Just forget the words and sing along

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Many simple things just fascinate me. Currently, it's the origins of country's names. For example, I've been in Japan long enough now to know that "Japan" isn't the Japanese name for Japan. It's "Nippon." My mother is German, and thanks to several German relatives, I learned that "Germany" isn't the German name for Germany. It's "Deutchland." So how did "Deutchland" come to be known as "Germany" to the rest of the world? Why is "Nippon" called "Japan" by the rest of the world? Anyone out there know the answer?

Another thing that blows my mind is the name game on Transformers: Armada. Yup, I'm watching it here in Japan, and I'm following the developments of the toy back home. Now, a common trend on both sides of the Pacific is to give these newer Transformers the names of old, classic Transformers, primarily to spark a sense of nostalga among collectors, and so Hasbro (in North America) and Takara (in Japan) can keep their copyrights on the names. But, what surprises me is that they don't use the same recycled name on both sides of the Pacific. About the only common ones are "Megatron" and "Starscream" (a Decepticon tank and jet, respectivly). Here are some other discrepancies:

The Autobot ambulance that North Americans call "Red Alert" is known as "Ratchet" in Japan.
The Autobot sportscar that North Americans call "Hot Shot" is known as "Hot Rod" in Japan.
The Autobot bulldozer that North Americans call "Scavenger" is known as "Devastator" in Japan.
The Autobot crane that North Americans call "Smokescreen" is known as "Grapple" in Japan.
The Autobot sportscar that North Americans call "Blurr" is known as "Silverbolt" in Japan.
The Decepticon helicopter that North Americans call "Cyclonus" is known as "Sandstorm" in Japan.

Also doing more reading up on The Matrix Reloaded. It doesn't come out until June 7 here in Japan. It'll probably be the last movie I see in this country. Sadly, the reviews aren't very good. I guess part of me isn't that surprised. I remember the last time that two sequels to a hit movie were made at the same time. That was Back to the Future Parts II and III. I think we all agree that 3 is the better movie, right? Oh, well. I'll wait and judge for myself.

Actually, what's really blowing minds right now is how interconnected the whole Matrix universe has become. From what little I've read, one of the plot points of The Matrix Reloaded is this letter for Neo from the crew of a ship called Osiris. Now, how this letter wound up in the Matrix is chronicled in the animated short film The Final Flight of the Osiris, which ran in front of Dreamcatcher and will soon be on the The Animatrix DVD. How this letter gets to Neo is chronicled in the video game Enter the Matrix, who's plotline runs concurrently with The Matrix Reloaded. In Enter the Matrix, you are the Reloaded character of Niobe, and your mission is to recover the letter. And, if what I've read is true, it's Niobe who does deliver the letter to Neo in The Matrix Reloaded. They say this raises the standard for video game tie-ins. I think it's just an interesting concept.

The job is marching forth to it's eventual conclusion. Actually, right now, I'm feeling a swell of pride. In my final weeks, we also have to take a survey of our students, so I find that I'm announcing that I'm leaving the company at the start of the class (I have to do that, so they aren't shocked when the new teacher comes) and passing out the survey at the end of class. When I collect the surveys, I just kind of scan over them, and I find that in the "Any Additional Comments" section, a few of the teenage girls I teach have been writing, "DON'T GO! I LOVE YOU!" It's a nice boost to the ego.

But then, my ego gets nicely deflated in incidents like the following. One of my private lessons has been coming to my school for just about 6 years now, and has had his share of foreign teachers. I told him I was leaving and he just blinked and said, "Oh. Has it been a year already?"

I still can't believe that my successor is in his late-40s. I half-expect to get a call from head office soon. "Yeah, Mark, can you stay for another month while we find someone else to replace you? Yeah, he's not coming to Japan now. His wife said he could have the sportscar instead."

But plans are underway now for what to do when the job ends. I decided to take a few weeks and see a few more sights in Japan before returning to good ol' Entwistle. High on my list is Nagano. I've been wanting to go ever since I found it's just an hour down the shinkansen line from Kumagaya, but poor planning has always kept me from going. No more excuses this time! I'd also like to get a little closer to the Mt. Fuji area just because, well, it's Mt. Fuji. Coming to Japan and not seeing Mt. Fuji? That's like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower, or going to Glendon and not seeing the world's largest pyrogy. Ya just don't do it. I've also got this urge to see Hiroshima. I don't know why, I just want to see it. And, if time and money permit, up to Sapporo one last time to see Chuck and L. But, first things first! In order to do all this, I had to tell the company I wanted cold hard cash in lieu of a plane ticket home, so I've got to go out and buy a plane ticket home. All this is irrelevant unless I'm back in Entwistle this summer.

And before I go, I'd just like to report on some of the latest development in evil. I don't know why, but there's this push in the industry to develop a DVD that you can watch only once. Well, I know why. It's so you can watch it just once, then have to go buy another one. The first one I read about was called "SpectraDisc." This was designed with a special coating that was burned by the laser that reads your DVD. After you'd watched it just once, the DVD is burned beyond your DVD player's ability to read it. Now, the Walt Disney Company is ready to put one on the market called "EZ-D." Once you take it out of the package, a chemical reaction begins between the disc and the air, and within 48 hours, the disc is completely rusted over so your DVD player can't read it. Disney said they did this to "revolutionize" the DVD rental industry. See, you just throw out the disc. No longer are you bothered with taking it back to the store! I still think disposable DVDs are a bad idea....

Anyway, that's all for now. Next issue...and X-Man dies!

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