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  • Michael Krakovskiy 3:22 pm on April 25, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: advisor, Beat Takeshi, Blankenship, , , , , , Hayati Tani, Inferior-Style Electronics, Japanese people, Joe Salaryman, Kenny Blankenship, MXC, Spike, , Takeshi, Takeshi Kitano, Takeshi's Castle, Takeshis', Tenneal, , , Vic Romano   

    “We Also Build Poor-Quality Cars and Inferior-Style Electronics”. 

    Oh. My. God. My blog is actually useful. See, livejournal user n0w emailed me about this show called MXC, telling me that it’s a new version of “Takeshi’s Castle“. This is some useful information.

    Here’s what TVHome.com has to say about it : “Most Extreme Elimination Challenge (or “MXC”) is the ultimate in reality sports, where contestants comprised of two teams are physically and mentally challenged and eliminated through crazy and challenging games.”

    This was not encouraging description. I recorded one episode, expecting a new American Gladiators type show. But oh no no no no no! It’s nothing but. This is a creation of a few of mentally challenged Spike TV producers who somehow got their hands on vintage Takeshi’s Castle footage and proceeded to anally rape it.

    Here’s what these brilliant minds did to the poor thing:

    • They renamed the main characters. General Tani became Captain Tenneal, Count Count Beat Takeshi became Vic Romano. Count Takesh’s advisor whose name I don’t know became Kenny Blankenship.
    • They edited the footage to somehow give the impression that the original one hundred something contestants are broken up into two teams.
    • They completely replaced the dialogue Mystery Science Theater 3000 style, but with a lot of crude, frequently homophobic and sometimes even racist comments.
    • They removed the actual storming of Takeshi’s castle, although you sometimes can see the castle in the background. Instead they show replays of the more painful falls and scrapes that the contestants suffer.

    Of course, it is possible that the owners of Takeshi’s Castle footage sold it under the condition that it should be disfigured like this. Or Spike TV did not have enough money for a Japanese translator. Or some bigwig came up with these brilliant enhancements and the poor producers had no chance but to go along. Then I apologize for calling this mutilation one of the dumbest things on TV.

    The original Japanese show had so many things going for it, no wonder I remembered it for 12-15 years after seeing a couple of episodes. It has hundreds of regular people facing almost impossible tasks. Most of them failed at these tasks, facing painful and humiliating falls. Yet they showed fighting spirit, hanging on as long as possible, getting up drenched in dirt and mocked by Takeshi’s henchmen, yet not loosing face. Instead of concentrating so much on humiliating falls, in the original show they replayed attempts that showed the most determination, to this day I remember the guy who tilted at about 20 degrees to the ground on the stepping stones challenge, yet made one more jump. The actual storming of the castle was a great thing to look forward to at the end of the show, even though the contestants succeeded only a couple of times through the whole run of the series.

    Well, I guess this mutant of a show is still watchable if you mute the moronic braying of the idiotic remixers. “Now, our game shows are a little different from yours. Your shows reward knowledge; we punish ignorance“. Well, our shows do not rewards knowledge. They punish the viewers. I so wish I could enact that Tivo commercial, where a couple of guys throw a network boss out the window, with MXC creators.

    General Hayati Tani renamed for us, “average American Joe Salaryman waiters”.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 9:30 am on April 18, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 3d picture technology, , , , , , Cartoon channel, , , , , Japanese channel, , Kitya, , , , Sakura, , Takeshi's Castle, Television in Japan, , , , , Vsevolod Ovchinnikov   

    Deadprogrammer Visits Japan or Sakura in Partial Bloom Part I 

    Part I : The Roots Of Russian Japanophilia

    What are the roots of Russian (I should really be saying “Russian-speaking Generation X”, but that would be too long, wouldn’t it?) Japanophilia? Honestly I have no idea, but the fact is that it plays an important role in the huge number of high quality Sushi restaurants in Brooklyn, tremendous popularity of Japanese themed blogs in the Russian-speaking Livejournal community and the popularity of Erast Fandorin Mysteries.

    Kitya, the author of the above mentioned outstanding blog, whom I met in Tokyo, thinks that the reason is probably the same as with the US Japanophilia – anime cartoons. I have a different theory. Before the first anime shown in the USSR,Flying Ghost Ship, made it’s appearance, I was already fascinated with Japan. The reason for that was the excellent book called “Branch of Sakura” that I found in my dad’s library. As it turns out, 30 years later the author of the book, journalist Vsevolod Ovchinnikov was invited back to Japan to write a second installment of the book. Ovchinnikov’s writing still has the same lucidity, simplicity and attention to detail. I think that he is one of the major reasons why Soviet Generation X is so interested in everything Japanese.

    Some time during Perestroika there was a week of Japanese TV in USSR. They showed the most amazing stuff : how they make Japanese water sharpening stones (I own a set these days) and how a skillful sharpening master can sharpen a carpenter’s plane so that he could make a micron thick shaving with it. They’ve shown how chasen whisks (I have one) used in a tea ceremony are made by splitting bamboo by hand. They’ve shown a fisherman who could tell exactly how many trouts his net was catching and a master bamboo fishing rod maker. They’ve shown an awesome game show called Takeshi’s Castle. Oh, how I wish someone would make a DVD of that show! There was the usual exotic stuff like Sumo wrestling, Sakura festivals as well more unusual stuff such as a few clips of Japanese reporters walking around Moscow (a part of which I described earlier.

    Before coming to America I thought that there must be hundreds of channels on TV there, and specifically a few that showed only cartoons (as opposed to 3 or 4 channels in the USSR with one to two old cartoons shown per day). My expectations were overly optimistic as the Cartoon channel came into existence significantly later. Now I hope and pray that there will be a channel of Japanese TV with English subtitles, Sumo, news, Abarenbo Shogun and other Chambara. And Takeshi’s Castle reruns. Ah, one can only dream. For now all I have is the couple of hours of Japanese shows on Fujisankei Lifestyle which airs for a couple of hours. Actually while writing this post I learned that there is a Japanese channel on the Dish network, but it’s $25 a month.

    I never anywhere abroad since I came to the US and me and my wife did not have a decent vacation in years. So I decided to pleasantly surprise my wife, who knows and tolerates my extreme hate of traveling, and proposed that we have a vacation in Japan. Thanks to her diligent planning we had an amazing 10 day trip to Japan, spending 6 days in Kyoto and 4 days in Tokyo.

    My camera died in Gion, Kyoto’s geisha district. But still me and my wife managed to take about 2500 pictures. I took a lot of 3d pictures. 3d picture technology is very simple : I have a lens that takes two slightly offset pictures at the same time. To view the image you can either learn a special technique and really, really strain your eyes or obtain a rather simple viewer of which there are many varieties, some very cheap, some a bit more expensive and some are pretty expensive. I find that the cheap viewer made by the same company that makes the lens that I use work very well.

    [update] : due to the lack of interest there won’t be many 3d pictures in my posts.

    [update] Ok, I did get one request for a 3d viewer. So maybe someone out there cares. So if you want one, send me your postal address to

     
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