EXERCISE: jogging, sit-ups, & push-ups

March 31, 2006

JOGGING: 20 minutes 09.4 seconds
SIT-UPS: 80
PUSH-UPS: 40

I have started doing more traditional exercise in light of the first weight gain in my life. Plus, it is good for the Mind to dwell in a physically challenged body. I run along a cement river which is now populated with cherry blossom trees (sakura) in full bloom. Very beautiful and ethereal.

Those statistics above are marked improvements over what I did on Wednesday, 51 seconds faster, 10 more sit-ups, and 5 more push-ups.

UPDATE DECEMBER 2008/JANUARY 2009

I now do approximately 30 push-ups without stopping each night before bed, which is a modest and achievable goal that I need so as not to be discouraged by thinking I need to do 50 or more.

In with the Pink Cow now

March 26, 2006

After an afternoon combing through Akihabara once again trying to track down a bluetooth mouse, and finding one but not actually buying it, and instead breaking down and buying a regular wireless one and defiling my Powerbook’s exterior with a USB dongle, I met both British and Canadian Mike(s) at the Pink Cow for dinner. This time I sat in a more central location and got to know the owner more. She is a woman from California, to my surprise, as I thought for some reason she was Australian. I have now found something that I had been long looking for in Tokyo, a place to become a regular at where the people know my name. Tonight I secured that.

A lot of things began this past week, and all of them positive for a change. I started to branch out business-wise and after tonight personal life-wise as well. It’s about time I broke out of my Tokyo routine.

Now I hope frisbee isn’t rained out tomorrow . . .

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE [2005] review

March 19, 2006

I actually had low expectations going into THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE, even though Japan didn’t get it until a good 3 months after it was released in the R.W. Even with those lowered expectations, I was still pretty disappointed. The whole world of Narnia didn’t feel fleshed out at all, characters were introduced with little to know history, characters did things they had no believable ability to be able to do, and in the end there were no consequences of the big battle, at all.

The movie really had me interested from the first frame all the way up until the first frame Aslan appeared on screen. Then it lost me. Liam Neeson was not a good choice as the voice of Aslan. I couldn’t place it to his voice at the time, so it annoyed me the whole time because it was so familiar. William Mosely (Peter) did a very poor job of acting also. My favorite character was Lucy, the little girl.

As mentioned before, the final battle held absolutely no weight because none of the other characters (centaur general, etc) were fleshed out. And exactly why were they fighting? What did the White Witch want exactly? Just eternal winter? How did the Professor know about Narnia? Why did the children stay in Narnia? They gave up on returning to their mother? Too many questions with no answers for me in this movie.

DREAM: I was LOST in "Bubbletown"

March 13, 2006

Sleeping time: 7 hours 39 minutes (woken by crows, and a telemarketer)

…Sawyer and I and another person were taking a college class and we were trying to understand the logic of the ethical question to be discussed in class. I read his notes of what I had said (it is said to be impossible to read in dreams, but I have done it several times). … I was in a Florida suburban style house, and then took a walk down the street. … There were large red birds in a man’s yard. … There were also about 6 dead white flamingo looking birds. Then the owner of the house, a Japanese man in his late 40′s, came over and spoke in Japanese and a little English. I asked him in Japanese if it was ok (daijobu desu?) for me to look at his birds. He said it was. I think I asked him it it was bird flu. He spoke in distant English that I couldn’t really make out clearly.

Then I met two dogs, who were actually human children. At this point I realized I was on LOST. So it was a shock to me that there were other people and a city on the island! The children said they called the buildings “bubble town” since the buildings had strange circular shapes, but still looked like a typical Tokyo cityscape.

I made my way back to the suburban house marveling at all that existed on the island, that somehow we hadn’t discovered yet.

GRIZZLY MAN [2005] review

March 9, 2006

Werner Herzog took 100 hours of Timothy Treadwell’s Alaskan grizzly bear footage, and turned it into the stunned with itself documentary, GRIZZLY MAN. How did Treadwell survive 13 long summers in the “Grizzly Maze?” How could his maniacal energy endure in all that loneliness? It seems because he turned the “Grizzly Maze” into his hometown, and the foxes and grizzlies who lived there year-round into his neighbors. It is no spoiler to say that he and his girlfriend were ultimately killed by a grizzly at the end of that 13th summer, for the documentary begins by stating his death and then exploring his journey and the seemingly fated events toward that death.

