Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

Gotta Catch’em All

2012年 1月 25日

Television systems and broadcasting methods in Japan are a complex mixture which I want to write about later; however, not today. We moved in September and it was not until this week that we are able to receive (almost all) the stations we want properly and be able to record them effectively.

Star Trek’s original series came on the air about the time I was born and ran until I was about five years old. Fortunately it was syndicated and during the 70s we could often watch re-runs. As a small child, I didn’t necessarily follow all of it but was fascinated none the less. Because I was watching in syndication, I have often wondered if I had seen every show. This month, Super Drama TV started showing all of the digitally remastered episodes in order.

Because I am not always home at the right time, and because I want to watch them at least twice, I am happy to have the recorder functioning. Unfortunately – after a little research – I found that there are 79 episodes. It looks like I will have to burn the programs to BluRay discs or my hard drive will get filled up on this alone.

Concurrently they are also showing three other Star Trek series and, on other channels, some of the movies. Japan can definitely be an all or nothing kind of country. Just have to find time to drink from this fire hose now.

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Thirteen Minutes to Go

2010年 2月 13日

Was it Andy Warhol who said in the future everyone will have their fifteen minutes of fame? Well, here we are a whole decade into the 21st Century and I’m getting approximately two minutes. Tuesday, I got a surprise phone call from a friend in Nagoya. He was helping a friend at Nagoya Television (or Meetere, as it is called) find an interviewee.

Initially I was very excited because it sounded like they were looking for a foreigner who was interested in Japanese culture. Studying calligraphy, stone seal carving, wood block etching, bamboo flute, Japanese pottery, rice straw rope making, etc., should qualify me for that; however, there was a small communication error. Really, they were looking for someone interested in Japanese history, and specifically, in Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬).

While I am interested in Japanese history, I don’t pursue it like I do culture. My guess is that, in a world without deadlines, they probably would have preferred someone else; however, they were willing to use me, and I was up for a new experience.

I have been on the TV a number of times, but this is the first time I will actually be mentioned. My other appearances were usually incidental and only a few seconds. Also, this is the first time it won’t be on a local cable access channel.

Sakamoto Ryoma is very popular now because a TV series titled Ryomaden (龍馬伝) came on the air in January. I watched the first episode, but unfortunately have missed all the rest because of my busy schedule. Hopefully they will rebroadcast it.

If you happen to watch the program UP! on Nagoya TV this Thursday from 6:17pm, you should see me. If not, they’ll send me a DVD, so you can drop by and watch. I was pretty nervous, so I might look a little bumbling unless their editors are very kind and good.

Skinny Konishiki

2009年 7月 9日

Two or three weeks back, I saw Konishiki on a talk show. He wrestled 20 years ago and was about 100 kg heavier than the next largest sumo wrestler. Tipping the scales at over 300 kg made him the heaviest rikishi in history.

His struggles to lose weight after retirement have been the source of many news stories. A couple times he just gave up and went on as a mountain of a man. Last year he went through gastric bypass surgery and a quick search on the internet showed him at 230 kg last Fall, still excessively heavy but an impressive change.

On the TV program, he looked like a different man. I didn’t catch how much more weight he has lost, but it must be substantial. He had some interesting contracts on kids shows because of the contrast between a 15 kg tot and a 300 kg athlete. I hope he finds other work to replace those shows.

Officially Registered

2008年 11月 19日

My name and address over my mail slot suddenly went to pot a month ago. I was meaning to get it replaced right away, but I got busy and the mailman knows where I live. A week ago I started thinking I made a big mistake. The Japanese Language Proficiency Test (日本語能力試験・JLPT) has very strict rules, one of which is that your name and address must be posted in Roman letters and Japanese characters or your test registration will be returned to the test center as undeliverable. I expected the notice in the first week of November, so I thought I was out of luck and had shot another 6000 yen down the drain.

I was getting ready to write another post about how the JLPT isn’t so much a test of language ability as it is a test of willingness to follow peculiar procedures; however, today my card finally arrived. Last year the test site was within a short bike ride at Mie University (三重大学), but this year I am registered at a university down in Ise (伊勢市). I don’t know if they changed locations this year, or if they added a site and I got unlucky. In any case, it will mean I need to get up earlier this year.

Once again, I am behind on studies and there are less than three weeks remaining before test time. If I can keep myself away from Battlestar Galactica, SG-1, Atlantis, Veronica Mars, CSI, and this month, digitally remastered Star Trek, then there should still be time to get ready to pass the test. Unfortunately during my illness, a lot of Sci-Fi in English has been my convalescing entertainment choice.

A Slippery Slope

2008年 11月 11日

Awesome news story tonight. 58 year old man drives car off cliff and plummets 200 meters. OK, doesn’t sound so good so far, but wait: minor scratches on lower leg were his only injuries. Japan is a string of islands dominated by volcanic mountains. We have a lot of winding roads cut into the sides of sheer faces. Often, I look over the edge and wonder what happens when someone makes a mistake. It has to happen sometime, if previous events are any indication.

A rabbit jumped in front of this man’s car as he was navigating the turns at 4am. He swerved and the next thing he recalls is being trapped nose down with branches pinning the car doors shut. He waited patiently until day three when a motorist caught sight of the vehicle and stopped. The trapped man waved a red folder around so the curious driver would know he was there.

In proper Japanese fashion he apologized profusely for the trouble he caused to fire and police rescue workers. Now that I know one can safely drop over the side, I won’t be so careful next time.

Sunday Soundcheck 28

2008年 9月 14日

The second exception in the ‘t’ column is tsu, typically pronounced without a hard ‘t’ sound. Please note; however, that like sounds in English (e.g., ‘about’), sounds in Japanese can vary: indeed, I have heard native speakers pronounce this similar to ‘two’. But, whatever you do, remember not to move your lips so much.

