Friday, January 30, 2009

Because Sometimes You Just Need An Inspirational Speech Or Two

Or 40.


Feeling Better

Sorry about all of the vagueness and melting bunnies yesterday. On Wednesday morning, after a relentless series of small and unfortunate events (new parking hassles, a problematic trip to the laundry, pen stains on my new pants, the leg breaking off of my Marty figurine, etc.), I came home to find an envelope taped to my door.

Now everyone who knows what I went through with my place on Alki Point knows how I feel about envelopes taped to my door. (Here's a tip: even if it's just a letter telling me how great I am and that you want to give me all of your money, don't you EVER put it in an envelope and tape it to my door, OK?)

The good news is that my place is not being sold and turned into a condo (I'd like to see that happen). The bad news is that they're kicking my rent up quite a bit starting March 1st.

Now, I know that in the grand scheme of things, this is a small problem (especially considering all that's happening with the economy) but, in my little world, this is a bit of game-changer. I could barely justify paying my current rent, I'm certainly not going to be able to do so at the new rate. So, this whole thing got me reevaluating just what it is I'm doing here in Seattle and why things are taking so long. It also got me thinking about what's next.

Don't worry, dear reader, I'm still going to get the book finished and I shall continue blogging. (Neither snow nor rain nor heat of day nor gloom of night. Um, just not Tuesdays, OK?) But you guys may have to bear with me a bit while I figure a few things out.

But, if yesterday is a sign of things to come, things might not take as long as I fear. I got a ton of stuff done and I even had an old friend from New York get in touch with me because she wants me help her write a web series she's working on.

Very cool.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Having a Weird Week

After an already odd week, I had an über-crappy morning yesterday and it finally hit me that I'm going to have to reevaluate quite a few things in my life as well as rethink my priorities. Hopefully, I can turn what happened (and will happen) into a force for productive change so that I can one day look back and see yesterday as just the kick in the ass I needed.

But until that happens, here's a video that suits my mood:


Starbucks Plans to Close 300 More Shops


Starbucks plans to close 300 more shops as profit drops
(via MarketWatch):
"Starbucks, battered by slower store traffic and restructuring charges, reported Wednesday its quarterly net profit dropped 69% and announced plans to shut down 300 more coffee shops."
Well, at least the news fits my mood today.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why I Love Shopping At Japanese Stores

The cover of a notebook I bought the other day at Kinokuniya.

Oh, and I thought it was a nose hair.

Enviromentally Safe Floor Polishing

Finally figured out how to keep hardwood floors clean.

Well, at least shiny.

Sneak Preview of 'Back to the Future' Bonus Disc!

"In addition to the new trailer last week, our good friends at Universal Studios Home Entertainment have sent us nine brand new video clips from the upcoming Back to the Future™ 2-Disc DVD Special Edition, specifically from the new content found on the second disc."
What I'm really excited about is that they're including footage from the now-closed (everywhere but Japan) "Back to the Future" ride. On rainy days in Osaka, when it was too wet to do the Doc Brown show, I used to do meet & greets in the ride's queue and this was one of the clips that I kept hearing in the background (except it was in Japanese):

Takes me back.

Man, I really hope they don't get rid of the Japanese BTTF Ride any time soon. (Stay away, Homer! You too, Transformers!)

Click through to for more bonus videos.

Happy Coffee Time!

Originally uploaded by CrazyForBingo

Morning, gang. Let's do this.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Has Production on Astroboy Shut Down?

Looks like it.

(via /Film):
"Sadly, they’re now reporting that production on Imagi’s Astroboy movie appears to have shut down. This comes just days after I last reported on the film, on how it appears to have just scraped through it’s troubles with the recession. They have no official word on the matter, just information from those that have been working on the film."
I may have had some slight reservations about this project before but I certainly would never have wished this on them. I hope they find a way resume production.

Geo-tastic Creepiness

Recently, I've been trying to make myself rather available to John and Jane Q. Public what with this blog and The Twitter and The Flickr and The Facebook and all. It's been quite a big step for a recluse private person like me but I think I've been fairly cautious.

Which is why I doubt I'll be getting an iPhone anytime soon...

I Am Here: One Man's Experiment With the Location-Aware Lifestyle:
"To test whether I was being paranoid, I ran a little experiment. On a sunny Saturday, I spotted a woman in Golden Gate Park taking a photo with a 3G iPhone. Because iPhones embed geodata into photos that users upload to Flickr or Picasa, iPhone shots can be automatically placed on a map. At home I searched the Flickr map, and score—a shot from today. I clicked through to the user's photostream and determined it was the woman I had seen earlier. After adjusting the settings so that only her shots appeared on the map, I saw a cluster of images in one location. Clicking on them revealed photos of an apartment interior—a bedroom, a kitchen, a filthy living room. Now I know where she lives."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Seattle Tops List of America's Most Wired Cities

Go us!

