dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
[livejournal.com profile] melishus_b and her boyfriend came to visit us this weekend! And I've written about it in detail below.

detail, with pictures )

Next weekend we should see them again, since we'll be in Seattle for a wedding! Just like old times, at least for a brief moment.
dorchadas: (Chicago)
At my Japanese lesson last Tuesday, Aya-sensei gave me a flier from a giant stack she was carrying around. Moth, the shop where she works at part-time, was having a huge sale, she explained, and she invited us to come. And we did.

When I described the store's decor to [twitter.com profile] slarnos, all light wood and airy spaces filled with Japanese and Nordic goods, clothesracks against the walls filled with monochromes, browns, and blues, a table in the center of the store covered in small candles, pots, and cups, he said that it sounded like a store for people who live inside magazine photoshoots. I myself had used the phrase "Kinfolk-ass store" to describe it, so I can't and won't dispute his claim. But there was a lot of tableware I'd love to have, and I did buy two things. The first is a set of cerulean dishes made by a Japanese designer whose name I didn't get. Aya-sensei told me that he was a pain to work with, requiring a lot of reassurance before he'd agree to sell his wares overseas, and that he had been ignoring the emails asking about getting further stock. The second was another matcha bowl:

Moth matcha bowl
I took a dozen photos and can't get it to focus perfectly, but this one shows the colors.

I don't know much about the performance of tea ceremony, but I do know how to make matcha. Right now we only have a single black bowl, but I already like the aesthetics on this one too. The black allows the matcha to contrast strongly, but the green here should be a good compliment.

The store's owner told me that the bowl was part of a collection by a Finnish woman married to a Japanese man. She also wrote a cookbook where she made all the tableware for the photos herself, but it's only in Finnish, of which I read none, though the photography is gorgeous. It's called 桜 Sakura: Japanilainen keittokirja (Sakura: Japanese cookbook). We also talked a bit about Japanese--the owner is studying because her job involves speaking to Japanese vendors and right now she has Aya-sensei do most of the go-between, but since she owns a store, she doesn't have as much time as she likes to actually study. She asked me how my Japanese was and I said, "I get by," and was pleasantly surprised when Aya-sensei took objection to my characterization. I suppose that is a little over-modest. I am reading a novel, after all. Emoji La

After buying those dishes and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd getting a pair of work heels she can leave at school on massive sale (60% off, I think), we said goodbye, turned down Aya-sensei's invitation to go to a party a friend of hers who owns a restaurant was throwing to celebrate their one-year anniversary since we had other plans, and went north up to the Bristol. Aya-sensei also recommended that to me a while ago, and since it was within walking distance of the Moth, it was our chance.

Delicious restaurant food within )

After dinner we hopped on the bus and went north to [livejournal.com profile] tropicanaomega's house to help her with a secret project related to DragonCon which I'll edit into this post next weekend once the plan is in motion! Then we went home and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd napped next to me on the couch while I watched Jeremy Parish play ten minutes of G.I. Joe: the Atlantis Factor before getting annoyed and switching to Super Mario Bros. 3. And now, after getting our shopping done, I'm playing Legend of Zelda: the Minish Cap and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd is resting and working on her meals for the week.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

🌚

2017-Aug-22, Tuesday 09:27
dorchadas: (Music of the Spheres)
I didn't get a chance to see the entire eclipse because I was at work and I wasn't in the path of totality, but around 1:05 p.m. yesterday I left the office and went outside to the south terrace, where a couple hundred people were all gathered and watching the sky. I also didn't have eclipse glasses, but thanks to a tip online, I turned off my phone and watched the reflection of the eclipse in the glass. It was visible through the clouds and got a bit darker and colder, but it wasn't super dramatic. That didn't stop me from getting misty eyed, though, because nature is amazing. We knew this eclipse was coming in 1932!

My father was more dedicated than I was. He drove six hours downstate and took this picture:

2017-08-21 - Eclipse image

Computers, why?

2017-Aug-03, Thursday 09:29
dorchadas: (Warcraft Algalon)
The chronicle of woe: new database system continues.

The previous system was clunky and old, but one advantage it has is metrics. Every day I got an email with how efficient I was, letting me know how I was doing and giving me daily feedback. My boss had to manually run the reports and mail them to me, so they tapered off when we started gearing up to transition to the new system, but the capability was still there.

Well, the new system has many capabilities, but metrics apparently aren't one of them. The contractors didn't seem to understand why we would want to know how efficient any particular worker was, so while it's possible that they keep metrics on their end, we don't have any access to them. But we need them for yearly evaluations, because one of the good parts of my job is that I'm graded on concrete numbers rather than on generic feelings. And thus, I'm keeping track of my metrics using a free stopwatch program and a LibreOffice spreadsheet.

Isn't the progress of technology great? Emoji Psyduck Cylon

Heard from the next cubicle over in the process of writing this post: "When they built this, they knew nothing about our data."

