A Smile is like warm Sunshine

19 05 2010

Mae chan is such a beautiful child. I know all parents, probably say this, but she seems to have the cuteness factor of both Western and Japanese genes. As she approaches 3 months, it’s amazing that time has moved so fast for us, but she is still so young.

When thing that gives both, myself and my wife, unbridled joy is when Mae actually smiles at you. This isn’t the pursing and slight raising of the mouth and lips of the first month or so, when she was passing wind. This is a full on, eyes wide open smile full of happiness and love. She smiles not only with her mouth but with her eyes, and its a wonderful thing to behold.


Blinded by the light…

17 05 2010

So, first off an apology for being away for so long from this blog. I had hoped to keep this running consistently this time, but life took over. So many things have happened to me in such a short space of time that it’s hard to make the time to sit down, digest them, filter out all the garbage then put them into a coherent blog post.

So, I am now a father, and have been since February 27th 2010. It’s an amazing experience that has left me speechless, overjoyed, intruigued, flabbergasted, tired, happy, stressed and full of love. Mae chan is a beautiful baby. I love her and my wife with all my heart and feel complete in a way I never thought possible.

We’ve moved to a bigger place in Myoden, and we feel like a proper family. Rie is a brilliant mother, organised, calm and loving. Mae chan is a lucky girl, to have such a great mother and I am lucky to be married to her. She is the yin to my yang, the sunshine to my clouds, the white to my black.

Well, I hope to keep this blog updated more often in the future….Life is great.

Review – Doctor Who ; The End of Time (Part 2)

5 01 2010

So this IS it. The last ever episode starring David Tennent as the 10th Doc. After Christopher Ecclestone revitalised the show in season 1, Tennent has been the heart and soul of it’s growth into the best thing produced by British TV. He has given the 10th Doctor humour, brilliance, soul and compassion in equal measure. And Matt Smith has some impossibly big sized shoes to fill.

After the excellent, yet flawed first part, I was praying for a great, epic finale fitting of Tennant’s Doc and of Russell T Davies tenure as head writer. However I was also aware that RTD writes great set up and usually flaccid, slightly disappointing second parters. What I got was beyond all I could have hoped for. Yes, TEOT part 2 does have it’s flaws, but they are minor quibbles, and should not be placed above what is almost a Return of the King style end for the 10th Doctor. The scope and grandeur of this episode was unlike anything I’d seen produced by British TV. The effects were top-notch, the music bombastic and calm in equal measure and the emotional content, pitch perfect.

Again the three leads were sublime. Tennant was mind-blowing in this. His emotional range veering from desperation, humilty, anger and sadness. Never has there been a better actor in the role. This is where RTD also got a lot of things right in this episode. Just like the quieter moments in part one, the character arcs were beautiful. Take the Doctor’s conversation with The Master where he claims the Universe doesn’t have to be owned, or the tear-inducing moment on the alien ship with Wilfred.  John Simm’s Master was much less manical in this episode, much to it’s benefit. His performance as the Doctor’s nemesis, friend, rival, brother was beautifully layered. Bernard Cribbins, the star of part one, again excelled here. His gentle, emotional nature was the anchor of these final episodes and his role in the Doctor’s demise was simple, understated brilliance.

The other actor here who shone and chewed out scenery like gum was Timothy Dalton’s Rassillon. Here was a villain, far more belivable than Davros or the Cybermen. His presence on screen was immense and when he finally shared space with Tennant and Simm they seem dwarfed (as they should be) by this Time Lord President.

The annoyances of part one were gone. The Naismiths were thankfully footnotes and the Cactus Aliens turned out to be kid friendly allies of the Doctor. The plot hung together really well and enough questions were left unanswered for Steven Moffat to run with.

Tennant’s death was beautifully played and here was a regeneration as an emotional experience. His visits to past companions was great and Ood Sigma’s line “We shall sing you to your sleep” was truly hair raising stuff. The 10th Doctor’s last line was also sad, desperate and true of his character.

All in all, pitch perfect Who (if not without minor flaws) that truly canonises Tennant as probably the greatest Doctor ever.

10 out of 10

Christmas in Nippon

4 01 2010

So my Christmas/New Year’s holiday is almost at an end and I return to work tomorrow. Actually, as you may know, the Japanese observe Christmas but don’t actually celebrate it as National Holiday, so both December 25th and 26th were full working days for me.

It wasn’t too bad, to be honest. We had the Kid’s Christmas party on Christmas day which was fun and involved me and my co-worker Rivonne dressing up as Mr and Mrs. Claus.

Myself and Rie prepared a Christmas dinner, as you can see from the photo. We didn’t have Turkey, but managed to get a roast chicken from Carrefour in Makuhari. We cooked up some vegetables, made gravy and stuffing and washed it down with some light bubbly. It was pretty darn good! We also had chocolate fondue with marshmallows and fresh strawberries! De-Licious!

