Searching For Arakawa Ride

November 14, 2007

The weather was just too beautiful to ignore today. Having zero afternoon lessons, upon returning from my morning lesson, I kicked off on the Trek in search of a land route via Tokyo Station to Arakawa River. I came up just short of laying eyes on the river.

…I first headed down Koshu Kaido to the Imperial Palace and my eyes felt great pleasure to coast by the moat and gaze upon the yellow leaves of the tall trees lining the descending circular road. … I had glanced at directions and a map before leaving my apartment, so I knew I needed to spin off the Imperial Palace at a tangent on its eastern side. I did this, and then somewhat blindly road on. I made a few prescient turns and found myself going through Jimbocho past my very favorite outdoor gear store in Japan and then on to Nishi-Nippori Station which I knew was along the correct way to Arakawa.

…I rode slowly through a graveyard in the midst of tree cover. I spied some kind of educational lecture being giving by one of the tombs, children riding bikes in the opposite direction to me, and some possible mourners dressed smartly in all black. I searched their faces for grief, and did not see any. Perhaps the person who passed had lived a full life and need not be mourned in the usual manner.

…After using instinct to navigate through Arakawa City, and finding another river, I sought confirmation of my instinct at a local koban (police box). They showed me a map and I was already on the right road and going in the right direction to make it directly to Arakawa. They told me it was still 3km ahead. Time was already growing late, so I aborted from that point, but knowing I could have found it was good enough for me this time.

…I had earlier come across Meiji Dori, and after backtracking my way to it, I rode it all the way home. It was the best 2-hours I’ve spent on a weekday afternoon in a long, long time.

THE BOURNE SUPREMACY [2004] review

November 12, 2007

THE BOURNE SUPREMACY did not hold up as well on its second viewing at THE BOURNE IDENTITY did last week. Still, it was a very good action movie, but I feel it was lacking the emotional drawing in of IDENTITY most likely due to the lack of a female lead in this movie. Also, having already known the shocking event in the opening of the movie, maybe that lessoned the second viewing for me.

…The actions scenes with Bourne using some incredible hand-to-hand combat skills are real and visceral in a way that no other action movies these days are. No gimmicks, no CD, no slow motion. Just fast hands moving in close quarters. I think that’s it for me, NO slow motion at all in this movie. It all happens in real time. … That means the movie has real content and that the fighting scenes were written and acted well enough to be seen and understood in real-time. I mostly feel the use of slow motion in a movie is a gimmick, a manipulation. Star Wars also doesn’t use any slow motion.

…The ending of SUPREMACY was also not as satisfying at IDENTITY. Even though we got to greatly understand the background of Bourne more, the emotional impact wasn’t that great. However, the scene with Bourne telling a young female character what really happened to her parents was great. Again, very real, not overly dramatic.

…I have no idea what the story of the film could possibly be. I can only guess it must be a totally new story, completely independent of the mythology of the first two films.

Hanado Dori Fast Friday Ride

November 10, 2007

Distance: 13.96 miles

Time in motion: 56 minutes 18 seconds

Average speed: 15.2 mph (a new record)

Max speed: 25.5 mph

As you can see by the stats, I finally found a road that has minimal lights allowing me to stay in motion and set a new record average speed. Rode for less than an hour and averaged a speed faster than the distance traveled in that hour. This is the first time this has happened. As always, I had no idea where I wanted to ride. My bike was out on the balcony by my front door, ready to be taken downstairs, but I stood inside my apartment hands on hips staring out my window thinking, “where?” It came to me to check out the street the Nissan rental car place is on. I’d ride that for as long as it went. Turns out it goes on for a good 5 miles and being a smaller road has less lights and more importantly no major intersections that have 2 to 3 minute red light eating lights. Most intersections, when they were decorated by red, I could roll through still. When Hanado Dori (might not be the actual name as I only glanced at the name of it once) ended I made a hard right and cruised down another road for about 2 miles very similar to it. Both roads were nicely tree lined making for a pleasant ride in the crisp air and bright sunlight, which I knew by afternoon would change to clouds and rain.

I will definitely ride this route again in the near future, perhaps going even further, or at the least trying to break a 15.5 mph average.

THE BOURNE IDENTITY [2002] review

November 8, 2007

This was my second viewing of THE BOURNE IDENTITY, having first seen it when it came out in 1992, and immediately liking it for it’s hardcore low-tech fighting, intimate and gritty car chase, and in general watching Matt Damon outwit and out kick ass everyone on screen. The movie held up very well on its second viewing. I found that I had forgotten much, even some twists in the story!

I wanted to re-watch BOURNE IDENTITY in preparation for the release (finally) of THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM in Japan. I’ll soon re-watch the second movie in this series as well.

I like the BOURNE IDENTITY for its lack of gimmicks and minimal reliance on high tech for the protagonist to accomplish hard as hell tasks. Damon and co-star Franka Potente pull off several schemes just using the knowledge from Damon’s intense CIA training and her natural spunk. I like movies that use various European locales as backdrops. The oldness of these places lends itself to the mystery of the story. You can feel the secrets those old cobblestone streets hold.

Likewise, the finale of the movie is not some super over the top action set piece, but rather a satisfying mix of action and plot reveal and resolution. This is a great action movie that I’m sure I’ll watch again in the future.

20th Anniversary Skimboarding Season: Final Session

November 3, 2007

A week delayed due to a typhoon, I closed my 20th Anniversary Skimboarding season the latest into November that I can remember. I had to don my wetsuit from the get go.

…As always I went to Chigasaki with much enthusiasm and believing conditions would be great, and as I am most of the times, I was let down by what I beheld. But first I walked one more time from my apartment to Shinjuku station, nay, strided, untouchable, thinking that for one more year, those bastards could not stop me. As always, they tried hard, but yet again one more year that could not stop me from walking with board under arm to the Sea. Fueled as always by Weezer’s first album and especially the song “Surf Wax America,” the best song about surfing not written by The Beach Boys, I blew into the station ready to make the hour’s train ride.

…After glancing over at the hole that was the former great restaurant Very, Very Strawberry, I saw the Sea unfold before me for the last time this year. It was calm. Not a single surfer anywhere up or down the coastline. And on the shore there was almost no flat to skim on. Yet, being the veteran skimmer I am, I worked the waves for what I could, and managed to get a decent, albeit “calm,” 1 hour and 20 minute session in. Not exactly the hardcore skimming I prefer or would have liked to of finished the season on, but it did end up feeling kind of appropriate. I gently glided across and over harmless waves, sometimes leaning back and just feeling my board carve into the smooth surface of the Sea. Skimboarding is, after all, an elegant sport, for a more civilized age.

…The sun sets at about 4:48pm at this time of year in Tokyo. And before the sun got too low in the sky, I made one last sprint along the shore, leapt upon my board, and glided back to the shore. I bade farewell by touch to the Sea, as is my custom, and thus ended my 20th skimboarding season, and my 5th summer skimboarding at Chigasaki beach.