Future Monogatari

Image result for naruto episode 216

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Google translate ga yoku nata

It’s true, two years ago it couldn’t handle idioms, now it changes ‘raining cats and dogs’ to ‘heavy rain.’

It speaks too

in a train tannoy voice

but it’s better than nothing.

Okay, I typed too soon. Google translate is still weak. I just tried something more difficult, an idiomatic phrasal verb, and it did not go well.

‘The killer took him out’ became ‘the killer brought him [somewhere].’

A bit harsh as there’s not much context to that phrasal verb. The killer could’ve taken him out somewhere, it’s not impossible and, far as I know, google translate is the sum of its programmed database, not intuitive AI, so I gave it a bit more to work with:

‘The killer took him out with one bullet.’

Again, it translated as:

‘The killer, with one bullet, brought him [somewhere].’

It’s interesting, how would you programme common sense into an online translator that has no experience of our perceived reality? To google translate, it might be completely normal for killers to take people somewhere while carrying a bullet.

Maybe the only answer is AI?

That or the elimination of all idioms from every language?

The next problem: how to understand an episode of Naruto. I tried last week, Episode 216, but the first scene was insanely fast. Even when I slowed the speed down to half, it was difficult to pick anything up. Or you can pick it up, but you don’t know what it means. Do children really understand this? Continue reading

The Expanse season 1 [Spoilers]

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Plot: a group of ice haulers from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter go from ship destruction to ship destruction, pinballing themselves into a conspiracy, possibly a web of it, to start an inter-planetary war.

War between?

Mars, Earth and the Belt, which are all probably representative of specific nations on Earth, not sure which ones.

I suppose Earth might be the US, Mars might be China/Asia and the Belters are the entire third world.

Or it might be real world politics simplified into three groups.

Though what does that make Russia?

The OPA [Outer Planetary Alliance]?

Characters:

Holden the unofficial ship captain [Does most of the talking, so much of it that other characters just start looking towards him whenever they need to make a decision]

Naomi the vice captain/possible former OPA operative. Has a British accent, but is not from the usual crop of rich kids e.g. Daisy Ridley, Keira Knightley, Felicity Jones.

Amos the muscular, pragmatic grunt. Not homophobic and at home in sleazy bars cos that’s where he grew up.

Alex the pilot, who flew for Mars and gets a costume out of it in episode 3.

Chrisjen the UN rep who will defend Earth and deliver lines badly at all costs.

Miller the working class cop who has only ever killed one person before episode 8, and about 23 people two episodes later. Continue reading

Uesugi Kenshin vs Takeda Shingen

Image result for uesugi kenshin is a woman

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Two of the most well-known samurai daimyo of Sengoku Era Japan [the historical period between 1477-1600 when everyone bullied peasants and stabbed each other in the back] were

Uesugi Kenshin of Echigo Province

And

Takeda Shingen of Kai.

If you’re a human being, as soon as you start reading about any two rivals then you’re probably gonna pick a side. In this case, both Kenshin and Shingen were strategic thinkers and decent warriors, though it’s debatable how often they actually had to fight in any battles, and their overall record against each other in direct battle was either a no score draw or a Kenshin victory, depending on the sources. I think some historians give the 4th battle of K River to Shingen due to the fact that he lost fewer men, but this omits the point that the men he did lose included most of his generals, whereas Kenshin only lost ashigaru and a few stray tourists.

Tourists?

Some locals would grab a good seat on a nearby hill and watch the battle, which could backfire fatally if one of the daimyo was a creative thinker and decided to shift the battle to that hill

or if one of the archers was drunk.

Kenshin or Shingen?

If it were a film about the two of them, I would side with Uesugi Kenshin for several reasons.

He trained to be a monk,

He didn’t want to be a leader

He gave salt to Shingen when no one else would

And

He was the god of battle.

Shingen, on the other hand, was a bit of a twat.

Didn’t he have a secret group of women ninja spies?

Allegedly, yes. They were led by Mochizuki Chiyome and would embed themselves in towns and castles that Shingen wanted to attack at some point, usually acting as shrine maidens, prostitutes or talent agents to get the info their boss needed. Continue reading

Bakufu era Japan = Klingons

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I’ve heard this said a few times before

that Klingons in TNG and onwards were basically samurai with head bumps

but I only ever believed it on the surface level

e.g. code of honour, warrior govt

However, now I’ve read a book called ‘The Bakufu in Japanese History’ I realise that Ronald D Moore probably did read the same book before starting work on his first Klingon episode.

