Just forget the words and sing along

Saturday, June 28, 2003

As I'm sitting down and going through my DVD stockpile, I got incredibly pissed off at the fact that, for the DVD release, they changed the end of Back to the Future! We're all familiar with it. The DeLorean lifts off into the air, does a 180, heads towards the screen, does it's time jump at the precise moment, the words "To Be Continued...." flash on the screen, and the end credtis roll. Well, on the DVD, they cut out the words "To Be Continued...." I was livid! Back to the Future is my all-time favourite movie ending, and they changed it!

Then I watched Back to the Future part II with the trivia text commentary. At the end of part II, when the words "To Be Concluded...." flash on screen, we see this trivia bit pop up: "The words 'To Be Concluded....' end this film to reference 'To Be Continued....' which was added to the end of the home video release of part I."

So, the words "To Be Continued...." only appear at the end of the home video version of Back to the Future. I guess I have to stop complaining because the DVD does, in fact, contain, the original theatrical version. Having only ever seen part I on video, I didn't know that.

Anyway, I had my first North American Saturday morning in a long time. It was very strange to watch Pokemon. Having lived in Japan for a year, I now see how...Japanese it really is. I see things in the background and when I hear the explaination that the translators cooked up, I say, "Hey, that's NOT what's really going on." You're going to think it's weird, but it makes me appreciate it more.

But the one thing I was really eager to see was the all-new He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Two episodes on YTV! The eps I saw:

The Beast Within - In a scuffle with the forces of evil, Man-E-Faces reverts to his monster form. Beast Man uses his control of beasts to take over Monster Man-E-Faces and Monster Man-E kicks the asses of Man At Arms and Buzz Off before He-Man shows up and kicks Beast Man's ass. Because of this, Man-E-Faces vows never to use his monster form again. Meanwhile, tired of his henchmen's ineptitude, Skeletor hires two bounty hunters, Tuvar and Baddhras to go bring him the head of He-Man. Skeletor orders Tuvar and Baddhras to work together, but they are longtime rivals and can't stop fighting each other. He-Man and Man-E-Faces go off to the Tar Swamps to investigate reports of a monster, only to find it's a trap laid by Tuvar and Baddhras. They succeed in capturing He-Man, but then begin fighting over who'll bring him back to Skeletor. Skeletor's henchmen then show up, kick Tuvar and Baddhras's asses, and then claim He-Man for themselves. At the other end of the swamp, Man-E-Faces was fighting a big, mean, Tar Swamp creature, and had to revert to his monster form to escape. He shows up in full monster mode to free He-Man, but Beast Man again attempts to gain control of Monster Man-E. Man-E fights off Beast Man's control, reminding Beast Man that he is an actor, and thus chooses what roles he plays. Monster Man-E frees He-Man, and together they defeat Skeletor's gang. And, as punishment for ineptitude and inability to get along, Skeletor fuses Tuvar and Baddhras into a single being: the two-headed Two-Badd.

Orko's Garden - Orko get upset that all of the other Masters get kick-ass jobs defending the palace, and that he gets nothing. So, to appease Orko's feelings, Man-At-Arms puts him in charge of repairing the palace garden. Orko, however, doesn't know anything about plants, and his efforts are disastrous. Ram Man, wanting to help, suggests that Orko go to the Evergreen Forrest and seek the help of Moss Man. Orko goes off and stumbles upon a hidden chamber, containing a man claiming to be Moss Man. This fake Moss Man gives Orko some magic seeds. Orko plants them in the palace garden, and they grow into monstrous vines that capture everyone in the palace. Then, the fake Moss Man reveals himself to be Evilseed, Moss Man's arch-nemesis. Thanks to Orko's help, he is now free and taking control of the palace. Orko is at a loss of what to do, when the real Moss Man shows up, having "sensed a disturbance in the plant world." Moss Man and Orko go off to Evilseed's lair. While Moss Man and Evilseed have a huge plant-based superpower slugfest, Orko goes about freeing everyone else. "Just wait'll my friends are free!" says Orko to Evilseed. "They've got all kinds of magic powers from Castle Greyskull, and they'll kick your butt!" "Oh? Castle Greyskull contains magic powers, you say?" says Evilseed, and he breaks off his attack to go plunder Greyskull. Luckily, at this time, Prince Adam gets free and turns into He-Man. He and Battle Cat go off to save Greyskull, but they just aren't fast enough. Moss Man gives them some plant-based superpowered help, and they soon arrive in time. A huge battle rages between Moss Man & He-Man and Evilseed, and our heroes are soon victorious. Evilseed goes back to Moss Man's prison, and Moss Man finally helps Orko with the garden. But, Orko learns that with things like gardens, there are no short-cuts. And, to assist in the battle agains evil, He-Man asks Moss Man to join the Masters of the Universe. Moss Man accepts.

Next issue...The Monthly Spam: July 2003

Friday, June 27, 2003

The good and the bad:

The good: Before I left Japan, I bought the nifty compilation album of every Pokemon theme song.
The bad: It doesn't have the latest closing credits theme, which was this very surreal disco thing sung by Meowth.

