Friday, December 31, 2004
"Two thumbs at forty-five degrees."
- Re: General Overview
"At 28k a year not a cure for the common man, but good for insomnia nonetheless."
- Re: Law School
"Oops. Wasn't that a practice?"
- Re: The Election
"They need me more than I need them. Really. It's true."
- Re: Women
"Are losses tax deductible?"
- Re: Poker (Thank you very much, ESPN)
"Another reason to consider jabbing your eyes out with a hot iron."
- Re: Television
"It's hard, grueling work, and our viewers are relentless and rude. At least I'm getting paid. Er, wait, I'm not."
- Re: Fansubbing
"Wow. Bothered to stick with it."
- Re: Blogging
All in all, not a bad year. See you in '05.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
As you might expect, the program has become something of a bone of contention. We feel entitled to it because we were the ones who started it in the first place, while they feel justified in continuing because they were (in large part) the original subbing team assigned to it. Releases for Orange Days have taken on the characteristics of relay races, as both groups shepard the series through the subbing steps as fast as possible, motivated primarily by vanity and hurt feelings.
Personally, though I found some of the actions SARS members took when leaving Japan-TV, trivialities for the most part, but calculated to leave behind injured sentiments, distasteful, I have no particular hatred for them as a whole. This lack of vehemence has actually gotten me into a little bit of trouble with the rest of Japan-TV, some of whom feel genuinely hurt, and others simply revelling in the warm glow of antagonism. Still I remain committed to ambivelence, not only because I see little to gain from this petty war, but also because I happen to have been on passibly good terms with some of the SARS people otherwise uninvolved in the fighting.
As a loyal member of Japan-TV, I intend to do my best to see we beat SARS to the Orange Days finish line, and that we do so with a superior product too. Still, I wish them all the best they can get without taking any from us, and as they are the ones doing Gokusen, I'm sure they'll do alright.
Monday, December 27, 2004
Odd as this may seem to some, I think it is to be preferred to having never entertained such thoughts at all. Life, though it has plenty of demands, more than you could ever actually fulfill, is yet somehow incomplete without idle, fantastic, speculation. For myself, I live in as many worlds as I can find, and I revel in the escape they provide knowing, in the end, I have as sanctuary this pleasent reality.
If you want my advice, then, I suggest as much idle imagination as you can get. It's easy, free, fun, and ultimately you may find life obtains a kind of whimsy, just by thinking it so.
Sunday, December 26, 2004
Die Hard Complete Collection
Robotech Remastered: 2
Robotech Mini-DVD ep 2
A Short History of Byzantium
Fifteen Byzantine Emperors in Profile
Wallet and Keychain
Imperial Guard Karskins
Hickory Farm's Meatstick
Henry Weinhart's Rootbeer
Sundry Cash and a Gift Certificate
A Lump of Coal (seriously)
Saturday, December 25, 2004
For my own part, I celebrate "Gift Day." I exchange gifts with people celebrating Christmas because I chose to be tactful in my rejection of their religion, and because it is a convenient forum for expressing general appreciation. So, Happy Gift Day.
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Good for them.
I have never had a particular aptitude for the game; it is an accomplishment simply to roll the ball in a strait line. Although I never really kept track, I think I have a lifetime average of somewhere near seventy. This is a respectable score for your average five year old, but that's okay. Nobody is good at everything. So, given my previous history, I wasn't really expecting much.
You can imagine my surprise, then, when I managed to bowl four strikes in a row. It was a singular feat of athletic prowess, one that left both of us quite impressed, at least, with the violation of the law of averages if not my actual bowling ability. After the third strike, the monitor rendered a crude turkey standing atop three X's. Then a fourth. Truly it is a highwater mark in my participation with this idiotic pasttime.
Oh, and I finally managed to break 100! My four strikes managed to boost me into the 120's. I might turn pro, but I hear it's all politics.
Saturday, December 18, 2004
Got there around noon, and left a little before ten. In between, I got to play The Napoleonic Wars, and Paths of Glory, both manufactured by GMT. TNW is a large multi-player game that simulates Napoleon's wars of the early nineteenth century. I played France's doormat, otherwise known as Austria. Although I managed to inflict a few good hits on the imperial steamroller, I actually spent most of the game as a bystander following the loss of Vienna to French forces. Britain manages a dominating victory in the end.
Paths of Glory is a WWI boardgame, benefitting from a flexible and fast rules system, it's possible to slaughter an entire generation of European youth in a few hours. I played the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungry for those of you who are insufficiently well read) and lead the Kaiser's armies to glorious victory over Flander's fields.
Oh, and it was my brother's birthday. Yippee.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
It remains to be seen whether or not my performance will prove merely adequate or if it should rise to the dignity appropriate with my more optimistic expectations, but at the very least it appears to be an issue between these two alternatives. Nothing to do now but wait and see.
Wish me luck.
Sunday, December 05, 2004
The movie itself is a sci-fi film with impressive cgi, awesome cityscapes, and excellent character designs. It is a visually stimulating movie, and certainly worth a viewing on that account alone. The score is largely forgettable, but at the least it does not detract from the vivid imagery, which is as I've already said, quite spectacular.
There are a number of themes running through the film, only some of which are really explored. The movie also seems to have a number of subplots, and indeed it seems to be almost a collection of subplots in some ways, very few of whom are completed. In many ways it feels like there is too much going on in one movie, and there are a number of interesting subplots which seem otherwise able to carry a movie on their own. The end leaves you a little disappointed because it not only chose to resolve a very few of the outstanding issues, but in my mind it picked the ones of least interest.
Even so, it was an enjoyable experience. Parts of it seem somewhat disjointed, and as I said it leaves a lot of fascinating directions almost completely unexplored. Still, Ad Vitam is definetly worth a view.
Friday, December 03, 2004
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Thursday, November 25, 2004
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
So, I am now playing World of Warcraft. Great. Freaking great.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Monday, November 15, 2004
Thursday, November 11, 2004
With this realization I sometimes think that I should owe it to myself the maintenance of high goals. With sustained effort I can probably find myself atop the scholastic ladder, or at least on one of the upper rungs. It is likely that I could find a profitable method of employment, and I should not be surprised if I managed a number of enviable achievements. These arguments have a certain amount of sway, as I would like to rich and influential, not only for the pleasure they would give in themselves, but also for the singularly unique life they allow. Whether or not I can attain such high status is somewhat unclear, but I am likely only to do so through the expenditure of effort.
On the other side, I feel as though life could hardly be more perfect than that which I am presently inclined to enjoy. School can offer unlimited challenges, and near as many intellectual rewards, but its actual demands are quite modest. I attend only so many classes as necessary, and follow the readings only so long as I am likely to need them. A sack of potatoes could scarcely expend less effort in pursuit of my legal education, and though I impress nobody with my standings, I remain adequately disposed to an honorable scholastic conclusion. This was my attitude in college too, where it served me just as well. That is to say, just as well as it had to.
Through my short life I have come to the conclusion that happiness is predicated on the achievement of goals. Everyone has them, and they range from the grandiose to the humble, and they have as many causes as effects. Some are rational or materialistic. Others are absurd, conceited, or even dangerous. Nevertheless, everyone's got'em, and they are content insofar as they are accomplished. But it seems to me that happiness is a multiple choice question, and so then one may try harder or set the bar lower, and it may be that the result is the same. Whether this is true or not remains, at least to me, unknown, but hopefully the matter will be clear before the choice is irreversable.
