Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Loud Park 2010 (Part 3 : Day 2) / ラウドパーク 2010 (パート3 : デイ 2)

I made it back home safely from the first night of Loud Park. It was a little after midnight. Tomorrow will be another full day of loud heavy music, and this time, Mikako will be joining me. Once again, I woke up early and we left the house at 9:30am. As you can see from the souvenir towel showing the bands playing on Sunday, I was definitely looking forward to seeing Ozzy and Motorhead as well. Although Loudness is listed, they only played the Kobe show on Saturday. I told Mikako I didn't want to miss 3 Inches of Blood. As we took the same trains I took yesterday, we were at the Saitama Super Arena just a little before 11am and inside the arena as 3 Inches of Blood took the stage.



01. Battles and Brotherhood

02. Silent Killer

03. Trial of Champions

04. Forest King

05. Wykydtron

06. Deadly Sinners

07. The Goatriders Horde

Oh, these guys were cool. I think they could hold their own with the likes of Testament or Anthrax. Excellent thrash metal from Canada. I'm glad we made it in time for their set.



01. Hash Wednesday

02. Babylon, CA

03. Destroy

04. Explode

05. Dig

06. Manifest Destination

07. Incarnate

08. I Block

09. Envy

10. F.Y.R.A.

11. Worthless Nights

12. Vultures

13. Walking Disease

14. Well of Souls

15. Sacramento is Dead

16. Lepers to Feed the Lepers

17. Birth, Plague, Die

OMG! Someone forgot to take out the garbage!! I think these guys had the mistaken belief that an arena is a venue for an intimate club show. Their handful of fans (maybe about 10) created a small mosh pit that was embarrassing to watch. Even after the two songs we did try to stomach, when they ended, aside from their hardcore fans, the entire arena was silent!! Why they were added to the line-up in place of Five Finger Death Punch will always remain a mystery. They sucked so bad, I told Mikako lets not waste our time in watching any more of the "Trash"!



01. One More Time

02. Wild Touch

03. Love Machine

04. Romance

05. Back to Paradise

06. Badass

07. Beautiful Bomb

I was still a little tired from yesterday's show and Mikako was unfamiliar with most of the other bands so we decided to watch the next two sets from the stands. Trash Talk's set couldn't end soon enough for us! This next band was a hard rock band from Finland. The term "cock rock" comes back to mind with a vocalist that looks like David Lee Roth from his hey days! They may be 30 years behind the times but it sure was some feel good music!



01. It's Not You

02. What Were You Expecting?

03. Innocence

04. Familiar Taste of Poison

05. Nothing to Do with Love

06. Dirty Work

07. I Get Off

The only thing I knew about this band is that the vocalist/guitarist is a woman, and she did have a great voice. I think this was the surprise of the evening. The band hails from Pennsylvania and was put together by the brother and sister team of Lzzy and Arejay Hale when Lzzy was only 13 and Arejay 10. It's some powerful hard rock. Excellent set!



01. To Homgard and Beyond

02. One More

03. TVG

04. In the Court of Jarisleif

05. Rasputin

06. Battle Metal

A friend of mine who's a big fan of Finnish metal said this band would be fun to watch. I didn't know what to expect but had heard that they were another "Viking Metal" band. The band features an female accordion player as well as a violinist. The way they were dressed was entertaining as well. I rather enjoyed their music but Mikako said that all the songs sounded the same.



01. Young Cardinals

02. Boiled Frogs

03. Sons of Privilege

04. Drunks, Lovers, Sinners and Saints

05. No Transitory

06. We are the Sound

07. Old Crows

08. The Northern

09. This Could Be Anywhere in the World

We left the arena and went out for lunch so we missed the entire set of Alexisonfire.



01. When We Rock

02. Shine On

03. Love Tacker

04. East Meets West

05. Metal Health (Quiet Riot)

06. Up All Night (Slaughter)

07. Lookin' for Action

08. All Night Long

09. Hands Up

We had to come back to the arena because I wanted to see Kuni. Okay, it wasn't Kuni that I wanted to see, but his backing band included members of Slaughter and Quiet Riot. Kuni is a well known rock guitarist in Japan. For this show, Mark Slaughter would be singing with Chuck Wright and Frankie Banali from Quiet Riot on bass and drums, respectively. So, I was really happy that they actually played "Metal Health" and "Up All Night". Heck, they should have borrowed Carlos Cavaz0 from Ratt and added Quiet Riot to the show. They could have called their band "Slaughter-Riot"! Kuni could be the second lead guitar. Oh well, it was a thought anyway.



01. Left Brain Ambassadors

02. Beneath the Skin

03. Coming Home

04. One Man Army

05. Wonderful World

06. Fools Gold

07. Star Born

08. Concrete Horizon

09. Throwing Your Life Away

10. Euphoria

I really wanted to see more of their set but Mikako was getting a little restless and wanted to walk around a bit. So after watching a couple of songs we left the arena and walked around.



01. Viderunt Te Aquae

02. Arising Thunder

03. Angels City

04. Carry On

05. Nova Era

06. Lisbon

07. Awake from Darkness

08. Nothing to Say

09. Rebirth

10. Deas le Volt

11. Spread Your Fire

Power metal from Brazil. We watched this band from the stands as well. As I've seen them in concert before I didn't mind watching from the back. Mikako even enjoyed their set as well.



01. Iron Fist

02. Stay Clean

03. Be My Baby

04. Rock Out

05. Metropolis

06. Over the Top

07. One Night Stand

08. Thousand Names

09. Cradle to the Grave

10. In the Name of Tragedy

11. Going to Brazil

12. Killed by Death

13. Ace of Spades

14. Overkill

The show me and Tsutsu had been waiting for! We watched these guys from the floor. Damn, what a great set they did, playing new tunes as well as digging stuff out from their earlier albums. It was awesome! Lemmy is about the same age as Rob Halford but he sure had a lot more energy than Halford did.



01. Nightmare

02. Critical Claim

03. Welcome to the Family

04. The Beast and the Harlot

05. Buried Alive

06. So Far Away

07. Afterlife

08. God Hates Us

09. Almost Easy

I was only familiar with the first song of their set that I had seen on YouTube. Even so, they gave a great performance and I think I may even have to purchase a few of their cds. Mikako enjoyed their set as well and said they reminded her of Linkin Park.



01. Bark at the Moon

02. Let Me Hear You Scream

03. Mr. Crowley

04. I Don't Know

05. Faeries Wear Boots (Black Sabbath)

06. Suicide Solution

07. War Pigs (Black Sabbath)

08. Shot in the Dark

09. Rat Salad (Black Sabbath)

10. Iron Man (Black Sabbath)

11. I Don't Want to Change the World

12. Crazy Train

13. Mama, I'm Coming Home

14. Paranoid (Black Sabbath)

What is there to say? Except, AWESOME! The Prince of Darkness may have aged as much as the Metal God and you could tell he also used a teleprompter but you can forgive the Oz as he also has a back catalog going all the way back to 1970 and he didn't spend his entire time trying to read the lyrics! The only new song from his new album that was featured in his set was "Let Me Hear You Scream". The rest of the set pretty much consisted of tunes from his first solo album and no less than 5 songs from Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" album. "Faeries Wear Boots" and "Rat Salad" was a surprise but who's complaining! And to think, I actually saw Ozzy on his first solo tour (with Randy Rhoads) and Motorhead opening the show in 1981! Here I am in Tokyo in 2010 and watching Ozzy and Motorhead again. How cool is that?

