Sunday, December 13, 2009

Which do you prefer?

Last night, we went to see Johnny Depp woo Marion Cotillard in Public Enemies. At the theater, we found out that even though Depp may be the most attractive American movie star of his generation, he's no match for Monkey D. Luffy.

The new One Piece movie opened the same day as Depp's movie. At the Ibaraki Warner-Mycal multiplex, all tickets to the weekend's One Piece showings were sold out. We were there on Saturday night -- so it meant that all the showings for the next day had been gobbled up. Some people in front of us wanted to see it and ended up buying tickets for next Friday's show. What the?!

This is not a new development, according to the Japan Times' Mark Schilling. Japanese films have become dominant again in their home market. One advantage they enjoy is they can be cross-promoted via different media. One Piece is a manga and an anime. I'm sure there are card games and video games. And its appeal isn't just limited to teens; the people going to the last show on Saturday were in their 20s and 30s. The people in front of us who bought tickets for next week were our age.

And what about the hot hot Depp?* He was fine. The film is a bit boring but shows off its lead actor to maximum effect. Dillinger is given a very romantic treatment in the film -- he's a man of honor, a straight talker, a formidable criminal, a silver tongue and he's faithful to his friends and his woman.

Plus, the FBI agents act like a bunch of criminals.


* I think the funniest quote from the article is the last one -- he hasn't even seen the finished film yet. Didn't it come out in the States during the summer?


An update on the monster debut of One Piece.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Looks Strange, Tastes Good

It's been getting chilly here, so we've been eating lots of hot pot dinners. For the past two nights, we've had hot pot with chicken meatballs, oysters and the special fish of the night. Last night, we had:

This kissing fish is called kawahagi (かわはぎ) in Japanese. It's a kind of filefish. Not bad, but we weren't blown away. The meat of the fish is kinda flaky.

Tonight, we tried:

This beauty is called kajika (かじか). Its English code-name is the sculpin. It reminds me of a smaller version of the monkfish. You may not want to kiss it but it sure was tasty. The fins have a gelatinous texture that was especially yummy.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Coming Soon!

You can see lots of American films in Japan, especially if you live in a big city such as Osaka. But often, films get released a few months later here. For example, I get to see the following in the next few weeks:

Up opens this weekend

Public Enemies arrives a week after

Where the Wild Things Are comes in January

So what makes James Cameron so special?

Avatar will open here around Christmas,
nearly the same time as in the U.S.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Is it safe?

Max: I should go to bed. I have to wake wake up early to get to the airport by eight tomorrow morning.
Naomi: Don't worry, Max. I'll drive you.
Emi: Uh-oh.
Max: Uh-oh?!
Naomi: Don't listen to her, Max. I am a safety driver.
Max: Okay...but I hope you are a safe driver.

Lots of Japanese people say they're safety drivers. I am sure they are but actually, they mean they are safe drivers. Drivers is a noun so you need an adjective -- safe.

When can you use safety? Well, this familiar sign uses "safety":

Can you translate it? Right, it says "Safety first."

Of course, I always think in terms of movies. Here is the scariest use of the word "safe" you will ever hear. "Is it safe?" You tell me.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Who Had a Better Year?

Let's see.

This guy delivered the game-winning hit in the championship game of the WBC. Then he broke an MLB record by collecting at least 200 hits for the ninth consecutive season.

And this guy came back from an injury-shortened season in 2008 to hit 28 homeruns this year. On Wednesday night, he helped the Yankees win their 27th championship by driving in six runs.
Yup, that's a record for a World Series game. So of course he became the World Series MVP.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

English Lesson "Pick Up vs. Pick Out"

"Pick up" has many uses:

My friend's son picked me up at the airport.

Harvey Milk picked up Scott Smith in the subway
in the beginning of "Milk."

Oh, no! The baby made a mess.
Can you pick up the clothes on the floor?

Please pick up some milk on your way home.

• • •

But be careful! "Pick up" doesn't work here:

Ken: Can you help me?
Naomi: What's the matter?
Ken: I can't decide. Help me pick up a tie.
Naomi: ???
Ken: Which tie should I wear?
Naomi: Oh...pick out a tie! That one.

"Pick out" = choose

Friday, October 30, 2009

A win without a win

poor Joe

What is the right choice?

Your "Philosophy Question of the Day" is sponsored by The World Series.

The Yankees won Game 2 just a few hours ago, 3-1. So I guess Yankee manager Joe Girardi should have a good sleep tonight before leaving for Philadelphia.

Not so fast. For Game 2, Girardi used a line-up with two weaker hitters (Jose Molina and Jerry Hairston, Jr.) in place of two very good hitters (Jorge Posada and Nick Swisher). Why? He used Molina instead of Posada at catcher because the starting pitcher seems to pitch better to Molina than to Posada. And Girardi decided to bench Swisher because he has been terrible in the post season.

Baseball fans who carefully study the numbers didn't think these decision make sense. My favorite line is:

If it works, that doesn't make it the right move.

Wait a minute. If it works, then it is right. Right? Or does the philosophically correct choice matter more than the result? Are we counting strategically-sensible wins over real wins?

I can understand making an argument against Joe's decision. But how can you say he didn't make the right move when he got the result he wanted? Girardi's job is to win games. And his decision helped to win the game -- Molina picked off a runner and Hairston got a hit that led to a run. Cut Joe a break. Give him a pat on the back and let's resume in Philly.