Monday, December 15

おくりびと


Attended the closing film of the 12th annual Japanese film festival in Sydney, Depatures (or Okuribito in Japanese) last week Tuesday. I had seen one of the festival's movies the week before and had not been especially impressed by it; being the closing film I was hoping this movie to be more interesting.

Sadly, Departures, as a movie, was only slightly better than Closed Note; the storyline was relatively easy to figure out. What did make this a worthwhile movie however was finding out about death rituals in Japan and funerals. I've lived in Japan for over 10 years and I knew the way funerals are held is quite different from the West but I didn't know much about the specifics.

There is a whole tradition/ceremony around washing the body that I knew nothing about. Watching it being performed almost made me think of the Japanese tea ceremony, how everything is done in a specific order and fashion. I also came out with a question. Why do we in the West embalm bodies? Everything being equal it seems like a waste of money.

P.S. If I've picked your interest about Japan and funerals, another great film on this topic is "Ososhiki" (Funeral), a film by Juzo Itami. It deals more with the grieving process and is another eye-opener.

Friday, December 12

Closed Note

Last week we had the 12th Japanese Film Festival in Sydney. There were quite a few films I wanted to see but unfortunately most of them played over the weekend and was gone to Melbourne for the diplomacy DON cup. I did manage to get two films in, the first being Closed Note (or クローズドノート in Japanese).

The film was OK, but to be honest, for a film festival I had higher expectations. The premise of the story had a lot of potential but I don't feel it was put to full effect in the movie. There were also a lot of cheap and mishandled tugs at the heart strings. Not a bad movie but not something I would put up for viewing at a film festival.

Then again maybe there was nothing great that came out of the Japanese film industry last year and this was the best we could hope for? Doubtful since Beat Takeshi put out a great movie in 2007, Glory to the Filmaker. I was such a hit that the Venice Film Festival named an award after it.

All in all, I'm not impressed with the film choices ... I hope this is just a fluke.

Wednesday, December 10

First Sydney Poker Night

Finally! I've been missing my Tokyo poker games with the gang and have been in withdrawal ever since moving here. I did get a couple of games in at the casino in Auckland when visiting with Scott and some amateur poker games here in Sydney but nothing is as much fun as playing at home with friends.

I'm glad to report that I haven't lost my touch. I've always been a top contender with the guys back in Tokyo but I've always wondered if it was because I was good or they were not. Well, after giving my friends here two consecutive servings of whoopass my mind is at rest. I'm good.

Monday, December 8

Brand Name Pricing Power


It's been a while since my last rant on life in Australia, though my post on Australenglish might be considered ranting, so here's a new one. Actually this post is not so much about Australia but about the craziness around consumer prices. Point in case: colas.

See the nice picture above? Two fine examples of very similar products. Probably even made at the same place, just different labels. But one is a very famous brand and the other is a generic brand. And guess what being famous allows a company to do? (besides plaster pictures of Sara Jessica Parker on it's cans)

It allows Coca-Cola to charge roughly 250% more for it's product! I remember that brand names were cheaper than the generic brands in Canada and Japan but not by so much! Someone please tell me that atrocities like this are not being committed there also?

Wednesday, December 3

Air Hockey a la Oz?

Once upon a time in Tokyo, we used to love playing air hockey. Finding a place that actually had a table was rare and if we found one we'd have a go at a few games. It could get very competitive and I remember even getting scrapped knuckles!

On my walk to Manly beach I just happened to see this table at a pub in Manly and had to have a game. I was happy to find out that my Swiss friend who joined me on the walk was also keen to play! We had a blast and I totally trashed him three games out of three. All that practice in Tokyo sure paid off!

One thing to note, this table has the goals set up like a proper hockey rink! As opposed to 'regular' tables like those in Japan, there is space behind the goal for the puck to go around. So it's possible to send the puck across, have it round the nets and come back to you. This definitely adds another level to the game!

Monday, December 1

Australenglish!