言う事は一つしかないー最高! オジーもハルフォードと同じ位の年齢かも知りませんが、ずーとモニターを見ながら歌ったわけではない。彼の音楽も1970年まであるし、オジーだから許す。新しいアルバムで歌った曲は“レット・ミー・ヒア・ユー・スクリーム”。他はやっぱりソロデビューからの曲が多かった。あとはサバス時代で“パラノイド”のアルバムからなんと5曲もやってくれました!特に“フェアリーズ・ウェア・ブツ”と“ラット・サラダ”をやってくれたのはびっくり!思い出すと僕は1981年にオジーの最初のアメリカツアー(ランティ・ローズが居たとき)のライブも見たな、それにモーターヘッドが前座だった。あれから29年も経って、東京でまたオジーとモーターヘッドが見れるなんて奇跡みたいな感じだ!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Loud Park 2010 (Part 2 : Day 1) / ラウドパーク 2010年 (パート2 : デイ1)

Saturday (October 16, 2010) Loud Park Day 1:

As the event starts at 11:00am, I left the house at 9:30am. The first day I was on my own as Mikako had to work all day. I figured that I would probably run into a friend or at least an acquaintance during the show. I went to Shibuya station and caught the 10:15 limited express on the Saikyo Line, changed trains at Akabane to the Utsunomiya Line and got off at the Saitama Shintoshin Station where the Saitama Super Arena is located. It was 10 minutes before 11:00am. Once I was inside the arena, I head straight for the stage as the first band was about to perform. As I already mentioned the line-up in a previous post, I shall give you my reviews of the bands I did see. For this event there are two main stages located to the left and to the right of a large monitor which is set in the middle - The Ultimate Stage and the Big Rock Stage. So when one band finishes their set on the Ultimate Stage, the next band would start ten or fifteen minutes later on the Big Rock Stage. Unlike the U.S., the bands actually start on time as well! First batter up on Saturday was Holy Grail. And I shall thank all those people who were more meticulous than me in providing the set lists somewhere on the internet.

ラウドパークは朝11から始まる。この日、うちを出たのは9時半。美香子はバイトがあったので、最初の日は一人で参戦。自分の頭の中で会場で友達か知り合いに会うんじゃないかなと思った。渋谷駅に行って埼京線で赤羽駅まで。宇都宮線に乗りかえってさいたま新都心へ。うちから1時間ちょっとで、さいたま新都心に着いたのは11時10分前。アリーナに入ると早速ステージの方に向かった。このイベントにステージが二つあって‐アルテミットステージとビグロックステージ。両ステージの間に大きいなモニターがあって、一つのバンドの演奏が終わると直ぐ別のステージでライブから始まります。 今年のオーペニングはアメリカのホリー・グレエル。あと僕よりまめな人達がネット上でセットリストをアップしてるので、感謝感謝。

Holy Grail Set List

01. Immortal Man

02. T.G.P.F.

03. For All Eternity

04. Call of Valhalla

05. Crisis in Utopia

06. My Last Attack

07. Flight to Kill

These guys reminded me of my high school years when bands such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest were at the height of their popularity. It's the kind of music that made me a fan of heavy metal. Seeing a heavy band like this so early in the morning seems kind of strange but as the show was indoors, it wasn't much of a problem. I think I might even purchase their new CD.



01. Until Eternity Ends

02. Down

03. Sense the Fire

04. Threnody

05. Fearless

06. For Those Who Will

07. Feed the Weak

As the next band starts ten minutes after the previous band's set ends, I ended up watching the entire set of Engel. I was unfamiliar with them but found them to be a Swedish melodic death metal band. That was how they were labeled anyway. It sounded more metal than death though and fortunately the vocalist wasn't one of those singers with the death grunt. They weren't bad but not quite to my taste.



01. Rise of the Shadow

02. Bloody Gaya Fulfilled

03. Spell of Setting Sun : Mirror of Retribution

04. Forty-nin Theurgy Chains

05. Painkiller (Judas Priest cover)

06. Sing-Ling Temple

07. Quasi Putrefaction

This death metal from Taiwan featuring a female guitar player was featured in Tokyo's English Language free paper "Metropolis". I read the article and found that most of the songs they write are political and thought I would check out a bit of their set even though I am no fan of death metal. I didn't stay long - the death grunts were just too much for me. So after a couple of songs I left the stage and went outside the arena for a breath of fresh air and also to go in search of something to eat. But seeing the set list, I wouldn't have minded seeing them do the Judas Priest cover.

東京にあるフリーペーパーで彼らの存在を知りました。台湾出身のデスメタルバンド。特徴は素敵なお姉さんがギターを弾いてます。読んだ記事によると、このバンドの曲の歌詞がほとんど政治的な物で、ちょっと面白そうからちょこっと聴いてみた。でも二曲目からあのデス声が我慢できず、アリーナを去った。ちょうど昼だったんで、腹も減ったし、なんか食べ物を探しに行った。 セットリストを見たらジューダスの曲もカバーしてな、あれを見れば良かったかも。


01. Twilight of the Thunder Gods

02. Runes to My Memory

03. Guardians of Asgaarde

04. Varyags of Miklagaard

05. Asator

06. Death in Fire

07. Crying of the Black Birds

08. Live for the Kill

09. The Pursuit of Vikings

I came back to the arena sometime in the middle of Amon Amarth's set. It seems Scandinavia has started a new sub-genre of metal called "Viking Metal". As you can surmise from the titles of their songs that their theme is all based around the life of vikings - and they're damn proud of it. And even though I didn't know any of the songs, I liked the music. I don't know, perhaps "Viking Metal" is "Happy Metal" because I was having a good time.



01. Dead or Rock

02. Speedhoven

03. Lavatory Love Machine

04. Mysteric

05. Vain Glory Opera

06. Superheroes

07. King of Fools

As I've been standing for most of the groups I've listened to so far, I decided to take a break and find myself a seat in the stands. Another reason why I chose to do so was that I had seen Edguy in concert before as they were the opening act for Rhapsody (an Italian symphonic metal band).



01. Sa Bir

02. Obscure

03. 残 Zan

04. 激しさと、この胸の中で絡み付いた灼熱の闇 Hageshisa to, Kono Mune no Naka de Fumitsuitsuita Shakunetsu no Yami

05. Dozing Green

06. Inward Scream

07. 食紅 Shokubeni

08. Vinushka

09. 冷血なりせば Reiketsu Nariseba

10. 羅刹国 Rasetsukoku

Okay, one of the few Japanese bands that was playing the event. This particular band is very popular in Europe and has quite a few fans here in their homeland. I figured their music to be in the same vein as Luna Sea, Pierrot, or Janne D'Arc so I decided to give them a listen. I stomached the first song which was an instrumental and tried to listen to the entire second song, but jeez, they were awful!! I couldn't take any more. I had to leave the arena once again. I went wandering around again. Bought myself a couple of souvenirs - a Loud Park 2010 T-shirt and a Loud Park 2010 towel. Yep, towels as souvenirs is a popular item at concerts in Japan. I then went wandering around some more. Grabbed another bite to eat, had myself a beer, then wandered around some more. I headed to the smoking area as it was outdoors and I thought I would grab a bit of fresh air (yes, I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but the smoking section had those smoke catcher things. It was here that I finally ran into a couple of friends. My good friend Tsutsu and another I hadn't seen in about 12 years! Who informed me that another one of our friends was close by and someone I hadn't seen in about 10 years. That being the friend who first invited me to go to Dokken, the rock bar! Not caring about missing the rest of Dir En Grey's set, we talked about old times and other friends. Hellyeah had already taken the stage and I suggested catching the last part of their show so we would be ready to watch Ratt!

