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Johannes Cabal Cabal Fanart
Johannes Cabal Cabal with Pokemon Fanart
Johannes Cabal Cabal Fanart
Movies: Star Trek: Into Darkness [Video]
Movies: Cats on Film Reviews of movies with cats in them.
Words: Word of the Year 2012

There seems to be a small but devoted JC fanbase on Tumblr, so I decided to get myself one -- GeistWorks.

In other news, I'm finally up to date on Castle. The recent Halloween episode at the convention was superb.

Books:

I decided to actively read the Dresden Files in order to catch up to the very latest book, Cold Days. I'm slowly working my way through Ghost Story right now which is harder to read because my second favourite character hasn't turned up yet, and probably won't.

Anyway, here are my reviews for all the books I've read in the past month and a bit in the order I read them:

Johannes Cabal: The Detective, Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute, M.R. James: The Haunted Dolls' House and Other Ghost Stories, Volume 2, Dexter: Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Dresden Files: Grave Peril #3, Dresden Files: Summer Knight #4, Dresden Files: Blood Rites #6, Dresden Files: Dead Beat #7, Dresden Files: Turn Coat #11, Dresden Files: Changes #12, and Roberts: The Dragon With The Girl Tattoo.

Film:

I went to see Skyfall and Argo recently. I imagine that you've already seen Skyfall if you were planning on it. All I have to say is that 1) I liked Q, but I don't ship him with Bond and 2) I felt a little inadequate with Bond going "Omigod, I can only do ten pull-ups and fifty push-ups *sob*."

Argo was really good. Surprising, considering Ben Affleck directed and starred in it. I was already interested in the basic premise, but I was impressed by how taut the final scenes were.

Next: The Hobbit.

Life:

I performed impro at a theatre in front of a paying audience a few weeks ago. Felt good to be back. I'm also close to finishing a novel I've been working on and I don't think it's too bad, for once.

I hope everyone's okay and safe, particularly with things like Sandy hitting the US.
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Japan:
Illustrated Diary of 56 Years of Life in Japan
Music: Cellmod - Radio Sex [YouTube]
Science: The Physics of a Crumpled Piece of Paper

So this is it. I'm finally leaving Japan. My flight leaves at 11am tomorrow and I arrive 2pm British time. Honestly, I don't really have the time to write this.

Had an an amazing time on Wednesday -- P organised a surprise leaving party for me. There were cookies and couscous salad and pizza, plus speeches and a card signed by everyone. I'm going to miss them all so much.

I also read out the first scene of one of my stories, while another of my friends did a rap he was working on. Everyone was really positive about my story, and JM mentioned a friend of his "who was a member of TIP and published a book too". Clearly someone has a lot of faith in me!

That's it for now. I need to keep packing, sadly. Take care everyone, I'll have internet again in no time (at least at my parents...).
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BGLT: Best LGBT Movie Characters of 2011 ....Really??
England: Darklands Gothic Club Night (York)
Film: Trailer for Ridley Scott's Prometheus Everything from the way the title appears to the alien spaceship screams a connection to 'Alien'. There isn't, apparently.
Japan: The Yomiuri Shinbun's Top News Stories of 2011 [Japanese]
Photography: The Story Behind The Navy First Kiss
Stage Shows: Samurai 7 Makes A 2012 Comeback If this is anything like the show I saw first time around, it's going to be amazing. If you're in Japan, you should definitely go to see it.
Stage Shows: CODE GEASS STAGE SHOW DO WANT. Here are some cast photos from some random blog. This should be epic. But it's almost four months after I leave Japan. 絶望したぁ~!
Steampunk: Steampunk Photo Gallery
Teaching: Preventing Gender Bullying (via [personal profile] nuraya)
Travel: Surprise: There Are Germs On Planes Just when I'm getting ready to fly back to the UK...
Wikipedia: Wiki: Abe no Seimei I think he's an interesting character, part John Dee, part Merlin. Here's his Wiki page.
Writing: China Mieville on Genre-Blending

Here's a 2011 meme stolen from [personal profile] thedogstar, with some questions deleted because I didn't have anything interesting to say.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?

Performed comedy on stage. I never considered doing anything other than watching previously, but all my favourite shows/books are either sci-fi or comedy, preferably both. It just took me a long time to realise it.

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

This is what I wrote last year:

1. Send out more query letters.
2. Work on my photography.
3. Write more, read more.
4. Gym. Verb left unspecified.
5. Do more Stuff.


