Wednesday, April 20, 2016

2016 First 1/4 Stuff

Here it is, mostly done with April, and I haven’t done a blog-thingy once this year! 


First off, yes – I live – which makes me happy. And, yes, I’m still working, which makes my landlord and the Nakano Tax Office happy. Speaking of which, I moved out of Shimokitazawa last year. To be honest, I was getting sick of Shimokita. I’d been in the same room since 2001 (well, I moved to the room next door once because it was a little bigger) and the neighborhood had turned into a real bore. Despite those ridiculous websites that cite Shimokita as the coolest neighborhood on planet Earth, it’s basically just a collection of junk, sneaker, and clothing shops. I suppose Shimokita is cool enough, and it is certainly a better place to live than my old neighborhood in Nishi-nari Osaka where I’d pull drunken homeless guys passed out in the street to the safety of the sidewalk, and where people would openly clip finger nails in cafes without a second thought as to where their clippings were flying, and where the #1 newspaper of choice was the track results. Still, as much as Shimokita has going for it, I’d reached my limit. Besides, I’m living with my girlfriend now, and that’s what life’s about.

I entered my fifth year writing for Eiga Hiho magazine this month. My space in the mag remains a solid full page and I’m proud to say I’ve never missed a deadline. Even if in the middle of a movie shoot and have to set my computer on a rock, I’ve always managed to bash something out and get it to Yoshiki in time for publishing. My past few columns have been fun to write. The current issue has a piece about my favorite goof-ball show of the ‘80s: “Double Trouble,” with a telling of my being at the MTV 1985 New Year’s Eve party where I met star Liz Sagal after a performance by Frankie Goes To Hollywood. The upcoming issue (out this week) sees me go off on why I hate the vampire genre, with the exception of a few titles, such as “Fright Night” and “The Night Stalker.” Well, “hate” is a strong word. More like, how the vampire genre went from cool (‘20s – ‘80s) to romance fodder for women wanting to get their bad boy rocks off.

Eiga Hiho also had its year-end round-up issue, and, as usual, I had a tough time coming up with ten movies from 2015 that I actually liked. For Best I picked “Ash Vs Evil Dead.” I know it’s not a film, but man, I love the show! I have a great time with it, something I find harder and harder to do (especially with overblown crap like “Avengers 2” being what passes for genre cinema these days) as I lose touch with the (de) evolving sensibility of “young people.”

For Worst, maintaining my TV theme, I picked “Fear The Walking Dead.” For christ’s sake, have you watched the show? I could hardly make it through the first episode. These days, TV plays to the stupidity of the audience. I don’t mean that they (“they” being the producers) dumb down shows, I mean that they make sure the audience gets it before the characters do. Nowadays, TV shows are stocked with dimwitted characters who take forever to go from point A to point B. TV characters today think about it (“it” being whatever crap is happening on the show), pontificate about it, overly worry about it and how it affects their FAMILY, whine about it, go into a state of denial over it, and then FINAL do something about it. Basically, it’s a story milking method. And seeing how TV's one episode / one story style has been abandoned, milking things with soap opera like cliff hangers once reserved only for a season finale has become the norm for each and every episode of each and every TV show. Personally I would rather watch “Dawn of the Dead” for the 279th time than watch “Fear The Walking Dead” again.

Also this month in Eiga Hiho I have a set report for the upcoming movie, “Scanner,” directed by Shusuke Kaneko. As I’m sure I wrote in some previous blog, I shot stills on the film. The movie opens on April 29th in Japan. I’m excited to see the theater booklet as Toei did a good job with the press pamphlet. The shot above is a peak inside the press pamphlet, and the one to the left is a fake lobby card I made for the hell of it. OK...some of the fonts are a little off...

Director Kaneko is going around Japan now promoting the film so we haven’t gotten together for beers in a couple of weeks. Also, I was supposed to do stills on his next film, but that got pushed back and it looks like I’ll be working on a TV drama next month.

Since the last time I blogged I’ve subtitled a few features: Twisted Justice, Dokumushi: Toxic Insects, Mischievous Kiss: High School Days, to name a few. All fun jobs and all full of neat linguistic challenges. I also have some writing on kaiju cinema being published in something being released by the Udine Film Festival out of Italy.

I did have a bit of excitement with my MacBook. It’s not a year and a half old and already the HD died once. Then it was acting weird for two months. Finally I dropped it off at the Ginza shop for a week but they couldn’t find anything wrong with it. After I got it back it died an hour later. So, back I went to the Apple Store. Those dorkwads, even though it was just 4 months out of warranty, they charged me 35,000 yen to replace the motherboard. I picked it up once it was "repaired," went to a café to finish a subtitling job and it freaking died again. I took it back to learn that that motherboard was dead too. I think that’s when I hit the roof, pulling my Surface out of my bag and saying, "Maybe I'll just do my work on my Microsoft Surface, which has never freakin' broken down!" They replaced the motherboard again and gave me my repair charge back. Really, if it weren’t for Final Cut I’d buy a Dell.

Ugh, did I really share my Apple horror tale? Well, the interesting thing about this was that when Apple would call me they spoke in English. When I went to the shop they spoke in Japanese. I’m not sure what that’s all about.

As all work and no play makes for a grumpy Norman, I did a day trip with my super good buddy Ed G and my super talented girlfriend Miyako. We went down to Kurihama to the large garden park they have there called Kurihama Flower World. We mostly went because we wanted to check out their large Godzilla statue / children’s slide. It was a considerable walk from the station, but the day was nice and the Godzilla slide turned out to be better than expected. Ed and I must have shot about 1,000 photos of the aging thing. I’m not sure why, but it probably has something to do with how there is no way in hell we'll go there again, which is why we ended the trip with a walk over to Perry Park, the spot where Commodore Perry landed in 1854 and forced Japan to deal with the rest of the world. Doubt I'll ever see that place again.

The photo above of the flowers is from the park and the one on the shore is Miyako doing her best Commodore Perry imitation

Okay… That’s enough for now. I’m not writing anymore.

Until next time…


  1. Good read. I want to see Scanners. Your photography is amazing by the way.

    1. Thank you for your comments.
      I wish I could put up more set photos, but they become the property of the studios, you know.