Monday, December 26, 2005

Portrait of a Badass: Lucas

Character: Lucas Barton
Actor: Jackey Vinson
Film: The Wizard (1989)
Badass Moment: Lucas dons the Power Glove and plays the raddest fifteen seconds of Rad Racer ever witnessed. Then he attempts to use his video game skills as a means by which to impress a girl, and fails.

I cannot stress enough the importance of The Wizard. It is a cinematic staple for anyone who ever picked up an issue of Nintendo Power Magazine, yelled cuss words at the Mother Brain or pushed UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, B, A, START. It is, for lack of a better metaphore, the National Velvet of the My Little Pony Generation. It's the classic buddy film telling of one boy's rise from adversity to proverbial video game godhood.

To make a great film, you need a great villain, and that's where Lucas comes in. The young hero of The Wizard, James Woods (but you can call him Jimmy), faces numerous obstacles on his path to 8-bit glory, but none so daunting as the dark visage of Lucas. If you don't believe me, just do a Google search and see if you can't find references to Lucas's dialogue. His famous line about the Power Glove is right up there with "Here's lookin' at you, kid" and "Stella!"

If I haven't already convinced you that Lucas is a badass, get a load of this: The dude was so mind-bendingly cool that he was able to get a young, bemulletted Tobey Maguire to join his entourage:

Lucas, you are so bad (-ass). We salute you.


Nothing conveys my feelings about The Wizard quite as accurately as my Internet Movie Database review of the film. According to the IMDb, "15 out of 18 people found the following comment useful."


i love the power glove. it's my mommie. 18 July 2004
Author: jessejace from setagaya tokyo japan

Somewhere along the line, someone realized that it's nigh impossible to make a good movie based on a video game. So instead, they made a movie about the entire Nintendo Entertainment System, thereby capturing all the feel-good nostalgia associated with its hundreds of titles, but without crippling handicaps such as an unfeasible plot or Jean-Claude VanDamme as Colonel William F. Guile. Thus was born The Wizard...a shameless consumerist repackaging of The Who's Tommy, adjusted for a new audience and coming at you in full-on buddy film fashion.

Fred Savage explodes onto the screen as a curly-haired dork with highly articulate eyebrows. He's caught between his divorced parents in a custody battle over his autistic, obsessive-compulsive, equinophobic, dyslexic, colorblind kid brother Jimmy. Realizing that being in the custody of one or more of his parents will most certainly kill Jimmy (and that Jimmy has the superhuman ability to reach level 3 on Double Dragon), Fred Savage does the right thing and whisks his kid brother off to exploit his virtuosic video game playing ability for cash and prizes worth well over $130.

Along the way they meet Haley, who's totally hot if you're 12. Haley misleads Fred and Jimmy on many occasions, notably one scene where renegade truckers steal their entire video game pilgrimage budget and, presumeably, molest them. Still, they stick to their guns (or should I say, their NINTENDO LIGHT GUNS™, for use with Duck Hunt), even managing to outsmart the enigmatic Lucas, a rebellious young boy who apparently lives alone in the desert like Mohammed. But this little messiah has a NINTENDO POWER GLOVE™, buy yours today!

Lucas complicates the story, creating a sordid love triangle between himself, Fred Savage and Haley. He taunts Jimmy ruthlessly ("We wouldn't want you to...WHIZ on yourself.") and, despite having devoted his life to Nintendo games and thus presumably having no friends, a crowd of prepubescent disciples follow him at all times. His secret to success is the Nintendo Power Glove, which is, in Lucas's own words, "so bad." But as most of us know, the truth is that the Nintendo Power Glove was "totally gay." It only did what you wanted it to do when you were punching your friend in the face with it to vent your frustration about its lack of response.

The protagonists' path is beset by peril on all sides. There are teenage white trash hoodlums who exist solely for the purpose of stealing Jimmy's hat and saying lines like "What is this kid, some sort of cyborg?" There are fat salesmen who talk like Foghorn Leghorn, unable to believe that a scrawny kid is better than they are at Contra.

And don't get me started on Putnam, the creepy bald guy hired by Fred Savage's mom to bring the kids back home, dead or alive. Meanwhile, Beau Bridges plays Nintendo like my dad, yanking the controller this way and that. Every time Beau Bridges and Christian Slater run into Putnam, a redneck banjo riff kicks in and the whole movie starts to sound like a Menard's commercial while the adversaries engage in automobile/gardening tool combat.

Saved from certain molestation by a grotesque man-child named Spanky, their adventure climaxes when they play Ninja Gaiden with a scary gravel-voiced MC (who also appears to be a child molester) and nearly get eaten by a fake King Kong at UNIVERSAL STUDIOS THEMEPARK™, now open! By the way, Jimmy knows the exact location of the Warp Whistle in Super Mario Bros. 3 prior to the game's release because he reads NINTENDO POWER MAGAZINE™, subscribe today! Jimmy gets the Warp Whistle and uses it to reach World 4 and Lucas looks on helplessly as his empire of Power Gloves comes crashing down around him.

Spackled with golden dialogue, this movie is a subculture in its own right. But while many people quote Lucas's "it's so bad," or Haley's "he touched my breast," for me it doesn't get any better than when Christian Slater says, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles™."

What I'm Playing and Why I'm Playing It

Recent days have seen me crack open a couple of my older PS2 games. Currently I'm chipping away at Dark Chronicle (Dark Cloud 2 in the US), developer Level 5's 2003 action/RPG title that successfully combines battle, village building, competitive fishing, photography, item invention, time travel and golf into one cute little game that can now be purchased in Japan for around 2000 yen as part of the PlayStation2 Greatest Hits series. It's a good deal, considering how many hours of gameplay you get for that price...not to mention the fact that the game lets you catch fish, raise them in an aquarium, enter them in a race, and finally punish them by cooking and eating them when they lose the race.

The reason I decided to go back to playing Dark Chronicle? Well, until I finish that game, it's hard for me to rationalize buying Level 5's new "space pirate" themed action/role-playing game, Rogue Galaxy (pictured below). So you see, when I play video games there is always a good reason.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Way of the Shuffle

My blog posts have gotten thin of late. Between work, kanji study, swimming, the War on Christmas and Soul Caliber 3, I've been finding it harder and harder to find time to "tickle the ivories." (Note to PETA: My computer keyboard is not actually made of ivory. Please stop calling.) But a little glance at the upper-right corner of my computer monitor reveals that it's now 12:30 Friday morning, which means I can do my third weekly iPod random top ten list.

By the way, C.I.C. nods knowingly and approvingly to distinguished alumnus Bent Corner, the newest initiate to the Way of the Shuffle (or, shaffuru-do.)

Just kidding, I made up the word shaffuru-do. Now, on to the list!

1. Yamaoka Akira / "Lost Carol" (from Silent Hill 3)
2. Pet Shop Boys / "Up Against It"
3. Asian Kung-Fu Generation / "My World"
4. Semisonic / "Gone to the Movies"
5. Idlewild / "Out of Routine"
6. Ivy / "The Best Thing"
7. Niinuma Kenji / "The Moon and the Prince" (from Katamari Damashii)
8. L'Arc~En~Ciel / "It's the End"
9. R.E.M. / "Orange Crush"
10. Beck / "8.6.82"

Congratulations to Beck, who made number 10 twice in a row, against all odds. If he does it a third time, I'll have to throw salt on my laptop and knock on wood while licking a bible. Which means I'll have to buy a bible. What a hassle. Thanks a lot, Beck.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Better Luck Next Xbox

Microsoft's Xbox 360, which was released last weekend in Japan, sold a disappointing 62,100 units in the first two days (only 39% of units available on launch day). Many blame the low numbers on the delay of Tecmo's Dead or Alive 4, a game crucial to the acquisition of the coveted "dorks without girlfriends" demographic.

Yeah, maybe it's Dead or Alive 4's fault. Or, maybe Microsoft should have put a little more thought into the ridiculous 40,000 yen pricetag. Consumerism may be rampant in this country, but let's be reasonable. 40,000 yen could buy you a hundred puri-kura sessions.

Trying Again: The Random Ten

As my sister pointed out, my first attempt at an iPod-generated Top Ten revealed that I HAVE THE MOST BORING MUSIC COLLECTION IN THE WORLD. (She didn't say that in so many words, but we have a psychic understanding, so I know.) It was a rude awakening for me, like a wet salmon to the face, being the music snob that I seem to be. I'm going to give it one more try, eyes shut and fingers crossed, hoping that my iPod doesn't embarass me again. [Shaking fist at iPod] And if you do...

1. Death In Vegas / "Girls"
2. Chemical Brothers / "My Elastic Eye"
3. m-flo / "Orbit 3"
4. Apollo 440 / "High On Your Own Supply"
5. The Cardigans / "Celia Inside"
6. Aphex Twin / "Alberto Balsam"
7. Son of Waves Studio / "Even the Most Backwards Tribe"
8. Esthero / "Country Livin' (The World I Know)
9. Human League / "Fascination"
10. Beck / "Readymade"

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Wisconsinites Unite! (Against Bill O'Reilly)

Fox News' squareheaded dimwit Bill "Oh, Really?" O'Reilly singled out Madison, WI on Tuesday as a place where "you expect those people to be communing with Satan."

