Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Mabel prepared the cakes for Jason and Tony's birthday party during the weekend. Together with her 2 buddies, they worked till late into the night just to get the cakes right. Well me and William worked hard too, watching TV while doubling up as guinea pigs for the 1st few waves of the cakes. In the end, the cakes, made using heart shaped and star shaped moulds were given away, to her helpers as well as Jojo for lending her some of the baking equipment. Now Mabel's scouting around looking for more recipes, and also on the equipment needed for her next baking session. She's also keen on Japanese cuisine, and we've bought quite a bit of sushi making stuff from Tokyo from our last trip, yet to be used. I'm looking forward to her Oyako don~!
As mentioned earlier, the Lah birthday celebrations were held at Jason's gigantic house this weekend. As usual, it was done in pot luck fashion and while Mabel brought her home made cakes along, we were treated to other delights such as lemon chicken, coconut tarts, donuts, spagetti, goreng pisang, otah, etc. It was quite a feast in the end, and we had the birthday cake to top of the whole meal. It was one of the most crowded gatherings ever, and thankfully there was even space for the kids to run around. We had the honour of visiting Singapore's very own Bandai museum, right in Jason's home. The amount of stuff he had collected is nothing short of awesome.
As far as I can tell, the ladies or WAGs (wives and girl friends) were having an enjoyable time too. While the guys were engrossed in their toku or gaming talk, they were busy discussing about travelling plans, household tips, and other girl talk. Until the next gathering where we celebrate Dennis and Derek's birthdays, me and Mabel will be planning on what food to bring. :p
Next, H!P news! Last week, I updated that 2 new girls, Jun Jun and Rin Rin from China are going to join Morning Musume as the new 8th generation members. I've also posted a clip showing leader Yoshizawa Hitomi being introduced to them. This week, I will be posting a clip where they meet the rest of the members from MM. Remember, Jun Jun doesn't much speak Japanese, and even has trouble counting up to 10.... Rin Rin on the other hand is a little better. But seriously, with everyday practice and being surrounded by Japanese media, it won't be long before these 2 Chinese girls start speaking perfect Japanese. Check out the part in the clip where Hitomi says they might have to start the dance practices in Chinese, and proceeds to say 5, 6, 7, 8 in Mandarin (wu liu qi ba). Absolutely hillarious. And I thought that Mikitty would give the 2 girls the cold shoulder treatment, reason being because she's one of the top members, but she was really friendly to them, and even gave advice on studying Japanese (yeah check out the last part of the clip for yet another funny scene regarding "Japanese steady"). Till more news and pics of the 2 new members, check out the clip here, which is subbed in English for your enjoyment. Listen out for the parts when the 2 girls reply in Chinese to the other girls' questions.
This week, there's yet another major news being announced on the H!P official website! Kago Ai (加護亜依), ex-MM member and W member, who was suspended last July for being caught smoking as a minor, has been fired by H!P. Here is a translation of the official statement from the website.
Regarding our client Kago Ai and the article in the weekly magazine that went on sale on March 26th, the information in the article has been verified with Kago herself, to our regret. One year ago, when Kago was 17 and the smoking problem happened, we still considered her future in this company, and as punishment, she was imposed to house arrest in her parents' home. Seeing how she had progressed over that year, it was decided to start from scratch and start preparing for a comeback by bringing her to Tokyo and having her do clerical and other office duties, starting on January 23rd. Although this worked out well for two months, there was another incident and the comeback plan was abandoned. After consulting with the family, as she is a minor, it has been confirmed, and she has been released from her contract. We're very sorry that it has come to this, and accept full responsibility. We feel a renewed sense of responsibility for the future, especially when it comes to minors. 2007/3/26 Up Front Agency Kawaguchi Yuukichi, Representative Director
It seems that the other incident mentioned in the statement was that Kago was caught by the media (0r paparazzi) holding hands with a middle aged man which apparently was married. Just when her suspension was about to be over, she does something incredibly stupid again. Well, here is a mini tribute for her in the form of a youtube clip:
Good bye, Aibon. You were fantastic till you became fat and had your career self destruct. Now, run along and go smoke by yourself.
