15 October 2005

字一色 Tsuuiisou ツーイーソー

So I was playing Mah-Jong (麻雀) tonight for the first time in a while and doing tolerably well. No yakitori, but no big scores either. But the last hand of the game, I got the most brilliant hand ever! Tsuuiisou (字一色) or 'All Honors' which means, it was 4 triplets of jihai (字牌): North (北), South (南), Red (中), and White (白), with East (東) for the pair!

Pretty Frickin' Sweet!

That's a hand I can brag about for a while. And I won ¥2100! Yeah!


14 October 2005

Review: Gifts

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Title: Gifts

Author: Ursula LeGuin

Genre: Fantasy

Read: 13th 0ct 2005

Comments: Well, I finished 'Gifts' in about a day flat. It was wonderful.

I love reading LeGuin because she really understands the human condition and her characters, even in short stories, are always three-dimensional, fully-realized, living, breathing people. Her imagination is overflowing and you can sense the love she's put into imagining all the details of each world she creates, its customs and folkways, religion, language, history, dress; everything is there.

But more than that, where she really shines is in showing us the beauty and pain of our relationships with each other. The small kindness that breaks the heart, the well-meaning betrayal, the yearning to understand another, the void of loneliness, and the quiet strength of the spirit. Everything that is good and true about people, she captures.

I can recommend this to everyone. It's very quiet and slow-moving and understated but it's the stuff of true poetry; beautiful, tragic, but ultimately hopeful.

I also highly recommend her short story 'A Fisherman of the Inland Sea' which I found in a collection called 'Best Time Travel Stories of the 20th Century' It's probably the best love story I've ever read. (If you can even call it a love story...)

Quote: “...'If power is shown, a gift must be offered. That is important. Remember it. Tell me what I said.' 'It’s important if you show power to offer a gift too.' My father nodded approval. 'The gift’s gift,' he said..."

  • Gifts

  • PS- re-edited to gel with the new format


    ♬ Money Money Money Money ♬

    It's pay day! Finally! I am so happy I could cry. Erica and I were so broke tonight we had to pay the guy at the Tsutaya for our videos using only coins (including several ¥5s and ¥1s) But now I'm flush with cash so I can.... um go to the city office and pay my taxes (Whoo hoo RAWK ON!!!!) and send John his package, and buy those weird purple jeans I've been hankering after. Life is good!

    Goog niter!

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    12 October 2005

    Ahh... The Wonders of Babelfish

    Here's that last post again run through Spanish, then French and then back into English, just for laughs.

    My current project is so much to transfer my complete collection from CD to my computer. I have on the half made until now, but a handle of CDs that I initially obtained in when it was jemaison- remain I am that small minis-CDs and am alarmed to try to stick it in my computer to the case 0ù it obtains stuck inside there and I then not to obtain it I withdraw myself another time. I enumerated the assistance of Erica so much since it has the style of the computer where launchings what is small of a plate towards outside so that you put CD while the mine has hardly a small groove.

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    11 October 2005


    So, my current project is to transfer my whole CD collection to my computer. I've got about half done so far, but a bunch of the CDs I first got when I was on home-stay are those little mini-CDs and I'm afraid to try sticking them in my computer in case they get stuck in there and I can't get them back out again. So I've enlisted Erica's help since she has the style of computer where a little tray shoots out for you to put the CD whereas mine just has a little slot.

    Once I get everything on the computer then I'll burn some discs, (I already burnt one of Bollywood Songs to play as the BGM at Okaba) so if anyone wants me to mail them a J-pop mix CD, (I'm mostly thinking Mom here) just let me know.

    P.S. This monkey has nothing to do with anything, but when I did a Google image search (which is how I get most of my pictures, shhh...) for CDs it came up and I thought it was cute. (PS the picture up now is not the original i-tunes monkey, but a new monkey I found somewhere else.)


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    The Intelligencer

    Rating: ☆

    Title: The Intelligencer

    Author: Leslie Silbert

    Genre: "Literary Thriller"

    Read: 10th Oct 2005

    Comments: Where to begin?

    As I expected, it was mostly crap, but at least it was fairly decently researched crap. There are basically 2 plot lines going on; one is a modern day thriller with a tough but sexy (groan...) female P.I. out to decode an ancient manuscript believed to be the work of a famous Elizabethan spy, the other is the story of the manuscript itself and centers on the playwright Christopher Marlowe and the part he played in Elizabeth I's secret espionage network.

    The Elizabethan parts were not terrible, although, like many bad authors, Silbert seemingly can't help putting in way too much exposition which would be better left to footnotes or something of the like. She also can't resist adding an extraneous (semi-) romantic interest for the Kit Marlowe story when the plot was carrying along just fine without it. (This is one of my pet-peeves about mass-market movies, books, etc. anyway. They always feel that regardless of genre, people won't get into the story without a little splash of sex, no matter how irrelevant it may be.)

    The modern-day parts, on the other hand, were dead awful and used and abused every spy-novel cliché ever invented. The characters were one-dimensional ( the beautiful and dangerous heroine with a tragic secret, the outrageously over-sexed best friend, the gentleman cat-burgler [nickname 'The Cat', natch..], the millionaire playboy with a hot bod and a face 'to put a Versace model to shame') and simply traded bad one-liners rather than having actual conversations, and the degree of autobiographicality (is that even a word?) was horrendous (the heroine, like the author, quit a career in Renaissance scholarship to become a private eye). As a whole it's badly written and even the characters' internal monologues are cliché-ridden and on occasion almost embarrassing to read; e.g. "While Kate disappeared onto the opposite shore, Jack also wondered how she would react if he ever told her that he'd been in love with her for as long as he could remember."

    All of which I might have been able to forgive if the book had at least partially delivered on its promises of being a literary thriller. But unfortunately it didn't. There was a little bit of code-breaking that went on, but it was all too pat, too cut-and-dried with no room for suspense, no theories tentatively advanced to be proven wrong later, no stunning breakthroughs. In fact, almost all the actual deciphering occurs off-stage with the heroine simply coming back later and saying "Oh by the way I deciphered the texts and they say blah blah blah..." Now, where's the excitement in that? Also, I'm obviously no chemist, but I can't imagine the something written with lemon or onion juice would still be visible 500 years later, even if it was locked in an airtight box.

    So, I'm going to have to give 'The Intelligencer' a 'D' and recommend that you don't read it, unless, like me, you are a sucker for even bad code-breaking cloak-and-dagger stuff.

    Quote: "The dress was tight, and it clung to her perfect breasts like cellophane."

    (Now, is it just me, or does cellophane kinda crinkle rather than cling? I guess cellophane sounds better than 'plastic wrap' though...)

  • The Intelligencer

  • P.S. re-edited to gel with the new format