Sunday, November 07, 2004
Still, this process awkward and inefficient though it may be, as seen me through an undergraduate education and a year of law school, so at least it isn't a total failure. Hopefully, I'll skid past another semester.
Thursday, November 04, 2004
All in all, I thought the movie was an acceptable, and even above average entry into the genre. It's nice to see the zombies given the 21st century adrenaline boost; shuffling corpses really aren't all that scary anymore. Plot wise it was pretty typical, a bunch of normal people trying to survive this unfortunate event. The mall was an interesting setting, and I think the parts of the movie that served as commentary were the most interesting. In particular, I like how they managed to settle into something approaching normal life, but it was an existance tainted at all times by an overriding sense of doom and waste. Sort of what life would be like if a comet or some other astronomical body were on a collision course and we all knew death was inevitable.
There was plenty of action, fighting too, and the people make plenty of zombie movie mistakes, but they are often allowed to get away with it. In particular, splitting up to shut off automatic timers or to check locks, especially when you have enough people to form groups for several tasks, is just silly. Then again, they are probably all under a lot of stress, and they may not be thinking very well.
Clint Eastwood's daughter is in the movie, and she is actually quite attractive. I'd tend to think that dating his kid would be a little scary though. Even if he is now quite old, I wouldn't want to take my chances. If Dirty Harry didn't like how something was going, or I guess if his daughter didn't and he found out, seems like there'd be trouble. I mean, not only could he blow your head off, but I doubt she's a slouch herself. Still, it'd be interesting.
Back to the movie though, I think it is an entertaining way to pass a few hours. If you like zombie flicks or action movies, I'd say Dawn of the Dead is worth a viewing.
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
The election will be very close, as everyone is saying, but if I had to guess I'd probably say that the president will be re-elected. This is not a statement of support for him personally or the Republican party as a whole, simply an estimation of what I believe will be the end result. I think that Senator Kerry's recent downturns may have come at a critical point, with little time to correct the course before Election Day.
In the end though, we'll just have to see. There is much hope that the election will be settled today, but even if that is so, the winner will not have recieved a mandate. Clearly, as has now become so often said, we are a 45-45 nation. Still, so long as the losing 45 is willing to wait four years and then try again, things are going to go pretty well.
Friday, October 15, 2004
Measured against other RTS types, Dawn of War isn't bad. The graphics are nice, though large battles and certain terrain types can cause some lag, especially on lower-end machines. I play the 40k miniatures game, so the background story is of some interest to me. Dawn of War actually captures the 40k flavor pretty well, and I recommend it to fans of the table top version. The four races have are all fairly equal, though the Eldar are probably the best and the Orks are probably the worst. Leaders are too important though, and they come out too early. It isn't as bad as Warcraft 3 in that regard, but it would've been better if leaders were higher up on the tech tree.
So, if you are a fan of real-time strategy games, or if you're a Warhammer 40,000 player, I recommend you pick up Dawn of War and give it a try. If you're on the Gamespy multi-player thing they have, the LeperColony is always up for a match.
Sunday, October 10, 2004
Thursday, October 07, 2004
Shaun of the Dead is more than just a parody of zombie flicks. To be sure, it does that well enough; the movie pokes fun at more than one tenet of the genre, and even at the end manages an amusing aside to the movie 28 Days Later. But amusing as the movie may be on the surface, as nothing more than simple parody, there are a number of unexpected, and still more surprising, engaging, subtexts. Shaun of the Dead is really quite clever, and the more you notice, the more you'll enjoy it. The movie deals with some serious issues; relationships, the banality of modern existence and the search for personal fulfillment, and still more than you could pack into a pretentious art film, yet it still feels fun.
The movie is British, so I couldn't say if the actors were well known there, but I didn't recognize any of the faces. Still, a lack of fame didn't detract from their performances, and I think the cast did a good job. There really wasn't much to recommend the score or the effects, but neither did they detract from the overrall experience. The zombies looked dead enough, and it wasn't that kind of film anyway.
Even if you are not a fan of zombie movies, I recommend Shaun of the Dead. It's funny and clever, but there's real substance underneath. If you find there are parts where you're the only one laughing, don't worry. That means you get it.
Sunday, September 12, 2004
Friday, September 10, 2004
Anyway, the chance to see it came up, so I took it. I don't normally go to movies on opening day, but we caught an afternoon show. Not that I think there would be lines for this one or anything, but you never know. Even though we caught the matinee, it was still seven bucks for a ticket. I've noticed a general increase in the price of admission, and we actually went to the more expensive theatre in nearby Union City. I prefer that theatre because it has stadium seating; that is, seats on elevated levels. At a modest 5'5" it takes little to block my view, and to make matters worse I often have the misfortune of sitting behind some rotund NBA reject. An extra fifty cents or even a dollar seems a reasonable price to assure that I'll be seeing the movie and not someone's misshapen rear profile. Unfortunately, in this case, stadium seats simply afforded me an unobstructed view to a dismal offering.
The movie itself is surpassingly dull. Sure, they can make you jump by blaring a sound effect loud enough, but there is no surprise. Rather than concentrate on a meaningful plot, interesting characters, or even novel effects, the RE:A people relied on tired and familiar horror cliches. There is really nothing worth paying attention to at all, save perhaps the delectable trio of female "actresses," and not only are they of interest to but half the audience (give or take), the movie eventually robs them of even that appeal. Or, at least, diminishes it.
Milia plays the invincible hardcore woman warrior with a stiffness indicative of rigor mortis, her few attempts at dead pan humor somewhat less amusing than the emergency broadcast system. She was supposed to have been altered by Umbrella, but you never get the feeling that her flat performance was influenced so much by thespiatic integrity as incompetence. They do show her nude at one point, but it seemed to me an oddly emaciated body. She looked kinda like a skinny man with no shirt.
There was a reporter girl, cute in the way they are all dolled up like that, but aside from that largely unremarkable. Her character has a surprising amount of screen time, and her dialogue if forgettable was nonetheless considerably more interesting than that of nearly anyone else's. As far as the plot goes, she really adds nothing and her sole disnction came in opposing splitting up (though, of corse, they do anyway).
Perhaps the most attractive of the three women was the girl who played Jill Valentine. She was definetly very cute, and her clothing, if somewhat inappropriate for a police officer, left little to the imagination. Unfortunately, she was severly disappointed in the dialogue department. The line "fuck me" featured prominately, and though it was a suggestion not entirely without merit, I think most of us had hit on the idea already by the third or fourth time she said it. As far as the plot goes, Jill was more important than the reporter. Valentine, a member of STARS (Special Tactics and Rescue Squad) was supposed to be integral to their escape efforts, though she's the one who decides the group should split up. She also has to deal with that most predictable of problems, a friend infected with the zombie virus. All in all, a shallow and unremarkable performance, but one of the better ones probably at that.
Aside from dismal main characters, the movie has all the other shortcomings you'd expect. An unrealistic plot, a supposedly organized and well equipped military losing to shuffling corpses limited to the speed of crippled slugs, a dumb monster boyfriend for Milia, a heartless and mindlessly evil corporation, and an over reliance on so-so effects and predictable jokes. The comic foil, this time a loud mouthed taxi driver, is once again a high point, and this type of character is quickly becoming a saving grace for these kinds of movies. Even so, they are certainly incapable of carrying the movie on their own, though fortunately none of them have been expected to.
