Thursday, December 15, 2005
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Friday, December 02, 2005
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
And now, a brief look at some of the various "What the crap?" moments in my Japanese textbook:
First up, we have the image above. This is from an exercise in the workbook, where you have to listen to the CD and decide what would be the most appropriate thing for the guy to say. First of all, if I were to encounter somebody about to jump off a building, I wouldn't know what to say in English. Do you even say anything? Or do you just sneak up from behind and pull them away from the ledge? Why didn't my grade school grammar classes include training on how to handle suicide attempts? Is suicide really such a big problem in Japan that this needs to be in a first-level textbook? Most importantly, why did she take her shoes off first? None of this is explained in any way.
Then, as if that wasn't enough, the third chapter of the book:
That's right. The third chapter, before you even get to the all-important "asking for directions", is dating! It's almost as if they were saying, "Alright, we know that 99% of you are probably fat, smelly, anime-watching geeks who are only taking this class as part of a futile attempt to score a Japanese chick, so let's cut the crap and get right to the chase." Is this how the Japanese see us?
I'm beginning to think that it is. A few years ago, there was a Japanese family shopping at the local Circuit City. Every time an American came within 20 feet of them, the father would corral his wife and children off to another, more isolated aisle. Of course, there were a lot of Americans in the store, as it happens to be in, well, America. So he kept retreating his family further and further back into the store, until they were all huddled up in the back corner by the stereos, not moving. I have no idea how he managed to find enough of a clearing to get them into the store to begin with. But I digress...
Then, as if that wasn't enough, there was a listening exercise for this chapter that involved a guy asking an American girl out for coffee (gotta reverse the roles so it doesn't look too suspicious, you know), and getting shot down repeatedly. I mean, if you ask somebody out, and they tell you, really slowly, "Uhh... I have to... go home!", you wouldn't exactly need a degree from Sally Struthers to figure out that she means, "Go pound sand, you cretin!". Not this guy, though. No, he just keeps on trying! And trying! And trying some more! Eventually, the girl says goodbye really quickly and runs away, leaving the poor sod shouting, "Mearii-san! Mearii-saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!" I'm sure that the voice actor responsible for this had to have recieved an award of some sort for his performance. It's like the ending of Citizen Kane, only better!
Anyway, I'm sure that at this rate, I'm going to get at least six more blog posts out of this thing before next semester is over. In the meantime, I need to put together a presentation on some aspect of Japanese culture. I'm doing one on baseball, although I'm probalby going to be focusing on the Hanshin Tigers, because, well, they're the Hanshin Tigers, dammit! (Curse them for making me into a fan!) I'm secretly hoping that the instructor is a Yomiuri fan, just because it would make for some really amusing looks. It'll be fun!
And now, as promised last time, and just in time for the holiday season, here they are:
Monday, November 14, 2005
So I was down in the diner^H^H^H^H lounge in the basement of the student center (or, as I call it, "That place you go when the Pro Deo Room is full") today, and somebody had a talk show featuring Paul McCartney on one of the TVs there. Suddenly, a shot was fired that was heard around the world. That's right, somebody comitted the heinous act of saying that Sir Paul "wasn't that good". This, of course, infuriated a bystander, who apparently didn't get the memo and spent the next half hour railing on about how great and immaculate McCartney is. The kicker was when she claimed that "Paul McCartney is the only reason why anybdody listens to the Beatles!".
I Feel sorry for this generation.
Tomorrow: What's the deal with my Japanese textbook? Also, Canada's top Ukrainian-Canadian recording artists, Mickey and Bunny! Be there!
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Random observations from this year's La Festa Italiana:
- For some reason, there were a lot of people dragging their dogs along this year. This is the first year that I've ever seen anybody at this thing with a pet of any kind, and for good reason. If you've ever been to La Fester, you'll know that it is no place for pets. I even saw a few people pulling chihuahuas around on leashes, wich I'm sure resulted in more than a few people leaving with chihuahua pancakes stuck to their sandals
- Out of all the stands that were there, not a single one had a genuine white pizza. Too many people these days seem to think that a white pizza is nothing more than a regular pizza with no sauce, and usually, to add insult to injury, tomato slices on top. ("Ha ha! You will have tomatoes on your pizza, whether you like it or not!") There's a number of spices that are needed to have a good white pizza, and nobody there this weekend had 'em.
