Wednesday, December 31, 2008

To All Of My Old Friends and My New Readers

Happy New Year!

I wish you all the very best in 2009.

Thanks for stopping by.

Bollywood is Remaking Back to the Future

(via /Film):
"Is Bollywood remaking Back to the Future? RealBollywoodNews is reporting that Akshay Kumar and Aishwarya Rai have been cast in Action Replay (yeah, horrible title…), a film which will be unofficially based on the popular 1985 Robert Zemeckis film Back to the Future. was able to contact Future producer/screenwriter Bob Gale who denied any knowledge of the production."
There's only so much I'm allowed to say about this, especially considering how long I played a Japanese-speaking Doc Brown in a series of shows which, to my dismay, usually had little-or-nothing to do with the glorious, original trilogy.

But, it does scare me a little.

Still, I will admit that I wouldn't mind seeing a massive, fully-choreographed, big-budget, Bollywood-style musical number for "The Power of Love" a la Chandni Chowk to China.

Great Scott.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Merry (belated) Christmas!

Geez, I can't even get my Christmas posting done on time.

Seriously, all I had to do was type "Merry Christmas!" and then slap on this picture:

...and that would be it. Holiday well-wishing complete.

But I couldn't even do that, could I? Am I a shining beacon of the GTD philosophy or what??

Anyway, sorry for the posting lag lately. Took a bit of a breather from blogging the past few days and, instead, just sang Christmas carols as I ran circles around the inside of my apartment, hoping to slow my decent into snowbound insanity. Man, being stuck inside for a week does NOT make one want to be productive! I did work on one post, though. Here's a quick sample:
...All work and no play makes Matt a dull boy. All work and no play makes Matt a dull boy. All work and no play makes Matt a dull boy. All work and no play makes Matt a dull boy. All work and no play makes Matt a dull boy. All work and no play makes Matt a dull boy. All work and no play makes Matt a dull boy. All work and no play makes Matt a dull boy. All work and no play makes Matt a dull boy. All work...
It was a bit long. (And I got distracted when I tried to kill my family with an ax.)

So! How was everybody's Christmas? Despite my little indoors holiday-themed marathon, I did knock out a ton of email. And - this was kind of cool - for the first time in my life, my "Drafts" folder in Thunderbird was completely empty! Go me! (I swear that folder was already full when I installed Thunderbird.)

See, I've had a pretty bad habit of starting an email - particularly to somebody I haven't written to in a long-ass time - and then saving said incomplete email into my "Drafts" folder thinking that one day I'd get back to it. Never happened. A "Drafts" folder full of 3o or 40 loose ends is not a folder I'd like to open. So there it sat.

But, thanks to my recent induction into the glorious world of Facebook ("It's like a social life, but you don't have to talk to anybody!"), I found a way to get back in touch with around 90% of these people without all of that "Sorry I haven't written lately" awkwardness.

Plus, it really reduces the "sending an email out of the blue makes me look like a stalker" factor. Although I did have one or two people on Facebook post something along the lines of:
"Wow! Matt! Uh... how, exactly, did you track me down?"
So, anyway, I deleted the drafts to any of the people I'd reestablished contact with via Facebook, and then, to the remaining 10%, I sent links to a Facebook photo album I'd made of my recent Japan trip and, bickity-bam... I had an empty "Drafts" folder.

Oh, and I also finally got all of my mail folders organized! Sweetness!

(If you have no interest whatsoever in my "getting organized" ramblings, feel free to skip down a few paragraphs.)

I used to keep all of my archived mail sorted into several different categories. For example, I'd have a "Japan Friends" folder which would contain folders for each of my non-work Japanese friends by name. I also had a "Florida Friends" folder and a "Former Coworkers" one and a "Nigerian Friends Who Want Money" one.

Then there were my non-social emails, similarly divided. Alas, folders for "Online Shopping" and "Acting Updates" and "Nigerian People I Don't Know Who Want My Money". My mail was sorted, yes, but it didn't make sorting new emails easy. So, eventually I just ended up with a massive "To Sort" folder (which made my "Drafts" folder look manageable).

Anyway, I did a big overhaul recently and narrowed it down to just 3 categories: Family, Friends and Information. Then, instead of subdividing them into further groups, I just put every folder that fit each category into their respective groups alphabetically. It's made things infinitely easier. So easy, in fact, that I've set up filters to pre-sort any new emails that arrive. Dare I say, it's heavenly? I dare.

(Non-organizational stuff resumes here.)

In other news, the snow finally melted the past 2 days and I actually got to drive my car yesterday (instead of using it as the lower torso of a giant snowman). Despite the snow, I did get out of the house on Friday night when I took a bus downtown to go see my very talented friend (and former neighbor in Japan) Stephanie St. James play Squeak in "The Color Purple" at The Paramount.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and have never wanted to be a large black lady more in my life. Plus, I got to meet up with Stephanie during the intermission and after the show. It had been far, far too long. And the whole experience really got me wanting to start performing again. Can't lie, I miss the hell out of it. I think I was secretly hoping that, by now, the book would be finished and sold and I'd be out entertaining people with delightful readings of selections of my best-selling memoir at fine bookstores across the U.S. and Europe.

Hmm... hasn't happened yet.

But, the good news is, the sun's not even up yet and I'm already off to a good start. Time for some writing!!

