New Ghibli Movie ‘Ged War Journal’ directed by Hayao Miyazaki’s Son despite protest from father

While we’re on the topic of linking to blogs, Kaiju Shakedown, an official blog of Variety magazine (meaning he gets paid for it, I guess), has been one of my favorites lately. I’ve always been a firm believer that close, obsessive scrutiny of a nation’s pop culture can tell one a lot about that nation’s people, so Grady Hendrix’s posts, written with that true Variety-style sarcastic wit, always entertain and inform.

So it was the Shakedown where I learned about Ghibli Studios’ latest feature “Ged War History” (English title is apparently not finalized), directed by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki’s son, Goro:

But father Miyazaki was against it! In an unsuccessful effort to find out why, I translated the first diary entry from Goro’s blog. This first appeared in the comments section of Kaiju Shakedown, but I will reproduce it here:

Introductory remarks — My father was against this

My father, Hayao Miyazaki, was against me directing “Ged War Journal” [tr: my guess at a literal translation of the movie’s title].

This may sound abrupt. However, first, I would like to make this clear.
Continue reading New Ghibli Movie ‘Ged War Journal’ directed by Hayao Miyazaki’s Son despite protest from father

Asian History Carnival

I don’t normally get into all this blog inter-linking for the sake of linking stuff, but the Asian History Carnival is seriously worth a mention. For those who don’t know, the basic of the blog ‘carnival’ thing is basically just a regular feature, which rotates between different blogs as host, collecting high quality links to blog posts on a certain topic created since the last installment.

The Asian History Carnival was created by the excellent Frog in a Well group history blog (unrelated to this blog), and the second installment was just posted at
In addition to linking to my post on the ROC English textbook I found, Muninn has collected links to quite a few fascinating pieces on history. I haven’t yet read through more than a couple of them, but I definitely plan to at least skim them all before the set comes along.

How many Upper House members does it take to change a light bulb?

None, they have the maintenance staff do it! This has got to be the lamest story ever!

To paraphrase the news stories:

Upper House Lights Undergo Major Cleaning, ‘Illuminating’ Debates Hoped for

The lights illuminating the main floor of Japan’s Upper House of parliament (the “Diet” as it is known), which was the stage of “Koizumi Theater” during which the postal privatization bills were defeated leading to a whirlwind Lower House election, underwent a thorough cleaning on the morning of December 9. Workers lowered the wires suspending the [Victorian-style?] lights, carefully wiped off the glass exteriors, and replaced the light bulbs. The cleaning usually takes place soon after the new year, but was moved ahead in the agenda to coincide with other construction.

After the lights were cleaned, the main floor looked much brighter. One official remarked, “I hope to see some illuminating debates in the regular Diet session next January.”

Ancient graffitti from Pompei

I love seeing graffitti in different places, and these translations of ancient Roman graffitti found in the ruins of Pompei are both informative and hilarious. Here’s a random selection from around the middle of the page. Isn’t it amazing how much it’s like what you see scrawled on bathroom walls across the globe even today?

VI.14.36 (Bar of Salvius; over a picture of a woman carrying a pitcher of wine and a drinking goblet); 3494: Whoever wants to serve themselves can go on an drink from the sea.

VI.14.37 (Wood-Working Shop of Potitus): 3498: What a lot of tricks you use to deceive, innkeeper. You sell water but drink unmixed wine

VI.14.43 (atrium of a House of the Large Brothel); 1520: Blondie has taught me to hate dark-haired girls. I shall hat them, if I can, but I wouldn’t mind loving them. Pompeian Venus Fisica wrote this.

VI.15.6 (House of Caesius Valens and Herennius Nardus); 4637: Rufus loves Cornelia Hele

VI.16.15 (atrium of the House of Pinarius); 6842: If anyone does not believe in Venus, they should gaze at my girl friend

VII (House of the Tetrastyle Atrium); 2060: Romula hung out here with Staphylus.

