Beyond Toyosu Water Night Ride

September 28, 2007

Finally, a return to riding after a several week lay-off due to various reasons (weather, work, fate). Having falling into a trance listening to Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” some 13+ times since last night, I again listened to that song twice before heading out tonight. Up until the last minute I wasn’t sure where I would ride to, but ended up taking a route I first learned about upon seeing a map of a huge route a student had road as part of some Tokyo cycling event a few weeks ago. It took me a familiar way first, down Koshu Kaido to the Imperial Palace where I made a tangent off the east side of Tokyo station that brought me, surprisingly, immediately through the heart of Ginza. This was a large multiple lane road and seeing a sign that said “Toyosu” and “Harumi” straight ahead, that jogged my memory as the direction I should be going to make it to my goal of crossing over parts of Tokyo Bay.

…After getting through Ginza the road was largely free of traffic and nice and wide for riding pleasantly down, though I was grinding as hard as I could, propelled onward by many things. Then not long I saw a bridge ahead, just a medium sized one, but I was excited to cross it under it’s switching overhead supports. Then shortly after that a very large bridge loomed ahead, here the road was virtually empty, so I felt safe to ride on the car lanes on the bridge itself rather than riding up the generous pedestrian sidewalk. … It was well-paved, so I rolled up it smoothly and nearly silently, and behold! … And more landmarks were to be seen from there, including Tokyo Tower, and the large ferris wheel out near Odaiba. And then there was the dark water of the bay itself.

…I continued a few minutes over the bridge, but I had already ridden the amount of time I set out to, and things looked a little desolate ahead, so I turned around and road up the east span of the bridge, stopping on the apex of the bridge in a small outcropping made especially for people to take in the view. … The bridge was not that high, and it was hard to estimate its height in the mysterious darkness, but looking down straight into the dark water, I felt it calling to me, making me believe the drop was only some 20 feet, and why not jump in? … I had to pull myself from the edge, for I even felt a bit of vertigo, which I never do, having gazed unblinkingly into the abyss of the Grand Canyon before (sans guard rail).

…I left abruptly, and made much better time on the return ride home than I did getting to that unknown spot. Other things of note from this ride was the impressive presence the new Peninsula Hotel has in Marunouchi poised on its corner. … Another thing is that there are a lot of taxis in Ginza at 11:30pm!

VANISHING POINT [1971] review

September 20, 2007

VANISHING POINT is truly an American movie, and truly an American movie from the 1970′s. This movie consists of four main elements: a powerful 1970 Dodge Challenger, a man of singular purpose, the creation of folklore, and Freedom. This is one of those kinds of movies that you think to yourself, “no way in hell could a movie like this ever get made today.” Imagine a movie free of gimmicks, of product placement (unless you count Dodge), of jackass dialogue, then one can begin to get the world VANISHING POINT exists in.

…As we get to slowly know Kowalski through a series of brief flashbacks, we learn that the man we’ve been driving along with at breakneck speed for most of the movie has a past consisting of achievement, but let down, pursuit of glory, but never quite reaching it, and perhaps most importantly, the loss of hope. Hence his job of running cars from Colorado to California is quite fitting, and when he takes charge of delivering a truly classic American muscle car, the stage of the movie is set, and the viewer doesn’t even realize perhaps until the very final scene what kind of journey we were actually on.

…For someone who loves cars like I do, I could just listen to the sound of that massive V-8 engine vroom across the screen and be content. The way Kowalski drives it is a thing of beauty. He drives it like a Man would. … There is just no better setting for a car movie, a road movie, a movie about Freedom than the American West. A single two-lane road stretching into infinity into mountains, into desert, into the setting sun, to me there is no great symbol of Freedom and infinite possibility. Imagine roaring down such a road at 160mph with nothing and no one being able to touch you. That is the journey VANISHING POINT takes its viewers on.

***SPOILERS FOR THE FINAL SCENE***

…It took me a day to digest the meaning of it and to understand it. Kowalski went out with a smile on his face, having never compromised in his life, he went out on his own terms, at a moment of purest Freedom with his final sight being that of the West, of the rising sun. I could only ever hope to pass from this world myself in such an ideal moment.

20th Anniversary Skimboarding Season: Sessions #08 & #09

September 15, 2007

This is quite a coincidence. The two trips I took to Shimoda, Izu in 2007 were on the exact same dates I took two trips to Shimoda, Izu on in 2006. I guess as the 2006 trips were based on holidays, it’s not such a coincidence that I ended up going on the exact same holidays in 2007.

Anyway, session #08 was a great one as most sessions are in Shimoda. It was late afternoon and the waves were rolling in nice and big and the sand as always was nicely packed and golden. Lots of big wave skimming to be had, with of course the usual amount of people getting in the way, but nothing too annoying. I skimmed hard for over an hour, producing some nice floaters mostly. I was surprised to find out I was on the water for that long, which is a good thing.

Session #09 on the morning of the next day was plagued with people constantly in my way. It was bordering on ludicrous actually. Of course I had a spot all to myself, and well established. I wasn’t barging in on anyone. As always, people barged in on me when there was ample space everywhere else on the beach. This was very unfortunate as the waves were pretty good. It was a frustrating nearly hour and a half session. Not a good way for my last Shimoda session of the year to end.

X-MEN: THE LAST STAND [2006] review

September 13, 2007

Wow, this movie did NOT need to be made. At all. X-MEN: THE LAST STAND is just a disaster and totally turned me off due to its extreme violence and just plain malice and constant murder scenes. Then the script itself was murdered by the writer. I felt embarrassed for Ian McKellen to speak the lines he had too. Any script that has a huge musclebound bully calling a brave, but small teenage girl a “bitch” is just malice that doesn’t need to be made. I am writing this review over one week after seeing this movie, and I am trying to recall if there was even a single moment that made me feel the power of the X-Men…. I can’t recall a single event.