Just as soon as I finish these Christmas cards...

What the WHAT???

It's 6 a.m. and I've been up since 5 a.m.... writing??

And now I'm blogging?

Oh yeah, there's no way productivity like this is going to last.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Oh, And It's Not The Size of Your Snow That Counts

It's how poorly you handle it.

Lately, a couple of my friends have pointed out though email and via Facebook just how much worse the snow is in their part of the world. Why, even Microsoft's Fargo campus is making fun of how Redmond - home to Microsoft's headquarters - is unable to deal with the weather.

I get it. Yes, it's 4 below in Fargo.

But it's Fargo.

And yes, there were 27 inches of snow in Canada. But it's Canada. Canadians are born wearing a tuke and bearing a snow shovel (which explains the popularity of c-sections).

But, because snow like this is so rare here in Seattle, we're just not ready to handle it. We don't have enough plows, nor do most of us have the right shoes or tires or chains to put on said tires. Seattle's about as prepared to handle this much snow as Tennessee is prepared to handle deluges of coal sludge.

Worse, because we're a bunch of wild-eyed, Metrognomical hippies here in Seattle, we don't salt the road, we sand it. Don't you see?? Salting it would be bad! For nature! Besides, we don't know if Seattle will get enough RAIN in the near future to dissolve all of that dreadfully unnatural... salt.

From a week of salting.

In Seattle.

Personally, if it only snows like this for a few days once a millennium, I say SALT THIS CITY! I want the Space Needle ringed like a Margarita glass. I want Mark Kurlansky to write a book about us. I want slugs to run in fear.

The best part of it all? Scientists are now saying that sanding is worse than salting.
"Sand — one of Seattle's main weapons against icy streets — is more likely to harm aquatic life than the salt the city refuses to use out of concern for its environmental effects."
Now you tell us.

Twas The Day Before Christmas

And I'm stuck in the house.

Well, it's another snowy day. It was supposed to rain today but it's still snowing. (Actually, it's both.)

I'd planned to run a bunch of errands today. Go to the gym. Get some groceries. Hit the post office. Do some much-needed laundry. (I'm wearing my last pair of underwear as we speak.) But, as much as I need to get out of the house, I'm not sure it's going to happen.

Alas, it's official: my Christmas cards will be late this year.

Of course, I say that as if they've been on time in years' past. Still, it should be pointed out that this year, my excuse is not procrastination, but a legitimate one: snow. (An excellent excuse which overshadows the fact that my Christmas cards are not addressed yet.

Or written.)

But, I did get some stuff done this morning. I finally posted online a few of the things I was working on yesterday (in lieu of Christmas cards or my book) and even finished reading The Autobiographer's Handbook which, despite sounding dry as toast, was both inspiring and thoroughly enjoyable. I'll be posting about it, hopefully, in the near future.

OK, lunch time.

Happy Fun Poo! : Japanese Lucky Golden Poo

For the last day of Christmas shopping, I present to you the final Happy Fun Good...

Japanese Lucky Golden Poo!

Two wonderful things have happened as a result of this product's description.
  1. I finally understand Japan's fascination with poo. (No joke, that shit is everywhere.) Turns out, the kanji for "lucky" is very similar to the shortened form of the Japanese word for "poo." Who knew?
  2. When I was looking at the description for this, I saw a picture of my brand of cell phone... with a cell phone strap attached!

I can finally use some of my Japanese cell phone straps!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

VHS Era is Winding Down (Get it??)

(via Los Angeles Times)
"Pop culture is finally hitting the eject button on the VHS tape, the once-ubiquitous home-video format that will finish this month as a creaky ghost of Christmas past.

After three decades of steady if unspectacular service, the spinning wheels of the home-entertainment stalwart are slowing to a halt at retail outlets. On a crisp Friday morning in October, the final truckload of VHS tapes rolled out of a Palm Harbor, Fla., warehouse run by Ryan J. Kugler, the last major supplier of the tapes.

'It's dead, this is it, this is the last Christmas, without a doubt,' said Kugler, 34, a Burbank businessman. 'I was the last one buying VHS and the last one selling it, and I'm done. Anything left in warehouse we'll just give away or throw away.'"
Or perhaps bury in a grave next to books-on-tape, HD-DVDs and Windows Vista.

What I Want For Christmas

Twelve R2D2 Robots.

So I can do this, too:

Man Blowtorching Snow Sets Home on Fire

"Fire officials in New Bedford, Mass., say a man using a blowtorch to melt ice on his back porch ended up setting his house on fire, causing up to $30,000 in damage."
He should have joined the army.

(hat tip to Sam

Oh, and the answer to your question is "no, there isn't a law against stuff like this. Otherwise I'd have nothing to blog about".)

Season 2 Online Premiere of Flight of the Conchords!

And speaking of quality television, Flight of the Conchords has the entire episode of their Season 2 premiere available online!

(via funny or die)

Sadly, for the Japanese, Australian and Canadian members of my audience (all 6 of you), the episode is only available in the U.S.

A Brief History of 'Glove'

I am apparently not paying enough attention to 30 Rock.

A Brief History of 'Glove,' an Uncredited 30 Rock Extra:
(via The Apiary)
"This is the story of 'Glove,' a rubber glove that made four separate appearances on TV comedy fave 30 Rock."
If only I had the first 2 seasons on DVD...

