Wednesday, December 24, 2014

“Into the Warmth of a Cold Night”

Arctic chill in the castle
So I venture forth
Into the warmth of a cold night
To buy a Christmas Eve Dinner
Under the strangely warm glare
Of florescent tubes

A stranger's smile
Brings me back to humanity

In a cold park
I have my Christmas Eve dinner
With the dark night
As my convivial companion
I toast distant friends across oceans
With my can of cold beer

Happy Holidays my Friends
Thank you for being there

All I can do...
All we can do
Is our best....

Lyle H Saxon
December 24th, 2014
Tokyo, Japan

Looking for a New Movie to Watch...

I haven't been watching new movies for several years now, so I got on-line and watched several previews (trailers).  The result is that I seem to only want to watch some combination of romance and or comedy.  The Bang!-Bang!-Bang!, Zoom!-Zoom!-Zoom! movies leave me feeling like I've stumbled back into my old high school days or something.  Here are the previews I watched and made a quick note about so I can make a list of things to watch.  The comments (in most cases) are based solely on watching the preview, without having read anything about the movie:

The Color of Time
Man goes back to old hometown and meets complicated current reality and complicated past, etc.  Personal mystery/adventure/discovery - sentimentality?  Seems like it might be interesting...

The Councilor - Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz
Looks like it could be interesting - cool people, bad people, destruction, death.

Palo Alto
Story about High School Life - Teenage pathos/adventure/discovery/danger/etc.  Looks kind of interesting - probably a little uncomfortable to watch (complicated memories of a complicated time...)

Before I Disappear
Druggie guy gets call to go pick up niece.  Unlikely meeting of souls takes places.  Looks like an interesting movie from the trailer....

Suburban Gothic
Comedy Horror movie... No Thanks.  I mean... it looks like it's a funny movie actually, but I really don't like horror movies, not even good ones!

The Lookalike
Dead woman - leading to search for lookalike to carry out some dangerous task.  Hmm... maybe interesting....

Miss Meadows
Sweet woman elementary school teacher is ba*a*s vigilante killer in her free time.  Hmm....

Space Station 76
Science fiction comedy - from trailer looks like retro-60's movie?  I get the feeling I might find it simultaneously amusing and irritating to watch...

The Prince
Bruce Willis action-revenge movie (what else?) in the “Die-Hard” mold it seems.  Maybe good Bang!-Bang! movie to see.  Action, cars banging into each other, chases, people killing each other, etc.  [sigh/laugh]

The Protector 2
Huh... I hadn't heard of the first one.  Looks like a new version of the Jackie Chan series.  At my age, maybe not something I'm all fired up to see.

Reach Me
Self-help book at center of various people's adventures.  Looks like it might be interesting.

Dying of the Light
Nicolas Cage as CIA guy going on revenge trip.  Violence, action, adventure, etc.  In light of the actual deteriorating state of the world - maybe profoundly depressing to watch....  I think I'll pass on this one.

Will Smith in Big Job con job movie.  Hmm..  Might be interesting.  Bang-bang, zoom-zoom, wow-wow....

Furious 7
Cars!-Cars!-Cars! - Zoom!-Zoom!-Zoom! - So this is the 7th one in the series?  Oookayyy... can't deny it looks entertaining, but at my age I think I'd end up rolling my eyes at lines written for high school students?  Not sure... probably should watch one to see how it plays.

Story of perseverance - and not breaking.  From the trailer, the scenes - in a modern movie - of WW-II POW situations in Asia... I wonder how accurate this trans-Pacific story can be?  So many before it (most) have got it wrong in one way or another.  Understanding another culture is not actually an easy thing to do - add in time and you're nearly guaranteed nine parts fiction for every one part that actually matches (somewhat) what it's supposed to match.

Fifty Shades of Grey
Huh... OK, a 2015 version of the 1986 movie “9½ Weeks” - this time with helicopters, etc.  I remember when watching “9½ Weeks” in 1986, a scene with a CD being pulled automatically into a CD player seemed futuristic.  Time flies...  //  I looked up 9½ Weeks and see the character's name was “Gray”!  Ha-ha!  So is that what the “Grey” in “Fifty Shades of Grey” is?  Just a coincidence you say?  Yeah, okay, sure, whatever....

