Saturday, March 12, 2011


I haven't updated in a long time due to the demands of juggling two and a half jobs, as well as other things, but now an event that further stretches my attention elsewhere prompts me, ironically, to come back here.

If you are going shopping, going out to eat, going for drinks, going to see a movie, or anything of that sort, please take a moment to consider diverting the money you would spend on yourself to a well-established charity of your choice:

If you are not convinced, please take a moment to look at these photographs:

I have no idea how many people will see this post, or how many people I am actually reaching out to, but every small effort counts.

Monday, February 21, 2011

6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

After the outdated tome that was Crime and Punishment, I had to reward myself somehow, and I did so with this contemporary mystery-turned-social-commentary (or is it the other way around?). For the most part I enjoyed it, and I've come away with a two lasting consequences.

The first is that, once again, religion terrifies me. I read The DaVinci Code and then Angels and Demons several years ago, after it became apparent that not having read them was a conspicuous hole in my modern reading list, and came away extremely psychologically bothered. Logically I know that there are many kind, honest, well-intentioned adherents of organized religion out there, who live their lives in a reasoned fear of consequences from above and adhere to strong moral principles. And yet there is clearly something about religion that spurs the writing of these books, that fascinate the dark side and stir up the monomaniacal. For all of the good that religion is supposed to do and spread, there is an equally secretive and troubled past that drives certain sociopaths and creates this twisted, outdated, out-of-context 'reality.' Various people have told me that the Bible should be read for literary purposes, but I really don't think I will.

The second, and far more pleasant, lasting consequence is that I now desperately want to visit Sweden someday, even though outrageously tall people make me physically uncomfortable. Yes, it's cold, and I've had quite enough of cold weather; there is probably a reason Swedish cuisine has never spread internationally, except through the mediocre cafeterias at IKEA; and there are countless other places I should rather go to first, but the truth is that Larsson describes life in Sweden with such a strange, detailed allure that it's hard to resist.

One of the simultaneous strengths and weaknesses of this novel is Larsson's attention to detail. For some reason he never missed an opportunity to specifically name the technological aspects of the characters' lives, and rattled off that Mikael Blomkvist used an iBook while Lisbeth Salander used a PowerBook, that searches were conducted in Google, that Hans-Erik Wennerstrom browsed with Internet Explorer, that characters drove BMWs and Kawasakis and Volvos, that e-mail addresses were hosted on Hotmail and Yahoo, and so forth. I've never been a fan of fiction books being so specific about real-life brand names, and my reaction this time was no exception. I probably would have been able to get over it, though, if Larsson had remained consistent and done some research. The name-dropping, for example, conspicuously ceases in matters of fashion--Salander apparently buys only "designer jewelry," and not, say, jewelry from Paloma Herrera.

The characters--are they maddening or not? Half the time I felt like I was almost reading a Nancy Drew Her Interactive game script, but thankfully the resolution of the novel was far more complicated than that. Both Blomkvist and Salander are driven by strong personal convictions of what is right and wrong, and while it is a commendable trait one cannot help but feel that somehow justice has not been served. What frustrated me most was that Salander independently made the decision to destroy all of the necessary evidence before the agreement to cover up the true story was reached. What right did she have to make such a move? Argh.

The ending, actually, confused me a little. Larsson gets lost trying to describe a complex and generally illegal plan of Salander's to trip Wennerstrom up, and what ends up happening is a series of choppy sections that describe the transfer of money into mirror accounts and the withdrawal of millions more. I mean, okay, I got the point of it all, but I still felt like I was unclear on how exactly all of the money Salander had withdrawn and then re-deposited had made its circuitous route around the world. Oh well, whatever.

I'm probably going to have to take a break before I read The Girl Who Played with Fire, but I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully it will explain a few things before taking off at breakneck speed again.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

5. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

What is it about Russian literature? Endless tangents, pointless introspection, extraneous characters, frustratingly similar names... no wonder this book took me a month. It didn't help that the copy I picked up at the library--the only copy--is considered a dated translation, carried out by a more or less amateur translator who glossed over complicated or poorly understood parts. Fantastic.

Both of my parents actually hated Crime and Punishment when they tried to read the Japanese translation, but several of my friends who had read an English translation claim that it is one of their favorite books. I'm inclined to stand somewhere in the middle--I'm glad I read the book, I almost agreed with some of Raskolnikov's theories on crime, and I actually warmed to some of the characters--but it is by far not my favorite book, and not even favored among the Russian novels that I've read.

I suppose I can elaborate on this at a later time, but the overwhelming amount of words and detail prevent me from properly sorting out my thoughts...

Facial Hair is Always Bad

Monday, February 7, 2011

05.06.2010 食わず嫌い:高橋大輔 vs. 本橋麻里







実は本橋選手はまだ23歳です。24歳の高橋選手は本橋選手が年上だと思っていて、私もそう思っていました。堂々としている感じですかね?本人はあまりお酒を飲まないと言ってましたが、高橋選手は結構飲めると聞いたと言ってました。wwしかし、基本は試合中は飲まないので、2人の話が合っているかもしれません。^_^ 高橋選手はお酒が好きで、特にハマっているのは冷酒だと語っていました。お酒にカロリーがあるので、飲みたい時はご飯を抑えていると説明してました。お酒よりご飯を我慢出来るとは、、、
























Thursday, February 3, 2011

And The Knowledge That You Have Emerged

Sometimes, we all need a little inspiration. Things will come back, slowly, once I figure out how to deal with being stressed and on the verge of a meltdown every single day... And so, in the meantime, if you have never watched this, you MUST:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Discovered: Graupel

This is the weirdest precipitation I've ever seen. I would have even asked random on the street about it, but apparently I and some very select people were the only one who was working late on a quasi-snow day.