I Hope I'm This Clever

The cover and title of Carrie Fisher's new book Wishful Drinking kicks some serious ass.

Doc and Marty Make the Top 100!

Empire Magazine recently included Marty McFly and Doc Brown in their list of the "100 greatest movie characters":

#39. Marty McFly

"Nobody calls me chicken!"

Played By: Michael J. Fox
Film: Back to The Future 1-3

Why He's On The List: Goddamn, but Marty McFly is cool. Ace guitarist, ace skateboarder, world-class slacker, hot girlfriend, hangs around with a daffy old boffin without inviting the interest of Operation Ore, travels through time in a DeLorean, manages to make his teenage mum fall in love with him, reunites his parents, inspires a teen band - yep, his mojo is working, and then some. Played by any other actor - say, Eric Stoltz - and you might hate the little bugger, but with Michael J. Fox working his cheeky chappy charm to the full, that's not an option.

Finest Hour: Marty gets carried away during Johnny Be Goode


#76 Dr. Emmett Brown

"Great Scott!"

Played By: Christopher Lloyd
Film: Back To The Future 1-3

Why He's On The List: The white hair may be standard issue mad scientist, but Doctor Emmett Brown, creator of the flux capacitor and a man incapable of normal social interaction because his head is too busy buzzing with ideas, is a genuinely likeable creation, a world away from stereotypes. So much so that, when he gets shot by Libyans ten minutes in, we're sad even though we've only just met the man. And joyous again when we meet his younger self. Now that's acting.

Finest Hour: "1.21 gigawatts!" The young Doc's spazz-out when he hears the full extent of the energy needed to send Marty back to the future is a sight to behold.
While I'm glad they are both (deservedly) in the top 100... only 76 for Doc?? Really?? Especially considering that 75 is Marge Gunderson.



Look, I liked Fargo. And nothing personal Frances McDormand. But "Marge Gunderson" just doesn't have the name recognition of Doc Brown.

You betcha.

Oh, and implying that Doc was a pedophile is just plain wrong.

(But I will give them credit for not making Vito Corleone number 1. Tired of seeing "The Godfather" at the top of every movie list.)

White Goodman?? Brick Tamland?? #$@%& JUNO???

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Here's An Idea: Play Some MUSIC VIDEOS

MTV plans 16 new reality shows:
"In trying to keep its hold on young and fickle audiences, MTV over the decades has undergone some fundamental programming shifts, but never before on this scale.

The cabler's recent ratings declines include a 23% fourth-quarter drop in its core demo of 12- to 34-year-olds. So MTV is embarking on a major programming overhaul, with 16 new unscripted series over the next 4 1/2 months."
And people wonder why I don't have a TV.

Related Posts:
Lookin' for the Mouse...
The Stupid, It Burns
I Want My MTV(

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snowy Night In Seattle

I couldn't venture out too far but here are a few pictures from tonight:

My very first snow angel!

Friday, December 19, 2008

It Just Keeps Getting Better

Get ready for the next big storm
(via Seattle PI):
"The National Weather Service said a fierce snowstorm combined with high winds and possible freezing rain could cause widespread power outages, and dump as much as a half-foot of snow in the Seattle area, starting as early as Saturday afternoon. A rare blizzard warning was also issued for the Cascades and northern areas of the Olympic Peninsula."
But it's not all bad news...
"On the brighter side -- forecasters noted that the cold snap should end by Christmas with temperatures on Christmas Day projected into the 40s."
How perfectly balmy.

(Think I'll Walk Instead) UPDATE:

This could have been a lot worse. I'm glad it wasn't.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Horny Fun Goods! : Humping USB Dog

Self-explanatory. And delightful.

Humping USB Dog

Seattle: Ground To A Halt

You know that great scene at the end of Groundhog Day when Bill Murray looks out the window and finally sees snow?

That's what this morning felt like!

(Oddly enough, Andie MacDowell spent the night last night.)

Seattle, region hit with snow; schools closed:
"If Seattle was the doughnut hole in Wednesday's snowstorm, then it looked more like a powdered pancake on Thursday.

Seattle dodged heavy snow Wednesday as surrounding areas were blanketed. The city wasn't so lucky 24 hours later as the winter storm caused slick roads and prompted multiple school closures, including Seattle Public Schools, for the second day in a row.

Lightning flashed and thunder rumbled during this morning's snowstorm in Seattle. The National Weather Service calls it 'thundersnow.'

The thundersnow, heard about 5:30 a.m., was caused by a storm cell moving across Puget Sound."

Thundersnow. Coooool.

"Traffic was a mess on most Puget Sound's major freeways and highways with up to four inches of snow and an inch of ice underneath in some places, Washington State Patrol Trooper Curt Boyle said. State Route 520 was in gridlock as multiple vehicles spun out on the raised portion of the Lake Washington bridge. Troopers were still clearing lanes at 8:30 a.m., he said.

No serious collisions were reported.

'Pretty much if you don't have to go anywhere, don't,' Boyle said."

If you insist.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Prices So Low... They're INSANE!!! ("Heroes" and "Arrested Development" DVDs)

This stuff is just too good not to share.

For some unknown reason, Amazon has gone a little crazy and is currently offering the Heroes Franchise Collection (Season 1 | Season 2) for only $50!