Farmer's Market Dinner )

Been feeling down these last few days for a variety of reasons, and having moved Japanese tutoring to tomorrow instead of on Tuesday because Tuesday was Tisha b'Av doesn't help. Usually by this point in the week, I know I'm clear until the weekend, but now I have class. Hopefully after I come home on Friday I'll start to feel a bit better with the weekend ahead of me.

And I just saw that The Dark Tower is at 20% on Rotten Tomatoes. I didn't like what I saw of the trailer--it was too fast-paced, too much in our world, and too tonally strange (any movie about the Dark Tower series should be elegiac, at least in part)--so I'm not surprised that the movie is being savaged. But what a waste.
dorchadas: (Pile of Dice)
I've been tinkering with RPGs again. Some people write fanfiction, some people draw fanart, and I come up with RPG homebrew. Even though I'm in three games right now--[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's 7th Sea game, [livejournal.com profile] mutantur's Call of Cthulhu game, and my own Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom game--and thus have no time for another one, I just enjoy game design. My latest burst of creativity was spurred on by finding Heretical Shadows, someone's fan supplement for using the Shadowrun system with fantasy settings. It's something I've always wanted to try, since there's already rules for fantasy races, magic, and spirits, it's skill-based instead of class-and-level based, and it uses my favorite dice mechanic (giant pools of dice). But it would be a bunch of work for a game that I'm not likely to run anytime soon, so I'm glad someone else did it.

I keep thinking about tweaking it more, but I should actually run Shadowrun for a while first to familiarize myself with the system. I did a lot of tinkering with Exalted, but I ran that game for years. And anyway, one of my players perks up every time I mention canon Shadowrun so that's probably next in the queue. And urban fantasy cyberpunk is a good departure from grim sword and sorcery.

At [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's suggestion, we sat down and watched an episode of Chef's Table about Ivan Orkin, a Jewish New Yorker who ran a ramen restaurant in Japan. So now I want to move back to Japan, and I really want a bowl of ramen. Especially his ramen, with its noodles made in-house using toasted rye flour. He's right that it's very unlikely a Japanese person would have thought to do that, especially since they usually buy their noodles.

This also reminds me of the first time I saw salarymen ordering noodle refills and decided to do it myself. I spent a few minutes psyching myself up and formulating how to ask and eventually said something like すみません、もう麺を一皿お願いします ("Excuse me, may I have another plate of noodles?"), and the ramenyasan looked at me quizzically and said かえだま (kaedama), the specific word for that very thing. Emoji Smiling sweatdrop I did get my noodles, though.

And speaking of food:

Farmer's Market dinner )

Overcooked comes out on Switch tonight and we're probably going to buy it. Usually, if a game is multiplatform I buy it on PC for future-proofing reasons--I just recently played through a game from 1994 with no problems at all--but Overcooked is specifically local co-op only, and sitting on the couch next to [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd to play is more comfortable than both of us crowding around my computer. It's also about cooking, one of [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's my treasured hobby. I'm looking forward to cooking together, on the back of two speeding trucks!
dorchadas: (Chicago)
So recently, Chicago Dyke March had an incident where they threw out three Jewish women marching with rainbow flags that had Magen David on them. The march organizers claimed that they made people feel unsafe and that the women had been asked to leave for expressing Zionist opinions at an explicitly pro-Palestinian march, but the women say they were approached and confronted about their flags. And since the march organizers put up a fundraiser for a self-care retreat where they used the phrase "from the river to the sea," leapt immediately to a Nazi analogy when explaining their decision:
"But, we need to be in control of our space just like you wouldn't accept Nazis in your synagogue."

-Alexis Martinez
and then used the phrase "Zios" when celebrating how they got the journalist who covered the initial incident demoted--they claim they didn't know the term or its usage, but I believe that as much as I'd believe someone who claimed they just happened to shorten the word "Hispanic" and why are people so angry--I believe the three Jewish women who were exiled.

And just recently, the Chicago Slut Walk said they stand with the Dyke March and also plan to ban "Zionist displays." What are those?

Is it any Jew who is identifiably Jewish? Is it merely the Magen David, a symbol of the Jewish people for centuries which long predates the modern nation of Israel? The Slutwalk claims that they're not the same thing, but I do not trust them to make that distinction. Slutwalk seems to uncritically believe the Dyke March's version of events, where the marchers were changing chants and being openly "Zionist," whatever they think that means. Of course, the Dyke March was happy to leave up comments about how Zionism is an insidious cancer (sound familiar?) and one of the women they banned was an Iranian Jew, and they also describe Zionism as a "White supremacist ideology."

Tell that to a Nazi.

There's a good article on the New York Times about the incident titled I’m Glad the Dyke March Banned Jewish Stars that talks about how intersectionality so often fails to consider Jews:
One of the women who was asked to leave the Dyke March, Eleanor Shoshany Anderson, couldn’t understand why she was kicked out of an event that billed itself as intersectional. “The Dyke March is supposed to be intersectional,” she said. “I don’t know why my identity is excluded from that. I felt that, as a Jew, I am not welcome here.”

