Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Votes Are In

So I went to a Summer festival a month ago, and managed to take a few pictures with a 35mm camera.  As you might expect there were duffers, but I think a fair number turned out alright.  Tell me what you think.

Don't ask what that powder is.

Of course it's been long established that no one likes black and white photographs, but I can't stop myself.  I really like them!

If these pictures were in colour you'd notice the kids drab clothes, but they're not so you don't.  These guys wouldn't stop staring at me (it was a really rural festival so I doubt they've seen many whiteys) so I decided to take a picture.  Unfortunately their mum made them do the 2 finger peace thing which is a shame because that universally ruins every photograph ever.

This dude was chillin' because it was rather hot.  I can imagine it being way worse at the top there, not being allowed to come down.

This festival appears to be about drinking a lot of alcohol then pushing bloody great one ton carts around town.  When they need to turn the thing they need to up and drag it around in a circle.  They have wooden wheels and no steering, so you end up with great pictures like this one.

There are tons of lamps around the place even during the day.  I think it's because they look cool.

Each shrine has a procession accompanying it, including the town old boys who chill out and drink at the back.

Each shrine has different patterns and designs, often but not always involving dragons.

This is my favourite photograph from the festival, and one of my favourites ever.  I wish I was as cool as him.

At night they take the shrines to a local town (pushed all the way of course) and spin it on the spot a dozen times.  It's hard work, especially after hefting the damn things around for 2 days.  After spinning they push them all the way back home.

This is one of the carts with nighttime adornments.  That's where all the lamps go when they're not being carried by hand.

On a different note, this is a duck.

This is another one of my all-time favourite photographs ever.  You'll have to guess where it was taken.  Two internet points if you get it right.  It's very orange but after colour correcting it didn't quite look right, so I put it back this way.  For some reason the colour is intrinsic to the feel of the image, kind of nostalgic perhaps?

Anyway, I went to another festival today but didn't have much time to take pictures so I probably didn't get anything worth uploading.  If, by some miracle they're not all blurred messes I'll put them up sometime in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Another Video

So I had a lot of video from the Roppongi festival (the one populated with rude people) so I made another thingamajig.

I came to the realisation a while ago that I need a good microphone, a tripod and more lenses, but I've also found out that I need another few people with cameras and tripods and whatnot, to take footage of their own so I can smoosh it all together into these fun little videos.  One day when I'm a millionaire!

Anyway, enjoy!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015


So Roppongi is famous for being a really expensive shopping district that happens to hold a festival once a year.

You can really tell there's a lot of money in this area, everything is landscaped and pretty and there are even some green spaces to sit on, which is something you're not usually allowed to do in these densely urban areas.

The festival was pretty cool, but the people were terrible.  The thing you can usually count on in Japan is courtesy, but that was a commodity in short supply here.  I was surprised at how many people were being jerks for no real reason, pushing and jostling, cutting into lines, pushing in front of people to watch events like the one below:

Having spent a short amount of time with the public in a serving capacity the reason seems pretty clear to me, with the entitlement of money oozing from every dickhead in the crowd.  It was that or a weird cologne.

Having said that, it was pretty funny watching a dude in a brand new ferrari being stopped at a crossroad.  The other three ferrari's didn't even wait.  He was angry.

Anyway, on a positive note, the performances were quite good when it was possible to see anything, and the music was cool.  It's definitely worth checking out if you don't have much time in Japan, but keep in mind it's tiny and rather simple.  A lower tier festival, C+.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Interstellar Gravity

This is being written on a phone so the Formatting won't allow me to see what I'm typing.  This will probably end horribly garbled but I might just leave it that way, forever a sign of how far we still have to go in terms of phone UI design.

Anyway, I watched 2 movies today, Interstellar and Gravity.

Both are surprisingly good films in their own way, but both suffered from not knowing how to end.  Either film could win worst ending oscar, should that become an award in the future.

So I watched Interstellar first, but let's start with Gravity.

From the way it is filmed I guessed it was a late 3D offering and upon post viewing research I was right.  There are a lot of shots of things flying towards the camera and objects careening past in the foreground, middle and background.  Every 3D film ever made has the same effects, and it's this chronic lack of imagination that caused the doom of 3D cinema.  Anyway, I remember the effects being heralded as revolutionary back when this came out.

They are.  But only in one sense.  For the past decade and a half filmmakers have been obsessed with Blair Witch style shaky cam, the vomit inducing action camera that's supposed to mimic the action of a real head reacting to the scene in front of him, or at the very least a camera down in the dirt where the real stuff is happening.

It's a stupid premise that doesn't work and always requires an even greater effort of suspension of disbelief because the accompanying motions aren't there (shaking seat, craning neck etc) and the screen isn't all encompassing, so only a part of your vision is experiencing the effect.  It is always stupid nd very rarely works.