On top of that, for only 24 hours, they've got the entire series of Arrested Development for under 30 bucks!! (That's 80 dollars in savings! What th' what??) All finished. (>_<)

It's all part of their Box Set Blowout!

(Now if they could just do the same with 30 Rock.)

So, um, Ken... no need to get me these for Christmas either. Sorry, bro.

(via /Film)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bundle Up... And Let Your Hair Hang Down

It's 25 degrees here in Seattle right now.


So, to help warm you up this chilly Monday morning, here's Australian "supergroup" The Wrights (with Nic Cester from JET doing vocals) playing part one of their cover of Steve Wright's 3-part classic, "Evie":

Rock on. (At least until you can feel your fingers again.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I Have Good Netflix News and Bad Netflix News

The bad news:
Lots of titles currently available via Watch Instantly will no longer be available by the end of the year. (More information over at cnet. Hollywood seems determined to have their stuff pirated.)

So check your queues!

Guess I know how I'll be spending my 12 Days of Christmas.

The good news:

Watch Instantly has just added Sukiyaki Western Django.

Which I will watch on the 2nd.

(Cookie Monster) UPDATE: Seeing Quentin Tarantino in that ad reminds me of this video for some reason:

Perpetuating Stereotypes

I'm such a cliché.

Stuff White People Like #106 - Facebook:
"Social Networking sites have been embraced by white people since their inception. Because these sites use profile pages, white people can more efficiently judge friends and future friends on their taste in film, books, music, and inspirational quotes.


For a brief period of time, MySpace was the site where everyone kept their profile and managed their friendships. But soon, the service began to attract fake profiles, the wrong kind of white people, and struggling musicians. In real world terms, these three developments would be equivalent to a check cashing store, a TGIFridays, and a housing project. All which strike fear in the hearts of white people.

White people were nervous but had nowhere else to go. Then Facebook came along and offered advanced privacy settings, closed networks, and a clean interface. In respective real world terms, these features are analogous to an apartment or house with a security system/doorman, an alumni dinner, and a homeowners association that protects the aesthetics of the neighborhood. In spite of these advances, some white people still clung to their old MySpace accounts. That was until they learned that Facebook started, like so many things beloved by white people, at Harvard.

Within a matter of months, MySpace had gone from a virtual utopia to Digital Detroit, where only minorities and indie bands remain."

Happy Fun Goods! : DIY Japanese Name Stamp Set

Learn Hiragana and facilitate meeting Japanese women at a bar.

DIY Japanese Name Stamp Set

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Learning Disguised As Wasting Time (or vice versa)

If you're snowed in this weekend (like I should be right now), here's a fun way to whittle away the hours.

LIFE photo archive hosted by Google:
"Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google."
My two favorites so far are historic photos of places I'm familiar with:

An unfinished Space Needle

An unbombed Osaka Castle

Happy Fun Goods! : Tokyo RoboClock

Less than two weeks until Christmas?? Aw, man.

Well, if you're like me, you're already panicking. (Christmas cards?? I haven't even THOUGHT about Christmas cards!!)

So, in an effort to help expedite the gifting-process (as well as win some brownie point with my affiliates), I present to you a series I'm calling "Happy Fun Goods!", showcasing gift ideas for the geek in your family.

First up, Tokyo RoboClock!

Tells time, and protects you from aliens.

And Doc Brown-approved!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hot Housewives in Action!

You can't be in Japan for more than a few minutes before running into some mistranslated or nonsensical English written somewhere - be it on a shirt, in a menu, or throughout an airline safety brochure.

So, it's nice to see that it works in the other direction.

Chinese 'classical poem' was brothel ad
(via The Independent):
"A respected research institute wanted Chinese classical texts to adorn its journal, something beautiful and elegant, to illustrate a special report on China. Instead, it got a racy flyer extolling the lusty details of stripping housewives in a brothel.

Chinese characters look dramatic and beautiful, and have a powerful visual impact, but make sure you get the meaning of the characters straight before jumping right in.

There were red faces on the editorial board of one of Germany's top scientific institutions, the Max Planck Institute, after it ran the text of a handbill for a Macau strip club on the front page of its latest journal. Editors had hoped to find an elegant Chinese poem to grace the cover of a special issue, focusing on China, of the MaxPlanckForschung journal, but instead of poetry they ran a text effectively proclaiming 'Hot Housewives in action!' on the front of the third-quarter edition. Their 'enchanting and coquettish performance' was highly recommended."
And don't forget, when we do stuff like this to them:

They do stuff like this to us:
There are tales of drunken teenagers walking out of tattoo parlours with characters reading, "This is one ugly foreigner" or "A fool and his money are easily parted".

Another web-user wrote: "I recently met a German girl with a Chinese tattoo on her neck which in Chinese means 'prostitute'. I laughed so loud, I could hardly breathe."

Naked Muppets Singing About Heartbreak

Some music for a rainy Friday morning.

The Format - Dog Problems

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Brace Yourselves!

'Major winter blast' on way:
(via Seattle PI)
"Winter will come barreling in to Western Washington on Friday, bringing rain and perhaps snow by the end of rush hour.

Subfreezing temperatures and perhaps more snow will follow in what the National Weather Service says may be the coldest weather here since December 1990."
It can rain here for 11 months straight and nobody bats an eye. But throw in a little snow, and the city grinds to a halt.