If I Were You
Two women decide to tell each other how to live their lives.  Comedy, maybe funny....

Looks like a fun comedy movie.  Trailer got me smiling, can't be all bad.  Think I'll check this one out.

City of Angels
Saw this one before.  Good movie.  Romantic... not comedy, but a romantic movie.  Liked it before - think I'd like to see it again.  (It's an old movie, BTW.)

After spending all this time in Japan, I'm reluctant to see Hollywood movies that feature Japan at any point in history, as they tend to get it wrong, but this looks like it might... might be interesting....  The story line (from what I gather from the preview) revolves around a man coming to Japan to acquire material and/or know-how for silk production.  I seem to recall reading about some actual event like that happening historically, although I thought it took place in China, not Japan?  (I need to look that up when I get time.)

The Cobbler
Looks like a fun comedy to see!  Cobbler discovers magic machine in the basement that makes shoes that transform the wearer into the original owner of the shows.... 2015?  It's still 2014!  Guess I'm going to have to wait for this one.

The Longest Week
Romantic comedy about rich playboy that gets cut off from his rich family's money supply.  Looks like it might be entertaining.

Third Person
Oh... now this definitely looks interesting.  Writer overseas getting mixed up in things....  A movie for people beyond the young student stage of life.  (I was about to say it was an “adult movie” when I realized that term has been taken already to represent something entirely different - age-restricted movies for adolescents....).

Well - that's what I have for now.  I like movies, but haven't been watching many of them for some time now.  What I've found in the past, is that actually makes me easy to please in a way (movie-wise)... in spite of what my comments above may indicate!  What I remember from back when I rented a lot of movies, is that if you watch too many movies in too short a time, you get hyper-critical of them and can't just enjoy the story.  Maybe that's why there are so many Bang!-Bang!-Bang!, Zoom!-Zoom!-Zoom! movies - they aim to give you an adrenaline fix that bypasses thinking.  While you're waiting for the next Bang! or Zoom!, you stop thinking about the idiocy of the story line and lack of any intelligent content in the dialog....

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Monday, December 08, 2014

Train Rider Vampires and Ginza Exhibitions

Transcribed from handwritten text:

2014/12/05 - [Onboard inbound train]

I've often complained about the recorded announcements in trains, but there is one aspect of them that is quite nice (or *can* be nice), and that is a consistent volume level.  I'm reminded of this by the train I'm currently riding in, in which the conductor is reading the announcements live (nice), but has (unfortunately) set the volume level so high that it's actually physically painful to listen to (not so nice).

2014/12/05 - 16:40 - [Inbound Seibu-Shinjuku Line train]

I brought an audio recorder with me today.  As I put it in my pocket, I envisioned getting started on the walk to the station, and then talking on the station platform (while waiting for the train), etc.  It didn't happen.  The problem with dictating things outside, is you need at least a little bit of space between yourself and others, and that hasn't happened... yet.  I'm hoping to do some voice-writing later on.  Writing things by hand, as I am now, is wonderful, etc., but it takes so much time!

Incidentally - as I write - I'm continually having to stop and plug my ears to lower the volume of the announcement to a level that isn't painful.  It's too bad, because otherwise, the live announcement is actually pleasant to listen to.

The middle-aged woman sitting to my left... either she has exceptionally wide hips (possible) or likes being glued to me.  It feels quite unpleasant, so I suppose she's a vampire.  I say that in a joking way, but some people really do seem to suck energy out of the people they're near.  For example - the woman on my right has her elbow in my side, and there's no feeling of damage.  The woman on the left however... is a very different story!

Standing on the platform in Takadanobaba...  Not wide hips.  As I stood up, I checked her left side - lots of room between her and the guy on her left... so I suppose she's vampire.