So, all that being said, take my advice. Skip a second trip to Racoon City.
Thursday, September 09, 2004
I didn't have any particular stake in the game, it was just on as background noise. For the most part, I wasn't even really paying any attention to it. But just as I was getting ready to leave, I saw the most remarkable play. Troy was down by seven points and they had the ball. The offense ran a draw play (a hand-off to the running back, who runs straight up the field) and the running back managed to get about ten yards. Ordinarily that'd impressive, but hardly noteworthy. This time, as he was about to be tackled, the running back pitched the ball to a nearby lineman, number seventy-nine, Junior Louissaint. Big fatty took the ball and rumbled fifty yards to the endzone. The only defender who even got a hand on him was a spindly cornerback, who Junior dragged into the endzone. It was quite a sight to see, funny and impressive too, and it's always nice when linemen get a minute in the spotlight.
So here's to you, Junior Louissaint. Good job.
Monday, September 06, 2004
For those of us who have been going for a while, conventions are as much social occasions as gaming opportunities, if not more so. The intense atmosphere of the convention, and the fact that you are likely to be stuck with a particular group of people for several hours at a time prove efficient bonding situations. The "con buddy" is a peculiar sort of relationship. Such associations do not really rise to the dignity of a true friendship, but they are unusually strong given the brevity of interaction.
When you sign up for a con game, you can usually count on a good time. If you're lucky, you get a neat story from it. And if you're really lucky, you meet someone worth playing something else with. That's a con buddy. These people I see but two or three times a year, and it is only for the better part of four days at that, but shared experiences and common interests work swiftly to create a familiarity out of all expectations.
This year at Conquest I managed to play several games, including a few I usually miss for one reason or another. Listed below was my weekend itinerary, as well as my record:
Friday: Game Mastered a Dungeons and Dragons game. If you run a game at a convention, you get in for free. As a weekend pass will run about thirty bucks, it makes sense to run an event.
Saturday: I played Attack!, a board game made by Eagle Games. It's a pre-WWII game with many simularities to Risk, but you play a government type rather than a faceless empire. All in all it wasn't bad, but I didn't find the system particularly impressive. It was my first time playing, but I managed to spread the enlightened influence of Communism across the globe.
I also got to play jumbo sized Battletech. The people at Armorcast make giant sized mechs. They run this event at just about every local con every year, but somehow something always gets in my way. This time I got to play, and it was a blast. I had to play the Inner Sphere, which is made up of primitive warlords, and I had to resist the Clans, technologically sophisticated invaders. Still, thanks to my dazzling tactical genius, and awesome dice rolls (but mostly genius), I managed to win. Props to my erstwhile partner and my worthy opponent.
Sunday: Played Man O' War, an old Games Workshop product detailing age-of-sail naval combat with fantasy races. I played Chaos and the Chaos Dwarves (I know, but the fleets were pre-made) against Empire and Dwarves. Dominate is an insufficient verb to describe my victory.
I also played Paths of Glory twice. PoG is a GMT wargame simulating WWI. Unlike many wargames, PoG is fast and simple, using cards rather a library of rules to dictate the flow of play. I lost once as the Allies, and I won once as the Central Powers.
Monday: Didn't show at all. If I'm not staying at the hotel, I usually skip Monday. There aren't hardly an events, and most everyone has already gone home anyway, looking to recover in time for work on Tuesday. This year I had a cold most of the weekend, so I got some much needed rest. Missed a kublacon staff meeting though.
Well, that was my three day weekend, spent in the midst of geekdom. A good time had by all.
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
Did you know that Number 10 Downing Street is actually the residence of the First Lord of the Treasury and not the Prime Minister? In fact, the Prime Minister derives both his salary and his official residence from the office of the First Lord of the Treasury.
This useless bit of information, and plenty more, are all available free of charge at wikipedia, the online encyclopedia.
Monday, August 30, 2004
When it comes to food, I'm a little picky. Selection isn't really the problem, I can eat a range of foods, wider than many Americans because of my early exposure to certain anatomical or marine combinations peculiar to Asian cuisine. Nor is quality that great a concern. I can subsist on a thin ration of ramen, potato chips, and vanilla coke almost indefinetly. However, I am extremely sensative to proper culinary organization. Like the drill seargent in Toys, I like my different dishes to remain seperate, and I tend to eat my food in sequence, completing all I desire from one before moving onto the other.
If invited, I'll probably end up going just for the hell of it. I'd never even heard of a Chicken and Waffle place, but it was discussed as though they were common. Disgusting as the prospect of this unholy breakfast is, I think it's something I'd have to see, if I got the chance.
Sunday, August 29, 2004
And yes, I've read the whole thing.
Thursday, August 26, 2004
Is the next way to draw new mischief on.
What cannot be preserved when fortune takes
Patience her injury a mockery makes.
Othello, Act I, Scene III
I am surrounded, it seems, by an inordinate number of hot heads. These are people for whom the word trivial never precedes conflict. They make mountains of mole hills, then claim the credit for mastering so marvelous a summit. Failure only enlarges an obstacle to the point where even the smallest of obstructions can threaten to derail critical endeavors. Pride becomes an end in of itself, an all-consuming concern made all the more implaccable with its divorce from reason.
I myself am, of course, not free from such sentiments, but I take it as a tenant of proper living that they lead only to ruin. Annoyance I find rises within me easily, but it departs just as freely. I am rarely moved to true anger, and to my credit I find the feeling difficult to abide. In the end, I just don't feel there's much worth getting so worked up over.
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
There is a maxim in life that the majority of people are stupid. Unfortunately, the ratio of blithering idiots to smart people is barely more favorable in law school than found in the general public. To be sure, it is somewhat better, and to the extent that it is not, there is at least the thin veneer of education, but overall the average student here is a moron. Most of the questions reveal either the inability to read the casebook, or at least the inability to understand it. Classes like Con Law, lectures that simply follow and describe the readings, are a waste of time, hence the blogging.
Now there are classes that do not fit the Con Law mold. I have Evidence later, and that is an interactive and engaging class, where you actually have to go so far as to apply the readings. Even Evidence, however, is not really so much difficult as involved, and proper preperation is all that is really required. Many people believe that law school must be very hard. It is not. Boring, costly, and filled to a surprising degree with scut work, but not particularly difficult. Law school is no more, or less, than the most expensive trade school in the world.
Monday, August 23, 2004
Sunday, August 22, 2004
Despite my proud membership in the Most Maligned Order of the Nerd, I have yet to read any of Asimov's books. However, the recent release of the movie I, Robot, despite the fact that it apparently has nothing to do with any of his works, spurred me on to jump him to the top of my reading list. I'll be reading the Foundation Series, a back story that has always sounded fairly interesting, yet still something I had yet read. I'll post what I think about them as I progress through the books.
Friday, August 20, 2004
Aliens v. Predator is the worst conjunction of cinematic cliches I've seen all year. The amassed group of scientists and security personnel resemble nothing so much as a particularly disorganized elementary school field trip. Character development was so perfunctory as to have been merely obligatory, the only benefit of which was the fact that it limited my exposure to thespiatic (if that's a word) incompetence. Everything, from the pseudo-science to the painful dialogue was one unremitting stream of disappointment. But possibly the greatest failure of the movie came from the fight scenes.