Can't wait!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chuck Versus The DeLorean

Speaking of Hulu, last night I came across the latest episode of Chuck. I'd never seen the show before and pretty much had no idea what it was about but, I couldn't help but watch this particular episode. See if you can figure out why.

Here's a clip:

Any show that mentions "Back to the Future", has Julia Ling in a schoolgirl uniform and has a DeLorean subplot is A-OK with me.

See the full episode here.

Related Post:
Women + DeLorean = Hot
Roads? Where We're Going... We Won't Need Roads

We Want YOU! (To Melt Snow)

I think I may have just figured out how to save the United States Armed Forces.

You see, recruitment is down and the military is stretched thin. I know this, not only because I read the papers, but also because there are an awful lot of military commercials popping up whenever I watch something on Hulu.

While I watched Heroes the other day, they kept playing Air Force ads and they were all feel-goody about how swell it is using remote-control drones and how neat it is to watch planes take off, by golly, shucks.

I'm sorry, I just don't think those ads are working.

Think about it. If someone is against war in general, the commercials just seem snarky ("We use drones to save lives!" Um, no... you don't.) and, if someone is pro-war, the commercials don't appeal to that gut-level animal instinct that drives men to destroy things for fun (Look, if I wanted to save lives, I'd have become a doctor. Or Oprah).

But I think I figured out a way to appeal to both groups.

I came across this article the other day:

Washington Strains for Inauguration

"Even for a city practiced at handling huge protests, marches and funerals, the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama will put an unusual strain on local resources.

Because Washington has been allotted only about $15 million in federal money to help pay for all major events in the city for the entire year, local officials say they are most concerned about the costs of handling the more than 1.5 million spectators expected to come here, the largest crowd in inaugural history.

The $15 million is roughly $2.3 million less than the city spent just for President Bush’s second inauguration, in 2005, which attracted 300,000 spectators."
That kinda sucks, huh? They're about to have the "Largest. Inauguration. EVER." to swear in a president that a nice chunk of the "heavily-armed nutjob" demographic would like to send "back and to the left" and the city only has $15 million? Not just for the event but for the entire year?? That's $2 million less than what was needed for simply the second inauguration of the least popular president in American history! Makes no sense.

But I digress.

Anyway, the part that got me was in the following paragraph (emphasis added is mine):
"'If we get snow, things could get even more expensive,' said Dan Tangherlini, the city administrator, pointing out that in 1961, inauguration planners called out 700 troops with shovels and flamethrowers after an unexpected storm blanketed the city in eight inches of snow before John F. Kennedy’s ceremony. To clear the snow from the inauguration parade route can cost the city more than $1 million alone, Mr. Tangherlini said."
They used flamethrowers. To melt snow.


First of all, how much would it suck to be in the "shovel" group?

Second, can't you just picture the recruitment ads??

Open with a tight shot of a snowman.

The camera slowly starts to zoom out.

Narrator: Join the Army...

The shot widens to reveal more snowmen.

: And every winter...

The shot widens more to reveal an entire field of snowmen.

: We'll let you melt snow...

The shot widens to reveal a soldier wearing a flamethower and a maniacal, shit-eating grin.

: With a flamethrower.

The soldier pulls down his googles, turns towards the snowmen, aims, then BLAST!!

Just as the flames are about to hit the first snowman, jump-cut to title card:

The Army.
We have freakin' flamethrowers.

Sign ME up.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Kyoto: Behind The Scenes

If you're in the Kansai area for the first 3 months of next year and you happen to have some free time, go check this out:

Big in Japan: Kyoto plans to open hidden treasures to public
(via Gadling)
"As part of the Kyoto Winter Special 2009, which runs from January 10, 2009 to March 18, 2009, the city will be temporarily opening up twelve cultural heritage sights to the public."
Wish I could go with you.

More details here.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mediocre Man and The Mean Average

Facebook: Bringing former co-workers together so they can make silly videos.

Mediocre Man's Video Blog 1:

Mediocre Man's Video Blog 2:

The Mean Average Responds to Mediocre Man:

I don't know about you, but I'm finding that Mean Average right sexy.

Related Post:
The Misadventure Continues

Chilli And Soul

Speaking of radio, my friend and former USJ co-worker, Gene Shill, is currently being featured on triple j's Unearthed. I was a big fan of triple j radio when I lived in Australia so it's cool to see Gene on their site. (Good on ya!)

Aside from having titles which make me pine for Japan ("Hep 5 Lights", "Chuo Line"), his songs have a downtempo lounge-feel (think Jamiroquai mixed with Thievery Corporation) and his new single "You Could Be My Girl" feels like some jazzy Hilltop Hoods. (Hey, I only know so much Australian hip-hop...)

So, if you're up for some new music, click over and download three of his singles. (I'm a big fan of "Shinsaibashi".) If you like it, you can hear more on his MySpace page.

Get Your Japanese Media Fix

Most of the time that I was in my apartment in Japan, I used to play local TV and radio in the background. Not only did it help with my Japanese pronunciation but it also gave me the ability to make all of those interesting exclamation noises that Japanese people make. ("Heeeeaaaahhh!") The music was usually pretty good plus, because I wasn't fluent, the radio banter was never a distraction.