I was warned when moving to Australia that the fauna here can be deadly. From venomous snakes, to killer spiders and jellyfish. Australia, it can kill you. It's not a country for the weak. But man, no one told me to watch out for moving plants! Thank God for the signage or a poor tourist like myself could get run over by one. My threat level has just gone up another notch.

(Finally, after years of making fun of English signs in Japan we can now make fun of English in Australia)

Holy Memories of MJG


A few months back I did the Manly to Spit walk, a very nice scenic walk that starts from the Spit bridge and goes on for 9 km all the way to Manly beach. The trail winds it way along the coast and offers great views of the ocean and inlets around Sydney. I never realized how many small bays and inlets Sydney has. It's a great walk, offering a lot of panoramic views and the trail is mostly either covered or in the shade, a very important thing with the incredibly harsh Australian sun.

Once at Manly I took a stroll on the beach and saw this kid which made me think of Mike and his love of digging holes. Obviously this little one has nothing on Mike's hole-digging abilities but maybe someday ... Is this perhaps what a young Mike looked like when left own his own at the beach?

Wednesday, November 12

Greek Style in honour of Jason


I almost fell over when I saw this in the local supermarket. All these years that Jason had been shouting at us that he was going to Greek Style us during bouts of board gaming I was sure that he was venting his homophobia (or should it be philia?). And/or perchance his penchant for the Hershey highway?

But no! What Jason was really offering was to serve us up a dollop of a variety of yogurt. Poor Jason, so misunderstood all these years! I can't help to say that when I saw this yogurt instantly I had pictures of hairy Greek men slathering it all over themselves in a Caligulan version of 300 with Jason yelling at the top of his lungs to the enemy, 'come on boys, let show them some greek styling!'.

Jason, here's to you bro.

Monday, November 3

Sydney Diplomacy Championships

The weekend of October 4-6 I attended the Sydney Diplomacy Championships. And no, this was not a meeting of foreign diplomats vying for world domination. Diplomacy is a board game. There is a nice write-up about the game on Wikipedia but in a nutshell diplomacy is like Risk but without the dice; there is absolutely no luck involved. The goal is world domination, the tools are your negotiation skills.

You make and break alliances, trying to convince other players to help you. But at some point you will have to break your alliances, otherwise you can't win. Everyone knows this, and all players have to balance trusting someone until you can stab them in the back, but not trusting them for so long that they get to stab you first!

The tournament was over three days with 5 games played. I did relatively well coming in third place out of 16 players (Sydney Championship Rankings). I also managed to get a prize for the best Turkey, managing to get 12 centers, this in my first game. I probably could have pushed and won the game outright but being my first game of the tournament and since I had not played in years I decided to take a draw. Looking back this was a bad decision as I never was able to do nearly as well in any of the following games. Had I pushed and won the game it would have clinched first place for the tournament since no one was able to win a game outright in any of the tournament games.

All in all it was fun and I am thinking of going to the Australian Championships in January. First place for that is a free ticket to the US to join in the World Diplomacy Championship!

Saturday, October 4

Ishmael


I moved to Sydney with three books I've been wanting to read for a long time, Ishmael, The Life of Pi, and The Illuminatus Trilogy. It took me a while to start reading these and Ishmael is the first one I finished.

The book is interesting and a rather easy read. It's the story of a teacher (a telepathic gorilla) and his student. The story starts out with the student, Alan Lomax, who "has a vague notion that he is living in some sort of captivity and being lied to in some way but he can not explain his feelings". Since I have a very similar feeling, that of life being a rat race, an endless, pointless pursuit with no goal, I was eager to keep reading, hoping to find some reason behind my own feelings and how to get out of the rat race. Unfortunately the book isn't about individuals, it's about the rat-race of the whole of humanity.

It explores how man is living in captivity, enslaved by a culture/civilization that forces him to exploit and destroy his own world in order to keep living; it is the story of "how things came to be this way". The gist of the explanation being that for man the 'world is a foe to be conquered [and] they will conquer it like a foe, and one day, inevitably, their foe will lie bleeding to death at their feet, as the world is now.'