I'm not from Madison. I've only been to Madison three or four times. In fact, I associate Madison with unpleasant memories of my ex-girlfriend, whose home was just a few dairy farms away from the Capitol dome. But I happen to know that Madison is the greatest city in the American Midwest (degree for degree Fahrenheit).

Billy O is on notice. Soon as he starts talking trash about Setagaya Ward, I'm coming over there. And I'm bringing a mob of angry, Satan-worshipping cheeseheads with me.

[ the article at Media Matters ]

Bill O'Reilly communes with Satan on live TV

PS: Did you hear? We won the War on Christmas! Never again will we be terrorized by visions of sugarplums dancing in our heads.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

More Video Game Posters for Sale

[ the auction ]

This time around the lot includes promo posters for King of Fighters and Guilty Gear, two of the most fashion-conscious fighting games around.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Me Too!

I like cats. In fact, I am a cat. A cat of the "copy" variety. A copycat. That's why I decided to copycat a number of online journalists, most recently my sister, with a random top-ten list generated by my iPod. Wow, sounds fun! Sounds like an activity that will reveal my stuck-in-the-80s-and-90s music tastes! Let's try it.

1. Blur / "Day Upon Day" (live)
2. Cibo Matto / "Spoon" (Super Relax EP version)
3. Garbage / "Queer"
4. Quruli* / "Joze's Theme II"
5. Bjork / "The Anchor Song"
6. The Prodigy / "Mind Fields"
7. Matthew Sweet / "Falling"
8. Utada Hikaru / "Animato"
9. Spacehog / "To Be a Millionaire...Was It Likely?"
10. Rage Against the Machine / "Bulls on Parade"

* Quruli is the best band in the whole wide yerld.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Spam Spam Spam Spam

Yahoo Mail does a pretty good job of filtering spam messages and bulk adverts into a separate folder so they can be deleted quickly. It does occasionally, however, make a mistake and put a non-spam message into the bulk folder, or vice-versa. Today I was scanning the list of subject lines in my bulk folder just to make sure there wasn't anything important in it before I trashed it. One especially strange subject line caught my eye so I clicked on it, revealing this cryptic message:

If you like smoking but hate cigarette taste and smell.
Especially for you we created pleasant and gentle menthol
cigarettes that have very elegant scent and refreshing taste.
If you are going to the deserted island, don’t forget a whole bunch of
good delicious cigarettes with you.
At least don’t give up the best of them – smoking.
A cigarette is better than woman – it will never yell at you for having another one before.
It takes a few minutes to smoke a cigarette, but the enjoyment lasts much longer.

Most spam mail reads like it was written by a committee of ESL students but I felt that this one in particular had a certain je ne se pas.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Women: Japan Has Some More

It's been too long since I expounded upon the joys of living in Japan, home of the best-maintained women on earth. In my last look at the fairer sekkusu, I expressed my enthusiasm over Inoue Waka, Ueto Aya and Matsushima Nanako. That was way back in June! Few things stay popular with Japan's fickle public for such a long period, and as such, here's an updated look at the females who constantly usurp my attention.
Ito Misaki
Ito Misaki, 28, has enjoyed increased popularity lately due to starring roles on two very successful TV series: Densha Otoko (Train Man), the story of a nerdy guy who meets the love of his life by saving her from imminent groping on a commuter train, and Kiken na Aneki (Dangerous Sister), the story of a nerdy guy whose annoying sister comes to live with him while she moonlights as a club hostess. It's worth mentioning that, while Japanese TV is often annoying without trying to be, even a Japanese TV series about an annoying sister is watchable if that sister is Ito Misaki. Also boasting endorsement contracts with Vodafone and Shiseido, Misaki is charging headlong towards the precarious, termite-ridden, highly flammable bridge that is TV stardom in Japan.
Just the other day I was in Ginza Subway Station and I saw a big promotional display for Kiken na Aneki, with a life-size cardboard standee of Ito Misaki. The importance of the security guard patrolling the display was obvious.
Ito Misaki's Official Website
Yamaguchi Moe
To be honest, I don't know that much about Moe (two syllables: "Mo-eh"), also 28. She falls into the catch-all category of "talent," a celebrity who makes tons of guest appearances on variety shows and in TV commercials (thanks to support from her promotion agency, which is also home to Shibasaki Kou), but does not yet quite have enough "celebrity capital" to be in high demand for dramatic roles.
Ms. Yamaguchi has won the hearts of men all over the country with her soft voice, which walks a fine line between adorable and deplorable. To anyone who doubts the power of a cute-sounding voice, please witness Moe's endorsement of the anti-diarrhea medicine called Stoppa, in which she appears in a thought balloon above the head of a distressed businessman and reminds him that his Stoppa tablets are in his right pocket. Moe's appeal has also recently been used to promote such unsexy products as ham and vegetable juice.
Yamaguchi Moe's Official Website
Ogura Yuuko
I could claim that Yamaguchi-san's too-cute-for-TV voice was a unique quality, but I'd be doing a disservice to Ogura Yuuko, 22, the best possible Japanese facsimile of a ditzy blonde you'll ever find. Yuuko is an "idol," which is Japanese for "model/singer/sex object." She can be seen in countless DVDs, prancing around in a bikini while her voice-over explains that she loves rabbits and pandas and that her grandparents are so very important to her. Yeah, important, but not so important that she would throw away her career in order to save them the embarrassment of seeing their granddaughter [VOICE="David Brent"] bandied about willy-nilly [/VOICE].
Yuuko's voice, while cute, is most definitely NOT the reason I find her appealing. If I were her high school teacher I would always be saying to her, "Are you asking me, or telling me?" She talks like a child trapped in the body of a slightly older child. Rather, what I like about Yuuko is her eyes, which are ever so slightly crossed most of the time. (I have this weird thing for girls who eyes aren't quite right. Hence, my worship of Lucy Liu.)
CORRECTION: I previously stated that Ogura Yuuko appears in a pachinko commercial. I was mistaken; it's actually a commercial for the amusement hotbed known as Joypolis. My "hail to the king baby" joke, however, stands.
Ogura Yuuko's Official Website

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Show Me "Paint the Fence"

It's only fair that, after talking so much trash about The Karate Kid, I pay my respects to actor Noriyuki "Pat" Morita, who departed for that big karate tournament in the sky on Thursday, November 25, 2005.

In his role as gardener turned karate sensei Mr. Miyagi, Pat Morita gave us all hope that maybe, just maybe, it really was possible to become a karate master if you did enough home improvement work. More importantly, he transformed young pupil Daniel Larusso from his dippy, unlikeable self into a self-defense king capable of netting Elizabeth Shue, Tamlyn Tomita AND Robyn Lively.

While Mr. Miyagi's teaching methods were questionable, Pat Morita showed us the importance of kicking butt and tweaking noses. And, of course, looking one's opponent in the eye.

Always look eye.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Microsoft, You Unfeeling Monster!

Things are tough all over.

Girlfriend found out last week that her (very, very agreeable) temp position at Microsoft's Tokyo localization office will end with the opening of the new year. I'm sympathetic; a video game industry job in one of the best companies in the world is a hard thing to lose.

The good news is that, with her hitherto acquired experience, she has a sporting chance at getting into one of Microsoft's other Tokyo offices (there are three of them). What ever happens, she can proudly remember that, in her tenure with Microsoft up until now, she has been instrumental in the US-to-Japan localizations of Jade Empire for Xbox and Project Gotham Racing 3 for Xbox 360 (released tomorrow in the US, next month in Japan).

Ichi, ni, san, shi! Who do we appreciate? Girlfriend!

My Typing is Louder Than My Speech

Yesterday I went home early from work after losing my voice. My Monday shift is always a challenge; it's earlier than all my other shifts, and it includes three vocally-demanding classes of kids aged 2 to 4 (they attend class together with a parent). I assumed that, as per my usual pattern of recovery, I would be okay to go back to work today after getting a full night's sleep and doing a bit of quality expectorating.

Well, imagine my surprise when Girlfriend called up to me from downstairs, "I'm going to work, see you later!" and all I could muster up as a response was, "...!"

This means I had to call in sick today, as well. My job depends too much on my ability to talk and be polite. My students might not appreciate it if I show up to the lesson talking like Dick Cheney and coughing and spitting everywhere.

I really don't like the idea of calling in sick twice in a row; I get the impression that my boss at Tokyo headquarters sees this and goes, "Well, well, well. Looks like Thomas doesn't like to work." And he'd be right about that,, am I sick. Sick as a dog. And I mean a really sick puppy.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Today I saw a man pull his motorcycle over to the side of the road and take a pee on the curb in broad daylight.

End of item.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Portrait of a Badass: Spike

Character: Spike
Actor: Darlene Vogel
Film: Back to the Future Part II (1989)
Badass Moment: I guess it's the part where she grabs Michael J. Fox by the groin and hoists him over a restaurant counter. Because that's the only scene I can remember.

Prothetic claws. One red eye. Necklace made of bullet casings. White plastic armor-bra. These factors come flying together in a veritable tornado of badass known as Spike. Spike is one of Griff's eccentric toadies in Hill Valley 2015, and she makes the most of her short screentime by being the most terrifying future-babe imaginable.*

It wasn't easy to decide which of Griff's minions to crown "badass" in this post. I've always thought that dude with the chicken sound effect in his vest was pretty cool, and what's not to like about the crazy, laughing Asian guy? But Spike somehow broke out of the pack and stood head and shoulders above her peers as a full-on badass. I ask you this: How cool do you have to be before Elvis Costello names a whole album after you?