We write this sound in hiragana as つ, and katakana as ツ. Additionally, this character when written in lower case, as っ or ッ, serves two other important purposes. First, to add a beat of time to the next consonant. Second, to terminate a sound before its normal meter in time.

Tsubaifuoo (ツバイフォー) can be seen everyday at the hardware store, the western 2×4 is coming into use here for various types of construction. It is a little disappointing that we call it by this name, since it represents a spread of non-metric measurements outside of the US (and they aren’t actually 2 inches by 4 inches anyhow). It would be better to call it a 4-by-9, which is closer to the actual size in centimeters. Televisions are now sold here in inches, if only America had stuck to the plan of converting to metric in 1976; sometimes we can be so weak-willed.

Tsumeato wo Nokosu (つめあとをのこす) is a phrase meaning ‘to make your mark’. It is very descriptive since it literally is ‘to leave behind your fingernail marks’, which would take a lot of tenacity. We can write it with kanji as: 爪痕を残す.

I will write about the lower case tsu in a later post, since it is already Thursday morning here.

No Man is an Island, But…

2008年 9月 5日

…Some roads are rivers. Most of the early morning I was aware of a driving rain on my roof. Shortly before leaving for work, I also heard my neighbors’ chattering away in front of my house. I stepped out to see a river where the road had been: Saturday’s fears had been realized. Two cameramen were filming for the news and lots of housewives were standing around watching. A taxi was in my driveway. I’m guessing some neighbor didn’t want to drive in the bad weather. Just before I got in my car, someone raced down the street really fast and doused most of the spectators from top down. They must have seen the camera and wanted to make the news broadcast. It was shallow enough for me to escape in my little car and make it to work.

Solid Footing

2008年 7月 2日

After months with two flat tires, I finally got around to repairing my bike. I like to run the tires at high pressure to reduce friction on the road because, of course, I love to ride fast and free. My bike unfortunately likes to bite through the tubes at the base of the stem when I run at high pressure. I have to remember not to go all the way to 7 bars. Some of the delay in getting repaired was because most bike shops are set up to service the Mama Chariots, as we call them here, and they don’t have any big narrow tubes with presto valves. It took awhile before I arranged some time to get the spares; however, a lot of delay has come from me not making the time or just being lazy.

Today, I left work, went shopping, repaired my bike, watched SG-1, and clipped in for a test run. I bought two-sided pedals with SPD clips on one side and flat decks on the other side. I did this so I could take joy rides in normal shoes, but because of that, I can’t remember the last time I clipped into my pedals. Riding as one with the bike really feels different. I was afraid that my physical condition, having declined a lot lately, was going to be a problem, but I zipped off toward the mountains and back, covering about 20km. It really is a good feeling to shoot down the road and see what’s around the next corner, or through the next glade.

I hope to get a lot of joyrides in this summer.

My Crush

2008年 6月 30日

Fighting Windmills inspired me to do the Flickr Mosaic Meme the other day. Question number five was: Who is your celebrity crush? I chose Mitsuura Yasuko (光浦靖子) because I have been attracted to her since I first saw her on TV. (She’s the one on the left in the photo.)

Most people here do a double take when I name her as a desirable celebrity. She is not typically considered beautiful and wears her trademark heavy-rimmed glasses, but she has some quality that I find very inticing. Also, she is very bright, which is always a turn-on for me. (No runway models or beauty pageant finalists for me.) Although Japanese people say she isn’t attractive, the fact that she appears on every major network, belies the fact that they also see something in her.

I really enjoyed watching her on the NHK (public broadcasting) Education channel. She was helping explain the usage of shikashi (しかし) and dakara (だから), if memory serves me correctly. She was tying sentences together with these conjuctions which mean ‘but’ and ‘so’. One example was “I didn’t like comedy so I became a comedian.” When to use shikashi or dakara is really dependent on the feelings of the speaker. In her case, she was disappointed with all the mediocre comedy, so she studied hard to develop her language skills and create a higher form of comedy. Hence, she used dakara to tie the sentences together.

It is possible that they were discussing noni (のに) and node (ので) which have similar meanings and uses. In any case, her intellect and levity raised my interest further. Perhaps I will have some chance to meet her, she runs in different circles from me, but she lives in Nagoya. Maybe an interesting person with whom to chat.

Happy Anniversary

2008年 5月 20日

Today is the fourth anniversary of my arrival in Japan. (And the six-week anniversary of my last post.) Usually the school computers are locked down so tight that no practical use of the internet is possible; yet, today I discovered my Tuesday school has a machine which gives me blog access. Yay!

A lot seems to have changed here, including those annoying ‘possibly related’ links. I’ll have to waste a little time investigating how to disable that. It would be useful if it was showing related links I have posted.

Just for fun, here is my growing list of things I want to buy:

  • SLR digital camera (with some lenses and a tripod)
  • New printer (8 or 10 color) for printing photos (up to A3 size?)
  • Digital DVD recorder for saving TV programs to watch when I have time
  • New laptop to replace my 10 year old which is literally melting
  • Kimono, seta, and geta (and new zori) because yukata are for Summer
  • Motorcycle
  • New car
  • Mamachari – mama’s bike (so my roadbike can be used for real riding)
  • Kakejiku of someone’s calligraphy for my tokonoma (found a pair of slender ones for $3000, but don’t know if I want to spend that much)
  • Traditional style house
  • Digital video camera (for youtube)
  • Pants (my jeans are literally falling apart and I won’t be home until August)

Anyone wanting to help out here let me know (wink wink). More detail on why these things are on my list later. Some amusing stories included, of course.