In the end there was nothing to help me personally but the ideas presented are interesting and make a lot of sense. Ideas on mythology, ethics and sustainability. The book's main theme can be summed up in the following quote by the author, Daniel Quinn:

My warning is about its [agriculture's] continued success."[1] Quinn characterizes the Malthusian problem as "How are we going to FEED all these people?" and contrasts this with his own: "How are we going to stop PRODUCING all these people?"
The points presented, taken to their logical conclusion also imply the following very controversial idea that:
"since population growth is a function of food supply, food aid to impoverished nations merely puts off and dramatically worsens a massive population-environment crisis"

Wednesday, October 1

野村会社員

No pictures for this entry. Just wanted to give everyone an update on my employment situation. All the employees at my office today received a formal contract offer from Nomura, so from today I am no longer a Lehman Brothers employee but a member of the Nomura group.

This is great news as it means my job is secured and I continue to get paid. Yes, this is a good thing. So in short nothing much is changing for me except the company name on my business card. It's been quite a roller-coaster ride for the past few weeks, from the company going bankrupt and being out of a job all the way to today where I have my job back.

Now I can finally start blogging about other stuff!

Monday, September 22

Nomura to the rescue

The news is out, Lehman Brothers' Asia-Pacific operations is being bought out by Nomura Holdings, Japan's largest brokerage house. Is this coming full circle or what? After having been in Tokyo for over nine years, I've moved to Sydney just to have my American company go bankrupt and then get bought and saved by a Japanese company. Wow.

The details are still sketchy but for now it seems to mean my job is safe for the short-term. What will happen to the Australian offices in the long-term no one knows for now but having Nomura buy out Lehman's Asia-Pacific offices is probably the best possible outcome out of this whole saga.

Does that mean I might be going back to Tokyo?

Related news articles:

Nomura wins battle for Lehman's Asia business
Nomura Wins Bid for Lehman's Operations in Asia

Friday, September 19

Disappearing act ...

No real news today on my job. We're still in Limbo waiting to see if we will be bought out by another company, shut down, or ... One piece of good news is that today was pay day and we got paid!

I hope to find out soon what happens. Being a foreigner in Australia I am here on a 457 working visa sponsored by my company. If Lehman Brothers Australia goes under I lose my sponsorship and have 28 days to find another job and sponsor or have to leave the country. Not much time ...

Strangely enough this is one area where I never had to worry so much in Japan. My work visa there was not so tightly tied to my employer. Never thought I would have to worry about being kicked out of the country ...

Wednesday, September 17

Lehman Brothers - Update

News flash, Barclays has agreed to buy the core Lehman Brothers US franchise. There seems to be some interest in buying some of the Asia assets but it's not clear if this will really happen or how Australia would fit into this.

Keeping my fingers crossed that Barclays decides to buy out Lehman Brothers Australia ... will keep you updated as I find out more.

Here is a good write up on Barclays purchase of Lehman Brothers's US operations.

Monday, September 15

Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy


Most of you have probably heard the news by now, my company Lehman Brothers, has filed for bankruptcy in the US. What does this mean for me? To be honest I don't know yet. The US parent company is under Chapter 11 protection but the Australian subsidiary is still running. But having said that, our trading privileges on the Australian stock exchange have been suspended so it's not clear that we can actually still do any business at the moment.

So for now all I know is that I am going to the office tomorrow and find out more. Wish me luck. If things don't turn out then I'm hoping to go back to Tokyo.

If anyone is interested here a nice summary explaining the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Saturday, September 6

Phuket nights


Some of my friends have been asking me to tell them all about the more 'fun' things I did while in Phuket. Reading about how nice the beach was of the good food is nice but what they really want to know is what my nights in Patong were like.

Well this is a family blog (not really but some of my family do read it) so I can't go into all the seedy details that the friends I left behind in Tokyo want to hear. But I can say that I did have one or two fun nights.

