Saturday, June 30, 2007

Eh-hum # 175

Visited YouTube and had another trip down memory lane. Sigh

ReBoot was (and I guess it still is) one of may favorite animated series of all time, I was in high school when it was broadcasted in the Philippines. When it debuted in the mid-1990's, it was credited as the first full-length computer-generated animated TV series. It was intended for children, but as the story themes grew darker and more references to computer terms and pop culture were included, it began attracting older fans.

ReBoot is set in the city of Mainfraime, a metropolis that exists inside a computer owned by the "User". When the User decides to play a game, it wreaks havoc on the city and its inhabitants. This is where Bob the Guardian comes in. Aside from defeating the User in the games, he protects the city from viruses, including the series' main antagonist, Megabyte.

Despite a cliffhanger season 4 finale, it was said that there are no plans to continue the series. Many fans have tried to convince Mainframe Entertainment (the producers) to revive the show but to no avail. I wish that they would. While I am not big on computer stuff, I enjoyed watching the series because of the animation and the humor. Plus, it has some great characters, even the villain (Megabyte) has his cool moments.

The video below is the finale of season 3, which summarizes the whole season 3 through song and dance. Yep, its a musical. Enjoy!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Eh-hum # 174


Its me blog's third birthday!!! And to commemorate this joyous, historic event, I give you the henyo blog's new (and hopefully improved) look. TADAAAA!

Anyway, here's to more blog posts, videos, pictures and all other things (henyo) blog-worthy! :)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Eh-hum # 173

I have not watched that many anime series, but I think this is one of the best openings I've seen so far:

Its from the second chapter in the anime and manga series, Naruto. Entitled Naruto Shippuden, this part takes place two and a half years after the events in the first chapter. That's why when you watch this series, you will notice that Naruto and his friends are older, some even sporting new wardrobe. Found the music catchy, and goes really well with the animation. Enjoy!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Eh-hum # 172

Still not in the mood to study, but will do so in the next hour.

While writing this, I heard a buzzing sound beyond my room's sliding door. When I looked out to investigate, I saw a pretty and rather huge emerald-colored beetle flying in my veranda (thank goodness for the screen door, or else there would've been a BIGGER problem). Here in Japan, they call it a semi...if I'm not mistaken. Its a sign that summer's definitely here...unfortunately.

What is fortunate, on the other hand, is my little trip to Nishinomiya yesterday after church. Two of my friends and I were invited to this small gathering of Filipinos. We though it would just be some party, but as it turns out, it was the first anniversary celebration of the Philippine Circle in Nishinomiya City. It sounds official, and actually, it was; the Philippine Consul General herself was the event's Guest of Honor (to me and my friends' surprise and amusement). It was indeed an opportunity to get acquainted with a diplomat, especially since the atmosphere of the event was laidback; it did not require us to observe strict rules of protocol. And it was a treat on my part to have learned that the Consul General and I went to the same college, making us co-alumni. Also, me and my friends suddenly found ourselves representing Kobe University's Filipino students in the party.

But that's not all. I mentioned before that I am in the process of renewing my passport. Last week, I had to fax a copy of my ARC. It was an oversight on my part, and was not able to send it with the rest of the other required documents. After sending it, I thought everything was settled. But last Saturday, I was informed that I needed to re-fax my ARC because the copy was not good. I was suppose to do it today, but because of yesterday's event, I did not have to: the secretary of the Consul General was present as well and she recognized me due to my pending application. It was quite a stretch, but I did managed to give her a photocopy of my ARC without making it sound cheesy; she was gracious about it though.

So, yesterday was indeed fruitful:

1. Met the Philippine Consul General and Vice-Consul;

2. Met the Filipino community of Nishinomiya;

3. Free food (BIKO!!!); and

4. Assurance that my passport will be processed, my thanks to Ms. Mislang of the Philippine Consulate General, Osaka.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Eh-hum # 171

A continuation of my previous post. Eh-hum

Obviously, this blog is also about stuff that makes me laugh (so hard that there are tears in my eyes and I don't make any sound; you can just see my shoulders heaving).

