Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"Love is condom"

Original article (in Japanese). Last sentence graciously left untranslated due to me not being certain on what is meant.
The talent Eriko Satou (23) and 'Punch' Satou (40), on 26th [-ed. note: November, presumably], participated in the aids prevention information event "Red Ribon Campaign 2005" in the metropolitan area.

As the number of HIV infections have exploded in Japan, Satou appealed for the use of condoms: "'Love is condom'. AIDS is preventable so everybody please use this knowledge and protect yourself. If you are worried, get yourself tested." On a talk show, Punch took part in a condom use demonstration on a male dummy. As a specialist corrected him, he exclaimed "This is wrong?" with a smirk.
You heard the man. Love is condom.

Thanks to mdchachi on the Japannewbie forum for correcting my original horrible translation.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Dokument: Humor

That headline is in Swedish, but the meaning should be easy to translate since the words originate from English (or perhaps both the English and Swedish words originate from the same source, don't know much about the origins of those words).

Anyhow, Dokument: Humor is the title of a documentary-series aired on the Swedish SVT2 researching and dissecting comedy. It's been said that dissecting comedy is a bit like dissecting a frog: it's gross and the frog dies. It turns out that that saying is partially true; the show isn't laugh-out-loud funny, but it does provide some interesting insights into what goes on behind the comedy. Only two episodes have aired so far, but even now it has the feel that it could work like a "Comedy 101" class.

The show is hosted by Henrik Schyffert, a Swedish comedian that shot to fame in the early 90's, starting under the alias Glenn Killing, "hosting" the parodical show "I manegen med Glenn Killing" (I don't know how to translate "manege", so I'll let it be). The participants in the production were later to be called "Killing-gänget", and went on to produce some of the best comedy shown on Swedish TV. Since SVT are a progressive and magnanimous bunch they've had the good sense to make some of the clips available on their website!

The clips are all in Swedish, but there are soom that don't require that much understanding... Try Torsktortyr (a wonderful Reservoir Dogs spoof), Glenn Killing interviewing Roxette (if you know who Roxette are you'll appreciate the irony of the interview going in English) or Early Veiron calls USA. To view the video, check which media player you prefer (though the Realmedia is higher quality) and press 'Spara inställningar'. You can also use the direct links to the streaming video under 'Länkar till externa mediafiler'.

Torsktortyr: Realmedia or Windows Media

Glenn Killing interviewing Roxette: Realmedia

Veiron calls the USA: Realmedia or Windows Media

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The New Japanese Alphabet

No longer are the Japanese content with merely horribly mispronouncing the more intricate sounds of foreign languages, they have now turned to completely re-shaping the letters themselves!"Cragy Mama", "Crajy Mama"? I wonder a bit how would the character be pronounced in English...

Sickness and insomnia

Today was the first time that I skipped Japanese class. (Ok, technically the second since there was a history lesson that I didn't know was mandatory.)

I had been feeling pretty bad on yesterday (Tuesday), a bit of a stomach-ache and dizziness, but figured I'd get to bed earlier and get a long rest would see me fit for fight. Unfortunately, as usually happens when I'm really wanting to rest, I couldn't sleep. This also happens sometimes on days when I have an exam the next morning; I go to bed thinking I'm going to really rest and I end up tossing and turning half the night.

As I had layed there in bed then, for an unknown amount of time, I finally decided to check the time. Turned out I had been laying sleepless for almost three hours. Jeez... Realized that I'd probably feel like shit anyway if I in some miraculous way got up in time, so I decided it was best to turn off the alarm and take today off.

Feeling better except for a weird aching in/around my left eye. Sort of like a head-ache, but in a different place. I hope it's not my brain trying to escape.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Orange Range (オレンジレンジ)

This is another band that I'm interested in right now. Here's a biography at Nippop.com because I'm too lazy to write an introduction myself.

I think I first came across them when I heard a song of theirs in a CM (commercial) for some cell-phone service. (In case you didn't know, most commercials in Japan are often accompanied by snippets of pop-music as opposed to original "jingles".) The song was Ishin Denshin, and that 30-second or so piece really got me interested. Before long I had their musiQ album ordered from YesAsia...

They mix pop, rap and catchy melodies in quite an interesting way. Though their songs are often a hit-or-miss deal for me, I feel that the hits far outweigh the misses. (Especially in the case of Hana, a wonderful song that I have hopes of learning to play on the piano some day.)