Every time Halle Berry as Storm walked on the screen it was just laughable. New characters were introduced very weakly and not developed at all. In the last stand why does it seem like there are only two real X-Men? Where are all the rest? This movie was just a disaster, but still not as bad as SUPERMAN RETURNS was. I really only watched X-MENT: THE LAST STAND because I wanted to complete the series, but if you find yourself in the same boat, I think it is better to just think the series ended after the second movie, don’t spoil it with this wasted third movie.

20th Anniversary Skimboarding Season: Session #07

September 8, 2007

I totally didn’t consider what condition the beach would be in just days after a typhoon had hit Tokyo. The typhoon wasn’t strong enough to cause serious damage to buildings, but it did cause the Tama River to overflow and some damage as I soon saw to coastal areas. I first realized things were wrong as I walked along the cliffside sidewalk to the area of Chigasaki I skim on. … Of course I ignored the ropes as I saw no apparent problem and didn’t want to go out of my way. Then up ahead I saw huge chunks of concrete split and cracked. … Then I did have to go out to the street and circumnavigate the damaged area to reach the beach proper.

…Then I beheld the beach, and it was a wasteland. … I should have just turned around and went back home, but the wave conditions were decent. I saw some Aussie surfer I had seen before on my way in (he was just riding by on his bike) and he said the water was filthy and he wouldn’t go in it, though a handful of surfers were out braving it. … So as I stepped over and around a motorcycle helmet, cans of every kind, plastic bottles of every kind, and even the top of a toilet, it still didn’t occur to me that this could actually be dangerous for me to skim on.

…Then boom, while running on an approach to a wave, felt a pain in my left foot, like an imbecile I kept running another few steps, but then the pain became too great and I just dropped my skimboard and fell down to get off my foot asap. A small piece of bamboo about 5cm long and 1cm wide was stuck in my left foot in the area just under my 4th toe. … The sharp tip was covered in my blood and there was a good sized hole under my toe. For some reason, however, it hardly bled, which I was thankful for. A kindly ojisan asked me if I was alright, and wanting to be brave, I of course said I was even though I was really starting to feel squeamish.

So now I had a hole in my foot and the next big Izu skimboarding trip coming up next weekend. Have to do a lot of healing in a week’s time.

DEATH PROOF [2007] review

September 2, 2007

Japan doesn’t get the full GRINDHOUSE. For now, all we have is DEATH PROOF, which is actually fine with me as it’s the film from the double-feature that I had interest in seeing. I thought I had heard some spoilers about this movie, but they were wrong, which kept the film suspenseful for me. DEATH PROOF is meant to be the second half of a double-feature, but it itself is almost like a double-feature, as the first half of the film and the second half mostly contain a whole different set of characters. … I found the second half to be much more enjoyable. The single release of DEATH PROOF has some 23 minutes added to it, and I think those were probably mostly unnecessary dialogue and bar scenes from the first half of the film. As with any Quentin Tarantino film a certain verbosity is to be expected and more often than not can be pleasant, but the characters in the first half didn’t have quite the charisma and flair of the movie’s second half set of characters. Right from the get go, you wanted to hangout with these girls. They all seemed to pop or compliment each other. The fact that they drove a classic yellow Mustang, my guess would be a 1972, helped me like them as well.

…Of course this entire movie is a kind of gimmick, and is also filled with gimmicks that make for it to be a movie that should be most definitely seen with friends. I saw it with two friends, though one didn’t have a seat near us. We were definitely having the loudest reactions to the film of anyone in the theater, although I would sometimes hear the foreigner seated to my left and in front of me. I laughed out loud often, especially in the second half. … will no doubt be a line repeated by myself many, many times in the immediate future. The car chase in the second half, although illogical (one of them could have easily stopped at any point and negated all danger), was quite thrilling.

…All in all DEATH PROOF is a fun, participation movie, so be sure to see it with friends.

Random afternoon ride to Ebisu station

September 2, 2007

Distance: 11.55 miles

Time in motion: 51 minutes 56 seconds

Average speed: 13.3 mph

Max speed: 31.3 mph (a new record)

I wasn’t feeling particularly motivated to go out for a ride, but I didn’t want to sit in my apartment all day either. So I mounted my Trek 7.3 FX and set out thinking I would just ride far down Meji Dori. That plan quickly changed en route to go back and do the Yamate Dori ride I had done a few weeks before. Well, I turned off Koshu Kaido too soon and wound up riding through Yamate Dori. I was going to turn right around get on Yamate Dori as planned, but as I glanced over my shoulder I noticed another cyclist moving fast behind me, so being possessed of a certain amount of pride, I kept on pushing down the street I was on determined not to get overtaken.

In doing so I came across a small oban procession. Even with this delay the other rider was far behind as I then saw that he was on a mountain bike. The road was taking me past Yoyogi-Uehara station and after that it didn’t look too pleasant and having established my lead, I then turned around and rolled onto the intended Yamate Dori. From there I took a slightly different route back which brought me all the way to Ebisu station for the first time, but as always ended up on Meiji Dori taking me past Shibuya station en route back to Shinjuku. I’ve got to find another street as Meiji Dori is too cramped and the pavement sucks as there is construction everywhere on the street itself.

Coincidentally, I had the exact same average speed (13.3mph) the last time I rode on Yamate Dori! This time I also set a new max speed record. It was set while powering on a straightaway after coming down a small descent and was kind of done on purpose.