Stop it.  Directors, stop it.

Anyway, this is an action film with very little shaky cam.  Maybe the tides are turning?  I fear it's just the space setting as there are dozens of shots where the view is as it would be were the viewer the actor (sandra bullock?  She looked familiar).

Also there is a warning at the beginning that sound does not travel in space which is so pathetic and. pandering it was almost a deal breaker.  I nearly turned it off at this point.  I wonder if my version was just the american releasd and all non-american versions did away with that part.

The galling, fucking ridiculous part was that after 5 minutes the debris i space WAS MAKING NOISE AS IT WHIPPED PAST.

For fucks sake the director is an idiot.

Also, 95pc of the film is CG, from the stations to the actors bodids whenever they're suited up.  After only 2 years it already looks bad.  One of the indoor scenes looked like they lifted it out of a demo for unreal engine 4.

The negatives aside , and don't get me wrong, those negatives are glaring whwn I write them down, it's still a good film worth watching.  The actors do their jobs, the pacing keeps motivation up and its incredible brevity mean nothing outstays any welcomes.  You can turn it off 10 minutes before the finish, end on a cliffhanger and actully give yourself a better overall experience.  When they remember their ow in universe rules the sound is superb, the visuals of earth as seen from space gave me the chills I get from NASA pictures and there are several scenes where insignificance comes into play like no other film.

Interstellar is a completely different fish.  It's a much better film and almost competes as a spectacle too.  The problems come when you look at the chronic lack of science that went into this thing.  And the ending.  For Christs sake the ending.

When you talk about a future where Earth is no longer habitable it's always somehow man-caused volcanoes or man-made ice ages but this film steers clear of that by suggesting massive desertification of the american corn belt, and by extension the food producing regions of the world.  Okay movie maker man, one point there because that's something that's demonstrably happening now.

They also cite virulent blights, presumably from intensive single strain farming.  Fine, disease is a constant threat in modern literature.

Then they describe all the major crops simply ceasing to grow.  Erm.

Okay?  If this is what gets us into space then fine.

But then over the course of 2 further hours and several tangents the dxplanations start rolling in.

And then minus 90 million billion minus points.  No.  Black holes do not work like that.  Fine, if you want a convenient device for doing things then have a hole in space, just don't invoke black hole.  Call it something else.  Anything else.  By the ending my brain was bleeding out of my ears from the stupidity.

Look, I get it.  This isn't actually a sciemce fiction film.  I understand that it's just a meditation on family, how relationships change awgrowes older and our responsibilities shaping who we are and become - but if that's your thinly veiled premise then don't dress something up in the realm of science when it's actually mysticism. When you have a population that needs reminding that there is no air in space then I wonder how much the science matters in the first place.  Make it batshit crazy with giant robots, or keep a grounding in reality.  This half and half, increasingly ridiculous universe is so contrived it's painful.

That aside, some surprisingly well acted child characters top off a great cast.  It's a top notch production in that regard.

The sound is superb.  The soundtrack is also excellent.

The effects are good, the space scenes echo gravity in a way that makes me think the director liked it.  There's a new bar for representing space, these films are currently top notch in that regard.

The secret show stealers are the robots.  They're horribly designed in a modern take on the old immobile droids from years past (think r2, or c3po, or even the daleks) but they have so much personality.  The human ability to ascribe meaning and emotion to objects is incredible, and the form of these guys plays into that brilliantly.  They are menacing, endearing, bold and subtle all at once.  And horribly ill conceived for actual spaceflight.

I love it when a director tinkers with expectations, and these droids provide all kinds of tension throughout.

The ending is inexcusable.  From the fake spiritualism (why change tone fully 5/6ths of the way in?) to the ridiculous and sappy ending.  Pathetic.

The symbolism of him forging his own path in the face of familial responsibilities, and him rediscovering himself and his meaning is cool I guess?

No, that's a lie .  The final 20 minutes or so are some of the worst in cinematic history.  The gulf between highs and lows are so monumental it boggles the mind to think that anyone let the final scenes out of the door.

Despite that I still recommend it.  Both of them in fact.  Go watch them!

My whole body hurts from typing this out on a phone.  I dare not go back and read it all.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Disappointing Haul

Got the film back, not very many good pictures.

They were all too dark which isn't surprising considering the people pictures I took were at a late hour, but most disappointing were the fireworks pictures.  None of them turned out particularly well.  At least I know to do something like this all digital in the future.

Anyway, here are the ones I could salvage.

This is obviously too dark.  If I had some kind of flash, or a helper holding a reflector, maybe that would have helped.  It's a shame because the colours of their outfits were quite nice, hence the desire to take a picture in the first place.  Lesson learned!

The smoke in the foreground is alright, it takes up a little too much of the frame though.

