I saw this ad in the Shibuya train station and thought it looked like an interesting exhibition by an 18th century zen priest Hakuin Ekaku. I checked it out and enjoyed it, ¥1400 for entrance at the Bunkamura in Shibuya.
Shanghai Shokudo Ebisu is a great deal with seven different lunch courses for ¥500. The above dish is mabo dofu with shrimp, egg drop soup, and rice. It is worth all the grunting and teeth sucking of the mainly salaryman clientele at lunch.
I was intrigued by Cosmopolis (2012) for several reasons. First of all, I am a fan of director David Cronenberg and even if I don't like all of his projects, I feel that he is often willing to challenge himself and the viewer while attempting to create something original. I have also read and enjoyed some of Don DeLeillo's fiction, White Noise and Pafko At The Wall are two works that I liked in particular. I also like the fact that he tried to adapt a difficult literary novel, which takes place in the course of a day. Eric Packer (adeptly played by teen heart throb Robert Pattison) travels across town on a tumultuous day by limo to get a haircut from his childhood barber. It's the kind of project legendary John Huston would have been attracted to had he still been alive. But ultimately I think it falls short of Huston's well-made adaptations of Flannery O'Connor's Wiseblood and Malcolm Lowry's Under The Volcano. I'm not sure why, but it doesn't have the same urgency or sense of human identification with the main characters for my sensibility. The characters seem like abstractions and there are too many talking head scenes to maintain a brisk storytelling pace. I suppose I can best surmise it as a noble failure. This is because that although it manages to grab the viewer's attention at certain points in the film, it is ultimately unable to sustain that throughout the majority of the film.
The daily soup set with toast is ¥650 at MERCER bis. This is the chicken and vegetable soup with a hearty serving of vegetables, however, the chicken had the skin intact, which makes me think I should have went for the tomato soup. But I'll be back since it's just down the street from my apartment.
When embarking on a foreign language, learners are frequently
confronted with modes of expression unlike the languages they already
understand. In making sense of new communicative forms, our starting
point is necessarily what we already know about how language works,
building upon and adding to this knowledge as our understanding
increases. But these initial associations may often be flawed, resulting
in perception malfunctions.
Many years ago, a few months into my freshman year of college, I got
a job on campus working at the student cafeteria. I was the "dessert
girl," a title so precise that when a friend jokingly sent a letter to
me so addressed, care of the college, it arrived promptly and without
any hesitation on the part of the mail deliverer. Being the dessert girl
seemed like a cushy job. The cakes, pies, and puddings were already on
individual serving plates, and students just reached out and took what
they wanted as I stood on the other side of the glass cabinet and
watched. What could be simpler?
I found out that there was a reason why the other students who had
been working at the cafeteria longer preferred to dish up the main
dishes, a tougher job on the face of it. The supervisor, a severe woman
who I'll call Beth, had a bee in her bonnet when it came to desserts.
The plates had to be lined up in perfect diagonals continuously even
though they were constantly jostled as students reached for their
preferred item. Beth stood behind me endlessly hissing, "No, not like
that! Keep the plates orderly! They should look tidy and tempting at all
times!" After some weeks I was relegated to bussing trays, which felt
like the sweet taste of freedom.
When I began studying Japanese and learned about the affective
particle yo, I immediately associated it with Beth's bossy
admonishments. As I understood it, yo was what you stuck on at the end
of the sentence in Japanese to add the nuance, "Don't you get it,
dummy?" It was elegant in its brevity, acerbic in its impact. My notion
of yo's function was derived from the examples provided by my textbook,
like the standard Chigaimasu yo ("That's incorrect, yo"), along with
various other model sentences showing how yo could draw attention to a
mistake or careless lack of information.
After I arrived in Japan it soon became clear that there was more
going on with yo. Either that, or Japan was a country chockfull of
Beths, as yo could be heard everywhere, popping up in apparently any
type of conversation. An easy-going acquaintance passed me a leaflet to
an event, explaining, Sugoi desu yo ("It's great, yo.") I hadn't shown
any reluctance to attend and couldn't see why she needed to add an
emphatic yo. Giving as good as I got, responded Wakarimashita yo ("I get
it, yo."). At least to me, it seemed we were both getting a bit
agitated and I was happy when the conversation moved on to non-yo
Understanding yo as imperiousness was the equivalent of grabbing
one part of an elephant--and an obstruction in the process of meaningful
social interaction. Linguist Christopher Davis emphasizes yo's role as a
"guide to action" in declaring the "optimality" of one way of
proceeding. Use of the particle makes it plain that a statement is not
just providing information but is additionally pointing out what to do
based on the knowledge imparted, a crucial linguistic task in Japanese.