I imagine that, in the late seventies, the first appearence of the alien monster must have been quite terrifying. Indeed, I myself was subjected to the movie Aliens at a very young age, and harbored a fear toward the creature which seems somewhat silly in retrospect. Now, however, the sleek black rubber suit is a familiar icon, one that in AVP illicits nothing save a desire to be watching one of its better performances instead. The Predator too, sadly, is nothing new, and should prove interesting only long enough for viewers to remember how crappy its first movies were.
Of the effects nothing can really be said except that they are perhaps the best part of AVP, rising above the sewage of script, directing, and characters to an exaulted peak of mediocrity. Unfortunately, because we come to such a movie expecting great effects, mere mediocrity amounts to the most profound disappointment to be found in this dismal offering.
Thursday, August 19, 2004
Civil Procedure in the State and Federal Courts
The Legal Profession
These are all at SCU. I'm contemplating taking Piano at a local junior college. I've always wanted to learn how to play the Piano, but for one reason or another I've never gotten around to it. I regret I don't have the time to take more personal interest classes at the JC. I wouldn't mind taking Japanese, especially because proficiency would significantly enlarge the number of dramas I could watch (or at least understand). Languages are tough though, because they require constant effort, and I am more of a short term kind of guy. I get interested in something, I try it out for a while, and once I think I've got a grasp on the basics I move on. A subject has to be really important or really interesting to capture my interest in the long term, and I have encountered few examples thus far.
Film and Theatre are two subjects I have always wanted to explore in greater detail. I've taken academic film examination classes at UCSC, but I am not as interested in the analytical side as the artistic. I don't want to dissect films, I want to help make them. Directing, I've always thought, would be an engrossing study, though I can't really say I understand much of what it truly entails. Nor would I be adversely disposed to giving acting a shot. Years of role-playing games have given me the satisfaction of playing literally hundreds of personalities, and though I'm sure that is only a primitive reflection of the art, it was enough to whet my appetite.
I don't have any pretentions at making my living by Film or Theatre, but they are two fields that have always interested me. I should like someday to be part of an amature project or volunteer troupe, to present a story to an audience, to set out from ourselves a world of our own making. That's the great allure to me, no matter what part I might ultimately play. Even should I never get a better opportunity than that of the humblest curtain puller, I would take pride in my part of a wonderous creation.
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
To become a Jedi you have to master eight random professions. The identities of these professions are kept hidden, so you just have to guess. There are a total of thirty-three, so you have to complete just under a quarter of them. Each profession varies, but the average one can be completed in about forty-eight to sixty hours of game play. I've been in SWG for a year now, and I've completed fifteen, or just under half, and I am still not a Jedi. This doesn't really bother me, as I don't mind taking it slow. Unfortunately, there is a problem on the horizon.
SOE, the company that owns SWG, is going to change the way people become Jedi because the current system of grinding professions is dumb. I support the change in theory, but I know that the new system will be even more difficult than the old one. If I want a Jedi any time soon, I know I'll have to step up the grinding and get really lucky, neither of which seems very likely.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
The days immediately preceding Dispersal Day, however, are some of the leanest experienced in the first world. Separated from their previous aid award by a year, students everywhere are reduced to consuming the last of their remaining ramen, hot dog, or Mac 'n Cheese stores. And that's merely the fate of the fortunate. For the spendthrift the weeks before Dispersal Day are miserable exercises of self-denial and endurance, mitigated only to the extent that you may prevail upon the pity of friends and associates.
Fortunately, all hardships are quickly forgotten come deliverance. An orgy of expenditure occurs, as students across the country binge on fast food, upgrade computers, and obtain for themselves personal luxuries. Freed from the shackles of fiduciary restrait, young people pursue their long forestalled materialistic aspirations with an all consuming ardor.
For SCU Law students, Dispersal Day came on Monday. When I went to the Bursar's Office, I was told I was among the unfortunate block of students whose checks were not to be printed until the next day (today). I now look forward to class with an enthusiasm that rarely applies, as I will make a stop at the Financial Aid office afterwards. From there, who knows? Maybe I'll get a nice steak. I'm kinda sick of ramen...
Happy Financial Aid Dispersal Day!
Monday, August 16, 2004
I have yet to find a place to live in Santa Clara, though my stalled search may prove serendipitous. Although I had already completed all the required paper work before the beginning of the term, the financial aid office has displayed a frustrating degree of incompetence. Thus, while I await the disbursal of my aid package, I am thoroughly and regrettably broke.
The first day of class went easy enough, boiling down to the same resuscitation of administrative minutiae and introductions delivered with varying degrees of friendliness at the start of every year. I am starting out the new term already behind, as the aforementioned fiduciary difficulties have precluded the purchase of textbooks and other materials, but as I have been promised my aid tomorrow, I have high hopes that the condition is temporary.
Though it has been gone for only one day, I already find myself missing the causal laziness of summer. I make no pretentions at any great aspirations beyond the preservation of my free time, which I treasure above any worldly possession. I have viewed the return of scholastic responsibility with a regret. I await my inevitable entry into the professional world with the same kind of dread, but magnified as it is by the fact that it will be a prison from which there are only three escapes. Death and old age, in decreasing order of preference, each hold their own problems, and the lottery is a statistical improbability to the extent where reliance upon it borders on delusion.
The only thing I fear more than school is work, and it is a matter of unspeakable personal tragedy that I will be able to escape neither.
Sunday, August 15, 2004
On TV, the weather is always right. Meteorological conditions resulting not from jet streams or cold fronts, but instead from emotional imperatives. A glorious sun in triumph, darkness born of fear, rains for romance. Sound too follows the same dictates, conspiring to present along with visual effects and Hollywood's other discrete talents a world which runs on certainty rather than a chance. A place where the exigencies of even one person can rise to the sole concern of the entire universe. It is a place of manufactured perfection, one we know to be false, and yet all the more enjoyable because we can still think of it as ours.
I remember the first time I saw a photograph of Greta Garbo. That woman was long dead, a fate Greta herself would follow in time, but still the picture seemed to hold all the promise of life. We have become so talented in the sculpture of illusion, a craft where are molded those qualities we think the finest examples of humanity. A beautiful woman can look right through the glass, offer in her dulcet tones a confession of her love, and even though you know it isn't true, still you can feel the pull. In the movies, everything is important. All triumphs are magnificent and all defeats crushing, whether the scale balances all mankind or the difficulties of a single individual. It is such exquisite escapism, but it is more than simple fantasy. These displays, through those things in us they appeal to, become the promise of better things. It could be you.
There is a cruelty to the illusion, a bittersweet revelation around which the layers of fantasy entwine. We live our lives in our world, the real world insofar as we understand it, a place where we are only who we are. Now, that isn't necessarily such a bad thing. We can still have a good run as we drift through our lives, small triumphs all things considered, but all the more precious for being ours. It isn't my intention to sound decidedly pessimistic. I enjoy my life very much, that of it as has passed thus far, and there is some justification to expect even better in the future.
