Monday, 26 July 2010

Sunrise and Tokyo Disneyland:Take 3

It was so quiet outside that if it weren't for all the buildings, I might have forgotten I was in Tokyo.  Sunrise is at 4AM here.  I saw a few cars on the highway (past all those buildings), but they were far enough away that I couldn't hear them.

Last week we went to Disneyland.  I got heat exhaustion, again, but I made it.  We spent an hour at the Blue Bayou (attached to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride), which was reviving, and Japanese fans work wonders... so does probably a combined $20 in water.... :P

Lindsey posed under the walkway.  All the people were making me too anxious to be the one posing, but be proud! I actually have pictures of myself this time! (apart from the usual me with the Brer Bear and Mickey statues)

Like this!
Oops... the woman behind me doesn't look so amused with my antics :P  Not that I'll say anything for the general sense of humor in Tokyo, but we did run into some really cool people there, including a fellow VAMPS fan (see T-shirt) who worked at the place we ate lunch at and stopped me to tell me how awesome my T-shirt was and that she has one too.  We were also chased down (literally, we asked the worker how to get tickets, found it impossible since I could barely stand at that point, and made a beeline for shade, and I'd just sat down when the woman caught up and started talking to us) by two women who gave us their tickets for the "One Man's Dream" show.

It was good!  I saw it last year too, but I definitely enjoyed it both times.  I needed the rest too, though it was still hot so right after this was when we went to the Blue Bayou for dinner.

Leave it to me to start munching on the dessert before remembering to take a picture of it :P  It was good!  We got the course, partly cause my brain was too fried to stand in the heat and debate spending the money, and partly cause it sounded well worth the $30.  It started with soup, and oooh *makes fainting noises* that was to die for!  I really wish I had any clue what was even in it, cause it was so good!  We got 6 balls of bread each, warm and soft and mmmmmm so good.  Then we got steak and veggies, which was good save the okra... I'll pass on okra.  Really have never been a fan of that stuff, but there was only one piece.  I even enjoyed the eggplant...mostly cause I got to eat cow, and I love cow. Mmmm It was delicious.  Then dessert was pineapple..something (the gooey white ball with the applesauce looking stuff on it that's actually grapefruit jam) which was really gross (the pineapple thing and the grapefruit thing) until you mixed them, then they were great.  The cookie would have been better first instead of last, since it was kinda dry, and the fruit was all frozen or canned, but it was still good!  Tastiest meal of my life, and we got to listen to the ambiance from the ride too, and wave at the people going by.  It was fun.

See? Picture of me!  .... I like my hat.

And my usual picture with Brer Bear.  This makes 3 now.  I can't get a picture with the costumed person (they turn their backs on you if you're not Asian, so I didn't even try this time - tried last summer with Baloo for the last time), but I did manage to get some of the Song of the South characters doing a skit.  I still like my bear statue though.

And the Mickey statue, also an obligatory picture spot that I believe I have three of now.  Um... the pose is an inside joke we dragged out all day :P  Every time we knew a picture on a ride was coming up we did's from the concert Lindsey and I went to last weekend, the chorus consisting of four syllables, three of them in English and one in French complete with hand motions spelling out the word "dix."  We thought it was ridiculous but managed to spend the whole day doing it.

Hehe...yeah.... we're morons.

 These were gorgeous.  I can't tell you how much I wanted to jump through the glass (and how tempted I was when I realized there was access from inside the store) and touch them.  I love what they did with Snow White's, and Cinderella's was just amazing.  The pictures don't do them justice.  I wanted to get them in the daylight, but I was so out of it and needed to sit down that by the time I got back to take pictures it was sunset.  I've wanted for years to design and make some functional versions of the Disney princess dresses...mostly Belle's, which I was choked they didn't have.

And the castle at sunset.  They could make quite an attraction out of those castles if they actually filled them in with rooms and stairs, but since they don't have me on staff... hehe.  Kidding.

