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Browsing Posts published in July, 2010

Please don’t make Inception 2

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Saw Inception last night and it was amazingly awesome.  An excellently made film with a good cast, great special effects, and most importantly, an original and solid script that’s not based on a comic book, television series, toy line, or a poorly made sequel or remake.  Apparently there are still some original films being made in Hollywood.  I won’t really post any spoilers or go into plot specifics because I’m too lazy and you should see the movie for yourself if you haven’t.  I never really thought of Leonardo DiCaprio as a good actor since I just hadn’t seen many movies with him, but Mr. Titanic is pretty impressive in this movie.  I also just happened to see The Departed for the first time last week since it was on TV here, and that was pretty good too.

So yeah, Inception was very impressive.  It was a great balance of action, suspense, SFX, philosophy, and any other words that people who actually know what they’re talking about might throw in there when discussing film.  That being said, I really hope they never make a sequel.  I know, I know, some people are probably thinking that such a great concept leaves a lot of room for a second or even third film.  And of course studio execs would love to milk this for as much as they can get.  But if you couldn’t tell from the first paragraph, I am so sick and tired of sequels and other excuses to make unoriginal films.  What is wrong with people in Hollywood?  OK not just Hollywood, since Japanese films are now almost exclusively comic book based and terrible.  Is there that much of a lack of originality?  Or is it a lack of balls to take a chance on something untested, instead going for something with a pre-existing fanbase who you hope to milk for money.  Star Trek a few years ago was admittedly a pretty good movie, but if that much money and manpower was put towards making an original space sci-fi action movie, couldn’t it have been even cooler?  G.I. Joe is a good example of  a movie that probably relied too much on building off people’s nostalgia but ended up being more or less awful.

The Matrix was an amazing movie, and I still think it is, but the sequel wasn’t nearly as good and the third movie was absolutely terrible.  Rather than make a sequel to Inception I’d love to see Christopher Nolan write and direct a totally brand new film.  Sure an Inception sequel could be great, but it could also be a reason to get lazy.  And no, you can’t improve on a crappy film by making it 3D, regardless of what every studio seems to think right now.

Also another minor note about movies: I hate sitting around until the end of the credits on the off chance there’s an extra scene.  I complained about this back when I saw Watchmen.  After writing that blog I found and commented about this site called MovieStinger that actually lists whether or not a movie has a bonus scene after the credits.  I need to remember to check this from now on when going to the theater, because I really am sick of sitting there for nothing.  Had I remembred about this site before, I would have known that Inception has nothing after the credits and I should have just left immediately.

One more moon

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This past week I passed the one-month-left mark, leaving just a matter of weeks now before I make the big leap across the pond for the who-knows-how-manyth time.  There are still a few people who have asked me about this, but yes this is a move rather than a trip.  I’m moving back to the US semi-permanently.  I don’t say “semi-” because I have any specific plans to come back to live in Japan again anytime soon, but at the same time I don’t have any plans to stay in the US for the rest of my life.  In short, I don’t have any idea what I’ll be doing even a few years from now so let’s just play it by ear and continue feeling around in the dark like I have been for the past 2.658 decades.  Things haven’t turned out too badly so far.

If moving is a pain in the butt then moving overseas is a machine gun loaded with pain bullets into the butt.  I’ve already sent a few big boxes of stuff back home via sea mail, which is the slowest and cheapest option.  Cheapest in this situation means it still costs an arm and a leg, and I probably should have actually thought about if the value of the stuff I’m sending back is worth the shipping costs.  (The answer is probably no.)  And slowest means that even the first box I sent back last month will probably arrive around the time my first-born child hits junior high school.  But again there’s not much that can be done about that.  I’ll likely send another box or two back and really figure out what will fit in my two suitcases for the plane ride(s) back.  Most of my furniture and appliances are going to be either sold on craigslist or trashed, and even that isn’t as easy as you’d think because the Japanese trash service actually charges you extra to haul off anything somewhat big.  I have to go to the convenience store to buy a special sticker, then register online to have the big stuff taken away.  It’s not really expensive though – only 370 yen for most big items or 750 for really big stuff.

I took the JLPT at the beginning of the month, level N1.  Not especially because I studied for it, but just since it’s easier to take it here than in the US.  It would be nice to have passed it but I don’t have my hopes up.  That being said, I think I did better than the previous time and passing is probably less impossible than before.  Test results aren’t being sent out until like September, and I have to have my results forwarded back to St. Louis so I really won’t know until long after I’ve forgotten about it.  My last time to take JLPT in Japan was also the best because my test site was at Chiba University, the next train stop over.  This was so much better than having to take a 1-2 hour train ride to Abiko like last December.  The week after that I also took a test you’ve probably never heard of called J-Test, which sounds stupid until you call it by its full title of the Test of Practical Japanese (実用日本語検定).  Figured that would be something to bang out before I leave the country.  It’s actually supposed to cover a wider range of levels than JLPT, and it’s pretty much the same test for everyone unlike JLPT which is sorted by level.  You can take J-Test once and get a level grade, as opposed to having to pass a test that is for a specific level.  It’s also cheaper and is offered several times a year in a bunch of locations.  I took it at some place like 10 minutes from my apartment.  I’ll know my score like right before I leave.  I don’t think I did as well as I should have, but again oh well.