I did (1) and sent out more query letters, but that still wasn't very many.
As for (2), I took more photographs, posted them publicly more often and attended a meeting of a local photography club.
(3), I wrote more and I have no idea if I read more. Probably about the same.
(4) was a complete failure. I stopped going after March 11th as I just didn't feel like it anymore.
(5) was the biggest success. I did More Stuff! I performed and attended workshops. I tried stand-up. I volunteered up north and marched in a protest. I've found so many things I want to do in the future.

Here are this years:

1. Get a job.
2. Write more, send more query letters.
3. Do at least one open mike night.
4. Form an improv troupe.
5. Keep doing More Stuff.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

Less existential angst.

7. What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

March 11th.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Performing as team captain at our final improv performance of 2011 and completing a week of volunteer work in one of the hardest-hit cities in Miyagi prefecture.

11. What were the best things you bought?

Nothing really stands out. I mostly bought tickets to events and workshops rather than physical items.

13. Whose behaviour appalled you?

TEPCO. TEPCO. TEPCO. Everyone at that whole damn company, with the possible exception of Yoshida and those unnamed engineers he oversaw, but he was (probably) part of the problem to begin with.

14. Where did most of your money go?

On theatre and workshops.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Improv.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Covenant's Lightbringer. I listened to it a lot, but it was actually released in October 2010.

After the earthquake, I stopped listening to music entirely for a long time. Since I like industrial and EBM, it was either genuinely depressing or insincerely dark. I've since made a Grooveshark playlist called "Happy But Dark" which features songs that have a dark sound but lighter lyrics. Which are frequently about orcs.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. Happier or sadder?
Yes.
ii. Thinner or fatter? Thinner.
iii. Richer or poorer? Richer.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Stand-up comedy.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

Well, it's past Christmas now. I spent it with J, playing Magic and eating pizza. We went for our Christmas meal on Christmas Eve and have one more "Christmas" lined up in January, when we're back in the UK.

21. Where did you ring in 2011?

I... I can't remember. I even went back to check and I'd written nothing about it.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?

Ignoring anime and animation (which is not what I think of when someone says "TV programme"), I guess it would have to be Doctor Who and Mock The Week.

Here's the anime I watched:

Love: Deadman Wonderland, Madoka Magica, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Tiger&Bunny.
Awesome: Venture Brothers.
Not Bad: [C] The Money of Soul and Possibility Control, Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi, Thundercats.
Whatever: SKET DANCE.
I Don't Know: Ao no Exorcist, X-Men.
Horrendous: I reviewed the first episodes of every single summer anime here. Probably the top three horrendous titles would be MayoChiki!, R-15 and Ro-Kyu-Bu.

"I Don't Know" is a pretty strange category, but it usually means that the series had some really, really great things about it and some terrible things that let it down. "Whatever" means the series was too generic for me to form an opinion.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

TEPCO.

26. What was the best book you read?

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I didn't really listen to much new music in 2011. Every time I think of a band, I remember I listened to them first in 2010.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?

Awesome: Captain America, Kokuriko-zaka Kara, Red, Suteki na Kanashibari, Tangled 3D, Thor, The Three Musketeers.
Not Bad: Gantz (1&2), Ghost in the Shell S.A.C. Solid State Society 3D, PotC: On Stranger Tides, X-Men: First Class.
I Don't Know: Cowboys & Aliens, Genji Monogatari: Sennen no Nazo.
Horrendous: Transformers 3.

If you were wondering, both Red and Tangled were released in 2011 in Japan.

31. What did you do on your birthday?

Made garlic toast and tea for lunch, according to my journal. But about a week later, E took me out for crepes and chai in Shibuya. It was all fairly low-key.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

No earthquake and getting a story published.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

Waistcoats.

34. What kept you sane?

My Little Pony and beer.

38. Who was the best new person you met?

Everyone at improv.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

You're going to die. Really. Really-really. And it could happen any day now.
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Links:

2011:
The Time Person of the Year: The Protestor
2011: Filmography 2011 [Video]
Architecture: Despite Complaints, 'The Cloud' Will Be Built
Art: Hotel Chain Challenges Guests to Steal Artwork
Art: Banksy: Cardinal Sin
Explosions: Daytime Fireworks in Qatar [Video]
Facebook: Reasons We Friend/Defriend People on Facebook
Livejournal: Livejournal Changes
Weiss Kreuz: Weiss Kreuz Drabble Exchange

The new Kanji of the Year (2011) was announced a few weeks ago, just as I mentioned. I previously said that discussion on it was moot because they'd choose 'kizuna' for sure. They did, of course, choose 'kizuna'. Here's an article describing why. They also noted that the two kanji I said they had already "used up" came in second and third.

I've been busy performing and attending workshops these past two weeks.

