日曜日, 4月 24, 2005

So, I'm doing this thing called Walk for Hunger....

...And will be forgoing the pleasures of the Anime Boston conference to walk 20 miles in either rainy/cold or humid and hot weather. This will be for Project Bread. To quote their blurb:
Did you know that in the poorest neighborhoods in Massachusetts, as many as one child in three lives in a home that struggles to put food on the table?....Did you know that $100 provides 200 people at a homeless shelter with a bowl of hot soup and a sandwich? Pledges from The Walk for Hunger will help fund 400 emergency food programs in 132 communities. Online pledging makes it easy to help, and Project Bread needs our support now more than ever.

I'll be walking with a group of other girls, and our goal is to raise $100 each. If you donate just 50 cents/mile, for those 20 miles, I'll be very happy. :) Though I only have one reader (hi, Jaquandor!), I'm hoping someone will google "Moleskine porn" and come to this page. Hey, it's a long shot, but please consider it.

Donation link here

My Brother's Future Married Life

I can see it already...:
Her husband: a smart, gentle gijutsu-kei sarariman (corporate computer engineer) in his mid-30s, is an avid collector of figya (figures) of various animation and action heroes with a special penchant for Star Wars and Gundam. He knew seven of the great classic ani-son (animation theme songs) by heart, and liked to sing them out loud, at the top of his lungs while driving. He never failed to get up at 7:30 on Sunday mornings to watch a cult '70s anime rerun on TV and seriously considered dressing up as Kamen Raidaa (The Masked Rider) for his wedding until his mother wept and begged him not to.

Suffice to say, the whole of his private life was dedicated to the perusal of otaku pleasures and typical of the true otaku, he innocently and sincerely believed that his bride would share the same joys. For Yoshika, this meant certain drastic modifications in what she had envisioned her shinkon seikatsu (newly married life) to be like.

Having lived at her jikka (parent's house) all her life, she had many plans about decorating her own home -- and armed with copies of Elle Deco, she had aspired to a tasteful, artistic ribingu (living room) in which the red sofa from Idee (the young, professional Tokyoite's favored vendor of designer household products and furnishings) would quietly but masterfully dominate the ambience. But the sofa was obscured by the rows and rows of figya lined up on the shelves -- Luke Skywalker and Gocha-man and Ultra-man, standing like sentries, glowered at the coffee table.

Since Yoshika's mother had spent most her life in the kitchen, Yoshika had grown up swearing she would not make the same mistake and laid down a rule that as a married couple they must dine out together twice a week. She hadn't expected that in the restaurant, her husband's conversations will consist mainly of references to obscure anime directors from the '60s; a topic of interest only to other hardcore otaku.

In addition her husband adheres to a strict otaku diet of cappu nudoru (cup noodles), kan-inryou (canned soft drinks), bananas, hamburgers and convenience store onigiri (rice balls). And being an enthusiastic fan of shoku-gan (the small toy prizes that come attached to snack boxes), he has taken to consuming three or four junk snacks daily, and has cleared a whole shelf to display the prizes. Says Yoshika: "Ota-yome no michi wa ibarano michi (the path of the otaku wife is strewn with thorns)."

Elsewhere in the world such men are bypassed as totally non-eligible for relationships or marriage (and the first definition of an otaku is that he cannot, or prefers not to communicate with other human beings) and indeed, in Japan the otaku was long shunned as social outcasts. Not that the otaku cared very much. Who needed to date when Rei Ayanami (heroine of "Evangelion") beckoned from the DVD?

But as the years went by the otaku, once a minor and underground species, increased their numbers to become very-nearly-mainstream. Yoshika says her decision to marry had much to do with the fact that in modern Japan, it's hard to find a man who's NOT an otaku in one way or another. "Otakuga iyada nante yuttara kekkon dekinai shi, otaku wa uwaki shinai kara ne (if one refused to marry an otaku, one can't get married and besides, otaku will never have affairs with other women)."

Hm...if only I can find a guy similarly dedicated to Star Wars...