Spike is never referred to by name in the movie. She only has one line, and that line contains the word "scrote." I'll say two things about that. 1) Bad, and 2) Ass.

Spike, you are a badass and hoverboards don't work on water unless you've got POWER.

* At the time of the movie's release

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Tamiflu: Making Sure You Die of Something Else

Tamiflu has apparently caused the deaths of two Japanese teenagers. But at least they didn't die of the flu.

I cringe at the thought of everyone in the world loading up on what could be a bona-fide LGD (loopy goofball drug) in the face of a bird flu pandemic that may or may not ever actually happen.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Ew, I Stepped in Guam!

Last week's trip to Guam to get our PADI open-water diver certification was a success. Girlfriend and I are now proverbial diving machines. We know the difference between a Picasso trigger and a dusky anemonefish. We can clear our masks of water at fifteen meters. We can even literally breathe water, like Ed Harris does in The Abyss. (By the way: Picasso triggerfish are jerks. Be advised.)

The thing about Guam is that, by virtue of its location, it's a very popular destination for vacationers from Japan...but not so much for Americans. As such, the island is jam-packed with karaoke bars, rotary sushi diners and Japanese signage all over the place. Girlfriend and I, however, chanced upon one particularly strange combination of popular culture references, in the form of a run-down karaoke lounge called Yonsama:

For one thing, notice how they decided to rip off the Mortal Kombat logo for their sign. I don't think Midway Games should bother hassling Yonsama with a lawsuit, but it's still troublesome from a consumer standpoint. If I see a sign like this, I expect to walk in and see people engaged in "karaoke kombat." Know what I'm saying? Stand up, grab the mic, sing a Peter Cetera song and then push back, back, forward, forward, high punch to make your friend's head explode. Flawless victory.

But that's only half of why this sign is funny. Yon-sama happens to be the cute, honorific nickname given by Japanese people to Korean heartthrob actor Bae Yon-Jun, who is best known as "that serene-looking guy with the scarf" in the Korean TV drama series Winter Sonata:

I can only assume that the owner of this establishment intended to capitalize on Yon-sama's huge popularity in Japan in order to attract Japanese tourists who would (somehow) equate this bespectacled, idyllic-looking fellow with an unforgettable karaoke experience. At the same time, they try to attract Americans -- specifically, American males who were 14 years old in 1992 -- via an indirect association with Goro, the four-armed, half-dragon Prince of Outworld.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Let's Learn Japanese: Furyo

Furyo (n.)
Young hooligan (lit. "no good")

It was a real testament to my "turning Japanese."

I attended a company Halloween party dressed as a furyo. The Japanese at the party laughed and told me how funny my costume was. The non-Japanese at the party were like, "What are you, a yakuza?"

Never mind that most of my co-workers have lived in Japan for as long as I have, if not longer. How do you not recognize a furyo when you see one? Have I been wasting my time here, educating myself in popular culture while the other foreigners around me educate themselves in going on all-night benders in Roppongi? What am I, the biggest geek?

Yakuza. Peh! Indeed.

By the way, if the concept of furyo seems foreign and difficult to relate to, consider ruffian heroes Kunio and Riki (AKA Alex and Ryan) who gained stateside infamy as stars of the Nintendo game Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari (AKA River City Ransom):

"Alex listened to the R&B. Alex started jamming. Stamina is maxed out!"

Friday, October 28, 2005

Portrait of a Badass: Kaneda

Character: Kaneda Shotaro
Actor: Iwata Mitsuo (voice)
Film: Akira (1988)
Badass Moment: Kaneda plays an ill-advised game of pedestrian-on-biker chicken and wins!

The first animated character to be inducted into my prestigious hall of fame, Kaneda embodies creator Otomo Katsuhiro's vision of what no-good whippersnappers of the future could be like. Furthermore, he continues to stand alone as a unique, relatively unimitated character template. (Good thing, too, because characters similar to Kaneda would have to labelled "Kanedian," which would only cause confusion.)

This loud-mouthed leader of a bosozoku (biker gang, literally "speed gang") in post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo spends the first half of Akira stealing the show from his wimpy (but eventually omnipotent) cohort Tetsuo. In fact, most of Akira's popularity in the West stems from the biker gang scenes involving Kaneda early in the movie. What's not to like about a cocky, obnoxious hooligan and his ultra-stylish red jacket with the capsule on the back?

He spends the latter half of the movie, however, clinging desperately on to his superiority over Tetsuo, even as Tetsuo morphs into an all-powerful, giant infant made of chewing gum. Being the friend that he is, Kaneda even tries to put Tetsuo down for a dirt nap when it becomes apparent that Tetsuo has become a hazard to himself and others (and by "others" I mean "everybody"). But even as he lays waste to the world as we know it, Tetsuo spares the lives of his friends. Why? Because with divine omniscience comes the understanding that Kaneda is a badass.

Kaneda, you are a badass. We salu -- MY BIKE!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Week of Doom

This blog will never be an important source for entertainment news because I am so far behind the rest of the world.

My new computer afforded me the ability to finally play a demo of Doom 3 for the first time. I'll say one word about that: MOMMIE! I haven't been so creeped out by a video game since Silent Hill 2.

Combine that with the numerically (if not critically) successful release of the movie Doom which, OF COURSE, is not released in Japan yet. But I'm not worried, because maybe I can download it. After all, with my new computer, there is nothing I cannot download. Just this morning, I was hungry so I downloaded an orange (like in that movie Tron).

Friday, October 14, 2005

Better Than Cats

"Reach the stars, fly a fantasy / Dream a dream and what you see will be"
from the themesong to The Neverending Story

Bush holds fake rap session under pretense of candor

Disgusting, yes. The press has done a nice job of showing just how scripted Bush's little "conversation" with soldiers in Iraq Thursday really was. Highlights include an Iraqi soldier awkwardly giggling, "A ha ha ha. I like you. A ha ha ha ha," as Bush blushes and says something equally dumb in response ("I appreciate that," I believe it was).

Even more jaw-dropping: Rolly-polly press secretary Scott McClellan's reluctance to let go of the pretense that this exploitive photo-op was impromptu. He eventually did acknowledge the extensive preparations (in which deputy assistant defense secretary Allison Barber goes over what questions will be asked and who will answer what....all of which was inadvertantly recorded), but chalked those up to technical difficulties posed by satellite feeds.

Hey, Scott! "Lies that keep their secrets will unfold behind the clouds / There upon the rainbow is the answer to a neverending story." Dumbass.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

More On the Invetigation

Apple's October 12 event served the purpose of launching their new iMac G5 and Video iPod. If past Apple actions are any indication, this relatively big news will be followed by a smaller revelation later this month, or possibly in the first half of November...namely, the release of the rumored new-and-improved Powerbooks and PowerMacs.

This is the reason Apple makes me insane. Why can't they just hype up their products ahead of time like everyone else?

Addendum (Oct. 16, 2005): Following with the predicted timeline, Apple has scheduled an "event" for October 19, in which they very well may introduce a batch of new, slightly improved machines.

Buy Something Will Ya With a Vengeance

This week: Fujiko from Lupin the 3rd...Asuka "Tennis Version" from Evangelion...some red-haired woman from Ghost in the Shell...and more figures and posters to come.

[my eBay auctions]

Invetigation in Progress

As I mentioned earlier, I have to replace my laptop. The display issue continues to worsen. After making that earlier post about the problem, I went to Bic Camera to shop for a new Powerbook, only to discover that all the Powerbook models they sold were out of stock. I was told I would have to order one, and that it would take some time before Bic's supplier in Japan was restocked (so, apparently, every Bic Camera in Japan is currently out of Powerbooks).

Earlier this week, however, I wandered into the Bic store where I had placed my order and noticed, not without consternation, that the sign reading "out of stock" had disappeared. Had Bic Camera gotten a new shipment in without bothering to fill my order or tell me about it?

A bit of further investigation yielded an unlikely answer: Bic Camera was telling everyone who had ordered a Powerbook that there were rumors about the possible surprise release of updated Powerbooks and Powermacs on October 12 (or 13, Japan time), which is today. Rumors. I'm as surprised as anyone that Bic Camera, the electronics retail giant, would tell people to hold off on buying a new computer because they heard a rumor that a better computer might be coming out soon. Of course, I appreciate their concern; how much would it suck if I bought the machine and then the price went down a few days later as the result of a new release? But maybe someone should explain to them that rumors about Apple often prove false. And needless to say, after being told about this rumor I immediately checked for any evidence online, finding only this.

If Apple does surprise-release an updated Powerbook this week, I will make a retraction. Until then, I'm skeptical.

A Google search for the word "invetigation," as misspelled by Gareth Keenan in The Office, yields a surprising number of diverse hits. Life really does imitate art! Click here and see for yourself.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Let's Learn Japanese: Musume wa buruuberii ni!

Musume wa buruuberii ni! (int.)
I've got a blueberry for a daughter!

Over the weekend I overcame my fear of Japanese movie ticket prices and went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in Kabukicho. Because it's a family film, some theaters in Tokyo, including the one I went to, are showing only the Japanese dubbed version (because let's face it: kids hate to read! Reading's HARD!). So I'm afraid that some of what I'm sure was a very funny performance by Johnny Depp may have been lost in translation.