Theatresports, Shinjuku (December 10th, Saturday)

An improv format where teams 'compete' to spontaneously produce the best type of scene. In this case, they received suggestions from the audience, which were written on little sheets of paper before the show. I was a little disappointed by this, because I was the only audience member not given a pencil, and also the only (visible?) foreigner in attendance. Coincidence...? Anyway, while I was a little sceptical about letting an elementary school group compete against three adult groups, their final scene (helped along by one of the adult groups) was spectacular.

Impro Comedy Workshop (December 13th, Tuesday)

The workshop was listed amongst the English events of the "International Improv Festival" and headed by a teacher from the States, but I found out just a couple of days beforehand it was aimed at Japanese speakers only! I eventually decided I wanted to go despite all this and ended up having a great time. Yes, I had to improvise in Japanese, but since I was getting all the instructions directly in English (which was then translated into Japanese for everyone else), it wasn't as hard as I thought it might be.

Theatresports Student Showcase (December 14th, Wednesday)

This also used the Theatresports format. I headed up the Lesser Pandas, which is the Japanese name for the red panda, although it's also used in English. A little. Being the team leader meant that I spent a lot of time talking to the audience from the stage, getting suggestions, and facing down R who was captain of the other side. We have a great chemistry together because we're basically anime-style rivals. So we had a good time hurling comedic insults at each other, which went down rather well.

For our final scene, we challenged the other team to the best scene encapsulating "courage". I went out in front of the audience and I asked for the name of something that they really wanted. We got the answer "cake" and the scene featured a waiter with sexy hands, a birthday cake and a proposal. Our team won!

Friday Night Magic  (December 16th, Friday)

Card-gaming. I won my first match and lost my next two. I would have won my third if it wasn't for the bizarre way I just kept drawing land and no creatures. Will tweak the deck and return next (this) week.

Trance Masks Workshop (December 17th, Saturday)

I'm not sure how to even begin to explain this. It was run by a famous Japanese improviser -- he literally wrote the book on it (in Japanese). He had a collection of about 16 half-masks made using techniques he learned from a Noh craftsman.

First, you choose one that appeals to you and put it on. He shows you your own face in the mirror and tells you to change your mouth shape to match the mask. You then have to respond by making an 'emotional sound' as loud as possible, while he mirrors your sound to encourage you. He then sets your new character free to interact with other characters in the same sort of "trance" and a whole table full of silly toys from the 100 yen shop.

Well... I'm glad I tried it once. It was interesting, but I probably won't do it again.

Bounenkai (December 17th, Saturday)

Later that day, I went to an end-of-year party in Shibuya. First though, I went round the 109 Tower for the first time(!). I figured I should do it once, right?

Anyway, the party was held in a karaoke-kan and mostly attended by improvisers and stand-ups, which a) made it a lot of fun and b) meant the alcohol flowed freely. Seriously, we were a group of only ten (grew to about 15...) and yet when we arrived they gave us four or five bottles of soda, two large bottles of Suntory whisky and a round of beers!

I vaguely remember singing Velvet Underworld and not being very good at it. I don't think it gets much drunker than that.

I remember standing outside the karaoke-kan and giving these guys riding bikes that were more Akira than Akira the thumbs up. They were returned, of course. 

Pirates of Tokyo Bay (December 18th, Sunday)

I went to see my friends' improv show on Sunday night. It was held at What The Dickens, which is a great British pub in Ebisu. Very difficult to find though! Luckily W called out to me as I passed some of the performers while going in completely the wrong direction.

It also doubled as J's leaving party and a bunch of us from the Other improv group were there too.

And! [profile] kurayamihimitsu and friends were there. Probably the last time I'll see her, but who knows? I hope that isn't the case.

Stand up (December 20th, Tuesday)

I went to the Tokyo Comedy Store Open Mike Night and did a set. Does it matter if it was good or bad? I got up there and did it!

As it happened, I got plenty of laughs and they were with me, not at me. The organiser said 'well done,' and he doesn't say that often. Of course, it'll be long time before I can get to another open mike night.

I went to see Genji Monogatari the other day. It's a very beautiful film, with literally every screencap a perfect picture. The screenplay though? Terrible. It starts with Genji (the hero of the story) getting kind of rapey with Murasaki (the writer of the story) in a beautifully lit, flower-filled forest. Abe no Seimei shows up and summons a few shikigami later. Complete nonsense. But very, very beautiful.

And, for what it's worth, I attended WWE Raw World Tour in Yokohama Area on December 1st, something I completely forgot to mention several posts ago. To my surprise, William Regal was added to the line-up. He's one of my favourites.

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