Nature is by no means glorified in this documentary, although Treadwell in shooting his own footage exalts the highest praises upon it. Yet I side with some of those interviewed by Herzog, that he didn’t truly respect it, and he was not the ordained protector of it. To me respect for nature is in observing it in silence, for Nature does know the language of English. Introducing it so jokingly seemed disrespectful, especially in contrast to the very real dialogue of Nature viewers could see in the background of Treadwell’s footage.

The documentary shows what a man can become if for a time removed from human society, but forced to return to it. These two worlds seemed to become increasingly incompatible to Treadwell. He was on his way back to the human world, and having no patience for it, against what he had done in 12 past summers, went back to the grizzly world where he got what he said he didn’t want, but did little to deter: death by bear.

Hanegi Park, then Shinjuku Gyoen, then Ginza

March 5, 2006

Today brought with it the first real sunshine in oh at least 10 days. After I finished my lone morning lesson, I set out to Hanegi Park to photograph even more ume (plum) blossoms. The park turned out to be much smaller than I expected, even though the entrance (see below) looked promising.

There were quite a few people enjoying ume hanami, although the park suffers from what most parks in Tokyo suffer from, an almost utter lack of grass meaning one has to spread one’s blanket out over at best dirt and today mud. This is not to mention the ubiquitous “caw, caw, cawing” of crows. I wasn’t that impressed and left rather quickly. I still had several hours of day light, so I headed to trusty Shinjuku Gyoen, where there is grass all around, although since it’s still winter it’s basically only short straw now. Take a look carefully at the photo below to see a little green friend I zoomed in on. Pixelation is due to having to use the full digital zoom to get a shot of him/her. This little green bird was quite the celebrity. I’d say there were at least 4 or 5 other camera otakus next to me taking photos of her/him and by the number of shutter clicks in rapid succession heard you’d of thought that it was Shizuka Arakawa up there!

Afterwards I took a few more shots of some other flowers before finally relaxing and eating my hummus sandwich. While peacefully eating my sandwich I was in fact nearly assaulted by a marauding baby missing a sock. Then as the bright sun was shining in my face I pulled out my trusty sketchpad and oil crayons and made my first drawing of 2006.

I later went to the Ginza Apple Store to hear a live music performance, but it was nothing to comment upon.

GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK [2005] review

March 4, 2006

After watching George Clooney’s GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK I am left wondering how the television news survived to present day. It seemed that even way back in the 50′s TV was being billed as a distractor and an insulator from the hard news of the day. And though Edward R. Murrow struck great success with his newshow that started the downfall of Sen. McCarthy, it didn’t stop him the downfall of said show. It seems that reporters and journalists have to fight like mad to get their stories to the public, and it’s a testament to the strength of democracy in the face of corporate silencing machines that some news, still manages to make it out to the public to this day.

GOOD NIGHT illustrates directly how a news team’s determination can expose a truth that needs to be for the good of a country. There are no tricks in Clooney’s directing and telling of this tale. The movie is a lean 93 minutes, and almost doesn’t feel like a movie at all. I think there was no score at all. Without that, it loses a lot of movie feel, but that is a credit to a film like this. Music is provided between scenes by a jazz singer recording in a nearby studio.

There are strong performances all around. Yet I feel that the almost clinical-ness of Clooney’s direction takes some of the bite out of this movie, as compared to SYRIANA’s more contemporary display of cynicism. Still, there is no denying the bite in the response Murrow makes to McCarthy’s public allegations against him. When that scene ends, you might hear “checkmate” in your mind.

And…people sure smoked a lot in the 50′s.

The Pink Cow [restaurant]

March 3, 2006

My first dinner at the Pink CowI had long heard about The Pink Cow, but only finally got around to checking it out tonight. I got just what I was expecting, a foreign-owned, hipster performance restaurant with plenty of vegetarian options. I wasn’t expecting it to be as smoke free as it was nor for it to have free wireless available to people the proprietor “likes.” I can’t state how great it is to find a mostly non-smoking, veggie friendly, hipster cafe close to my apartment with free wireless. How I never got around to go there earlier is beyond me. I’ll definitely become a regular customer.

There are at least 4 rooms, some submerged. It’s a very cozy place. I had an excellent mushroom stroganoff (pictured to the left) for dinner tonight. After that the Powerbook and I spent some quality time together, totally undisturbed because most of the time I was the only customer in the place!