Probably the best one of the analogue pictures, a nice gradation from top to the middle, fading towards black at the bottom.

All I need now is a nice scanner and a really nice printer, and then I can start getting high quality copies done!  No need for crappy jpg's on a DVD with that gear.

You can watch the highlights reel here, or see the digital pictures (which I much prefer on this occasion) here.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

More Fireworks

So while I was out taking photographs on my gangster cardboard bipod I also took a few videos.

You can watch the short version here:

The sound is pretty bad, but needless to say they were bloody loud.  Especially the ending.  Wow.

If you haven't seen the stills from this event, check them out here:

Monday, 3 August 2015

Goddamnit, and Incredible Fireworks

So the Edogawa fireworks display is really big.  I don't know if it's the biggest in Japan, or whether it has any particular accolades in terms of size or variety, but just shy of a million and a half people view it yearly.  As such, it's a pretty big deal, and a large number of fireworks are thrown into the air for the occasion.

This year I wasn't in England and I had some time off from rugby so I decided to go along.

It's worth remembering that the Summer here is particularly warm, with the humidity also being a factor.

The result is that it gets unbearably hot during midday.

In order to secure a good spot to see the show it was necessary to go relatively early.  It began at 7.15, so we decided to head down around two o' clock, throw down a tarpaulin and sit under an umbrella.

Firstly, the place wasn't nearly as crowded as I was lead to believe it would be at this time.  With two people you could probably arrive around four thirty or five and still find space to sit down.  Whether it's always this easy is up for debate, but on the Chiba half of the river (the show is half paid for by the tokyo side of the river, and half by the chiba side) seating is a fairly simple affair.

The umbrella wasn't see-through, it was entirely opaque.  I still got burnt.  I have no idea how, but it happened.  It also wasn't big enough for my whole body (I need to get a fishing umbrella!) so I draped towels over my legs, making a kind of lean-to against the umbrella.

Long story short, it was hot.  It was too hot.  I do not recommend going before four P.M. for the simple fact that you will melt.  It was the hottest I have ever been while not playing sports, and it felt like I was going to die.  It was horrible.  Really, soul crushingly horrible.

As a caveat I'm the kind of person that would rather be too cold than too hot, so maybe it was just me.  There were a few intrepid locals sitting out in the sun, covered with only T-shirts, drinking beer.  Insane.  They weren't even sunburnt by the end of the day.  They must be made of radiators and zinc oxide.

Anyway, aside from nearly dying, I also fashioned a makeshift tripod.  Basically, there's no way to shoot long exposures without something to balance the camera on, that's why we have tripods.

None of my photographs are very good when you stop and look at them, but they hold up to a cursory glance for reasons that I'll explain later - but even getting these results took a bit of crafting.

I cut a slot into one big cardboard box and put a smaller one inside it at an angle, giving a fairly stable triangle.  I then taped it, cut wedges into the top, put towels over them and finally plopped the cameras on top.  It's good enough for video, the wobble is barely perceptible there, but for stills it's an entirely different story.

Before I get to the pictures, this boat sailed straight into this clearly marked area ignoring the obvious hazard, got caught up in some kind of net (dozens of fish made a bid for freedom when the propeller snagged) and burnt out their engine.  Seconds after this picture a big puff of black smoke emitted from the rear and lots of shouting happened.  I flitted between wanting to die from heat stroke and laughing at these idiots being hauled out of the net by a couple of other boats.  The women on the front did not move one iota the whole time.

When you're on the water, look out for buoys, people.

Anyway, onto the pictures.

It was a pretty day.  After my near death exposure experience there was a nice sunset.

There are only two pictures in landscape today, I learned something pretty quickly about which orientation suits fireworks the best.  Especially individual fireworks.

This is an odd one in that it's the only 100mm+ picture that wasn't a total mess.  Obviously the more zoomed in you are the more stable the platform needs to be, but I didn't realise quite how stable.  Cardboard doesn't cut it most of the time.

This is the other landscape.  It's also the only picture with more than one firework going off in the same frame.  If I had a tripod I could have taken a dozen pictures and overlayed them which can give a cool look with lots of simultaneous colours.

If you don't like this style of picture you can probably close the page now.

This is one of my favourites because it looks like a UFO.

This is another one of my favourites because it looks like a flower.

There was a lot of smoke in the air after only a few volleys which meant pictures often came out with the smoke effects you see here.  The top left of the flower at around 11 o' clock is hazy, residue from a past explosion.  There are also artifacts from reflected light lower down.  I could erase them but it's not really a true image then.

Not that 'true,' means anything in this digital age.

This is a bit earlier or later than the others, it shows the orange afterglow or initial explosion rather than the colours.

This is probably my favourite, just because of the mix of colours and the layers, central bright with a petal texture looking outwards.  Just like a flower.