They've sometimes been accused of copying too much from other artists/songs (probably rightfully so in the case of Locolotion). But I'm more interested in the music than discussing the morals of re-using melodies and chord progression that have been around forever anyway.

You can hear some samples on the Sony Music Orange Range sound & video page.

Here are also direct links to the samples of the songs I've talked about:
Ishin Denshin
Hana
Locolotion

Friday, November 18, 2005

雪だ! It's snowing!

It's been snowing most of the day now, really starting to look like winter. I like how the snow makes it look a bit brighter.

***
This is something I wrote a couple of days ago, when I was feeling a bit down. I left it a bit uncompleted and didn't feel like posting it at the time (it was like 3 AM). I fixed the intro very slightly, but otherwise it's pure nightly drivel.

"I've felt pretty boring lately, like I'm not doing enough to actively interact with other people. Completely boring and void of personality. Which lead me to wonder what is it that makes personality?

"I've always been a shy person (or at least since ca. year 11 onwards) and that shyness has sort of grown in and incorporated as a general quietness and hesitation toward new people.

"It feels a bit as if I've lost touch of the 'original' me and I'm now drifting around aimlessly, searching for some meaning. I think the feeling might have something to do with the (Japanese) history (before 1868) that we got to see the results for yesterday; you might remember that I thought it went pretty well, but in reality I passed with only a margin of only a couple of points. Seeing all the red colour from the corrections made me wonder if it's expected, or wished for, that we learn all of this history well enough to give 100% accurate dates of any event asked of us.

"Whatever line of work you choose it feels like it would demand of your full dedication to it. There is no room for Jack-of-all-trades or renaissance people, only those who have specialized in that one thing, which they then use to bring food to the table, or rather, money in the bank, until they retire or are replaced with automated machines."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Movie night!

Today we watched a movie in our school; it was a pretty good turn-out, most from my class and some of our senpai were there (yes). The movie we watched was Tanpopo, which I actually first learned about from Japannewbie on the Learn Japanese from Movies page (I've now seen the first three of the five films listed there).

The plot is losely based on a woman who gets help from a couple of passing-by customers in making her ramen shop the best in town; I say it's only losely based on that because so much else happens in it... For example it begins with a gangster-like character talking to the camera, directly to the viewers of the movie, about how the various noises other members of the audience makes annoys him. Alongside the main story about the noodle-shop we then get to see occasional scenes from the life of the gangster, and also his death where he is shot multiple times by an unknown, off-screen character. (Curiously, the movie ends shortly after his death.)

In conclusion, it was weird, but weird in a way I like!

***
On the drive home I started thinking about relationships. More precisely I started thinking about an old post at Bleeding Isaac (which is great, btw, I've been thinking about re-reading some of the posts about philosophy) about Plato's thoughts on the origins of the sexes. I can't really copy-paste the entire text, so I'll try to sexually assault it in order to please your short attention spans:
[T]he original human nature was not like the present, but different. The sexes were not two as they are now, but originally three in number; there was man, woman, and the union of the two, having a name corresponding to this double nature, which had once a real existence, but is now lost, and the word "Androgynous" is only preserved as a term of reproach.
[...]
Now the sexes were three, and such as I have described them; because the sun, moon, and earth are three;-and the man was originally the child of the sun, the woman of the earth, and the man-woman of the moon, which is made up of sun and earth[.]
[...]
Terrible was their might and strength, and the thoughts of their hearts were great, and they made an attack upon the gods[.]
[...]
At last, after a good deal of reflection, Zeus discovered a way. He said: 'Methinks I have a plan which will humble their pride and improve their manners; men shall continue to exist, but I will cut them in two and then they will be diminished in strength and increased in numbers[.]
[...]
After the division the two parts of man, each desiring his other half, came together, and throwing their arms about one another, entwined in mutual embraces, longing to grow into one[.]
I feel so dirty having cut up Plato's writing like that... Here is Wes' comment on it:
There is just something so appealing about the story. It gives new meaning to the word "soulmate," doesn't it? Two people are separated by the gods and long for oneness again. They try to hold each other so tight that they are pressed back together. Sex is just a way of regaining what was lost.
It is indeed a nice thought, but personally I can't honestly say I believe in the concept of soul-mates. I would want to believe, and if I finally meet that someone I will probably preach the same, but until I see powerful indications of it, I can't say I believe in it. Though that doesn't mean that you shouldn't!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Japanese loanwords

Through my time with Japanese I've seen some weird words, often coming from English, mutilated by the limitations of katakana. Some are pretty obvious where they come from, but others can be tricky... Here are a couple I've noted down so far (in no particular order):

スチ/スチュワーデス: スチ being the short form, this word comes from "stewardess".