- While we're on the subject, "Buffalo Wing" is NOT a legitimate pizza topping. Where did you learn this? STOP DOING IT! You see those little red discs over there? Those are pepperoni. Try putting those on a pizza, I heard they're pretty good.
- Also, while geographically close, gyros do not count as Italian food. Let's try not to have three tents selling them next year, mmkay?
- Finally, there was a local restaurant selling fried ravioli at $4.50 for a plate of 4. That breaks down to $1 per ravioli (if you assume that the sauce is $.50). The goddamn things better be made of solid platinum with diamond cheese for that price.
Anyway, that's enough griping about food for one year. Now it's time for that most sacred of post-Labor Day traditions in Scranton: The week's worth of heartburn and indigestion! Wheeeee!
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Actual conversation I had with the woman sitting next to me in the jury lounge today:
Crazy old woman: (Refering to a spot for Space Shuttle coverage on the TV:) What time is that supposed to happen?
Me: I think it's around 4:00 or so.
C.o.w.: Is that their time or our time?
Me: Well, it's in Florida, so it's the same time.
C.o.w.: How can that be? It's 18 hours away!
Me: Yeah, but it's in the same time zone.
C.o.w.: Even though it's 18 hours away?
So I pretty much spent the next five minutes trying to explain to her that time zones only change when you're traveling East-West. She eventually gave up trying to understand it and just went back to watching whatever crap it is that NBC kills the time between Today and the 12:00 news with. The defendant ended up pleading guilty, which was probably a good move, considering that his fate would have otherwise been decided by people like her.
This does, however, explain why a thief can successfully sue his victim for injuries sustained during a burglary. Let's hear it for the American legal system, everyone!
Friday, July 08, 2005
(AAAARRRRRRRGH!, part V)
So a few weeks ago, I mentioned the oddness of the current Pop Tarts stick figure campaign, stating that I really had no problem with it until I came across that dinosaur thing. I would now like correct that statement.
I couldn't put my finger on it earlier, but I knew that I've seen that style of stick figure somewhere before (yes, stick figures now have unique styles, apparently). It turns out that the Pop Tarts thing is just an extremely blatant ripoff of Don Hertzfeldt's film, "Rejected", which is apparently another one of those hipster standards that I've just never been subjected to for some reason, despite encountering an almost insane number of references to it (one WUSR DJ even used this frame from the movie as her profile image for a while). So there you go, it's just another case of "giant corporation stealing the work of independent artists to make a quick buck (and getting away with it, thanks to the fact that they can afford better lawyers than the little guy can)".
I suppose I'm going to have to switch to Fig Newtons now, assuming that they aren't ultimately made by the same company. It's so hard to keep track of these things anymore. Pretty soon, everything will be owned by one corporation, and our choices will be to either obey them or starve to death. We'll probably all die from the lack of healthcare anyway, but still.
Thursday, June 30, 2005
(AAAARRRRRRRGH!, Part IV)
My latest pay stub contains an advertisement for Britney Spears' new perfume. That pretty much says it all, really.
In other news...
So the big movie release this week was The Pacifier with Vin Diesel. Now is it just me, or is this the exact same movie that every action star ends his career with? How do the executives keep managing to regurgitate this idea over and over again? "Hey, I've got an idea: why don't take someone who usually appears in explosion-laden summer blockbusters, and put him in a cheesy family comedy? I bet nobody's thought of that one before! Hyuck, hyuck!"
Hell, Schwarzenegger's been in, like, a metric pentabafrilllion of these movies, and now he's stuck having to be governor of California for attention.
Of course, the worst part of all will be when they start re-releasing this movie in a new special edition every three months. "Director's cut!", "Special extended edition!", "2-disc double bonus edition!", "Ultimate edition!", "No, wait, that last one was only the penultimate edition, this is really the ultimate edition!", "Best Boy's cut!", "Silent film version!", etc, etc, etc...
At least Japan is stuck in a rut that has robotic catgirls.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
So for the last few days, the Scranton area has been undergoing an inexplicable influx of British people. It started with a few on Wednesday night, then by Thursday every other customer at work was rattling on about tills and kippers and whatnot. It eventually got to the point where even the other customers (who are usually about as cognizant of their surroundings as Terri Schiavo) noticed it, and began speaking in bad fake British accents in their usual "dumb-customer-who-thinks-he's-a-witty-smartass" fashion.