The house system is the same

This wasn’t unique to Japan, but in the era of Bakufu [1185-1868], which I think translates as a govt led by military guys, your house represented the power you had to a huge level. It chopped and changed a lot, and varied between different bakufu, but basically there was the bakufu [military] and two other powerful groups, Monks + aristocrats [including the Emperor], owning land and dividing power. However, by the time of the final Bakufu [Tokugawa 1600-1868?], the military and regional houses had dealt with the monks and nobles and had total control.

Don’t monks usually get slaughtered in history?

Later, yes, but not during the first two Bakufu.

In fact, it’s quite funny how the monks operated in some areas, specifically how they made their cash. Medieval Japan was quite a superstitious place, so the monks would take a portable shrine, drop it in someone’s house then sit and wait for that person to pay enough for them to get rid of the ‘evil spirit’ within the shrine. No one would challenge them as only the monks had the power to perform the task; even the samurai wouldn’t touch the portable shrines.

The noble samurai?

Ha, about as noble as old English knights. A lot of those fuckers were just thugs with swords who switched sides if the price was decent, and what’s worse, the Muromachi Bakufu made them cops in Kyoto too. Or the equivalent of cops. The rest of the samurai could just do what they pleased as long as they didn’t do it close to Kyoto. And they did. Continue reading

The Tomb of Ligeia 1964 [thoughts + spoilers]

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Starring: Vincent Price, a possessed cat

Director: Roger Corman [Masque of Red Death]

Screenwriter: Robert Towne [‘Swing Shift’, ‘Mission Impossible 2’, Lloyd Bridges Show]

Plot: A reclusive widow with an aversion to sunlight, who is supposed to be in his 20’s but is instead Vincent Price in his early 50’s, allows an impulsive young woman from a mansion nearby to hang around his own mansion twice before she falls in love with him and they get married. The only problem is the dead wife of the man is buried in the back garden and she’s some kind of Egyptian witch who isn’t fond of sharing her husband with anyone. Her plan; ring a bell very loud and snarl at the new wife when in cat form.

Subplot: an admirer of the young woman tries to use his brain to figure out what’s going on and rescue her from her dangerous + exciting marriage so he can then trap her in a stable and tedious marriage with him. Opening line of Tomb of Ligeia 2? ‘Into the living room and knit me a sweater, sweetheart.’

Sub sub plot: a cat tries to regain control of its brain after being possessed by a dead Egyptian witch, but ultimately fails and is relieved when Vince Price strangles it to death.

Any good?

As with all Corman-Poe-Price films, it’s watchable, though it doesn’t achieve the greatness of The Masque of the Red Death, probably because the main horror comes from a possessed cat.

Possessed cats are neither interesting nor scary. Continue reading

The Savage Curtain

Image result for the savage curtain

One of those season 3 episodes of Trek which went for high concept and floating historical person in space over pacing and logic.

No curtains either, savage or regular.

Any good?

It’s memorable, but mostly for the ‘good vs evil’ battle element. I can’t say it’s bad, I don’t skip any parts when watching, but it is resolved in a depressingly expected way compared to other episodes, like ‘The Corbomite Manouvre’, where the resolution is clever and ultimately the alien enemy is not a bad guy, he’s just lonely.

Also, unlike ‘The Spectre of the Gun’, there’s nothing distinctive about the scenery.

It’s simply good guys vs bad guys.

But then the more I think about it, the less sense it makes.

The biggest problem I had when re-watching it was the use of Kahless as a representation of ‘evil’. In TNG and DS9, the Klingons revere Kahless and see him as a liberator from tyranny. His eating of his enemy’s heart is very much in line with Klingon customs, so that’s not really evil, and he established the ‘honour system’, which has some dubious elements i.e. the punishment of the father’s sins on seven generations of that family, but is basically a worthy code.

Therefore, the fact that Kahless is featured at all, raises two questions in my mind.

i] The aliens took the historical figures from the minds of Kirk & Spock, so did they know a lot about Kahless, or was it their general dislike of Klingons that caused him to pop up here? Continue reading

Kwok Fu Shing + shop of gold

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Even though I’ve lost my teacher, I still thought my Cantonese was pretty stable, lying somewhere between upper beginner and lower intermediate, but

it turns out my mother in law is the ultimate leveller of expectations.

Obviously, I can’t understand 75% of what she says,  she’s

too fast

too anxious and

uses vocab way beyond my level, but last week, when I saw Kwok fu Shing on TV I turned to her, confident I could direct the conversation to a place I could have vocab for, and asked if she liked him.

I got the first part of her answer,

she thought he was okay, quite handsome

but then her answer kept going and going and going and I heard some words I knew, like Mainland China, Kwun Tong, basic verbs etc. but overall I was pretty lost.

Why was she talking about Kwun Tong?

Did Kwok Fu Shing grow up there?

Why was she doing a firehose action with her hands? Continue reading