We had New Year off together which was wonderful. On New Year’s eve we had a traditional meal of soba noodles with Tempura (shrimp, pumpkin and sweet potato in light batter) which was really simple yet magical. To see in the New Year as a married man to the most wonderful person I’ve ever met, made me feel really blessed, especially with little baby Mae chan on the way for 2010.

On New Year’s day we headed down to Gyotoku (about 10 minutes by train) to Rie’s parents. They are really nice people and it was a pleasure to spend the day with them. Rie’s mum had made so much food! Fresh mochi sembai (homemade Rice Crackers), homemade pickles, and Osechi (a special New Years bento, see the photo above) that included fresh smoked salmon, hams, sweet shrimps, tamago yaki (Japanese omlette) and other foods.

I have had a truly great week. We also went to Nikko in Tochigi but I will fill you in on that in a different post.

Happy New Year all and have a wonderful 2010.

Review – Doctor Who : The End of Time (part one)

28 12 2009

So here we go. Tennant’s final foray as the 10th Doctor. I’ll try to avoid any spoilers, but sadly they might be inevitable.

The End of Time marks the end not only for Tennant, but also for Russell T Davies as head writer. Davies has to be commended for bringing back Who to a whole new audience and making it addictive, emotional, fun and vital. Sadly his writing has veered between the brilliant and the excessively bloated and silly. So where does TEOT part 1 sit ?

Well actually somewhere in the middle. It has moments of excellence, emotion, humour, excitement and shock. Sadly it also contains some poor dialogue, silly, cliched moments and, like Christmas dinner, a feeling of overindulgence.

Right , first what is great about this episode ? The acting, for the most part, is top notch. Tennant again proves his worth, by ditching most of the goofiness and shouting that grated during the regular series and plays most of this episode with a quiet, understated desperation. The Doctor knows his final days are coming and it shows. Despite the fun and witty banter in his opening scene with Ood Sigma, the Doctor of TEOT is serious, focused and taut with internal emotion. Bernard Cribbin’s Wilfred Mott is the gem of the episode. His scene with the Doctor in a quiet cafe is one of the best RTD has ever written and it is a fine character moment for both of them. Cribbins also carries most of the episodes humour (which is isn’t overdone and fits in perfectly with the tone of the story). John Simm, also does well with a more manical, desperate reborn Master. His madness and desperation was perfectly potrayed in my opinion. Here is a man that has lost everything and has nowhere to go, except into the arms of his greatest nemesis.

The episode also packs a punch in it’s final ten minutes which will divide fans and then pull them back together again. Personally, I thought this was silly, but absolutely brilliant at the same time.

One the downside, not all of the acting is on a par with Cribbins, Tennant and Simm. The Master’s Resurrection scene contained some awful acting and really poor dialogue. Shame on you RTD!

Also at times the episode felt bloated with the Joshua Naismith/Cactus aliens feeling all incident and only existing as plot devices or expositional characters.

I would say that TEOT 1 is a good set up episode for what could potentially be, the best Who yet. Any scene that involved the 3 principles was as good as anything in the whole series, but it also contained all of the flaws renowned in a RTD episode.

7 OUT OF 10

Wedding Photos

26 12 2009

Rie and her Dad enter the chapel.

Albums of 2009

26 12 2009


So every year, I try to sift through the plethora of new music on my I-Pod and distill it down into my top 10 albums of the year. So these are my recommendations to you. Ladies and Gentlemen, Justin Buckley’s albums of 2009.

10 – MONO – Hymn to the Immortal Wind

Instrumental Japanese rock four piece, MONO, create another wonderous, epic and filmic soundtrack of shimmering noise, lulling melodies and creative brilliance.

9 – The Fray – The Fray

Excellent PopRock sophomore debut. Catchy choruses, timeless hooks and emotive songwriting make this a vast improvement on their debut.

8 – Grizzly Bear – Veckatimist

Low key, yet brilliantly produced left of centre album by Radiohead faves.

7 – Doves – Kingdom of Rust

Another melodramatic, sepia tinged masterpiece after a hiatus of 4 years. This band should be massive.

6 – The Temper Trap – Conditions

Melodic, dense moods and swirling instrumentations make this one of the most impressive albums of the year.

5 – The Swell Season – Strict Joy

Frames frontman Glen Hansard and Once co-star, Margeta Irglova produce one of the most honest and disarming albums about the breakdown of a relationship.

4 – John Mayer – Battle Studies

After the brilliance of Continuum, Mayer takes a deft step back and produces an understated pop/blues odyssey.

3 – The XXs – XX

A mellow techno version of the Weepies, with the vocals given room to breathe and feel organic.

2 – The Low Anthem – Oh My God, Charlie Darwin.

Superb record that seems to chart Americana in music from Neil Young to Leonard Cohen to Bob Dylan and make it sound refreshing and vital.

1 – Mutemath – Armistice.

A masterpiece of virtuoso musicianship, feeling and emotion, honesty and downright catchy music. Probably the most underrated band on the planet.