She isn’t. Because though intersectionality cloaks itself in the garb of humanism, it takes a Manichaean view of life in which there can only be oppressors and oppressed. To be a Jewish dyke, let alone one who deigns to support Israel, is a categorical impossibility, oppressor and oppressed in the same person.

That’s why the march organizers and their sympathizers are now trying to smear Ms. Grauer as some sort of right-wing provocateur. Their evidence: She works at an organization called A Wider Bridge, which connects the L.G.B.T.Q. Jewish community in America with the L.G.B.T.Q. community in Israel. The organizers are also making the spurious claim that the Jewish star is necessarily a symbol of Zionist oppression — a breathtaking claim to anyone who has ever seen a picture of a Jew forced to wear a yellow one under the Nazis.
I saw claims that A Wider Bridge has an anti-LGBTQ stance, which is just blatant lying. But it serves the struggle, so I guess it's okay.

This is why I give money and don't directly participate in activism. Israel is a complicated issue, reducing it to indigenous Palestinian vs white settler colonialist Israelis is 1) insultingly stupid and 2) blatantly applying American political dynamics to the rest of the world, and I sure as hell don't want some leftist crusader subjecting me to an inquisition about Israel while they decide if I'm a good Jew or a bad Jew. I don't trust them to be able to understand my answers, and I don't trust Slutwalk to be able to able to distinguish between "Zionist" and "non-Zionist" uses of the Magen David. The Slutwalk already has the attitude that most pointing out antisemitism is spurious, so of course they're going to lean toward antisemitism. If you think a lot of it is fake--that's there's some kind of, say, world-wide conspiracy--in an environment where antisemitic incidents almost doubled in early 2017, then in practice, you're not going to end up much different from those people who immediately assume any black person shot by the police must have deserved it.

Shabbat Shalom.
dorchadas: (Default)
I made a dumb Utena meme on the tumblr I share with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd. You might like it.

On Tuesday, before Japanese class, we went to the Museum of Contemporary Art to see The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg, an exhibit of Murakami Takashi (村上隆)'s art. I didn't know anything about it before we went and modern art isn't usually to my taste, but I was surprised by how much I exjoyed the exhibit. Not the pictures where DOB, Murakami's cute Mickey-Mouse-esque character, is unfolded and stretched across a campus in a nightmare of teeth and eyes, but the works that are more traditional.

Examples:
Click for art )

Yesterday, both [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I went to the farmer's market together, which meant that I had some input on the contents of the meal! I originally thought about having duck and pita bread, but there were no bakers selling any pita at the market, so we settled on something different and made sandwiches instead. Ingredients are mostly my idea with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's input, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd was the one who put them all together into the final meal. Emoji Kawaii heart

Farmer's Market food pictures )

I have a dentist appointment in two hours to reapply a sealant on my teeth, so of course I'm very nervous. I'm going to [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's dentist, because he's within walking distance and she recommended him to me, and I know that sealants are an easy procedure and it shouldn't take more than half an hour, if that. But any number of things could go wrong, and even though I know they won't, what if they did? Emoji Panic flailing

But there's not much point in worrying about that now. Back to playing Wind Waker.

(-_-) zzzzzzz

2017-Jul-13, Thursday 08:57
dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
I was planning to go to sleep early last night but was foiled twice over. The first time because I insisted on staying up and making sure that I could get Phantom Hourglass and Skyward Sword--well, 夢幻の砂時計 and スカイウォードソード--working correctly through DeSmuMe and Dolphin, respectively. I originally tried NosGBA for Phantom Hourglass, but it had horrible screen tearing that would have made all the screenshots I took look like garbage, and while Skyward Sword booted up and gave me the proper warning messages, I can't really test it because I don't have the right setup. We have our old WiiMote, but not the WiiMotion Plus, and I haven't bought a USB Wii sensor bar yet since I'm just finishing up Oracle of Ages and still have a long road ahead of me.

And then when I finally lay down to go to sleep, the party that the people in the building next door were having was still going. Maybe they were celebrating the end of summer school, since [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd just finished her stint helping with summer school yesterday? I don't know. I was annoyed enough to look up the noise complaint procedure but not annoyed enough to actually call in, and when the rain started the party died down.

Farmer's Market Dinner )
Tomorrow we're going out to the suburbs to visit my parents for a day and then my week-long vacation starts. We're going to go to the Museum of Contemporary Art to see an exhibit of Japanese art and probably going to go to a few restaurants that we've been wanting to get to for a while. And I'm going to play a ton of video games, of course. Emoji Waddle Dee Two more days!
dorchadas: (Warcraft Won't Stop Searching)
Listening to the latest episode of Vidjagame Apocalypse yesterday and they had a brief section about Night in the Woods, the adventure game about snake person angst, and included a cover of one of the songs from the protagonist's band:


I played it for [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and gave a summary of the premise as I knew it, since I knew she'd understand. She's from Paducah, and as a child she had the goal to just get out in the way that I think a lot of kids from rural areas do. I'm from the Chicago suburbs, so it never affected me the same way, but I know people who lived in those dying towns before they moved away. The factories have closed, the malls are ghost towns, and people work retail because that's all that's available and mark off the days on the calendar. I mentioned that the protagonist and her friends hang out at the hardware store for lack of anywhere else to go, and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd nodded sagely.