今日唯一の日本バンドDir en Greyが次でした。日本だけじゃなくヨーロッパでも大人気なんで、気になって、見る事にした。イメージ的にLuna SeaやPierrotやJ'anne D'Arcと似た様な感じと思いましたが、さ~どうだろう? 最初の曲はインストロでまだ分からないな。でも次の曲を聴いたら、なにこれ?うわ~、最低だ。なんでこんなに人気あるんだろう、わけわからない。3曲まで我慢出来ず、またアリーナを出ました。会場内に歩きまわって、自分の為にラウドパークのT-シャーツとタオル。アメリカ人だったらライブグッズでタオルがあるのはびっくりするでしょ、でも日本のライブなら必ず販売されてる様な感じ。そのあとまた軽く食べて、ビールを飲んで、また歩きまわった。ちょっと喫煙所も覗いてみて、やっと友達と遭遇。一人は中の良いやつで、もう一人は12年ぶりの再会だった。二人がちょうど僕の話をしてたみたいで、その直後に僕が現れ、びっくりしたと言った。また近くに他の友達もあった。その人とは10年ぶりの再会だった。その人が僕を最初にドッケンとゆうロックバーに誘ってくれた人物。いろんな話をしてたら、次のバンドの演奏が始まった。最後の曲くらいを見ようと提案して、そのバンドのあとが楽しみ。


01. Hellyeah

02. Goddamn

03. Cowbay Way

04. Matter of Time

05. Hell of a Time

06. Debt That All Men Pay

07. You Wouldn't Know

08. Stampede

09. Alcohaulin' Ass

This group features the return of Vinnie Paul (Dimebag Darrell's brother from Pantera) to the music world. It also features the vocalist from Mudvayne and the bass player from Nothingface. As I only saw about two songs the only thing I can say, "Damn Loud!" In my book, being loud doesn't equal being good and I think they do their fans a disservice. My other thought was, "couldn't they come up with a better name?".



01. The Morning After

02. I'm Insane

03. Way Cool Jr.

04. Wanted Man

05. Back for More

06. Nobody Rides for Free

07. You're in Love

08. Lay It Down

09. Lack of Communication

10. Best of Me

11. Eat Me Up Alive

12. Round and Round

This was one of the bands I was waiting to see. Me and Tsutsu decide to watch them from the arena, but not too close where the maniacal fans are. Ratt had just released a new album with their original vocalist Stephen Pearcy and they recruited former Quiet Riot guitarist Carlos Caveza. My friend who invited me to Dokken was standing right behind me as well. Although the new album got great reviews, I hadn't heard any of it but I was delighted to hear such classic as "Lay It Down", "Back For More", "Way Cool Jr.", and of course "Round and Round"!



01. Starlight

02. Living for Tonight

03. Breaker

04. Teutonic Terror

05. Pandemic

06. Restless and Wild

07. Princess of the Dawn

08. Metal Heart

09. Up to the Limit

10. Fast as a Shark

11. Balls to the Wall

Damn, if you didn't know better, you would think you were listening to the original Accept line-up with Udo Dirkschneider. Their new vocalist is an awesome clone (and that's really not a bad thing). His voice matches their music. This was, by far, the best show of the evening - and we had yet to see Halford or Korn!



01. Mission Statement

02. Reborn

03. Made of Scars

04. Say You'll Haunt Me

05. Get Inside

06. Unfinished

07. Your God

08. Bother

09. Through Glass

10. Digital (Did You Tell)

11. Hell & Consequences

12. 30/30 150

After totally rocking out to Ratt and Accept, Tsutsu and I took a breather and went to the Official Bar located at the back of the arena and had ourselves some beer. Tsutsu's girlfriend was working late but said she would probably make it to the Halford set. This band was created by a member of Slipknot but as we weren't really paying any attention to them, I could give you no opinions on them one way or another.



01. Resurrection

02. Made in Hell

03. Locked & Loaded

04. Drop Out

05. Made of Metal

06. Undisputed

07. Nailed to the Gun

08. Golgotha

09. Fire and Ice

10. Green Manalishi (Judas Priest cover of Fleetwood Mac song)

11. Diamonds and Rust (Judas Priest cover of Joan Baez song)

12. Jawbreaker

13. Cyberworld

14. Like There's No Tomorrow

15. Thunder & Lightning

The Metal God himself - Rob Halford! I don't know. Was it just me? Was it the sound? Or is it the fact that the Metal God is mortal? Of all the bands who's full set I watched, this was the worst sounding, disappointing letdown. For one the bass drum was just so damn loud, it drowned out all the other instruments, including Halford's voice. Having seen Judas Priest in their prime back in the early '80s and seeing Halford now was just too traumatic. The Metal God looked like someone's grandpa wandering aimlessly around the living room while singing karaoke as Halford's eyes seemed more intent on reading the teleprompter than singing out to the audience. Then again, since I am nearing my 50's, the Metal God has aged as well so I will have to forgive him for the teleprompter, but there was no excuse for the volume of that bass drum! Not even singing the Fight song or the covers that made Judas famous (Fleetwood Mac's "Green Manalishi" and Joan Baez's "Diamonds and Rust") could save it.



01. Intro / 4U

02. Right Now

03. Need To

04. Coming Undone / We Will Rock You (Queen)

05. Pop on Pil

06. Here to Stay

07. Oildale (Leave Me Alone)

08. Falling Away from Me

09. Did My Time

10. Let the Guilt Go

11. Freak on a Leash

12. Another Brick in the Wall (Pink Floyd)

13. Blind

14. Shoots and Ladders / One (Metallica)

15. Clown

16. Got the Life

The Gods of the Nu-Metal movement were the headliners for this evening. I wasn't that interested in seeing them but I thought I would check out at least a couple of their songs. After all, I will be back for another full day tomorrow. Tsutsu and his girlfriend left sometime in the middle of the set. I found myself watching their entire set as well. It was great show and quite entertaining. I enjoyed the way they blended in Queen's "We Will Rock You" or Metallica's "One" in a couple of their songs. Not a band way to end the evening. But still, its at least an hour or so to get back home and I will need to sleep soon as I'm going to start the entire process all over the following morning, but at least Mikako will also be with me!


Ern's Monthly Visual Victuals (September 2010)


Hey, check this out. I finally got caught up with my film reviews. And as I haven't watched that many films this month I may have nothing to review for October. Well, the month isn't over and I know that my local DVD rental shop is once again having their "Rent 4 for 1000yen" campaign, in which you can also borrow at least two new releases. So for the month of September, I watched one Academy Award winner, one Japanese film, one French film, a silly B-movie, a SF flick (which isn't the B-movie but comes close), and one other major Hollywood feature. Now, grab yourself a bowl of popcorn and lets go to the movies!

THE HURT LOCKER (2008) – The Academy Award winning film! What is there to say except excellent! Skipping all the politics of why we, the U.S. is still in that country for no good reason, (thanks Bush!), this flick will keep you on the edge of your seat. Even though you know it’s a movie, you can’t help thinking there are people portrayed in this film in Baghdad as well. The main story centers around a bomb disposal guy, or in the case of Iraq, the Improvised Exploding Device disposal guy who seems to arrogant for his own good can careless in thinking about the buds that are on his team. Maybe it’s just too real as we still have troops over there doing their job. We can only hope that peace will one day come to Iraq, but it probably won’t happen as long as we have troops there, and a government that still wants their oil.

ゴルデン・スランバー [Golden Slumber] (2010) – Based on the book by Kotaro Isaka and yes, the title is based on the Beatles song. This had great potential and at least one of my Japanese friends thought it was awesome. This flick starts with our protagonist meeting an old college friend for a fishing trip. But it turns out, that was all a set up. Dude’s friend tells him he’s being “Oswalded”. Our protagonist who once saved an idol from some stalker is now being set up as the scapegoat for assassinating the Prime Minister. Dude says to friend, “What the hell are you talking about?”. Friend says, “I invited you on this fishing trip. I drugged your drink so you would wake up with this car parked here. Run now, and whatever you do…Live!” Friend thinks he’s joking until the car in the motorcade in which the Prime Minister is riding is blown up! And the police are already on his trail, already determined that our hero is guilty. And then it’s long cat and mouse game. Sounds good doesn’t it? It was great until the end, which is probably why Japanese films don’t do so great abroad. As to why I did not like this. First, you have the mysterious person or group who’s controlling the police. Who this person or group is never brought to light. Second, although our hero escapes the police with the help of the idol he once saved who happens to know a good plastic surgeon who gives him a new face and a new life, his name will forever be associated with being the man who assassinated the Prime Minister, even though he was innocent to begin with. It just doesn’t seem right.