I enjoy those things produced for our entertainment very much. It is not my intention to decry the release offered by television. It's just that I know there are many things I'll never get to do. My life will probably be very good, but I'll never be President of the United States. I'll never negotiate peace with aliens, slay a dragon, or win the affection of a famous actress. It may even be the case that, if I could, I still may not want to do any of those things, but that I will likely never get the chance is disappointing.
Saturday, August 14, 2004
It was easy to secure their cooperation, what with them being just photographs, but even so I appreciate the help. I hope anyone who stumbles across this page enjoys the images, and perhaps it will entice a person or two into downloading a few dramas to watch.
I actually wasn't sure if I wanted to go through with this week-long project. Lovely though they may be, it wasn't my intent to improve the aesthetics of my blog (that just happens to be a nice ancillary). I will admit to being as much of a man as any other. Custom, culture, and biology have all conspired to create, at least in some ways, a creature of base instincts and a somewhat insufficient means of resisting them.
Even though I sneer at those brazenly consumed by no other concerns than physical attraction and carnal consumption, they are admittedly aspects of my own psyche as much as anyone else. I take care to remain reserved, indeed the unabashed appraisal of a feminine specimen fills me with equal parts discomfort and disgust, but even though I may not talk about sex, I sure do think about it. Still, the objectification of women for my own personal amusement was not my intent.
Celebrity, and indeed celebrities, have never held much appeal to me. Some people spend time and money in persistant obsession, pursuing their particular star far past the point of harmless infatuation. Even leaving aside the mentally unbalanced, I still think that celebrities are overrated. I don't really care what an actor or singer thinks about a particular political position.
It doesn't matter to me one wit whether some ditzy singer is a virgin, how many times some director has been divorced, or the newest Hollywood roadmap for middle east peace; in short, I've never found much interest in celebrities outside of their work. So, I just want it clear that I didn't spend this last week laboring towards the creation of some eerie shrine to five Japanese women.
So, why did I? To be perfectly honest, I'm not really sure. Maybe I was kinda bored. It made updating the blog easy, and sometimes I go a week without something worth writing about. I got to look through lots and lots of pictures, spending a few hours with some of the most beautiful women on the small screen isn't exactly a chore. In the end, I guess I just felt like it.
That isn't really very interesting, and indeed this entire entry has been just one long, rambling, oddity. Still, there is a point to all of this. I noticed something while looking at picture after picture, something I always knew, I think, but had become so familiar with that I no longer really thought about it. Since I've had enough of writing for one day, I'll put it off 'till next time to explain.
Friday, August 13, 2004
Five days later and I've come to the end of my little slide show. Friday goes to Hirosue Ryoko, another member of Japan's seemingly inexhaustible class of adorable twenty-something actresses. I first saw her featured in Summer Snow, and it's fair to say I've been hooked ever since. She is equally capable in dramatic or comedic settings, and though for my own part I find myself indifferent to her music, she is also a popular singer.
Even a cursory glance at her photographs should reveal abundant justification for the idle infatuation. Ryoko is a comfortable indulgence, beautiful not in the impossible perfection of a Hollywood goddess, but simple and warm like a favored sweater or a worn blanket.
Thursday, August 12, 2004
Shibasaki Kou is an up and coming star in Japanese dramas. I've seen her show Good Luck!!, and parts of her newer one, Orange Days (both JTV projects; check them out) and she is suitably distracting in both. However, her most compelling performance is in the dystopian slaughterfest otherwise known as Battle Royale, where we learn just another good reason why school girls should stay hands off. I know that, for most men, fear is not the first thing that comes up on the subject of young women and short skirts. Well, those of us who've seen BR know better.
Kou's Battle Royale character is one of the more attractive knife wielding psychopaths portrayed on film, and through her we even get to see the softer side of dissociative killers. Though few of her other roles involve random violence, she brings to many of her characters the same endearing fierceness. She's strong and tough as nails, but with just the most discrete suggestion of vulnerability. There's something appealing in a rough woman, and Kou's got that uneasy combination of self-reliance and dependance, colored by stubborn animosity. She's cute, but she'd kick your ass for saying so.
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Day number three is dedicated to the talented Tokiwa Takako. At thirty-two she is the senior member of the countdown, an accomplished actress who has only improved with age. Though her early performances were occasionally somewhat stiff and uninspired, Takako would eventually come to display a depth and emotion almost unique among Japanses dramas. Her hurt, lonely Eri in Refrain is entitled to a place among the most memorable dorama performances.
Takako has managed to portray a wide range of characters, demonstrating a versatility increasingly rare in an industry built upon foundations of the cliche. From these disparate personalities comes an appreciation for her that surpasses simple desire. Her appeal is one of grace and elegance, an exposition of classical beauty, and a call to those gentle qualities that form the best of what we are.
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Tuesday's Uchiyama Rina (before you cringe at the name, remember that the Asian custom is family name first; I think "Rina" is pretty cute) should be a familiar sight for dorama fans, but no less welcome at that. I first saw her in Strawberry on the Shortcake, though she's been in other things since.
Rina's got the "girl next door" thing going on, even for those of us who live quite a few doors down the block from Japan. Insufferably cute, tantalizingly innocent, and yet convienently street legal, Rina's all the "jail bait / buddy's attractive sister" taste with none of the calories.
Monday, August 09, 2004
Cute huh? Her name is Konishi Manami. Aside from starring in Orange Days, a new series presented for download by Japan-TV, she is also the first in my week-long tribute to attractive Japanese women. I know, it's a rough gig, but someone has to do it.
As far as I can tell, Manami is new to the dorama scene. Orange Days is the first thing I've seen her in, though JDorama lists her in nine shows. Gives a whole new reason to expand one's horizons.
She has a very slender face, and her slight features conspire to present almost an elfin beauty. Manami's eyes are her most persuasive attriubutes, luminous pools of polished onyx which offer, even if only through the magic of photography, an allure that is both mysterious and deceptively accessable.
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Personally, I have no problem in people reinforcing their relationships with the notion that they were fated to be together. It seems a little quaint, and I think fatalism is a questionable quality whatever the outcome, but as far as emotional crutches go, this one is pretty harmless.
By the light of reason this idea seems rather silly. There are now more than six billion people on the Earth. How fate works to designate whom should be paired with whom remains, for reasons I'm sure are readily apparent, somewhat unclear. If the distribution is purely random then you end up with some rather bizarre results. Not only is it unlikely that you'll ever even see your predestined partner, but language, culture, age, and other concerns can make the prospect of such a meeting uncertain to say the least.
Practicality may force the concession that our amorous statistics naturally engineer it so that our fated lovers are geographically and chronologically compatible, but lacking any evidence of such manipulation it is an offering as strained as any to be found in pseudo-science.
I'm not really sure what the point of all this is though. I certainly don't begrudge people their innocent delusions, though I think the thought process their support entails is questionable. I guess ultimately I don't feel love is any better a subject to leave to fate than anything else.
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
First, allow me to say in my defense, that I write quite easily. The words flow freely, and I find the process simple almost to the point of the automatic. Starting can be a pain, but once I've typed out a few words the rest follow of their own volition. When an unusual word is found, it has appeared almost always of its own accord. Even so I know I write with an unusual hand, one to be found, if the critic is favorable, on that of a nineteenth century jurist. Though equally valid would be the characterization that my writing resembles that of a particularly bombastic and ostentatious bureaucrat. To be sure, I stand behind everything I write with a certain degree of pride, and I certainly refuse to cater to others and intentionally "dumb down" expression that comes naturally. Even so, there are times when I read over what I have wrote and part of me cringes at the tone.