My uncle's recently introduced a new anime to me. I've caught up with the series within a day and had a marathon session of up to 13 episodes. It's called Kekkaishi. Story extract from wiki:
Five hundred years ago, a landlord was attacked by demons wanting to retrieve his mysterious inner power, the invincible power that can help them take over the human world. The famous mage, Tokimori Hazama, was called upon, and with his 2 students, managed to save the whole land. But due to their sickness, the landlord got killed, his power buried with him at a site called Karasumori. In the present day, Yoshimori Sumimura and Tokine Yukimura, heirs of the Hazama clan, became the kekkaishi protecting the land and the power. They use a technique called Kekkai, a form of magical barrier, used to capture and destroy Ayakashi (monsters/demons) that are drawn to this land. Any demons that come near to the power will become stronger and therefore Yoshimori and Tokine are to guard the land from intrusion by the Ayakashi. But the demons form a powerful organization, led by a nine-tailed demon fox to take over that mysterious power. Yoshimori plans to destroy not only the demons, but also the power to completely save the world from being controlled by demons. To do that, he first need to know what the power actually is, and also strengthen his poor kekkai skills. Kekkaishi is translated as "Barrier master".
I've been following up with the new Kamen Rider series for 2 months now. While vastly different from its predecessor, it manages to charm with its unique blend of story and comedy. To be truthful, I still need to get used to the new suits, but the story line is interesting and there are lots of comedic scenes which are hillarious, for example Den-O telling Hana to move out of his way as she was blocking him from doing his post-henshin move. You gotta see this to understand.
That's it for this update. Until the next big event, or rather the next time I've got time to spare, check back often. And if you've yet to vote in my new poll, take a few seconds and just vote for which item you'd like to see more of in my posts. Believe me, I'll try my best to accomodate..... but no promises, of course. Ja!!
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Here are the profiles of the 2 girls from the official H!P website.
ジュンジュン本名：李 純 Li Chun （リー・チュン）
Her real name is Li Chun, but will be called Jun Jun as a member of MM. A little dumb but fans will find it easier to chant during concerts. She's 19, and comes from Hunan in China. Guess what, she's a fan of JJ Lin Jun Jie and Cindy Wang. 19 years old, which is surprising as the new girls are usually around 15 when first enlisted, while the typical age to leave is around 21 or 22.
Second girl is called Qian Lin, known to Japanese media now as Rin Rin. 16 years old, and comes from Hang Zhou, China. Plays the pian0 and guitar, and apparently can sing and dance well. But of course, Tsuku has groomed many girls to be super stars in Japan, such as Goto Maki, Abe Natsumi, Ishikawa Rika, Matsuura Aya, and so on. There is no denying his power to make any girl into a su star. Just look at last year's Koharu. So unimpressive at the auditions, but is now one of the most popular newcomers ever in the group.
I'm having very mixed emotions about this announcement. I'm more disappointed actually. I want MM to be a all Japanese girl group. Although it wo uld be interesting to see how things turn out. In the recent Hello Morning show, the members were introduced to the rest of the MM members through current leader Yoshizawa Hitomi. In reality TV fashion, the expressions on the other girls were priceless. I could only image the cold stares from the rest if they can't mix well with others. Remember, these 2 girls can't really speak Japanese well and is currently taking lessons. Here is a clip from the show featuring their first meeting with the 8 current members.
From Jun Jun's blog:
Thursday, March 15, 2007
I've got my copy of the Death Note movie DVD. I thought that there were going to be some special features on the 2 disc set, but to my disappointment and even disgust, the movie was broken into 2 halves, similar to how VCDs were split into 2 discs. To me, this was nothing more than a ploy to trick people into buying the DVD. The packaging was poor, and so was the internal menus, etc. I should have gotten a Japanese import instead of a crappy Asian code 3 version. Still, I'll buy the second movie DVD for the sake of completion. The movie's still great, and getting to watch it at home is something I'll definately enjoy.
