I talk about the 5,6 earthquake in Saitama today, Smart phones at the gym, Lecherous old bastards with pervy photo albums, Radiation in Ikebuks, KSW 31, UFC 187 and the sad state of kickboxing.

Gaijinass podcast #4.
Solo on this one I talk about getting back into training, powerlifting, my crappy gym, GGG and Russian boxing.

Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat
Living in Tokyo as part of the expat community you run into all sort of interesting people. There never seems to be that many degrees of separation from someone else living in this giant of a city. This is especially true when you’ve been here for years and all the people you initially met, pull up their stakes and head home (quitters). This leaves you with a dangerous mix of interesting and talented people who have made it work and then the crazies who you run into and wonder how on earth they survived this long. Definitely in the interesting and talented camp is the Tokyo based Australian author, Andrez Bergen. A DJ, editor and author he has written a number of works including:

Recently he was kind enough to answer some questions about his writing career:

How did you get your first book published?

It was a collection of prose work for an art photographer friend’s book back in Melbourne (easy!), but my first novel Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat was published in 2011 thanks to a lot of stubborn banging-of-the-head.

What is your experience with book releases?

I’ve had five books of my own published – 4 novels and one collection – plus two graphic novels, a comic book series, and I co-edited a noir anthology. It’s tough at times, but if you have passion and believe in your stuff – definitely worth the work.

In the age of digital books what do you sell more?

Yeah, this is a good point. One of my novels sold 3000+ digital versions, but only 240 copies of the paperback. It’s tough sales-wise with the physical versions.

Do you get paid more for digital sales or physical prints?

At this stage, definitely the digital copies just because of the higher number of sales.

I heard you are putting out a graphic novel, care to share release dates?

Actually, I’ve done two. One was a graphic novel of my first book Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, which has pretty much sold out – we printed up 200 copies. The other is my new one Bullet Gal, which was published in North America in April and I think they did 2000+ copies. It’s available via Under Belly Comics here: underbellycomics

Bullet Gal

Word on the street is you worked as a DJ in Australia. Are you still doing that?

Ha Ha Ha… yep! Not as much as I used to since I have a 9-year-old daughter, but occasionally I still spin and make tracks as Little Nobody. I’m doing an Australian tour in August for the 20th anniversary of IF? Records.

What brought you to Japan?

The food! Seriously. Plus the anime, manga and Japanese cinema, plus local techno. And I studied Japanese history at university.

Does living in Japan influence your work?

Definitely. It’s always popping up in my writing, comics and music. There’re always Japanese characters or cultural inserts. My novel 100 Years of Vicissitude was my love-letter to the country just after the Fukushima earthquake. And I moonlight as a journalist, often writing about Japan.

Thanks again Andrez for talking to us! You can get a hold of him on his Google Page and Website.

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In 2003, Park Chan-wook, one of my favorite directors released a brilliant film, Oldboy (2003) as part of his Vengeance Trilogy. The Korean mystery thriller is amazing and its fight scenes are legendary, even being replicated in the lackluster Repo Men with Jude Law or the more recent Daredevil

With a cult following and large Asian demographic to get behind any new movie, it was only a matter of time before the film would get a Hollywood remake. Will Smith had originally tried to get the ball rolling with Steven Spielberg as director but after legal trouble with the original source material the project was cancelled. Then in 2011, Mandate Pictures, started filming with director Spike Lee and starring Josh Brolin. Released in thanksgiving 2013 American Oldboy totally bombed in the theaters and was one of Spike Lee’s biggest money losers.

The first time I heard of the remake was when controversy erupted over Spike Lee supposedly theft of the movie poster artwork. I actually got excited, and a little nervous, that it was coming out! Even if the remake was only half the movie the Korean version was it would be a great movie. Yet my worst fears were realized as the remake was so bad that it was to the point that it was almost comical.

They took all the elements that made the film great and changed them for no real reason. In the Korean film there was the hypnosis of the father and daughter which was changed but that is not a big deal. What did bother me was how certain aspects of violence was scaled back. First of all when he comes back to the hotel. In the Korean version he starts yanking out teeth with the iconic hammer. The American version? He cuts strips of skin from Samuel Jackson’s neck. A hammer in the mouth, metal against teeth, the twisting motion horrifying. Strips of skin? Not so much. Also the in the final reveal scene he doesn’t cut out his own tongue!


That’s key to the whole story!

He won’t talk now!

But the biggest fuck you to the movie had to be the reveal when learn why Mr Richy Rich started this whole ploy. In the Korean version it was a sexual experience between a brother and a sister, disgusting sure, but understandable. In the American version it was this bizarre love affair between the father and the whole family, who were apparently gagging for daddies’ sexual feeling. There was one scene which had me laughing uncontrollably as the father goes through the house and murders his family one by one. I’m pretty sure it was unintentional but you couldn’t not laugh it was just so over the top.