FUN TRIVIA FACT: The songs in the film were also translated into Japanese, rather to my surprise. The Oompa Loompa song about Violet Beauregarde, however, has a slight change which I found funny for some reason: Where the original lyrics go, "Chewing, chewing, on and on," the Japanese version goes, "Chewing, chewing, all day." The idea is that most Japanese people can probably understand the meaning of "all day," since "all" and "day" are relatively common loan words from English to Japanese. "On and on," however, would have Japanese audiences scrambling for their electronic dictionaries in mid-movie.

Speaking of scrambling for electronic dictionaries! Also this weekend, Girlfriend and I went to Nakano to take the classroom component of the PADI Scuba Diving License. It began with a boring 90-minute video about air density and nitrogen bubbles (annoyingly, the video was originally in English, but had been converted to Japanese by dubbing all the voices and covering all the text...make me work, why dontcha), and ended with a 50-question multiple choice test. It was my first time to take a test of any kind in Japanese, and it was stressful. But I passed after all, and now the hard part's over. Next month we will make a brief escape to Guam for the purpose of completing our training and becoming true Jedi, I mean, recreational scuba divers. And, as a special bonus, I have learned the Japanese words for "buoyancy," "back-up second stage regulator" and "the bends."

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Transcript of Bush's Address

Here is, in its entirety, the content of President Bush's address today:

Iraq extremists war terrorists war, insurgents 9/11. Terror war terror democracy, progress. Progress radical Islamic terrorist democracy; war 9/11. War war hope and freedom and Islam and tyranny. 9/11 9/11. Terrorism radical insurgency Iraq 9/11 militants. Iraq, Syria, Mogadushu [sic] terror war terror 9/11 democracy progress. Progress. Progress. 9/11. God bless America.

Seldom are so many words used to say so little.

With all the "radical" and "extreme" flying around during his speech, it would be easy to mistake the whole thing for some kind of weird Mountain Dew commercial.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Excuse to Further Consume

After serving me well for almost three years, my Powerbook has started its death throes. Last night, the monitor went black and started flashing a bunch of white horizontal lines at me until I adjusted the angle of the screen. It continues to do so with increasing frequency. I was hoping my trusty machine would stick it out until the release of a Powerbook G5, but I guess not.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Portrait of a Badass: Mitsuko

Character: Female Student #11; Souma, Mitsuko
Actor: Shibasaki Kou
Film: Battle Royale (2000)
Badass Moment: Mitsuko's flashlight close-up, Mr. Demille (pictured)
As you may know, Battle Royale is the motion picture adaptation of a Japanese pulp novel of the same name, in which a high school class is whisked off to an island in the Seto Inland Sea and the students forced to participate in a real life last-man-standing deathmatch. I will do my best not to let the absolute badassity of Mitusko in the novel affect my appraisal of her onscreen badassitude. After all, if "Portrait of a Badass" were more literary and less...uhhh...movielary, the Japanese female badass throne would probably be occupied by Hatsumomo from Memoirs of a Geisha.
(...a technicality that will cease to be a problem as soon as the movie adaptation of Memoirs of a Geisha, starring supreme Chinese hottie Zhang Zi Yi, is released.)
Every high school class has a girl who, while being the ultimate object of infatuation, is somehow inaccessible. Maybe it's because she's too "out of your league"...maybe it's because she's a snob...maybe it's because she kills everyone with a sickle. Souma Mitsuko is that girl.
As her schoolmates discover, her nasty classroom manner translates literally in the survival scenario posed by the Battle Royale, and before long everyone's getting sliced up by Mitsuko Souma, the cutest bringer of death you ever did-done seen. And all the while, she spouts mean lines like, "Shindemo ii" ("You can die") and "Shineyo busu" ("Die, ugly").
Contrast this with Shibasaki Kou's role in Miike Takashi's cellphone-centric horror film Chakushin Ari, in which she spends the latter half of the movie whimpering and screaming and hiding in corners AND singing a pop song. That's versatility.
Mitsuko, you are a badass, and a spooky chick, and yes you can have my lunch money just please don't hurt me. We salute you.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

TGS 2005: Japan Needs to Get a Life

Well, here are three of my best "booth girl" photos from the Tokyo Game Show, just to prove I was there:

And here's a photo that more accurately captures the uncomfortable gawkiness exhibited by 98% of the people I saw at the trade show:

Creepy, huh. After a while I came upon a pursuit much more interesting than taking photos of the booth girls and cosplayers: taking photos of the geeky otaku guys taking pictures of the booth girls and cosplayers.

DID YOU KNOW? An otaku's dork factor corresponds directly with the combined weight of his camera, camera accessories and hip pack.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Let's Learn Japanese: Miteeeh

Miteeeh (colloq.) Dude I wanna see that!
Megumi ga, konya no Trivia no Izumi ni deru yo. Kono bangumi miteeeh!

Today Square-Enix released Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. It's a veritable nerd care package containing plastic figures, a Village People-looking hat and, best of all, the direct-to-DVD CGI movie of the same name. For the past few months, patrons of Bic Camera in Shinjuku have been teased with trailers of the movie, which looks to be 100 times cooler than all the FF games since Final Fantasy VIII combined. And I'm not just saying that because FF7 was the last one I had the gumption to finish. Maybe it was the superior character design of FF7 that pulled me through all those random battles and failed assaults on Emerald Weapon. Or maybe it was just the undying hope in the back of my mind that there would be a Tifa Lockheart shower scene in there somewhere. (Lots of fans cried when Aeris died, but I yelled, "You sicko!" at the screen when Sephiroth knocked Tifa down the stairs. That's how I roll.)

In similarly dorky news, this weekend is the Tokyo Game Show. I'll be there, taking pictures of booth girls and grabbing as much free junk as possible.

Revenge of the Rolling Chopstick Phenomenon

"Scorpion / Lost soul / Bent on revenge."
from the song "Scorpion (Lost Soul Bent On Revenge)"
Mortal Kombat: The Album

A while back, I made an entry about situations in which my own humorous thoughts caused me to laugh at awkward times. Today at work, another such occasion took place. During one of my lessons today, I had instructed my students to study a list of vocabulary words in silence for one whole minute. One whole minute of my own thoughts echoing noisily in my brain, just defying me -- taunting me -- not to laugh. And sure enough, along came a stupid memory from the early 1990s:

My sister and I are watching Saved By the Bell (an after-school teen sitcom starring characters who fit nicely into high school stereotypes like "cool guy," "babe" and "ninja"...see image). We are bored. In an attempt to become less so, we mute the TV and start supplying our own voice talents to the show. Onscreen, one of the teen protagonists is admiring a souped-up sportscar. As said teen walks around to the front bumper, one of us says, "This is where the spikes will be attached."

I can't remember which of us delivered this golden comic line, nor can I remember whether the word used was "spikes" or rather "spears." I like to think I said it, and that I used the word "spears," but either way it's funny to me. And upon remembering just how funny it was (not to mention the bonus mental image of hapless nerd character Screech being chased relentlessly by the nightmarish spike-mobile), a laugh escaped through my nose at long last, breaking the silence of the one-minute vocab cram session. When my students asked why I was laughing, I briefly considered the implications of explaining the Saved By the Bell anecdote, decided it would be too troublesome and answered, "I just thought of something funny."

Friday, September 09, 2005

Welcome Back, Press

It's truly encouraging to see the news media getting some guts, however gradually. In the grisly aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it would appear that the press is finally starting to stand up to the less-than-forthcoming Bush Administration in regard to responsibility for the botched relief effort. Let's take a look at a right old rocker of an exchange between NBC's David Gregory and "Babyface" Scott McClellan.

September 7, 2005...Washington, DC...Whitehouse press conference...YOU ARE THERE!

Q Scott, does the President retain confidence in his FEMA Director and Secretary of Homeland Security?

MR. McCLELLAN: And again, David, see, this is where some people want to look at the blame game issue, and finger-point. We're focused on solving problems, and we're doing everything we can --

Q What about the question?

MR. McCLELLAN: We're doing everything we can in support --

Q We know all that.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- of the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA.

Q Does he retain complete confidence --

MR. McCLELLAN: We're going to continue. We appreciate the great effort that all of those at FEMA, including the head of FEMA, are doing to help the people in the region. And I'm just not going to engage in the blame game or finger-pointing that you're trying to get me to engage.

Q Okay, but that's not at all what I was asking.

MR. McCLELLAN: Sure it is. It's exactly what you're trying to play.

Q You have your same point you want to make about the blame game, which you've said enough now. I'm asking you a direct question, which you're dodging.


Q Does the President retain complete confidence in his Director of FEMA and Secretary of Homeland Security, yes or no?

MR. McCLELLAN: I just answered the question.

Q Is the answer "yes" on both?

MR. McCLELLAN: And what you're doing is trying to engage in a game of finger-pointing.

Q There's a lot of criticism. I'm just wondering if he still has confidence.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and blame-gaming. What we're trying to do is solve problems, David. And that's where we're going to keep our focus.

Q So you're not -- you won't answer that question directly?

MR. McCLELLAN: I did. I just did.

Q No, you didn't. Yes or no? Does he have complete confidence or doesn't he?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, if you want to continue to engage in finger-pointing and blame-gaming, that's fine --

Q Scott, that's ridiculous. I'm not engaging in any of that.