INFESTATION (2009) – Released as “Big Bugs Panic” in Japan. I liked the Japanese package better than the U.S. so I included both. An excellent and classic B-movie, it’s even worse than “Mosquito”. At least in “Mosquito”, you knew why they grew to such an enormous size. In this flick, which also stars a bunch of nobodies (they don’t even have someone like “Leatherface” to pull viewers in), with a story that makes absolutely no sense, except to give amateur FX people something to do and call it “making a movie”. For one thing, the major star is a complete loser who’s just about to get fired from his job that his Dad got him. But in the next scene, he’s wrapped up like a cocoon but manages to break free after upchucking whatever it is. He then moves on to free some of his co-workers who are also wrapped up cocoon-like. They wake up to find that the world has been taken over by a bunch of oversize bugs! And nope, no reason why, it just is. And so a handful of survivors are going to take on an army of bugs.

SKATE OR DIE (2008) – A French crime action drama. Two teen skaters are resting in some abandoned building where they witness a drug deal going on. One of the dudes takes a video of the action with his cell phone. The drug deal goes awry and one dude gets shot point blank. Wouldn’t you know it, right after that Dude’s Mom calls him setting off the chime of his phone. Now, the dudes run to the police station not only to report a drug deal, but a murder as well. As they’re filling out a form, the men who killed the drug dealers are heading towards the station as well. You see, the men who killed the dealers are…are you ready for this? They’re cops! Ooh, bet you didn’t know that was coming. Not only are they cops, but they’re a special task force (hey, doesn’t this sound a little like “Leon”? That would be “The Professional” for you Americans). So off the Dudes run with their skateboards while the cops chase them all over town.

Another novel by Dennis Lehane adapted for the big screen. The other title being “Mystic River”. Directed by Martin Scorcsese and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a US Marshall who comes to investigate the disappearance of a patient at a mental institution located on Shutter Island. The thing is, after movies like “The Sixth Sense”, “Secret Window”, and “Hide and Seek”, my wife says predicted the ending which turned out to be right on the nose. I suppose if we didn’t see those movies I just listed we may have found this one more entertaining. As it is, we figured that the Marshall wasn’t really a Marshall but probably an inmate as well! D’Oh, sorry readers who haven’t yet watched this film, did I ruin it for you? However, it’s keeps you entertained and is worth watching, even if you’re not a fan of DiCaprio.

DISTRICT 9 (2009) – I had one friend who went to the theater to see this and this is what she had to say, “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!”. However, I disagree. This was made in the same vein as a B-movie and deserves better credit than that. This probably had a bigger budget than your standard B-movie and I thought it was great. A huge alien Mothership has been hovering over the city of Johannesburg, South Africa for a number of years. The aliens, called “Prawns” because of the way they look are forced to live in an area called District 9. The man chosen to evict the aliens to District 9 was really just a pawn who’s girlfriend’s father held the real power. When poor dude accidentally sprays himself with some kind of alien weapon, his body slowly changes. Good news for the Big Man, as their looking for a guinea pig to test so they can use the alien weapons which only respond to alien genetics. The great thing about this flick, some would say its weakness, is that the dialogue was mostly ad libbed. But the aliens aren’t going to sit quietly when all they want is to go home to their planet. And scapegoat dude escapes the government clutches going to the one place they won’t think to look for him…in District 9! I think this is well worth watching and quite well made. Thumbs up.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Loud Park 2010 (Part 1) / ラウド パーク 2010年 (パート1)

Loud Park is the Heavy Metal Festival to go to if you are in Japan. I've been wanting to go since the event first started but I still had debts to pay and you do have to set your priorities. But at the beginning of this year, I became debt-free and even saved a bit up so there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to partake in this year's Loud Park. Two full days of heavy metal mayhem at the Saitama Super Arena on October 16 and 17 (Saturday and Sunday) starting at 11:00am in the morning and lasting until 10:00pm in the evening. I wondered if I had the strength to survive two days. Mikako would only be joining me for Sunday's show as she has to work all day on Saturday.


Saturday's line-up features Jonathan Davis and the return of Korn with Halford (Rob Halford back again this year as a solo artist, Judas Priest headlined last year's Loud Park with Slayer), Stone Sour (the new band formed by a member of Slipknot), Accept with their new vocalist, the rejuvenated Ratt with Steven Pearcy back in the fold, Hellyeah (featuring members of Mudvayne, Damageplan, Nothingface, and Pantera), Dir en Grey (Japanese Visual-kei band), Edguy (power metal from Germany), Amon Amarth (Swedish Viking metal), Chthonic (pronounced "thonic", death metal from Taiwan featuring a female guitarist), Engel (melodic death metal from Gotenburg, Sweden), and Holy Grail from Pasadena, California.

土曜日のラインアップは再結成したコーン、そしてハルフォード(ロブ・ハルフォードは去年ジューダス・プリストで来ましたが、今年はソロだ!)、ストーンサワー (スリプノットのメンバーが新しく結成したバンド)、アクセプト (Udoはボカリストじゃないけど)、80年のL.A.メタルを代表するラット (オリジナルボカリストのステーヴン・パーシーが戻ってるで、そして元クイアエットライオットのカルロス・カヴァーゾが加入!)、ヘルイヤー (パンテラのダイムバッブ・ダレルの兄ヴィニー・ポールが音楽界に戻りました、しょしてマッドヴェインのボカリストとナッシングフェイスのメンバーで結成されたバンド)、Dir en Grey (日本のビジュアル系バンド)、エッドガイ (ドイツのパワーメタル)、アモン・アマース (スエーデンのバイキングメタル)、ソニック (台湾のデスメタル)、エンゲル (スエーデンのメロディックデスメタルバンド)、とカリフォーニア出身のホーりーグレイル。

Sunday's line-up features headliner, the Prince of Darkness himself - Ozzy Osbourne. With Avenged Sevenfold, Motorhead, Angra (from Brazil), Spiritual Beggars (featuring former Carcass and current Arch Enemy guitarist Michael Amott), Kuni (Japanese guitarist, with Mark Slaughter from Slaughter on vocals, Chuck Wright and Frankie Banali from Quiet Riot on bass and drums), Alexisonfire (pronounced "Alexis on Fire" and not "Alex is on Fire"), Halestorm (hard rock from Red Lion, Pennsylvania), Turisas (more Viking metal from Finland), Reckless Love (rock and roll from Finland), Trash Talk, and Canadian thrashers 3 Inches of Blood.

日曜のメインはあの大物:オジ・オズボーン!あとはアヴェンジド・セヴンフォールド、モーターヘッド、ブラジル出身のアングラ、元カーカスとアークエネミーのマイケル・アモットのハードロック/ストーナーロックバンドスピリチュアル・ベガーズ、Kuni (日本人ギタリスト、でも参加メンバが凄い、スローターのマーク・スローターがボカルで、クワイエットライオットのチャック・ライトとフランキー・バナリがベスとドラムで参加!)、アレクシスオンファイヤー、女性ボカリストでアメリカペンシルベニア出身のヘールストーム、フィンランドのバイキングメタルバンド‐チュリサス、フィンランドのハドロックバンド‐レクレス・ラブ、トラシュ・トーク、とカナダのスラシュバンド‐3インチズ・オブ・ブラッド。

Nissin no Tongarashi-men / 日清のとんがらし麺

It's been a while since I featured some instant noodles, so here's another one I tried a few months ago. This is Nissin's Tongarashi-men (or Red Pepper Ramen made with African Hot Chili in a chicken broth). It says "very spicy" on the label and also comes with a chili sauce to add to as well.


Looks delicious and tasted delicious as well, but not as spicy as the label made it out to be (or maybe I'm just too used to eating spicy foods).


Bon Appetit!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ern's Monthly Page Turners (August 2010)


Well, it's not the end of October and I've just finished writing my reviews for the books I read in August. As you can see, this month I am only featuring three titles because I only read three titles. But as I've mentioned before, when I read a book that's not written in my native language, it takes me quite a while to finish. This month's theme is travel and food, two of my favorite subjects! Enjoy.