 So if you enlarge any of these pictures and look at the lines of light, you'll notice that they wobble, they're not perfectly straight.  This is where a good base come in handy, it stops that tiny amount of shake and keeps every line looking pristine.  Or at least as it would look in real life.

I don't really like the colour of this one, but it's nice to have context in the form of some housing in the distance below.

The same with this one, the colours are bad but at least there is a wonky horizon, so the firework has a little more context.

 This is another of my favourites, it's super blurred (artistic effect, if anyone asks) but it's a nice colour.  If only all the pieces would come together every time!

 I like the colours here, I like how the horizon is almost straight, and I like the light pollution coming from the city.  It just doesn't grab me for some reason.  Taking 'dem pictures is hard.

This isn't a sharp picture, nor does it have interesting colours, but it's probably my favourite.  Have I already said that?  Either way, I'll probably make it my phone background at some point.

This last one I've chopped up to make it look like some strange sea creature.  Or a bizarre cell.  Or an artists rendition of a crazy quantum experiment.  Or one of those plasma balls.

I would also mention that the wind was in our faces, meaning we were absolutely pelted with the detritus from the explosions.  We were covered in soot, charred paper and big lumps of cardboard by the end of it.  It might be worth bringing something with a peak to cover your eyes, even if only a marginal improvement over your hands.  It definitely added excitement to proceedings because it's pitch black directly in front of you and it's hard to see when you're about to be clocked upside the head.

Hopefully some of that will show through in the video.

That's it.  I got quite a few shots I like, and one or two that will go into the 'keepers,' collection, which is a rare thing indeed for a single outing (for me at least)!

I also shot some video, it's taking a while to edit but I'll put it up here when it's done.

Oh, and some film too.  That'll be done in a month or so.  Exciting.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

The One Man Bicycle Band

So a few years ago, when I came to Japan for the first time, I recorded a video of a man who rode around on his bicycle performing a solo concert.  He made a lot of the equipment himself, customising it so that it fits onto his bike.

This is the original video:

I saw him again recently!  Doing the same thing in the same park, still as energetic as he was before.

I made a video:

Unfortunately the cicadas are incredibly loud and I was using the microphone built into the camera, not something conducive to good sound quality but until I become a millionaire, it'll have to do!

Monday, 13 July 2015

The Grimmest Brothers

Story time:

I was tasked with writing up a speech for one of my students to recite during an upcoming speech contest.  Unlike other competitions I've been involved in, this one is purely a recital, the students don't need to write anything; which means I have to write everything.

I found a book of tales from the library and asked the student which tale they liked the best, they responded with the elves and so I edited the story, turning it into a two minute speech.  It's a terrible edit primarily because it's so heavy handed.  There's not a lot you can do when the original text is four or more minutes long, except slash great swathes and hope no one notices.

I also tried to change as few words as possible, but it was necessary in several spots, which sound incredibly rough to my ears when I listen back to it.  The recording is entirely for research purposes, I needed to check to see whether it came in under the time limit, and to see if it sounded strange when spoken aloud.  There are a few times when I sound drunk, right at the beginning for example I say cut out like I've never seen a 't,' before.

Anyway, we'll see if the student likes it, I might end up making an entirely new story!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

More S.P.A.M. Please

So no one has figured out how to stop spam.  This is self evident if you've ever tried using an e-mail address, but it's also readily apparent when you look through the comments of a personal blog.

In this case I receive few enough comments that I can simply accept them manually, sifting through the spam and hatemail (surprisingly rare, considering this is the internet) to accept the comments that a human probably wrote; the rest is relegated to digital oblivion.  I try not to delete the stupid comments from faceless members of the chinese propoganda ministry (yes, that's actually happened) whose sole job is to trawl the internet for blogs like this one and counter any point raised about china, but it can be hard to let the counter points filter through.  The hope is that these comments are self evidently beyond a joke - but if you read more than a handful of comments in your lifetime you will see that people are fucking stupid.

For example.  Or how about this.  Or this.  One of those is definitely real, the other two are extrapolations, the end result of the actual stupidity in the human race, taken to logical ends.  Whether all of them are real or not, in my books they're all winners.


Anyway, the reason I bring up spam and stupidity on the internet is because the war for our eyeballs is evidently hotting up.  My e-mail inbox has been filling at an increasing rate, and this humble blog (with a sum total f'all readership) has started creaking under the weight of comments waiting to be approved.

Comments like:

This way if you are a family person, you get to allocate more time to your loved ones,
especially if you are a parent. Most would obviously avoid
real estate investment prospects like a bubonic plague. This is because people want to know they can trust the person that is in charge
of helping them to close the biggest financial deal of their lives.