The funny thing is, I am not an extraordinarily formal person. Polite perhaps, but if that is to an unusual extent, then it is so only because common courtesy has become an uncommon offering. But for some reason, in text, I always come across as, well, as the kind of person you'd expect to find at Lord Witherspoon's.
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Aside from drudging up some guilt, recent events have brought death to the focus of my consideration. As an atheist I cannot find the same refuge in it as might a religious man. Indeed, it is a reluctance to accept such an easy way out which fuels, in part, my rejection of modern spiritual options. The release of a suffering person from their burdens is a matter of some appeal, but even then I think that death is, at best, a marginal solution.
People like to speak of death as though it were some sort of celestial pit stop, someplace where a driver shakes off mortal coils to finish the rest of the race. It is a primitive defensive response, one that I do not begrudge them, but even so I can find no solace in it. To me, it seems reasonable to view death as an end. Like the credits following a movie, it's a finale with no more or less to it than what those whose names appear can make of it. For my own part, I find death a distasteful eventuality. Though I have seen yet only a small part of its charms, life has been an entertaining diversion. More unsettling than the simple fact that I will, at some point, vanish from the Earth is the thought of all the things I won't get to see.
I was born into an incredible time. This is an era of such boundless potential, uncertain struggles, and miraculous complexity that I think its like has never before emerged. To those who come after, though much of what we are and what we do will no doubt seem quaint, it will nevertheless remain a compelling time. It is an age of wonders, and it has been my good fortune to have been born into a time and place of such opportunity. Even so, I know that my life has begun, and will end, in what is only the dawn of a new day.
Who can say what marvels might be found in the future? Technology, modest for all her allure, has only revealed the barest flashes of possibility. In my life, the Internet has risen from a convocation of the nerd to the most powerful information exchange ever seen. In my life, great literature, music, and film have been converted to ethereal combinations of data. In my life doctors have implanted electronics to overcome disabilities, scientists have mapped the human genome, and NASA has sent robots to Mars. I am only twenty-four and yet all these things I have seen. In the long expanse that, should I be of such fortune, will span this time and that of my death, I expect to witness even greater spectacles. How much better, then, will those of the far future seem?
That is what bothers me most about the prospect of death. I think about my late grandfather, and how marvelous he thought these new developments to be. At the twilight of his life, he was able to see a new dawn, and it was a bittersweet revelation. Someday that will be me, should I flatter myself to think I shall do so well, looking eagerly at what's to come, even as my time runs out.
I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say in this post. I guess, when it comes down to it, I am left with a conclusion as inevitable and undeniable as the premise.
Monday, August 02, 2004
Future note to self: If Alfred is in the hand, consider folding.
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Personally I don't much care for moving. I'm not a particularly proud man, I've lived at home since I got back from undergrad at Santa Cruz to save money. I would stay home this year too, except my classes are scheduled such that I'd have to drive at bad hours. Admittedly staying with the folks puts a cramp in certain forms of recreation, but for the twelve to fifteen thousand dollars it takes to live of my own, and fairly modestly at that, I get by. Moving is a pain. Even though I'd be leaving most my stuff at home anyway, it's still a hassle that I don't look forward to.
At any rate, my searching efforts have lacked a certain level of commitment. Now with school looming, I'll have to engage the matter with more severity than absently browsing Craigslist. But, if any of you know of an available place in Santa Clara, let me know...
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
At its later stages, Alzheimers is a cruel inequity, stealing from its victims every defining intellectual article of personality until all you are left with is an empty vessel, infuriating in its approximation of someone you once knew. While my grandmother's condition is not yet so grave, there is a noticable diminishment in her faculties. She is less and less the person that she was, and it is increasingly clear that one day she'll just submerge into a depth from whence there is no return. Depression, or so it seems to my untrained eye, has come on the wings of revelation, leaving only the possibility that it will vanish as does her ability to understand it. She is the toughest old lady I've ever met, and for all that, there isn't a thing she can do.
At play in my mind are all the normal feelings you'd expect. I have been dealing with the kind of guilt you feel when you haven't been there perhaps as much as you should. To a certain extent, I think of her as dead already, and mourn the passing of her personality, which I consider a far greater loss than the inevitable end of her body. I feel bad for my mother too. Her father died in late May, just a few months ago, and now her mother is on the way out too. Mom has been forced to assume the burdens of final care, as the rest of her sibblings are unavailable for a variety of reasons. She spends much of her time with Grandma until a more permanent solution can be found, and she is in charge of the various legal and financial issues death and disability incurr.
For my own part, I have been especially reticent in visits since the diagnosis. I know about the kind of person this makes me, but I find the process very disturbing. In many ways, it would've been better for us if she had died "clean." This is a very selfish way to think of things, and I cannot defend myself from any position but that what I say is the truth as I see it.
Death is inevitable, but it comes and goes. The people who are left behind move on, and from that distance achieve the ability to remember, always with some melancholy, but eventually with a comfortable peace. Degeneration is worse, because it carries everyone else along with it until, at the end, all you are left with is relief, a feeling all the worse for the fact that you dare not express it but to yourself. Even so, were that the extent of my apprehension, it would not be so bad. From a certain point of view, there is a kind of nobility in wanting to preserve for yourself the person you used to know. Selfish, perhaps, but gently, singularly, humane. Unfortunately, my character is yet more defective.
I have always valued intelligence. It may be the case that I have put too much emphasis on it, especially as a way to measure and consider people, but I have always considered it a more equitable meter than physical appearence, athletic prowess, or fiduciary resources. More than that though, I value it as what I like most about myself. In my grandmothers current condition is a spectre of an unspeakable fate. One that, perhaps from a karmic standpoint I may someday rightfully deserve, but even so the possibility is intensely disturbing. I do not exaggerate when I say I would rather be dead than suffer the indignity of mental disintegration. To see it so close to home, and to witness the living ghost that was once my grandmother is almost too much.
I guess that makes me a pretty rotten person, but it's all I've got to go on.
Monday, July 26, 2004
Gokusen is about a school teacher who comes from a Yakuza family. She uses the lessons from her underworld upbringing to scare her trouble students into behaving. On some level it's pretty cheesy, just the standard "teacher overcomes obsticales, obtains trust of emotionally scarred and difficult students," but it offers enough comedic value to make it memorable. The show is often compared to an earlier program, Great Teacher Onizuka, which featured an ex-motorcycle gangster who gets a job at a local high school and uses unconventional methods to solve problems. Admittedly Gokusen is similar, but in my opinion it's superior to GTO.
Gokusen's musical score is an unqualified triumph, and the lighthearted tunes (J-pop free!) frame scenes perfectly. Her struggle to keep her mob connections secret, and the ensuing complications that arise, particularly in her romantic pursuit of a police detective, are another element that pushes it past GTO. For experienced Dorama viewers, Gokusen is a satisfying diversion. If nothing really new, it is at least all the old things that got you into it in the first place. For those new to Japanese dramas, Gokusen is an accessable beginning. It's comedy relies on the bumblings of misfit students, mistaken identities, and a troubled romance. It is available for download on animesuki, or you can wait for Japan-TV to release its version. Either way, I recommend the show.