So who's the girl in the picture above? Her name is Ayako and I met her and her friend Ayano in the pool at my hotel. They are from Kobe. Ayako is singer and is about to start a radio show when she gets back. Ayano is a photographer also from Kobe. I invited them out to go explore the Phuket nightlife and they were up for it.

The first place we hit was a club call Lime. We went thinking it was a club but it's more of a lounge bar will loud dance music. It wasn't a bad place to start at though. There was an event on (organized by a Canadian!) and the entrance was around 600 baht including all you can drink for the next two hours. When the all you can drink time was up we headed out for our next place. We weren't too drunk but drunk enough to pose with Ronald.

The next place we hit was a club called Seduction. This was a proper club, unfortunately it was also dead. There were many 5 Thai girls in there and that was it. We stayed long enough to use up our one free drink coupon. The one I can say about the place though is that they have a nice upstairs lounge. That's where I took the of Ayako on the sofa you see at the start of the post.

We were then off to our next, and last, stop, Tiger. Tiger is a pretty famous club and quite big. It has one main dance floor and a second floor around that where you can sit and watch people gyrating. It offered a great view on what people where up to down below and allowed me to take this this pic of some pole dancers.


That was probably my most fun night in Phuket. Having two fun girls along definitely made it memorable. If I were still living in Japan I'd definitely go and visit them.

Monday, September 1

Is this a geocache?

Most people wouldn't think twice at seeing this building while holidaying in Phuket. But if you were me (or Scott), the first thing you'd think is geocache! Imean it's just too obvious, no? There must be one right there. Well, I searched and couldn't find one. Damn.

I thought about making my own and placing it here, but after having looked for a cache I realised that there wasn't any easy place to put one. No metal around so can't make a magnetic cache and no convenient hiding spots. Shucks, would have been great to put this one up on the net ...

Wednesday, August 27

Thaiglish

My friend Mike has great example of weird English signs, etc, from Japan. Something we lovingly refer to as Japangrish, also known as Engrish. Unfortunately I haven't found any really exciting examples in Australia of Australish, but I keep looking.

On my trip to Phuket I did see these two funny signs attempting, I assume, to promote road safety

Duh, everyone is always careful when they drive fast, no?

Sunday, August 24

The Cheapest Pad Thai in Patong!

Restaurant no. 6 was a great find, but a few days before the end of my trip I found an even better restaurant. I was crazy about this place I went there for lunch and dinner on my last three days!



I had actually walked by this restaurant a few times before since it was located on a street next to my hotel. But with a name like 'Grottino' and a sign expounding pizza you can understand why it didn't garner much attention from me. I'm in Thailand, what do I want pizza for!?

What did bring me in was a new sign they put up one day, you can see it in the picture above, 'All dishes 80 baht only'! Did that include pad thai? It sure did! With the price lower than my trustee benchmark no. 6 restaurant I had to give it a go just for fun. I went in, sat down and ordered myself a chicken Pad Thai and a cold Tiger beer.

The picture may not loo like much but that is the absolute best pad thai I have ever had. So good that I ate it for my next six meals! Not only was it delicious (even better when you squeeze fresh lime on top) it's also the cheapest restaurant meal I ever had on the whole island. Even if the price goes back to normal (160 baht I think) I would still come eat to eat the pad thai. The pad thai at no. 6 is good, a real staple, but this one is truly a find.

Wednesday, August 20

Restaurant No. 6


One thing Phuket does not have a shortage of is restaurants (another is massage parlours). The first restaurant I tried when I got to Phuket was the one above, called no. 6. My boss recommend it to me and what a great recommendation it was; I would also recommend it to anyone visiting Phuket.

Now the restaurant itself is nothing to write home about and looks like almost any other simple local eatery in Phuket. The food is not extravagant but it is authentic local food, compared to many other 'westernized' restaurants that abound. But what really kept me coming back was the cheap price. It was the one place where I can truly say I ate cheaply.