火曜日, 4月 19, 2005

Moleskine porn


Why is the MRT in Taipei blessed with this, while Boston is stuck with our ugly T?

Just to let people know, Episode III is killing me with the extra stress. Every day, I ponder if I should buy midnight tickets at the Fenway AMC, (but who wants to be stuck near Fenway at 3 a.m?) or hold out for the digital screen at Loews Boston Commons. I was there to watch Sin City, and ended up harassing the lady at the ticket booth, the guy at the customer service counter, and then that guy's manager, about tickets. They told me to go to Fandango.com, and but Fandango doesn't offer any tix for Boston yet. I've been "camped out" in front of the computer, hitting the refresh button compulsively. >_<

木曜日, 4月 14, 2005

I've joined a cult:


I've always jokingly sneered at the type of person who buys an iPod now, when they are 'cool' for the mainstream herd, and now I go and fall for the stationery equivalent. *sigh*

But they ARE such beautiful books: Gallery
Though I hate following the early adopters, these pocket-sized books really are hard to beat. The European hype isn't impressive--but the simple functionality is. I'm in love with it, carry it everywhere in my hoodie pocket with (since the truly hardcore also reveal their pens) a black 0.38 mm Mitsubishi Uni-ball Signo DX. Since getting one, I've scribbled more things these last few days than I have in a year.

Random things I have written in mine:
Angry ranting
Rooming combinations in Leverett House
My attempt at a Japanese tanka
The registration number of a Qualysis installer Cd
Positions of reflective markers on a goat

Maybe I should write a novel instead. :p

月曜日, 4月 11, 2005

You Know You're A Republican When...

You play five straight games of Mafia--or "Democrat," with ten people pointing fingers at each other, yelling, "You're the Democrat!"


水曜日, 4月 06, 2005

For me, "tortured writing" has always been a literal phrase. Every sentence requires countless mental tinkerings before being committed to paper--for academic papers, my average is an hour a paragraph. (And this is why I'm such a bad blogger.) Fortunately, there are times when I can produce words at great speed. The first is under SEVERE time pressure--I once typed up an internship application while eyeing the Fedex truck outside to make sure it hadn't left--and the second is in the wee hours of the morning. Unfortunately, unleashing my wit is often more like unleashing the sarcasm.

Here's a role-playing speech I had to produce last night for a class on biodiversity/ environmental law and policy. At least my classmates thought it was a hoot:

As your city attorney, I have to declare that this case makes me wish I hadn't watched all those Law and Order episodes in yesteryears. Had I gotten hooked on ER, I'd be massaging some man's heart with my latex-clad hands right now--while George Clooney makes my own organs throb and quicken just by running a hand through that salt-and-pepper hair....

*straightens skirt*

What I mean to say...is that I can't believe I'm saying this...but some "enigmatic maggot" is going to prevent the building of a desperately needed hospital, disrupt job growth, and set our fair city back by $661 million. (My crystal ball also tells me to buy oil futures NOW.)

Let me give it to you straight: the Supreme Court has judged that the Endangered Species Act requires the government to prevent a wide range of harm, including "significant habitat modification or degradation." And even had the Fish and Wildlife Service dragged its foot on Balmer's request, the entire fiasco with the northern spotted owl has set a precedent requiring the FWS to explain itself if it doesn't name some fowl or worm endangered or threatened. Alas, the gnatcatcher's case in Natl. Resources Defense Council v. Dept. of Interior fairly demands that the Service designate "critical habitat" for a species. And the way things are looking now, this critical habitat includes every bit of developable land within city limits.

All this, coupled with the fact that our Governor loves sitting on the fence so much that he has permanent splinters up his a___, bodes ill for our city's future.

There is a way out of this mess. According to eminent sources, this creature is actually a sub-species of Rhaphiomidas terminatus. Moreover, scientists are in increasing debate about the actual existence of distinct "species." Last time I checked, the root of all this evil was the Endangered "Species" Act--even the Supreme Court can't deny that. If we can make a good case that our Delhi Sands Flower-Loving Fly is actually an almost indistinguishable cousin of the Islamabad Sands Flower-Loving Fly, which flitters around Some Other City, then we're in luck.

