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  1. While I was browsing the net the other day, I chanced upon a site that was hosting some sort of international short film festival. After looking at a couple of the titles, I discovered what appeared to be a Japanese romance movie. Now, my language ability isn't so hot, but I always like the opportunity to learn more about local culture so I figured I'd give it a shot. As my wife was still at work, it was up to me to understand as much of it as I could.

    The beginning was a little confusing, but I eventually started to understand the situation. However, just when it the film started to make sense to me, the video equipment developed some sort of glitch that obscured part of the screen. My monitor is pretty old, so I paused the film and checked the link on my tablet to try and ascertain the source of the problem. Whatever it was, it wasn't on my end; the tablet gave an identical result.

    Disappointed, I went back to the main menu and found another local production, but lo and behold, the same difficulty manifested itself a few minutes in. Since my devices were okay, I thought it might be a site issue, so I checked the next suggested film, which opened on a young Russian lady who was apparently daydreaming about finding a husband. Imagine her surprise when not one, not two, but three suitors called on her. At the same time! Now having to choose between paramours is a staple, I'm told, of romantic fiction and can serve as an important plot driver. However, this young lass was quite clever and the group arrived at a solution that, while somewhat unsanitary, left both her and her admirers quite happy. While some of the camera work was a trifle unsteady (I think one of the actors was doubling as a cameraman!), there was none of the glitching that had been present in the Japanese productions.

    I just think it's a pity that the Japanese entrants had so many problems with their video equipment. Japan is a country well-known for producing quality electronics, but even the best tools are useless in the hands of poorly-trained users. It's just kind of depressing to see my adoptive country perform so poorly on the international stage.
    John Calligan and Cave Troll like this.
  2. I'm watching a documentary on North Korea on National Geographic, and they're talking about the Sony Pictures hack. The guy (sorry, missed his name and credentials) on the screen says "That a tiny little country, a fourth-rate power, managed to bring down a movie studio is proof of their power outside their borders."

    That is...

    Fuck Americans. So fucking convinced of our superiority in all things that we're amazed that a sovereign nation could do damage to a fucking entertainment company? An entertainment company that was set to release a fourth-rate comedy that, oh, incidentally called for the assassination of their head of state?

    I'm no fan of North Korea or the Kims. My first adult job was trying to bring those people down, but goddamnit America, can you not realize the entitlement your project? Just for a moment?

    Prolly not.
    Moon and John-Wayne like this.
  3. Over on the "What are you cooking tonight?" thread, @Homer Potvin has been sharing his accumulated wisdom on restaurant costs and profits, which I find absolutely fascinating.

    No, really, I'm not being sarcastic.

    So I went out to tabe/nomihodai (an all you can eat, all you can drink restaurant) with a friend the other week. There were options from two to three hours, with last order coming thirty minutes before your time was up. Since the breakdown between two hours (90 minutes ordering) and three hours (two and a half hours ordering) was only about $4 each, we decided to go with the three hour option. Two people, three hours all you can eat, all you can drink alcohol, for 8400 yen (roughly $84 bucks, since we get paid in yen as well).

    This was an ideal venue to figure out the customer cost/benefit equation, since the restaurant offers ala carte as well as all you can eat, but the ala carte has a fixed price of 300 yen ($3) per item, so it's easy to figure out how much we would have spent had we not done the all you can eat.

    Japanese izakaya (the best translation is "pub", although there are differences) eating style isn't one where you order your meal, it comes, you eat it, and commence to drinking, it's more of a tapas type thing where you continuously order small food and drink until you lose consciousness or start a fight with a mirror.

    For simplicity's sake, I've divided things up into courses, as defined by one or both of us ordering another drink.

    Let's go, shall we?

    Tabehoudai Small.jpg

    If you're having trouble focusing on the pics, that's:

    9 mugs of beer
    1 chu-hai (alcopop)
    9 glasses of wine (the carafes are 90ml each, one glass of wine is 30ml)
    7 orders of sashimi
    1 order of fried chicken
    1 order of edamame (possibly two, it's automatic)
    1 Caesar salad
    1 sliced tomato salad
    1 ginger salad
    2 (miniscule) sirloin steaks
    3 orders of grilled shiitake
    1 small mixed pizza
    1 order of corn tempura
    1 order of sauteed shimeji mushrooms
    1 order of sauteed pork and onions
    1 order of chicken skewers
    3 slices of tiramisu
    2 mini parfaits
    3 pieces of strawberry cheesecake

    For a total of 49 items, at $3 each, or a tab that would be $147 which we paid $84 for.

    Not sure if the restaurant lost money on us or not that night, but I can't try much harder that I did.
  4. I remember one night when there was a minor earthquake. The train had pulled forward only a meter or two and was well within the ends of the platform when the safeties kicked in and stopped it.

    The doors stayed closed for forty minutes during evening rush hour before the driver got permission to back up that short distance and release his passengers to seek other means of transport.

    Luckily for me, I'd missed that train and there was a beer vending machine on the platform, so my buddies and I just got drunk and watched the windows of the carriages get foggier and foggier as the mass of sweating passengers overwhelmed the ventilation systems.

    Air Gradia 452 has arrived, please remain in your seat until the captain turns off the seatbelt sign.
  5. Just for old times' sake, mind you, I'm not in the market for this sort of thing.


    Old men, eyes hidden behind shades glance quickly up and down, spot the locally made clothes, but most importantly the backpack, not right, not their clientele, puffing quickly, disapprovingly on their smokes and it's back to the conversation but see that one? They do, cigarettes fall and are quickly crushed under cheap double monks, backs straighten, the guy, the guy with the tastelessly expensive suit, the big guy walks past without a sideways glance but the spot-check from corporate has just taken place or did you honestly think that all those little bars up on the third fourth seventh ninth floors, the “health massages” and soaplands, the girls who call out in Korean and Tag, or Japanese with the soft mushy consonants from the continent over the sea, were owned by, were in competition with each other? Oh no, they may come from across the sea, you know the one, the one whose name we can never agree on, but the one thing that everyone knows is true is that the people over there, he points towards the sun, is it rising or setting, Mr. Franklin? I don't know, my boy, but take my word on two things: First, all cats are gray at night, and second, those girls from over there where the sun sits low on the horizon? They aren't like the local girls, they've got more freedom, they'll do things that the good and proper young ladies from our homeland would never consider, not even for, well, let me work out the exchange rate. Licentious little bits of scrumptiousness, the accents and hues change, but the Beast is always the same, this I know. Know? you say, how do you know this, what kind of person are you, are you one of them, are you some sort of monster but did I ever tell you otherwise? Did I ever say I was a nice person, or did you make that decision on your own? Did you see me looking, did you notice and judge whether it was a casual interest or not, and how casual, or did you catch a gleam of intent, was it just a memory, or are you projecting? Again?

    Just stay outta the big guy's way, and let's go have a beer, this place ain't for us, not on our pay-scale at least.
    GrahamLewis likes this.