Note: this post contains Japanese characters that might not render correctly with your browser. So if certain parts appear as a succession of boxes, that’s why. Don’t worry though, as I’ve put the reading of these characters next to them (mostly actor/character names).

This Weekend

Throughout this past weekend, I’d decided that I would venture out into the world – seeing as the weather was awesome round here – and spend time getting to know this thing called ‘Fresh Air.’ For the most part, it went well, too.

I travelled all the way out to a local seaside town and spent the day with my younger brother and a friend of mine, cruising around the arcades. It’s a shame that all of the rail shooters where positioned to catch as much glare (on the screens)  as was possible. I really like playing certain rail shooters on sunny day, pedestrians stopping in awe of my skills, setting the high scores safe in the knowledge that they wont be on there tomorrow.

We spent a stupid amount of money at the many arcades, and bought a bucket full of fudge…

There’s an awesome shop were you can buy fudge with different confectionery baked into it. For instance, I ended up with 100 grams of each of the following: Baileys and Cream Coffee, Run and Raisin, Milky Way, Coconut, and Mars (I think). The first two were gifts, the rest for me. Yum yum

We travelled home, tired and full of fudge to the idea of ordering pizza and watching a DvD. After the DvD had been watched, and the pizza’s (plural) had been eaten, it was time for my friend to go home.

Trick

The next day, I decided to re-watch a favourite Japanese TV show of mine. It’s a comedy show called Trick.

Actually it’s called トリック, but I decided that most people either wouldn’t be able to read that, or their browsers might not render it properly. So, I’ve simplified it to ‘Trick’ for the rest of this post.

Trick: The Movie DVD Cover Art

It stars 由紀江仲間 (Nakama Yukie ) and 阿部寛 (Hiroshi Abe) as a magician and physics professor (respectively) travelling the length and breadth of Japan solving crimes and mysteries related to spiritualism.

Hiroshi, being 6 feet and 2 inches tall, plays the role of a bumbling professor of physics at Japanese University of Technology and Science called 上田次郎 (Ueda Jiro), who owns a tiny car (I forget the model/make, but it looks like a classic mini). Ueda is a confirmed sceptic of all things magical an spiritual, however when things get too much for him he usually screams like a little girl and loses consciousness.

Nakama, being just over 5 feet tall, plays the role of 山田奈緒子 (Yamada Naoko), she is the the daughter of a talented magician and a famous calligraphist. Yamada is, in her own right, a very talented magician however she only has one die hard fan. Well, a stalker really.

She  doesn’t like the work that Ueda brings her, as her real passion is for magic and inventing tricks, not disproving ‘fake spiritualists’ but she really needs the money that such jobs bring.

The few jobs she gets during the shows run that are not related to Ueda, performing magic to pedestrians or shoppers in a mall, aren’t held for very long, as she is replaced with ‘edgier’ or stupid acts. For instance, one replacement is a man who stands on one leg in the Tai-Chi ‘Dragon’ position for extended amounts of time without falling over.

From this point onward, I’ll refer to Yamada Naoko by her given name (Naoko), to avoid confusion since her mother is also a main character.

Yamada’s mother 山田里美 (Yamada Satomi) is a famous calligrapher who claims that there are great powers in written characters. Satomi sometimes gets involved with the mysteries, as Naoko and her have a very strong emotional bond and each can feel when the other is in danger of some sort.

She, along with most of the main characters believe that Naoko and Ueda make a cute couple. This is remarked upon to the great chagrin of Naoko as she, seemingly, has no interest in Ueda (although, she worries for his safety at several points in the show).

The final main character is 矢部謙三 (Yabe Kenzo), an incompetent investigator from the Tokyo branch of the Metropolitan police. Yabe wears a wig, but tells everyone that it his natural hair. He is very touchy about this follicular matter, to the point that he beats up his assistant and his hair dresser.

He spends a lot of his time avoiding doing work whenever he can (telling people, over the phone, that he’s chasing a suspect while riding a roller-coaster for instance), and can only solve crimes due to utter stupidity and sheer luck.

The show has been described as a mixture of The X-Files and Scooby Doo. While that is a very concise description, I’d add “Derren Brown” in there somewhere. This is because of the fact that Naoko uses her training and insight as a magician to solve the mysteries and expose the, often quite simple, tricks used by the charlatans. That, and she often explains the magic tricks she (and other characters) uses to bamboozle everyone.

Anyway, I’ve managed to watch most of it so far. When I decided to embark on this not-so-epic quest I all three seasons, one of the films and one of the specials. In chronological order (of release) this is the entire series:

  1. Season 1
  2. Season 2
  3. Trick: The Movie
  4. Season 3
  5. Trick: The Special
  6. Trick: The Movie 2
  7. Trick: The Movie 3
  8. Trick: The Special 2

As of yesterday, though, I now have all of these. I’m looking forward to watching the specials and movies I didn’t have before. Also, I’m looking forward to watching the most impressive, and action packed fight scene in martial arts cinema history. It’s in the first special, and it’s between Ueda and a body guard.