火曜日, 4月 05, 2005

Su Shih's Red Cliffs, cont'd.

Note: Su Shih is my favorite Sung Dynasty writer. He's my favorite Chinese writer. That's not saying much, since my reading list back in high school was limited to a few early favorites and trash romance novels. Still, things have been stressful lately, and trying to translate him is very much like assuming his serenity, if only briefly.

Also: stress relief's the goal, not accuracy. :)

Original here.


And so we drank our pleasure. Beating the tempo on the skiff's prow, I sang:

The cassia oar and the orchid wood paddle
Strike the empty brightness, traced by light.
Distant is the object of my thoughts--
Gazing at a beautiful woman on the other side of the heavens.

My guest played the long flute, wrapping my song in harmony--the hooting of an owl: like resentment, like admiration...like sobbing, like confession. The winding of its long notes were endless like a bolt of silk: the hidden dragon that dances in gloomy grottoes, the abandoned wife weeping in her lone boat.

月曜日, 4月 04, 2005

Jaquandor's Byzantium Shores is one of those blogs for which I would drift into the habit of not visiting and then devour an entire month's worth of posts in one afternoon. Maybe it's because I like being able to read nothing but posts on Star Wars, classical and film music, and random news from Buffalo for hours. It's like saving up Peeps so you can eat until you're sick before Easter. (Sorry Jaquandor. I needed a simile and couldn't think of anything else.)

Here's a recent post on finally getting a die-cast Millennium Falcon. To which I say:

1) I have Darth Vader's helmet sitting on my desk, and he's all I need.


2) Death Star Trench Run!!

Su Shih, "The Red Cliffs". Translation-on-the-fly, part 1

Original here.

It is autumn of the year Ren Syu, the seventh month full upon us. My guest and I sailed our skiff down the Yangtze to below the Red Cliffs. A light breeze wafted over us, but excited no ripples in the clear water. I raised my cup of ale towards my guest, and we recited poems of the bright moon and sang songs of youth. Soon, the moon rose over the eastern mountains, lingering between the Shepherd and the North Star. White mists spanned the river, its diffuse lights joining those in the sky. Our lone skiff drifted at its own will, soaring over an uncomprehending deep--Great as though at the reins of the wind, steering it against the nothingness, never knowing when it will end. Floating as though forsaking the world to stand alone, joining the Immortals...

土曜日, 4月 02, 2005

Late to the Party

I have been spending spring break with my roommate Yi-An in Baltimore. We had a full day at UMCP yesterday, and Arash rather selflessly (Ayn Rand would have issues with how selfless Arash is) drove us back through the pouring rain. Since I slept all the way back to Baltimore, I ended up wide awake at 12:30 a.m. in a half-empty house with strange creaking sounds. (See Grudge, the).

Fortunately, David McCullough's John Adams had staring at me from James's bookshelf for the last week. I started from the end--there's a fascinating story behind Adams and Jefferson's reconciliation that never made it into the high school textbooks--then continued with the beginning. It was heartening to learn that Adams was often assailed by feelings of self-doubt and a sense of futility, that he had trouble concentrating, that he daydreamed often and thought far too much about women. Alas, these human failings were before he somehow straightened himself out, delved into the study of the law, and emerged as the most prominent lawyer in Boston. McCullough's writing for citizen-scholars, not ambivalent college students, so he never quite explains how Adams did it.

On the other hand, McCullough did cover the issue of declaring independence. Contrary to the picturebook view of the American Revolution, independence was scarcely a majority position. It's interesting to learn that the greatest outcry for independence was in occupied New England, not in the wealthy Southern colonies. Also, that Adams et al. had to ensure that they did not push for independence too fast yet manage to grasp the opportunity when it presented itself. The same numbers show up again and again: a third of the delegates too conciliatory, a third too timid, but a third of them "true blue." Sometimes, the passionate 30% truly can change history.