Anyway, I just came across the website RadioBeta (via Lifehacker) which streams radio from around the world... including Japan!

Also, if you're interested in some Japanese TV, I came across this site while I was looking for ways to stream the Olympics. They have a few Japanese TV stations and, occasionally, even their Fox Japan stream works.

Fox: Japan Number One!

Friday, December 5, 2008

I Know What I Want For My Birthday!

Hint, Hint.

Back to the Future Gets a Two Disc Special Edition DVD
(via /Film)
"The new bonus disc will include all the footage from Back to the Future… The Ride, including the lobby que loop, the pre-show, and the entire ride itself. The new collectors edition will also feature the infamous Back to the Future Part II preview special hosted by Leslie Nielsen which orginally aired November 17, 1989 on NBC, and a new documentary called Looking Back to the Future. The two sequels have no new extras. All three discs have a MSRP of $19.98 and will hit in stores on February 10th, 2009."
Mmmm... bonus discs...

Astro Boy Teaser Trailer

While I can't say I have ever actually watched Astro Boy (or read any of his comics for that matter), he was a memorable part of my time in Japan because he was "born" on April 7th, 2003... 2 days before my 29th birthday and shortly after I arrived in Japan.

It was cool, Kyoto had a big celebration and all while I was there. (For him, not for me.)

So, I'm not really sure what to make of this:

(via /film)

Nathan Lane? Nicolas Cage?? Really??

Thursday, December 4, 2008

How Is The Verizon Guy Still Working??

Pre-Japan, I couldn't understand his appeal when he was the "Can you hear me now?" guy so, imagine my dismay when I came back to America 4 years later and found HE'S STILL WORKING!!

He's not even talking anymore! What's that all about?? Did I miss something? How does one get paid to appear in commercials to do nothing but STAND there? (And why am I not that person?) Did he save a busload of nuns and puppies in previous life or something??

At least the Dell Dude talked.

(Speaking of the Dell Dude, I'm thankful he guest starred in an episode of Law & Order last year. Things were getting pretty grim.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

American Airlines Now Charging Fees To Non-Passengers

Cash-strapped American Airlines announced a new series of fees this week that will apply to all customers not currently flying, scheduled to fly, or even thinking about flying aboard the commercial carrier.
(via The Onion - America's Finest News Source)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Must Run In The Family

I'm starting to sense where my anal retentiveness organizational skills came from.

My dad's workshop:

The "purse-hanger" my mom carries around:

36 Hours in Seattle

Cool article about Seattle over at

36 Hours in Seattle:
"As you’re exploring the grounds, don’t miss Isamu Noguchi’s doughnut-shaped onyx sculpture, “Black Sun,” that inspired Soundgarden’s grunge anthem, “Black Hole Sun.”"
Soundgarden just gets all sorts of inspiration from Seattle, huh?

Wal-Mart: Putting The "Arg!" Back Into Bargain

I can only imagine how this makes us look overseas.

Wal-Mart Employee Trampled to Death
"Suddenly, witnesses and the police said, the doors shattered, and the shrieking mob surged through in a blind rush for holiday bargains. One worker, Jdimytai Damour, 34, was thrown back onto the black linoleum tiles and trampled in the stampede that streamed over and around him. Others who had stood alongside Mr. Damour trying to hold the doors were also hurled back and run over, witnesses said."
Then, there was this that happened a few months after I got to Japan.

Are we really that desperate for a discount?

Monday, November 24, 2008

On My Way To Florida Now

Hopefully, I'll be greeted like this.

In an Absolut World, Everyone Would be Welcomed Home from ImprovEverywhere on Vimeo. (via Gadling)

As you might expect, my posting will probably be awful during my little vacation so your best bet would be to just check my Twitter every now and again.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Captain James T. McFly

Glad I'm not the only one who thought this:

LOL: Movie Jackets From the Future | /Film


Back to the Future Meets Way in the Future

Variety Shows' Big Return

Not exactly the comeback I expected but, whatever.

Variety Shows' Big Return
(via Huffington Post):
"Three top U.S. comedians next week will bring variety shows to television and one, Rosie O'Donnell, believes the format could stage a comeback amid the slumping economy if families start gathering around TVs for cheap entertainment."

Election 2004 Flashback

Came across this video of my friends and me in Japan reacting to the 2004 election results.

(via Koreus, mirror site here)

It's been a long four years.

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I Am A Doughnut

Japan's Sushi Famine

First bananas, now sushi.

(via The Independent):
But among many of Ishiki's 32,000 population, one-in-eight of whom depend on the sea to survive, the talk is of now one thing: the extinction of their livelihood. "In 40 years on a boat I've never seen it so bad," says one inhabitant, Yoshiju Kukeya. "Nakamura-san is lucky today. The fish are not there any more."

Atsushi Sasaki, 61, a fisherman-turned-conservationist who is sounding the alarm bell increasingly desperately about Japan's and the world's free-falling tuna stocks, speaks of imminent extinction: "If the situation continues, it is inevitable that tuna will disappear from the seas."

Japanese Millionaire Too Eccentric For Outer Space

Would-be space tourist wants $21M back
"Japanese millionaire Daisuke Enomoto had planned to dress up as his favourite cartoon character in outer space and spent $21 million to make it happen. Now he claims the company that was supposed make his dream come true brushed him aside with little more than a 'sorry, no refunds.'

