Thursday, May 13, 2010
I recently heard they are making a remake of the 1984 classic, Karate Kid, with Jackie Chan taking on Pat Morita's old role as Mr. Miyagi and Jaden Smith (Jada Pinket and Will Smith's son) filling Ralph Machio's shoes as Daniel LaRusso. Ralph Macchio could probably still play a believable Karate Kid today. I think he was like thirty when he played the role of 16 year-old Daniel. He's one of those people that just never ages.
I got to wondering about whatever happened to Ralph Macchio so I went searching for him on the Internet. I discovered he is in a new movie, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Undead, also starring Jake Hoffman (son of Dustin Hoffman) and scored by Sean Lennon. I'm not too sure what part Ralph Macchio plays but after watching the trailer I know exactly why he is in this flick. The movie involves vampires, who like Macchio, never age! Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Is your spine tingling?
View the trailer for Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Undead:
Macchio in top form, playing opposite Hoffman in the limo scene.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
|You can find his book on |
|In case you missed the "classic" soda bottle |
ashtray in the photo above, here's a close up.
Like most homes in Japan, ours has an umbrella stand in the foyer, or genkan.
I brought it inside one day to to examine the exquisite detail in a better light. Wondering what hand might have framed the delicate symmetry of this delightful creature, I turned it round in hopes that the artist had graced us with some signature marking when lo and behold an inscription revealed itself.
With growing anticipation I moved in for closer inspection and read these words....
MANY!!! I wonder, could it be the same Many we have heard so much about in recent years whose prolific works have been single handedly fueling the economies of China and other emerging economies. Oh what a Many splendored thing this is.
Yokohama - City ordinances here strictly stipulate that whenever residents discard broken glass, etc. that could pose the risk of injury to trash collectors, such refuse must be clearly labeled as "ワレモノ," or "shattered item(s)."
I hope they got the message.
I've been taking photos of manhole covers in the area. Some of them are really interesting. I had intended to make a photo montage of the most beautiful sewer caps I could find when the other day I found this:
Evidently somebody else (with a better camera and more talent) has had their eye on manholes too. There go all my hopes for publishing an in-depth treatise on the manholes of Japan right down the drain.
Read what the Amazon review of Drainspotting by Remo Camerota says:
"In Japan, modern sewer systems began to appear during the late 19th century, though evidence of sewage systems in the country dates back to over 2,000 years ago. Foreign engineers introduced the Japanese to modern, underground sewer systems with above ground access points called manhoru (manholes). At that time, manhole covers utilized the geometric designs similar to those used in other countries. In the 1980s, as communities outside of Japan?s major cities were slated to receive new sewer systems these public works projects were met with resistance, until one dedicated bureaucrat solved the problem by devising a way to make these mostly invisible systems aesthetically appreciated aboveground: customized manhole covers."
This cap bears the official seal of the City of Yokohama. It's a symbol combining the katakana characters for "ha (ハ)" and "ma (マ)."
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
|You better watch out, |
Koi Boy is coming!
Monday, May 3, 2010
Yokohama, Japan - It's Golden Week in Japan. The whole country has the week off (everyone likes to do things together here, even vacation) and everywhere you go it looks like this:
Now let me zoom out.
This year the anniversary of Emperor Hirohito's birthday (April 29th, a national holiday) fell on a Thursday, then Golden Week kicked off on Saturday and runs through Wednesday which is May 5th, Children's Day (which used to be known as Boy's Day). Sandwiched in between is Constitution Day on the 3rd, celebrating the adoption of Japan's war renouncing constitution. Largely handed down by the post WWII US occupational administration, the foundation of the war renouncing part of that constitution, article number nine, in recent years has been chipped away at by conservative forces both within the Japanese government as well as the US, the original architect of Japan's peace constitution. For most people the day is an opportunity to spend quality time standing in long lines, stuck in traffic, or most importantly with their family and/or a few bottles of sake.
Then comes Green Day (Midori no Hi). If you thought the explanation of Constitution Day was long-winded, hold on to your hats. April 29th was a national holiday in honor of Emperor Hirohito's (the Showa Emperor) actual birthday. Usually when an emperor dies, the new emperor's birthday replaces the old emperor's birthday as a national holiday. Since Emperor Hirohito's birthday fell on the first day of Golden Week, when he died, the government realized that abolishing the holiday would put a wrinkle in everyone's travel plans and a real damper on Golden Week so they decided to keep the holiday. While the new emperor's birthday fell on December 23rd, they could have two holidays called the Emperor's Birthday so they changed the name of the holiday for the former emperor's birthday (Emperor Hirohito's birthday) to Midori no Hi, or Green Day, in honor of his love of not the 90's rock band of the same name but nature.
Some years later the government decided there was a shortage of holidays so they came up with a law making any day that fell between two national holidays a national holiday as well. That made the day between Constitution Day on May 3rd and Children's Day on May 5th a new national holiday. That holdiay was labeled with the decidedly lackluster nomer of May 4th. The holiday didn't have a name (or a significant reason for being) and that was a problem. Then a couple of years ago the national government decided to change the name of Green Day (Midori no Hi) to Showa no Hi (in honor of the reign of Emperor Hirohito, the Showa emperor) for no apparent reason. When somebody asked, "What will happen to Green Day?" the light bulb switched on somebody else's head. The bright light realized they had an open slot on May 4th, the holiday without a name, and so that's how May 4th came to be known as Green Day in Japan. They might as well have named it after the 90's rock band as far as I'm concerned, the important thing is that everybody gets the day off.
According to a recent oped by Loyola University New Orleans law professor, Bill Quigley, " it is only workers in the US who have no guaranteed days of paid leave at all. Korea is the next lowest to the US and it has a minimum of 8 paid annual days of leave. Most of the other 30 [advanced] countries require a minimum of 20 days of annual paid leave for their workers."
Now something is definitely wrong with that picture.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
May Day festivities at National Park Seminary (Forest Glen, Maryland), 1907
Don't forget May Day is also International Workers Day. Read about it here on Tikkun Daily.
On behalf of the folks that brought you the (now endangered) 40 hour work week, the minimum wage, and more, Happy May Day!
How could you forget that!
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Futamatagawa, Yokohama - The Japanese kanji characters for "open" and "close" are extremely similar and the source of much consternation for me, especially when riding the elevator. Here is a scene from a day in my life some years ago while riding the elevator at the local department of motor vehicles office. I was on my way to pick up my Japanese driver's license.
|1. Waiting 2. "WAIT!" 3. 50-50 4. Oops!|
What about reading Japanese road signs you ask? That's a whole other story.
Farmers Planting Rice, 1890s, Hand-colored albumen print
NYPL Digital Gallery, The New York Public Library
The festival climaxes with the appearance
of these two douke (clowns). That's
Kamezo on the left and Otsuru on the right.
what no self respecting fertility festival should be without.....
You can catch a glimpse of some highlights of the nightime ceremony here: