Thursday, November 30, 2006

Day the World Ended!

Sam [Samuel Z. Arkoff] once said he could come into work and make up movie titles out of thin air, and many times a picture was sold based on a title alone, like Day The World Ended! They [Arkoff and James H. Nicholson] were that confident in what they could do.

Ron Waite (in Sam Arkoff and A.I.P.)

I've been (and still am) a bit busy the past few days writing an 'academic' presentation that I'm supposed to give at a conference on Saturday. I've always been inspired by Arkoff's approach to making movies, so I follow it I when I submit proposals for presentations: I come up with a snappy title and don't even begin to think of the details until after it's been accepted. It usually works well for me, but this week my mojo seems to have abandoned me, so I find myself cutting and pasting crap that I've already done and trying to make it fit into the title and abstract that I've already submitted. What? You think nobody else does this? Heh, look around...
Be back after the weekend...

Monday, November 27, 2006

Two Birds, a Bat, and a Dork with a Camera

Sorry, folks, the real world is intruding on my blogging life again. For your, um, viewing pleasure, I give you two birds, a bat, and a dork with a camera:

This is a bird.

This is another bird.

This is a big-ass bat.

Now he's, like, waking up... or something.

This is a dork with a camera. But you already knew that...

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Black Sabbath Show!

This must be seen to be believed. A Black Sabbath cartoon...

Greatest Photoshop of All Time

I don't really have anything to say, except that this is the most brilliant use of Photoshop I've ever seen. This pic has been around for years, so most of you have probably seen it already...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Shut the Fuck Up

Rock music has come to a standstill -- it's not going forward any more, it only bores me [...]
--Sting (ex-Police member)

In a stunning display of what-the-fuck-did-he-ever-know-about-rock-music-in-the-first-place, hypocrite and wanker-supreme Sting, in what can only be described as a spasm of irony-blindness, says rock is so boring that he's decided to devote his time to 16th century English ballads. Just for the record, I've got nothing against 16th century English ballads. BUT THEY STOPPED WRITING THEM 500 FUCKING YEARS AGO! What a fucking irrelevant idiot.

UPDATE: Priority Read: You Know, I Used to Be Kind of Cool Once. [Thanks, Mr. Angry]

It's All About Focus

By now everyone has heard about Japan's aging/declining population problem. The Japanese government is on the case, though. They actually have a minister responsible for spurring fertility. Her name is Sanae Takaichi. Oh yeah--she's also the Minister of Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, Science and Technology Policy, Innovation, Gender Equality, Social Affairs and Food Safety...

UPDATE: I should have mentioned that, given the Japanese fondness for robots, in the future Japan will likely be populated by a few old geezers (like me) and millions of robots. It will, from end to end, probably look exactly like what you'll find at this site.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Task of Sisyphean Proportions

Greek mythology gives us the wonderful story of Sisyphus. You've heard of Sisyphus, he was the guy who so pissed off the gods that they blinded him and sentenced him to roll a giant boulder up to the top of a mountain. When he was finished he had to do it again. Every day. Forever.

Occasionally some stranger finds his way here to my Kyklopean abode and asks the obvious question: "What's it like teaching English in Japan?" I always point such people in the direction of poor Sisyphus. "Go ask him," I say.

And then of course there's Albert Camus, whose brilliant The Myth of Sisyphus gave Kyklopes all over Japan ample reason not commit seppuku. In fact, by my reckoning, Camus gave us all reason to live:

...Sisyphus is the absurd hero. He is, as much through his passions as through his torture. His scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing. This is the price that must be paid for the passions of this earth... sees merely the whole effort of a body straining to raise the huge stone, to roll it and push it up a slope a hundred times over; one sees the face screwed up, the cheek tight against the stone, the shoulder bracing the clay-covered mass, the foot wedging it, the fresh start with arms outstretched, the wholly human security of two earth-clotted hands. At the very end of his long effort measured by skyless space and time without depth, the purpose is achieved. Then Sisyphus watches the stone rush down in a few moments toward that lower world whence he will have to push it up again toward the summit. He goes back down to the plain... At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock.

If this myth is tragic, that is because its hero is conscious. Where would his torture be, indeed, if at every step the hope of succeeding upheld him? ...Sisyphus, proletarian of the gods, powerless and rebellious, knows the whole extent of his wretched condition: it is what he thinks of during his descent. The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory.

I was going to say something witty or sarcastic or ironic here, but I've changed my mind...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Lonely End of the Rink

'Round midnight on a Friday, my family is sleepin' and I'm a-bloggin'. I get a bit homesick at these times, my mind wanders as I ponder my fantasy hockey stats. Yeah..., hockey... what could be more Canadian? Huh? A New Tragically Hip tune with hockey clips? Yeah... I guess that would be more Canadian than just hockey...

"The Lonely End of the Rink": sounds like Japan. The Tragically Hip: sounds like home.

[Update: I'm listening to the new Hip album as I write (never mind where I got it...). It sounds... really fucking good!]

Friday, November 17, 2006

Jesus Was Eaten by Dinosaurs!

I (vaguely) remember having difficulty with the concept of 'history' when I was a small child. I imagined the past as some sort of undifferentiated place containing everything and everyone that wasn't here 'now'-- a kind of Parmenidean 'being', static and frozen. In the past, I imagined, cowboys co-existed with dinosaurs. Of course I had only a vague notion of 'linear time' and almost no notion of the age of the world and the universe. And of course at that early age I wouldn't have been able to articulate it like I just have.

It seems that creationists/intelligent design proponents have similarly childish concepts of space and time. Today, for example, I read a blog entry in which the writer exclaimed "Dinosaurs are in the bible!". I can't bring myself to comment on the actual details of the post, but feel free, dear reader, to follow the link and see for yourself what I'm talking about.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Review for a Movie I'll (Likely) Never See

A while back, in the comments section of another post, I made a joking reference contrasting the stereotypical image of "manliness" in the "wild west" with the movie Brokeback Mountain. I haven't seen Brokeback Mountain, nor am I ever likely to see it, at least not willingly. My aversion to viewing this film has nothing whatsoever to do with a fear or hatred of homosexuals--I really couldn't give a toss what consenting adults do in private. The fact is, I have no interest at all in movies with 'romantic' plots. They bore me to tears. Romantic plots generally score at or near 'zero' on the believability scale in a drama, and in other movie genres romantic sub-plots are gratuitous and just plain annoying (for me, Alien is pretty much the pinnacle of cinematic achievement...).

I only mention this because someone asked me the other day whether I'd seen Brokeback Mountain "yet", as if my life couldn't be complete until I'd seen it. But really, if I'm bored by the on-screen romantic antics of any given actor and actress, I'm not very likely to get excited about watching a couple of guys fall in love now, am I? I mean, I guess anything is possible; I could suddenly become a quivering mass of romantic passion--hell, I could even "turn" gay (I read that some folks believe this is possible). Don't hold your breath, though...

Rap Video Manual

A very cool, intelligent and funny vid by The Roots, What They Do. Check out the captions...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

More Random Nagasaki Pics

I guess the good thing about posting photos is that, if your readers don't like your pictures, you haven't wasted too much of their time. Since quitting smoking I seem to have quite a few more 'idle moments', so I've been taking a lot of (admittedly, mostly bad) pictures. Anyway, here are a few more from my recent trip to Nagasaki.

A random shot of a residential area in Nagasaki, taken at maximum zoom with less than optimal lighting (you'll get more detail if you click for the larger size image). Not every place in Japan has as many hills as Nagasaki, but this shot gives you an idea of how closely packed things are here.


A scene from Nagasaki's harbor.

A closer view of the bridge in the shot above.

This was taken at Nagasaki's Confucian Shrine.

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Oh Dear...

Some tortured soul found his way here to this post about swearing with the search term "daughter f**k father" (I've asterisked the f-word to avoid exacerbating the situation). I guess this stuff happens, but really, I can do without this kind of page hit...

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Random Nagasaki Photos, Part One

We had a fun-but-tiring trip to Nagasaki this past weekend. Like most Japanese 'holidays' any attempt to actually relax is completely out of the question. No, one must go somewhere and see as many things in one day as is humanly (inhumanely?) possible. Fortunately in Japan one place is never very far from another... Anyway, here are a few pics from the trip...

Ouch! Some silliness with my daughter.

An attempt at "nature photography", taken at an interesting wildlife park ("Bio Park") in Nagasaki Prefecture.

We spent one day at a Dutch-themed resort area called Huis Ten Bosch (please don't ask silly questions, just accept that there's this huge resort area in Nagasaki Prefecture that is supposed to replicate "traditional" Holland; the World Liquor Shop has a nice selection of beer...). This was taken near the "cottage" we stayed in.

What did I tell you?

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Spirit of Radio... Not

One of the oddities of living in Miyazaki is that there are almost no radio stations. I sweep the tuner across the dial and there is only static punctuated by the three or four lonely stations my radio can pick up. In over eight years here I have never gotten into a car and heard a radio; I have never walked into a workplace, shop, or home and heard a radio (the only exceptions to this would be broadcasts of the annual high school baseball championship and/or broadcasts of Japan's games during the world cup); I've never met anyone here who listens to the radio to get the latest news and weather, to hear the latest songs, to find out what's happening in the city, etc. This is vaguely troubling to me, especially when I think about the number and variety of radio stations available to anyone anywhere in North America.

According to the CIA's World Factbook, Japan has 215 unique AM and 89 FM stations. Compare those numbers to Canada's 245 AM and 582 FM stations (while bearing in mind that Canada has about one quarter of Japan's population). Both are dwarfed by the 4,789 AM and 8,961 FM stations in the US.

It's puzzling to me that a wealthy, developed country like Japan has so little happening on the airwaves (there are also relatively few unique television broadcasters). And, unless you're actually here to find out for yourself, you'll have to take my word for it that Japan's broadcasters all have this in common: complete, absolute, and utter shit for content. Literally and figuratively, there's nothing on...

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Where the fellers chew tobaccy, And the women wicky wacky woo...

Fellows, if you're arn
I will spin a yarn
That was told to me by Able Seaman Jones.
Once he had the blues
So he took a cruise
Far away from night-clubs and from saxophones.
He said, "Yo Ho, I've made a certain port
And when you talk about real he-man sport":

Hot ginger and dynamite
There's nothing but that at night
Back in Nagasaki
Where the fellers chew tobaccy
And the women wicky-wacky
The way they can entertain
Would hurry a hurricane
Back in Nagasaki
Where the fellers chew tobaccy
And the women wicky wacky
from "Back in Nagasaki" (1928, by Harry Warren / Mort Dixon)

Well, tomorrow at the crack of dawn I'm off to visit beautiful Nagasaki with my family, so I won't be online for a couple of days. Yes, a respite from my recent whining about not smoking! Since this is a family trip I doubt that I'll have anything to report that's as interesting or exciting as the above lyrics. Hopefully I'll get some good pics, though...

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We must stem the tide...

...of all these damned foreigners coming here to smoke! [Via Japan Probe]

I know, I know, I'm trying to get away from YouTube a bit, but this is just so... appropriate.

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