I'm leaning towards buying the game based on how much I liked that song, honestly.

Farmer's Market Dinner )

For class, we were supposed to discuss an article but Aya-sensei forgot to email me, so we just chatted for an hour (and I did okay! Weeee smiling happy face). We're doing the article next week, though--an essay by Hirano Keiichirō entitled 無常ということ (mujou to iu koto, "On impermanence"), about the changes Kyōto has undergone, efforts against that, and what the "real Kyōto" is anyway.

One part stood out to me:
人が死ぬように、建造物も壊れる。人が移り変わるように、風景もまた絶え間なく変化する。そうした存在の絶望的な不安を慰める為にこそ、不変の聖所としての神社仏閣がかくも膨大な数築かれなければならなかったのではあるまいか
Which I would translate as
Much like humans die, buildings will crumble. Much like people change, the scenery will ceaselessly change. Surely to console that desperate existential dread, is that not why we must build temples and shrines in such huge numbers as eternal sacred spaces?
At what point does preservation become killing something and preserving it in amber? At what point does change destroy that which came before and make something completely new? I'm sure the people in the dying rural towns, both here and in Japan, would prefer there had been a bit less change, even if younger people are moving to those towns sometimes.

I haven't finished the essay, so I can't answer those questions. Question block

TCP/IPoop

2017-Jul-02, Sunday 20:45
dorchadas: (Warcraft Face your Nightmares)
I spent several hours today trying to get a multiplayer game of Warcraft III to work. There's a map called Sunken City that looks like a lot of fun that's designed for three players, so [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I roped in [livejournal.com profile] uriany to play with us, but we ad to jump through all kind of hoops. First they had to update their games to 1.28, which broke and required them to delete the game and completely reinstall. Then I had to set up port forwarding to allow [livejournal.com profile] uriany to successfully see and join the game. Then, when I figured out everything that was wrong and we had finally all joined and gotten the map started...[livejournal.com profile] uriany got dropped out of the game. Twice.

Remember when we had to put up with this every time we tried to play games online? At least I didn't have to set my IRQ.

On the other hand, we got to eat lunch with [livejournal.com profile] daveax! He's in town visiting family and had a lunch free today, so we ,eat him downtown at Vermillion, a Latin/Indian fusion restaurant near where I work. That was lovely and I'm glad we did that first so I wasn't in a bad mood before we went to lunch.

Now, to cap off the day, we're watching Laser Time play through the first hour and half of Metroid: Other M (THE BABY THE BABY THE BABY THE BABY). Now that Metroid Prime 4 has been announced, it doesn't sting so badly.
dorchadas: (Not he who tells it)
I spent a big chunk of yesterday dealing with the ripples from the Jewish Pride flag ban incident, including one guy who, if he wasn't actually a Nazi, was happy to play one on the internet for the lels. After all that, coming home to a delicious local dinner was just what I needed.

Tasty food )

I originally asked [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd if we could have sauteed mushrooms on the side before she told me that they were already included in the meal. Maitake is about twice as expensive in America as it was in Japan, which is a problem when we developed a huge taste for it in Japan put it on everything (along with enoki, another mushroom that's too expensive for daily use here). Zucchini noodles is our go-to for "pasta" dishes now that we don't eat much pasta anymore. Tastes amazing with pesto and a good way to get more vegetables.

I'm almost done with Adventures of Lolo, and since [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd has to attend a school function tonight, I'll almost certainly finish it and have a review up later tonight (Edit: here). While I love my dozens-of-hours JRPGs, there's something to be said for a game that can be finished in three hours. My lifespan is finite but World of Warcraft is eternal, which is part of the reason I no longer play it. Oh dear
dorchadas: (Kirby Spaceship Happy)
It's farmer's market season, and we live pretty close to a large farmer's market. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd had the idea to start going there every Wednesday and make dinner using fresh ingredients from the market, since right now she's working the summer school shift and so gets done with work just after noon, and yesterday was the first dinner she made. And it was delicious.

Food pictures )

Everything tasted amazing, and it wasn't particularly expensive either! Less expensive than going out to dinner, which only makes sense since we had to cook and clean it up. This was a trial run to see if we wanted to make it a Wednesday tradition, and it came off splendidly. And tasty.

ACEN 2017

2017-May-21, Sunday 11:08
dorchadas: (Enter the Samurai)
​I was incredibly nervous for basically all of Thursday and most of Friday before I went to ACEN and I still don't know the reason why. I've had a great time at the last there ACENs I went to. What did I think would happen?