America's Most Wired Cities
"Move over, Atlanta. Seattle, Microsoft and's home base, is now the country's most wired city."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Barack Obama Is Following Me

I'm sure he's got some sort of auto-add feature that automatically follows people who follow him but, still... this is a pretty cool thing to have land in my inbox:
Hi, mattherold (mattherold).

Barack Obama (BarackObama) is now following your updates on Twitter.

Check out Barack Obama's profile here:

I'm guessing it had something to do with my top-notch live-tweeting coverage yesterday.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Positive News About USJ!

Maybe I was wrong to worry.

Japan Loses Big, Making Up For Lost Time
"On the positive side of the ledger, USJ Co. jumped to its upper daily trading limit, 11.4% higher, at 38,650 yen ($433.30), after sources said the operator of a Universal Studios theme park in Japan may be taken private in a deal spearheaded by Goldman Sachs."
Not only is it nice to see my old employers being shown as the positive in an otherwise depressing article, but it's also great to not see any reference to USJ's scandalous opening year, a fact that newspapers and magazines seem compelled to include with any mention of the park since 2002.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Can't Sleep

So, I killed some time tonight messing around with the fonts and the layout. Got rid of that lined border as well. What do you think? Good or bad?

Also, while I'm thinking about it, a friend recently suggested that I switch my profile picture from this:

To this:

She thinks that, at the very least, I should post a "suave Matt photo" to attract new viewers.

I mean, sure it is a better picture of me. And it would be a free advertisement for "Matt's Cuban Style Roast Pork Sandwich" (available at the delightful New York Deli, located just outside of Kobe! Convenient to BOTH Hankyu Okamoto Station and Settsu-Motoyama Station! Tell Junko I said hello!).

But, considering that I'll be attempting to get a literary agent soon, I think I was hoping to achieve some sort of brand-name recognition. (Hence that Doc mugshot being my profile picture on The Facebook and The Twitter and on the alumni page of my high school). My rationale was that the photo was just so god-awfully bad that, when people saw it, they would want to stick around just to see what it was all about.

When I pointed this out to her, she replied, "Doc Brown - though interesting - is not as hot as 'not Doc Brown".

Stupid logic.

What do you think? Comment below or email me.

(I believe the children are our future) UPDATE:

According to my friend Kate in Portland:
Its funny when I go to FB and my 2 year old sees your profile pics on the wall he says mommy, THAT!
Mark one for old Doc.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I Guess I Can Postpone My Arabic Lessons

Job cuts on the rise in Dubai:
"...Universal Studios in Dubailand have also let go of as many as 50, sources told Gulf News.

Universal Studios was originally scheduled for completion in 2010, but it is now going to be complete in the first quarter of 2012 at the very earliest, a source said."
Shame. How much fun would an Arabian Doc Brown be??

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The New U2 Album

"Get On Your Boots, the first single from U2’s new album No Line On The Horizon, will be released as a digital download on February 15th with a physical format to follow on February 16 through Mercury/Universal.
Released on March 2nd (March 3rd in the US), the album will come in a standard format with 24 page booklet and in digipak format.
I have to give U2 credit, they've certainly stayed relevant. What really amazes me is that there probably hasn't been a person born since the late 60s that didn't have a U2 album released while he/she was in high school. That's quite a career.

Every time one of their songs randomly pops up in the old iPod, I'm taken back to earlier time in my life. "The Joshua Tree" was really the first time I'd heard of U2 and any song from that album takes me back to my middle school and Boy Scout years. (Heck yes, I was a Boy Scout. "Boy Scouts: taking the socially awkward and teaching them how to camp since 1907.") "Rattle and Hum" was there for my transition into high school and "Achtung Baby" will forever remind of summers in Florida and swim team.

"Zooropa"? Well, "Zooropa" gave us "Numb". I liked "Numb".

"Pop" came out during my Hard Rock Cafe years, "All That You Can't Leave Behind" got me through relationship troubles and September 11th, and "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" was easily one of my favorite English-language albums during my Japan years.

I'm curious to see what part of my life this next album will define.

