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.