Well, nothing went wrong, but here's my chronicle of what did happen:

At length, but with lots of pictures! )

This is the most actual convention-related stuff I've gone to in a long time, and we would have done even more if storytime hadn't been cancelled. I described it to friends as me scanning down the list and saying, "Alright, which of these panels at an anime convention aren't about anime" but that was...well, pretty much my thought process. Most of the cosplay pictures I took weren't from anime either. I don't go to anime conventions for the anime part. Emoji Chocobo

Looking forward to next year!
dorchadas: (Chicago)
I usually hide inside when the daystar is out, but lately I've been heading out even on Sundays to keep the streak going on Pokemon Go. Today I also had a library book to return, so I went a bit further than I usually do and I actually enjoyed the sunlight. It's nice and warm--18°C--without being hot and there's plenty of shade along the way in case the sunlight starts hurting my eyes. I think that's the cue to me enjoying sunny days--extremely small doses.

I did take a picture while I was walking, though. There's a tree in bloom in the courtyard of a local church that reminded me a lot of the cherry blossoms in Japan:


Leaves tag used because I don't have a flowers tag.

C2E2

2017-Apr-22, Saturday 16:25
dorchadas: (Enter the Samurai)
I'm not really a comics fan. I have a comics tag, but the Japanese it's translated from says manga, and the only convention tag I have is explicitly anime conventions. So when [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd suggested I go to the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo with her this weekend, I was hesitant. Would I know anything that was going on? Would I find anything that interested me? Well, I do like cosplay, so I suggested characters that we both know:

Morgoth Bauglir and Sauron the Great.

Read more... )

Chametzathon

2017-Apr-19, Wednesday 08:56
dorchadas: (JCDenton)
Last night after Japanese class, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I stopped by the local watering hole for dinner, since we haven't spent much of our restaurant budget for this month and we both really wanted hamburgers. It's funny--I'll go weeks without eating any bread at all because I don't want any, and all it takes is one holiday saying I can't eat bread to make me want to dig into a nice sourdough with loads of butter.

I got a steak sandwich, the same food I got the first time I ever went there years ago. That time I made the mistake of ordering it rare, because it's steak, right? That's what you do. Well...sure, if you're eating it with a knife and fork. With a steak sandwich it meant I tore the bread to pieces trying to rip off chunks of steak with my teeth, and this time I learned and ordered it medium.


Though looking at it now, it makes me want a cheesesteak...

During Japanese class, I talked a bit with Aya-sensei about Pesach foods and she was pretty dismissive of matzah for not tasting like anything. And mostly she's right, though [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd did manage to find a brand that was olive-oil-and-herb flavored that was pretty good on its own. But just yesterday, I learned that cracker matzah is an invention of the modern age due to transportation and storage concerns, and that previous matzah was all soft like chapatis or tortillas! The source I read is here, though there's also RealMatzah.com, which looks like an Angelfire page from the 90s but has plenty of rabbinical opinions on soft matzah.

Some googling found a bakery in New York that makes it and ships it overnight, but there's no products listed on the website so I'm not sure if it's still in business or not. Maybe we can try making it ourselves, now that Pesach is over and there's no halakhic concerns if we screw up the recipe.
dorchadas: (Chicago)
[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I just got back from a brunch at Elizabeth themed around Game of Thrones:


Brioche bread with salted butter. Right: "foie growl" and raspberry jam. Left: poached egg and asparagus with elderflowers.

It was really good! We went there back in October for another brunch, that time with friends and a drink pairing, but this time it was just the two of us. And the food was still very tasty, but other than the decor I'm not sure what was supposed to be Game of Thrones-themed?

There were house banners hung on the walls, fur covers on the seats, leather silverwear cases, and various Funkopop Game of Thrones characters around...but a lot of the food was the same as it was when we went a few months ago. That foie gras owl next to jam with bread was one of the courses, as was the stinging nettle pasta with cheese. And the yogurt starter, though a few months ago it had an olive reduction and this time it had candied ginger and strawberries.

I suspect part of it is because of our dietary restrictions. Elizabeth posts on their website that they can't accommodate dietary restrictions, but both times we went it wasn't a problem. We told them no pork or shellfish and they graciously complied, but I noticed that the table next to us, for their own version of the above dish, got dark rye bread with breakfast sausage. I bet their bread was fried in pork fat or something similar, so it's possible that the lack of Game of Thrones connection was due to our request.


Front: Lemon curd with bee pollen topping. Back: Whiskey-glazed donuts.

It was still delicious and I recommend it if you can get tickets. But Game of Thrones? I'm not seeing it. Cute shrug
dorchadas: (In America)
I hadn't listened to the songs at all, originally just because it's not my favorite kind of music. Then it was slight annoyance with the saturation, but after we learned it was coming to Chicago, I told [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd that I wanted to wait to see all the songs in context and not listen to them beforehand. And that's what I did, so last night was the first time I heard any of Hamilton that wasn't quoted by my friends.

