Life Update and Blogging Plans

At the moment I am going through bootcamp. Not the military kind, but the purely coding kind. That’s to say, I’m in training to be a Java developer, with my eye on acquiring more gainful employment than I have been able to secure thus far with my English degree and freelancer experience. With intense, five-day-a-week studies and homework every night, I’ve not had much time for anything *but* Java.

However, I also want to improve my writing skills, as I still hope to make that my sole occupation some day. So, I have (somewhat masochistically) decided to embark on a simultaneous system of writing practice.

My main goal of this is to develop greater ease in writing; as it is, I find my output is much slower and more laborious than I’d like it to be, and I have trouble formulating my thoughts to my own satisfaction. As part of this practice, I’m going to commit to blogging every day from now on. Mostly short pieces, of course, but something every day.

This means you can expect a lot more brief, disjointed, rambling, and substandard posts here in the near future.

I’m mentioning it for a couple reasons; one to let you know why my blog is suddenly being flooded with the aforementioned substandard content, and two as a sign of commitment. Now that I’ve told everyone this is my plan, I feel like I’m obliged to see it through. I’m not very good at starting things, but I have a horror of not meeting commitments.

Naturally, this will be counting as my post for today. God only knows what we’ll get tomorrow.

The Coronation of His Imperial Majesty

Supplementing the previous post, below is the full footage of the Coronation of Emperor Naruhito from October 2019. It’s quite long, very quiet, and it’s entirely raw footage; no subtitles, no commentary, which is frankly how I’d prefer it. The full beauty and austerity of the ceremony can come through without some hack trying to explain to me what it means and how I should feel about it. Well worth watching if you have any taste for that sort of thing.

“Sail On!”

Behind him lay the gray Azores,
Behind, the Gates of Hercules;
Before him not the ghost of shores;
Before him only shoreless seas.

The good mate said: “Now must we pray,
For lo! the very stars are gone.
Brave Adm’r’l, speak: what shall I say?”
“Why say: ‘Sail on! sail on! and on!’”

“My men grow mutinous day by day;
My men grow ghastly wan and weak.”
The stout mate thought of home; a spray
Of salt wave washed his swarthy cheek.

“What shall I say, brave Adm’r’l, say
If we sight naught but seas at dawn?”
“Why, you shall say at break of day:
‘Sail on! sail on! sail on! and on!’”

They sailed and sailed, as winds might blow,
Until at last the blanched mate said:
“Why, now not even God would know
Should I and all my men fall dead.

These very winds forget their way;
For God from these dread seas is gone.
Now speak, brave Adm’r’l; speak and say—”
He said: “Sail on! sail on! and on!”

They sailed: they sailed.  Then spake the mate:
“This mad sea shows his teeth tonight;
He curls his lip, he lies in wait,
With lifted teeth, as if to bite!

Brave Adm’r’l, say but one good word:
What shall we do when hope is gone?”
The words leapt like a leaping sword:
“Sail on! sail on! sail on! and on!”

Then, pale and worn, he kept his deck,
And peered through darkness.  Ah, that night
Of all dark nights!  And then a speck—
A light! a light! a light! a light!

It grew; a starlit flag unfurled!
It grew to be Time’s burst of dawn.
He gained a world; he gave that world
Its grandest lesson: “On! sail on!”

Joaquin Miller

 

Trivia Break: Queen of the Monsters

I’d like to introduce you to actress Mie Hama. She’s a rather interesting person: born during World War II to blue collar parents, her home was destroyed in a bombing raid and she grew up poor. By the age of sixteen, she was working as a fare collector on the bus, and it was there that Producer Tomoyuki Tanaka found her and decided she might make a fine actress.

Mie Hama

Something must’ve caught his attention. Can’t quite put my finger on it…

Anyway, Miss Hama went on to become one of the most popular actresses of the Golden Age of Japanese cinema, and even to have some success outside it (more on that later). But at the height of her career she quit acting to get married and start a family, wanting only a “normal life.” She had four children and later became a popular TV and radio host, authoress, and advocate for traditional Japanese farming.

Now, Miss Hama has a peculiar distinction in the film world. As far as I know (and all things considered, I think I would know), she is the only actress to date who has been menaced by both King Kong and Godzilla, AND romanced by James Bond.

How’s that for a resume?

(To be fair, Akiko Wakabayashi also co-starred in You Only Live Twice – and plays a rather larger role – as well as having a role in King Kong vs. Godzilla, but she never interacts with either of the monsters).

Akiko Wakabayashi. Seems only fair to put her photo up as well.

Miss Hama was one of the stars of 1962’s King Kong vs. Godzilla, during the course of which the train she is riding is wrecked Godzilla, who then briefly (and presumably inadvertently) pursues her into a ravine, where she’s rescued by her boyfriend.

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Hama vs. Godzilla

Later, as she tries to evacuate Tokyo before the approaching King Kong, she boards another train, which unfortunately runs directly across the path of the giant ape, who does what he does. Somewhat fortunately for her, Kong notices her and takes a liking, meaning that she gets to serve as this film’s version of Fay Wray (Kong climbs the Diet Building in this one). Kong is then knocked out by gas bombs and she is rescued before the great ape is airlifted to his showdown with Godzilla.

