Some cool photos of Tokyo by animator Tim Rudder.
Some cool photos of Tokyo by animator Tim Rudder.
As a little boy, I desperately begged my Dad to take me to Toys-R-Us to buy some transformers. I would nag, tug on his hand and attach myself to his leg...but he would always refuse - claiming we were too poor. So, I resorted to making my own transformer paper cutouts. It was actually an involved process. I would tape the tv show on our VCR (my parents used to be proud about how I mastered the VCR at an early age haha), sit right in front of the tv, pause the playback at certain frames and draw the robots as accurately as I could. You can say it was my first attempt at live figure drawing - except it involved robots on video. I would color the drawings and cut out the robots. Then I would re-enact the episodes with my paper cutouts for hours. Pretty creative for a kid huh? Those cutouts were all forgotten when my grandfather passed away and my father began spoiling me by buying the actual transformer toys. But to this day, I still remember the cutouts more fondly than the toys. Although, I wouldn't deny being nostalgic if I came across an old toy. I actually still have my favorite Soundwave transformer.
Some Japanese dubbed transformer commercials from back in the day. As an 80's kid, this takes me way back.
By the way, Michael Bay better not mess up this movie on July 4th.
I'm hooked on the Japanese physical competition show "Sasuke". It is currently shown in the U.S. on the G4 channel and predictably re-titled as "Ninja Warrior".
And at least the subtitles are fairly faithful to the original Japanese commentary unlike the trite and borderline offensive bastardization of "Takeshi's Castle", better known in the U.S. as MXC.
Another fun aspect is to watch all the crazy people who dare to compete. This pool of diverse competitors has included an assortment of Japanese comedians (who have no shot at winning), athletes (kickboxers, martial artists and even olympic champions from around the world), a drag queen and people in the craziest costumes. I usually end up rooting for the ordinary folk, especially the repeat performers who have failed in the past.
The challenges are truly difficult as only 2 competitors have successfully completed all 4 stages. One champion is Makoto Nagano - a commercial fisherman:
The NBA playoffs begin this weekend. I'll be happy to see the Suns make it to the finals for their pure entertainment value. Pistons look like the favorites in the East but I'm tired of them. My loyalty to MJ and the bulls remains today - I'll be pulling for the Baby Bulls.
Here's some Youtube nostalgia of some good basketball and some good TV coverage. NBA on NBC in the 90's.
Check out Magic, Larry and MJ on this classic intro. Props to John Tesh for the theme music.
These clips just remind me of why ABC's coverage of the NBA sucks.
Props to John Tesh for one of the best sports intro themes ever!
When news broke out about the Virginia Tech shootings, one of my wife's co-workers informed people that the shooter was "oriental". Now in the aftermath of the horrific killings and the subsequent profiling of Cho Seung-Hui, there have been numerous articles and discussions about a possible backlash against asians - immigrants and asian-americans. Many have cited the treatment of Middle-Easterners and Muslims after 9/11 as a prime example.
Surely, the shooter was a disturbed individual. Will there be discussions on the anger that seethes underneath the quiet asian? Or will Cho be merely portrayed as an anomaly to the model minority stereotype? There were interviews of shocked townfolk who describe their community as tightknit and that there were never problems like this before. Is this an indirect comment against immigrants and foreigners? Will Asian-Americans try in vain to separate themselves from Asian immigrants? To his credit, Governor Kaine disparaged anybody who would try to make a political crusade out of this massacre... denied the race angle and stated that the Asian students at VT were contributing members of the community. The NY Times reported that many Korean-Americans at VT left the campus or was picked up by their parents. Asians are so rarely focused upon by the media, that I can only be pensive about how it will play out.
On a recent Saturday drive into Philly, I found myself gripping the steering wheel and cursing any obstacle which delayed the impossible mission of finding an open parking spot. Damn this city needs more parking! I circled blocks and blocks for seemingly hours in defiance of overpriced parking garages - swerving around treacherous potholes, oblivious pedestrians, and farting SEPTA buses.
At this point, public transportation seemed romantic ... as nostalgia for my college days of assorted bus and subway rides rumbled through my senses. Driving in the city can be maddening. Driving a daily commute through the jersey suburbs can be as isolating as it is convenient. As I smile at a group of backpacked kids urgently disappearing down the subway stairs, I remember the youthful freedom of jumping on and off the train on random Saturdays and pounding the pavement in sync with the heartbeat of the city to explore different locales.
Then there was the C bus that ran up and down Broad St. As an avid people-watcher, I found this daily commute to be eternally ripe with an intriguing and diverse crop of characters. For me, it was reality TV before Reality TV. I switched my attention from person to person like I switch TV channels on the remote - imagining their background stories and their final destinations. Greeting the same people at the same time each day with our non-verbal acknowledgments became akin to seeing old friends. Funny thing is I probably wouldn't recognize these familiar faces outside of the bus or train. But even when rides became overcrowded and chaotic, I could always manage to close my eyes and find some solitude to meditate, reflect and process my thoughts. In other words, thoughts on girls, music and sports (I never claimed that I was a deep kid).
No, I'm not overlooking the piss-stained stairways and rat-infested tracks of the subway or the delayed pickups at the bus stops. I haven't forgotten the awkwardness of having strangers sleep on your shoulder or seeing guns getting pulled on late night rides or hearing my friend's story of the masterbating hobo...but I still smile when I remember these stories.