For my whole stay in Phuket I used the prices at no. 6 as a benchmark to compare other places against. Before entering any restaurant I would check the price of Pad Thai in the menu and compare it to no. 6's 100 baht Pad Thai. So for cheap local food, you can't go wrong here. The portions are small, but believe me, that's a good thing :)

Monday, August 18

Trip to Phuket

I took a small 10 day vacation near the end of July and went to Phuket island in Thailand. I had originally thought of going somewhere in the French Polynesians like Vanuatu, but coworkers and my travel agent recommended against it. Not that Vanuatu or any of the French islands, like Fiji or Tahiti, have anything wrong with them! Simply, since I was going by myself I might find those islands a bit 'boring'. You see, they are pretty small and don't have much of a night life; the beaches are exquisite and best enjoyed by honeymooners I'm told.

I've been to Thailand quite a few times, mostly to Koh Samui, and decided this time to give a different part of Thailand a try. Phuket is a well known tourist destination with good beaches and a happening night life so a good choice. I chose to go to Patong beach, the most popular beach on Phuket island.

The beach was quite nice, as good as what I remember the beaches in Koh Samui being. The only thing though, whereas the hotels/bungalows in Koh Samui are right on the beach, this is not the case in Patong. All along the beach there is a road; hotels are on one side and the beach on the other. This is not such a bad thing, but you can't just lounge out of your hotel onto the beach. A small convenience but one that was sorely missed.

Wednesday, August 6

Bike Ride for MS Reasearch


I've joined the Sydney to Gong charity bike ride to help support multiple sclerosis research. It will be held in September and is one of the many charity events that my company helps sponsor. If you're interested, you can help sponsor me! Just visit the donation page I set up and donate using your credit card.

Now some of you might be asking why there is a picture of a beaver here? Well, my company team has quite a few members and me and the other IT guys who are in this each put up a picture representing our country. You can see my team members on this page. Try and figure out what the other countries are!

Oh, and as you can see from my team page, I'm at the bottom of the rankings in donation/sponsorship .... hint, hint ^_^

Saturday, July 19

Skip Pancakes On The Rocks ...


If ever you are tempted for a good breakfast, do not be fooled into going to Pancakes On The Rocks in Sydney. Whatever the locals might think, this is not a good breakfast place.

The pancakes are OK but ... the maple syrup is fake synthetic sugar crap, something no true Canadian should have to put up with. And don't get me started on the sausages, bland, weak, dry, blah, I couldn't be bothered to finish more than one bite.

Scott took me here with Makiko one morning thinking it was the same franchise as some other place he had been to. Hopefully I can some day find the elusive place that Scott really wanted to take me to.

New Zealand Road Trip Part II

On the second day of our trip we almost opted to fly McDonald Air the rest of our journey but decided not too. I think it had either something to do with our fear of having a yellow and red clown flying the plane or Hamburgler trying to hijack it. Don't remember which but we did give the airline's food a go.


I think the above just goes to show how insecure Kiwis are, what with the big nasty Australians so close they just have to find ways of proving their cultural uniqueness. So what exactly is a KiwiBurger? Pretty much a quarter-pounder with lettuce, tomato, an egg on the bottom, and most importantly a thick slice of beetroot. Pretty tasty I thought! I'm actually starting to like beetroot on burgers ...


Along the way we met some friends. They weren't too interested in us, just giving a sly side-glance, but considering I barely saw any sheep a horse is a horse of course.

In Auckland we tried out the Sushi Train kaiten-sushi restaurant and this was once of the more interesting (in it's simplicity) pieces they had. I was also surprised that it was not the cheapest either! It was $3 or $4 for a corn on rice! I figure you can probably make a half-dozen slices of corn of a $1 ear, turning your $1 corn cob into a tidy $18-$24. Not a bad profit!


For the evening we hit the harbor were a few nightspots are. Can't remember the name of the place we went into but as soon as we walked in we got swarmed by this girl who just had to have us sign her back, with phone numbers!