Friday, July 23, 2004
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
The man who shot Liberty Valance: This film is an old John Wayne / Jimmy Stewart film. The modern version would be perhaps even more powerful because of the immense power modern media formats have in their ability to shape people's opinions. The remake would take place in Afghanistan, which in its current state is not completely unlike the old west.
Seven Days in May: This cautionary tale, recast in the light of the War on Terror and the threat it poses to civil rights, would be even more chilling today than when it was first made. Instead of a military coup in the face of a Soviet threat, we could see a systematic plan to widen the government's umbrella of legal, semi-legal, and blatantly illegal counter-terrorism responses. The thing that made the original film so memorably, and what would be required in a remake, is the fact that everyone was a "good guy," at least from some point of view. General Scott is not an evil man. Indeed, he undertakes his plan to displace the legitimate government because he is dedicated to protecting America. He simply fails to understand that his methods would ultimately prove destructive to the democracy.
A modern Seven Days in May would have to try and avoid the proselytizing characteristic of recent political expression and instead focus on the temptations of power, the balance of individual rights and communal interests, and the inherent tension these place on a representative democracy. If done right, it would be a phenomenal film.
Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace: Okay. This movie is neither old nor particularly good, which is in fact the reason it's on my remake list. Most remakes are undertaken in the hopes of recreating the success of the first movie. This film would be remade to correct the errors and to save Star Wars from the malignant blight that is George Lucas.
I personally have never been so disappointed by a movie as The Phantom Menace. Now, I'm certainly not saying it's the worst movie ever, just the one that let me down the most. Of the first Star Wars trilogy, only Return of the Jedi was originally released in my lifetime. I looked on the new series with a kind of expectation I rarely feel for a simple film. I'm not a Star Wars fanatic by any sense of the imagination, but I was nevertheless caught up in Star Wars mania in 1999.
The Phantom Edit, seen around on the Internet, would not be a bad start for a remake. From there, the extra time could be put to a number of uses, possibly including more shots of Jedi killing stuff with cool lightsabers.
The Breakfast Club: The Eighties classic advanced two decades would be like a Big Chill that didn't suck. Today fatalism has replaced angst, and the change would make for an interesting contrast with the original movie. An older brat pack, some with successes and some with failures, reunited under some contrivance, back for one last movie. The burdens of middle age, universal though they are, remain unique to each generation. For those who never really thought they'd reach it, reality lands like a ton of bricks. If the writing can stay trite-free, The Dinner Society would be a good viewing.
Well, that's four. There are plenty more, I'm sure, but for some reason I feel like watching a movie...
Saturday, July 17, 2004
I knew going into it that I wouldn't be able to understand the dialoge, but I assumed that, armed with a basic understanding of the plot, I'd be able to gleam enough from tone, facial expressions, and body language to follow around. I haven't finished the show yet, but things have been working out well enough, considering the circumstances. There have been a few developments that I haven't been 100% clear on, but all-in-all I feel pretty good about the experience. I even discovered that I understood more Japanese than I thought I did.
Many people would find watching a show in a language they didn't understand a frustrating experience, but I'm pretty used to it. When I was younger I used to watch Chinese shows with relatives, and they didn't have English subtitles and I don't understand Mandarin or Cantonese. I actually had a pretty good time. You can gleam a lot, even without understanding the words, and with some imagination you can even work out some kind of plot.
Anyway, if anyone gets a chance to check out Tokyo Love Story, preferably in a language they can understand, I recommend it.
Friday, July 16, 2004
During my first year of law school I attended the part time division. I've transfered to full time, but I'll have to take night classes with the other part time students to catch up. I was staying in Fremont, which is about twenty minutes (before traffic) from Santa Clara. That worked out pretty well, and I only had to make one trip a day. Now that I have to take day and night classes, I'm thinking about moving closer to campus.
I've already got all my loans worked out; almost $45,000 this year. $18,000 is coming from the federal government, and the rest from private lenders. I'm actually a little distrubed at just how much money companies are willing to lend someone like me, a person with absolutely no assets, collateral, or prospect of obtaining either for the next several years. It doesn't seem, to me anyway, the best way to run a lending company.
At any rate, school is fast approaching. There is nothing I can do about that, so I firmly resolve to make the most of my remaining free time by doing as little as absolutely possible.
Thursday, July 15, 2004
Some of you may have been wondering how I came about with a name like LeperColony, and for the rest of you who didn't care one way or the other, I'm going to talk about it anyway. I actually have the most sincere respect for people grappling with serious afflictions like Hansen's Disease. I am, I will admit, a little scared of such people. Common courtesy prevents such expression, and I have freely associated with suffering individuals of varying ailments, but I remain only human. Of course, it isn't the irrational fear of being infected by such people; rather, it's the kind of morbid forsight, enhanced as it is by an advanced immagination, of yourself in the same state. In any case, it isn't true that I picked the name out of some tastelss jab at Lepers.
When I was younger, and even still up to today when the time can be found, my Uncle Philip used to run Robotech games for my brother and I. We were perpetual losers too, always fouling up the mission objectives and what not, so we were dubbed the Leper Colony. The name comes from an old movie, 12 O'Clock High, a World War II flick with Gregory Peck about a bomber wing based out of England. A motely collection of losers and underachievers all assigned to the bomber Leper Colony. From such a position, despised and neglected, relegated to the worst duties and the most dangerous assignments, it would be easy to just chuck it all and give up. But when the downtrodden do managed to rise above and succeed, even when those successes are otherwise meaningless or pyrrhic, there is a very real triumph.
Now, I am a fairly rational person. I value reason above most other qualities, and I try my best to live my life along such lines. I don't believe in fighting losing battles, and I'm far more likely to give up and try another way than press on in the face of impossible odds. Even so, there is a unique gallantry in the struggle against the inevitable, and I would like to think that I have it in me to fight even if, and indeed especially if, there's nothing left to do.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Beverage: Henry Weinhard's Root Beer
Star Trek Movie: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Ice Cream Flavor: Vanilla
Comic Book Hero: Spider-Man
First Person Shooter: Counterstrike
Leonard Nimoy Song: The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins
Sunday, July 11, 2004
In popular culture baseball occupies an inappropriately esteemed position, but this is largely due to the traditional support the sport enjoys. Also helpful, from a modern prospective, is the fact that baseball is free of the violence and, to a large extent, scandle that characterizes Football and Basketball. Nevertheless, even the magic of Hollywood is able to do only so much. Of all the movies made about Baseball, none save two are good, and only three are worth watching. Eight Men Out and The Natural are both respectable films, and Major League is entertaining. For those of you who would like to mention Field of Dreams, I think it's clear that it doesn't count. Field of Dreams is not a Baseball movie, but rather a story about one guy's issues with his jackass father. Now, nobody in their right mind would pay money to see such a film, so they threw in some mystical baseball crap to keep you in the seat, and, with James Earl Jones' help, it works. But still isn't a Baseball film.
Baseball will never go away, not completely, but I had my hopes that the sport would be dealt a fatal blow in the mid to late ninties. Attendence was down, as America came to terms with the fact that Baseball sucks. Then the stupid Home Run races started. If it weren't for Mark McGuiwre and Sammy Sosa, Baseball would be crawling by on its last legs, TV would be better, and we would all be happier. Thanks a lot guys.