As I finally find my parking spot miles away from where I need to be, I find myself walking behind a kid who reminded me of myself back in the day. Just substitute the Discman for an iPod and the Nautica & Tommy Hill for L-R-G & a Bape-inspired hoodie. The kid spots a sneaker shop and disappears. I check my watch...and seeing that I'm already running late, I decide to dip in right after him to check out the kicks. What's a few more minutes of being young at heart?
The Roots - Push Up Ya Lighter
Isn't it sad when friendships go wrong? I'm not talking about situations where friends drift apart for whatever reason... but rather when friendships get killed on the spot. When amicable gets flipped into animosity. This type of situation happened between me and one of my better friends recently. And suprisingly (or maybe not suprisingly), this is the first time I've undergone this unpleasant experience in all my years.
I won't go into the sordid details but it involves a female friend. Now you might think that's complicated already...and I've come across various debates about the validity of platonic friendships with people of the opposite sex - but I happen to believe that its possible. You'd think this current mess would make me believe otherwise, but I've had many platonic female friends throughout my life and I still think that type of friendship can work between mature people. Maybe this belief stems from the feeling that I seem to be more comfortable around women...or that my first confidant was my sister, with whom I still feel a closeness.
But back to the story: We had been good friends for 7 years and I supported her through all sorts of situations - marital, family, work problems etc. A couple months ago, she had a crisis in her marriage which involved her husband's potential infidelity with a co-worker. She asked for space to sort things out and I respected it. Then she drops a bomb that I've been an issue in their marriage since the beginning. Which is funny since her husband befriended me (maybe now deviously in retrospect) in the last couple years. Anyway, the friendship got flipped when I became a scapegoat for their problems and labeled as an unhealthy influence. And now its officially killed as we are permanently incommunicado. Initially I was disappointed and lost faith in close friendships. But I've realized that I did nothing wrong and I can't be blamed for their lack of maturity and their apparent inability to handle their own problems. All in all, I'm relieved to be free of this whole mess.
Gnarls Barkley - Who Cares?
Just Blaze - You Just Don't Know (Instrum.)
Outkast - Liberation
Picked up a fresh pair of Air Jordan IV inspired Dunks. It has a nice bright white for the spring leather and mesh combo with cement pattern. I haven't rocked white kicks since last summer, so this is a nice way to bring in spring.
I also copped some new Nike Shox Remix running shoes. Can't wait to put some miles in those kicks. Nothing pushes me more to run than to break in a brand new pair of runners.
The saddest part of a vacation is the long journey home. Whenever I return from Japan, my spirit carries the generally good-natured and respectful vibe of the Japanese people and their fanatically polite customer service. Usually, this vibe is sledgehammered to bits as soon as I step onto the grounds of Newark Airport. Ahh, Newark. Brick City. Reality can't hit you harder anywhere else. Nothing tells you more concretely that you aint in Japan anymore than hearing a mother yelling and hitting their child on the airport shuttle bus while getting in the face of strangers and barking at them to mind their bidness. I can only whisper to myself, "Home sweet home." My wife has made the analogy at these moments that Japan is like a soft circle, while America is like a sharp jagged triangle (or polygon of your choice).
On this Vegas trip, reality's return was not as dramatic. There's no real culture shock in re-entering Jersey - unless you consider the excesses and decadent faux-stylings of an adult playground to be cultural. This time reality was grey, rainy and served at 35 degrees. Even after an arduous sequence of delays, cancellations and switched flights, I was still carrying Vegas with me on my journey home. My skin was still warm from the relentless sunshine of the 90 degree heat. My step still bounced with the fun loving attitude of the Strip. But playtime began to evaporate, as I stepped off the plane and walked through the terminal at O'Hare. A wintry chill jabbed my chest through my suddenly inadequate tshirt. I see people trudging along in thick coats and hats. I try to deny vacation's end, but the dark, rainy skies that surround our landing in Philadelphia only confirm reality's return. Its funny how weather can affect your mood...not to mention the crowds of grey clad business people checking their blackberries. I look down at my insanely colorful sneakers and decide to take one more day off.
Its been an all-around stressful month, so my trip to Vegas was the exact kind of getaway that I needed. Its the equivalent of pushing work aside and zoning out on an empty yet indulgingly entertaining reality show. The whirlwind of shopping, buffets, live shows and attractions were cheesy, excessive and superficial - but never dull. We watched 2 great shows - Cirque Du Soleil's "Ka" and "Spamalot". And then to top it off, we attended "The Price is Right - Live!" and I was actually called to "Come on Down!!" to contestant's row on the main stage in front of 1,000 people. It was a great experience that we'll remember forever haha. I felt like my grandmother was watching me from above. I didn't have the winning bid to participate in a game, but I got a cool t-shirt and a photo with the host and the "beauties".
Aside from all the craziness, I was really happy to spend time with my cousin. She is fun personified. Every moment was a runaway train of jokes, laughter and funny stories on ourselves and our families. I've never hung out with her this much (I've always been closer to her brother) but I was glad that we were able to share everything about our lives and feelings so candidly. We both realized that its nice to be around family since we are both fairly isolated in our respective places of residence. She's really made a nice life for herself and as her "kuya", I've never been more proud.
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- art admirer and mind traveler scrapbooking inspirations of all kinds
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