Archives for category: Television

Yesterday, I dripped ink from a printer cartridge on my pants. Actually, it wasn’t my fault. I was under the assumption that the cartridges are drip-proof. Alas, this was incorrect. I had 3 bright pink splotches on my tan pants to prove it. Since I was at work, I had no choice but to go through the entire work day with these pink spots glaring at everyone from my thigh (note to self: get a pair of emergency pants to keep at the office). I tried blotting with a tissue, but it accomplished so little that I found myself thinking snarky thoughts at everyone I’ve ever heard say, “You’re supposed to blot, not rub.”

Fear not, however, because I have discovered the secret method of how to remove ink cartridge stains from pants. I will now generously share my new knowledge with you.

Step 1. Ask Facebook what you should do.

Step 2. As per the best suggestion, dig out the old can of hairspray from the back of your cabinet and spray it on the affected area.

Step 3. Watch the affected area closely to see the stains magically disappear.

Step 4. Be extremely disappointed when the stains do not magically disappear.

Step 5. Wet the area thoroughly with warm water, pour laundry detergent on the area, and scrub desperately with an old toothbrush.

Step 6. Become dismayed at the lack of results and as a last resort, dejectedly fill the sink with hot water and submerge the stained portion of the clothing.

Step 7. Completely forget about the clothing soaking in the sink as you binge watch House of Cards.

Step 8. Be surprised when you go to wash your face and brush your teeth before bed and you see the clothing that you forgot about is still soaking in the sink.

Step 9. Warily check the clothing and…success! The stains will be gone and the only reminder will be a sink full of pinkish water.

I hope my expertise will be helpful to you. Happy washing!

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Have you all seen this new Pantene commercial that tells women to stop apologizing? I just came across it the other day and I’m really confused by it. I get that the point is to help women feel empowered. And some of the examples are really valid. For example, the scene where the guy sits down and takes over the whole armrest. The woman who was already sitting there is the one who moves her arm and says, “Sorry”. The guy doesn’t even glance at her. Clearly, he’s a rude jerk who should have apologized to her. And yes, the scene with the multiple women apologizing to the guy who comes in late and wants to sit down was ridiculous. But what about some of the others? Was it really wrong that the woman said, “Sorry,“ when she walked into the person’s office? We have no idea what the person was doing in the office before she walked in, but the door was clearly closed. It would not be unheard of to think that a closed door means the person is busy. I don’t know what they’re teaching the kids these days, but I was taught to use words like “sorry” and “excuse me” when you interrupt someone. Was it such a terrible thing for the woman to apologize when she and the man started talking at the same time? Yes, I know, the man didn’t bother to apologize, but that doesn’t mean she has to be rude as well. It was polite of her to say, “Sorry, you go first.”  Is the commercial saying that women don’t have to be polite because men aren’t? Is it saying that everyone should just be rude and selfish no matter what your gender? Being empowered does not mean being rude. A little common courtesy never killed anyone. Perhaps if we all exhibited a little more polite behavior no one would need to be empowered by shampoo commercials.

Here’s a better ad, in my opinion:

 

A friend of mine recently recommended the movie Saving Mr. Banks to me. We were having one of our epic conversations about the Oscars (3 hours on Skype, and that’s not even a record for us) and Tom Hanks came up. If you saw Captain Phillips, then you know it was an absolute travesty that he was not nominated in the Best Actor category. Seriously, the last scene alone should earn him an Oscar every year for the rest of his life. Even if he didn’t do any movies that year.

Anyway, my friend said Mr. Hanks was also fantastic in Saving Mr. Banks. In fact, he was so insistent, that I felt I had to see for myself. So I settled in with it last night at home. I knew pretty much nothing about P.L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins, so the whole movie was a revelation (although be warned, the movie takes quite a few artistic liberties, as I learned from my research afterwards). I wasn’t a Mary Poppins fan before, but I am now. The whole story was wonderful, moving, hopeful. It is no wonder that I cried through the entire thing. Really. Pretty much from beginning to end. If I wasn’t crying because something bad happened, I was crying because something good happened. There really was not a lot of down time for me. In fact, I was watching it in the evening and I eventually got hungry at some point and decided to eat dinner. I even cried then. The tears streamed down my face and into my food, forcing me to literally eat my own salty tears. It’s attractive, I know. Sobbing and chewing. This is why I live alone.