I’m not really going to be having a going away party, but there will be two last Y’s parties before I leave.  Everyone should have already gotten the info.  We’ll be checking out “Bizzaro Y’s” in Shinjuku at the end of the month when NR7000 comes to visit.  Yes, there is another Y’s.  I’ve known about this place for some time and actually checked it from the outside back in 2006, but we’ve never actually set foot in it.  I’m picturing the manager there to be a Bizzaro Matsushita.  Maybe he’ll look the same but with a handlebar mustache.  Or maybe he’ll be Puerto Rican.  It will be even stranger if we run into the Bizzaro A-Team there.  You know they exist.  The following week we’ll be going back to the classic Y’s since I can’t leave without saying goodbye there.

I will reclaim my throne

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My favorite chair from college was this weird retro-ish bucket cantilever chair that I “rescued” from some abandoned dungeon in old Ashton.  It is super mega comfortable despite looking like something from a 1970’s TV talk show set.  I had it all through college and then after graduating took it back to St. Louis for safekeeping. Even though I of course couldn’t bring it to Japan, I knew that it would be waiting for my butt when I came back one day.   Now with my return to the USA coming up fairly soon, I hear news from my brother that his dog has somehow claimed my favorite chair as his own.

I will get my chair back from Sam the deer-dog!!

Sam keeping my chair warm

I just hope he hasn’t “marked” it as his own yet.

Last week was pretty busy overall.  I’m starting the slow process of packing finally, and on top of that there was normal work, verrrrry minimal studying of Japanese for my upcoming shot at the JLPT and J-Test, and visitors from the United States.  It’s starting to finally kick in that I don’t really have that much time left here in the land of ramen vending machines.

We went to Y’s for the first time ever on a Saturday a few weeks ago, the night of the Japan vs Holland game.  I’m not especially a fan of soccer, and that doesn’t change just because it’s World Cup season.  There are a lot of people who are usually as uninterested in the sport as I am, but who have suddenly become obsessed with it since this tournament started.  This phenomenon is funny and slightly annoying in its own right, but let’s not go into that just now.  The plus side to this special Y’s event was of course that it was on a Saturday so we could get a lot more people to come, as opposed to the normal handful of attendees, an even bigger handful of maybes, and followed by a giant armful of people who say they’re going to come and then end up not making it.  We also got a big table in one of the back rooms, which wasn’t all to ourselves but still wasn’t stuck in the middle of the crowd of roaring “fans” in the normal seating area.   That was of course the drawback to the special Saturday event being for the World Cup, since everyone there was primarily there to watch the game, instead of focusing on the usual gluttony fest that is Y’s.  It was of course a good time though, and it was still Y’s, so I guess I shouldn’t complain so much.  Y’s was followed by karaoke until morning, and we had a giant room despite not having so many people.  We were also coincidentally put in the room right next to the Chiba AEON’s party group who were there for Ryan’s farewell party.  They had a lot more people than us but a smaller room, which was funny.  It was a good night despite half of our group being asleep at some point.  Also you have not known true auditory bliss until you’ve heard me sing “Bailamos.”  Of course I’m just joking: it was as horrible as you can imagine.

The following week I ended up going into the city almost every day to meet up with people, including a few IU professors who were visiting Japan with a group of students.  Last Friday was pretty cool because I went with that group on a cruise of Tokyo Bay aboard the Symphony Moderna.  We had a private room and deck on the boat that went around Tokyo Bay for about 2.5 hours or so.  The weather was pretty good and not as ridiculously humid as usual so it was a good night to go around I’d say.  The next day I met up with the infamous Johnny Ho, who was visiting Tokyo on his way back to Taiwan for summer vacation.  I hadn’t really gone around the Ueno area for a long time so it was cool to check things out there.  We found a pretty cheap kushi-katsu and oden place and then spent a really long time at Donki (Don Quixote) which is kind of like the Japanese equivalent of Wal-Mart just because it sells a lot of totally random crap and is open 24 hours a day.  But Wal-Mart doesn’t have a catchy theme song, off-duty hostesses in sweatpants, and it also doesn’t sell products as sketch as Donki sometimes has.  That being said, Donki doesn’t have rednecks or guns, so maybe it’s an even trade-off.

Sunday was the annual Konosuke BBQ at Inage Kaigan, also known as the time of the year when we all get horribly horribly sunburned.  This year’s Yoga-UV-Shangri-la attack wasn’t as bad because it was slightly cloudy and even rained very briefly, but I think most of us still managed to get tan/burned.  I put on sunblock in the morning, but it was the same bottle of sunblock I had bought like 2 years ago for this BBQ and it was getting pretty old I think.  It came out like normal lotion but when I put it on my face I kind of looked like a kabuki actor.  I tried to rub it in and I thought it had blended in pretty well, but of course when I arrived to meet up with everyone I had at least 3 people go “oh my god what happened?  Your face is so white!”  Oops!  Luckily, after standing outside in the sun for about 5 or 6 hours and sweating, the sunblock was pretty much gone and I was just red and sunburned.  Despite that minor hiccup, it was a great BBQ as usual and I had a lot of fun hanging out with a lot of the people there.  After the BBQ we headed to Chiba and did karaoke at the somewhat new Karaoke Kan which was really nice especially compared to the UtaHiro we usually go to.  Then we went to Hub until about 11PM ending out a long, loooooong day.

BBQ 2010 @ 稲毛海岸

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