The kind of humor I enjoy the most is deadpan...or when the comic(s) deliver their lines without a change in emotion or facial expression. And New Zealand's folk/pop/comedy duo Flight of the Conchords specializes in this kind of humor. They are musicians as well, putting their witty repartee into songs with serious guitar works. Hence, they are both a comedy duo and a band.

The duo, I mean band, is composed of Bret Mckenzie and Jemaine Clement. They have toured as FOTC outside New Zealand and have released a CD, entitled Folk the World Tour. Aside from doing comedy and music, both guys have had acting stints. Mckenzie was an extra on the first and third installment of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. His brief appearance on the first film (during the Council of Elrond), made such an impact that fans named his character, an elf, as Figwit, which stands for "Frodo is grea...who is THAT?!" (they were said to be distracted by Figwit's demeanour...and his "pout"). In the LOTR: ROTK, he was credited as "Elf Escort" and has two lines. On the other hand, Clement has appeared in a few independent films. Now, he is one of the major characters in the movie Eagle vs Shark, a NZ romantic comedy directed by Academy Award-nominee Taika Waititi. Clement was also featured in Outback Steakhouse commercials for the US.

The guys are now working on their 12-part series on HBO, hence the teaser. It was said that their well-received performance on HBO's 30-minute stand-up comedy series One Night Stand paved the way for the production of the said series. This would definitely give them even more exposure in the US. And why not? The pilot was smart and hysterical. The guys' cool brand of comedy deserves significant airtime in US television, and the rest of the world. Besides Peter Jackson, Americans will be familiar with other talented New Zealanders. Since I have no access to cable right now, hopefully will have access to the rest of the episodes online. Nonetheless, there will always be DVD...sigh.

Like many of my posts, I end this with a video from YouTube. This is one of the FOTC's songs in their One Night Stand performance. No matter how many times I watch it, it doesn't fail to make me laugh (by the way, Clement is the one wearing the glasses). Enjoy!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Eh-hum # 170

This is a teaser of a new comedy series on HBO:


Just finished watching its pilot episode online (which premiered last June 17 on tv); it killed me, big time. More on this later on. ;)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Eh-hum # 169

To experience or gain knowledge of a different culture, one does a lot of traveling. But if there is no opportunity to do so, the next best thing is to do a lot of reading. It could be just as exciting, but not as expensive.

After breakfast (and greeting every dad a happy Father's Day), I proceeded to read all sorts of online articles; international and local news, commentaries and even entertainment bits. Then I visited Oh My News' website (an excellent site, will discuss this in a separate post later on), which was a treat because I was introduced to an unfamiliar subject: African Palestinians.

I have never heard of African Palestinians, and that's the truth. I know of course that a significant number of African countries uphold the Musliam faith, but I did not know a portion of their population reside in Palestine and interestingly, have lived there for generations.

Christopher Brown, an Oh My News reporter, interviewed photographer Andrew Courtney who has documented the lives of African Palestinians. Brown's first question as well as the answer of Courtney:

OhmyNews: Andrew can you talk about the origins of African Palestinians, How did they end up in Palestine?

Andrew Courtney: That of course was one of my first queries meeting the African Palestinians I did bump into, about 15 years ago during the first intifada.

So the answers that I have gotten from most of my African Palestinian friends is that possibly up to 100 years ago or more, African peoples coming to the Holy city (Jerusalem) on a pilgrimage trek, would find themselves coming from places like Chad, Sudan, Niger and those areas of Africa. Making their holy treks to the Holy city of Jerusalem.

This was some journey, especially overland, without vehicles and so-forth; so what happened was that they got to Jerusalem and said, "I think we'll stay." So these families began to settle in.