This is not the first time I have made a fool of myself crying over a movie. When I saw Forrest Gump in the theater, I cried so hard my contacts fell out. I had to hold them in my palm and hope that they didn’t dry up before the movie ended and I could go to the bathroom and pop them back in (it was close, but I made it). My friend told me in the same conversation that one of his favorite memories is the time we went to see Atonement together. He said that there was a point during the movie where there had been a lot of noise and then it suddenly got quiet. It was at this moment that he heard me make a little gasping, sobbing noise next to him. A sound which reverberated throughout the silent theater. Yep, that was me.

But at least he was understanding about my crying. Yes, he may have teased me later, but it was not at all mean. Unlike Betty the Drama Queen. Betty the Drama Queen (one of my very favorite people and a great friend) used to just flat-out laugh at me during the movie. In fact, her laughing usually distracted people from my crying, for which I was suppose I should be thankful. BDQ and I went to see The Passion of the Christ together at the local theater. Before entering the theater, she said she needed to stop at concessions, where she proceeded to buy a diet Coke and popcorn. As if we were going to see a Michael Bay movie. And if that weren’t bad enough, during the scene where Jesus is being flogged, BDQ kept whispering in my ear about how amazing the makeup was. The whole experience turned out to be the one time when it would have been totally acceptable to break down crying, and yet I could not shed a tear. How could I? With frequent offers of popcorn and whispered exclamations of, “Oh my goodness, HOW did they do that?! Doesn’t that look fabulous?” I just couldn’t get into it.

Yes, many a time I’ve been close to requiring hospitalization after a movie. My earliest memory of losing it during a movie is when I was about 10 years old and my family went to see The Fox and the Hound. I cried my eyes out. I can’t imagine what the parents waiting in line thought when they saw me come out of the theater, eyes all red and puffy. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them quickly took their kids out of line and said, “Hey, I’ve got a better idea. Let’s go bowling instead!” But you know, I wouldn’t change that about myself. It’s rather cathartic to cry like that. I always feel better afterward, if a bit exhausted. And I’d rather be reduced to tears by a movie than by my own real life.

ImageOne of my all-time favorite movies is Until the End of the World.  It’s a 3 hour (the director’s cut is 5 hours) futuristic road movie about chasing love, happiness, and a controversial invention that turns your dreams into home movies.  All set in the year 1999.  In the opening scenes of the movie, the narrator, played by Sam Neill, gives us a brief description of the times: “1999 was the year that the Indian nuclear satellite went out of control. No one knew when it would land. It soared above the ozone layer like a lethal bird of prey.  The whole world was alarmed.” I’ve been wondering if we will think back on 2014 in a similar way, remembering it as the year Malaysian flight MH370 went missing.

Malaysia jetI mean, they lost a jet, a huge Boeing 777.  Filled with people.  And equipped with all kinds of state-of-the-art communication devices.  How can that happen?  They’re saying today (though it could easily change tomorrow) that someone had to have purposely turned off all the devices and whatnot that allow the plane to be tracked.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this is not good.  I mean, that sounds like someone wants the plane to not be found.  Is it the pilot?  A passenger who hijacked the plane?  Charles Widmore?  No one knows.  But in the dead time following the Olympics, the Oscars, and a weekend binge of House of Cards, the mystery of it all is somewhat alluring.  Not to make light of it – I’m sure the families who are praying for their loved ones to be found are not at all fascinated. More likely they are dumbfounded, angry, and desperate for a resolution.  But for those of us who are not intimately connected, it’s compelling.  How and why did they do it?  Where are they now?  Are they alive, and if by some miracle they are, why haven’t we heard anything?  And the question no one wants to ask out loud, how long until we give up?

Pray for MH370So what world event will define 2014?  It’s still too early in the year to make that call.  So far we have a few contenders: the Sochi Olympics (memorable more for the sketchy accommodations than for the sports themselves), Crimea being separated from Ukraine and annexed to Russia, and now the missing plane.  Who knows what else will happen in the next 9 months?  I’m just relieved that there’s already enough to overshadow the shock that Matthew McConaughey (Matthew McConaughey, for Pete’s sake) won an Oscar.