リモコン/リモートコントロール: Another word that has a shortened form, this is similar to パソコン. Comes from "remote control".

トラベル: In this word it's a combination of the last two that threw me off at first. This actually comes from the word "travel", with 'b' and the Japanese 'r'/'l'-sound substituting 'v' and 'l'.

イベント: Comes from "event".

ベートーベン: This was a headscratcher for me, as when you transliterate it it becomes beetooben; not very similar to the original name "Beethoven".

アナ/アナウンサー: This was also tricky because the first time I saw it it was in the short form. Just アナ sounds like a name, and I originally thought it was that, but then I saw it attributed to many different people. After a while I saw it in a context that also mentioned the full form アナウンサー and it was clear that it came from "announcer".

ヘルスケア: "Healthcare". There is also ヘアケア, "haircare".

アラート: "Alert".

キャラ/キャラクタ: "Character". I should clarify that it seems to be used only for describing the physical character, not having character as in "moral or ethical strength".

サムネイル: This I wouldn't have had the foggiest what it was unless it was in a context with many small images... "Thumbnail", as in a thumbnail-image.

サントラ/サウンドトラック: The longer form should make it clear that it comes from "soundtrack".

コラボ/コラボレーション: "Collaboration".

メアド/メールアドレス: This I saw in the Densha Otoko drama. The short version of this is particularly tricky since it doesn't really hint at what the full word could be ("mail-address").

セクハラ - I don't know if this has a long version or not, but be sure not to get into "sexual harassment".

レス: I'm not sure of this, having not confirmed it's meaning, but I've seen it in the BBS context, so I assume it would come from "response"/"respond".

スレ/スレッド: A bit of a weird one. Comes from "thread", with 's' replacing the English 'th'-sound. Tricky.

Maybe a part 2 will follow if I come across more interesting words.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Fear of failure

I've seen some people talking about the National Novel Writing Month, and thinking a bit that it would be good for me to do it too. The only problem is that I have a strong fear of failing, or in the case of NaNoWriMo (as it's oddly shortened to), not producing one of the top novels.

I'm sure that it stems somehow from my low self-esteem, preferring to not do something rather than doing my best and realizing my fears that I suck at it. This is especially the case in competitions where there's a cash price. There is a yearly writing competition here, every other year poems, every other year short-stories; I've thought many times of entering, but I keep thinking that if I'm going to enter I'm going to do it right, reading previous winners and crafting the perfect story so I'd be guaranteed the first prize. This however would require time and effort that is difficult to muster. The answer of course is to just write what I want and let the chips fall by themselves, but that means I might not get a cash prize, which is, to be honest, a large part of the competition (being a material boy such as myself).

While I'm talking about writing, I'd like to mention that while I can speak and write (damn near) fluent English, It's still not a language that I see myself primarily writing in. When I look back on the texts that I've written in English, it seems all too good, too easily accomplished; when I write in Swedish, on the other hand, I feel as if I can express that little extra that can spice up the language. It's a bit like, when I write in English, I'm writing just pulp, but when I do it in Swedish, it's something that's approaching literature. I'm not sure if outsiders who read both languages would be able to spot the same difference that I feel is in the text, but for me the gap between the two is quite visible.







...







Apologies, my mind just went blank all of a sudden.

My reading exercises

Every day there are a couple of Japanese websites that I check out, both for reading practice and out of pure interest.

Daily Sports entertainment news - To be honest, I don't really care about politics... But as I use Japanese entertainment a lot in my studies (a bit of a stretch, perhaps) I've taken an interest in the entertainment news. Sharp-eyed readers will see that the url ends with "gossip", which says it all, I guess.

Sanspo.com entertainment news - Same reason as above, just another one I've taken a habit of checking.

goo entertainment news - Another one, but this site also has a section with video clips that you can watch for listening!

Mitt Liv I Sverige - A blog by a Japanese exchange student in Sweden. It's good exercise and pretty fascinating to see a neighbouring country through the eyes of a Japanese person.

Now comes some sites dealing with my otaku/fanboy tendencies...

globe official website - The website of my favourite band, globe. (Which is, surprise surprise, a Japanese band. If you're wondering, the band name is really spelled with a lower-case "g".)

Global Relation BBS - A message board about globe.

globe thread at 2chan - The latest 50 posts in a thread about globe at the Japanese BBS 2channel (aka. 2chan).