Feel free to surf to my website; Eco pret 0

Or like this:


While the festival and its artists may be curated by
ICP and Psychopathic Records, both parties are selfless enough to not make the
Gathering exclusive to Psychopathic Records. And by the time he was eleven, he
had convinced the Cash Money label to take him on, even if it was just for odd jobs around
the office. If you are looking for a strong competitive college dance team, look into these
schools and see what they have to offer.

my website Nekfeu

Or even like this:

 Other economy changes include lower level availability clash of clans hack apk Dark Elixir
Drills (Town Hall level 7 for the first, Town Hall level 8 for the second), increased capacity for Dark Elixir Drills
of all levels, and an additional level for Gold Mines and Elixir Collectors (12).

Be certain that you know the rating of any video game before letting kids play it.
It is easy to hire an i - Phone developer or an Android developer today and making useful and quality applications are so much easier today.

To highlight the volumes I'm talking about, these were all sent within the last hour.  Or at least I received them in the last hour.  Considering how bad some of these services are at timely posting, they could have been sent last month for all I know.

It's really interesting to see the demographics they're going for, even if google translate is letting them down somewhat in the execution.  Home owners/potential buyers, psychopaths and gaming people.  I would love it if there were a correlation between the people who read this and the spammers, i.e. they've done their market research (an automated bot has determined the readership) and have targeted appropriately, but it's pretty unlikely.  I suppose that means the internet at large consists of mentally unstable people, game players and home owners.  Only those three groups though.

In case you were wondering what spam stands for, it's:


Only somewhat because the messages aren't intelligible.
I think the processing is converting the message from Mandarin or one of the Indian dialects into English.
They are very much automated.
And even though this is a comments section, it's still a mail of sorts.  I guess.

Anyway, let it be known that the second coming of spam is happening, and it'll be big news in a few weeks when there's a slow news day.  The battle for your eyeballs is hotting up!

And for the love of dog don't click on any of the links that the spammers are advertising.  Christ, just don't do it.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

From a Failure, to a Success

 So my melons are obviously the butt of jokes around the world at this point, but at least I have one other plant that works.

Anyone want a spider plant?  I could probably cut some off and send you one.  For a fee.

I hear spider plant growing is a lucrative business.  I have enough for at least the beginning of the enterprise, but the ramp up to production scales will take a while longer.  Your order will be with you within the year.

Interestingly I think the plant is seeding, which I didn't know they did.  Strawberries are similar in that they seed and send off runners and you can buy packets of strawberry seeds, but I've never encountered a packet of spider plant seeds.  Anyway, they dry out and open up, usually facing upwards so you have to dislodge them with a stiff breeze or by accidentally brushing up against them, which is a pretty good way to ensure decent dispersion.

And on an entirely unrelated note, here is an enormous butterfly that has no reference for scale which is a shame, because it was a palms width or so and jet black.  This was taken with my phone camera so the quality is, well, evident.

Anyway, that's about it for now.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Oh Noes.

The end of the melons is nigh.

This is the current state of the melons.  There's not much left.  I'm desperately clinging to the hope that there will be one tiny, miniscule protomelon so I can say I'm a farmer, but it's not looking likely.

There's nothing else left in the WORLD!

I don't think it's over watering because there are holes in the bottom of the bag and the soil isn't saturated, not to mention that the damn things grew like wildfire up until last week.  Damnit!


Thursday, 25 June 2015

All Of Them!

From this:

To this:

For some reason they're far more green in this picture than they are in real life, where they're mostly black with hints of dust.
They're all dead.  Super, duper wicked dead.  My great melon owning dream is over!  Noooooo!
I can't believe they all bit it so quickly.
Basically, I've either sprinkled radioactive waste among the roots, the blackfly invasion, or some unbeknownst disease has ravaged them.  You can take your pick as to which it might be.
They went from being healthy to dead in about three days which has to be some kind of world record, and due to the quickness I can't see it being anything other than disease.  They were dying before the insects really took hold and I haven't even obtained the shipment of bomb grade plutonium from my Saudi contact yet.
Anyway, this years dream is done (I'm still watering them in hopes of some last minute resurgence that yields a single fruit, tennis ball sized) so it's onto planning next years fruitdeavour.  Definitely strawberries, but I also need a big ticket item to get the farming business underway.  Something that has the shock value of a 1,000kg pumpkin but isn't completely lame.
Ideas welcome.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Music, Ranked

So I was watching James Bond last night.  I don't know why, but I wanted to re-see Skyfall (the latest bond movie, and a superb one at that) so I had it on in the background while I made some dopey stuff on the computer and I realised that the soundtrack to that movie, specifically the theme tune, is also brilliant.

So I started listening to the themes from all the bond movies.  I found a surprising number that are pretty good.  I say surprising because movie music isn't usually my kind of thing, then again I can't stand almost any kind of music.