世界のどこかで居候 by 中山茂・坂口霞 [Sekai no Dokokade Isourou] by Shigeo Nakayama and Katsumi Sakaguchi - “Isourou” – a difficult word to translate in English. I went through a number of dictionaries searching for a word that would closely describe the form of travel that that author Shigeo Nakayama and cameraman Katsumi Sakaguchi created. I also checked with a few online dictionaries as well and most of them gave the same answer – “to lodge” or “lodging” which is close to what the two were doing but not exactly. A closer approximation would be “home stay”, but “home stay” usually applies to students and these two are far beyond their university years. One online dictionary gave the exact definition of what they were doing – “lodger who pays nothing for room and board”, but the other definitions that followed were “freeloader” and “sponger”. So the closest translation of the book title would be “Lodging for Free Somewhere Around the World”. Four years! Eight countries! Nakayama and Sakaguchi traveled around the world between the years 2004 and 2008. They set a standard rule for lodging with strangers. They would stay for no more than a week. They would not schedule their trip to coincide with any events or festivals, and they would not ask for anything in return, only for the families to live their everyday lives as if they weren’t there. They would sleep in the same rooms, eat the same foods, and work in the fields with their hosts. And there would be no guide or interpreters during their stay.

和書なので、日本語の文章も頑張って書きたいと思いました。洋書と違って、和書は大体帯が付くものですね。そしてその帯に軽く本の内容が書かれてます。いつもじゃないですが、今回はそうゆう風になってます。大きいく書いてるあるのは「旅ではない。居候である。」自分の下手の日本語より、帯に書かれたことを借ります:「図々しくも世界のどこかのご家族に「おじゃまします!」。一泊二泊ではお客さん、三日を過ぎて「いてもいなくてもどっちでもいい」と思われて初めて居候。モンゴル、イエメン、パプアニューギニア、インド、モロッコ、ネパール、カンボジア - リイター&カメラマンの「居候」コンビが覗いた、世界のどこだのふつうの人のふつうの暮らし。」この本も漢字が多くて、ふりがなも無いので、苦労して読みました。自分の母国語以外で本を読むのはどれだけ大変だったか、言葉に説明出来ない。自分の叔父さん尊敬するは。日本人で英語やロシャ語の本良く読んでましたな。凄い。

You can read a more detailed review of this particular book on the “Asia by the Book” blog at

THE LUNATIC EXPRESS : DISCOVERING THE WORLD…VIA ITS MOST DANGEROUS BUSES, BOATS, TRAINS, AND PLANES by Carl Hoffman – [Indonesian Ferry Sinks. Peruvian Bus Plunges Off Cliff. Kenyan Train Attacked by Mobs. Whenever he picked up a newspaper, journalist and award-winning travel writer Carl Hoffman noticed these news bulletins and was struck by how far removed the idea of tourism – travel as the pursuit of pleasure – is from the reality of most people’s experience.] If that doesn’t capture your attention, I don’t know what will. We’ve all read the same headlines. We probably all have the same bias towards transportation in the developing world. Heck, you know we’d rather drive our own car to the local supermarket than take the local bus to anywhere. And yet, thousands of people do not have a choice in their mode of transport. So Hoffman decided to take a trip around the world using “the most perilous means of transportation: the statistically most dangerous airlines, the most crowded ferries, the slowest buses, and deadliest trains.” His trip would start from his home in Washington, D.C. and take him around the world – but he would take only the most suspect of vehicles: “from Havana to Bogota on the notorious Cubana Airlines; across Bangladesh on overloaded ferries, which are responsible for the deaths of 1000 passengers a year; from Lima to the Amazon on packed night buses despite washed-out roads; through the urban morass of Nairobi by minibus; in Mumbai on commuter trains so jam-packed that hundreds perish daily; through Afghanistan as the Taliban closes in; and finally, scariest of all on his return home – Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. – by Greyhound.” This isn’t Theroux reliving his “Great Railway Bazaar” which is rather tame in comparison, but that was a different kind of trip to begin with. But don’t let the book put you off from traveling on local transportation as it’s the best way to get to know people in the country you’re visiting, and besides, Hoffman did return home in one piece!

ザ・バーガーマップ by 松原好秀 [The Burger Map] by Yoshihide Matsubara – How can I not buy this book. When I first came to Tokyo, aside from the regular chains of McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s (which pulled out of Japan earlier this year), I discovered local chains such as Mos Burger, Freshness Burger, and Lotteria. But if you wanted to upgrade to a premium burger, you would either have to go to Johnny Rockets in Roppongi (also no longer in business) or the Hard Rock Café. I’m sure there were a few other burger shops that I just didn’t know about yet. But in the late ‘90s early 2000s, the boom in gourmet burger shops has grown exponentially. Now, if I crave a burger, I don’t settle for McDonald’s, I treat myself to a gourmet burger. As you can surmise from the title, this is a guide book to some of the best gourmet burger shops Tokyo has to offer. This book features 38 shops in Tokyo, another 9 shops in Kanagawa Prefecture, and another 9 shops in Saitama Prefecture. Of all the shops represented, I have eaten at 9 in Tokyo and had at least 2 burgers from a couple of the Kanagawa shops that had a food booth at a Curry Festival I went to in Yokosuka a couple of months ago. For the curious, these are some of the shops that were featured: Fire House, 7025 Franklin Ave., Sunny Diner, Homeworks, AS Classics, Fellows, Brozers’, Trust Saloon, Zats Burger Café, Fungo just to name a few (and representing the ones I’ve actually been to). Two of my favorites may not have been represented, Eric’s Burger in Sangenjaya and Hawaii’s own Kua Aina (which is probably considered a chain now with all the shops they’ve opened in Japan), but that’s okay. Bon Appetit!

この本見た瞬間買うしかないと思った。日本に来てもう15年以上が経ちました。最初に来たら頃マックドナルド、バーガーキング、とウェンディーズ(現在は日本から撤退してますが)はもちろん存在しましたが、他に出会ったバーガーショップは国内チェン店のモスバーガー、フレッシュネスバーガーとロッテリア。もうちょっと贅沢なバーガー食べたかったなら、六本木にあった「ジョニーロケッツ」や「ハード・ロック・カフェ」に行くしかなかった。(自分が知った限りは)。でも90年代後半と2000年代前半、東京でグルメバーガーブームがあって、ちょこちょこ新しいグルメバーガーショップが出来た。今、バーガーが食べたくなると、マックよりやっぱりグルメバーガーショップを選びますね。この本のタイトル通り、グルメバーガーショップのマップガイド。首都圏版です。東京に38軒を紹介して、神奈川県と埼玉県は9軒づつを紹介されてます。東京で紹介されてるのが9軒。それと神奈川県の2店舗が横須賀カレー祭りに屋台を出しました事でその2軒のバーガーショップのバーガーを食べたことある。こうゆう店が本に載ってます:ファイヤハウス、7025フランクリン・アベニュー、サニーダイナー、ホムワークス、AS クラシック、ブロザーズ、トラストサルーン、佐世保バーガーザッツバーガーカフェ、ファンゴ等。(僕が実際に行ったことある店)。自分の気に入りのショップは紹介されなかったが、(三軒茶屋にある「エリックス・ハンバーガー・ショップ」とハワイ発症の「クア・アイナ」でも「クアアイナ」が段々新しい店を開店してるのでバーガーチェンになってる。でも美味しいから許す!いただきます!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Ern's Monthly Visual Victuals (August 2010)


As I slowly try to catch up with my book and movie reviews, I have worked up to the month of August. I know I'm still a couple of months behind, but at least I'm writing. I hope to be caught up by the end of this month. Nothing special to really recommend this month. I was just taking advantage of my rental DVD shop's "Rent 4 for 1000yen" campaign. I've been taking a break from watching the Japanese '70s hero programs as well. And so it goes:

THE MARINE 2 (2009) – As this is Part 2, I thought it was a sequel to the first one, wouldn’t you? However, this particular film has nothing whatsoever do with the first one. It’s just another excuse for the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) to feature another one of their members in their stable to become an action star. Then again it’s a DTV movie, that would “Direct to Video” so they could be forgiven. At least they can be forgiven when compared to all the rap stars that try to make it as an action hero. Anyway, in this generic but fairly entertaining and predictable action romp, Joe (Ted DiBiase) joins his wife who is working for some developer and is opening a resort hotel on a beautiful island. Joe isn’t particularly interested in mingling so he goes off to the beach on his own. And wouldn’t you know it, some local rebels take over the hotel and take all the hotel personnel hostage. As Joe’s wife is one among them, it’s up to Joe and his training as a Marine to save the day!