It was a really fun day though.  We spent 13 hours total at the park, from just after open to just before close.  We rode Space Mountain five times, Pirates of the Caribbean twice (I think...that was the ride we went on for me to cool down, so I don't remember completely clearly..), Splash Mountain once, Thunder Mountain twice (once at night, which is so fun!), and Haunted Mansion twice.  We also went on the Snow White ride, which is far creepier when you're actually paying attention to the ride, and the Rodger Rabbit one, oh, and Star Wars (got my C3P0 picture, but it's surprisingly worse than all the others..which are always bad). 
 This is the first C3P0 picture from when Lindsey and I visited from Osaka.  The most recent is still on my phone.

We didn't bother with the parades, but I'm definitely happy we got to see the one show.  We're planning on going again next July, if my plans hold and work out as I currently have them.

Oh! I nearly forgot!  I got a picture on Dumbo too.

Still didn't manage to get on the ride.  I'm very much not willing to wait 40 minutes for that one, though I'd like to go on it for memory's sake one time. :P 

Cause I'm going down memory lane, here are the collection of pictures.

From 2007.  Apparently I didn't get one from 2009... not surprising considering the group I was with. le sigh.  I apparently didn't get one by the Mickey statue either, which, after looking at the ones by Brer Bear again, really doesn't surprise me.  I like going to Disneyland with Lindsey.  She acts as much like a crazy child as I do.

Brer Bear.  He was painted at some point!  and then painted back!  huh.  I also have bought head wear each time I went to Disneyland here. :P  It's not in the 2009 picture, but I got a black cowboy hat with Mickey in a headdress on the side (my mildly offensive Mickey hat, I love it!).  This years was that black ball cap.  It says "A pirate's life for me" on the top.  The bandanna is actually pirate Goofy ears complete with earrings.

Mickey statue.  You can see the ears here.

We also got to try out the random pop corn flavors.  Honey was probably my favorite, though the soy and butter was surprisingly good.  I want to say we had another, but I really don't remember it.

I'm so excited for Cirque du Soleil and Disney Sea on Thursday!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Real-life post

I haven't been writing much aside from book reviews for the past few months.  Mostly I've been letting reading or crafts occupy my mind outside of work in an effort to stay sane.  On the weekends I've been going to concerts.  Now that work is out for the summer I really hope my stress level will go down to somewhere manageable.  I haven't wanted to complain constantly, hence the lack of posts.

This summer has been great so far though!  Since the beginning of this month I've been to a ton of concerts.  Actually, they started on July 27th, I went to a play/concert/random thing with Lindsey.  It had some members of bands that I really like in it, which is why we went.  It was crack, and I laughed so hard I cried.  On the 2nd I finally got to see Vamps, the band Hyde from L'arc~en~ciel (one of my favorite bands) is currently doing.  That would have been more fun had I known to stay away from the first barrier.  Hyde fans are insanely bitchy... to an extent I haven't encountered.  I got my head shoved down and held, and my hair pulled twice, on top of three women trying to occupy the space I was in all at once.  It was mostly a nightmare, but the concert, otherwise, was good.  Next time I go, I don't care if my ticket is good enough to get me in the front, I am not going there.  No way.

The next day we (Lindsey and I if I say we from now on) went to see Mix Speaker's,Inc., and it was a ton of fun!  It was outside.  It rained a bit, but not enough to really get us wet.  I love their concerts.  They lost the fun part of their audience though, and there aren't many of the rock crowd left, which really tones down the energy level.  Still a blast though.  On the Sunday we both took the JLPT... it was comprehensible, but I'm not sure I passed.  I'm sure I didn't do as terrible as I did last time, but I get the feeling I'm going to fail by a marginal percent like I did the first time I took it... cause I understood it about the same level.  I'll be surprised if I pass... pleased, but surprised.

Last weekend on Saturday we went to a Dacco lunch show.  I love Dacco... they're crack.  Their one singer, Yura-sama, was in the crack concert/play that we went to on the 27th.  The show was mostly awkward.  Yura-sama looked straight at me twice and stopped talking for a second both times, which I would have passed off as random coincidence had Lindsey not asked me later "Did you make eye contact with Yura-sama?  Cause he wasn't looking at me, but he was definitely looking somewhere right next to me."  Then he and Lida (the other singer) came off the stage and wandered around the tables shaking hands.  Limp noodle would be how I would describe that man's handshake.  Can't imagine how nervous my Grandpa-trained-handshake made him, haha, cause he didn't pull his hand back right away.  They're fun though.  I love seeing them.  I always leave with a stupid grin on my face.  We're seeing them again on August 1st, with Aya from Mix Speaker's,Inc.  Then on Sunday we went to see Rice for Yuki's birthday (the singer).  It was fantastic.  I love them too.  He has an amazing voice, and their music is really good.

