the Clazziquai group but first check out this unembeddable link with anime!

This was featured on the MUCHO MUSICA album, Track 10. The World of OZ

It was also released as a single in Japan and retitled "Wizard of Oz".

Here is the same song, "Wizard of Oz" sung in a mix of Korean & English from the album, Mucho Punk:

If you aren't sick of the tune yet, you can sing along* thanks to this English sub:

*provided you know Korean, that is.

If it isn't raining tomorrow, I'm going to go on a Used CD hunt for the above because I'm too cheap to go to Amazon!


Life's an Illusion.

Lazy posting tonight. Here's a famous illusionist performing his art for subway patrons and amusement parkers.

Here is the same guy, Cyril Takayama, chilling with a SMAP boy who was promoting his movie (with our fave, Monkey Majik natch.)

Finally (go to the YouTube sidebar if you want more, don't be so lazy) here is a Spider-man trick:


Frogs Pray For Japan.

The common Japanese Tree frog アマガエル (ama-gaeru) can be found all over Japan but are not that easy to spot since they're only 3-4cm long. I haven't seen one in a couple of years but apparently they are not threatened and are one of the few amphibians that are still thriving.

This little tyke has taken up the cause of Japan's recent plight by getting "Pray for Japan" tattooed on its underside. He and 15 of his colourful mates have some sort of deal going but I can't quite decypher it. I pulled this off the website and maybe you can make some sense of it.

3月11日に発生いたしました東日本大震災から、早くも4ヶ月が経過しようとしております。被災地の方々には、心よりお見舞いを申し上げます。現在、奇譚クラブでは東日本大震災で被災された方への復興支援としてネイチャーテクニカラーシリーズの売上金一部を義援金として日本赤十字社を通じて寄付させていただく活動を行っております。こちらの『ネイチャーテクニカラーMONOアマガエルPLAY FOR JAPAN マグネット×ストラップ』は奇譚クラブ分の収益全額(コストなどの諸経費を除いた利益)を寄付させていただく復興支援特別商品として制作をいたしました。
I think the little bit of Japlish there is an error, it's not "Play for Japan", it's "Pray for Japan" but you get the idea.

As you can see here and in my fuzzy photos, there are 8 different colours (one is secret) of either a magnet or a strap (I got a magnet) and they cost 200¥ a pop which is a bit steep for me right now, or I'd get them all.

They're about the size of the oxymoronically named Bigリトル (Big/Little) KitKats which apparently don't melt in your hand. Initially it's true, but they do eventually melt, so I don't recommend carrying them around in your palm. You can find these tree frogs in a few of the Capsule stations around the city, I suspect if you buy one, some of the proceeds are donated, but I can't be sure of that.
Cute little buggers though!

I'll leave you with some kung fu frogging.



I got back from watching スーパーエイト and it's the best (non-comic book) movie I've seen so far this summer! Thoroughly enjoyable romp with never a dull moment, a few weepy bits, tremendous acting (especially Fanning), great FX, lots of nerdy goodness to keep an eye out for (watch for the LOST tribute in the final scene) and for the first time in ages-a soundtrack where I knew absolutely every single one of the tunes and could hum along (much to the chagrin of my gal-pal.) Highly recommended and those of you in Japan need to run out and see it quick, for it's soon to be Transformed into another movie.

Added bonus: I got a bucket full of Pokemon-popcorn with a free little glow-in-the-dark character that I know nothing about!


Thunderbirds Are GO!

I was certain that I'd showcased my サンダーバード Thunderbirds swag before, but I have just spent an hour looking through my blog and it's nowhere to be found. I hadn't even created a label for Thunderbirds until today (click it at the bottom of this page for a few Super-Marionated tidbits.) So somewhere in a box sitting behind me is a stash of Thunderbirds toys that need to be dug up, photographed and blogged about. Nah, maybe later.

