Sunday, May 28, 2006

Japanese choir music

Who would've thought that choir music could be so much fun? I sure didn't since I originally didn't have any intention of going to see the Japanese choir Kai from Yokohama during their appearance(s) at the Vaasa Choir Festival. But people kept telling me I should go. So I thought I'd at least see what it's about. So I went and listened.

First at a performance at a local shopping mall. "Hmm, this was pretty good."
Then I went again, this time on the town square/market place. "Wow, that song is really cool!"
Then the next day (today) again at a performance in a church (though that time they didn't sing my 'favourite' song, in retrospect I should've realized they would only do more subdued songs when the venue was a church).
(Yes, it looks a bit odd. I had to do jerk it around a bit so you'd see something else than a balding head.)

Here's one from the "photo-op" afterwards outside the church with a Ukranian choir. It was raining a bit, but they still lined up for pictures.
And then, seemingly saving the best for last, the afternoon performance at a local restaurant (if you can call it that).
Perfect vantage point, which I have my friend Aino to thank for! (I don't think I'd dare go that close if I had been on my own...)

Sorry for the picture quality. I'm really no photographer, as it probably becomes clear. I didn't take very many pictures, and these were the best of a bad bunch.

Anyway, in the performance they did the song I like, and I got a video of it with the digital camera I had with me! Yay! But that's not all... for the encore, they performed it once more, this time spreading around the restaurant, in a very free-form performance! I wonder if our response to it the first time had anything to do with the second performance... In any case, another video, ゲット!

Ah. Very good day.

***
I initially had some problems getting the video files transferred from the camera to the computer, but using a clever mix of time and emulation software, it was finally accomplished. The next natural step is of course to put it up on the 'net!

See the first performance here, and then see the second, encore performance. (Sorry about sync issues, that's the fault of Youtube. If you want a CD with copies of the original files that came of the camera, just ask the next time you see me.)

Update: I also put the videos on Google video, they have much better audio-video sync. Here's video one and here's video two.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Suzuki-san!

Time to learn some of those oh-so-useful Japanese phrases! Highlights include "これは山手線ですか?" ("Kore wa Yamanote-sen desuka?": "Is this the Yamanote-line") and "そんなもの飲んでも、何も自慢になりませんよ、鈴木さん" ("Sonna mono nondemo, nani mo jiman ni narimasen yo, Suzuki-san": "Even if you drink something like that, it won’t give you anything to brag about, Suzuki-san…").

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Gah.

Today was the test.

The kanji part was a lot harder than I expected, but I think I'll squeeze through with ~70%. The grammar/general language part on the other hand was a bit easier than I had expected. I don't think I aced it, but it probably went similar to the previous language test (~90%). I really should have studied the kanji compounds more since that's what I really stumbled on on the kanji part. If I had aimed at 100% then this test could be described as nothing but a disaster; luckily I expected not to know everything.

I'm relieved that it's done, but I'm a general bad mood since...

***
I'm having a really bitchy problem with Firefox Mac. It locks the whole computer up whenever I go to either upload a file or open a file from the File-menu (ie. on selecting a file from the Finder), leaving me with a hard reboot as the only option.

Meaning I'm posting this from Safari -> no rich text editing.

Update: problem fixed by deleting Home/Library/Preferences/org.mozilla.firefox.plist.

***
So, should I buy a Japanese video-game for reading practice, or a couple of dance-pads for actual physical exercise? Talk to me, oh great intarweb!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Potter 第2

Today I finished the second Harry Potter book, and I can say that it outdid the movie by a factor of approximately five.

A lot of things that were glossed over in the movie were more thoroughly explained in the book. It was as if you could see in front of you the producers/screenplay-writers sitting and cutting away everything but the stuff that would "look good on screen". Stuff that in the book takes up one or two pages had in the film become several minutes, and on the opposite side, a lot of things that I considered would have helped in explaining some of the events were nowhere to be seen in the movie.

(Though neither film nor book really explained the sudden appearance of a sword in any way that I deemed satisfactory, I guess every event can't have a logical explanation to it in a story about a wizardry school.)

There were two things that I felt after the movie that reading the book really made me re-observe: 1) the movie rushed through everything, what really happened during an entire school-year felt like it happened in a week, and 2) the movie emitted a lot more of the "Harry Potter saves the world again"-feeling than the book.

In closing, I would also like to mention that the appointed "bad guys" Slytherin seem too one-dimensional. Certainly if they were all bad they would be banished or something? I mean, there has to be some sort of quality about them, some reason why they're there besides being the nemesis of "good guys" Gryffindor. I just can't accept that someone is completely bad; revenge, megalomania, 'misunderstood genius', insanity, just give me something that motivates their actions. Whenever a character in a movie or book is presented as 'evil for the sake of being evil' I get first suspicious that I'm not being told the whole story, and if I'm not presented with anything then my suspense of disbelief drops like a stone.

I prefer to have my bad guys served with a portion of character, that's all.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Life is weird

I got a very un-expected call last night from DMA. While he was a bit incoherent, the topic eventually turned towards midsummer.

For the uninitiated, every midsummer for the last couple of years, the gang have set out on a trip to a southern island.

But this year, the old tradition seems set to break. Many in the gang now have girlfriends pinning them down, and as for me, well... I'm sure it would be fun, but with such a heavily decimated group, it feels like going into war with only half an army. (Sort of. Good analogies fail me right now.) Not to mention that I'd rather save the money I'd potentially spend for a future, longer trip.

He also suggested that in order to round up money I would sit in the street with a hat in front of me and speak Japanese, and presumably people would then donate for this noble cause.