Yesterday's concert was special in all ways that special is special.  There's a band I've loved since I got into Japanese music.  L'arc was the first, Malice Mizer was the second.  Malice Mizer broke up before I got into them.  One of their guitarists, Kozi, has some really good solo stuff, and I've seen him once at a Rice/Dacco event, but he was drunk and horrible, his fans were obnoxious, and I just got a really bad impression (really disappointing too, cause I really like his CDs).  The other guitarist has a band called Moi Dix Mois... Yeah, my ten months, clever.  Anyway, I liked some of their stuff for a bit, but it starts to sound the same, and their old CDs all used programed drums instead of a live drummer, and the perfection just bugged me, so I stopped listening to them.  Their bassist, Yu~ki, who was my favorite in Malice Mizer, wrote one song for Kozi's solo project, and since then hasn't done anything as far as I can tell.  I've tried to look him up a few times.  Well, last night was a Moi Dix Mois concert with Kozi's band starting and Yu~ki as a special guest, so Lindsey and I pre-ordered tickets and went because I really wanted to see Yu~ki.

I had really low expectations of the concert from what I saw of Kozi's last performance, but actually, aside from his voice being terrible and needing the distortion he uses for his CDs, he did really good!  His drummer reminds me of Animal from the Muppets.  I love him!  Haha.  Nut-job.  He was so fun to watch.  The bassist was really good, and the guitarist made me giggle.  Kozi... was Kozi, but at least he didn't drop his guitar this time.  Moi Dix Mois was way better than I expected.  They have a new vocalist, and a human on drums.  The vocalist was really good; complete 80s hair band scream and song introductions, really good headbang, good death-voice, and with all of that, he still sang really really well.  The one guitarist made me think of Zuko from the Avatar cartoon..... Mana was... Mana.  Really boring to watch, but it's amusing to see that he hasn't changed at all from the concert videos I've seen of Malice Mizer.  I ended up having to put my sunglasses on because of the white lights though, and even then I still had to close my eyes and look down for about half of their set.

THEN Yu~ki, Mana, and Kozi all came out with their old instruments and played a really random song that was actually quite bad, but they came out to one of the Malice Mizer instrumentals and made me and everyone around me act like completely idiotic fangirls and boys and scream and jump and repeatedly say "No way!!!"  After the first random song, they played "Beast of Blood."  I love that song, and half of me doesn't even believe that I actually saw it live and got to sing with them and headbang and shout and it was just amazing!  There were a few cameras going, so I'm hoping they make the concert into a DVD.... at least that last part, which was only about 10 minutes, but still!  It never even entered my mind that they would perform one of their old songs, but they did!  I'm still giddy when I think about it.  It was so amazing.  Such a great end to an awful week.

Tomorrow we're going to Disneyland, despite the 34C weather prediction... *death*  Then Wednesday we're seeing Dir en grey, which will be fun and amazing as well, though I'll probably end up sore and bruised.  Next week we're going to see Cirque du Soleil and then spend the evening at Disney Sea.  At some point we plan to climb Mt. Fuji and head to Kyoto for two days.  We're seeing Dacco again in August, as I said, and then the Romeo (who's singer was also in the crack play/concert last month).  And all in all, I'm really looking forward to this summer!  I'm not looking forward to Lindsey leaving at the end of it all, but at least it'll be fun while she's here.  I got tickets to see Metallica on my birthday so I won't be bored and lonely then.  School starts in September, so even if it's not as fun as I want it to be (it's poetry....), it'll at least keep me busy.  My goal for the fall is to save as much money as I can, which, in spite of going to concerts at least once a month, should be easier since I have pretty much nobody to hang out with without Lindsey here, so I won't go out nearly as much.