Something something the room where it happens:


[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd told me she spent the first part of the musical glancing over to me and thinking that I was going to hate it. And it's true that the early part wasn't to my taste. The choreography was great, but the music I tend to listen to is heavily if not exclusively melody-driven, to the point where probably more than 80% of it is instrumental, or whatever you'd call chiptunes (is "a gameboy" an instrument?). It wasn't really until "Wait For It" that I really started to warm up to it. I mean, that song is a perfect encapsulation of my life philosophy--things are often terrible, much of your circumstances are completely outside of your control, but it is what it is and you have to make the best of it:
Death doesn’t discriminate
Between the sinners
And the saints
It takes and it takes and it takes
And we keep living anyway
It remains my favorite song and really the only one that stuck with me. A lot of the songs I either didn't care for or they just weren't memorable to me.

The other moment that I clearly remember is "Best of Wives, Best of Women" because it's the sort of thing I'd have a very hard time not doing if I were in a similar situation. A problem I had caused that I could fix, which would cause incredible worry in [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd if I told her? It would be extremely tempting to try to fix it and avoid the worry entirely. Not ethical, you understand, but tempting.

It didn't much stay with me, though. I'm not going to be listening to the soundtrack on repeat or thinking about the character interactions. It was pretty good and I can see why other people love it so much. But that's that.

It does make me want to read more founding father biographies, though. Especially after seeing this quote yesterday which seems like an angel of G-d came to Hamilton and granted him prophecy:
The truth unquestionably is, that the only path to a subversion of the republican system of the Country is, by flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion, and bring on civil commotion. Tired at length of anarchy, or want of government, they may take shelter in the arms of monarchy for repose and security.

Those then, who resist a confirmation of public order, are the true Artificers of monarchy—not that this is the intention of the generality of them. Yet it would not be difficult to lay the finger upon some of their party who may justly be suspected. When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits—despotic in his ordinary demeanour—known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty—when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day—It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may "ride the storm and direct the whirlwind."
-Alexander Hamilton, Enclosure: [Objections and Answers Respecting the Administration], [18 August 1792]
dorchadas: (Darker than Black)
[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I don't celebrate Christmas, but every year we go to Christkindlmarket in Chicago for the German food and crafts. A lot of it we can't eat because the Germans are fond of their pork, but the Döner Men have a booth there where they serve chicken kabobs that are wonderful with some spiced apple cider and a cold wind blowing around you. Though honestly, I could do without the last part.
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dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
I never used to care about the leaves changing or the flowers blooming. When we'd take trips to Oregon, my parents would go to a garden and I'd sit by the pond and watch the water striders because whatever, who cares about flowers. But I got into the mood of leaf-watching when we lived in Japan, both the cherry blossoms in the spring and the colors in the fall, and while there are no masses of cherry trees here, there are still colors.

I didn't get much of a chance to go leaf-viewing this year because the cold came so late--when we went out for the Scarecrow Festival, it was 25°C and sunny--but I've enjoyed looking at the trees in our neighborhood. And a couple weeks ago, we found a momiji tree only a few blocks away! Momiji are famous in Hiroshima, to the point where the local manjū are momiji-shaped, and we'd go every year to Miyajima to see the momiji change to that deep, uniform crimson color. It was a lovely touch of nostalgia to see.

Then last weekend, it snowed, and I took this picture:


Last month snow fell in Tokyo, and there were a ton of articles about it because everyone knows that Japan is Tokyo and Tokyo is Japan (and also it had been 54 years since the last time but whatever). The photos of snow on fall colors were amazing, though, and I'm glad I got to see a taste of it in Chicago.
dorchadas: (That is not dead...)
​I actually went to go see a movie together with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd! The last movie we watched together in a theater was...well, actually, it was あん, but before that it was The Golden Compass, way back before we moved to Japan. I'm not usually much of one for movies, and even less for movies in a theater.

So of course, we went to the theatre and saw it with orchestral accompaniment.



I've never seen E.T. before now. I know all about it because of cultural osmosis and because I read the novel adaptation, the same as I did with Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But actually seeing it on the screen is different, of course, and I was a little...underwhelmed.

I have the wrong attitude toward E.T., is the problem. I get that he's supposed to be childlike, full of wonder at the world around him in addition to being kind of cute, but all I could think was "a species capable of interstellar travel on a scientific mission to a primitive world and they send this guy?" I can accept that he's confused by human tech, since the Asogians clearly use the Force as the basis of their civilization () and have some kind of collective intelligence, but that he's confused by everything? I had a hard time with that.

Though I did like E.T. trying random foods out of the fridge. It reminded me of all the complaints about scientists being idiots in Promethius.