Now I’m sure everyone has seen the reports that Spike Lee created a masterpiece at 140 minutes long, but that the evil hollywood producers cut out all the important parts and re-edited it to 105 minutes (A furious Spike lee changed the title screen from a Spike Lee Joint to Spike Lee Film).

I just don’t how different it could have been! Sure the iconic fight scene in the hotel could have been better but all the other elements and director directions are what ruined it for me, not what missing.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not one of those people who slams every remake. I just posted about how the American remake of The Bridge is a great series. I thought the  American Departed and the American La Femme Nikita (Point of No Return 1993) were better than their Hong Kong and French/Italian originals.

American Oldboy bombed in the box office not because it was misunderstand or lost in translation it just sucked.

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A few weeks ago I was talking about, what I think, is viral marketing for the new Jurassic Park Movie. Well it looks like those clever marketing geniuses are at it again. I started noticing these pictures across social media a few days ago.

Viral Marketing Spotted this winner on the street in NYC

Viral Marketing The neighbors take game night pretty seriously

Viral Marketing Porshe

Well turns out the vandalized cars are part of a publicity stunt for a new Bravo TV Show, Girlfriends’ Guide To Divorce

Debuting December 2 and stars former House star Lisa Edelstein. Because hey, everyone needs a little help going through this event in their lives. And so we have the Bravo TV show.

To call attention to this advice-for-free slice of entertainment, creative agency Omelet cooked up a stunt that basically either paints the man as a sport-car-loving, insensitive doofus or the woman as a vindictive, spiteful vandal. … The cars have been emblazoned with statements written by seemingly scorned women and include, “Leaving You,” “You Suck” and “We Are Over.” The campaign is tagged #GG2D and has received a bit of play on Twitter and Instagram.

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Carrie Mathison the-killing-amc The Bridge

Three women from three shows all stereotypical inhabit that mythical land where they are not too crazy to function but are crazy enough to utilize their manic abilities that their disorders give them. On the left is Carrie Mathison from Homeland. A CIA agent she is able to tap her bipolar disorder in an order to obsess about whatever case she is working on. In the center is Sarah Linden from The Killing who the show tries to imply that she has something like obsessive compulsive disorder and gets too wrapped up in her cases. To the right is detective Sonya Cross from The Bridge. Detective Cross has some form of Autism and uses her rainman like focus to attack a case while ignoring every social convention around her.

TV Tropes calls this type of cliche No Social Skills with an Ambiguous Disorder. Whatever they are, the quirks make the characters the perfect detectives. It’s not a new concept and I’m sure real police officers get tired of the comparisons and the implication might have mental disorders themselves. Yet all three shows are gripping and easy to binge as each episode ends with cliff hanger. Why are the stories so good? Well a big part is that they’re tried and true hits from other countries. Homeland is based on the Israeli thriller Kidnapped or “Hatufim”. The Killing is based on the Danish Forbrydelsen, while The Bridge is based on Swedish/Danish drama Bron/Broen. All three were transferred to a western setting without upsetting what makes them great.

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Tokyo Drifts from Seafood to Meat Eating

On the West Coast of America a labor dispute with the port workers has meant there has been a potato shortage over here in Japan. Not enough spuds are making their way across the Pacific. For a while MacDonalds ran out and then only would sell small orders of French Fries. Meanwhile KFC has discontinued offering french fries until its potato supply issue can be fixed. The shortage just goes to show how globalized Japan’s food industry is. A labor issue in Western America turns off the French Fries all the way over the ocean to Japan. The “potato crisis” brings to memory the great Toilet Paper Crisis of ’73.

Japan imports most of its food. Yet the “shortage” is a little deceiving, sure you can’t get a large French Fries at Macdonalds but there are still potatoes in the supermarket, just not the cheap mass produced kind that Macdonalds needs to profitably sell to you a side of French Fries. Take Japan’s most important food, rice. In order to comply with World Trade Organization rules Japan has to import a certain amount of rice. It dutifully imports X amount of tons but doesn’t hand them over for consumption.

Instead the imported rice is sent as food aid to North Korea, added to beer and rice cakes, or mixed with other grains to feed pigs and chickens. Or it just sits in storage for years. — Bloomberg

People talk about how screwed Japan would be if it couldn’t import food but Japan imports so much because it eats a western style diet and wastes an incredible amount of that. Japan won’t starve if it can’t import, its people just won’t be able to eat at the level they do now. Miso soup anyone?

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