If you want to read the whole thing, please click this link. Though its short, it gives a background about the Africans in Palestine. Its amazing how much you can learn by just logging on and surfing the web. Granted, of course, you know where to look. :)

Eh-hum # 168

Happy Father's Day to all the dads, including dads to be!

And to commemorate this special day, here's an audio/mp3 file of Neil Gaiman being interviewed by his youngest daughter, Maddy (sorry, couldn't find a better, meaning a more visible, mp3 player). Quite touching really.

For more on the wonderful and weird world of Mr Gaiman, kindly visit his website.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Eh-hum # 167

*Started this post at the Japan Foundation Kyoto Office's library yesterday afternoon and finished it at the comfort of my dorm room. Its 1:38 Saturday morning and am wide awake...I dunno if its the (lethal) combination of tea, coffee and soda or the urge to download and watch some videos (now, its Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children) or because I found out yesterday evening that I do not have Nihongo class later and its ok to sleep at an ungodly hour (dawn)...or perhaps ALL OF THE ABOVE.

Am now at Kyoto, Nakagyo-ku to be exact, where the Japan Foundation Office is located. Today, its not a sight-seeing-and-go-around-until-you-drop day, but an opportunity to see/listen to my friend deliver her paper, the culmination of her 10-month stay in Kobe as a Japan Foundation Research Fellow. Sounds serious? On one hand, yes, but in no way uninspiring, since I will be spending time with her and her husband, two very brilliant people if I may add.

And I was right. Sitting through the seminar, I gained two things. First, I had a crash course on travel narratives. A branch of literature which can be described as the (written) experiences/observations of individuals who visited foreign lands. No, this is not Lonely Planet. Travel narratives has provided information and insights about a foreign society and culture in a given timeframe. Moreover, these accounts also give readers an opportunity to analyze the values/interests of the authors themselves as they record their experiences. (I will leave it at that since I am not an expert on the subject and as they say, less talk, less mistakes).

The second thing was the value (and rewards) of excellent/in-depth research work. The seminar made me realize that there is so much to learn about conceptualizing, writing and defending a research paper/topic: the framework, the methodology, its significance/contribution and the content. I am particularly proud that back in college, my thesis mate and I got the highest possible mark for an I.S. thesis (I think we still hold that record) and that I have worked as a researcher for the government. BUT, I get carried away, thinking that writing school papers, getting good grades, writing briefings were enough.

There was a point that completing a paper was more of a requirement, not an insightful undertaking. Meaning, I just wanted to finish it for the sake of finishing it, nothing more. I liked to be called a researcher, but I only like to be regarded as such and would care very little about the actual research work. I brag that I am here in Japan working to develop a thesis topic, to show that yeah, I am an intellectual snob and you are just a bunch of airheads. But then, I slack off.

Hence, the trip to Kyoto yesterday was a wake-up call for me. My friend's confidence in her study and the integrity of her work are an inspiration. The seminar and our conversation over dinner made me realize of my mistakes and the areas I needed to improve on. Its embarassing for me to admit it, but denying wouldn't do any good.

I still have a long way to go, but its not too late. I need to change, and regain the eagerness the initiative that I had early on in my career. I want to be more appreciative of what I have learned in the past, to know it by heart, and have the drive to learn more. I want to improve my writing and analytical skills. I want to finish my MA, and earn people's respect in the process. I don't just want a high paying job, I want a job that I can contribute in and impart knowledge. I want to be more competent in my chosen field. I want to work hard and work smart on a research project, and proudly calling it mine. I want that, everytime asks me if I am a researcher, I would say yes, without a doubt.

Gosh, I do pray this post made sense. And now, I need some sleep.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Eh-hum # 167

Great....I had to shell out more than ¥11,000 to renew my passport. If I only knew it would cost me this much, I would've renewed it back in the Philippines, which costs three thousand pesos less.