So that's a me update.  The cats are good.  I have to renew my apartment contract, which is unfortunate and expensive, but such is life.  I go back to work August 25th.... I can't think of much else.  I think for the rest of today, at least until the sun goes down and I can venture out to go get some cat food and other necessities, I'm going to go up into my loft and engage in some gratuitous video game violence and further rid myself of stress by beating the crap out of zombies and various other undead.  I was reading Emma, but that got boring.

Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I really don't know what to say about Les Mis.... It's such a famous book, and it touches on so many important things, but it was so irritating to read.  I want to love it, because the story, when there was story, was amazing, and I can see why it's so famous.  But the whole thing, 1200 pages, was just difficult to read.  I stopped reading it a few times.  There were at least 300 pages that could have just been cut right out.  I understand why there were included, but they were preachy, rambling, and not really all that relevant to the story.

Victor Hugo was a political activist during the 1800s in France, and everything he wrote in Les Mis makes perfect sense as coming from him.  I would say that all of it is perfectly valuable and worth reading, but I would have preferred to read it in a pamphlet or an appendix or something that didn't completely stop the story for a hundred or so pages at a time.  I suppose, for the books original audience, it might have been less disruptive since the book was published in separate volumes.  Still, I'm not a fan of abridged books, at all, but this is one book I would rather read abridged, provided it was done carefully.

His writing style is a little jumpy.  He goes from one subject to another, to a side story, to a flashback, really quickly, and said side story or flashback, or back story or rant will last 50 pages or more.  I enjoyed the side stories.  I could have done without the rants.  The beginning is all the story of a bishop who only has contact with the main character for a night, but it's such a good back story, and since the bishop has such a profound impact on Jean Valjean (main character), it's good to know and really adds to the story.  The description of the convents was excellent, as well as the bit on the lifestyle of the nuns and how the students there lived, but the rant about the evils of such suppression and seclusion, while being perfectly relevant and understandable, were incredibly disruptive, too long, and over-kill.  I think the reader could have come to the same seclusion as Hugo wrote without being told it, or if it was really necessary to state, seriously, footnotes and appendices.

I want to watch the movie.  I love the story, but it's so hard to pull the story out of that 1200 pages, because the actual main story was probably around 600 or so.  I'd summarize it, but I don't think I could.  I want to read it again and I don't.  I love the story but I hate the book.  There were amazing parts, I nearly cried on the train reading some parts, but then there were whole weeks worth of reading that I just dreaded trudging through.  I learned all about Waterloo.  I know exactly what Hugo thought of King Louis Philippe.  I know all about life in a convent, and the history of more orders of nuns than I can remember.  I know what he thought of the Catholic church, and I know where he stood with his own faith.  It's all interesting information, fascinating really, but I would have rather read it either before or after the story.  I would say certain points added to the story, but it took me over a month to read the thing because it made me just not want to read at all.  If I want to read an essay or a rant, I'll read an essay or a rant.  When I want to read a story, just let me read the story!

Anyway, I felt bad for Javert at the end.  He was the police inspector who was on the hunt for Valjean the whole time.  He was diligent, loyal, and faithful to what he believed only to find out that what he believed wasn't the whole picture and have his world shaken to the point of breaking.  I felt bad for Valjean, but he was so peaceful about what happened in the end that it was okay.  He was okay, therefore I was okay.  Javert just broke.  Marius is an idiot, which amused me when I read the biography on Victor Hugo at the end and realized that Marius's character is pretty much Hugo himself.  Cosette... I can't quite blame Cosette for being a twit because Valjean really didn't raise her to be concerned with anything.  She was still irritating though.