THE ART OF WAR 3 : RETRIBUTION (2009) – I will be honest, I just popped this in and let the film run its course while I either worked on my blog or surfed the net or whatever. As I mentioned above, rap stars just shouldn’t try to be action heroes, but does Hollywood listen to their viewers? Nope, so instead of Wesley Snipes, we get Treach. And the current baddie in any action flick in today’s environment is of course North Korea. I don’t even know what the plot was about, was there a plot? Oh yeah, secret agent tries to stop a North Korean terrorist (played by Sung Hi Lee) from getting their hands on a nuclear device. As this is an another Direct to Video flick, you’re better off just watching Parts 1 and 2.

PREMONITION (2007) – Kind of a strange movie that stars Sandra Bullock who plays a housewife who has a very strange experience. The previous day she is told by the police that her husband was in an accident and died. But the next day when she wakes up, her hubby is by her side healthy and alive as can be. But then the following morning, he is dead once again. And so it goes for who knows how many days. She realizes she’s living her days out of sequence. Can she save her husband from the fate that awaits him? Well, this wasn’t a bad flick and I know at least one friend of mine really enjoyed it, but I don’t think I can recommend it as a must see. You will have to decide for yourself on this one.

ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO (2008) – I have yet to be disappointed by a Kevin Smith film and this one is no exception. And since it stars Seth Rogan, that’s an added bonus. Zack and Miri have been friends since junior high or high school. Their relationship has always been platonic and as adults, they share an apartment as well. But as they are having a hard time paying their bills, they’re being threatened with eviction. How are they going to make money and save themselves from getting kicked out? Why, by making and starring in a porno movie of course. As they get their friends involved and the film rolls along, they discover that maybe they have even deeper feelings for each other. Will the film ruin their relationship? What’s going to happen. Nerds and shy guys will love this, because Zack isn’t the most handsome of dudes, is living with a hot babe (and don’t read the next line if you plan on renting this)…and gets the babe in the end!

DUPLICITY (2009) – I’m sorry but this is just awful. The fact that it stars Julia Roberts and Clive Owen is no help at all. And since I really hated this film, I’m just going to borrow the reviewer from the Internet Movie Database by one: Ray works for MI6, Claire for the CIA. She burns him in Dubai. Jump ahead five years: he sees her in Grand Central and confronts her. Both now work in industrial security for corporate giants whose CEOs hate each other. Flashbacks fill us in: is it coincidence that he sees her in Grand Central? In about a week, one of the firms is going to announce a revolutionary product. Under the guise of helping that corporation's rival, can Ray and Claire work their own theft and find an independent buyer? To work together, using the corporate rivalry to their advantage, they would have to trust one another - difficult, if not impossible. Or, is one playing the other?] The characters were just annoying as one trying to outwit the other. It reminds me of that remake of “The Thomas Crown Affair” which I also thought was awful. Roberts doesn’t seem to have a decent film since “Erin Brokovich” which came out in 2000. Of course I have yet to see “Eat, Pray, Love” which seems to be getting fairly decent reviews. Of course when you learn that her character’s publisher paid for the entire year, it doesn’t make sound quite so exciting.

アイ・アム [I Am] (2010) – A Japanese film I doubt that you will find this in any of your foreign film sections at your local DVD rental store but that’s okay. It isn’t something I would recommend anyway. I only checked it out because it stars Asami Mizukawa, a young actress who is very cute that I like. The story isn’t that original either. Another “Bicentennial Man” or “AI”. Mizukawa is a Nurse Robot who begins to question her existence and wonders if she is real or not. There is the usual, “she’s not human, don’t let her touch me!” etc. Still, not bad as this is Mizukawa’s first starring role in a movie. She’s mostly known as a television actress. But she’s also quite entertaining when on variety shows.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ern's Monthly Page Turners (July 2010)


I'm still playing catch up with my book and movie reviews. Yesterday, I finally got around to writing my reviews for the books I read in July. By the time I work on my reviews for the month of September, this month will probably be over and I will still be behind schedule. Oh well. My reading pace drops drastically for August and September so I should be back on my normal schedule soon (not that I really have a schedule to begin with). I'm fortunate enough to have friends who actually enjoy my book and movie reviews. This month features a couple of James Bond related items, a galley (which is book talk for uncorrected proofs of a forthcoming title), a subject dear to my heart and a cute little horror/fantasy story by Neil Gaiman.

THE BOOD OF BOND by Alastair Dougall - "The name is Bond. James Bond." Any James Bond fan would love to have this book in their collection. It's a short history of every Bond film from "Dr. No" to last year's "Quantum of Solace", every actor who played Bond from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig, and they didn't leave out George Lazenby either! I enjoyed the Roger Moore Bond as well. Pierce Brosnan? Timothy Dalton? Well, I’m sure they have their fans as well. Each page has a short synopsis of the movie along with quotes from the films as well and is filled with black and white and color photos throughout the book. All encompassed in a moderately sized cloth binding.

BOND CARS & VEHICLES by Alastair Dougall - And with every Bond movie, you cannot forget the cars and other vehicles that are part of the movie franchise. Every cool car or vehicle is featured from all the films, once again from "Dr. No" to "Quantum of Solace". Some of the featured models are the Aston Martin DB5 (the most famous of which I have a miniature of, unfortunately collecting dust at home in the States). The BMW 750iL which could also be remote controlled from “Tomorrow Never Dies”. The Lotus Esprit S1 which can turn into a submarine from “The Spy Who Loved Me”. Some of the other vehicles used in Bond movies and featured in this book are the moon buggy from “Diamonds Are Forever”, the ultra-light or rather the gyroplane from “You Only Live Twice”, and the book even adds the Bell Rocket Belt which was featured in “Thunderball”. Published at the same time with the above mentioned title in the same format.

LIGHTS OUT IN WONDERLAND by DBC Pierre - Beware of book reps bearing false praise for writers in their stable. Recently, a book rep had given me a galley to the forthcoming release of DBC Pierre's new book, scheduled for release on September 2. Although I thoroughly enjoyed Pierre's debut novel, "Vernon God Little" and had recommended it to many friends as well, I was totally disappointed with his sophomore work "Ludmilla's Broken English". Perhaps it was due to the pressure of his publisher or agents wanting him to crank out another mind-boggling bestseller. Alas, that was not to happen. So when said rep who admitted that his sophomore work wasn't that great but had great praise for this, his third book, even saying "It might even be better than "Vernon God Little"! So hoping that Pierre is cured of his sophomore slump, with delight and anticipation did I dwell into this tome. What's this? Much better than "Ludmilla's Broken English?" Even better than "Vernon God Little"? I think not!! No no no no. In fact, I can tell you right now, this is even worse than his sophomore effort. I don't know what to make of it, except perhaps that first book wasn't really written by him. Can it be so? I haven't read anything so atrocious since Wendy Holden! It’s as if some drugged out college student had too much time on his hands and thought he wrote the masterpiece of the 21st century! And the amount of footnotes in a fictitious story does not add to the mystery, it only adds to the aggravation of reading this piece of drivel. This slice of garbage, this waste of trees. Need I go on? The protagonist is unlikable and you cannot sympathize with him. The story had such promise with "There isn't a name for my situation. Firstly, because I decided to kill myself". Alas, he not only ruins his life, but seems intent on ruining the lives of others. You might want to kill him yourself before the end of the story. Not even the setting at such locales as London, Tokyo, or Berlin are enough to save this piece of fecal matter.