The good: I finally buckled and bought a Morning Musme album.
The bad: It doesn't have my favourite song!

The good: YTV now shows the new He-Man and Transformers cartoons, along with Justice League.
The bad: I can't find where they re-scheduled Pokemon.

Next issue...The Wrath of Kahn
My first return to West Edmonton Mall after one year! My thoughts on this return:

- GAH! My favourite Burger King has been replaced with a...McDonald's. NOOOOOOOOOO!
- Wow. The RCMP merchandise store is right next to the marijuana "pariphinalia" store. Now THAT'S a thinly disguised sting operation.
- WOO! Comic King has Great Teacher Onikuza! Finally, I can read Vol. 4! (A former teacher left volumes 1-3 in my apartment back in Kumagaya and I got hooked.)
- Oh my God. The upper level of HMV is now all movies.
- Silver City remains the same. Gotta see Hulk and Finding Nemo.
- Music World shrank!
- Yes! There's an Asian supermarket in the mall now! But they don't have melon soda! You win some, you lose some.
- I think another dolphin died.
- Wow. All the books in this bookstore are in english!
- What happened to all the friendly, overtly polite clerks? That's right, they only have those in Japan.

Laptop is now safely in the hands of the Future Shop technicians. 4-5 days, they tell me.

Oh, and following one of my standard quirks, I did swing by Superstore to pick up Pokemon 4 on DVD. That's just a thing, I've bought all those movies at Superstore. The really strange thing is I finally rented it on video before I left Japan, so the original Japanese version is still fresh in my mind. I'm going to get to do a side-by-side comparison!

And no, Mr. Anderson, I haven't seen Hulk yet.

Next issue...Spidey Joins the Defenders!

Friday, June 20, 2003

I have made my triumphant return to Kumagaya! My last full day in Japan before heading home to the Great White North. Taking a moment to check e-mail, and made the last additions to my DVD stockpile: Strange Brew, X-Men 1.5 and An Evening with Kevin Smith. The big debate for me has been which DVD will I watch first when I return. Will it be the appropriate Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home? A marathon screening of the entire Back to the Future trilogy? No, I think the first thing will be Spider-Man. It was my parents' Christmas gift to me, and while watching it on my tiny little laptop screen was cool, let's watch it on a real TV.

I'm having a lot of fun playing with time differences. Tomorrow, I will be a time traveller, going back in time 24 hours! At 4pm on Saturday June 20, I will be arriving at both Narita Airport in Tokyo and Edmonton International in Canada! Cool, eh?

Final reflections:
What I'll miss about Japan:
- convenience stores that sell underwear
- melon soda
- cheap, reliable public transportation
- cute-as-a-button Japanese schoolgirls roaming the streets
- flavoured Kit Kats
- top notch customer service wherever you go
- those curry and nan chicken sandwiches they serve at KFC
- karaoke (although I got to do far too little)
- onsens

What I won't miss about Japan:
- earthquakes
- the ungodly Kumagaya heat
- damn expensive movies
- ladies of the evening accosting me on the way home from work asking me if I want a "massagee"
- drunken Japanese businessmen roaming the streets
- crowds, crowds, crowds

Priorities upon return to Canada:
- Get my laptop fixed
- Make sure NAIT got my tuition deposit so I can go back to school this fall
- Get back on Alberta Health Care
- Start finding a place in Edmonton for when I go back to school this fall
- Nail down a date on which Trouble and I will go see a movie. (I'd better watch that. I'll wind up restarting the rumour that we're dating.)
- Find a girlfriend (although that's really more of a life goal)

First thing I want to eat that's homecooked is a big ol' Alberta steak with a ton of pyrogies. First thing that I want to eat that's NOT homecooked is a greasy Hawaiian pizza from the Riverside Diner. Oh, and somewhere in it all my parents have to drag me to the greasy Chinese restaurant in Evansburg so I can show off my chopstick skills.

I leave Japan in 27 hours. Who's tingling? I am.

Next issue...Back in the Basement

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Coming to you LIVE from an Internet cafe in scenic Nagano, Japan, it's Mark's Farewell Japan Tour!

So, the trip so far has happened like this. We began in Koenji in Tokyo, where I hung out with former coworker Mike one last time. Got to meet his band and we had some yakutori on the streets of Tokyo. As I walked down the streets in my Tilley hat and Hawaiian shirt, he turned to me and said, "Dude. You look like a tourist." My only response was, "I AM a tourist."

From there, it was off to lovely Fuji Go Ko. This is a chain of five lakes below Mt. Fuji, and said to be prime Mt. Fuji viewing territory. But, as is my luck, it was cloudy the whole time I was there. But, on my second day, things did clear up enough so I was able to make out Fuji through the haze. Very nifty. Saw Fuji, took a dip in the lakes, saw some lava tubes and the shrine where people pray before attempting to climb Fuji. After that, it was off to....