Well, I was suppose to go home by the end of July, but my stay here in Japan was extended for two more months. I'm not complaining, since a) will be receiving allowance for the said two months; and 2) July is too soon now that I think about it. I haven't ordered a balikbayan box yet to ship all the stuffs (gifts, my books among other things) I've accumulated for the past 9 months. So I guess, ¥11,000 is a price to pay for me not to experience the chaos that would result when I attempt to go home next month. Haybuhay...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Eh-hum # 166

To my fellow Filipinos:


Mabuhay tayong lahat!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Eh-hum # 165

Me blog's third birthday is coming up. THREE YEARS...I have been maintaining the henyo blog for three years! Not bad as far as I'm concern. Here's to more blogging (mis)adventures!

Well, our pseudo-vacation from school is about to end. Kobe University classes are suspended until June 12 (Philippine Independence Day), thanks to the concern of a measles outbreak in the Hyogo-ken universities. As you know, several universities in Tokyo have cancelled theirs due to an alarming number of students who were/are infected with the illness (I think the largest number was 30). So far, only one student from Kobe U has been confirmed of getting sick, but they decided to suspend classes anyway. Well, I am not at all worried, I received measles shot when I was a kid. Moreover, I haven't been out lately, which lessens the probability of me getting infected.

So what have I been upto? Unfortunately, nothing much, just the usual. I spent a great deal of time studying my nihongo and doing some assignments (and watching videos on the Internet; though I wish I took time to go over my readings). Its not so bad, but it can be quite boring. Moreover, I was kept busy by household chores, which is not only tiring, but downright sad. Then again, you have no choice but to do it...or my room will end up like a pig sty or that I will be spending a lot of dough on obento.

Speaking of dough, I did a bit of accounting recently. What prompted me to do so was the fact that in less than four months, I will be coming home to the motherland and therefore will need to do some shopping for pasalubong and for the plane ticket. And in order to do so, I need to save and monitor my expenses closely. Cooking my own helps a lot (I am particularly proud of this. I am no gastronome, but before coming to Japan, I just eat), so is buying discounted train tickets. I still want to do a little sightseeing and buy some books, but I have alreadly set aside money for that. In short, me dying of boredom, lack of sunlight or hunger is definitely a no-no.

One of my target gifts (obviously, not for me):

Note: While writing this, I was surprised by the sound of a barking dog. That rarely happens, especially for such a place where my dorm is located. Its so quiet here that dropping a pin would create a ruckus...well, I think so anyway.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Eh-hum # 164

Two (what seems to be) salarymen leading six ninjas in a march/dance. I just HAD to share this, found it amusing. From Yahoo! Videos, but saw it first on a children's television program here in Japan. But will get back on MST3K, really.

Eh-hum # 163

I slept late...rather, early the next the day thanks to Mystery Science Theater 3000 clips I found on YouTube. Here's an example:

Please listen to the side comments by the three guys (actually, one guy and two puppet/robots) seated before the screen, like in the movie theater. More on this later on. ;) Enjoy!

UPDATE: Well, hope you like that, cause I certainly did. Fans of the series uploaded several MST3K clips on YouTube, so better check it out if you want more.

I for one, remembered watching the movie version of the series a couple of years back (on HBO, I think) and it killed me. The premise of the comedy series was (yep, was, the show's run ended in 1999...bad) about a regular guy (Mike in later episodes) trapped in a satellite in space and forced to watch B-science fiction movies and propaganda shorts as part of two mad scientists' experiment. To fight boredom and subsequent insanity, Mike created four robots, two of them became his companions during the film-viewing sessions (Tom Servo and Crow T Robot). The mad scientists' scheme was that when they found a movie so bad that it would drove Mike crazy, they would use it in their quest for world domination by turning everyone on Earth into mindless zombie slaves . However, this proved to be quite a challenge, as Mike and his two robot sidekicks make a running commentary on the film, making fun of its flaws among others. This basically keeps them from going nuts...and this is what the viewers enjoy the most. The series became immensely popular and have a strong following. Moreover, it was also critically acclaimed, as it won a Peabody Award in 1993.