So in at number ten, in a surprise twist of expectations:

Duran Duran and A View to a Kill

The music is garbage, but THE HAIR, man.  The hair.  Holy guacamolee.  That is some hair right there.  And also the special effects are something else.  It's not even a bond theme tune, not really.  They drop the iconic sound in right at the end but that's about it.  And those CG/video effects.  Wow.

P.S. This is not the James Bond intro (no shit, Sherlock) which is actually decent enough as old Jimmy Bond openings go.  Creepadelic is how I would describe it.  The above video has the aforementioned wicked CG though, so it's the one that gets in.

Number Nine:

I don't think this is a widely respected Bond song, but I don't mind it.  It's certainly better than the smoking crater that is the Duran Duran song.  Wowzers.


I can't really explain why I like this one, I guess it's the fact that it's almost music!

That's not being fair, it is music, and it's alright.  It helps that the singer has some attitude and works well with the saxophone or whatever does the little flourish after the 'goldfinger,' line.


Number Seven:

This one is definitely not Diamonds Are Forever.  That is some hot rubbish. The CG and editing almost pushed it onto the list, but it's a pretty naff song.

It's also not Live and Let Die.  Paul McCartney.  What in the world were they thinking.  He has an unbroken record of making pants music.  DECADES without a good song.  Good job.  It's the most frustrating song I've heard in a really long time because it almost, almost, bursts into a frantic paced topsy turvey alternate reality James Bond theme tune, but then doesn't.

Number Seven is actually:

I don't think I've ever seen Golden Gun, but if this theme music is anything to go by it'll be stupid.  The music is sub par, but I like the lyrics.  I don't know.  Moving on!

Number the Sixth:

She's got a voice.  It's not for everyone, but if you have an ear for it, she's great.  Nuff said.

The Fifth One:

The iconic Jimmy film from when I was a kid, and the film responsible for dragging the franchise into relevance for a modern generation.

As with number seven, the singer has a voice, but this one is more palatable.  It also has a nice ramp to it, she doesn't jump straight into glass shattering territory from the start, giving you a chance to readjust the volume before she starts in earnest.

Also spawned the most overrated game to ever grace a console.

The Fourth:

Obviously this isn't the intro, but the music is the same.

I really like this song.  As a song it's something slightly different, it doesn't have the soaring 'High's,' (TM) Copyright Shirley Bassey, but her voice is just so James Bond.  It's such a great pairing!

The Third:

THIS IS THE CONTROVERSIAL ONE.  This is the one where you throw the computer out of the window, hunt me down and bean me with a copy of this track burned onto a CD (because who buys CD's anymore?  Nerds, that's who).

As a preface, I think the computery voiced bits are dumb as shit, and the short voiced overlay (what's an audio overlay?) are stupid and pathetic, but they fit the theme of the movie so I get why they did it.


Die another day.  It's a pop song.  I get that.  I know it's not really a James Bond affair, but that's that.  There's no accounting for taste I guess.

The Third Degree:

Ok damn, this might actually be the controversial one.  Goddamnit.  So I also really, really, really like this as a song.  Whereas D.A.D. (that acronym) has nothing to do with Bond (hence the stupid voiceovers (oh, I guess a voiceover is an audio overlay) to tenuously link the music to the film), this one still sounds like Jimmy to me.  It's just so good.

It's good.

The Runner Up:

Ok crap, I miscounted and I actually have eleven entries.

So the joint number two's are:

The singer has a brilliant voice (something they're pretty consistent with in regards to bonds) and I'll be damned if the design team hasn't kept pace with modern aesthetics and tastes.  That intro is faaaaantastic.  It's still trippy Bond, but it's modern at the same time.  I'd love to work making something like that.  Then again I'd never keep up with the 'drinking,' required.  They're obviously super high on 'drinking,' when they come up with these things that I wonder if their 'livers,' are able to take all the 'alcohol.'

I could totally colour balance the final cut though?  Actually the room would probably be too smoky from all the 'drink,' to actually get anything done.


I actually know the name of this song.  It's called 'know my name,' and it's by a dude.  A dude with one of those 'voices,' (TM) Copyright.  It's all boulders and gravel.  Anyway, talking about slickness of production, this one goes right to the top of the list with Skyfall and Quantum of Solace.  They've really upped their intro level for the recent films, although I do wonder if I'll look back in twenty years and see all the obvious signs of old CG.


This is THE James Bond theme tune.  It's the one that started it all, and it is iconic in a way that none of the others are.  You could listen to some of the others as part of a normal playlist (not the Duran Duran one, you couldn't listen to it outside of a prison environment) and not feel it was out of place, but this one is so Bond, so unbelievably James Bond that it isn't really a suitable piece of music for any other occasion.  It goes a bit weird and bongo drum at the end, then turns full wackjob when it turns into a west indian folk song.  Weird.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Farmer Sam

So I didn't play this weekend.  I had a slight strain of the calf over the week from the last game, so they rested me for this match.