I have to admit, recently I have developed a pretty big crush on Tom Hiddleston.  Not on Loki, as so many fangirls have.  But on the actual actor himself.  He’s got a great smile, dresses well, lovely hair and eyes, an adorable laugh, and he just seems like an all-around good guy who truly enjoys doing what he does.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he has a beautiful British accent.  I always had a weakness for that.  I am crushing big time.  Have you seen his video with Cookie Monster?  How can you not adore him?

Anyway, this got me thinking about Hollywood Crushes in general the other night. I decided I would put them into 3 main categories: Looks, Talent, and The Whole Package.  The Looks category is the simplest to understand.  It is based solely on physical attractiveness without any regard to talent or public personality.  These are the actors that I am rather ashamed of finding attractive, even though most people would agree with me.  Some actors I would put in this category are Antonio Banderas, Orlando Bloom, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor.  I find these actors very pretty, yet sadly untalented. Or perhaps only good as one type of character.  Hence the feeling of shame.  How can I be reduced to such shallowness?  In my little fantasy world where it’s actually possible that one of them would be interested in me, I imagine I would be extremely flattered to be asked out.  But after a date or two, I’d realize that there was no way I could believably support and encourage him in his “art” and I’d have to break it off.  You know, before he got too attached to me.

The second group, Talent, is a bit easier to admit to.  These are actors that maybe aren’t stunningly handsome, but whose talent is great enough for me to truly admire them.  For me, this admiration actually makes them seem extremely handsome.  For example, Gary Sinise, Emile Hirsch, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Mark Ruffalo.  Maybe some of you think these men are really attractive aside from their talent. But attraction is subjective, and I would have to say that if I saw any of these men on the street and they weren’t famous, I wouldn’t really notice them. These are the guys that don’t make much of an impression at first, but if you give them a chance you see how beautiful they really are (talent-wise). “He is SO hot!” is replaced by, “He is SO talented!” The problem is, even in my fantasy world I’m sure none of these guys would give me a second glance (with the possible exception of Gary Sinise, who seems like a genuinely nice guy, probably because he’s also from Chicago).

The third group is easily my favorite.  The Whole Package.  This is where Tom Hiddleston lives.  You might also run into David Tennant, Colin Firth, and Hugh Jackman.  These guys are handsome, talented, and all seem to truly love the business of being famous actors without being arrogant.  They’re doing what they love and they know how lucky they are to be doing it.  They know that being in the limelight has certain disadvantages, but they don’t let it interfere with their joy.  They don’t punch photographers; they pose.  They don’t shove past eager fans; they stop and sign autographs.  With a genuine smile.  They don’t just have a pretty face or a great personality.  They are the whole package.  They are the ones I’d most love to meet.  And based solely on their public images, I think they wouldn’t mind meeting me.  In fact, I’m about to meet Tom for drinks right now.  I just know he’ll find me irresistibly charming.  In my fantasy world, of course.

(Actually written on March 26th. Sorry for the delay)

After observing Japanese television these last 2 months, I have learned an important fact: No one in the Japanese entertainment industry is a match for the juggernaut that is SMAP. Believe it or not, SMAP is a boy band. Their name stands for Sports Music Assemble People. Neither one of these facts will help you to understand why SMAP is so big in Japan. Honestly, I don’t know that anyone can explain it, yet it’s true that you can turn on almost any channel at any time and you will see at least one member of SMAP. They sing, act in TV dramas and films, lend voices to anime characters, do commercials, host variety shows, and participate on various game shows. They are EVERYWHERE. They have this one variety show called “SMAP x SMAP”, and a segment of it is “Bistro SMAP.” During this segment, they don chef’s hats and cook for guest stars. Cameron Diaz, Madonna and Will Smith have all appeared on the show, so you know it’s fairly popular here. They also parody various TV shows (many of them their own) and sing with guest stars on their show. Last night, they sang with pop group has-beens Toto, known for such 80’s classics as “Rosanna” and “Africa” . It was one of their more pathetic episodes.