STEAK : ONE MAN’S SEARCH FOR THE WORLD’S TASTIEST PIECE OF BEER by Mark Schatzker – Here’s a book you can sink your teeth into. A subject that’s dear to my heart as well! How can you not agree with the short blurb written on the inside sleeve of the book – [While Scotch lovers have long had their tasting clubs, cigar aficionados their magazines and specialty shops, and oenophiles and elaborate culture of wine appreciation, the same degree of serious attention has yet to be devoted to a cultural cornerstone that is centuries older and stirs yet greater passion : steak.] By the way, oenophiles are lovers of wine (yes, I had to look it up as well). But according to the author and other steak enthusiasts, believe that the flavor of beef has waned in recent years. To get to the root of the problem, Schatzker travels the world in search of steak in all its forms – rib eye, flank, porterhouse, strips, sirloin, prepared in all kinds of different ways. Starting with the big beef business in Texas, then heading across the Atlantic to France, Scotland, and Italy. And since he is writing about beef, he cannot leave out the Kobe and Matsuzaka brands of Japan, or the meat-loving country of Argentina. By the time he reaches South America, he has “crisscrossed the Atlantic Ocean three times, the Pacific Ocean once, and logged more than forty-five thousand miles, consuming somewhere on the order of fifty pounds of steak. Some of it was lean, and some was jubilantly fatty. Some of it was rare, most was medium, and the odd steak was well done.” It’s kind of sad that the United States rated the lowest in taste from all the countries he visited, saying it probably has more to do with making the cows bigger for more profit. In the end, Schatzker decides to make his own steak from scratch as well by purchasing a couple of cows and raising them on his own. He would also take responsibility for “finishing” them (getting the cows fat and ready to be slaughtered), will do the slaughtering on his own as well. As a lover of steak, I found it fascinating to read about, but I don’t see myself going to that extreme. Just take me to the nearest Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus or even the Outback!

CORALINE by Neil Gaiman – As I had been looking forward to watching the film adaption but not yet being available for rental at the time, I decided to read the original story. Actually I’m one of those people who like to read the original works before seeing the film version anyway, so that perhaps it was a good thing that I hadn’t watched the movie yet. Some people have compared the story to Louis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” which you cannot blame them as Coraline does find her way into another world through a small door that had been wallpapered over in her new home. Being a bit lazy (as I’m writing this at 2:30am), I’ve decided to borrow from Wikipedia – [Coraline Jones and her parents move into an old Queen Anne style house that has been subdivided into four flats. The other tenants include Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, two elderly women retired from the stage, and the Crazy Old Man Upstairs (later, he is revealed to be named Mr. Bobo), an eccentric acrobat who is training a jumping mouse circus. During a rainy day, in which Coraline is not permitted to explore outside (her favorite pastime), she discovers a locked door in the drawing room, which has been bricked up. As she goes to visit her neighbors, the Crazy Old Man Upstairs relates to her a message from the mice: do not go through the door.] Of course she pays him no mind and unlocks the door when she’s at home alone and finds that brick wall is no longer there. There is a long corridor that leads to an apartment that’s just like hers with her “Other Mother” and “Other Father” – the difference being they have black buttons for eyes. She has such a great time in the “Other World” that when the Other Mother suggests to Coraline that she stay forever, Coraline gives it some thought; however, there is one catch…she would have to have buttons sewn into her eyes!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ern's Monthly Visual Victuals (July 2010)


Now that I had finished writing my book reviews for the month of July, I thought it was time to catch up on movie reviews as well. August was vacation month, which turned into an extended break from writing book and movie reviews through September as well. Following this review, I am planning on writing up another two book reviews for the "Asia by the Book" blog. I think I have taken a long enough vacation from there as well. Mostly foreign films this time around with the exception of "Role Models", "Bolt", and "Ninja Assassin" which stars popular Korean idol Rain. I left out "The Departed" on purpose as well since it is a remake of a Hong Kong film. Anyway, enjoy.

L’INSTINCT DE MORT (2008) – A French film (obviously!) and not one that fits the image of your typical French flick. The English title is “Mesrine : Killer Instinct”. The film is based on the real life criminal Jacques Mesrine. I knew I just had to watch this. Why? How the heck do I know who Jacques Mesrine was? Well, the reason has nothing to do with French films. You see, in the early ‘80s, I used to buy a lot of import albums. One of those being a French rock band called Trust. One of their songs was used in the soundtrack for the original “Heavy Metal” movie (the animation one). The record I bought was “Repression”. The last tune on the B-side of that album is a number called “Le Mitard” which is also sung in French (the album I bought is the English version and this is the only song that is in French). There is also a tune called “Instinct de Mort” which was the title of Mesrine’s autobiography. The subject of those songs is Jacques Mesrine. As a lyric sheet was also included with the album and included a translation of “Le Mitard” in English, I found it to be about one of France’s notorious criminals, sited as Public Enemy No.1 by the French Police, who spent time in a prison called Fleury-Mérogis. Some books refer to Mesrine as the “Robin Hood of France”, while others say he is similar to US criminal John Dillinger. This first movie (the Mesrine story is in two parts) are about his early days. The simplest way of describing this film is calling it a French version of “Goodfellas”.

L’ENNEMI PUBLIC NO.1 (2008) – This second movie opens with the French police pulling in front of the BMW Mesrine was driving with his girlfriend, while 19 shots were fired through the windshield killing him dead! The second part of the story of Jacques Mesrine, titled “Mesrine : Public Enemy No.1” in English. As described above, the French government under President Giscard labeled Mesrine as “Public Enemy No.1”. Not only was he known to rob banks, he was also accused of numerous burglaries, kidnappings, and according to his own autobiography he wrote in prison, that he was responsible for up to forty murders. Having been caught numerous times and then escaping from the authorities, the French police were made to look like fools. The French Minister of the Interior forced the police department to put more effort into capturing Mesrine. Both movies star Vincent Callo who gives a great performance. If you’re unfamiliar with the story of Jacques Mesrine than I highly recommend both movies. In a side note (taken from Wikipedia), “French police announced the operation a success and received congratulations from President Giscard. Afterwards there were complaints that Mesrine was not given any warning, that the police had not acted in self-defense, and thus that Mesrine's death amounted to an execution.” You will have to watch the movies and decide if the police were in the right in their methods.

THE DEPARTED (2006) – It was aired on network television and since I really enjoyed it the first time I had seen it, I had to watch it again. The 2007 Oscar winning film by Director Martin Scorsese. It’s an excellent remake of the Hong Kong film “Infernal Affairs” (which I can’t believe the Internet Movie Database site doesn’t credit). Now I have seen all the “Infernal Affairs” movies (there are three) that when I heard Hollywood was going to a remake, I thought, “Oh no, Hollywood is going to ruin another great flick that doesn’t need to me remade!”. It appears my fears were misplaced. Although I’ve seen this film when it first came out, it is worth watching over again and again. Jack Nicholson is the Irish Mob Boss, Leonardo DiCaprio is the undercover cop and Matt Damon is the mole in the police department. With star power like that, this makes it a Hollywood winner in the “name game” but how is it movie-wise? EXCELLENT! Great storyline. To put it simply, two men from opposite sides of the law are undercover giving information to the mob and police. When their identities are about to be discovered, it’s a race to see who is the spy in the police department and who’s working as a spy in the mob. Now, you all go do yourselves a favor, look for and rent the original – “Infernal Affairs” series. You will be glad you did.