As for my manga purchases, I've just finished reading volume 9. Yes, I did want to read in tandem with the weekly anime release, but curiosity got the better of me and I really wanted to know whether L died as in the movie. And to my horror..... (anime viewers might want to skip this paragraph), L really dies, and doesn't even stop Kira before he dies! At least the story is still going on strong, with 2 of his proteges trying to the the name of L. Light's got his hands full this time, and I'm really tempted to go and get all 4 remaining volumes of this outstanding series.
This video clip was originally sent to me from Pinkerton from the Lah forums, and I had such a good laugh that I simply have to share it with you guys. It shows Pan the chimp, and James the Dog competing in sit ups with Japanese kids! It's really awesome and I wish I can show you the translations of the captions, but it would ruin the surprises and perhaps take away the laughter as well. You don't really need to understand Japanese to understand anyway, so click on play now!
Ok, I'll be keeping my posts short unless I have new pictures to share, but I'll try and update more than once a week, and perhaps link to my video clips to make this blog more entertaining. Till the next update, take care and cya! I'll end of with one of my fave H!P related clips of all time. This is a few years old, but it features current Morning Musume member Yoshizawa Hitomi doing her impression of Matsuura Aya. Hitomi's one of the most cheerful girls in MM, and sad to say she will be graduating this coming May. We'll miss you, Yossui!
Friday, March 09, 2007
We've recently just had SCV installed in our new home. I've not been watching TV too regularly, ever since the proliferation of online media and peer to peer downloading of TV shows on the internet. After all, why wait for week after week on TV when you can download entire seasons online. I've caught up with episode 18 of Heroes, which SCV just started screening it now too long ago. But Mabel enjoys her Taiwanese paparazzi news channels, so we had to get it sooner or later. Well, at least I got my ESPN sports channels so Saturday and Sunday nights will not be the same again. And yeah we only got a crappy portable DVD player as a bonus for signing up. Should have waited for something more attractive.....
Sony Pictures has just released a new 7 min clip from the upcoming Spider-Man 3 movie, and it absolutely KICKS ASS! Freaking cool animation shown in the fight between Peter and Harry, in his new Goblin outfit. You really have to see the clip to witness how awesome this movie is going to be. Just a few more months to go, and I'm sure Sam Raimi is not going to slip up and will match, if not better the standards that he has set in the previous 2 movies. Still no official images on Venom, but we've seen more than a couple of pictures of Venom figures and toys. I've got my hands on a promotional picture of Venom, but I think I'd better not post it up in case it becomes a spoiler for some of you.
GAM's single: Lu Lu Lu, offers a marked difference in what the 2 girls have to offer in terms of vocal quality. Mikitty's voice, being higher pitched and a little nasal, some times downs Ayaya's voice. But both of them have really powerful vocals and can hit all the high notes without any problems. The official single has yet to be released, so I'm still listening to the music from the PV from either my laptop or my handphone. Like the 2 previous singles, this PV showcases the 2 girls in 2 different and provocative outfits, this time in long sleeve shirts and hats without any pants. It's not as suggestive as the last video, "Melodies", which had the word "lesbians" written all over the video. Still, fans like what they see, and most likely GAM is here to stay. Been quite some time since we had an Ayaya single or a Def Diva single....
We've finally began the detailed planning of our house warming. It's going to be either the end of this month or in April, after we FINALLY go get our dining chairs. I'm looking foward to having a little gathering at my place, especially with my present and previous colleagues. It's still a very busy period for me, but life really begins after working hours. I'll try and give mid week updates and include more pictures, especially since the connection problems have been resolved. Until the next post, do keep the tag box alive by leaving a message here. Cya!
Thursday, March 01, 2007
I've been trying to diagnose the problem, and it seems that other Singnet users in my block are suffering from the occasional connection problem, but have no problems what so ever with US sites. I'm going to have to give a call to the helpdesk and to demand something from them soon. Else I'm going to switch over to StarHub if they can't give me a satisfactory answer. *Update! Just got my connection sorted out today! Seems there was a setting I needed to tweak in my ADSL modem.... I'm just glad I can post any time I want to now! Woo hoo!