The thing that makes them different from U.S. products like Backstreet Boys and N’Sync is that they have been wildly successful both together and in pursuing their own projects, without having to resort to “reality” shows like “Nick & Jessica.” You never see them on the news because of a “wardrobe malfunction” or a drunken brawl (though I read that one of the member was involved in a “traffic altercation” some years ago and was banned from public appearances with the group for a short time). I have no idea what they are really like, but they seem like the nicest bunch of guys you’d ever meet. I assume they’re funny, because there seems to be a lot of laughing on their variety shows. They’re not all great singers (maybe only 2 of them are pretty good, 2 are so-so, and 1 should just have his mic shut off), but they’re determined and sincere. I guess that gets you pretty far here, because people keep buying their CDs and watching their shows.

Another note about Japanese TV is that is sometimes throws me off when I see Amaerican stars on commercials. Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Cameron Diaz, Tommy Lee Jones and Orlando Bloom are all currently in TV commercials here. And Tommy Lee Jones’ face can be seen frowning from many drink vending machines around town, as he is the spokesmodel for Boss beverages. The first time I saw Brad Pitt in a commercial, I didn’t realize it was him until the commercial was over. I had to think for a second and remember where I was. Alright, and I know you’re wondering what my reaction was to the Orlando Bloom commercials. He does commercials for a product line called UNO. One commercial is for hair wax, and the other is for face wash. I saw the hair wax one first when I was half-asleep and thought I was dreaming. I hate to admit it, but he’s even a bad commercial actor, and I don’t feel the slightest inclinaiton to buy UNO products.

So today is Saturday and you know what that means. That’s right; it’s Anime Night here in Japan! Actually, there are many anime programs on during the week as well, it being Japan and all, but Saturday night is my favorite. The one I really love to watch is called Gundam-something-or-other. I don’t know the whole title because it flashes too fast for me to read it. Keep in mind that 30 seconds is probably too quick for me to read, but hey – I’m learning! Anyway, I’m not really sure what the story is all about, but it seems to revolve around the lives and loves of a group of elite Gundam fighter pilots. Gundam I think is Japanese for “cool” or maybe “impossibly thin and attractive”. Because all these characters are both. In addition, I’ve gathered that they are very elite, since there are only about 6 of them. Some of the characters come and go, so I’m not really sure if they’re part of the team or just Gundam groupies. These characters never seem to do any fighting, but they may be part of the ground team. Someone has to control the radio and contact the important people and panic at the crazy fearlessness of the pilots and all.

I’m guessing that the Gundam pilots also have freedom to do whatever they choose, too. Maybe they are so elite that the government is unaware of their existence. I discovered this when one of the girl pilots seemed to kinda go off on her own mission. It looked like the Gundam pilots were flying back to base after completing another tough mission, and the one girl said, “Oh, I have to go, um, visit my mom, so I’m just gonna fly to my mom’s house, don’t worry about me. And don’t check up on me or follow me because really, I’m fine.” But I guess she really wasn’t fine because she showed up at this wedding and dropped a small bomb on it. I think it was her ex-boyfriend and he was getting married so she got ticked and jealous and decided to put an end to that business. But I never saw her get into trouble for it. I suppose there is a certain amount of privilege that comes with the Gundam name. And anyway, it’s gotta be tough being one of the elite. You can tell because the end credits show them all on the beach looking really miserable. One guy is cutting another guy’s hair, and then they show the scissors just lying on the sand. They’re so upset they can’t even cut one another’s hair on the beach! I can tell you I don’t envy them one bit. Even if they are impossibly thin and attractive.

The other show I like to watch is called Denno Koiru. The English title is “Coil a Circle of Children”. I have no idea how the title ties in, except that it is about a group of children. Children with…virtual reality glasses! I saw on a calendar in the show that the year is 2026, so it’s Japan in the future. And Future Japan sees the world through virtual reality. I don’t know if that means nothing is really there, or that the world is so dirty and ugly that they had to start wearing these glasses to cover it up. Virtual Reality Japan doesn’t look that different from Present Japan, but I guess you stick with what you know. Anyway, the kids run around discovering strange things through their glasses. I haven’t figured out yet why only the kids seem to be attuned to the weird stuff. Or why their parents are never around. Maybe they’re with Charlie Brown’s parents.

So that’s what I’ll be doing this evening. I know that you’re all insanely jealous that I get to gorge myself on strange new anime while the best you can do is watch a rerun of Dragonball Z or maybe Naruto. Dubbed in English. Us real anime fans watch in Japanese and make up our own stories.