Back from the Philippines

After a longish absence from this space, I’m going to resume posting. Although I returned from Manila to Taipei last Thursday at around 5pm, I’ve put off writing anything here for a few extra days to collect my thoughts a bit, and more importantly to do the things I actually had to do here. And there’s another reason. On the evening of my third or fourth day in The Philippines I went to an internet cafe and wrote a fairly long blog post on my initial impressions, which vanished into the ether as the computer crashed at the exact instant I pressed the send button. This occurrence generated a fair amount of both resentment and apprehension, which collectively prevented me from even attempting to post again until I was safely back at my own, stable computer.

First, a brief itinerary.

November 25: 9.30AM flight from Taipei’s Chiang Kai Shek airport to Manila’s international airport. Upon landing I find a payphone to call my friends, quickly tire of the exorbinant rates, and instead buy a SIM card from a nearby vending machine and pop it into my Taiwanese cell phone, giving me a real phone number for my two week stay. This makes my life several times easier. I meet my friends Beth, and later Arlo as well, we have dinner and Beth takes me to an apartelle near both of their homes (University of the Philippines “Teacher’s Village” region, Quezon City, Metro Manila.) The room is scummy but cheap, and the area is fairly nice, as well as quiet and safe.

Following this I spend a few days in Manila (often technically Quezon City, which is part of Metro Manila), sometimes with my friends and sometimes wandering around alone.

December 1: Fly from Manila’s domestic airport (next to the international one) to Iloilo City, where I meet two other friends. Stay the night in a ‘pension house,’ a strangely British sounding term I’ve never encountered before which seems to mean motel.

December 2: With my friend, take a bus from the south to the north end of the island (five hours), and then a ferry from the port to Boracay.

December 4: The reverse of the above trip.

December 5: Afternoon flight back to Manila, meet my two Iloilo friends for lunch first. Instead of returning to the previous Quezon city acommodations, I find the International Youth Hostel listed in Lonely Planet, which is only a few minutes from the airport. This will make my morning trip to the airport the day after next several times simpler.

December 7: Fly back to Taipei.

I know this isn’t the most enthralling travel log, but I have several posts on the Philippines coming up over the next couple of weeks. A few of the topics I plan to post on (some writing, some photos) are:

Magellan’s ignominous end in the Philippines

Filipino Overseas Workers

Japan in the Philippines

Language in the Philippines

The Chinese Cemetary in Manila


Too tall for Tokyo: a reaction

This story was sent to me by my friend Mateo. Woman lives in Tokyo for 5 years with her husband on the expat package, leaves with bitter taste in her mouth. Her sentiments can be summed up rather well by the following passage:

When we left New York, I was a working mom dressed in power suits, having business lunches, serving on the board of directors of my kids’ school. When we arrived in Japan, everything I was, or thought I was, crumpled before one undeniable defining characteristic: I was different.

My heart goes out to Ms. Gandel and all those enduring the rude Japanese gawkers. I’ve gone through most of the experiences she describes. Especially, being ignored even when I know I was speaking good-enough Japanese was a constant source of frustration that I don’t miss in the slightest.

And any White American who has spent time in Japan has undoubtedly thought at one time or another that they can finally relate to the minority groups in America after their experiences with the Japanese, who insist on judging us — pigeon-holing us — just for being different.

But you have to admit, even though it’s rude and annoying to be singled out for being who you are, White People in Japan have it easy. In many Japanese minds, White People are actually racially superior thanks to the popular survival of Nazi-era racial hierarchies. The many non-Japanese Asians, South Asians, Africans, etc often face subhuman treatment. The cold rejection of Africans, for instance, comes when Japanese mothers warn their internationally-minded daughters: marrying a White Man is OK, but never ever bring home a black man.

