January 30, 2014

Poseidon of the East (4)


In Japanese, the common word for "fool" (idiot, dummy, dolt, blockhead, jackass, etc.) combines the kanji for horse (馬) and deer (鹿), and is pronounced baka (stretch out the first syllable for extra effect). A kirin or Chinese unicorn uses the radical for deer in both of its kanji (麒麟).

Of course, the joke is entirely dependent on an understanding of the Japanese etymology.

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January 27, 2014

Miyazaki retrospective


A three-minute retrospective featuring the movies Miyazaki has written, directed, and produced.


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January 23, 2014

Poseidon of the East (3)


Posthumously, Japanese emperors are referred to by the name of their era, or nengou, not by their given names. The era name of Emperor Hirohito's reign (1926-1989) is Showa ("shining peace"), so he is now referred to as the Showa Emperor. The current era name is Heisei ("peace everywhere").

The joufuu (条風) is described in chapter 1 of The Wings of Dreams.

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January 20, 2014

A bucolic female James Bond


That's what Kate calls the character of Anne Shirley in Kevin Sullivan's Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story.

The CBC production of Anne of Green Gables (1985) follows the novel pretty closely. But for Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel (sometimes titled Anne of Avonlea) two years later, Sullivan combined material from the next three books (mostly Anne of Avonlea and Anne of Windy Poplars).

I thought it worked rather well (and dispensed with most of Anne of the Island, that I didn't much like).

The compressed timeline required significant changes. In Anne of Windy Poplars, Anne has graduated from college and is hired as the principal of Summerside High School. But Sullivan did a good job weaving the themes together and paying off--even improving upon--the major plot points.

For Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story (2000), Sullivan tried to do the same thing with the rest of the Anne series. The problem is, Anne's House of Dreams is a domestic melodrama and by Anne of Ingleside she has a passel of kids.

So instead he turned to the last three books in the series. Except the last three books are specifically about Anne's children.

I suspect as well that Megan Follows was already attached to the project. So Sullivan ended up with a mixed bag of story ideas written for an ensemble of younger characters, now played by a single person whose own character was by then completely out of sync with the original timeline.

The result, Kate points out, is a narrative mess, a scatterbrained script that jumps from one story idea to the next without paying off any of them, in the process turning Anne into

a sort of clean-living femme fatale. This week, she could end up with a German fighter pilot! Next week: the pool boy! A bucolic female James Bond.

Well, at least that means my idea hasn't been tried yet! There is more than enough good material in books four, five and six (Anne of Windy Poplars, Anne's House of Dreams, Anne of Ingleside) to create a contemporary television series. Hey, everybody's doing it with Sherlock Holmes.

I'm thinking of a lighthearted family melodrama about a GP and his wife returning to Prince Edward Island, where he sets up a family practice and she's an elementary school principal. Like the quirky Hampshire episodes in As Time Goes By, only featuring PEI as a major supporting character.

I can already imagine her kids suffering the twin tragedies of 1) ending up in a tourist trap in the middle of freaking nowhere (after living in, say, Toronto); 2) our mom's the principal! Aargh! And if you wanted to break a little fourth wall, 3) tourists can't stop observing that Anne look like, well, Anne.

Considering how popular Anne of Green Gables is in Japan, they could probably sign up NHK and the PEI Tourist Board as co-producers from the start.

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January 16, 2014

Poseidon of the East (2)


Throughout East Asia, it was once customary to consider an infant one year old at birth, with a year added every New Year (the kazoedoshi system). In Japan, this was replaced in 1902 with the Western system of counting an infant one year old on his first birthday and adding a year every birthday after that (the man'nenrei system).

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January 13, 2014

Miyazaki meets "The Simpsons"


Comic Book Guy gets engaged to Kumiko, a comic book artist from Japan. Her father flies to Springfield to talk some sense into her. Recruited as the go-between, Homer takes him to a Japanese restaurant for a man-to-man. A few too many glasses of snake wine later:


A drunken stupor whisks them off to a full-blown homage to Hayao Miyazaki.