MR. McCLELLAN: It's not ridiculous.

Q Don't try to accuse me of that. I'm asking you a direct question and you should answer it. Does he retain complete confidence in his FEMA Director and Secretary of Homeland Security, yes or no?

MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said -- that's exactly what you're engaging in.

Q I'm not engaging in anything. I'm asking you a question about what the President's views are --

MR. McCLELLAN: Absolutely -- absolutely --

Q -- under pretty substantial criticism of members of his administration. Okay? And you know that, and everybody watching knows that, as well.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, everybody watching this knows, David, that you're trying to engage in a blame game.

Q I'm trying to engage?


Q I am trying to engage?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's correct.

Q That's a dodge.

Yeah, that is a dodge....only when I look at Mr. McClellan's voluptuous figure, the word "dodge" doesn't seem likely. Furthermore, I am beyond sick of the phrase "blame game" (and the creative variant used by Scotty McC, "blame-gaming"). There is nothing game-like about demanding accountability and analysis in one of the worst emergency response fiascos in modern history. Games are supposed to be fun. To repeat "blame game" in this situation is to insult games.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Portrait of a Badass: Donnie Darko

Character: Donnie Darko
Actor: Jake Gyllenhaal
Film: Donnie Darko (2001)
Badass Moment: He accuses a motivational speaker of being the Antichrist during a school assembly, and is subsequently dragged away amid cheers from his fellow students

Donnie Darko is a potentially heavy film disguised as a clever 1980s nostalgia trip. The story follows our hero, a young borderline-schizophrenic Everyman, through his 28-day stint as a teenage deus ex machina, carrying out acts of divine intervention. That character is Donnie Darko, one of the most unfortunately named boys in the world of fiction. Donnie's onscreen psychosis, while dangerous and debilitating, is also the perfect device by which to make him a world-class bringer of wrath! This kid exposes a child pornographer, gets school cancelled by causing a flood, displays an extensive understanding of the Smurfs, and still has time to get the girl (in a way).

People I've talked to who didn't like this movie said that their main complaint was with the main character; they just didn't like him. To those people, I say this: Being a badass means being unlikeable sometimes. And besides, this movie also stars Drew Barrymore, who hasn't been likeable since she played Gertie.

Finally, consider this short dialogue between two of the teachers at Donnie's high school:

Prof. Monnitoff: Donnie Darko.

Ms. Pomeroy: [Laughing, shaking her head] I know!

That's a whole scene! Just the one shot, with just the two lines. People, the unspoken message here is, "BADASS."

Donnie Darko, you are an alliterative badass. We salute you.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Mona Stiles is My Nemesis

I'm not the best English teacher in the world, but at least I'm not this woman:

Her name is Mona Stiles, and she's a theater instructor at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. And, for some reason, she has her own educational show on Japanese TV in which she teaches English as a second language. The show is called Terebi De Ryugaku, which means "What In God's Name Is That Woman Blathering About?"

Don't misunderstand my frustration; there are plenty of English instruction TV shows in which people from various walks of life pose as teachers, and I'm fine with that. But Ms. Stiles is, in particular, a pebble in my shoe by virtue of her awful teaching techniques. This woman talks throughout the entire lesson while her students stare at her, apparently bored and/or completely unaware of what she's talking about. And how could they possibly know what she's talking about? Half the time, I don't know what she's talking about. Consider this example:

Mona: Who knows what "tongue-in-cheek" means? That means something is kind of like, "er-er!" You know what "er-er" means?


In the same episode, Mona gives one of her students a special assignment: Walk up to a complete stranger in Central Park and tell them a joke of your own design. Now before you call me "harsh," witness this joke my kid brother made up when he was three years old:

Knock-knock. Who's there? Camera power. Camera power who? Camera power wower.

Truth be told, Mona Stiles is just the most recent in a series of horrible teachers to host Terebi De Ryugaku. If this theater teacher can have her own English show, then I want my own show called So You Want to Build a Harpsichord.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Bush Begs, Plays Dead, Stays

Bush Begins 5-Day Push to Defend Iraq War

Read the article and then riddle me this, Batman: Should the president, under any circumstances, need to set aside a five-day span in which to defend himself against the criticism coming from the majority of the public?

Bush apparently isn't even trying to pretend to run the country anymore. The man has fallen below "lame duck" status, all the way down to "quadriplegic cheerleader." Five days?! That's a metric week!

Cheap shot perhaps, but look at the photo that was run with this article. Check out the evil mug on this guy. Kiss your daddy with that mouth?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Portrait of a Badass: Vasquez

Character: Private Vasquez
Actor: Jenette Goldstein
Film: Aliens (1986)
Badass Moment: Her last stand against the aliens in the ventilation ducts

Maybe one of the reasons Big Trouble in Little China didn't do so well in the box offices was because it was up against Aliens: the icky, slimy, acid-for-blood, face-hugging, mouth-within-a-mouth sequel directed by James "King of the World" Cameron. And maybe, just maybe, Big Trouble would have stood a better chance if its female lead was less of a mannequin and more of a Vasquez.

Jenette Goldstein explodes onto the silver screen in her first feature film appearance as Pvt. Vasquez, a space marine who (allegedly) has never been mistaken for a man. She does chin-ups wherever she can find the opportunity, puts up with endless trash talk from Bill Paxton, calls people pendejo and is, according to colleague Pvt. Drake, "just too bad." While I am 99% repulsed by military machismo in film characters, Vasquez gets the benefit of that leftover 1%. Sorry, Rambo...the bandana just looks better on her.

Pvt. Vasquez, you are just too badass. We salute you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Buy Somethin' Will Ya: The Revenge

A couple months ago I tried to sell some video game posters on eBay. Unfortunately, the winning bidder ditched on me without any response to my emails, which gave me a new, very negative view of the current state of "The World's Online Marketplace." So now, after a couple months of grumbing about stupid, crummy eBay, I'm listing those posters again, as well as one of the many sexy character figurines Girlfriend has been hassling me to get rid of. Tell your geeky friends!


New Name

From today, this journal will cease to be called J-Log and continue life as Chorus, Isolate, Confirm (or CIC, if you like). It turns out that J-Log, a name I whipped up without thinking much, has been and continues to be used by other bloggers, including at least a couple other expats in Japan. However, a quick Google search for the words "chorus isolate confirm" turned up zilch, so that's what I'm using. In case you cared to know, "Chorus, isolate, confirm" is a language teaching axiom (which, for all I know, is exclusively limited to my employer's training curriculum...and by using it as the title of my blog, I'm probably inviting some kind of lawsuit...WHAT A MEESA SAYING? Nobody sues anybody in Japan).

Monday, August 15, 2005

Portrait of a Badass: Thunder

Character: Thunder
Actor: Carter Wong
Film: Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Badass Moment: Exhalation scene, pictured here.

The other day I put my Big Trouble DVD in the player for the first time in a couple years. If you're not familiar, Big Trouble in Little China is the result of thriller director John Carpenter's "me too!" reaction to the Hong Kong action genre. It's clumsy on plot, has way too much wry dialogue, and stars Kurt Russell as Jack Burton, the obnoxious and inept anti-hero.

Sounds like I don't like this movie much, right? Wrong, stupid! Because this movie has Thunder. Played to perfection by non-English speaker Carter Wong, Thunder is a kung-fu magician whose special-est of special moves involves getting really upset and puffing himself up like a blowfish on steroids. Furthermore, he emits one of the coolest movie sound effects I've ever heard (imagine an exhaling sound that would make Darth Vader pee his pants).

Thunder, you are a badass, and an inspiration to us all.

Friday, August 12, 2005

I Still Don't Give a Good God Damn What You Did Last Summer

This week's Thursday Night TV Movie was I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, (working title: I Still Think the Moviegoing Public Will Pay Money to See Garbage Like This Because They Don't Know Any Better). I cannot count the number of times I said the word "ridiculous" out loud as I (inexplicably) watched the entire thing. The movie throws away one opportunity after another to save itself from demise. Most noteably, consider Jack Black, who lends his genius to this doomed film as a dreadlocked drug dealer. Every time Jack Black popped up, I was cheering, "Yeah! School of Rock, baby!" Then the movie's hook-handed antagonist killed him. Even worse, they passed up the chance to make some kind of joke about him being "hooked on drugs" or something. UNACCEPTABLE.

I don't know why I watched the movie at all. I've never even seen the first one, not that a little detail like that would have any effect on my appreciation for the second. Honestly, I can't think of a single reason.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Let's Learn Japanese: Gokiburi


Girlfriend and I have had a rude awakening recently. We now find ourselves thrust into a demographic where we did not always belong: People with cockroach trouble.

My first two years of Tokyo life passed with but one cockroach sighting (in Ueno Park one cool autumn evening, as I was playing my guitar...the only living thing that stopped to listen was a cockroach). Wait, make that two; I saw one in a McDonald's in Shinjuku once.

About a month ago, Girlfriend and I were watching TV when she suddenly shrieked, "Gokiburi!" And all at once, my utopian illusions of cockroach-free living came crashing down around me like so many Triangle Shirt Factories. Fast forward to last night, when another six-legged friend showed up on top of Girlfriend's inkjet printer, and then again this evening, when a third appeared in almost the same place.