It's a very pointed piece of literature, but it doesn't make any attempt to present itself otherwise, and it's points get across very clearly.  Take away the rants, and I would say it was well presented.  The story of it alone, the last chunk that was rant-free, left me with such a strong frustration at social injustices and just the aloofness and obliviousness of people who live in comfort that I actually feel like I look at certain aspects of life quite a bit differently now.  It would be nice to say we've solved all of those injustices, unfair penal systems, child abuse, moral superiority, unfair wages, prostitution, cruelty toward women and children, but we really haven't.  For sure, things are a lot better in certain parts of the world, let's call it North America since I really only know by news and hearsay about Europe, and I can't say truthfully that Japan has solved any of those injustices what-so-ever.  There are still homeless who are homeless because they fell through society's safety nets.  There are still children who are left in abusive homes, or taken from one bad place and put in another by the system meant to protect them.  The elderly with no family are not left to die in poverty and misery any more, but I won't ever forget how depressing and hollow the nursing home felt when I'd visit my Nana.  Minimum wage, even at 40 hours a week, still won't feed a family or even support an individual.  All those problems are still there.

Japan... Japan is a social nightmare that one day I'd like to study.  One day, when it doesn't effect my daily life, when I don't have to go outside and see the homeless men sleeping in their winter coats when it's 35C under a cardboard box on my way to the station, when I don't have to watch the woman playing with her jewel studded cell phone and ignoring her two young children trying to get her attention on the train, when I don't have to be the only one in my row willing to get up and give my seat to an old person for a few stops, see the boyfriend flop himself down on the seat while the girl has to stand in heels and cater to him... pretty much when all of the surface symptoms of what is messed up about this society aren't in my face and ticking me off, I'd like to look at them and ask the question "Why?"  Ask why without feeling the desire to change it, because I can't, and that's what upsets me the most.  This part of Asia (I've been told by my college friend working in Korea that Korea is pretty much the same) would be an interesting social study.

John Keats

I think my surprising and new-found enjoyment of a very limited amount of poetry ends past Keats on my reading list. (I started into Whitman and remembered why I find it all incomprehensible and annoying.)  Keats is a bit like Poe in that it's just messed up!  Well, let me edit that a bit.  I've only read two of his poems, Lamia and Isabella... but they were both incredibly messed up.  They're both narrative poems, which, I'm finding, is pretty much the only way to keep me interested in a poem.  The history of poetic forms class I'm going to be taking in the fall is going to be fun.... in the way that fun isn't fun at all.  Necessary evil though... at least I think it is.

This poem seems a bit less twisted after I read about the actual myth of Lamia, but I still find it incredibly random.  Here's the text from Project Gutenberg.  It starts off with a bit about Hermes looking for a nymph and finding Lamia, who is apparently a child-eating demon, in the form of a serpent.  He sets her free, and a boy from Corinth, Lycius, falls in love with her.  They hide what I'm pretty sure was a giant house that Lamia made out of magic, cause I got the feeling it hadn't been there before she arrived.  She doesn't want to meet Lycius's master and avoids meeting anybody until their wedding.  At the feast, Lycius's master exposes her and Lycius dies of surprise? grief? I just thought it was twisted with the connection between Lycius and the man who exposed Lamia, at their wedding, and ended up killing him.  It's far less random knowing the myth that inspired it, but I didn't look that up till afterward.

Whatever inspired Isabella, I still put it up there with some of the best of Poe's for twisted, gross, and random.  Isabella is a rich woman who is supposed to be married off to someone else rich, but she falls in love with one of her brothers' workers.  Her brothers finds out and kills the worker, burying him in a grove.  Lorenzo's ghost comes to Isabella and guides her to where his body is.  She digs up his head and takes it back with her.  She puts it in a basil pot and obsesses and mourns over the pot, and the plant grows really well.  Her brothers steal the pot, dig up Lorenzo's head, and recognize him.  They leave, I suppose in fear of their crime being discovered, and Isabella asks incessantly for her basil pot from inanimate objects.  She then dies.  Here's the text.  It's pretty short.

I don't know what I'd consider those poems, but romantic doesn't really describe it.  I guess I don't understand what people consider romantic.  I enjoy them, but I really really don't see "romantic" as a good descriptor.

I tried to read Endymion, which is another of his famous poems, but it's really long, and it's really sing-songy.  The rhymes are horrible, and the meter is just annoying... and overall it's just distracting.  Maybe it gets better as it goes, but after two pages I couldn't stand to read it any more.  I'll get to it if I have to at some point, but it's not something I'd read for pleasure.