Highly recommend it to people who enjoy wisecracking humor and witty, sarcastic remarks; something to keep us all from going insane.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Eh-hum # 162

Just a thought: I know there aren't many readers of this blog (save my friends who would visit and have linked mine to theirs), but that doesn't stop me from sharing some ideas and writing down my opinions on matters I've heard, read and experienced. And now, for those of who came upon this blog by accident, let me tell you something about this novel I just finished reading 30 minutes ago entitled Imperium.

I began writing this at 12:38 am Japan time. Am wide awake, thanks to the (free) caramel-blended coffee I indulged in right after a hefty (and free) tonkatsu lunch. Instead of staring at the ceiling, I thought this was a good time for me to update me blog.

To put it bluntly, I thought it was an excellent read and I really liked it (so much so that I've decided to talk about it in a separate post, hwehweh). Indeed, it is "gripping and fast-paced" and humorous as well. I read it obsessively, even on the train to and from the church (I rarely read while inside moving vehicles, I get an headache afterwards). It is a fictional biography of Cicero, particularly on his struggle for power in Rome. Nonetheless, the author did a significant amount of research to breathe life into it, as there were people that existed and events that really occured, such as Cicero bringing Gaius Verres, a corrupt Sicilian governor, to court (one of the highlights).

I also got a good helping of Ancient Roman politics, which amazingly is no different at all from what we are experiencing (at least, by most democratic countries) now. The good, (and mostly) the bad and the ugly in politics are discussed, such as bribery and vote buying during elections; the common people versus the elites; delaying tactics in court/senate; the use of fear and panic as a means (the war on; and self-interest before the welfare of the voters. What is more interesting are the politicians, the senators of the time. Some could've been considered as principled men, but the lot were megalomaniacs with huge appetites for power (ex-military men in particular) and serial opportunists always on the lookout for the winning side/group. However, I am of the opinion that politicians of ancient times studied their law, politics, philosophy seriously (for the love of learning), and like Cicero, were brilliant orators. Now, most of them are well-educated actors accompanied by an army of ghostwriters and researchers. Oh well.

My verdict: a must read for anyone interested in Ancient Rome, its politics and intriguing personalities. Plus, it contains some insights worth remembering, example: "Sometimes it is foolish to articulate an ambition too early - exposing it prematurely to the laughter and skepticism of the world can destroy it before it is even properly born. But sometimes the opposite occurs, and the very act of mentioning a thing makes it suddenly seem possible, even plausible." Expressed by the narrator, Tiro, on the night Cicero announced his interest to run for consul.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Eh-hum # 161

Took a break from reading (and buying) Neil Gaiman books.

After my Saturday Nihongo lessons, I visited what I refer to as my favorite bookstore in Kobe: Random Walk in Motomachi (a.k.a. the Foreign Bookstore in my earlier posts). Though a small bookstore, the shop offers a variety books and magazines in English and other foreign languages. However, it also includes a significant collection of titles on Japanese history and culture. I own a point card; and for my twelfth and final stamp, I bought this one (picture from Wikipedia):

I first heard about the book when a Filipina writer and columnist mentioned it in her blog. Since she has good taste in books (I believe so, anyway) and learning that Robert Harris is a bestselling author (Pompeii, Fatherland among others), I went to Random Walk to see if they have a copy. Initially, they didn't; hence I ended up buying Mr Gaiman's novels (again, not disappointed, as I have five of them already). The moment it became available on their shelves, I set aside some dough for it (damn you bills! sigh, they always comes first).

A historical fiction, the book is about the Roman orator, philosopher and senator, Cicero, his early career and later on, his election as consul. The events are told through first-person narration by his secretary, Tiro. So far, I am still on the second chapter, but I sense that this will be an interesting read. Moreover, I really like the title; imperium can be translated as "power". Ancient power politics, now there's something that feeds the henyo mind. Eh-hum...will update this post as soon as I'm finished reading it. ;)