Thursday, July 08, 2004
As a result of my lazy routine, one day pretty much resembles any other. This is one reason that I do not use my blog as a means of daily reporting. Occasionally I'll talk about something I did on a given day, but had I felt obligated to maintain the practice more stringently, most posts would be short and plain. Not that I'm complaining about being bored. Nothing is one of my favorite activities, and I know I'll have to part with it soon enough.
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
My friend is a man of incredible potential. He has an astonishing intellect, but what I have always regarded most highly is his enthusiasm. Now, I find enthusiasm a troubling thing. I do not like to just "dive in." I am a reasoned man, cautious to a certain degree perhaps, but I just like to proceed secure in the knowledge that I have seen as many of the angles as I can. His is a deep, abiding interest, an ardor that drives him to excel and eventually becomes all consuming. I admire his ability to devote himself to a certain subject or field of study, even as I find the singlemindedness that results disturbing and deleterious.
He has taken the opportunity JET provided him, and embraced the foriegn completely. He speaks Japanese with, what to my ears, is astonishing ease. If perhaps he lacks the polish of a native speaker, he is certainly approaching fluency. In some ways this, and not high school or college, will prove his defining experience, and it is a chance I can only consider abstractly.
Yesterday we went out to dinner with the rest of his family. Given that he has only ten days here, his time is leveraged pretty much completely, so it was good to get to hang out for a while. Of all the people I know from high school, he has changed the least, and there is some comfort in that. We picked up very easily, right where we had left off. We were always fast friends, mutual interests and dislikes worked to form a broad if, in some ways, comparatively shallow bond. His arrival simply underscores the general feeling of discontent I've been experiencing as a result of the disturbing self-admission that my old friendships are, if not dead, substantially different than I remember them. Still, I am encouraged by the ease with which we fell into old routines, and hopefully the future will allow for a renewal of old relationships.
The wedding is this Saturday, after which he'll be going back to Japan. Happy trails.
Now, I will be honest in admitting that I look down on pro-wrestling as insipid. Not because it's fake, but just because it's stupid. When I was in fourth grade I used to like it, rooting for Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior, but that was a long time ago. Now I just think it's dumb, and were it not for the South (a hotbead of idiocy, both modern and historic, in its own right) I'd like to think it'd vanish completely. Even so, it is neat to learn someone you know participates in such an outlandish "sport," and the customs of friendly association compel me to at least mention him.
So, if you are a wrestling fan and you live in the California Bay Area, try and catch Hopsing Lee in his bid to become Shogun of the South Bay.
Go Captain Japan!
Sunday, July 04, 2004
My views on the War on Terror and the war in Iraq are complicated, and I'll try and cover them in a future post. Suffice it to say that I follow both with interest, as whatever one may feel about the need to have waged such conflicts, it should be manifestly obvious that we are left with no choice but to win. They are the struggle of our time, whether or not they should have been.
There is a third challenge that is inseperably linked to the other two, especially the War on Terror. It is a fight to retain the values for which we believe place us in the position to act in the first place. We cannot secure liberty for the Iraqis if we lose it here in America. For that reason, I generally oppose the way the Bush administration has handled the civil rights of various detainees. My critism is not limited to US citizens, as nothing in the Constitution seems to limit its application along such lines. Conservatives, "stict constructionalists" to a man, seem to forget that Constitutional rights are not grants from the government, but restrictions upon it. The government does not give us the right to a speedy and public trial, we refuse to grant the government the power to hold otherwise.
Even so, I do recognize that the Constitution is not the totality of US law, and additionally, there are substantial policy reasons for treating non-citizens differently. That does not mean they deserve no rights at all, and it does not justify violating our highest principles. When it comes to US citizens, I think the situation is even more clear cut. To swoop someone up in an airport, an American on American soil, to hold this person without charge, without legal advice, without the presumption of innocence and the security of a public trial is an inexcusable breach of our most basic rights. This is not about what is done to one person, as there is a limit to the importance of a single man. Rather, it is an affront to our laws, our principles, and our rights as free men and women.
Winston Churchill once said: "The power of the executive to cast a man in prison without formulating any charge known to the law and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government, whether Nazi or Communist." Justice and secrecy are mutually exclusive, and wherever one is supreme the other must surely fall into abeyence. That both are needed is undeniable, but this inbalance is nothing new. Sixty years ago we faced this dilemma and failed ourselves, allowing our fellow citizens to become prisoners in their own country.
The challenge of today is even more critical because those who face oppression are far more vulnerable. Today we have progressed far enough as a nation that a move along racial or religious lines, like that of the Japanese-American internment, would be politically untenable. However, this leaves the individual as the target of the government's power. One by one people will be selected, sometimes correctly and sometimes erroneously, but when held in secrecy, beyond the reach of the courts and in controvention of the Constitution, always illegally. These people, insignificant in themselves, will not summon the same support as a race, and so the transgression may simply pass unchallenged. The result is a principle incompatible with our system of government, and it is for that reason the confinement of Americans, held without charge, must be challenged.
Jose Padilla may well be guilty. In which case, he deserves to suffer under the most severe punishments our laws and our conscious may freely assign. But in our system, punishment can proceed only after a speedy and public trial, before a jury of his peers, and with a presumption of innocence. To turn from this responsibility, from the plight of a fellow citizen and that of our Republic, is a failure of epic, and individual, tragedy.
Saturday, July 03, 2004
Thursday, July 01, 2004
Overall the movie was alright. It's long, almost two and a half hours, and it feels it. I've heard people say they prefer it to the original, and there is something to be said about that, but I thought the first one was only so-so anyway. Spider-Man 2 is more humorous, and once again JJ Jameson steals every scene he's in. The romantic triangle thing doesn't really work and was poorly developed, but still fun to watch. The effects were good, and the fights satisfying enough. The directing was a bit too cutesy for my taste, the intentional use of cinematic cliches, like the Jesus scene, detracted from the slightly more subtle wit found in other parts. Also, no matter how cold the East River may be, I don't think it is capable of stopping a fusion reaction. Even so, it is definetly a movie worth seeing, and I'd recommend it.
As I've already said, I wasn't the biggest fan of the first movie. I thought it was alright, it entertained me for a while, but I think it fell short. If I had made the movie, I would have included Gwen Stacy instead of Mary Jane Watson. This wouldn't be done out of any pedantic need for strict accuracy, as I haven't even read a Spider-Man comic in years it is a standard I would be incapable of adhering to anyhow. Rather, I would have used Gwen so that she could have died. My movie would have been basically the same as the one that was made, but it would have diverged sharply at the bridge fight. The Green Goblin would have killed Gwen, then Spider-Man would have killed him out of rage, only to learn the Goblin's true identity. This way you have a scarred, bitter Spider-Man whose rejection of Mary Jane's advances (in the ensuing sequel) have a much stronger base. That leaves the third movie to explore the development of their romance.
Peter's relationship with Harry Osborne would be more sophisticated too, because in the extant storyline, Spider-Man is innocent. He was just defending himself from the crazy Goblin, and hides the truth from Harry out of a sense of duty to his friend and his friend's father. Under my story, he'd have a real reason to keep the truth hidden, and that's the fact that Spider-Man really did kill his father. Now, to be sure, this makes for a darker Spider-Man, but that isn't really a bad thing. What's more, it's all the same themes that appear in the real movies, just with a richer twist.