In each case, I dealt out swift justice in the form of a well-aimed shoe/magazine/health insurance documentation package. But there remains the troubling rule of thumb I have heard so many times whenever the conversation turns to pest control (and you'd be surprised how often that is): For every cockroach you see, there are thirty you don't. Second most often volunteered factoid is that "they can fly, you know."


Looks like tomorrow's schedule will include going to the drugstore to pick up some roach traps called Gokiburi Hoi-Hoi (which means "Here, Roachy, Roachy!").

By the way, today's my birthday! You owe me a beer.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Vocabulary Goblins Steal the Words "Attempted" and "Failed"

Is anyone else confused and annoyed by headlines like this?

London Arrests Three in July 21 Bombings

I'm sorry, did "bombings" take place in London on that day? Am I way out of line here? I thought a "bombing" was an event in which a bomb is made to explode. Apparently, in the New Concise Dictionary of Extra-Slippery News English, a bombing is defined as an event in which a bomb exists somewhere. By this new definition, bombings are taking place all over the world, at every moment of the day. Where are all the headlines like "Michigan Man Holds Lawn Party Despite Constant Bombings" or "Pope Offers Gesture of Peace, Bombings?" Come on...this stuff is news, too, people!

Of course, I wouldn't go so far as to question whether any bombings were attempted on that day, as I have no evidence either way...but aren't you sick of the news media jerking you around, trying to manufacture a feeling of terror in you? The only terror I feel anymore is that, when I die in an x-treme underwater BMX bungee-jumping robotic shark attack, the irresponsible press will misrepresent my spectacular end with the headline, "Bicycle Falls Into Ocean; 1 Dead."

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Typhoon Number 7 Leaves Quietly

Apart from about fifteen minutes of heavy rain and high winds in central Tokyo, Typhoon Number 7 passed by without incident. It did, however, make good on the promise of every typhoon to leave a full day of beautiful, clear skies in its wake. The post-typhoon clearup allowed us to see a sunset silhouette of Mt. Fuji from Setagaya-Daita Station for the first time since January.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Oh Lord, Deliver Us From the Elements

Typhoon Number 7 is poised to pass directly over the Tokyo Metropolitan Area this evening, most likely shutting down train lines along the way (particularly the Odakyu Line, the line I live on and coincidentally the line that always stops first in the event of a typhoon). Combine that with the series of abrupt earthquakes centered in Chiba that started happening on Saturday afternoon, and this is shaping up to be an exciting week.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Guess What? "Nyooooo!"

Girlfriend and I finally saw Star Wars: Episode III. As a result, neither of us can stop yelling, "Nyooooo!" around our apartment. Really, in my mind the movie didn't stumble at all until the "Nyooooo!" scene. Then it not only stumbled, but it landed face-first in the boiling, toxic, shark-infested sea that is my ultimate disdain for movies (and movie trailers) where somebody yells, "Nyooooo!"

The absolute worst is when a character yells, "Nyooooo!" in an accent that is not their own, and not their character's. Example: Sean Astin in one of those Lord of the Rings movies. Don't ask me which one because I don't know/care.

Ironically, one of the only movies I can think of where a "Nyooooo!" is done well is The Empire Strikes Back, when Luke finds out that Darth Vader is his father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate. When Mark Hamill delivers that "Nyooooo!" he does it like he means it. So congratulations, Mr. Hamill! You win the Oscar for Best Male "Nyooooo!"

Click here for "Nyooooo!"
WARNING: Embedded sound will play if you visit this link. Do not click in presence of boss or study hall supervisor.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Summer + Suit = Suck

When it's a sunny 30 degrees Celcius in Tokyo, I really start to wish I didn't have to wear a suit to work in Ginza. This summer Prime Minister Koizumi advocates what he has called "cool biz," a policy whereby he encourages men all over Japan (including members of his own cabinet) to leave their neckties and suits at home, citing health and environmental concerns. Lately it's said that a necktie is unhealthy for the person wearing it, and that not wearing one can also help reduce the huge amount of energy spent on air conditioning and the atmospheric impacts thereof.

Apparently my employer doesn't care what the PM says, because I am still required by dress code to wear a tie at all times, except during children's classes (by the way, to wear a necktie to a kids' class in my company is to invite a whole other kind of health concern: the concern that your students may attempt mutiny by throttling the teacher).

We Frickin' Love Katamari Damashii

If you buy only one video game about rebuilding the solar system by wadding household items into lumps this year, make that game Minna Daisuki Katamari Damashii (to be released in the West as We Love Katamari Damacy). This sequel has all the charm of Namco's quirky original with a bit of welcome variety thrown in to boot. I challenge you to find another game with a stage where the objective is to roll a sumo wrestler around town, sucking up food items until his weight is great enough to topple his opponent.

The original Katamari Damashii (roughly meaning "lump spirit") scored points with audiences in both Japan and the US with its simpler-than-simple gameplay and general eccentricity, earning special honors for its exuberant soundtrack. It turns out that rolling a ball and picking up coins, then cats, then trash cans, then businessmen, then racecars, then elephants, then houses, and then islands in your quest to please the King of the Cosmos is more fun than it sounds.

What kid doesn't dream of engulfing his teachers?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Let's Learn Japanese: Saikou

Saikou (n.) The coolest.
Daasu Veidaa ga...joushikousei to isshoni keitai wo miteru ka yo? Saikou!

Friday night after work I snapped this shot of an AU ad board in Ginza Station, in which Darth Vader bonds with a couple of high school girls over their super-cool cellphones. This is the coolest ad ever, despite Vader's comically short, little legs.

Speaking of the Dark Lord of the Sith, Episode III opened in Tokyo on Saturday and I still haven't seen it. Girlfriend wants to see I and II again before attempting to digest the plot of III. Apparently, hers is the plight of girlfriends all over Setagaya because we haven't been able to find a copy of either of those movies available for rent. So until that's taken care of I can't watch Episode III and I have no choice but to assume that Anakin Skywalker's transformation into Darth Vader is the result of an unforgettable summer of fun at Youth Evil Camp.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Ain't No Yama O Enough

The Japan Women's Volleyball team seems to be having a bad summer, and I think I know why. It's because of the absence of "Powerful" Kana Oyama, 21, who is apparently taking the season off for "training." In my extensive search for answers (which lasted all of twenty minutes last night), I stumbled across what appears to be Kana Oyama's blog which, by virtue of its many emoticons and general Japanese-ness, proved to be too much work to read. So I left her a message using my unique brand of crappy Japanese, basically amounting to "How come you aren't on TV anymore?" The message risks being lost in a turbulent sea of gushing praise from Kana's teenage fanbase.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Let's Learn Japanese: Hidoi Ningen

Hidoi ningen (n.) Terrible person.
Ano Buritto Hyuumu wa ne, honmono no hidoi ningen de saa.

To anyone out there who still watches Fox News in spite of it all, STOP WATCHING FOX NEWS. Top anchorman Brit Hume is quoted regarding his reaction to yesterday's bombings in London:

"My first thought when I heard - just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, 'Hmmm, time to buy.'"

Fox News's Brit Hume; July 7, 2005

Disgusted yet? If you're going to throw up, please do so in the form of direct criticism. Brit Hume's email address is and his office number is 202-824-6300.

[Full story from Media Matters]

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Momma Told Me There'd Be Days Like This

Today I was late for work for the first time in my two-year tenure. I'm led to believe that being twenty minutes late is a relatively serious offense in my company, but I probably won't face any major consequences on this occasion, based on circumstances. That's not to say it wasn't my fault; it was so my fault. I'd been assigned to substitute-teach in Aobadai, where I had never taught before, so I checked Yahoo Japan's transit guide to find out what trains to take.

I can read and type enough Japanese to use the transit guide on a weekly basis, but this time I managed to transpose the numbers "25 minutes" and "six stations." It also didn't help that there actually is another district called Aobadai near Shibuya, and this was the only Aobadai I knew prior to this experience. At any rate, I left the house at a leisurely 2:20 PM, thinking it would only take six minutes to get from Shibuya to Aobadai. On top of that the inconvenient nature of the Tokyu Den-en Toshi Line, which needs a lot more express trains, made things worse.

I never want to work in Aobadai again.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Would You Get Going, You Old Pirate

This week's reason for not updating my blog: I am working with extra arduosity on my hip-hop mash-up using samples from Star Wars: Episodes IV through VI. For those of you who only listen to Avril Lavigne, a mash-up is a piece of music that relies heavily (if not totally) on chunks of music, vocals and dialog from other sources.

This will be just one more song in a short but steadily-growing list of works I can't legally publish. A cease-and-desist from George Lucas, however, would be my biggest brush with fame since the "what's all this I hear about your song?" email I got from Jenna Jameson a few years ago.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

OK Baby Pizza

I'm just about numb to the plentitude of strange English on signs in Japan, but this sign in Jiyugaoka grabbed my attention for some reason. First I was roped in by the sign's goat-like shape. Then, of course, I noticed the three icons with the labels OK, Baby and Pizza.

The caption under OK reads, "Your doggie may accompany you to the terrace seating." Under Baby we have, "You can also partake of the elevator." And under Pizza, it says, "Please try our fresh-made pizza takeout." This is, without a doubt, the most hospitable goat I've ever met!


Yesterday marked the second anniversary of my arrival in Tokyo. But the real celebration is tonight in Roppongi, where my ex-roommate Craig (pictured here) and I will partake in the honorable Japanese tradition of PRIDE.