I have some issues with the ending, as well. Elliot yells that MAJESTIC are killing E.T., but it's clearly not their fault. E.T. was dying before they even showed up, and G-Man was being sincere when he said they were doing everything they could to save him. It didn't work because the problem was separation from the Overmind, which would have killed E.T. even if MAJESTIC never learned about him. He revived when he was back in range, timed so as to create maximum The Power of Love feelings in the audience, but honestly I just rolled my eyes. Elliot is a kid, and medicine is scary to kids. It's all chemicals and sterile smells and tubes and pain, and often the feeling better part comes later enough that it's not easy to associate with the treatment. Of course Elliot thought MAJESTIC was killing E.T. And he did die during the treatment, so it's a reasonable conclusion for him to draw. It's just wrong.
I also liked the end, when E.T. wanted to take the primitive from a backwater world along as a pet.  photo 6-0faa7aa343f6c067899c8c2579e6ea91d335662e.gif

I liked it, but I have questions, is what I'm saying. I had a hard time with some of the premises and that interfered with my overall enjoyment. But I can see why it's so well-loved, and seeing it with live orchestral accompaniment was absolutely worth it. We had nosebleed seats, but I could still see the screen the conductor used, which had the movie playing along with some green or red lines that went across to keep time during important moments. The performance was superb, of course, and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd mentioned that having live music meant that she had an easier time paying attention to the soundtrack and not letting it fade into the background. I agree--I know I complain a lot about video game soundtracks becoming more like movies and so becoming orchestral mush, but it turns out that if there's a real orchestra playing that music it doesn't fade into anything.

Much like the way to get me to eat pizza is to call it "flatbread" and charge $20 for it, the way to get me to see a movie is to have live professional orchestral accompaniment.  photo 3327b7f6b45a33781e80dce4e4461510-d4ipx9c.gif
dorchadas: (Chicago)
Not at the same time, obviously.

Yesterday, my parents came into town and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I went down to meet them at the Shedd Aquarium. They're members and go a few times a year. They're much better about it than we are--while we were members of the Field Museum for the last year, I'm not sure we went once--and often we only end up going when they come in to visit. This time, it was pretty fortunate that we were meeting them. The line was out the door, down the stairs, and stretching out into the park in front of the aquarium when we arrived, but we were able to skip all that and just walk in the member's entrance.

Maybe everyone was trying to forget the election. There was a large protest downtown yesterday which my parents walked by. My father mentioned that he wasn't sure what good it would do, since Trump was a terrible person but he had won the election, so I pointed out that it's more to demonstrate that Trump doesn't have a mandate despite any claims to the contrary. Though I admit, in some ways I share his cynicism. I remember the Iraq War protests and how much effect those had.

We had tickets for the cetacean show at 5 p.m. so we didn't have a lot of time to look around, but we did hit some highlights. The otters for [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, the special frog exhibit for me--that's a special exhibit of frogs, not an exhibit of special frogs --and the penguins for my mother:


"I solemnly swear..."

The cetacean show was a lot more focused than I remember it being. I think the last time I saw it was twenty years ago, and then it was much more about simple entertainment. This time there was a conservation message heavily woven through the show, including a rescue dog that the aquarium keeps. There were no dolphins somersaulting through hoops, but I think I appreciated the show more.

After a dinner at Chicago Curry House, where even my spice-averse parents found something they could eat--though since they have the appetites of birds, they were pretty much full after the samosas we ordered as appetizers--we said goodbye since we had to make our performance:



We first went to Symphony of the Goddesses in 2013 and this is the third time we've been. It's slightly different each time--the first time we went was the "Second Quest" arrangement that featured a medley of the music from Ocarina of Time, and the second time we went was the "Master Quest" and had a feature of music from Link's Awakening. This time was more similar to the first concert, though with the addition of some music from Triforce Heroes and A Link Between Worlds, both of which came out since the last time we went to Symphony of the Goddesses. There was also a piece I remembered from Phantom Hourglass, though I say "remembered" in the loosest terms since I can barely remember anything about that game. That didn't stop it from being a great performance!

I think the loudest crowd cheer was when the conductor reached into her coat, pulled out a perfect replica of the Wind Waker baton, and then started conducting the theme from Outset Island.

There was a little girl, maybe four or five, cosplaying Princess Zelda sitting in the seat in front of us. She fell asleep during the intermission and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd exploded from cute overload.  photo wheeeeee_emote_by_seiorai.gif
dorchadas: (In America)
I say finally because we missed them by twenty minutes at the last Flower Festival we attended in Hiroshima.

I have a bad habit of springing for concert tickets when I haven't actually listened to any of that band's recent albums. My record is probably the last time I went to see VNV Nation, 15 years after they released the most recent album I had actually listened to ("Empires"), and similarly the most recent Perfume album I've listened to is "Game," from eight years ago. As such, I knew basically none of the songs that they played.

Fortunately, they haven't changed their style. Perfume is technopop, or, as I think of it in my head, "What if Daft Punk was an all-female J-Pop band?" They just put out a new album, "Cosmic Explorer," and that's why they're on tour. And I didn't listen to any of it before coming, but I got to hear it live, so.

We arrived slightly late and came in to find that A-chan, Kashiyuka, and...the other one....were already on stage.


"The other one" is Nocchi, but I never remember that without looking it up.