As I mentioned, I'm currently in a very busy state. But.... I can safely say that it's one of the better times in my career. Compared to previous appointments, my current job gives me a chance to show the rest of the community what I can do and accomplish, and is is this challenge which in turns spurs me on and it is the sense of accomplishment that comes after which makes me feel glad to be appreciated. I've been running a few concurrent tasks lately which ended last week, and more than a couple of people have came up to me to shake my hand and to congratulate me on a job well done. To be honest, the reason why I was unhappy a few years ago while being a civil servant was due to the lack of exposure and the opportunity to have your work recognised. Now, I'm having some of my work being produced and distributed. It really warms my heart to see my designed posters and videos being requested, even to the extend of me paying from my own pocket to see that they are getting what they want on print or digital formats. Well, as busy as I am going to be in the future, I'm still pretty much contented with the direction my career is heading, for now.
This year's birthday marks the first time that I'm celebrating at our very own place. Although we kept it simple, the meaning behind it is significant and will definately be one of the highlights for this year. Until Mabel finally learns how to prepare rice, I guess it's noodles and chicken wings for now. :)
We've met up with neighbours Nicholas and Jojo, who are friends of Nicole, who happened to visit our place on of the nights to watch a Japanese horror movie with some other friends. We decided to pop over to the place, and it turns out that I've talked to Jojo before in the SengKang forum. Another one of my friend also coincidentally happened to know Nicholas back in the army days, so there were a lot of links being discovered that day.
And Jojo's the girl when it comes to food. Check out her blog here and be amazed. She's got a knack for baking too, and Mabel have been getting more than a few tips from her lately. She's been learning how to bake banana and nutella cakes from Jojo lately, and I will definately have more cakes coming my way. How to diet sia!? IPPT coming some more....
The Ultraman Lah gang also visited my place to celebrate my birthday this month. Although it was supposed to be a celebration for 3 birthday boys, Chris (Pinky), Alex, and myself, I was the only one present as they couldn't make it. We had a blast of a time there, with the screening of the Ultraman Mebius and Ultraman Brothers DVD which I had received just a few days before the event. Sadly my English subs were not completed by then and we had to watch it raw. The food brought over was magnificent. There was chicken rice from Tony's father's stall, home made tarts from Chris, otah from Ryan, bee hoon from Dennis, apple pie from Adrian, salad from Sze Huat and Melissa and also Beard Papa from Jason. The ice cream cake from Ian made such a good impression on Mabel that she's asking me to get it for her..... I loved the presents, and have proudly displayed them in my shelf. Thanks again guys.
Now to talk cock a bit on what's happening in the toku/anime/Jpop world and what I have wrapping myself with lately.
1) Naruto Shippuden finally arrives! Gone are over 1 year's worth of useless fillers! I've endured them for such a long time, I was almost estatic when the new series started. We're finally back on track with the manga, and the story brings us back to Naruto coming back from his 2 and a half year training with Jiraiya. I've been downloading the manga every week the past year, and I know the upcoming episodes will be nothing short of fantastic. The Bleach filler have also ended recently, but I've yet to get back on track although I have all the downloads.
2) Death Note. I've brought the first 5 volumes of the manga in English. Costs $15 per copy so it ain't cheap. I've got it covered up to where the anime is showing, and have been refraining myself to read further as I don't want to uncover and spoilers while reading. I'll only read after I watch the anime after a particular chapter to see if there is anything mentioned in the manga and not in the anime. I noticed that the VCD of the 1st movie is already in stores, but I'll most probably wait for the DVD package along with the second movie.