Transcribed from audio recordings:

2014/12/07 15:40:33

December 6th, 2014 (at Takadanobaba Station)

It's a weird thing when it's crowded - if it's not very crowded and there are only a few people, everybody is self-conscious about what the other people are doing, but when you get past a certain level of people density, you just kind of tune everybody out and view them as physical obstacles - well, not obstacles, but objects to navigate between.  You can't pay attention to any individual for very long.

I'm in Takadanobaba Station now, heading for the exit closest to the BigBox building... a camera is watching me as I go out the gate....

I don't know if this is going to work or not, but one thing about this I just realized, is that I don't need to describe sound effects, because the sounds are in the background automatically.

As I walk out of Takadanobaba Station, I see seasonal illumination out on the pedestrian traffic island, with the usual crowd of students there milling about - many of them probably from Waseda University.

The problem with dictation is that at some point, I have to sit down, listen to this, and type it up, which really sucks.  I'll have to see if I can get a program to put recorded voice into text.  The technology exists of course, but I don't personally have it....

Well, let me play this back and see if it's working OK.

December 6th, 2014 (walking into subway)

And we're rolling again...  I just realized something else nice about recordings.  In this day and age, people are becoming hyper-sensitive to cameras, which is ironic, because basically no one has any privacy any more anyway, since every time they go outside, their every move is being recorded by security cameras.  With a voice recorder though, you can *describe* situations that you couldn't take photos of.

December 6th, 2014 (making transfer at Nihonbashi from Tozai Line to Ginza Line)

I'm in the middle of making a transfer from the Tozai Line to the Ginza Line at Nihonbashi... I've got to get used to the idea that I can be dictating while I'm walking around.  And the sound effects!  I don't know why I didn't think of that before!  Come to think of it... one of the things that has repeatedly surprised me when watching old videos I took, is how the sound is often more important than the pictures for bringing back old memories.  So much is in the sound...

[Back to the present as I transcribe the recording: I then go on to talk about the sounds in the background, but it's kind of pointless to transcribe that when all you can experience right now is this text.  Maybe someday I'll put together a CD with these recording on it.]

In Nihonbashi, by the Tokyo Square Garden Building...

In Kyobashi... standing in front of Gallery.b.Tokyo... the exhibition there now is: Moteki Tamana (茂木たまな展) - let's have a look...

I'm now standing in the gallery and I've received permission to make a recording while I'm standing here.  There are two pictures in particular I'm really interested in - there's one that I told the artist kind of reminded me of the set for Blade Runner.  She didn't seem to agree with that, so I pointed out that actually the scenes in that movie are based on Tokyo... but anyway, apparently the painting that I like is based on one of the back streets in Ueno.

It's pretty cool... it's very realistic in feeling and has kind of a dreamy quality to it with no hard edges... but very realistic in capturing the atmosphere and feeling of those Ueno back streets.

On the other side of the room there's a painting that's kind of a blur of motion - depicting a busy train station.  It's an interesting thing, because when you're in a busy station, anything you look hard at is in focus, but everything is always in motion, and so as a whole, it's kind of a big blur in a way, and you can't spend much time looking at any one thing.  As in real life, the people in the foreground are clearer, but still their faces are not clear enough to identify.  It actually seems like that when you're navigating through a station like Tokyo, Shinjuku, Ueno, etc.  While you *could* take a hard look at someone walking by you (going the other way), that would take away from instantaneous navigation duties and so usually you don't really see anyone - even the people who are right by you.

So - again - the picture is very realistic in feeling and atmosphere, and dreamy in the details.  A very cool combination of a clear atmosphere and a dreamy effect.

At Tokyo Station... on one of the Yamanote (and Keihin-Tohoku) Line platforms, waiting for a Yamanote Line train.  Hmm... now I've pulled out the audio recorder, the machine is kind of standing between me and the atmosphere, but before I pulled it out....

Anyway - what prompted me to want to comment was the vibrancy of the city, with people rushing around, trains coming and going, constant motion, etc.  This actually ties in with the painting I saw earlier in the evening at Gallery.b.Tokyo - the dreamy quality of the painting is pretty close to the overall effect.  If you stop and focus on something, you can see it, but it's within a constant sea of motion, so there's no one point (in time or location) where you can take everything in.  It's pretty cool actually.