And while we're on the topic of entertainment, here's a pic of one of the most popular comedians/"talents" right now in Japan, "Hard Gay" Razor Ramon! (God, I hope I don't get mistaken for a porn blog now.)In Japan, he's known simply as "Hard Gay" or "HG". His trademark move is hip-thrusting and ending every other sentence with a scream of "Fooooo!!!" Here's an article at Mainichi (English) if you're interested in knowing more about Hard Gay.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Distraction

And.. Oh my god! What's that OVER THERE!

Elongated

What's the matter Jacke, you look so elongated?
I think the word you're looking for is "exhilarated".
Whatever. What's up with the exhiliration?
What? I don't need a specific reason to be exhilirated, do I?
...
I do wish we'd have more chances to meet our senpai, though...
And why is that..?
To practice Japanese, of course! That's all! Nothing else to it.
It wouldn't happen to be about a girl, would it?
No, now drop it.
You sure it's not about a girl?
...
Well?
No comment. Now let's never speak of this again.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Weird game

Linked from An Audience With O-Kami-Sama-Sama (yes, that's the name of the blog) I found this wonderfully weird game.A bit of time-waste warning on that one; I sat with it for about an hour just watching the reactions unfold. I got to 2469...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Next-gen hesitation

So my mind is still very far from made up regarding the upcoming generation of game consoles, even though that generation is just a couple of weeks off (seeing as the Xbox 2 is supposed to be launched November 22 in the US). After Sony showed their willingness to give it to their customers in the ass my previous thought of going with the PS3 has been rocked. But having suffered from a bad DVD-drive in the first revision of Xboxes, I feel hesitant to invest in another one...

The solution for now is to wait and see what happens. If fortune allows it, I might be getting a Nintendo DS soon(-ish). I might even skip this generation altogether...

電車男

After recommendation from Sho, I started watching the drama 電車男 (Densha Otoko, translated to "Train Man"). It's about an otaku who by chance meets a woman on the train home. Here's a bit more from Jdorama.com:
Tsuyoshi just happened to be on his way home from an event in Akihabara when he met Saori. He has never been in a fight before, but the sight of the drunk harassing Saori made him furious as he stood up to protect her.

The only things Tsuyoshi is usually interested in are anime and video games. But something about Saori's beauty lit a fire in his heart, giving him courage. When he's looking for words to apologize, Saori hands him her date planner. "I want to return a favor, so can you write down your address?" Tsuyoshi is taken back. He has been humiliated a thousand times by women, but never appreciated, especially from a beautiful woman like Saori. Saori has a sweet smile on her face as she watches Tsuyoshi write down his address with shaking hands.
It's interesting because I'm a bit geeky myself, though not as anime-obsessed as the main character here. But it's easy to imagine that if my interest in Japan would have been awokened earlier, during the darkest time in my school-years (age 11-15 or so), I would have been sucked into it and might have ended up even more introvert than I am now.

The other interesting thing comes from watching the main character being confronted with the things that until then had been unfamiliar to him, like shopping for new clothes, going to restaurants to eat and using hair gel.

I have only seen two episodes, but I'm already liking it! I'm watching the subtitled release of course, I'm still a long way off from being able to understand un-subbed shows...

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Yet another reason to get a DS

And it's called DS Rakuhiki Jiten (kanji: 楽引辞典). Means something like "easy to bring along dictionary" I would guess. Let me quote the info from Play-Asia.
An easy-to-use dictionary that includes English-Japanese dictionaries. Words can be entered by drawing, selecting from the 50 Japanese sounds, or in roman alphabet. Also DS chat functionality can be used, for example, to discuss the pronunciation of a difficult kanji, or to have a language test. The software is a kind of "Electronic Dictionary".
Damn, that sounds like it could be really useful. 欲しいな〜 (Hoshii naa). Usually electronic dictionaries would go for about 10000 up to 40000 yen (ca. 100-400€), but this is available for just over 40€. (Yes, you need a Nintendo DS to use it, but I've been thinking about getting one anyway, so...)

I've pretty much decided to get one (a Nintendo DS), it's just the money issue that's stopping me...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Temporarily confused

You know you're on the right track in your Japanese studies when you see the capital I & J next to each other in the Lucida Grande-font and you accidentally read it as "ri".

Word verification: activated

Unfortunately, due to a persistent spammer posting from North Carolina State University under the name of Mike (probably fake), spamvertising some MP3 site, I've had to activate word verification for comments.