Sadly, the drones flying in formation were only out for a single song, though they did later have an instrumental laser and patterns-on-metal-screens section that I liked a lot. There was a fairly long period after the first song where they talked about how this was their first time in Chicago and how much they liked Chicago pizza and how excited they were to bring their music to Chicago. Mostly in Japanese, with a volunteer member of the audience translating for them, and with the kind of super-genki enthusiasm that comes off as being mocking or disingenuous in America when adults do it but which is perfectly acceptable in Japan.

They also mentioned they hadn't been able to catch a Taurus in America yet, accompanied by a just-changed-enough-to-avoid-Japanese-copyright-law image on the screen of throwing a pokeball at a mangafied statue of the three of them.

Perfume is worth seeing live because, like a lot of similar groups, they have dance routines as part of their performance. And the dances are complicated enough that they take skill to perform, but not so obviously complicated that they're clearly lip-synching the whole time. Unfortunately, I don't know the names of most of the songs they did, so I can't really point out anything specific other than Next Stage with You. That link is actually to a car commercial we saw while we were in Japan in July and doesn't have the full song, but it has the chorus and everyone knows that's the important part of the song, right?

They ended with Chocolate Disco, the first Perfume song I ever heard and the only one in this performance where I knew all the words and could sing along. And then after the encore, which I don't even remember, we left and went home. It was great.
dorchadas: (Default)
One of the benefits I get from my job is an extra day off during the summer, taken in two half-day increments, and since last Friday was the last Friday that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd would be free before she returns to work next week, I cashed in the second and last of my half-days and we went out to lunch. And after lunch, we followed a suggestion from [livejournal.com profile] drydem and went to the Art Museum to check out an exhibit of Japanese period maps on display.

I've actually known about this for a couple weeks since [livejournal.com profile] drydem first sent us the email, but we didn't get around to going until now. And it was great, especially so since we just got back from Japan! My favorite parts were the maps of Kyōto, which is where we spent the majority of our time, poring over them and looking for all the temples that we had visited. We didn't find all of them, or maybe it's just that I can't read some of the pre-Meiji kanji and didn't know what I was looking for, but I did find some. Including [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's favorite temple:


North is to the left.

Look at that detail. That's the layout of Sanjūsangendō--our recent visit to which you can read about here--with the long hall in front and other buildings in back where the garden is. The river at the bottom of the picture is still there too, and I remember crossing it when we walked from Kyōto Station to the temple. The whole map was like that, obviously made by someone who had been to the temples or had excellent descriptions from people who had been there, with relief maps of the mountains all around Kyōto. Mountains filled with temples because of course they are.

That turned out to be the only thing we saw at the art museum and it was worth the price of admission. There was an exhibit of 1930s American art called "After the Fall," but it was a special exhibit that required a ticket, so we didn't go.

We also went to get more tea to replace the enormous amount we drink, and while we were there I finally bought a 茶碗 (chawan, "tea bowl") so I can stop making tea in our rice bowls. And today, I got the chance to use it to make tea:


Tea and sweet!

It was much easier. The depth allowed me to whisk without having to worry as much about spilling tea everywhere, and the bowl is just the right shape to make gripping it to drink without spilling easy. Basically I don't have to worry about spilling it anymore. I think that's why it took me so long to get the proper amount of foam, because the vigorous whisking necessary for it is pretty hard to do when you're concentrating mostly on not launching tea all around your kitchen.

And it was delicious. Yum.

ACEN 2016

2016-May-22, Sunday 15:31
dorchadas: (Perfection)
This is the 11th year since I started going to ACEN and the 10th year since I started going with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd. She couldn't make the first year because of a small convention she was running at Knox College, but she came the year after and every year we've gone since, which is all of them except 2009-2011 (when we were in Japan) and 2013 (when we had no money). A couple years ago I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep going but thought it was nice to see friends, and last year I had a great time. This year was somewhere in between, but weighted more toward a great time than toward not bothering.

A full accounting follows.

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I was surprised how much I liked cosplaying. I haven't done it since before we moved to Japan--I haven't even worn a Hallowe'en costume for years--but I was looking forward to it this year and it was a lot of fun, especially doing a joint one with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd. We've already started planning for next year, when we're going to do another non-anime cosplay with me as Mairon and her as Melkor. Often it's couples with a man playing Melkor and a woman playing Mairon, but [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd wanted to switch things around, and also if you do a google image search for Mairon, you'll understand why that's my role--examples here, here, or here. That'll probably take a while, so we're planning it early.

We didn't do as much participating in the actual convention this time, so I can see why some of our friends don't bother buying badges and just show up to meet with other friends. But buying earlier means badges aren't that expensive, and while the massive explosion of the internet and the way that nerds have taken over popular culture means that the dealer's room is no longer the only place to find a lot of the things we want, it's still worthwhile for telling us that those things exist, as well as letting us try on any clothing before we buy it, though there's more shops catering to [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's taste in clothing than to mine. And I did go to a couple panels, and had a couple more on the schedule that I didn't make it to.

Looking forward to next year!

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