NINJA ASSASSIN (2009) – Just in case you didn’t know, the star of this blood-letting action extravaganza is Korean pop star idol Rain as Raizo. That particular line in the movie gave me a good chuckle when Raizo is captured and chained to the wall and one of his captors says, "He looks like he should be in a boy band." Too damn funny, before going solo, he was part of a boy idol band called Fanboy. And deviating just a bit from talking about the movie, my wife is a big fan of his and I was forced to go to his concert last year at the Saitama Super Arena. I couldn’t believe the number of elderly women who attended is show. Anyway, back to the movie. Raizo was raised in an orphanage run by the Ozuno clan where all the orphans are trained as assassins (hey, doesn’t this sound like “Azumi”?). Anyway, he turns his back on the clan and now seeks them out and kills them for their merciless murders. Catch Rain in his latest music video “Love song” and get a good laugh at his dance.

MAN SOM HATAR KVINNOR (2009) – Based on Swedish novelist Steig Laarson’s bestselling book. The Swedish translation of the original title is “Men Who Hate Women” however the English title of said book and film is “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. And although I praised “The Departed” as a Hollywood remake, I have heard rumors that Hollywood is also planning on remaking this film as well. Be sure to check this out before you see some lousy imitation that Hollywood thinks will sell to its gullible public. This is an excellent story. A mystery. Harriet Vanger, the daughter of one of Scandinavia’s wealthiest families has been missing for over forty years. But even after all these years, Harriet’s uncle still seeks the truth into her disappearance. He hires a journalist named Mikael Blomkvist, who had recently been lost a libel suit, to investigate the matter. Blomkvist is joined in his search by Lisbeth Salander, “the girl with the dragon tattoo” of the title. I also haven’t read the books – the Millenium Trilogy which also includes “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” (also turned into films as well), but will do so in the near future.

ROLE MODELS (2008) – A friend of mine sent me this as part of my birthday package. As it hadn’t been released in Japan yet, it was a treat to watch. Damn funny! Two guys in their 30s, Danny and Wheeler, work as a rep for an energy drink. Danny is sick of his job and has a dim outlook on life which in turn drives his girlfriend away. Wheeler loves his job and chasing women and probably hasn’t grown up since his high school years. When they get into a fight with a tow-truck drive, they are given a choice – go to jail or do community service. They opt for the community service in which they have to become Big Brothers. Danny becomes Big Brother to Augie, a total geek who is into a weekend medieval role-playing re-enactment society. Wheeler becomes Big Brother to a potty-mouthed kid with a bad attitude. These two goof-balls need to be “Role Models” for the kids. Can they do it. You know what’s really great about this movie though? Using KISS and KISS tunes to explain the meaning of life to the foul-mouthed kid. Any KISS fan should watch this flick.

KONYEC – AZ UTOLSO CSEKK A POHARBAN (2007) – This is a cute little Hungarian film. Yep, I know, I like to be adventurous in what I choose to watch. The international English title of this movie is “The End” – not to be confused with the long forgotten Burt Reynolds flick. An elderly couple is living on a retirement income which is not enough to pay the bills. The man has one item he refuses to part with – a classic Soviet vehicle which he hasn’t driven in ages. At things reach a boiling point, the man takes his car out for a spin. Inside the glove compartment, he has kept a gun as well. On a whim, the old man robs a store. As he gets away with, the police try to get his wife to co-operate with them as they imagine he will call her sooner or later. When he finally does, the police encourage the wife to meet him and plan to arrest him then. What the police didn’t count on, was the wife running away with her husband. They become the elderly “Bonnie and Clyde”. But can they continue to escape the police? This really is a great movie so you should make the effort to go find it in your foreign movie section of your local DVD rental shop.

BOLT (2008) – Hey, it’s Disney! You’re guaranteed a happy ending! An animation flick featuring the voices of John Travolta (as Bolt) and Miley Cyrus. Bolt is the star of a popular science-fiction/action show and believes his superpowers are real. Bolt witnesses his co-star Penny being taken away and believes it’s up to him to save her. When he busts out of his trailer home and heads out into the real world, he feels his superpowers are not up to speed. It isn’t until he meets a couple of other characters who inform him that he is just a television star and that he has no real superpowers. Of course, Bolt doesn’t believe them at first, but little by little, he discovers that they were telling the truth. However, being the loyal dog he is, he still goes in search of Penny. Predictable but fun.

借りぐらしのアリエッティ [Karigurashi no Arietti] (2010) – The latest film produced by Studio Ghibli, home to Hayao Miyazaki and credited with such gems as “My Neighbor Totoro”, “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind”, “Ponyo”, “Spirited Away” and others. As this has not yet been released in the States, I’m not sure what the title might be. My guess is “The Borrowers”, which is based on a Mary Norton book of the same title. Arietti, along with her father and mother, Pod and Homily, are little people who live below the floorboards of a normal house. They live by borrowing what they can from the big people’s who’s house they live in. The only rule that Arietti’s father instills in her is not be seen by any of the big people. Arietti’s father is worried because there is a new resident coming to the house. A small boy. Arietti has just turned fourteen and wants is about to go on her first “borrowing” adventure. Everything seems to have gone alright but no, she’s been seen! By the boy. When she tells her parents, they are shocked. The father says they can no longer live safely in the house and forbids Arietti to see the boy again. Homily is fearful and doesn’t really want to leave the only home she’s known but will follow Pod. But Arietti being young at heart and a pure spirit, she grows fond of the boy and a relationship blooms between the two of them. But the house-keeper who has also seen Pod, wants to capture them and show them off to the world. What will become of the “borrowers” if they’re caught? Will they be caught? Will they escape? Cute movie, but the ending leaves you kind of hanging. This can’t be helped as even the powers of Studio Ghibli couldn’t possibly cram the story of all five books into one two-hour long animation. So, if you feel a little let down, then read the following books that follow the first.

少年メリケンサック [Shonen Merikensaku] (2008) – Another fun comedy from Kankuro Kudo and starring Aoi Miyazaki (who’s just too cute for words!). This particular movie reminds me of the British film “Still Crazy”. This was released internationally as [Brass Knuckle Boys]. An office lady working at a record company discovers the band Shonen Merikensaku while surfing the internet. She thinks they’re the next big thing to happen and wants to represent them. What she neglected one vital point – the video was of a live performance some 25 years ago. She tracks down the members only to find that the members are these washed up middle-aged men and not the cool band members she saw in the video, however contracts had already been signed and her job is on the line. But if you want my honest opinion, the British film “Still Crazy” is the better of the two, even if it doesn’t feature someone as cute as Miyazaki

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Korean Diner [Kanton no Omoide] / 韓国食堂 「カントンの思いで」

Today, I thought I would make my mother jealous by writing about the Korean restaurant we recently went to in Tokyo's little Korea Town of Shin-Okubo. We've been wanting to go to Shin-Okubo again for a while and now that we have a day off together again, off we went. We also bought my wife's nephew an Official Tour T-shirt of BigBang (very popular Korean pop band) who he is a fan of. Afterwards, it was time for lunch. We found this small but crowded little restaurant and thought if people are lined up here to eat, then the food must be pretty good. Outside of the restaurant is a wall featuring pictures of the many Korean and Japanese stars who have also eaten here. The food on the menu looked delicious too. We had already made up our mind on what we were going to order - Samgyeopsal!


Why there is a Thai tuk-tuk in front of a Korean restaurant is still a mystery.


Wall of Photos of Famous Patrons / 芸能人来店者の写真が貼って壁

Samgyeopsal! What is it? Nice thick slices of pork belly!

The other food items look great! / やっぱり他の料理も美味しそう!

Before the samgyeopsal is ready, we were served a variety of dishes - tofu covered with some type of sauce, macaroni salad, kimchee, Korean-style takuan.


Some salad, the large lettuce leaves are to wrap the samgyeopsal / 他にサラダも付いて、大葉とサンチと肉のタレもあって、あとはサンギョプサルが出来上がるのを待つ

The making of samgyeopsal / サンギョプサル

Stage 1 / ステージ 1

Stage 2 / ステージ 2

Stage 3 / ステージ 3

Stage 4 / ステージ 4

Time to eat! 食べ頃だ!

Delish! / 美味しい!

And we downed our meal with some Korean beer!


Bon Appetit!