Archives for category: Blah blah blah

Ye sciences, I cannot believe it’s been over a year since I last posted here. Or that the most recent popular search terms used to find this blog were ‘superhero bondage, sexy librarian, empowered’. I should talk about Adam Warren’s work more often.

Surprisingly, this actually  ties into the thesis of the day (which is irony given that my Masters Thesis was an unintentional part of what killed my blogging habit). Finding time to write is more about managing your time and priorities than anything else, and that’s not difficult or even a bad thing. A lot of blog posts could benefit from being shorter (and under that bus I throw myself too). Nah, the bigger problem for me is the topics – classically, I either overthought and over-talked until dinosaurs returned to life and time itself came full circle, or I froze up at the feeling of not knowing enough about a topic to make a valid and reasoned discussion. A new blocker did however sneak in and rationalise an entire field out of discussion, which was pretty brutal given how my interests were shifting that way. TL;DR: as I work for A Big Technology Company whom I like very much, I didn’t want to cross the beams even slightly. We’ve seen Ghostbusters, we know how that works. Kaboom, man.

So lethargy set in – death of creativity, writer’s bane, the etc of vocabularies, etc. It didn’t help that this  was my rebound blog after things got boring on Livejournal, the community of which is trapped in amber within my mind as a perfect and unsullied thing without any flaws at all whatsoever don’t you dare say one word about it you monster. Now, imagine months of stupid thinking like that.

But grooves can be gotten back and purposes renewed. Otherwise movies would be shorter and the montage I went through before starting this post would be utterly wasted. I’m running two blogs, because I am nothing if not a glutton for punishment. That, and I really do want to get my writing muscles back in shape. I will be the hunk of the psychic beach once more!

  • Nerd Fu is the home of my comics & film theory discussion and a funkton of Tumblr rebloggery. It’s also where I’ll be talking about my secret comic project KOB – anyone who stuck around after I wrapped up the erratic yet long-running B-Sides webcomic should check that out.
  • Turn My Brain Off will get to be more specialised too – until now this has been a blog-of-all-trades, but since the comics chatter and movie flim-flam will be elsewhere this will live on as the less-updated but more personal space. The Japan Photo Bloggery will get finished in short order, for one thing, and following that it’ll be a place to look at topics that wouldn’t fit in with the Likely Silly.

Damn, I kind of wish I called the other blog Likely Silly now.

Anyhow – welcome and or welcome back. It’s not weird that I missed this, right?

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Unintended gaps, I think we should just move in together. The way we keep meeting up by accident is kind of baffling.

In a nice turn of events, there are positive reasons for the lull in posting of late. After 9 months of unemployment, building urgency, and an almost colossal state of despair and pressure, I started working for A Very Awesome Company on March 1st. Said company isn’t going to be named because I want to avoid what happened when I mentioned the fact to people in real life; doing the same on the internet, where social filters are a thing unheard of, would be tantamount to madness.* Let’s just say for the moment that we’re very happy with each other at the moment and see what happens, eh?

(* For the record, much like when I worked for WIT, I won’t be talking about the new job or the company on the blog, for the sake of good grace and manners as anything else.)

On top of that, stuff happened! I went from sitting around the house in my underwear** trying to get through the first Gormenghast book to being thrown around a rollercoaster of events which required my immediate attention because, y’know, money, power, the women… What this mostly translates to is a bunch of posts I had intended to write up got delayed (the end of the trip to Japan with Osaka, Kyoto, cakes and sumo wrestling) or killed due to untimeliness (the end of CHUCK being the only one that comes to mind – the tl;dr version is ‘Right place, right frame of mind, necessity, weren’t it good, like?’). Some stuff will still get written – the only thing that slows down the Japan posts is sorting through the hundreds of photos of each location, truth be told – and more recent concerns will get shoved in there too coughcoughPottermorecoughcough coughcoughgrowinguneasewithcomicscough  coughcoughMassEffect3endinghasplentyrightwithitcoughcough…

(** Granted, this was by choice rather than necessity.)

Right now, I’m settling into a better place of mind than I’ve been in for quite some time. Getting let go was rough; that both myself and Herself were let go at the same time was brutal; that this was on the back of the crap we had to deal with after getting back from Japan, then quickly followed up by what was not so much a stream as a raging river of crap thereafter means that, and at time of writing, 2011 holds the record for the worst year of my life. I’m in a good enough place to say that out loud now, though. Three cheers for progress, and all that jazz.

So yeah: regular posting will begin again shortly now that I have a grip on my weekly schedule (which right now consists of full-time job, full-time MSc research, activity time so as to not become the shape of mush, time with my Good Lady, sleep, and Miscellaneous Endeavours) I have a notion of how to move forward.

I’ve missed moving forward. It’s nice to do it again.

So I’ve talked about the onsen, the snow monkeys and their park, the food… What about the town of Yudanaka itself?

For some reason, we took a taxi out each time we went anywhere. The only exception to this was when Craig picked us up for what would be The Greatest Birthday Ever, but as per the Ted Mosbyism the blog is slowly sinking into, that’s a story for another day. What this usually meant in turn was that we then had to figure out how to get back, since the ryokan would call a taxi for us to go out, but we had no means of contacting one once we were out in the sticks…

It may not be obvious in the above photo, but I am at that stage, and every other time I got in a car in this town, bloody terrified. Every road is ice: not the pleasant sort that melts quickly and or is gritted by an efficient county council, but a thick block of frozen doom. No one brakes their car in this town, they just ride the momentum and swerve as needs.

