Archive for January, 2010

Electra Woman and Dyna Girl

Some of you may remember the 1976 Sid & Marty Krofft Supershow segment of the same name, which followed the crime-fighting exploits of female caped crusader Electra Woman (played by soap maven Deidre Hall), and her teenage sidekick Dyna Girl (Judy Strangis). Today I came across some info that indicated the WB had commissioned a pilot for a revival of the show in 2001. Here’s the catch though, the new series would be a cynical parody of both the original show, which had also playfully lampooned the same genre, and superheroes in general set 25 years after the original series ended, with a retired Electra Woman brought back into action by an old fan of hers who then ended up becoming the new Dyna Girl. Night Court’s Markie Post assumed the red tights of Electra Woman, portraying her as a disillusioned and bitter, sexually promiscuous alcoholic, much in contrast to the character’s original saccharine portrayal. The pilot was shot, but the show never picked up. Thanks to Youtube, however, you can watch it now and I must say, I think the show might have been great and it’s surprising Fox didn’t pick it up after the WB obviously didn’t have the balls for this type of satire. It’s actually remarkably passable and with proper development might work even better today… Someone should really get the rights to this concept:

Part 2 here

Kind of sad…

satan

Mr. Satan Dead at 57
Daisuke Gouri (real name: Yoshio Nagahori), the voice actor best known to American anime fans as the voice of Dragon Ball Z character Mr. Satan, was found lying face-down, dead on a street in Nakano, Tokyo yesterday. Gouri reportedly had a bloody wrist and was found with a knife and a last will. Nakano police are investigating Gouri’s death as a possible suicide.

The 57 year old actor was well known for providing character voices including Robin Mask in Kinnikuman, Dozle Zabi and Bask Om in the Gundam franchise, Hiromi Yamazaki in Patlabor, and Heihachi Mishima in the Tekken video game series.
(source: Anime Nation)

My references for use

As requested, the following are thumbnails of my photos from my travels. This post only includes my trip in Asia. Obviously, I didn’t include ALL of my photos, because I take so many different takes of the same photo, so I only displayed photos that may be of use to you guys.

Bear in mind that many of the thumbnails are unprocessed, especially the photos I took before I started using Lightroom. If there’s any photo you guys need for reference, I can email you the high rez version.

Let me know if these are useful for you guys. If so, I’ll go ahead and make thumbnails from Europe, the US, and animals.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Thailand

Thailand

Taiwan 2007

Taiwan 2007

Taiwan 2008

Taiwan 2008

Vietnam

Vietnam

Indonesia

Indonesia

Malaysia

Malaysia

Japan

Japan

End of line.

The Shinjuku Incident

So, it went something like this….

We arrive at Shinjuku Station where Steve is scheduled to board the Narita Express bound for Narita Airport. Shinjuku Station is undergoing a major renovation at the moment. As a result, the platform assignments for trains are shifted to accommodate the construction. I start to lead Steve toward the Narita Express platform, something I know by heart thanks to my previous frequent travels to Japan. Or so I thought. Now reassigned to another area, getting to the platform currently involves descending one escalator to the former platform, walking to the end of the platform and descending another escalator, then walking through an underground area of the station that connects more distant terminals to the main station exits. I am thinking there could have been a better way to do this when arrows point me to another escalator, this time leading up to the proper platform.

I step on to the escalator first. Behind me, Steve, lugging a heavy backpack with his photography equipment and a pullman type suitcase filled with all his belongings from Taiwan, and a briefcase containing his laptop which is slung to the cart handle of his the pullman. Following Steve is Rumiko. As we are ascending the escalator, a thought crosses my mind. “Why am I at point? If Steve should lose his balance or his stuff shift weight and fall, I really should be behind him to give support.”

Just as this very thought crosses my mind, I hear a commotion behind me. I hear Steve let out a quiet, but concerned, “Oh! Oh no!” I hear Rumiko say something, but I can’t make it out because the commotion gets a little louder. I turn around to see what’s going on.

I find Steve reaching behind him, but in a “semi-seated” position against his suitcase which has obviously tipped back and fallen half a step on the escalator. I check to see if he’s okay and he looks like at me with somewhat widened eyes. Is he stable? Is he still losing his balance and needs me to grab hold of him? That’s when I hear the sound—the sound of low heeled shoes on metal.