But since we’re on the topic, Ms. Gandel has an eye-opening account of public bathing:

As I sat on the little plastic stool and turned on the wall tap to start the prewash cycle, I became aware of sidelong looks, gasps, muted giggles and a sudden exodus of the Japanese women and children. I must have resembled a gorilla in the mist, or the repulsive creature that was Sigourney Weaver’s nemesis in another of her movies. After all, that’s what I was to these women: an alien, a gaijin.

This is a reaction one might expect from a hermit kingdom such as North Korea, but not the second largest economy in the world, right? Sadly, this is all too common.

I haven’t had the experience of living in another so-called “homogeneous” society, but I expect that the experience would be largely the same as what she describes. Except in other countries, expats seem to accept being left out of the mainstream society as a matter of course. Why the complaining about Japan (and sometimes Korea)?
Continue reading Too tall for Tokyo: a reaction

Sports Authority Japan: “We want to memorize player in your heat.”

Engrish,” as it is affectionately known, is the phenomenon of advertisements and other products from Japan featuring English slogans/instructions that make no sense yet maintain a definite corporate-ese feel to them. If you ever go to Japan, you will be able to see many examples of this ever-present, often hilarious reminder that in general the Japanese can’t seem to get their brains around the English language. But coming from an American company there is simply no excuse for this:

The player brings great shopping experience to each customer.
Talented staff with abundant products afford of full-line and knowledge.
TSA, large-size full-line sporting goods retailer,
offers service synthetic from a hard side to a soft side.
TSA is most loved by all people that enjoy a sports,
and wants to become the existence trusted most from them.
We will play game with our originally to become successful player.

What happened? Their “organism plan” offers no immediate clues.

I decided to run a test:
Continue reading Sports Authority Japan: “We want to memorize player in your heat.”

Vincent Gallo’s Sperm

In an attempt to get away from my brush with evil (Sorry again to Dave and aburoie!), I would like to share with you something a little more positive (if a little disturbing). Vincent Gallo, actor and star of the great Buffalo 66 (and apparently he made a cameo appearance in Goodfellas!), is offering to father the child of any “non-dark” woman willing to pay him $1 million. This has to go on my list of “future aspirations” (except for the racist parts). I mean, even considering a scheme like this seriously would take an ego bigger than Lake Erie. I’m not there yet, but one can dream:

Vincent Gallo’s Sperm

$1 Million

Price includes all costs related to one attempt at an in-vitro fertilization. (A $50,000 value) If the first attempt at in vitro fertilization is unsuccessful, purchaser of sperm must pay all medical costs related to additional attempts. Mr. Gallo will supply sperm for as many attempts as it takes to complete a successful fertilization and successful delivery. Sperm is 100% guaranteed to be donated by Mr. Gallo who is drug, alcohol and disease free. If the purchaser of the sperm chooses the option of natural insemination, there is an additional charge of $500,000. However, if after being presented detailed photographs of the purchaser, Mr. Gallo may be willing to waive the natural insemination fee and charge only for the sperm itself. Those of you who have found this merchandise page are very well aware of Mr. Gallo’s multiple talents, but to add further insight into the value of Mr. Gallo’s sperm, aside from being multi talented in all creative fields, he was also multi talented as an athlete, winning several awards for performing in the games of baseball, football and hockey and making it to the professional level of grand prix motorcycle racing. Mr. Gallo is 5’11” and has blue eyes. There are no known genetic deformities in his ancestry (no cripples) Continue reading Vincent Gallo’s Sperm

Comments: lost and found

We’ve had some comments disappear on our most recent posts. Adamu and I are currently trying to figure out what happened, but for the record, we are not trying to censor anyone. No matter how pissed off, abusive, or ridiculous your comment is, we will approve and post it, so long as it isn’t spam. And we do not delete comments once posted. If your comment has gone missing, it’s not us. We don’t want you to shut up.

We apologize for this problem and hope to have it fixed soon. In the meantime, keep the arguments, discussions, and rants coming: we appreciate every one. We’ll let everyone know once we’ve diagnosed the problem: for now, I’m blaming the gremlins.