Any last but not least, Scott has lots of 'splaining to do ... How come he always seems to make it into the more interesting pictures ... Man I gotta get people to take more action shots of me!

Friday, July 18

Scott's Proctology Exam (or Our New Zealand Road Trip)



A few months back I flew down to New Zealand to visit Scott while he was in Wellington on a business trip. We met up with his long-time friend Glenn (all the way from New Brunswick) who lives and works there. Wellington turned out to be a pretty small town. I was almost going to say boring, but the fact that you can walk to whole downtown does make it easy to hit all the interesting spots in one go.

One night in Wellington was enough and we planned a road trip all the way up to Auckland with one hotel stop on the way in Taupo. Amazing how we were able to drive all the way from one end of the island to the other in less than a day, that's half the country!

Now, about the picture ... this was taking during our stop-over in Taupo. After finding a hotel we drove around for a good 15 minutes trying to find some form of nightlife and were just about to give up when we found the one street corner where the bar scene was happening. We bar hopped and eventually hit this place in the picture. They were having a Doctor/Nurse night and boy were some of the nurses hot ....

Wondering why Scott has that happy startled look? The really cute nurse definitely has something to do with it. But so do does the blond nurse in front of him ...

Sunday, June 15

Sydney train ticket machines suck!


Ok, maybe it's because I'm coming from Tokyo with the world's best train system, but Sydney ticket machines for trains are just plain horrible. Archaic is what they are, even the soda vending machines are smarter! But I should have expected this after finding out that CityRail was found to be the worse run railway in world!

What's wrong with them you ask? Don't get me started! A short list of the horrors these machines have:

  • Wonder why the machines are so big? No touch screen! Every station has it's own button on the machine (see picture above). Can you imagine if the railway had hundreds of stations, the machine would be the size of a truck!
  • They only accept up to nine coins! Why in God's name does a machine care how many coins you put in it? If the ticket costs $1.00 and all you have are 10 cent coins, too bad, no ticket!
  • They don't reuse the coins they get to make change! Even regular vending machines can do this. You don't know how many time I have put a $5 dollar bill in the machine only to have it spit out again because the machine is out of change. Machines can run out of change, this I understand. But if the machine is out of change and then someone buys a ticket with exact change, the vending machine should no longer be out of change right? You would expect it to start using the changing it just received, right? But not here! The machine needs to wait for someone to come and manually refill it. Duh-um!

The Dynamo of Volition - Jason Mraz


Was watching TV one weekend and while flipping channels I stumbled on this music video channel. They had a guy on playing an acoustic version of his song. I liked it so much that I spent a good while trying to find who this guy is, the song and a copy of the video.

Be patient with the video, it takes a minute before he starts singing. The music is good but it's the singing style, very staccato and syncopated, that god me. The lyrics are also pretty cool in an almost-makes-sense-'til-you-read-them kind of way.

Jason Mraz
- The Dynamo of Volition from the album We Eat. We Dance. We Steal Things.

If you want to get a copy of his album you can try this torrent.

Soft serve ice cream - Burger King wins!

At the train station near my office there is a McDonald's and Burger King (actually a called Hungry Jack's in Australia but that's a topic for a future post). I used to love soft serve ice-cream cones in Japan (called soft-cream [sofutokuriimu]) but it wasn't easy to find as most McDonald' restaurants there don't serve it. The only McDonald's I remember having it is the one in Shibuya near Tower Records.

So I was surprised when I had my first McDonald's cone here to find out that it wasn't very good and nothing at all like I remembered the cones in Japan to be! The ice cream was more like frozen yogurt. It melted more quickly, the taste was more watery and definitely not as creamy. I thought this might be because Australians were more health conscious? Frozen yogurt is better than ice cream right?