My right knee has been bunk for months which, when strapped, is unbalancing my gait and putting additional stress on all kinds of interesting places in my body, resulting in small strains and minor stress all around the shop.

Something unexpected came of it:

I was promoted to groundskeeper for the game, bringing me back to watering mums garden.

One of the new arrivals this year, Pat.

When the teams were playing I was relegated to ball boy, only in charge of one ball at a time.  No more.

Trying to roll up 50 metres of hose, a three man operation.  I managed to cut myself quite handily on an old rusty connector.  Tetanus hoooooo!

After I cut my hand I had to tape it up.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Music? What?

So I'm making a music CD (welcome to the year 2000 I guess?) for the third year (year 9 ish?) classes I teach.  They have a five minute period before the class where they finish up homework, ask questions and generally potter about in English.  During this time they listen to English language music, so far it's been all Queen.  I've nothing against queen, they have some great songs and it's not a terrible introduction to music outside of Japan.  The problem is that they've heard all the songs already, not to mention that Queen is adored here and is subseuently cut into every third commercial and every fifth TV program.

As such, I feel it is my duty to introduce some easy to understand English langauge songs.  Remember, the only music available to anyone in Japan is this.  Or this.

They are the only options.  No other music exists.  This is not hyperbole, they don't have any other music.  Sometimes, rarely, those over one hundred years old will listen to enka, but that's not fashionable for any other demographic.

The problem is simple.  If you've only ever listened to one type of music for your whole life, all your peers know only that music, and your parents and elders know only that kind of music, there's no way in hell that you're going to like anything other than that.  It would be like introducing orangina to a drought bound tribe in the deepest deserts of Tanzania, they wouldn't know what to do with it and would immediately reject it.

As such, this is not a mission to enlighten the students, even marginally, no.  It's a mission to give me something interesting to listen to that has a tenuous link to the English language.  That means no swearing and lyrics that are mostly audible.

To pre-empt the comments and e-mails about how awful my taste in music is, I will say this:  I don't know music.  I literally searched online for songs for foreign language students, and these are what came up.

ALL SUGGESTIONS ARE WELCOME.  New stuff and old stuff.  Bizarre stuff is particularly appreciated, as long as there's a viable amount of English involved.  I would love to jazz out to some Mars Volta before class, but they're Spanish (?) so no can do.

Anyway, my list so far:

Michael Jackson -> Smooth Criminal, Heal the World

Jackson 5    ->  ABC

Phil Collins  ->  Dancing in the Air Tonight (if this one gets by the censors (by censors I mean the Japanese English teacher) I will be ecstatic)

The Police  ->  Every Breath You Take  (I don't know why this was on that website, the owner must have been high when she added this one)

Pharrel Williams  ->  Happy  (the theme of a 'dumb fun,' Summer animated movie, I quite like the song)

David Bowier  ->  Ground Control to Major Tom  (this one is mine, an inspired pull from the memory banks, if I say so myself)

REM  ->  Man on the Moon  (never heard of it)

Frank Sinatra ->  Fly Me to the Moon, My Way

The White Stripes -> Seven Nation Army

Travis  ->  Sing

Amy Winehouse  ->  Rehab  (This one is the wildcard, designed to throw the censors off and make them think they've done their job when they inevitably eliminate it, thereby allowing others to pass)

Coldplay  ->  The Scientist

Bare Nakes Ladies  ->  If I had a Million Dollars  (added for the name of the band alone)

And that's the list so far.  There's nothing particularly interesting on there, and only a couple of 'new,' songs, so any suggestions are welcome.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Buying Power

So people buy stuff with money all the time.  Some very rich people buy other people with money, and this happens all the time too.

Just look at the Japanese whaling industry, a veritable case study in corruption and scandal that dates back decades, and apparently the doctrine FIFA has used to conduct business for some time now.  Namely, the liberal use of briefcases and envelopes stuffed with wonga, mainstays of Japanese corruption scandals, found their way to the FIFA trials too.

The following is shamelessely stolen from a website called Deadspin, an american sports site that has suddenly taken an interest in football now that they have a chance to redeem themselves in the eyes of the world (by destroying Sepp Blatter). 

This is taken from court proceedings:

At one point, WARNER also directed Co-Conspirator #14 to fly to Paris, France and accept a briefcase containing bundles of U.S. currency in $10,000 stacks in a hotel room from Co-Conspirator #15, a high­ ranking South African bid committee official. Hours after arriving in Paris, Co-Conspirator #14 boarded a return flight and carried the briefcase back to Trinidad and Tobago, where Co­ Conspirator #14 provided it to WARNER.

