Birthday Party

Well, I turned 40.  I didn’t exactly have a “party”, but it felt like a party, because it was such a great day.

I had taken the day off work, as I am wont to do on my birthday, and I woke up at 9:00, Naoko and Zen came over to me and woke me up with kisses and wished me a happy birthday. Yay. First good news of the day was that one of the agents that I had written to wants to read my manuscript, wonderful. I did some work in the morning, while Zen did homework, and we had lunch. After lunch, Naoko gave me the present from my parents, which she had been holding onto since they left in February. It was very well wrapped, so I didn’t know what it was, but I opened it and it was a bottle of gin! Yay!! And a shirt!!! Yay!!!! We jumped into a cab and went to Vivo City to go see Detroit Metal City. Wow, Vivo City was empty, and we nearly had the theatre to ourselves. The movie was funny, and a few times I laughed out loud. After the movie we bought a new iPod. It’s not really a birthday present for me, since I already have an iPod Shuffle and don’t need a new one, but Naoko wants to have one, so now we need one more. The new iPod Shuffle is very nice, but it actually has a few features that are not as nice as the old one! Basically, when I sync it into my iTunes, it doesn’t update the information of “last played”, a feature I like and use. I can’t figure out how to change this in the settings, and it looks like there is no option to allow it. Odd. After that we did a bit more shopping, and I bought a new pair of jeans, a new pair of shorts, and a new shirt. Took a cab to Fair Price where we picked up a cake (free – I had a voucher) and some groceries. Funny – the bill came out to $40.04. Got home, Zen came, then we all took the buss to Bar Bar Black Sheep on Bukit Timah Road for burgers and fries and beer. Yay! Got home, called Oma and Opa, then I went to sleep late.

The rest of the week was super busy. But I got a lot done – I wrote 14 articles, which will come out in the next two magazines, which is great.

Movie Reviews:

Detroit Metal City – This was a real treat, since you don’t often get to see a movie about Japanese rock ‘n’ roll, or about death metal. The story is about a young songwriter who goes to Tokyo to make it as a musician, but gets caught up in a band that is the opposite of what he wants to do musically. The songs he writes for himself are totally silly “trendy” love songs, whereas the songs he does with the death band Detroit Metal City are about killing, death, demons, rape, murder. Both of them are over the top and caricatured, and he’s a bit of a silly twit really. The best parts of the movie are when Sir Johannes Krauser is onstage in his make-up, because that’s when it gets really outrageous.

The Sun
The Sun – One of the strangest movies I’ve seen in a very long time, it is about the final days of World War II and the life of the Japanese emperor Hirohito. I am not sure if he really spoke in a strange, affected way, or if he always made an O with his mouth and jutted his lips out, but that’s what you see in the movie. Made by Russian director Alexander Sokurov, the film has a small cast and limited locations, making it feel like a stage play.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time – Yet another movie about sensitive girls and time travel, the story is exactly like the title describes. Makoto is a sensitive tomboy who hangs out with her two male buddies, playing baseball after school. Through an accident that is explained later, she develops the ability to leap into the air, causing her to return to a moment in the recent past so that she can solve some small problem or other. They are generally quite trivial, but she does save a life or two. She also engineers relationships, while also learning about her own love.

Book Reviews:

Loop, by Suzuki Koji – The sequel to Ring and Spiral, Loop is not really a horror story like the other two, but some sort of medical mystery that plays with alternate realities, destiny, medical proof of the existence of god. It creates a fascinating world, which is set in the year 2040 although you would never realise it if it weren’t stated explicitly. Of course, when you get someone creating such a fascinating world, the problem is that there are so many possibilities of things that should have happened, or been explained, and there are many avenues that the book doesn’t go down. The resolution is also quite silly, and a bit too hopeful to be realistic. This may be the reason the book has never been filmed – movies based on Ring and Spiral were released in Japan, but Ring was a hit and Spiral was a flop. This makes sense – Suzuki’s grand plan to move the story towards the events of Loop were a bit confusing to viewers, and the low budget knockoff sequel to Ring, called Ring 2, proved to be fantastically successful. Of course, with the movie world of Ring shifting away from the grand scheme Suzuki had in mind, there was really no going back and filming Loop. Probably better this way – I think that a film version of Loop would be more popular than even Spiral had been.

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman – I’ve never read anything by Neil Gaiman, and I’m not sure that this is a good start. A kids book, the story follows the life of a young boy whose family has been slated to be wiped out by a secret society. He escapes the fate of his family and is adopted by a graveyard full of ghosts who protect him and nurture him to adulthood. Having grown up in a graveyard and raised by ghosts turns him into something of an odd little fellow, and he has a few adventures and misadventures, the most interesting of which occur when he resolves to go to a school. The book is also well-resolved, but by rushing through 15 years of history, it does feel like Gaiman passes quickly over many many interesting episodes that could have been fleshed out. This could have easily become a full novel, but as it is it’s just a nice, quick read.

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