A federal judge heard arguments Friday in Enomoto's lawsuit against Virginia-based Space Adventures, a firm that made its name brokering deals with the Russian space agency to put half a dozen 'space tourists' in orbit for fees of $20 million or more.

Space Adventures wants the lawsuit thrown out, saying that Enomoto was disqualified because of a chronic kidney-stone condition. They say his money is nonrefundable.

Enomoto claims the kidney stones were an excuse and that he was not allowed to launch in part because he refused Space Adventures' demands for more money.

Enomoto, an eccentric entrepreneur who planned to dress up as anime character Char Aznable, had plans to be the first tourist to do a spacewalk.
He spent most of eight months at the Star City training facility near Moscow in 2006 preparing for his flight."
Just so you have an idea of what Char Aznable looks like:

And you wonder why he was rejected.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Prepare Yourself

Twilight opened tonight.

I haven't read the series but, being an aspiring author, I can't help but admire how big Stephanie Meyer's books have become.

That doesn't mean that her fans don't scare me.

It's OK, though. I'm prepared...

Run For It, Marty!!!

Oh my God, they found me. I don't know how, but they found me.

I'm a stupid, stupid man.

It seems my cover is blown.  It never occurred to me that, once my email address was in Facebook -  even if I was giving no other information whatsoever - the people who knew my email address would be able to see that I now have an account.

Not seconds after my last post, I got a friend request.

Luckily, it was from someone I'm actually interested in reestablishing contact with.  But, still.  Weird.

Not sure if I'm ready for this!

Uh-oh, I just got another request.

Oh man, this is like a horror film!

How are these people finding me??

Guess I'll be spending the rest of the evening setting up a profile.


Blast you for making me social, Facebook! Blast you to heck for sucking me in, you South American balloon, you!

Staring Disturbing In The Face(book)

So, I signed up for Facebook this afternoon.

Yeah, I know.

I'll give my handful of readers a chance to catch their collective breath.


I don't really believe it either.

Don't go looking for my page yet. I've added nothing, uploaded nary a thing and I've got my privacy settings on "Fort Knox".

As fantastic of a site as this might prove to be, I don't like anything that doesn't let me see what I'm getting into before signing up. As much as I disliked my first experience with MySpace (long story), at least I could check out a few other peoples' pages first before I took the plunge and typed in my email address and personal information.

I've been fighting signing up for Facebook as long as possible but the din of people asking me if I was on it yet has grown to a point where I'm finding it hard to concentrate.  Sure, I have a blog. And I'm on Twitter. And I'm on some photo sharing sites.

Nobody cares.

Apparently, if you're not on Facebook, you're a nobody. A prehistoric nobody.

Everyone seems to be on Facebook. Most of my actor friends from Japan and Florida use Facebook. I get that and respect that. It's a great way to keep in touch as well as network. But just because I know that doesn't mean I'm ready for it.  Plus, there's a very good risk that someone from high school could find me.


Anyway, my signing up is actually is the result of the confluence of 3 events:

1. I got a call from my best friend Mike the other day and he asked me if I was on Facebook.


For those of you who know him, you may be as shocked as I was. Mike!
The Mike who didn't want to sign up for MSN Messenger because of privacy issues.
The Mike who didn't bat an eye when he recommended that I just delete my newly-created MySpace account after a former-girlfriend I wasn't ready to reestablish contact with tried to reestablish contact with me.
"Mike" Mike.

Yeah, I don't believe it either.

2. My installation of Digsby yesterday. After reading so many good things about it on Lifehacker, I decided to give it a shot. It's been really nice having a program bring together 4 of my email accounts, 5 of my IM accounts AND my Twitter.

But I just didn't like seeing the Facebook line grayed out...

3. Finally, last night, while testing Digby, I chatted online with a friend and former roommate from college. She asked if I was on Facebook yet and I gave the usual "Not yet! A few more posts on my blog and I think I'll be ready." She raved about it, particularly because of all of the current pictures of people she hadn't seen in years. "It's great! You can see how FAT everybody got! And how ugly their kids are!"

Well, that sounded shallow and petty.  And delightful.

So, I signed up.

While you're signing up, it asks you if you want to Facebook to scan your address book to check to see if any of your contacts have pages. Since I wasn't required to connect with any of these people yet, I figured it wouldn't hurt to check, right? Besides, I'd had Twitter do the same thing when I signed up and it brought up a big, fat goose egg.

Not so with Facebook.

Holy GEEZ, I didn't realize I knew so many people! I couldn't believe it. I had started using Gmail in Japan so I didn't think there'd be a lot of people in my address book. Boy, was I wrong. Even worse, as I'm clicking through the pages on my site, it starts suggesting people I might know. Friends of friends kinda thing, I guess.

The disturbing part? I know all of them.

That's scary.

On top of that, there are the 13 other Matt Herolds on Facebook. Suddenly my oddly-spelt last name doesn't feel quite so unique anymore.

Man, I don't know if I'm ready for this, you know? Ironic that I've been working so hard to create content to attract new readers to my blog yet I'm so unwilling to tap into such a giant vat of ready-made audience.
The thing is, I know these people.  That actually feels more constrictive to me than blogging to complete strangers.