Klip-klank.

My eyes shift to Rumiko. I see her falling backwards.

Klip-klank.

She successfully finds the step behind her.
And then the next step.

I look at Steve again to see if he truly is stable as I deliberate who or how I should help. If I rush passed Steve to help Rumiko, I may knock Steve and his suitcase out of balance again. Time has literally slowed down.

Klip-klank.

Rumiko is managing to turn herself around and has grabbed hold of the moving railing. She is falling and climbing down the moving escalator simultaneously—setting every footfall on each step perfectly.

Klip-klank. Klip-klank.

She manages to avoid another woman on the escalator, who happens to do nothing except watch my wife struggle to keep from collapsing onto the escalator.

Klip…….klank.

Rumiko makes the bold move to jump the small, remaining distance to where the escalator panels are still flat and have not formed “steps” yet. Now it’s a treadmill run.

Klippity-klank. Klippity-klank. Klippity-klank.

Like some Looney Toons, she runs in place for a couple of seconds before lighting onto the base of the escalator, none the worse for wear.

This sequence lasts only a few seconds and it was over before even reaching the 3/4 mark of the total escalator flight up, but it seemed like forever. My mouth literally agape, I start to laugh as Rumiko, without missing a beat, hops back onto the escalator with the pep and bounce of Charlie Chaplin. Steve has managed to right himself and as we crest the top of the escalator onto the platform, I help Steve as I a laugh uncontrollably. Rumiko pops up afterwards, also laughing. Steve has this look on his face as if he wants to laugh, but is in complete shock that his luggage almost took Rumiko out. He apologizes, but Rumiko and I are laughing so much now our sides hurt.

“No harm, no foul.” as Chick Hearn would say. I assured Steve there was no need to apologize and that this moment will be relived in my mind for decades to come. I tell him the person I should really be pissed at is the woman who just stood idly by without even trying to catch Rumiko or do something for her. The only part of her that moved was her neck, swiveling her head as it tracked Rumiko passing her. We walk Steve to the proper waiting area for his specific train car. We’re still laughing. Even as it subsides, it starts up again. Steve’s train arrives and he boards. We’re still laughing. I am out of breath. We see Steve take his seat as the train begins to pull out of the station. Rumiko and I wave “goodbye” to him with big, big smiles on our face—not just because of this incident, but because it was with as close a friend as Steve. We were just glad someone close to us was there to witness this unbelievable feat; that it was a Cadre member felt just right.

Later, after we’ve turned in for the night, the dark is suddenly pierced by an explosion of laughter. We can’t close our eyes without the event replaying in our mind.

Japan

Day 1-Arriving in Narita airport last night, Ben and Rumiko generously hosted me during my stay in Tokyo. For lunch, I headed to Shinjuku to meet my girlfriend’s sister, Yuwen, and Yuwen’s college friend. Our conversation was quite interesting: they both speak Japanese, but I can’t; I can speak Chinese with Yuwen, but her friend is Korean; so I spoke English with her friend. I surprisingly had a great time with Yuwen. All the times I’ve seen Yuwen while she visited Taiwan, she seemed very unsociable. This could be her reaction around her family, but she was a lot more engaging this time around.

Yuwen and her friend

Yuwen and her friend


Afterwards, I had sushi with Ben and Rumiko, which they then dropped me off at Musashi Sakai Station to take the JR line to Tokyo, then the Hamamoto line to the monorail, and finally arriving at Haneda airport. Since my flight to Hokkaido was early morning, I thought I could just sleep at the airport the night before like I’ve done at many airports before. However, they wouldn’t allow me to sleep in most of the areas, so I wandered around until they directed me to a specific place where I can stay overnight. Unfortunately, it was already past 2am, so I only slept for 2 hours.