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Hama vs. King Kong

Some five years after tangling with the two greatest monsters of cinema, Miss Hama was picked to co-star alongside Sean Connery (and fellow King Kong vs. Godzilla alum Akiko Wakabayashi) in You Only Live Twice, the fifth James Bond film. She plays the role of Kissy Suzuki, a Japanese agent assigned to pose as Bond’s wife while he’s undercover as a 6’2″ Japanese fisherman (granted, not the most convincing development in the history of the franchise). Kissy doesn’t really have a lot of screen time (she isn’t even introduced until an hour and a quarter into the two-hour film), but she manages to put what time she has to good use by steadfastly, and amusingly, resisting Bond’s attentions until the very end (“We’re supposed to be married!” “Think again, please; you gave false name to priest.”) and providing some solid back-up for Bond during their reconnaissance of Blofeld’s base. That, and spending about 90% of her time in a bikini.

Hama vs. Bond

Miss Hama later told stories of how difficult the experience of being a ‘Bond Girl’ was. Though she was a popular actress in Japan, she was still a fairly normal, down-to-earth person and so found herself overwhelmed by the publicity and pressure of the big Hollywood production. But, she said, Sean Connery – who also had a working class background – was very kind and chivalrous to her, constantly checking to make sure she was okay and looking out for her during the long shoot. Later she commented that her chief regret about the film was that she was too shy to try to get to know him better.

That same year, she tangled with Kong again as the villainous femme fatale Madam Piranha in the delightfully silly US-Japanese co-production King Kong Escapes (which is basically what happens when a King Kong film and a James Bond movie are put through the brundlefly machine together). This time around she’s a bad girl: a spy from an unknown foreign power in league with the villainous ‘Doctor Who,’ who intends to conquer the world with a mechanical copy of Kong (so, yes; it’s a pseudo-Bond film where King Kong battles Doctor Who, a Bond Girl, and MechaKong. Japan, ladies and gentlemen!).

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Be honest; would you accept a drink from this woman?

So, there you have it; the girl who tangled with King Kong, Godzilla, AND James Bond and lived to tell about it. Now that’s a strong woman!

No, this post was not just an excuse to share pictures of a beautiful woman. Not *just*…

A Housekeeping Note

I’ve shut down comments for the ‘About Me’ page because they were becoming a dumping ground for people commenting on the newest ‘Federalist’ or other external essays. I’m happy to have people comment, but as we were having input relating to multiple unrelated essays I thought it would be best to close things down before they got too confusing.

If you want to comment on a particular article, please do so on the post related to it.

Thank you

First ‘Godzilla’ Trailer Drops!

After much anticipation, the first trailer for ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ is finally here!

A few thoughts:

-I am very pleased with what I see so far: we get glimpses of all four monsters, and so far they look fantastic.

-They really show off Rodan in the second half of the trailer, and it looks like they’re making full use of him. That overhead shot of him flying over a city, with his shockwave destroying it in his wake, is excellent, as are the brief scenes of him in combat with jets. I also like that he emerges from a volcano; a nice reference that indicates this film will continue the respectful approach to the lore that the previous one adopted.

-On that subject, the trailer has a few bonuses for fans: those who know the Godzilla mythos will recognize what the flashes of yellow light mean and why it’s an ominous sign.

-There’s a brief shot of a soldier crossing himself: does this mean this film will continue the surprisingly matter-of-fact religiosity of its predecessor?

-Mothra is seen the least of the new monsters, though her reveal, with her wings unfolding until we see her iconic ‘eyes’ is incredible. Also, looks like we’re getting her full transformation cycle here. It’ll be interesting to see how she fits into this world, though to be honest I think she ought to have gotten her own movie before showing up here.

-Actually, let’s call it; this looks like a visually gorgeous film, with fantastic use of color.

-As for King Ghidorah, we get a few quick glimpses, including a really awesome final shot of him in silhouette. In addition, there are some shots of what look to be the gravity beams. Ghidorah is really the one I’m most looking forward to seeing, both because he is such an important figure in the Godzilla universe and because he’s been oddly ill-served in most past scripts, so I really want to see him presented in all his glory.

-Godzilla of course looks great; the scene of him firing his ray into the air is cool, though I wonder why he’s doing it.

-In short, I’m really excited for this one: it’s one of my most anticipated films of 2019, with only the next Avengers as a challenge. The Godzilla series is personally my top “fandom:” it’s the one closest to my heart and that I am most invested in, so the prospect of a respectful, high-budget depiction of that world and these characters just thrills me to no end. Can’t wait!

UPDATE: After writing this, I watched the new trailers for Shazam and Aquaman, and I was struck by how classy, impressive, and visually distinct this one was by comparison. It really feels like the makers of this film took it seriously in a way that the others didn’t. I’m so glad that Godzilla of all characters seems to be in the hands of people that truly respect him and his world.