***
I've been thinking of getting some new pads.While I do have one, I noticed last time I played (which was quite some time ago) that there were some accuracy problems. And hey, new gear is always fun.

The re-ignited interest didn't come by itself this time, but was a direct result of reading the 10K Commotion, a webcomic centered around a DDR-tournament. Highly recommended, even if you're not initiated in the sport. Since webcomics span a lot of different styles, I should specify and say that this is a very manga-influenced comic, and has a lot more substance than the "just-for-laughs" ones, with much focus on the relations developing between various characters.

***
It's strange, just when you think you've got life somewhat figured out, something happens that really shakes you up and forces you to re-think your stance on something.

Oh well.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Spring -> down

Spring is in full progress, birds tweeting and grass... growing. While spring is nice, in some ways it's pretty depressing: 1) all the couples come out going all ラブラブ, which makes me realize that I'm spending another spring on my own, and 2) thick jackets come off, and every time I'm walking around somewhere and see the reflection of myself (for example, in a shop window), it reminds me of my incredibly bad posture, and how I should exercise/work out more or something.

I felt that way about until I came home and was pointed to Steve Job’s 2005 Stanford Commencement Address (iTunes required to download video, you can also read the transcript) by Sho. That really picked me up. It put a bit of perspective on things hearing him talk about his brush with death and how we're all here for such a short time.

He also said something else that really struck a chord with me.
Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.
-Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford Commencement Address
I liked this part in particular, because I myself really don't have any solid plans for my life; I know it's not that responsible, and it's probably incredibly foolish to just trust blindly that it will somehow work out... But for some reason, that's just how it is. I don't think I'd be able to set out a plan stating "at year X I will be married, have Y amount of income and Z number of kids". I'll just have to go on and hope the dots connect down the line.

***
Feeling better, I finished a session-in-progress in the kanji flash-card application JFC.The method I use focuses on remembering the how to write the kanji, with me first trying to remember it just from the English meaning provided; if I don't know I allow myself a peek at the on/kun-readings. I'm hoping the readings will stick through study by proxy.

The main thing to remember is that you don't need to know 100% to pass the test, so if I remember how 70% the kanji are written, 70% on-readings and 70% kun-readings, I figure I should be alright.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Ra, ri, ru, re, ro

> I can never decide whether I should use 'L', the Scandinavian strong 'R', or the English rolling 'R'...

Place your tongue like you do when making a 'd' sound. But try to say a 'd' so that it sounds like an 'r' (ie don't build up pressure like you do when saying 'd'). And your mouth/lips shouldn't move much when you say all the 'r' sounds -- ra ri ru re ro. If your lips pucker like they would if you were saying 'ru' or 'lu' in English, then it's wrong.
-mdchachi

Monday, May 08, 2006

Pictures

The geisha w/ umbrella poster I got from my sister for Christmas. I had to take it from an angle since it was reflecting like crazy when looking head-on.

And just for kicks, here's a picture of my brother ironing. No, I didn't know he was The Hulk either, until he ripped his shirt off and started turning green.In case you're wondering, that picture is indeed taken outside, as ironing outside is the kind thing The Hulk does.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

D

So. Friday's history test was... endured. Strangely enough, there were only two of us there, even though there were supposed to be a couple of others.

I can't really make any sort of estimation regarding the result, seeing as last time around I felt relatively good about it and it turned out bad. However, while reading for the test this time, I noticed a couple of glaring mistakes I had made the last time: 1) giving the wrong years for the Sino-Japanese wars start and end, and 2) referring to Russia as the Soviet Union. The kind of mistakes you make when you've had a restless night followed by a couple of hours of last-minute cramming. My brother didn't think they were that serious mistakes, but from what I've heard about the examinator, I can really imagine that's why I was failed. (There goes the crazy theory I had that they're harsher with answers in Swedish.) It feels good to have at least an idea of the reason I failed; when I got the results for it the first time, there were no notes at all on it, just two marks to indicate which ones were bad and a "U" on the front (for "underkänt"). Being failed without being given a reason pissed me off, to say the least (and also gave birth to the previously mentioned crazy theory).

In any case, if I can squeeze through it will be a weight off my shoulders.

***
Having done the test, I sat down and watched Vampire Hunter D Friday evening, having found a torrent with the original Japanese soundtrack a couple of days earlier, but holding off on it until I'd had the test. As I've mentioned before, I'm not that big of an anime-fan, but this particular movie had music made by the one and only Tetsuya Komuro.The animation looked dated (understandable, since it's from 1985), but I was still managed to be drawn in by it.

***
Today, I also got a frame for my geisha-poster, courtesy of my sister. If you would like to see a picture, raise your hands and say "ooga-booga".

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Youth

Reading my brother's account of the behaviour of youth, I start thinking how different that is from what I did at that age. At 17, I was in my second year of upper secondary education, and had just gotten used to not being harassed on a daily basis. (In many ways, those years, 16-18, were some of the best educational years of my life.) I was, for all intents and purposes, a nerd growing up; frail physique, more interested in thought than action. I guess that also explains why I never had much success with girls; I went through an infinite number of scenarios of what I would do, but never actually did anything.

("Actually" is one of my favourite words.)

Anyway, while reading about the adventures of our cousin, I started wondering about what gangs there are in Vaasa, what sort of semi-criminal undercurrents flow through the town? I imagined that there would be an entire level of street-politics going on... but that's probably over-estimating the thug-wannabes.

***
I haven't made a new song to upload in ages now... I thought I'd make on in the middle of April, but alas. Perhaps after Friday's exam.