Day 2-Flying out of Tokyo, it was raining really hard because of a typhoon passing by. After landing in Asahikawa, I took bus 77 to Asahikawa station (¥570), then JR line Asahikawa (11:19) to Abashiri (15:09), then transfer from Abashiri to Shiretoko Shari (16:15), and finally a bus from Shiretoko Shari to Utoro (17:15). The bus unfortunately no longer went to the hostel that I intended to stay, so I had to figure out how to eventually get there. Along the way to the Utoro bus terminal, the sun was starting to set over the sea, and I wanted to scream at the bus driver to stop so I can take some photos. When we arrived at the terminal at 18:05, the sunset was getting even more brilliant, so I ran from the bus terminal to a spot near the coast. I was running out of time fast, and since my tripod was disassembled, I laid my camera on the ground while lying on bird shit. But it was so worth it because I don’t remember seeing the sunset as brilliant as that. Finished, I used the public phone at a 7-11 to call the hostel. Luckily public phones in Japan take coins, unlike most countries I’ve visited prior (they all use phone cards). The staff was friendly and sent someone to pick me up.
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Day 3-Damn, what a miserable day! It was raining all day from the typhoon, so I postponed my hike to Rausu-dake, and instead went to see Shiretoko Goko and Kamuiwakka falls. Staying at the hostel, I noticed that I was the only foreigner, everyone else was Japanese. For a while, it looked like nobody had any interest to interact with me, until a married couple invited me over. The wife, Junko, spoke decent English, although her husband, Tetsuya, couldn’t speak any. Regardless we had a great time getting to know one another, and even attracted other to join in on our conversations.
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Day 4-With no rain, the hostel shuttled me to Iwaobetsu onsen, which is the start of the hike to Rausu-dake, the highest mountain in Shiretoko National Park. I started my hike at 8am and arrived at the peak around 2pm. I really wanted to stay for the sunset, but the end part of the trail was way too dangerous to come back down in the dark (loose gravel and slippery ice), so I started my descent at 4pm. Considering how long it took me to get to Rausu-dake, I was literally running and flying over rocks to beat the sun. Because much of the terrain is hazardous, I was paying so much attention to my feet, that at one point my head smacked into a thick overhead branch, which knocked me off my ass. By 5:30pm, I can see the sun start to set, so I made my usual irrational decision to stop and take photos. Finished, I continued my trek down at 6:00pm. By 6:30pm I had to use my flashlight because the trees were blocking out any residual ambient light. I finally reach Iwaobetsu onsen at 7:00pm, but because there was no shuttle to take me back to the hostel, I had to walk an additional 40 minutes. By now, my legs were like jelly, and the last meal I had was breakfast, so I can feel my body devouring itself. It really sucked that I missed dinner, so I only had instant noodles at the hostel.
japanrausudake

Day 5-You know the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, which I’ve always lived by when traveling. So in the morning, I had my bath Japanese style and for the first time tried an onsen. Considering how wrecked my body was, it felt really good. Again, the staff at the hostel was nice enough to drive me back to the Utoro bus terminal. From there, I took the 7:10am bus to Shiretoko Shari Station, then the JR line all the way to Asahikawa station, and finally take bus 66 at 3:30pm to Shirakaba-so hostel to visit Daisetsuzan National Park.
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It really sucked that with the weather being so nice as it is, I’m wasting it by traveling to my next destination. Shirakaba-so hostel is definitely the best hostel I’ve ever stayed in, but it’s fucking expensive (¥7500)! At the hostel, I was surprised to run into Junko and Tetsuya. They had already taken the same path that I was planning to hike, so they gave me an idea what it was like. They also mentioned that the next day it will start to get overcast later in the day with a chance of shower (great…).

Day 6-I took a 5am shower, and as much as I wanted to soak in their onsen forever, I had to get going to catch the 6am gondola, called “Ropeway”, that takes you to the start of the hike to reach Asahidake, the tallest mountain in Hokkaido. I reached the peak around 8:30am. It was frustrating taking pictures with the constant overcast, so by 10:20am, I started my descent down. Instead of retreading my previous trail, I decided to go on the opposite side of Asahidake and take a different trail that will lead me back to the Ropeway. Ascending and descending Asahidake was quite tricky because of all of the loose gravel. Descending down, there were a few times I slipped and fell. According to Lonely Planet and Tetsuya, this alternate trail should only take 2 hours. I walk for what feels like forever and I started to get worried that I was on the wrong path. At 12:20pm, I eventually reach a junction point that I was confident will lead me back to the Ropeway. You definitely need to do a little preplanning when taking this route. Not only did their signs have no English, but many of them were so weathered that you couldn’t read it in the first place. The end part of this trail was not enjoyable because of the fog and mist that soon enveloped the area (just as Tetsuya told me). Passing through their natural hot spring, I finally arrive back at the Ropeway at 3:20pm.
japanasahidake