PRIDE is a freestyle fighting tournament in which competitors from around the world (but mostly Japan, Brazil and the US) beat each other up, then hug and tell each other, "You're the greatest, man!" We'll be watching the live PPV broadcast at Tokyo Sports Cafe, which seems as good a place as any to witness a sporting event that typifies humankind's devolution into green-skinned beast men.

You may have heard of the Roppongi district, as it is considered to be the number one hangout zone for foreigners in Tokyo. But since I'm not too enthusiastic about Roppongi's tendency toward obnoxious dance clubs, overpriced restaurants and general dumbness, tonight will be only the second time for me to set foot there since my arrival in Tokyo...which was when? Very good! Two years ago yesterday. See, I knew you were paying attention.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Let's Learn Japanese: Aho

Aho (n.) Idiot. Sukotto Makureran wa aho jyan.

Whitehouse Press Secretary Scott McClellan, who has made a legacy of answering very different questions with the very same answer, most recently shamed himself by defending Karl Rove's divisive comments about the "different philosophies" employed by democrats and republicans in the wake of the September 11 attack. I put the word "philosophies" in red because Mr. McClellan used that word no less than ten times during his embarassing grilling by an atypically assertive press corps. No matter what question he was asked, his answer involved the overly gentle phrase "different philosophies."

Maybe Scott McClellan slept through school...but in my experience, if you answer every question on a test with the same answer, you fail that test.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

How Microsoft Saved My Relationship

Girlfriend works at one of Microsoft's Xbox translation/localization offices in Tokyo. For the past six months, she has been working on the Japan version of the game Jade Empire, which was finally released this week. The first thing we did upon getting our copy of the final build was check the credits. Much to our delight, her name is in there (and spelled correctly). Congratulations, Girlfriend, on your first credit!

Even more exciting (for video game fans, not necessarilly for you), she'll soon start debugging language in titles for the next-generation console Xbox 360. This means she and her co-workers will have their hands on the hardware months before its release in November (December in Japan).

Girlfriend had no interest in video games prior to her employment at Microsoft. I mean, she claims to have been a real "gamer" back when Super Mario Bros. 3 came out, but that's the extent. Now, thanks to her professional connection to the industry, the two of us can hold intelligent conversations about the difference between Halo and Timesplitters. And that, my friends, is what true love is all about.

Friday, June 10, 2005

You'll Go Down in History

New low numbers in the June 6-8 AP-Ipsos poll regarding President Bush's ultimate inabilities!

Percentage of adults surveyed who...

...think the country is headed in the right direction: 35%

...approve of the job being done by Bush: 43% his handling of the war: 41% Bush's handling of Social Security: 37% Bush's handling of the economy: 43%

Call me a dreamer, but I think it's mathematically possible for Bush's approval rating to reach 0% by the time he leaves office. The countdown rolls on!

*Margin of sampling error is +/- 3%...not enough to make him look good.

Honyaku Friday

This week's sensational, translational offering comes in the form of a review of The Karate Kid I wrote for the Internet Movie Database in June 2003.


This movie is a guilty pleasure for me, because my brain recognizes how silly it is, but I always come back and watch it again. Any movie, let alone a trilogy, which takes an irritating, unlikeable whiner and makes him the heroic protagonist deserves some respect, at least for overcoming the hurdles associated with making an unlikeable character likeable. See also, Star Wars.

Ralph Macchio explodes onto the screen as Daniel Larusso, the aformentioned whiner. The kid gets into fist fights over boomboxes, steals a guy's girlfriend, hoses the guy down at the school dance, and blames the subsequent problems on his "stupid bike." He is, for lack of a better word, a bonehead. Who wouldn't love this crazy all-American teen?

Then Pat Morita steps in to give Daniel some much-needed direction. His attempts to help are greeted with more and more whining. But through months of zen floorwax training, Daniel-san becomes the grandmaster of Miyagido Karate and proves once and for all that violence really is the answer.

Unfortunately, this is one of those movies that contributes to the general American non-understanding of Asian cultures, with its stereotypically eccentric Mr. Miyagi, but Kreese (the EVIL karate instructor!) is equally eccentric, so I guess I forgive the filmmakers for that.

A word on this movie's soundtrack: Gnarly! During the beach party sequence, we are treated to a rapidfire trio of obscure 80s pop tunes (possibly "fake songs," written especially for the movie, but I'm not sure about that). And during the tournament scene, you'll be dancing like a dork to the motivational hit "You're the Best Around (No One's Ever Gonna Keep You Down)!" or whatever that song's called, I don't know.

FUN FACT: I used to have this movie on VHS. I copied it from my local video store. But the movie is more than two hours long, and I used SP speed to tape right after Kreese says, "sweep the leg," and Daniel's knee is apparently crushed, the tape ends, with Daniel crumpled on the floor in a heap, gasping for life. It's GREAT.

Double-Translated Results from Yahoo Honyaku:

Because it recognizes so method stupidity, this movie is guilty joy for me, but I always come back, and my brain watches it again. I take an unfavorable sobbing person to irritate not to speak of a trilogy to overcome a hurdle related to it being liked an unfavorable person at least, and even what kind of movie doing him to the leading role of a hero deserves some respect. In addition, please look, and it is the star wars.

As Daniel Larusso (a sobbing person done aformentioned of), I pass on screen, and Ralph Macchio fires up. A child begins a fist fight on boomboxes, and steal a girl friend of a person, and wash a person with a hose by a school dance and a problem of result of him "blame a stupid bicycle". Because there is not a better word, He is a stupid person. Anyone this, indeed, do not love U.S.A. teen?

Then Pat Morita enters to give Daniel some courses needed very much. His trial to help with is accepted by groaning more and more. Through zen floorwax training to extend in how many months, Daniel-san becomes a grand master of Miyagido Karate, and I am limited really this time, and the violence is and an answer to prove that I say.

Unfortunately this is our nothing of those movies contributing to strange Mr. who is the stereotypically Miyagi and general American fault knowledge of Asian culture, but Kreese (instructor EVIL karate!) is wind strange so I who spread it think that I forgive it of a movie producer.

A word on a sound track of this movie: twisted! Between beach party sequences, we are treated to a rapidfire trio of pop music (perhaps) I who am written for "a false song" (movie in particular am not reliable about it) of 80's that does not become clear. And, between tournament scenes, you dance like a penis for a stimulating hit "you are best Around" (there is not it in Ever Gonna Keep You Down of One)! I do not know that or the song visited so the thing in anything.

A pleasant fact: I had this movie on VHS. I copied it from my local video shop. However, movies are more than 2 long time, and I warp. After Kreese, - saying please just "grow a foot" and I use SP speed to record tape, and thus a knee of Daniel is crushed clearly. And, with Daniel whom a tape edge becomes a lump, and is smashed on a floor, I yearn for life. It is big.

Addendum: June 10, 2005
I just watched
The Karate Kid again for the first time since writing that review, and noticed an inaccuracy. The part where my copy of the movie unexpectedly terminated was right after Johnny drops an elbow to Daniel's knee, right before Daniel's winning crane-kick to the face (not the famous "sweep the leg" part). I shudder to think of the suffering and injustice that must have resulted from my review's glaring inaccuracy, and can only pray for forgiveness. Furthermore, I realize that the caption, "Best block, no be there" is actually a reference to The Karate Kid II. But my favorite line from this movie, Kreese's "You're a pushy little bastard ain't ya? But I like that!" was too long to use as a caption to such a small image.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Women: Japan has some.

Embarassing, but true: A lot of male English teachers in Japan admit (is it still called "admitting" if it's done proudly?) that their primary motivation for moving to Japan is women. I, on the other hand, can triumphantly say that one of my major motivators was not women, but a woman. But enough about why I moved here. Now that I'm here, here are some women with whom Girlfriend battles for the title of Queen of My Heart.
Waka Inoue
Waka Inoue hails from he Japanese "idol" agency known as Yellow Cab, whose talents are mainly famous for two reasons. I'll give you a hint what those two reasons are: one of them is LEFT BREAST. Waka's breasts have secured her a place on many a TV program, as well as an ad contract with the loan company Promise.
The first time I saw a Promise commercial, I reacted unfavorably to Waka. She sang the jingle ("pu, ro, mi-su!") and shot the camera a smile I can only describe as sheepish. I remember saying, "Who is that woman? She looks positively sheepish!"
A year later, after realizing that Waka Inoue is actually really beautiful, I saw another commercial (a TV ad for a door manufacturer, I think) in which Waka was actually dressed in a cute little sheep costume.
Aya Ueto
Speaking of cute animal costumes, consider Aya Ueto. With even more commercial credits to her name (including a few for Sompo Japan where she is dressed as a panda), she is currently riding a tall wave of fame. That fame began when she won a nationwide teen beauty pageant a few years ago, which somehow launched her career as a pop singer and an actress.
I don't care for her singing, and as an actress she's nothing great. But how can you say no to a commercial with Aya dressed as a panda? Or Aya slapping at her ears and saying, "wa-wa-wa-wa-wa" to avoid hearing the outcome of a soccer game she recorded for later viewing? Or Aya eating yakiniku ("Ichi mai, ni mai! Umai!")? Aya Ueto is a veritable CM queen. NOTE: "CM" is Japanese for commercial. "Queen" is Japanese for, well, it's like a king, only female.
Nanako Matsushima
This lovely lady became famous in 1998, when a cursed video tape caused the death of her ex-husband. After that, she became the spokeswoman for Namacha bottled green tea. As a result, I now drink fifteen liters of green tea every day. Admitedly, she never appears in any commercials dressed as a fluffy animal, but she did enjoy wild popularity as a result of a Namacha commercial in which she walks around in snow shoes and manipulates a panda puppet.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Honyaku What Ever

As you can see, a weekly thing like Honyaku Friday is not easy for me to continue over time. It's not that I don't have time to type something up and click the necessary buttons. It's just that, lately, I can't think of anything clever to write. (Some would argue that I never can.) But I'm convinced that Honyaku Friday was and is a good fact, it renders the mostly unhumorous humor site obsolete! So I'm not likely to trash it completely, but maybe it's not realistic to expect a Honyaku a week.