Well, we'll see how it goes.  To those handful of people out there who haven't gotten on Facebook yet (hi, Ken!), I'll keep you updated.

Wish me luck!

This Is Disturbing

A Sea of Unwanted Imports
LONG BEACH, Calif. — Gleaming new Mercedes cars roll one by one out of a huge container ship here and onto a pier. Ordinarily the cars would be loaded on trucks within hours, destined for dealerships around the country. But these are not ordinary times.
For now, the port itself is the destination. Unwelcome by dealers and buyers, thousands of cars worth tens of millions of dollars are being warehoused on increasingly crowded port property.
And it gets worse.
But the inventory glut in Long Beach is not limited to imported cars. There has also been a sharp drop in demand for the port’s single largest export: recycled cardboard and paper products.This material typically goes to China, where it is used to make boxes for new electronics and other products that are sent back to the United States. But Chinese factories reacting to sharply falling demand are slowing production, so they need less cardboard. Tons of paper are piling up recycling businesses around the port, the detritus of economies on hold.
Our biggest export is stuff to make boxes for the Chinese to ship crap back to us.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Knew Hollywood Was Running Out of Ideas But...

It seems to be running out of music, too.

If you watch the trailer for Adam Sandler's new movie Bedtime Stories, keep an ear out at about the halfway point.

That's the score from Back to the Future III.

Can't imagine why I would know that.

Guitar Hero. On a Bike.

Proof video games can get you out of the house.

(Zorkish) UPDATE:

The original Guitar Hero wasn't quite as much fun.

Star Trek 90210

Man, the people who make these videos are fast.

(via Cinematical)

Love the "Syler" bit.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Don't Tell USJ...

Happy 80th Birthday, Mickey Mouse.

And I Thought I Had Too Much Free Time

Fan Restores Back To The Future Hover BMW:


OK. I'll admit it. I'm totally jealous.

Japan's Obama Mania

Man, those Japanese people just love Obama:

(via Telegraph)
"Two towns called Obama, which means "small shore" in Japanese, are already promoting their names and selling T-shirts, chopsticks and traditional sweets."
It's amazing what having a Japanese-sounding name can do for one's popularity in Japan.

Sadly - and this is much, much too funny for me to be kidding - the Japanese pronunciation of McCain's name also means something:

make-inu = 負犬 ="loser dog"

(hat tip to Peter over at jlist)

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Monday, November 17, 2008

A Man Of His Word

Because I promised...


(3 pictures I recently submitted to Kansai Scene)


(Wasabi Gumballs from


(Shiba Inu Puppy Cam)


Christopher Lloyd Visits What's Left of His Home

The BBC website has the "Good Morning America" clip showing Christopher Lloyd visiting what remains of his house:

BBC NEWS | Americas | Back to the Future star loses home:
"Christopher Lloyd, the Hollywood actor and star of the Back to the Future films, has lost his home to the wildfires which are sweeping parts of California. Mr Lloyd, who played the zany scientist 'Doc' in the Back to the Future trilogy, showed ABC's 'Good Morning America' programme around the ruins of his former home."
While you can see that video at a couple of different websites, I linked to the BBC because I like that they described Doc as "zany". All the other articles I've found kept calling Doc "crazy". Obviously, that's a personal pet peeve of mine. Doc was eccentric, he wasn't nuts.

Anyway, aside from how much it must suck to have "Good Morning America" tape you catching your first glimpse of the charred remains of everything you once owned, there were two things that really struck me about this video. First of all, despite the terrible circumstances, Christopher Lloyd looks GREAT for a 70 year old, doesn't he? Unbelievable.

Second was the following comment:
...memorabilia, which I kept delaying to go through to store. But, kinda don't have to worry about that now.
As I've mentioned before, I'm what Sam Gosling refers to as a "sentimental hoarder" in his book Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You.

I've got so much stuff from Japan in my little apartment, the most invaluable of which being my reams of journals and notes as well as hard drives full of pictures and data, including the first draft of my book. (And don't even get me started on all of the crap I've got boxed up at my parents house in Florida.)

As devastating as I'm sure it would be to lose all of that, I can't help but wonder if it might be pretty liberating as well.

The travel writer Pico Iyer - who I saw give an excellent lecture back in April - starts off his book The Global Soul as follows:
"Suddenly, the flames were curling seventy feet above my living room, whipped on by seventy-mile-per-hour winds that sent them ripping across the dry brush like maddened horses. I tried to call the fire department, but the phone was dead. I tried to turn the lights on, but the electricity was gone. I went upstairs again, to see that the flames, which minutes before had been a distant knife of orange cutting through a hillside, were now all around me, the view through the picture window a wall of flame."
After a few paragraphs describing his escape, he finishes the chapter with:
"I got taken to a friend's house, went across to an all-night supermarket to buy a toothbrush, and started my life anew."
It's tragic, but - and may everyone who lost their home in such a way forgive me for saying this - I'm almost envious.

I'm not saying I'd like a brushfire to rip through the U-District thereby freeing me from my junk and any self-imposed obligations. But, I am realizing that maybe it's time to reevaluate my relationship with my stuff and what I plan to do with it.

Or at least buy a really, really big firebox.

What do you think? If you lost your home tonight, how hard would it be for you to get back on your feet? Do you think it would be liberating? Devastating? What would you do next?