Day 7-It was raining the previous night, but while having breakfast, it was starting to look nice outside, so I went on a short walk to see Komadome falls. At the falls, it started to drizzle, so I decided to head back to my hostel, and just in time too, because it really started to pour. While waiting for the 11:10am bus, several others from the hostel were also heading back to Asahikawa station. Unlike the previous hostel, the majority of them were not Japanese. They ranged from Hong Kong, Singapore, English, French, Spain, and Finland. After arriving back at Asahikawa station, I had so much free time before my flight back to Tokyo, so I decided to walk around the city of Asahikawa. Unfortunately, it started to rain hard, so I couldn’t see much and ended up spending some time in one of their local museums. By the time I had to catch the 4pm bus for the airport, the weather started to clear up. All throughout my trip in Hokkaido, I felt like nature was teasing me, “you want to take pictures? here, here’s some overcast and rain; oh, you’re not taking pictures? I’ll give you some awesome weather”. My plane took off at 5:30pm and arrived back in Tokyo at 7:15pm.

Day 8-After being served breakfast, Ben, Rumiko and I went to Jindaiji. This was a cool little place near their place that had a temple, plenty of greenery and shops lined up selling snacks and soba noodles. With the weather being so nice, it was a great opportunity for Ben and I to do some photography. It would be cool to compare how we’ve processed our photos from that excursion.
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Day 9-The original plan was to have an early lunch with Ben, then head to the Exposition Building, then to the Government Metropolitan Building to catch the sunset and some night city shots. We ended up having a late lunch because I gave Ben a look at my Chinese calligraphy and Ben showed me his photos. So by 3pm, I rushed out to catch everything before 7pm, because that was the time Ben, Rumiko, and I were supposed to get together for dinner. The nice thing about the Government Metropolitan Building is that their observation floor is free to the public and it’s close to several tall buildings. But because it doesn’t open out to the outside, I really struggled with dealing with the reflections off of the glass. Because they wouldn’t allow me to use my tripod, I had to improvise. Because my shots had long exposures, I had to stabilize my camera somehow, so I attached the tripod head to my camera (to get the angle I want), then I set the tripod head on top of my telephoto lens (for maximum height), while the telephoto lens was sitting on their window sill (for stability), and I spread my black umbrella on the bottom (to reduce as much reflections as possible). When taking my shots, I also cupped my hand around the gap between the camera lens and the window to reduce any other reflections still visible. I must have looked ridiculous to the others walking around the floor.
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Closing thoughts:
It’s been an interesting experience revisiting Japan after visiting a number of other Asian countries. One of the things that I noticed was that the Japanese seem to have the worst English out of all of the other Asian countries I’ve visited (besides Vietnam). I wondered why a country that’s so developed would have horrible English. Now I think I know why. It’s because when writing English words, most countries would write them out in English, but in Japan, they write them out in Japanese (katakana). So the Japanese are pronouncing English improperly because there are several English sounds that don’t exist in Japanese. Ironically, because the Japanese have adopted many English words into their vocabulary, it’s probably easier for foreigners visiting Japan. Just say the English words, just with a heavy Japanese accent.

Continuing with the topic of languages, I feel so grateful that I studied Japanese previously. Granted, my Japanese is horrible now, but while in Japan, I was remembering more and more of what I had studied. And because many of the Japanese that I encountered could not speak English, I knew enough that I actually had some enjoyable conversations with some of the locals.

I always try to speak some of the local languages when visiting those countries (except Vietnamese, which I found way harder than Chinese). Even saying little things like, “Thank you” in their language can make their expression soften up and make them more open and friendly.

My two visits to Japan has served as significant bookmarks in my life for me to reflect upon. There’s too much to put them all into writing, but it’s interesting to see the journey of The Cadre since we’ve last gathered for Ben’s wedding. Of course, we all go through changes as time passes, but I think it’s awesome that no only do we have the means, but also the desire to keep in touch. Let The Cadre Blog be a testimony to that.

No Escape For You!
No Escape For You!

star-trek-series-120

Been a while since I posted something just for the hell of it.

Phantom Menace Review
Phantom Menace Review

Watch and be invigorated!