Davis refers to an example from the language philosopher Paul Grice
in which one speaker standing by a car says to a person who approaches,
"I am out of petrol." The other says, "There is a garage around the
corner." Grice notes that the implication of the second speaker is
obvious in English--the first speaker can get some petrol at the garage
and solve his problem. But Davis points out that in natural Japanese, yo
must be added to the end of the garage statement. Yo-less, the sentence
can appear to be a statement of fact with no bearing upon the issue at
Learning to connect the dots for the listener by tacking on yo can
be tricky for non-native speakers of Japanese. They may view the
implication as obvious and therefore feel that marking it plainly is
aggressive. But without it, communication can flounder, as shown by the
analysis of Japanese language researcher Hideki Saigo. Saigo examined
conversations between native and non-native speakers, focusing on the
use of sentence-final particles including yo. When non-native speakers
fail to use yo when it might be expected, the native speakers do not
know how to respond, waiting awkwardly, assuming that something more
will be added, and the conversations falter.
It is often observed that Japanese communication is ambiguous, while
English makes things explicit. In the case of yo, the reverse is true.
It is these surprising divergences and the challenge of mastering them
that makes Japanese so interesting, yo.
Searching For Sugarman (2012) is an extraordinary documentary about an obscure Detroit musician who was all but forgotten in the US, but whose music would go onto create a rock legend in South Africa. His music is used in the soundtrack obviously for the film, and it shows that he was a talented songwriter and musician. His songs were about America at a turning point in the late 60s and early 70s, and are full of great imagery and insight. The less you know about the story , the better since there are some twists and turns that if you are ignorant of are integral to the impact of the story. I also enjoyed the cinematography of Detroit and South Africa. It is up for an Academy Award for Best Documentary this year, and is one of the best documentaries I've seen in a while.
Le Lion is a nice little French bistro and reminds me of the atmosphere of Aux Bacchanales (which is now defunct) when I lived in Harajuku. Salads, omlettes, and daily specials for lunch. This ham and cheese omlette with a drink was ¥900.
Who Killed Palomino Molero? (1987) is another entertaining literary thriller from Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa. As with all of his novels, Llosa does a great job of creating a sense of time and place, this time the 1950s in a rural town in northern Peru that is located near a military base. A young soldier, Palomino Molero, known for his singing is brutally murdered and the savvy Lieutenant Silva of the civil guard and his young protege Litma must try to solve this murder mystery despite a lack of support from the commander of the local military base. Silva has an obsession with a Rubenesque proprietor of the local cafe and wife of a fisherman. Litma is obsessed with the case and has no outlet like Silva. A thrilling and confounding mystery story unfolds. The characterizations and plot are masterfully rendered. This book doesn't have the epic sweep of novels like Feast of the Goat or Aunt Julia and the Scripwriter, but is the predecessor to another great detective story from Llosa, Death in the Andes (1996), which also has a pairing of a grizzled veteran detective, suspiciously named Litma (could it be the same from the earlier novel?) and a love struck younger protege.
Under The Volcano (1984) is yet another literary adaptation of a classic cult novel by the writer Malcolm Lowry by famed director John Huston. Huston also did adaptations of The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Red Badge of Courage, Moby Dick, Wiseblood, The Dead among others. Many would have thought that Lowry's book was unfilmable. It is the 600 page story of the final day in the life of a self-destructive alcoholic British consul (played by Albert Finney in one of the greatest depictions of alcoholism on screen) in Mexico where mescal transports him into his memories, to his internal world and the present where he confronts his brother (Anthony Andrews) and estranged wife (Jacqueline Bisset). The Criterion editions has a slew of features: audio commentaries featuring executive producer Michael Fitzgerald and producers Wieland Schultz-Keil and Mortiz Borman on the film; screenwriter Guy Gallo on selected scenes; and actor filmmaker Danny Huston, John Huston's son, on the main title sequence. It also has the theatrical trailer on the first disc. The second disc has a new video interview with actress Jacqueline Bisset, Notes from "Under the Volcano" (1984) an hour-long documentary on the film's production, directed by Gary Conklin, Volcano: An Inquiry into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry (1976) filmmaker Donald Britain's 99 minute, Academy Award-nominated documentary narrated by Richard Burton, about Lowry, and an audio interview with John Huston from 1984. It also includes a booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar and critic Christian Viviani.