Jamie's Blog

The ramblings of a programmer with a little too much time on his hands

Tag: Miyamoto Musashi

Tricky, Sticky Ducks, Ancient Warriors and Mind Tricks

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

A New Year, new goals and a new PSU

Welcome back

Firstly, I hope that your end of year celebrations (both festive and annual) went well.

Secondly, yes, my self imposed social networking exile is over. Which means, I’ll be lost in a deluge of twitter posts and facebook messages for the next few months, trying to catch up; ironically making me further behind. So, wish me luck.

Reasons?

One of the (several) reasons for me not posting and enjoying the whole social network ‘experience’ was that the power supply unit in my PC died. Just plum gave up the ghost. It was second hand when I got it, and the guy I got it from has told me that it might have been a few years old at the time. Considering that was 3 years ago, it had lasted quite a long time running at more than 100% capacity – I never knew that it’s maximum output was 500 watts, and ended up dragging nearly 600 out of it, on a daily basis, for 2 years. Whoops – Anyway I’ve managed to get myself a shiny new 650 watt one, and it’s working beautifully.

Having had to reinstall my OS‘s (something I try to do once a year, regardless. I’ll explain at a later date why I do that so frequently), I’ve just gotten back online in the past few days. I dread to think of the amount of bandwidth I’ve used, having installed a whole bunch of games off of Steam. Oh well internet based installers have their draw backs, too.

I suppose you’re all wondering what I’ve been up to recently.

Don’t call it a comeback

The lead up to Christmas was, mostly, uneventful. Although, I did have a creative explosion; which I’ll share with you this week.

I broke for the Christmas period a day before Christmas Eve (some might call that ‘Christmas Eve Eve’). So while most of my friends were at work, I was chilling at home with very little to do.

I did visit a friend of mine more than a few times. He’d taken a tumble and broken his hip, and I thought I’d go over and keep him company when I could. He seems to be doing a lot better, recently (that being said, I didn’t manage to get to see him today. Here’s hoping you’re doing ok.Although I could just text him, now… Oh wait, my phone is out of power.’ Enough of this internal monologue, get on with the post)

Christmas day came and went. Mostly, uneventfully – as it always seems to do for me – and the approach of the New Year hastened. My friend Danny put it best when he said, ‘I don’t see the point of getting too excited. It’s just the changing of a calendar. Chinese New Year, however, means something.’ So there’s that.

I remember my first act of 2011 was to use the facilities, and write a little about my feelings in my journal/idea’s book. So, that’s about it.

Literally literature

Aside from all of that, I’ve been reading a lot.

I was given a copy of Simon Pegg‘s book, ‘Nerd Do Well‘ for Christmas. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and I think that all of you will, too. Assuming you have a working knowledge of any of his work thus far this century. I know what you’re thinking, “A biography!? But he’s only a young ‘un!” and You’re quite right, that’s why this one has a thematic twist. I’ll not give it away, so go read it, and you’ll find out what it is.

I also was given a book called ‘Mock the Week: The New Year’s Book‘, imagine a book full of witty ‘Things you wouldn’t expect to see/hear on a…’ and you’ve got the thrust of it.

Reading both of these two, over the course of about two days, left me with a hunger that could only be satisfied by more literature. So, I dove into my books boxes (note: plural) that have been hidden under my bed, untouched for some time and dug out a few that I’ve not read in a while.

One of which is this beauty:

Cover of The Book of the Samurai

Image via Wikipedia

This book is full of outdated advice to the Katana equipped gentleman of the late Meiji period, regarding day to day life. It was written by a Samurai in exile and his student during the 1700s. And contains such impressive advice as:

It is bad taste to yawn in front of people. When one has to unexpectedly yawn, if he rubs his forehead in an upward direction, the sensation will stop. If that does not work, he can lick his lips while keeping his mouth closed, or simply hide is with his hands or sleeve in such a way that no one will know what he is doing.

Not bad, eh?

Another one I’ll be reading is:

Cover of "The Lone Samurai: The Life of M...

Cover via Amazon

Which is the biography of , in my opinion, the greatest Martial Artist, Swordsman, and Painter the world has ever seen. Miyamoto Mushashi. I really enjoyed this book when I first read it (‘… erm… 4 years ago!? That sounds about right.‘) 4 years ago, mostly on the journey to my friend, Leigh’s house .

Anyway, I think I’ll leave it there. Mostly because my internet connection has gone down. (‘Using too much bandwidth again, I suppose. My ISP will be on my ass for using up… HOW MUCH BANDWIDTH!?‘) I’ll let you in on the secret as to how I posted this without an active internet connection later. For now, though, go in peace, my friends.

J