3) Kamen Rider Den-O. With the final chapters of Kamen Rider Kabuto and Boukenger broadcasted last month, a new Kamen Rider series and a new sentai series have surfaced. As usual I'm more interested in Den-O and have no patience with the sentai series, although this year's series looks promising with the focus on Chinese Kung fu, beast style to be exact. For Den-O, I am still trying to accept his design. Just when I finally thought that he default form is acceptable, his new forms looked horribly wrong to me. Well, I'll give it more time. Kabuto looked like crap to me last year, but I've grown to love it as the series progressed. I must say that Tendou (the main character) made the difference, and I'm not sure if this year's Ryotaro can do the same. We'll just have to wait and see.
4) Ultraman Mebius. I've been downloading all the episodes, but don't really watch the show except for the fighting scenes. Ultraman Jack just made his apprearance this week, and we will be expecting Ultra 7's appearance this weekend. It's the cameos from the past Ultramen which really makes this show shine. Since my release of the English translations last week, I've received several requests to sub the other previous movies too. Well, we'll see about that. If there is enough demand I just might do it. It's much easier to translate from Chinese to English anyway, as I don't have the original Japanese subtitles.
5) Heroes. I've been having a Heroes marathon lately. Watched over 8 episodes in a day and caught up with where the US are watching in a week. Just watched episode 16 yesterday, much faster than the people who are waiting for the one on SCV to begin. So far I'm liking the series, perhaps because I've always been facinated by super heroes and deep down inside my heart I wish to be one too. But Heroes focus on people who are struggling with their own identities, and their powers bring to them more harm then anything else. My fave characters have to be Hiro and Ando, the 2 Japanese guys who find themselves in Las Vegas and then Manhatten to stop a man from blowing up the whole city. Hiro has the power to bend the time space continuum, and the way he projects a hero image is throughly entertaining. Can't wait for the next episode, especially with all the sub plots happening at the same time along with the twists and turns.
6) Morning Musume's new single: Egao YES Nude. I know the song title doesn't make sense, but that's a norm for these ladies. On my first time listening to this single (it was a live performance on Music Station), I thought the dance was nice, but the song sounded boring and repetitive. I thought that MM music was slowing losing their magic.... but no.... after a few more rounds I was completely hooked! That's always the case with Morning Musume. the music never fails to get inside your head and it'll take a top brain surgeon to extract it out. Now it's on the top of my playlist on my Ipod and I'll never fail to listen to it while on the move. It's the first single for newcomer Mitsui Aika, and she's doing a good job with her individual lines. Last I read this single made it to the charts, and MM has won a award for being consecutively being in the charts with every single in the past decade. Yes, I've been listening to them since I was 17 so even now I don't think I am too old for them..... (erm.... yeah.)
7) GAM's released their 3rd single: Lu Lu Lu (yeah it's the same thing with those weird song names). GAM's proving to be a huge success, and they're a huge hit with the H!P fans. This single, like the previous 2 singles "Thanks" and "Melodies", sound great as well. I got hooked the first time I've listen to it, from a downloaded promotional PV. Anxiously waiting for the official single to be released....
I've recently went for a 2 day workshop, and one of the stories told to me by the facilitor invoked a paradigm shift within me. The story he told was a simple one, and it went along the lines of this: Have you ever seen elephants which are being kept in captive by a rope tied to a single stick, no stronger than a young tree? When the elephant tries to move away from the stick, they feel the rope tugging their necks and stop dead in their tracks, unable to break free from their masters. Why does this happen? Why doesn't the elephant, being so strong and powerful, break from the rope and the stick in the ground?
The reason:Back when the elephants were young and not as strong, the same stick and rope tactic was used on them. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn't break the rope nor the stick back then. So, when they grew up, the same mentality stuck with them, and that once they feel the rope tighten, they would stop and not try to escape. Even though they can actually break free anytime.
This story really opened up my mind and made me think. Are we bound by such limits we impose on ourself? Are we really sure our limits are being reached or exploitated enough? Many times, we can actually go further than we ever imagined, if only we break free from our mental models and to give it a shot. To act rather than think, and to make the first step towards our goals and dreams. Take a minute to think about what I've said, and I wish that you would experience the same feeling back when I first heard the story.
Till the next post, which should be fairly soon since I've just sorted out my connection problems. More pictures and stories to come, and that's a promise!~