Monday, December 24, 2007

Tea Related Mystery

This has been bugging me for a few days now, as I've noticed that a cup of tea made in England will still be almost too hot to drink after its been sitting there for ten minutes, whereas the same tea made in the same cup in Tokyo will be lukewarm in half that time. The only explanation I can come up with is that water in England is harder and perhaps that causes it to either have a higher boiling point or allow it to retain heat for longer periods of time. I appreciate though that this may be twoddle. Any amateur scientists out there able to help?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Asian-American Persecution Complex

What is it about a good chunk of Asian-Americans that makes them think the whole western world is out to get them, and that any depiction of Asian culture presented by non-Asian people is inherently racist? Why, even The Japanese Tradition: Sushi came under attack for being anti-Japanese propaganda, despite it being written and produced entirely in Japan by Japanese people for a Japanese audience.

Why should I suddenly bring this up? I was just reading this review in the Guardian by Kiku Day (pictured right shoving a stick into her mouth) from a few years back about the film Lost in Translation (it was on Wowow a few nights back) going on and on about it showing a total disrespect bordering on hatred of every aspect of modern Japan while mocking its inhabitants, but with the exception of this one scene we all know about that should have been left on the cutting room floor where it belonged (yes, that scene), I saw nothing but a very accurate picture of modern Tokyo, and modern Tokyo people getting on with whatever it is they do for a living. Why does this writer have such a chip on his/her shoulder I thought. Then I got to the fourth paragraph... "The Japanese half of me is disturbed; the American half is too." and it all fell into place, for this is a tune I've heard many a time before.

Although the unfamiliarity of the milieux and the indecipherability of the language used as a metaphor for the protagonists' sense of alienation is not the most respectful thing you could do to a culture and people in general (and totally lost on me, as the milieux is my life, and I could understand the language perfectly), I would address some of the accusations as follows:

  1. Bill Murray is a tall man, noticeably taller than the average Japanese. If he was in a lift with a bunch of Tokyoites, that is what it would look like. In general, Japanese do not have a complex about this, and why should they (more specifically, why does the writer think they should? Is this not in itself racist?) The scene was clearly to emphasise how uncomfortable Bill Murray's character felt, and how much he felt he stood out on arrival.

  2. The shower. Showers are like that, even in top class hotels. The shower in my house has two rungs it can be hung on, and the top one is at about 173 centimeters from the ground, which is sufficient for an average height local. Bill Murray is very tall. The scene was there to show how uncomfortable Bill Murray's character felt.

  3. Dignity of Japanese characters. This is a non-issue. With the exception of Mrs Lip (yes, that scene), everybody looked pretty normal to me. I've met directors and photographers who talk like the ones they portrayed, and the rather effeminate TV presenter is a real TV show that ironically is mocking the English. I've seen some pretty awful interpreters too, who half the time are just somebody on the staff that's done a bit of eikaiwa.

  4. Lack of fleshed out Japanese characters. This is kind of the point. If they had properly fleshed out Japanese characters, the two western protagonists would not feel such a sense of isolation. This isn't actually a documentary about Japan...

And this isn't just some white supremacist's opinion. Ask pretty much any native of Japan that's seen it if they thought it was racist (except for that scene) and they'll just look at you with question marks.

I have seen this kind of criticism so often that I seriously have to ask why. Is it fun?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

At Least 30% of Wii Users should have Stayed in the Womb. FACT!!

This, of course, is only an estimate, as it doesn't account for those too stupid to have worked out how to install and start up the Check Mii Out channel. To-date, every contest in which you have to create and submit a "Mii" character based around a specified theme (e.g. Mario without his hat), when it comes to judging and you're presented with as many random samples of 10 submitted Miis as you like from which to pick winners, at least 3 from each sample will be so far removed from the specified theme that it can only indicate that a minimum of 30% of Wii users are either complete idiots, illiterate, suffering from some kind of multiple personality disorder, wet the bed, put shandy in their hamster's water bottle, enjoyed "Epic Movie" and "Superman Returns", or some ungodly combination of the above. Dark have been my dreams of late.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Debito the Mischievous Stealth Provocateur

Well folks, let's take a look and see what mischief friend, activist, and fellow citizen Debito has been up to this week.

(Click to enlarge)

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