Double-Translated results from Yahoo Honyaku:

As you see it is not easy for me to continue a thing of every week such as Honyaku with time on Friday. It types something to me, and it is not for there not to be time clicking a necessary button. What I am assigned to anything which is smart so that I write it and cannot think about is natural recently. (I insist that some cannot grind at all so me.) However, I am the thought that Honyaku is good on Friday, and it is convinced of a certain thing. Actually, it mainly makes the humor site that is not interesting of a times delay! Thus I do not seem to completely break it, but probably it is not realistic to expect in Honyaku for one week.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

I Choose You

Spurred by rumors that North Korea's Kim Jong Il has a level 46 Charizard, President Bush has begun a quest to "catch 'em all."

"The time is now to train my Pocket Monsters in the name of democracy," said the President in Tuesday's address. "Enemies of freedom throughout the world now have my totally awesome Blastoise to answer to. Let freedom ring!" Bush punctuated his remark with an obnoxious cowboy whoop.

Bush's approval ratings have slipped dramatically in light of revelations that Saddam Hussein's alleged stockpiles of Metapods and Jigglypuffs, which were the Bush administration's justification for the US invasion of Iraq, did not exist.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Should We Talk About the Weather?

The rainy season must be upon us a little early this year, because as of this minute it has rained on Tokyo non-stop for the past 35 hours. Japan's rainy season affects the entire country, except the northern island Hokkaido, for about a month and a half as spring changes to summer (not all at the same time nationwide, of course).

During this season, called tsuyu, one comes to understand the fleeting nature of umbrellas in Tokyo. An umbrella can be gotten for as little as 100 yen -- I've never seen an umbrella for sale in the States for under $5.00, let alone under $1.00 -- and rightly so, because the chances of you holding on to that umbrella indefinitely are compromised at every turn. Either you end up leaving it on a train, or it gets wrecked by a strong gust of wind, or somebody just swipes it when you're not looking. All three have happened to me at least once.

You won't likely find people in Tokyo saying, "I wish the rainy season was over," however, because after the rainy season comes the worst summer in the four main islands of Japan. The tall buildings in Shinagawa and Mita that block the wind, the concrete coating the city and the hot exhaust of a zillion air conditioners combine to make Tokyo's summer reach temperatures even hotter than the southernmost island of Kyushu.

Hold on, I just a Wisconsin native, it is decidedly bad form for me to complain about the weather in Tokyo. At least here I don't have to worry about my face falling off from frostbite.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Here Come the Men in Suits

I would call this a special post for my family, except my family are the only people who read my blog. My mom expressed interest in seeing me in my recently purchased suit...the first suit I've ever owned. So I took this dorky cellphone-pointed-at-bathroom-mirror picture to illustrate. I look dapper and/or smashing.


Impeachable offenses? Show me where to sign!


Sunday, May 29, 2005

Buy Somethin' Will Ya!

After months of "encouragement" by Girlfriend, I have started the first of what will be several eBay auctions. These auctions will share a common purpose, which is to wear down the mountain of nerd merchandise that has accumulated in our apartment as a direct result of me saying, "Oh I've just got to have it!" If you know any nerds, tell them to have a look at this lot of video game posters. (Getting rid of the posters is only the first step...then comes what I'm sure is Girlfriend's paramount goal: to get rid of the sexually suggestive character figurines cluttering up our loft.)

Friday, May 27, 2005

Honyaku Friday

Looks like I can strike another item from my list of reasons I prefer living in Japan to living in the US

Reason #87: I don't have to see Paris Hilton on TV in Japan.

No longer! Sleepy-eyed Paris Hilton, who dominates VH1 specials stateside, has been refreshingly absent from the Japanese media until now. But the other day, Girlfriend was watching a morning gossip show and BOOM! There's Paris Hilton on the screen, rubbing a hamburger on herself. The hosts of the show exchanged some comments about the issue of the commercials alleged "sexiness," but the discourse ultimately wound up in coincidence with my own opinion: Paris Hilton cannot make fast food sexy.

This is not only because nothing can make fast food sexy, but also because I find Paris Hilton's tranquilizer-induced facial expressions completely unappealing. Seeing her bite into this six-pound hamburger (in her sleep?) isn't exactly a recipe for eroticism.

I hesitate to completely remove Reason #87 from my list, because this Japanese TV Paris mention could have been a one-time thing. Or, it could be the catapult that launches Paris Hilton to a Bob Sapp level of Japan fame.

Double-translated results from Yahoo Honkayu:

Japanese, I live in my living in U.S.A. and can seem to beat another item from my list of a reason to like.

Reason #87: I do not have to encounter Paris Hilton Hotel on TV in Japan.

No, I am longer! The Japanese media did not have Paris Hilton Hotel (the person influences VH1 special in U.S.A.) which had sleepy eyes refreshingly till now. However, Girlfriend watched gossip show and BOOM in the morning the other day! There is Paris Hilton Hotel to a screen. And I rub the surface of her own with a hamburger. The host of a show changed some comment about a problem of "the seductiveness" that it took of commercial suspicion, but the statement was finally over for agreement of accident in an opinion of my own: Paris Hilton Hotel cannot make fast food sexy.

Because the expression that I say that I am sexy, and anything can do fast food, and I was completely caused by a tranquilizer of Paris Hilton Hotel discovers what unappealing does, there is this. She a hamburger (in her sleep?) of these 6 pounds Is similar, and bite it, and seeing it being accompanied of eroticism is not always a recipe.

Because this Japanese television Paris mention was able to be an old thing, I completely hesitate in removing Reason #87 from my list. Or Bob Sapp level of Japanese fame was able to be the pachinko which started Paris Hilton Hotel it.

And I Call Myself a Tokyoite

Can I name all the stations on the Yamanote Line in order?

Shibuya, Ebisu, Meguro, Gotanda, Osaki, Shinagawa, Tamachi, Hamamatsucho, ummm.....Yurakucho....Kanda?

Guess not.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Honyaku Friday

This week Tokyo news outlets are all abuzz with talk of a lesser panda at the Chiba City Zoo who has the unusual habit of standing on his hind legs for extended periods of time. It seems that, every time I turn on the TV, I am seeing new footage of this little guy standing up (and looking very much like a little kid in a Halloween costume), with the correspondent's voice whispering, "Tachimashita! Ima tachimashita!" ("He stood up! He's just stood up!") That's usually followed by footage of little Japanese kids being interviewed after seeing watching the animal stand there for 30 minutes, and they always say something anticlimactic like, "It was cute. He stood up."

But look at him! Can you honestly tell me this isn't the cutest little animal (that looks like a kid in a Halloween costume) you've ever seen? Girlfriend thinks this little guy's got a shot at becoming a new playable character in Tekken 6.

Double-translated results from Yahoo Honyaku:

Tokyo News outlet is turbulent by a story of a lesser panda this week at Chiba-shi zoo doing a different custom standing on his hind legs during a long-term period at all. Whenever I attach television, I seem to watch that I stand in a voice of the correspondent whom a new scene whispers it to of this small person (and looking like a very small child with Halloween costume). And "He stood up! He stood up this very moment!" That posture writes it down for 30 and and, after that, they usually look at the animal which says what of a gradually-descending method is always in "it was cute". The boyfriend whom a scene did not follow of the almost Japanese child that it was interviewed after having watched it stood up.

However, please watch him! Can you tell me that there is not it with the dearest small animal (the feeling like the child who put on Halloween costume) that you saw this till now honestly? A girl friend thinks that a thing of this small person got an aim to it being it to the new character whom it is possible for of fist 6.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Nobody Tells Me Anything

Living in Japan has wreaked havoc on my Western pop-cultural awareness. For example, I am vaguely aware of the release of Star Wars Episode III today in the US, but can't personally partake in the all the Jedi what-have-you until the movie is released here in July. This morning, however, I was very excited to learn that Universal Pictures will release a movie based on the video game Doom starring The Rock this fall.

Granted, this probably isn't news. I only found out about the movie by watching a Daily Show interview with the wrassler-turned-space-marine, in which Jon Stewart's excitement about the film is readily apparent (he responds to The Rock's answer about what character he'll play with an enthusiastic "you're the dude?").

I'm hoping Doom's script allows for a cheesy self-referential bit (specifically, Rocky throwing The People's Elbow down on an undead zombie demon as shown here). In fact, I'd be lying if I claimed not to want to see The People's Elbow in every single one of The Rock's movie appearances.