Matsumoto is an old castle town on the southern side of Nagano prefecture. I wanted to stay at a hostel, but the tourist info booth directed me to a cheaper ryokan. That's a Japanese-style B&B, for those who have never read my company's textbooks. Naturally, the staff spoke no English, but I managed to get along OK. Saw the castle (Matusumoto-jo) and took a dip in the nearby Shirahone Onsen. That was freaky, as it was as far off the beaten path as I had gone so far and I was definitly in a no English zone. But still, I soaked in the hot springs and fun was had by all! From there, I went off to....

Nagano, host of the 1998 winter olympic games, and a city I'd been wanting to visit ever since I found out it was so close to Kumagaya. Again, the only hostel was booked, so I got directed to a just-as-cheap ryokan. My goal here is to see former Olympic sites, and so far I've been doing pretty good for myself. I even got to see the Nagano Art Festival for free, because I was walking by, curious, and my phrase book didn't have, "What's going on here today?" so I tried to ask in English. They just waved me in to check it out for myself! Let me tell you gaijin innocense can only get you so far in Japan, but it's gotten me a lot.

And that's week one. Week two will see some more in Nagano, then down to Ueda and an onsen town called Bessho. From there, it'll be one last night in Kumagaya to close bank accounts and pick up my luggage, and then back in Canada!

Oh, and in Nagano I took an eveing to see The Matrix Reloaded. Off the cuff thoughts? Cool fights, Zion is is great eye candy, but I need to see it again to comprehend all that prophecy doubletalk.

Hey! I have now visited every Japanese Olympic host city:

Tokyo - Host of the 1964 Summer Games
Sapporo - Host of the 1972 Winter Games
Nagano - Host of the 1998 Winter Games

Although, I never actually went Olympic sightseeing in Tokyo. The closest was, one day, I was walking down the street and one of my friends said, "Hey Mark! You like the Olympics, right? Well, right over there is the arena where they had the swimming competitions."

And back off to the ryokan! Next issue...From Kumagaya, With Cookies!

Saturday, June 07, 2003

I'm getting wonderfully paranoid right now. I stopped in at work one last time the other day, and several students have told me that they've begun e-mailing me. Thing is, I haven't gotten the messages. Seeing as to how my inbox is usually filled with 100 spam messages and 2 personal messages, I'm getting increasingly paranoid that I may be accidentally deleting these messages. What can I say, when the spam to personal messagess ratio is 50:1, I start thinking, "If it's not from someone I know, it must be spam."

I'm also growing more and more obsessed with seeing this Japanese movie called Battle Royale. ToyFare magazine called it "one of the creepiest movies ever made." The premise is this: the government is starting to think that today's teenagers are getting to rowdy, so they take a typical high school class of 42 students, strand them on a deserted island, give them a bunch of weapons, and the students have three days to kill each other. Last one alive wins. Oh, and each student is outfitted with an exploding collar, so if they break the rules of this "game," their heads are blown off. A sequel comes out in a matter of weeks.

Next issue...On the Road.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

It's official. I'm an unemployed virgin gaijin stranded in Japan and soon to be homeless. My contract ended yesterday, so now the panic begins!

I leave Japan on June 21, but I still have no real plans in place as to what I'm going to do. I just have vague ideas to check out Mt. Fuji and Nagano. Hang out in the Japan Alps.

And right now I'm just geeking out over the trailer for The Incredibles. This is the new film from Brad Bird, director of my all-time favourite movie The Iron Giant. He teamed up with the Pixar crew to make this film, for Christmas 2004. But, they threw together a trailer to show in front of Finding Nemo, and damn, is it funny. That settles it. First movie I see when I get back is Finding Nemo.

Two more days to homelessness...and Matrix Reloaded.

Next issue...Dreams of Past Futures

Monday, June 02, 2003

One thing I will miss about Japan: Easy, cheap, reliable public transportation

One thing I won't miss about Japan: Easy, cheap reliable public transportation where they cram you into the rail cars like sardienes and just when your ribs are being crushed and you can hardly breath THEY PUSH ON MORE PEOPLE AND THEN YOU START PULLING OUT OF THE STATION AND YOU GET FLATTENED AGAINST THE WALL AS THE ENTIRE CROWD IS THRUST TOWARDS YOU!!!

This actually reminds me of an idea I had for sci-fi one time: the utilization of spacial distortions to maximize space in cars. This came about with all those car commercials advertising how much space they have. So, I started thinking, why not just use a spatial distortion to make a car interior as big as humanly possible? Thanks to a spacial distortion, you can have the same interior volume of a three story Victorian mansion in a sub-compact car. How's that for legroom?

But then, I started thinking, what would happen if you were in a car accident? What would happen if the spacial distortion were ruptured? I eventually figured that it would be like when a woman drops her overstuffed purse: it explodes and throws things everywhere. So, if one of these spatial distortion cars were ever in an accident, you'd probably find the contents strewn all over the 6-lane highway.

Next issue...Circuit Breaker!