If I could find a clip I’d post it, because it’s the best fight scene I’ve ever witnessed. Remember: the show is a comedy and I’m using a hefty dose sarcasm to explain the scene, here.

I’d seriously recommend watching this one if you get the chance. Although I can’t endorse it, it’s available for free streaming (with subtitles) on many, many websites and is well worth watching. Or you could (again not endorsing this at all) download the show, most of it – minus the second special and second and third films – are available in one form or another out there with subtitles. I’ve got the DvDs, and they’re a joy to watch.

Brentalfloss’ G-Rated Karaoke Track Pack

After I got home, today. I found a small cardboard box with my name on it waiting for me. Inside was my pre-order copy of Brentalfloss’ G-Rates Karaoke CD. For those who don’t know who brentalfloss (“And yes, his name is officially uncapitalized” – direct quote from his website), I’d recommend going over to his site and checking out his work if you like either:

  • Video game music or
  • Comedy

The man is an absolute wizard on the keyboard, and exceptionally funny.

brentalfloss during his famous “Zelda with Lyrics” video

Anyway, this CD is just his first CD but with completely re-written G-Rated lyrics. As he says on Track 1 (“Boring Parental Disclaimer”)

Hello. This is brentalfloss, thanks for listening to this CD. I made G-Rated versions of the tracks so that kids, like my nephews Evan and Jackson, could enjoy it too, without their parents having to turn down the volume at key points during most of the songs. I also did it for people who wanted a version of the CD they could listen to anywhere, with anyone.

What results is a CD that is, as funny and entertaining as his first CD, but with family friendly lyrics. It’s fun to listen to, and contains ‘Karaoke’ versions of his tracks for people to sing along to, or make their own lyrics up for.

I’ve only listened the G-Rated songs so far (as I’m guessing that the karaoke versions might be slightly less entertaining, but I could be wrong). It’s definitely worth getting if you bought the first CD.

Miyamoto Musashi

I’ve been reading about the amazing 宮本武蔵 (Miyamoto Musashi), often called the greatest swordsman in recorded history. He really is a fascinating person, and I’m planning a whole post about him soon. He was a martial artist in all sense of the word. He studied weapons, the Tea ceremony, Art and poetry.

Derren Brown

I’ve also been reading “Tricks of the Mind” by the often imitated, but never duplicated Derren Brown.

Derren Brown using his mind tricks on a parrot

For those who don’t know, Derren is an English magician and mentalist (in fact, the main character in “The Mentalist” is based, rather loosely, on him). He is famous for his TV shows and specials that “mix suggestion, psychology, showmanship and misdirection” and his investigative reports into things like ghost hunting, the paranormal, and most recently faith healers.

Among his most daring tricks where a live interactive seance, a live Russian Roulette game (with actual live ammunition), predicting the national lottery draw with 100% accuracy and a plethora of other mind and card tricks based around magic and gaps in our psychology and perception of reality.

The book is a selection of tips and tricks that Derren has used in his shows. They’re all excellent described (although I struggled with the peg system, initially) and are provided with simple examples. The memory tricks work so well that I scared myself. I was able, using a combination of linking and loci to remember a list of 20 random objects a month after being set the task of memorising them.

And I have a terrible memory. Seriously, I have trouble recalling much of 2009- Jan 2011.

Don’t worry though, I wont be using any of the hypnosis or suggestibility trick on anyone… at least not until I’ve perfected them. Even then, it’ll only be for silly things, like making people cluck like a chicken or making me invisible.

I need to get that book on Neuro-Linguistic Programming

So, that’s what I’ve been up to recently. I’ll put a whole bunch of links down here at the bottom of the article, should you make it this far, you might find them useful for expanding on some of the topics I’ve talked about.

Ciao,

J

Links

Trick on the wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trick_(TV_series)
Trick on the D-addicts wiki: http://wiki.d-addicts.com/Trick
Brentalfloss’ home page: http://www.brentalfloss.com/
Brentalfloss’ Youtube page: http://www.youtube.com/user/brentalfloss
Derren Brown’s homepage:http://derrenbrown.co.uk/
Derren Brown on the wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derren_Brown

Jamie is a .NET developer specialising in ASP.NET MVC websites and services, with a background in WinForms and Games Development. When not programming using .NET, he is either learning about .NET Core (and usually building something cross platform with it), speaking Japanese to anyone who'll listen, learning about languages, writing for this blog, or writing for a blog about Retro Gaming (which he runs with his brother)