Starting with Spirited Away (the mask-wearing ghosts). Then My Neighbor Totoro (Otto's cat school bus). Porco Rosso (Chief Porky Wiggum). Kiki's Delivery Service (Patty and Selma flying to the DMV). And Howl's Moving Castle (Apu's moving Kwik-E-Mart).

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January 09, 2014

Poseidon of the East (1)


Ryou'un (凌雲山), lit. "skyscraping mountain," is the name of the mountain that houses the palaces of the emperor/empress and province lords.

Shitsudou (失道), lit. "loss of the Way," is the illness that afflicts the kirin when the emperor violates the Divine Will. Shouryuu explains its implications in chapter 59 of Shadow of the Moon.

The riboku (里木) is the "tree of life" in the Twelve Kingdoms, from which children, animals, and plants are born. Rakushun explains the birds and the bees in chapter 40 of Shadow of the Moon.

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January 06, 2014

CAVE people


Everybody is familiar with the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) crowd. Until recently, I hadn't heard of their kissing cousins, "CAVE people" (Citizens Against Virtually Everything). Explains Wikipedia:

While the NIMBY phenomenon is typically related to development issues, CAVE people, as the name implies, oppose virtually everything. This may manifest itself in opposition to changes in public policy questions as varied as tax levies, sewer rates, public transportation routes, parking regulations and municipal mergers or annexations.

Apparently, CAVE people have showed up to to whine about the proposed expansion of University Mall in Orem, Utah. Val Hale at the Provo Daily Herald issues them a warning:

Just as detractors in Provo made the fatal and costly mistake of driving the mall to Orem in the late '60s, Orem has a small number of naysayers who are fighting this latest attempt to upgrade the mall. I like to refer to these people as CAVE people (Citizens Against Virtually Everything).

I can't see any harm in an upgrade as South Orem has been one big splat of commercial (retail/professional) development for the past quarter century. I also don't care because I avoid malls. I prefer big box stores like Walmart to the rat's maze that is a mall.

If they want a righteous cause, the CAVE people should channel their energies into removing the blight in downtown Orem left over from the housing bubble. It's an absurdly out-of-scale, mixed-use condo project that got half-finished before the funding dried up.

Unlike the mall, which is more or less an architectural fit for the neighborhood, "Midtown Village" sticks out like a sore thumb, two ugly lumps three times taller than anything for a mile around. I say, either lop off the top four stories or knock the whole thing down.

James Roh/Daily Herald

Besides, the surface streets couldn't support the traffic. Center Street has only four lanes to I-15. Expanding it to six would require knocking down the north end of Mountain View High School. It makes me wonder why a building permit was ever granted.

But such was the irrationality of the exuberance. University Parkway (1300 South), which goes by the mall, has six lanes, as does 800 North, making them far more logical locations for strip malls, big box stores, office plazas, and high-density housing.

Incidentally, if you follow the first link about the mall, you will see that this is something the Woodburys are doing. The rich, real-estate Woodburys. Alas, not related to me. Well, we're all related, but not closely enough to count.

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January 02, 2014

Poseidon of the East (prologue)


Hourai (蓬莱) is one of three legendary mountains in Chinese folklore. It is also an ancient name for Taiwan, though here it refers to Japan. On Mt. Hourai,

There is no pain and no winter; there are rice bowls and wine glasses that never become empty no matter how much people eat or drink from them; and there are magical fruits growing in [Hourai] that can heal any disease, grant eternal youth, and even raise the dead.

In Shinto mythology, Tokoyo (常世) is "a utopian place far beyond the sea."

Of the devastation Kyoto experienced during the Onin War (1467-1477), Wikipedia notes that it took a full century for the city to recover:

[Kyoto] has not seen such widespread destruction since, being spared the strategic bombing of Japanese cities during World War II. In Kyoto, pre-war refers to the Onin War rather than World War II.

Mt. Kinugasa is a prominent hill in the center of present-day Kyoto Prefecture.

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