Here the track list:

1. No Line On The Horizon
2. Magnificent
3. Moment of Surrender
4. Unknown Caller
5. I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight
6. Get On Your Boots
7. Stand Up Comedy
8. Fez – Being Born
9. White As Snow
10. Breathe
11. Cedars Of Lebanon

I realize this has nothing to do with Doc Brown or Japan or... wait, what's that?? The album cover art is done by Japanese artist and photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto?

Well, what do you know?

If you'd like to learn more about Hiroshi Sugimoto, check out his Artsy page!
Or visit your local library.

OUTATIME License Plates!

They have "OUTATIME" license plates over at Think!

That settles it. I have to buy a DeLorean now.

Shame they're sold out of these.

Chuck Versus The DeLorean
Roads? Where We're Going... We Won't Need Roads
Mr. Fusion, Here We Come

Update on The USJ - Goldman Sachs Buyout

Japan's USJ may go private with Goldman help-sources
(via Reuters):
"TOKYO, Jan 13 (Reuters) - USJ Co Ltd (2142.T: Quote, Profile, Research), which operates a Universal Studios theme park in Japan, may go private in a buyout led by Goldman Sachs (GS.N: Quote, Profile, Research), five people familiar with the matter said.

Goldman is looking for investors to join a bid for the Osaka-based company, the people said, asking not to be identified as the deal has not been completed.

Shares in USJ jumped 11.5 percent to 38,650 yen on Tuesday, rising by their limit after Reuters and its Basis Point loan service reported the move. The gain pushed up the company's market value to 83.7 billion yen ($936 million).

USJ, which listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in March 2007, includes rides themed on Peter Pan's Neverland and the movies 'Back to the Future' and 'Jurassic Park'.

Spokesman Johta Takahashi said USJ had not made any decision to go private.

Going private allows companies to restructure their operations under the guidance of like-minded shareholders and without the short-term pressures that come with being listed on the stock market."

30 Years of Kasou Taishou

Just in case you didn't get enough of it the other day:

The Power of David Allen Compels You

Forgive Me David Allen, For I Have Sinned

It's been several months since my last weekly review.

Why, it seems like only yesterday when I first stumbled upon your book Getting Things Done. I immediately went out and got me an inbox.  And a labeler.  And boxes and boxes of folders. many folders...

And right up until around September, I was doing so well. Look, see?? All my folders, nice and neat. (Sorry about the Pendaflex but, well... )

Well, everything's still nice and neat but the new year has passed, so now I have to purge the damn things. And ever since I got back from my Japan trip, I really started slacking. And now my Next Action list has become a list of tasks and sub-projects instead of discrete next actions. How embarrassing! And while I'm all caught up with runway-level stuff, I'm neglecting 10,000 feet stuff.

And 30-50,000 feet? Forget about it.

I tried, though! I started managing my lists with Remember the Milk. I became addicted to sites like Lifehacker and 43Folders.

Sadly, this had unintended consequences, most of them involving Google Reader and Merlin Mann.

Christ, Merlin Mann.

How am I supposed to get anything done if that man keeps creating??

But, times are changing. Gina's retired. Merlin Mann's extended his Twitter break. LOST doesn't start for another week.

I even took those plastic folders you recommended to capture stuff during my travels.

And boy, did I capture.

So now, I'm up. It's early. I've got coffee. I've got Baroque music is playing on the internet radio. There are new batteries in my labeler and GTDFast on my iPod. Copies of Getting Things Done and Ready for Anything are on my desk (but NOT in a pile, otherwise I grow numb to them).

I'm ready.

Anything else?

OK.  Seven Hail Marys.

And, what's that?  You have a new book, too??

Thank you, David Allen.

Japan Trip Pictures

Morning, everybody!

Hey, look at that... I'm actually up at a decent hour. Go me.

Sorry for the sporadic posting/sleep schedule/bathing this week but, as much as I hate to admit it, I think I've been fighting a cold lately. Blech. I tried taking it easy the past day or so but, well... you know me.

Fortunately, while I didn't get any real writing done, I did finally start getting some photos uploaded to my (finally being utilized) Flickr account. (Relax, Ken... it's all part of my "building a platform" for my submission.) On top of some older pictures from the Fremont Summer Solstice Fair and the Seattle Cherry Blossom Festival, I posted a nice chunk of the eleventy-billion pictures I took from my recent Japan trip. (Have I mentioned I love my new memory card?)

While, I'd still like to get the rest of the blog posts from The Japan Trip finished and online, ever since I've started assembling a submission package for my book, I've kinda backburnered it. Due time.