You may need a change of underwear when they bring you over corners suspended by gaping chasms. Read the rest of this entry »

People this Christmas managed to get the term ‘food coma’ trending on Twitter. Lightweights and poseurs all – if a true food coma had happened, no tweeting until after the event could there have been. No, I have been to the land of the food coma and it is not this fair isle. Behold the 20+ course meal that greeted us on our arrival in Yudanaka and the Yoroduya Shiraiso!

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Part of the major attraction to Yudanaka is the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park. Getting there is interesting as it’s on the outskirts of town and a taxi will get you as far as here…

… or about 10 to 15 minutes walk from the above, depending on your ability to ascend ice. Fair warning: going to Yudanaka just after the New Year is likely to welcome you with surfaces more ice than man. A decent pair of snow boots isn’t essential but would be very useful… Read the rest of this entry »

In three days, I spent more time in a bath that I have for the two decades preceding them…

Water forms a major part of Japanese culture – it’s a medium which can connect you with other worlds. Westerners saw Ringu and thought “Yeek! Scary lady comes forth from water which we did not expect!”, but for the Japanese, it’s an intrinsic part of their folklore that goes without saying. Yudanaka is a town famous for its onsens (bath houses), and… Have you seen Spirited Away? That’s about the closest cultural touchstone I can think of to describe the town. It usually doesn’t get a lot of discussion as it doesn’t look like either Blade Runner or The Seven Samurai, but it’s probably one of the most quintessentially Japanese places you can visit, as this is where the Japanese come to relax.

Or at least the Japanese that can afford to visit come to relax, possibly. Japan is a pretty expensive place to be, so gauging who does what when and where can be tricky (and I tend to be about as sensitive as a brick to the face, so let’s move on…) Read the rest of this entry »

While en route to Yudanaka, a wonderful thing happened.

A while before we flew out, the sage Chris Butcher posted about a delicacy he found in the vending machines of Japan. A thing of wonder and loveliness. A prize in canned form. He made me aware of the Morinaga Pancake Milkshake. A hot drink which also bore the flavours of butter and maple syrup. And lo, an obsession was born. Read the rest of this entry »

Man, I can’t believe it’s been a year since I was in Japan.

Man, I can’t believe how long I’ve left it since I last blogged about anything, never mind my travel ramblings.

Still, it’s kind of nice to have the two sync up like this. I had been distracted by the hard decision of looking at either New Year celebrations or cakes (for down suh paths goes my rationalising mind), but time and opportunity make silly buggers of us all. That and I have held A Terrible New Years Secret for which I still feel mildly, irrationally guilty about. Read the rest of this entry »

I go years without one, then three funerals hit in the last month. I was beginning to wonder if, following the second one in as many weeks, a third would follow immediately after. As it turned out, I was lulled into a false sense of security by a quiet week. I’m in the lucky position to be mildly and inadvertently flippant as I didn’t lose anyone myself, but was instead supporting to varying degrees those who did. As per the course of these things, I did start to think about how I was going to cope when the inevitable came along for the people closest to me (likely not very well), but also how when the time came for me, what would need doing.

I really don’t want a funeral.

Or, now that I’ve made the standard and pointless ‘shock & awe’ statement that I’m going to completely undo, I don’t want a normal funeral. Putting aside my ongoing and overstated issues with religion, a lot of it is due to my being really uncomfortable with how death and its ceremonies are often approached. I don’t want people being solemn and depressed and trying to reach for platitudes to wallpaper over my glaring personality flaws. If people are to come together following (or maybe just for) my death, I want them to have a good time.

Dudes, I want a party.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ikebukuro was our effective headquarters for the trip – even though we left the confines of Tokyo for the best part of two weeks, it bookended our stay there. We had previously made our temporary home in Shinjuku. We didn’t realise it at the time, but this was one of the most sensible decisions a first-timer who wasn’t fluent in the native tongue could make as, being the business district, the English language was unusually prominent, even by Japan’s standards. As we had gone then as now during the build-up to New Year, it was much quieter than normal, allowing us to acclimatise quickly to our surroundings.

Ikebukuro is very much the opposite of Shinjuku, being one of the de facto R&R Happy Super Fun Time Zones of Tokyo. This district is where the locals come to have fun.

Flying first class had meant that jet lag didn’t take nearly so much of a toll on me as I had expected – on the first trip, I did not sleep at all and as a result got sicker from 11+ hours in an air-recycled cabin and 24+ hours without sleep than I had in many years previous (Fun Fact: Planes seem to be the only place I cannot sleep!) As a result of being mercilessly pampered for the flight , I was bouncing and ready to go nuts. Unfortunately, Olivia as still recovering from the ill health she suffered in London and had a slight relapse en route. Nothing so horrible as to not recover, but it slowed down her ability to get over the lag.

This is the main reason why we don’t actually have many photos of Tokyo this time around. That, and a mild case of been-there-done-that. We were too busy taking in new environs to pause for pictures, particularly since our  time in Tokyo had been so heavily reduced. As a compromise, I’ve scoured the internet for images from te anime Durarara!!, which goes to painful detail to recreate Ikebukuro as is for the series. You could probably watch Durarara!! and figure out how to get around Ikebukuro, truth be told.

But I disgress!

Read the rest of this entry »