I have absolutely no idea why this is happening. I mean, why the hell would you travel all the way to America, just to go to Scranton? Are we suddenly some kind of international tourist destination? Do people really want to see the Electric City sign that badly? Are they actually taking Old Forge's talk of being the "Pizza Capitol of the World" seriously? Are the Iron Furnaces a happening place now? What's the draw here?
"I gotta tell you, folks, I gotta tell you, when I woke up this morning, I was having a bad hair day. This was a bad hair day for Ed Robertson. But, all was not lost, for I simply turned on my TV and the answer was before me! The answer was before me! I mortgaged my house, sold my car, sold my parents and some of my siblings, and I bought a tiny spray. And I sprayed it on top of my head, until I got this Glorious Poof of Wonderment!"Ed Robertson of Barenaked Ladies, at a concert in Massey Hall in Toronto, May 1993
"Creepy hovering Electric City sign" wallpaper: 1280x960 1024x768 800x600
For those of you who use Unix/Linux/BSD/OS X/Sushix/whatever and who are bummed about the FuzzyFlakes hack in xscreensaver dropping the Azumanga Daioh colors (I'm sure that's millions of you), here's a little patch I made to cheer you up.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
'Da hell does that have to do with Pop Tarts?
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Okay, that aside, let me just sum up my entire spring semester in one word: "Whuh?". That's pretty much how it went. I ended up stuck with an instructor who graded her course pretty much entirely on a single project, that had to be accompanied by many, many "short" pieces which were then changed to 5-page papers at the last minute. Did I forget to mention that she gave us absolutely no clue whatsoever as to what these papers were supposed to be about? Nope, no explanation at all. She just gave us a vague title for each paper and we had to guess from there what she meant by it. Also, I never got a single one of them back, so I never even knew whether or not I was writing these things correctly. This, of course, kept me from ever being able to do any decent work on my actual project, which ended up being a steaming pile of crap. Despite all this, I managed to get by with a B. I don't know how, since I don't think I handed in several of the things on her list, but again, I can't be sure, since that list seemed to change with every class. Yes, folks, this is why I'm only going to school part-time. If I had to deal with four or five of these people at once, I probably would have shot myself by now. Or at least died of sleep depravation.
Anyway, now that that's over, I can finally turn my attention to that horrendous pile of DVD's and CD's that I've been gathering over the past several months but haven't had time to watch/listen to. At least in theory, anyway. So far, it doesn't seem to be working out that well.
Latest Update from Retail Hell
So last week, a woman waddled on over to the electronics department and racked up an order of over $500. When she got to my register, she proceded to pay this down with gift cards until it was under the limit at which I would have had to automatically call for a check approval. She then handed me the most blatantly obvious counterfeit check that I have ever seen in my life. I mean, this thing was just horrible. It was like she wasn't even trying. There were no security features whatsoever, most of the numbers were missing, the box for the dollar amount was just a very tiny line, and to top it all off, the whole thing had that "inkjet printer running low on ink" blur to it.
So I call the supervisor over, show her the check, she tries not to burst into laughter in front of the "customer". When she informs the worthless crook that we're not going to take her check, she, as expected, starts throwing a fit. So she calls somebody from the accounting office over to look at the check. At this point, the woman realizes that the gig is up, and tries to get her gift cards back and hightail it out of there. She eventually made off with a $250 item on the gift cards, which we later found out were purchased only minutes earlier. That's right, three of our illustrious front-register cashiers actually accepted those pathetically bad fake checks.
I really need to find a job where I won't be associated with these people.
And now, a play-by-play recap of CLAMP No Kiseki Volume 1
- Cover: Good Lord, this has to be the single pinkest thing that I have ever had the courage to walk into a store and buy. Somehow, I don't think their target audience for this is 25-year-old ponytailed dorks. Just a hunch there. I also bought an Atom & His Package CD along with this, so if you can picture the contrast of those two sitting on the register counter together, you can imagine that I'm probably on every mental health watch list in America right now.
- Page 1: You know, one of these days the Blue's Clues people are going to send a platoon of lawyers into Tsubaki Nekoi's place and banish her off to wherever it is they exiled Steve to. Although it would be fun if Nickelodeon replaced Blue with Ioryogi for an episode or two. You just know those kids are gonna have problems.