Anyway, here are the pictures:

I've captioned and tagged most of the pictures so, if you're interested in the details, click on over to the photo set. I'd love any feedback or comments you may have and, if you're on Flickr, add me as a contact!

Writers need love too!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Black Coffee (and Green Tea?) In Bed

Didn't sleep well the past two nights so I'm gonna be laptopping it from my bed for a bit (at least until the coffee kicks in). Here's a little something fitting for this mellow morning.

Squeeze - Black Coffee In Bed

Come for the music, stay for the hairstyles.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Universal Studios Japan Targeted for Buyout

"Goldman Sachs Group plans to acquire USJ, which operates the Universal Studios Japan theme park, according to an unsourced report in the Nikkei business news paper.

USJ spokesman Johta Takahashi said that USJ could not comment on the report, saying that 'nothing has been officially decided yet' while not denying that talks among shareholders are underway.

Goldman is currently the leading USJ shareholder, with a 41% stake. According to the Nikkei report, it will boost its share to 100% by March 31, spending approximately ¥50 billion ($561 million) to buy out other shareholders.

Goldman invested $225 million in USJ in 2005. Despite a spate of negative publicity following the opening of the Universal Studios park in 2001, from waste-contaminated land an investor, Sumitomo Metals, had provided for the park site, to the use of expired food in park concessions, USJ finally moved into the black in 2007.

In the first half of the current fiscal year, from April to September 2008, USJ recorded an operating profit of $46 million against sales of $386 million. Park attendance, however, is expected to total 8.6 million in the current fiscal year, ending on March 31, compared with 9.9 million five years earlier."
Goldman Sachs, huh? Now why does that name sound familiar? Oh yeah.

Um, yay?

Meet the Japanese Obama

I like that the Japanese Obama looks about as convincing as my Doc Brown.

Meet the Japanese Obama
"The Japanese Obama strides with aplomb into the Hyde Park Hair Salon, the barbershop at 53rd Street and Blackstone Avenue where the real Obama has gotten haircuts for the last 14 years. Two cameramen in dingy sweaters trail behind.

He meets Zariff, Obama's personal barber. Zariff—he goes by just the one name—is an affable, handsome man with, naturally, impeccable hair.

The cameras capture this attempt at conversation:

Japanese Obama: 'Ehh, Obama ... cut?'

Zariff: 'Yup.'

'Where, ehh, Obama, ehh, chair?'

'Right here.'

'This ... Obama ... chair?!'

Here, the Japanese Obama turns into a man-child. In his country's style of comedy, which favors physical slapstick over wry wit, the Japanese Obama's eyes bulge and his eyelids blink with comedic purpose. He lets out a wooooooh! with an upward intonation—a sound halfway between boyish wonder and insane outburst.


The Japanese Obama falls to his knees, bows at the very chair where the real Obama received a haircut from Zariff six days earlier, and kisses the seat, each smack of the lips audible and wet."
An Englishman in Osaka edited down a video of the event and gives an excellent play-by-play over at his blog:

"Mr. Obama... home?"

Related Posts:
Japan's Obama Mania

Live Action Super Mario (or Why The Japanese Are Infinitely More Creative Than We Are)

/gamer recently posted the following video of a live-action re-creation of Super Mario Brothers (with Mario taking a slight detour out of the TV and into the real world and past a "would be racist anywhere but in Japan" black-face Barack Obama):

This clip comes from a show called Kasou Taishou, also known as "Kinchan and Katori Shingo's All Japan Costume Grand Prix". (Man, that Katori Shingo is everywhere. Nin!).

I used to LOVE watching this show whenever it played on NTV, which I think only happened a few times a year. (I'd give you the exact dates but I never did figure out how to read a TV guide out there. Did I mention they have, like, 3 alphabets??)

The program has the feel of a big talent show, with groups of people performing skits for a panel of celebrity judges. While there can be different types of skits, most of them usually involve creating scenes and some really cool special effects using kurokos, or stagehands dressed in black against a black background, a technique which actually has its roots in traditional kabuki theater.

Here's one of the more popular (and clever) Kasou Taishou clips from shows past, Matrix Ping Pong:

It was obvious that the performers put a ton of work into their skits so it was always so rewarding to watch them react when they got a great score. (Yeah, I'm a sap.)

Of course, this year, Ponyo won.

Ponyo always wins.

Related Posts:
Ponyo on a Cliff By the Sea (In a House, a Very Big House in the Country)

The stupid, it burns.

Newspaper For Sale

I'm sorry to hear about this.