When I got my first real paycheque a few weeks ago, I ran out and bought a DVD of Thunderbirds (and a mystery DVD that I'll save until after I've seen it.) It's another of the DeAgostini scams that you buy a DVD every two weeks until you've completed the series. The first one was 8 bucks but the next one jumps to 18 bucks which is pretty steep for one episode.

Anyway, I watched episode one tonight and thoroughly enjoyed it. The sound and picture quality is superb (you can see every string!) and it was a great intro to the series. I'll show details in the future, for I'm ailing with a cold and need to retire (I wasted too much time searching my blog!)


I Boast Yost as Most Verbose Host.

"Now it's time to turn those lights down a wee bit low" for I'm sad to report the passing of Elwy Yost. EVERY Ontario resident knows him as the host of Magic Shadows and Saturday Night at the Movies, two TVO institutions that kept us home weeknights and on Saturday night.

Over the years, SNAM has had the privilege of interviewing many of Hollywood's greatest actors, actresses, directors, writers, producers, and cinematographers, including William Goldman, Ray Bradbury, John Candy, John Sayles, Martin Short, Penny Marshall, Ivan Retiman, Robert Towne, Catherine O'Hara, Cybill Sheppard, Norman Jewison, Crispin Glover, Eli Roth, Michael Madsen, Gary Busey, Mel Brooks, Donald Sutherland, William Friedkin, and John Singleton, amounting to over 1,300 interviews to date.

Here he is in an interview with Dr. Tongue, tongue securely implanted in cheek.

I had the privelege of meeting Mr. Yost at a fund-raising event and we spoke at great length about King Kong, The Wizard of Oz and Popeye. I seem to recall that he was partially responsible for the restoration of the KK-Fay Wray seduction scene and he aired it one night much to my delight.
ps. His son, Graham, wrote the screenplays for "Speed" & "Broken Arrow" and his dad made Yost pickles!

Though I don't know him well, I'll mention the passing of 原田 芳雄 (Yoshio Harada) who starred in over 80 Japanese movies, few of which I'm fit to speak. But hey cool, he's a Blues singer too!

Fortunately I don't have a third death to add so I'll mention that today happens to be PI Approximation Day, (22/7) so run out and grab something similar to a PIE, I found a delicious banana/coconut tart.

Shotgun-Bearing Hobo Time.

I was watching some Evil Dead, the Musical clips and for some reason, another movie came to mind.

Last April, when I was home I had the privelege of watching one of the stupidest, awesomest, cheapest, bestest movies in recent history. I am of course refering to HWaS, a Messterpiece if I ever saw one. Pal, Andy, has suggested a few movies one should watch while holed up in Typhoon season and this is my entry.

A train pulls into the station – it’s the end of the line. A hobo jumps from a freight car hoping for a fresh start in a new city. Instead, he finds himself trapped in an urban hell. This is a world where criminals rule the streets and Drake, the city’s crime boss, reigns supreme alongside his sadistic murderous sons, Slick & Ivan. Amidst the chaos, the hobo comes across a pawn shop window displaying a secondhand lawn mower. He dreams of making the city a beautiful place and starting a new life for himself. But as the brutality continues to rage around him, he notices a shotgun hanging above the lawn mower... Quickly, he realizes the only way to make a difference in this town is with that gun in his hand and two shells in its chamber...
ルトガー・ハウアー主演のバイオレンス・アクション『Hobo With a Shotgun』のオフィシャル・トレーラーが公開されました。同作は、『グラインドハウス』のフェイク予告編コンペで注目された作品を長編化したもので、暴力に支配された町にやってきたひとりのホーボーが、犯罪者たちをショットガンで殺しまくるという単純明快なストーリー。日本では某社が本作の権利を買おうかどうか迷っているという話でしたが…。
(Synopsis in English scammed from the official website below and the Japanese scammed from here.)

Click Hobo with a Shotgun and you can revel in the stupidity hilarity that I experienced.

Unfortunately, 13 Assassins never made it to Sendai, cuz I'd be all over that sh*t.

If you've seen it, let me know if I should track it down.


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