Also, Mokona is drawn with a very serene appearance here, which is probably a boon for all those people who believe the "Mokona Is Dead" rumors, but I'm still not buying it. And yes, I have listened to Raison D'être backwards. Several times. I don't hear it. Besides, I don't think William Campbell would be that great of a manga artist, anyway.
- Pages 2-3: I am thoroughly convinced that there was never, at any time, tea spilled on this illustration, and that CLAMP wrote this just to trick their fans into poring over it for hours in a vain attempt to locate the stain. Well, I, for one, won't fall for it!
Okay, okay, I fell for it. DAMN YOU, CLAMP! DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMN YOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUU!!!
- Page 4: I wish I had a bathroom that looked like that. Although it leaves me wondering what the rest of the fixtures would look like. Would the toilet have wings, too? Because it would be kind of weird doing one's business while sitting on a physical manifestation of a screensaver from the waning days of the After Dark era.
- Page 5: So in case you haven't guessed yet, this volume happens to be entirely about Cardcaptor Sakura, which is a bit strange. It's sort of like making a Beatles retrospective, and starting it off with an in-depth look at Sgt. Pepper's. Sure, it's probably more well-known than the earlier stuff, but it pretty much kills all sense of context when they arrange it like this.
- Page 6: I do not, however, wish I had an outfit that looked like that. Poor Li looks as though he had a run-in with an irreputable lederhosen dealer. Granted, he's practically guaranteed not to have a "wardrobe malfunction" with all those straps, but I don't think that's really a concern of his.
Also, I never would have pegged Sakura as a Grateful Dead fan. But there you go. I'll be willing to accept this so long as we never see Watanuki in posession of a Phish T-shirt.
- Page 7: And by "atypical", they mean that CCS actually doesn't consist primarily of long, drawn-out transformation sequences and gratuitious upskirt shots. It's amazing the level of quality that you can achieve when you leave those out.
- Pages 8-13 And now, for those of you tuning in late, a recap of Cardcaptor Sakura, complete with all of your favorite moments!
- The awakening of Sakura's powers!
- The appearance of Syaoran!
- Rika and Terada: Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot?
- Sakura is kidnapped by the Empire!
- Syaoran finds out that Darth Vader is his father!
- Tomoyo is frozen in carbonite and taken prisoner by Boba Fett!
- Ewoks! Ewoks! Ewoks!
- Pages 14-15: I am astonished that the character pages contain no mention whatsoever of those two girls in the top panel of the eleventh page of chapter 10. This is clearly a glaring omission, and I will be demanding a refund.
Yeah, yeah. I know it's a dumb joke. But I just spent a half hour scouring through my copies of CCS trying to find some suitable nameless extras (there aren't that many, amazingly), and I'll be damned if I let that time go to waste.
- Page 16: Ah, it's good to see a reminder of what a great company Piffle Princess was before they were acquired by an American big-box retailer a few years ago. Now there are always fat people blocking the aisles in smelly motorized carts, the register lines are about three hours long, you need to take out an extra life insurance policy just to venture into the parking lot, and don't even think of entering an angel you bought there into a tournament, unless you want to be laughed clear out of Tokyo when it inexplicably falls apart right in the middle of fall-in. It's a crying shame, really.
- Page 17: The essay manages to do a perfect job of describing what appears to be a favorite CLAMP storytelling strategy: Lull the readers into thinking that it's just a mindless fluff story, and then when they're least expecting it, sneak up behind them and whack them across the head with a very large cinderblock. It's like a top-40 station that suddently cuts into an entire Captain Beefheart album accompanied by an old, scratchy LP of Tuvan throat singers played at 45. Jarring at first, but way more addictive than it should be. Miyuki-chan In Wonderland is actually listed as a controlled substance in many European countries because of this effect.
- Pages 18-19: This outfit is a lot better than the strap polka motif, although I probably would have gone with an off-whie sport coat and a grey shirt with those pants. Then again, everybody knows that striped pants are a violation of the Geneva convention, anyway, so it's all a moot point.
- Pages 20-21: So here we have a look at all of the original Japanese cover art for pretty much every CCS-related thing that ever existed in Japan, most of which we never even got to see because we're stuck having to get these things through @%ing Tokyopop. And now that I've seen the original DVD artwork, I'm just a bit peeved about that, too. But only a little bit. It could be worse. We could still be stuck with nothing but the dub.