For sale: The P-I:
"After 146 years of delivering news, the Seattle P-I faces becoming what it has chronicled: history.

The Seattle P-I's parent company, The Hearst Corp., said Friday that it has put the paper up for sale and will stop publishing unless someone buys it in 60 days. If no buyer emerges, the paper would either become a Web-only publication or cease all operations."
I've always been a big fan of the quirky-sounding Seattle Post-Intelligencer, both its paper and its distinctive globe poking up along the shoreline of the Puget Sound.

I hope they find a buyer.

UPDATE: The excellent political cartoonist David Horsey has done a post and a cartoon about the situation.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Major Shrinkage

Went and watched Seattle's Resolution Run and Polar Bear Dive on the 1st.

Resolution Run and Polar Bear Dive, 2009
Those people are nuts.

It's the new year: Let's go jump in the lake
(via Seattle Times Newspaper):
"A plunge into slate-gray, 42-degree Lake Washington might not be everyone's way to celebrate the new year, but for hundreds of runners Thursday, it was just the thing.

'We are capitalizing on the fact that people are nuts,' said Bill Roe, an originator of the 2009 5K Resolution Run and Polar Bear Dive for Club Northwest, a runners club founded in Seattle in 1972. 'We were looking for ways to reinvigorate the race,' Roe said. 'Attendance was down to around 300, so we added a polar-bear plunge. People said we were crazy.'

But that seemed to be just the right idea."
And if you check out picture number 6 in their photo gallery, you can see my silhouette just behind the guy with the hat.

Uploaded a few of my own pictures to my (finally being utilized) flickr page:

I'll Take A Big Macau and a Grandy Flappichino

My post of pointless websites the other day brought a slew of emails (OK, two. From the same person.) linking to sites showing bad translations from China.

Japan has its share of awful translations and, while there are already two sites dedicated to documenting them (Engrish and Engrish Funny), I really need to get a few of my better Engrish pictures online.

Still, China does have Japan beat in one area:

Fake brand-named stores.

(images via Boing Boing, text via
"China has confirmed itself as the 'king of counterfeiters' with the building of a new shopping centre dedicated to fake brands.

Some of the brand impostors at the mall in Nanjing, east of Shanghai, include a McDonalds look-a-like burger bar called McDnoald’s, a Starbucks-style coffee shop called Bucksstar Coffee, and a wannabe Pizza Hut called Pizza Huh."
The big question is, does "Pizza Huh" serve the ultimate "huh?" pizza: The Double Roll?

Mmm... cheesy, honey maple syrup crust...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Top 10 Most Pointless, Distracting Websites of 2008

Getting all of the programs back on my computer after my reinstallation of Vista is taking a lot longer than I thought it would.

So, to keep you occupied for a while (quite possibly, for the rest of your life), I give you my list of...

The Top 10 Most Pointless, Distracting Websites of 2008:

10. WUBeee! - Bubble text! [dead link]

9. Dig a hole through the Earth - Find out what's on the other side of the planet from you. (Hate to spoil the fun but: water.)

8. Imagining the 10th Dimension - A fascinating, well-illustrated 12-minute video that will in no way help me in the future whatsoever.

7. The Benny Hillifier - Add Yakety Sax to any YouTube video. Hours of entertainment. [dead link]

6. - Add a strip of bacon to any website. Mmmmmmm. (I'm still trying to figure out a way to get it to work with The Benny Hillifier.)

5. Boohbah Zone - There are no words.

4. Jackson Pollock by Miltos Manetas - Make your own Jackson Pollack paintings.

3. FAIL Blog - Submitted pictures and videos of epic fails.

2. You Look Nice Today - The blog, the podcast and pretty much anything Merlin Mann touches.

1. Black Coffee and Green Tea - An epic waste of time.

Thank you pointless websites, I love you all.

Off to the gym.

Friday, January 2, 2009

I Love Movies

Hey, gang. Is everyone having a good year so far?

Christ, I hope so. It's been like, what, 2 days?

As for me, I'm taking things a bit easy this first week of 2009. Alas, probably nothing too substantial on this site until at least Monday. (Not specifying which Monday.) I might post a few year-end lists, some resolutions, a couple a' pictures or nothing at all. Hey, we'll see.

Anyway, the good news is that I've lots of cool stuff (or, at the very least, moderately not boring stuff) planned for the near future so keep checking in.

Until then, here's an excellent retrospective of some of the movies of 2008 done to the sounds of yours and my favorite Icelander, Sigur Rós. Enjoy!

(via /film)