Well, the taste difference has nothing to do with healthier eating. At Hungry Jacks they also have soft serve ice cream cones and they are fabulous! Incredibly creamy and with a great buttery vanilla taste. If you ever feel the need for a cone, skip McDonald's and go straight to Hungry Jacks, the cones there are by far the best. You can even get your cone dipped in chocolate but skip that, it costs more and doesn't add much. The ice cream is where it's at.

Saturday, June 14

Canada on the Front Page!

Opened Wikipedia this morning and what did I see?? The featured article of the was a big, bright, red and white flag! Yup, the article is about Canada's flag, the Maple Leaf or l'Unifolié in French (rough translation 'the unileafed'). Woo-hoo!

Just had to point it out!

Salsa



Started taking salsa lessons again. After last weekend when I went dancing salsa with five incredible Japanese girls, all excellent dancers, I decided it would be a good time to start lessons again. One of the guys I met there suggested Salsa Vibes so I started there on Thursday.

I had taken lessons for about six months back in Tokyo two years ago but stopped because I wasn't getting very good very fast. The main reason for this being that I was going to lessons once a week but not getting any practice in besides the lessons and about an hour of practice afterwards. In case you don't know this, it's about three times as hard for a guy to get good at salsa than for a woman. The main reason salsa it's hard for a guy is that they need to lead (a lot!), whereas the woman just needs to follow. And leading isn't half as easy as you might think.

The biggest reason in my case though was a lack of practice. I did try to go to some salsa bars to get some practice in but .... The thing is that most people at salsa bars are already pretty good dancers! So trying to get a woman to dance with a beginner just doing the basic steps is hard. And it's intimidating to ask a woman to dance when you can obviously tell that they are better than you are. I-t-i-m-i-d-a-t-i-n-g ... really tough.

So the only way to get over that is for me to take more lessons and get good!

Tuesday, June 10

Sex And The City

OK, call me girlie for having gone to see this movie if you will. But having been a fan of the TV series (I rented and watched all 6 seasons on DVD when I was in Japan) I had to go see the movie to see how series ends; I had an itch to see the dénouement if you will. Sex and the City was not necessarily a great TV series but it did have its share of good episodes. But for me the best thing it was that it was a great way to get a conversation going about relationships and sex with my girlfriend at the time.

An episode of SATC could let you start a discussion about a lot of interesting topics that might otherwise be a bit awkward. And since at the time I was dating a Japanese woman (I was in Tokyo after all!), this was the perfect mechanism for talking about a host of topics.

Now, as for the movie, I liked it very much; I give it four our of five stars. Not only did it continue the television series perfectly, it also had all the characters exactly where you would expect them to be in their lives. But more importantly the situations presented in the movie, cheating on a spouse, fear of commitment and feeling trapped because of commitment were all issues I could relate with. And each of these was presented in a real an believable way.

I'd love to go into more details but then I'd be giving too much of the movie away! I laughed, I cried (OK only sniffled), and I felt this was the first movie in a long time I was happy to spend money on. I know that's not saying much considering the crap in theaters these days but still ... Now if only I had gone to see it with someone I could talk about it with afterwards!

Speaking of which ... I went to see this movie with five pretty hot Japanese women. Go figure!

Saturday, May 24

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull


Went to see the new Indiana Jones movie this week with some coworkers. Not worth it. It really wasn't as good as the others (OK, I've only seen Raiders and Last Crusade but I can't imagine Temple of Doom being this bad).

Very limited characters development. The story was incredible (as in not credible) just too many times. In all the other Indy films there were very implausible situations, or Indie would do things that seemed hard to believe, like hanging on to a submarine in the first one, but it was possible. In this one ... just no way. One fine example is Indy and his 5 friends riding a boat off the edge of a 40 foot fall and surviving. Ok, once I can believe, but they do it three times in a row!

But for me the worse was the bluescreen. Too many times during the movie I could tell that none of the background was real. Have a look at the picture below. Does anything in it look real?



The movie is fun at times and the story can get a bit engaging but in the end I didn't find it up to snuff. I would not recommend spending the money to see this at the theater.