And this tidbit showing that envelopes aren't only fashionably in heist movies:

... certain CFU officials, including an official of one of the member associations of a United States territory (“Official #1”), went to the appointed conference room, as directed by the defendant JACK WARNER. The officials were instructed by CFU staff members in the room to enter the room one at a time. Inside the room, CFU staff handed each official an envelope bearing the name of the member association that he represented. Inside each envelope was $40,000 in United States currency.

Prior to entering the conference room, Official #1 was advised that he must enter alone, and could not be accompanied by any other officials from his delegation. Upon receiving his envelope, Official #1 was directed by CFU staff to open it while in the conference room. Official #1 was further instructed not to discuss the payment with anyone.

It's absolutely crazy that people still use briefcases and envelopes to transfer massive wads of cash.  I thought the current trend was backpacks and shoes boxes.  Never trust hollywood, they always lie, their special effects are BS and their grasp of current money trafficking techniques is lacking.

I didn't bother writing about the election because everyone seemed to think it was a foregone conclusion (which, as it turned out, it was) but these new happenings are too funny to overlook.  When he eventually swans off into the sunset (no one actually thinks he's going to prison right?) his will his replacement automatically be the Jordanian prince who was running against him, or will they stage new elections?

In what world would you have thought that a middle eastern prince would be the least corrupt choice in a vote of two?

The Earth is a topsy turvy place.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Earthquake Magnitude: Wow

So the other day a magnitude 8.5 earthquake hit off the coast of Tokyo.  By off the coast, I mean a bloody long way away.

Take a look at this map:

It shows what I would consider to be a 'normal,' earthquake, whatever normal means in the context of the earth trying to undress itself.  You can see the key on the bottom, the epicentre was miles and miles away from land, but the effect were still somewhat apparent.  I don't remember this one, which means it was probably too small for humans to notice.  (I'm incredibly sensitive to earthquakes.  For whatever reason I'm always the first person to notice them in a room.)

Now compare the above with the earthquake that happened the other day:

Something of a difference.  The epicentre was once again bloody miles away, but it shook the whole country an awful lot.  I was in one of the yellow zones, making it about a 5.2 where I was.  Let me tell you, a 5.2 is pretty big (these scales are logarithmic) and quite interesting on the fourth floor.  I can only imagine what one of those is like when you're a hundred storeys up.  Then again, any building that size will have a counterweight or massive shock absorbers, so I doubt they'd rock and roll as much as I might imagine.  A lot more than when a big lorry goes past your house though.
The thing this image doesn't convey is how long they last.  I've found that the bigger shakes last longer, and this one was upwards of a minute and a half.  It started relatively small but conitnued for a while, building to a crescendo before shaking a small amount for a while.  I've found that if a small shake lasts for a while, it usually means there's a lot more coming your way.  I've not come across any that start abruptly, they always seem to lead into it.
If you're wondering, the worst part is when the ground goes up and down.  There's no stomach turning feeling like that you might experience in a plane, it just kind of jostles a bit.  The reason that's the worst though, is because I can't imagine many materials being designed to withstand variable forces both laterally and vertically, it's not a typical building requirement.  If you get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, the ground can move vertically by metres, hence the formation of waves that cause tsunamis.  I don't think this particular episode caused any tsunamis, but I'm not exactly Mr. Ear To The Ground in that regard.  Now that I think about it, I'm not that in any regard.
If you're wondering where I got this information from, it's this website:
You can get information about quakes in Japan, as they happen, from this site.  They keep records too, so if you hear about an earthquake in Japan you can check it out and see where was affected and how big it was.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Check These Out

Check 'em.

So these are my melons.  Check 'em.
The ones closest to the camera don't look particularly healthy, for some reason those ones really do not like the wind, whereas the ones further away have adapted by just spreading to the floor.
Since this picture was taken (two days ago) they've filled in the spaces between themselves, attempting to kill each other to try and steal all the light.  I'm of two minds with regards to this.  Firstly, I shouldn't have planted two plants per bag but the girlfriend threatened to murder me on account of 'wasting soil,' so the compromise was putting two plants in.  I don't think either of us realised just how rampant they could get.  Let's just hope they'll be okay as long as I feed them a ton and give them all the water.
Secondly the competition is probably a good thing at early stages, but now they need to get as big as possible to give me enormous melons, so the competition for space and light probably isn't a good thing now.
I honestly don't know how many melons or of what size to expect.  Or even if I should expect melons at all, considering they haven't even flowered yet.
I wonder whether I should cut a hole on either side of the current big square, in order to ensure all the roots are getting at least some water.  I feel like it's a waste to just keep watering the exposed middle square, as a lot of the roots will just be hanging around in completely dry soil on either side.
I assume feeding the centre is okay, because that's where the greatest concentration of roots will be.
But really, who can tell in this economy?