- Pages 22-23: Something I noticed in all these illustrations is that they're all covered in these little white dots, as though they've been lightly sprinkled with bleach or white-out or whatnot. I'm waiting to see how long it takes until Pete starts using a technique like this with his photos. He'll probably work it in somewhere between "burning the negative" and "soaking the print in Kool-Aid and letting it sit under a rock in the neighbor's backyard for six weeks".
- Pages 24-25: Yoshiki Tanaka is a man who has a fedora, and knows how to wear it. 'Nuff said.
- Pages 26-31: See, this is what I meant by that cinderblock comment earlier. Just when you thought you were reading a nice, sane retrospective: *WHAM!* Six pages of fighting cat-fairy-things. You will now be left wondering where the hell that came from for several weeks. That, I think, is the sadistic beauty of Kiseki thus far. You pick this up, thinking that you might finally get some answers as to where some of these f**ked up ideas came from, and not only do you not get any of these answers, but you end up being left even more confused than you were before!
Poor Kakyo. She's so misunderstood. *sniff*
- And finally, the chess pieces: I'm kind of torn over this. On one hand, there's the coolness factor of having a full CLAMP chess set. On the other hand, everybody knows that it can't be a true novelty chess set unless it's made out of pewter at the Franklin Mint. Not only are these things made in China, but they've also committed the blasphemous act of making them out of plastic! And not even the good kind of plastic, either! I'm talking the really weak, bendy stuff here. Where's the fun in it if you can't throw a pawn at your opponent in an angry rage and leave a nice Mokona-shaped bruise on his/her forehead for the next several weeks? Feh! Feh, I say!
Anyway, that's it for this edition. Be sure to tune in next time, when we'll have with us special guest Roger Moltewicz. We don't know who he is yet, but we're sure it will be interesting. Goodnight, everybody!
Saturday, February 26, 2005
(AAAARRRRRRRGH!, Part III)
So I noticed the other day that Oreo cookies now have the "got milk?" logo emblazoned across them:
Great. So now, even the food that I eat; food that I paid for, mind you; is covered with cross-promotional advertising for another product.
I, for one, can't wait for the day that hospitals start tatooing diaper advertisements onto babies upon birth.
Sunday, February 20, 2005
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Wow, 98%, that's a pretty big number. But wait, according to that text on the bottom, the increase in hits occured during the week of January 31 through February 5, during which the site recieved 97.8% more hits than in the previous week (January 23-30). Let's take a look at the University's academic calendar, shall we?
"Housing opens for returning students at noon - January 30"...
Gee, you don't think that the 98% increase was due to the fact that , do you?
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Anyway, I don't really get much time to walk around downtown Scranton randomly anymore, like I did a few years ago. So if you're perusing the archives and see those entries where I found strange things on such walks, you must be really bored. Err... I mean, there probably won't be too much of that anymore, as I am now a member of the Nation's Elite! That's right, folks, I'm one of the few, the proud, the retail workers! Expect a lot of griping about dumb customers in the future, as that's just what we do. Well, besides trying to deal with said customers without slamming them repeatedly into the endcap and screaming something like "FOR! *slam* THE! *slam* LAST! *slam* TIME! *slam* THE! *slam* VIDEO! *slam* NOW! *slam* PLAYERS! *slam* ARE! *slam* IN! *slam* TOYS! *slam* THIS! *slam* IS! *slam* ELECTRONICS! *slam* THEY! *slam* ARE! *slam* NOT! *throws customer out of dept* HERE!". This is, of course, after the customer insists for twenty minutes that they are in electronics and refuses to take no for an answer, somehow thinking that he/she knows the store better than you do, even though they needed to ask you for directions. Sometimes you wonder how these people manage to dress themselves, although many of them can't even manage that properly.
Also, I've been doing a show called "Chaos: Live!" on WUSR for the last three years. If you want to check that out, you must be really, just totally mind-numbingly bored. Err.. I mean, you can hear it on Saturdays, from 4 to 8 PM Eastern, either on 99.5 FM in the Scranton area, or via WUSR's Real or Windows Media streams. If you're so bored that you're almost suicidal, you can see my past playlists here. Mostly I play a lot of the Hipster standards, mixed in with various obscure or downright strange things that I find online or through listening to WFMU. It's college radio at its worst!
So anyway, that's pretty much it for the re-re-re-reintroduction thing. You may now safely proceed to a blog that's actually somewhat interesting. Assuming that you've actually bothered to read this far, in which case: Congratulations, you are indeed extremely bored!