07/10/2008

“Whose fault will it be if she becomes some druggie prostitute?”: The New York Asian Film Festival 2008 Part 3 & As American As Hot Dogs And Instant Curry

by Matthew Hawkins

How the time flies. Been meaning to update for a while now, but you know how it is… Anyway, first thing’s first; time to wrap up my “coverage” of the New York Asian Film Fest 08!

Retro Game Master Episode 2 & Like A Dragon

Actually, my first set of reviews, because they are video game related, can be found over at GameSetWatch, though not just yet… but soon! Keep an eye out. But real quick: the Ghosts ‘N Goblins episode was even better than the first one, simply because I actually know what’s being played this time around, and as for Takeshii Miike’s big screen adaption of Ryū ga Gotoku, aka Yakuza/Ryū ga Gotoku, it was pretty good! Or at the very least better than… well, more on that later.

EDIT: Hey, it’s up! Here ya go.

Shamo

I also did another write-up for another site for this particular film, for the Wrestling Observer/Figure 4 Online, because it features MMA. Though instead of passing along a link to another detail-oriented overview, one that is not only devoid of pictures, but about a movie that I ultimately don’t think is that awesome, but had to be somewhat descriptive heavy, given the nature of the audience over there, I’ll try to sum it up once again, as quickly as possible: another offering based on a manga, about a kid that snaps and kills his parents, is sent to jail where he’s repeatedly raped and beaten up, gets a visit from his sister just to let him know that she’s all fucked up because of his action and just wanted to say goodbye before running off to become a whore, almost kills himself before the prison martial arts instructor saves and then trains him to fight back, is soon released cuz he was a minor and becomes a male gigolo, soon decides to put his hand-to-hand combat skills to use by becoming involved in the Lethal Fight federation, ends up hooking up with a prostitute that reminds him of his sister (oy vey), gets in a bunch of meaningless but very pretty to look at fights, is a total unlikable douchebag throughout the entire movie, the end.

EDIT: For those who want to check it out…

Tokyo Gore Police

Oh God, where to begin. Just when I figured that I had already seen the finest that Asian cinema had to offer, via the Shadow Spirits, Big Man Japan, Sparrow, and X Cross, with possibility that Fine, Totally Fine would best them all later that week, comes this fucking masterpiece. One week later and I still can’t stop thinking about half the stuff I saw. Despite being somewhat drunk at the time (caught the movie with Hilary, who brought along a flask of ultra grade A+ vodka that her dad picked up in Russia while on a business trip), everything I witnessed is perhaps permanently seared into my mind… no doubt the chair. I had seen my share of Japanese schlock/shock fests beforehand, but nothing before has ever been as so perfect as Tokyo Gore Police, and I have to wonder if anything in the future will ever come close to it’s lethal combo of absolute bat-shit insanity, depravity, and brilliance.

The movie centers on a woman named Ruka, whose father was a cop; she loved and respected her dad immensely as a wee child. In addition to being her own personal super hero, he was simply a great man, a true defender of the peace… till the day his head blew up, right in front of her. Fast forward to Ruka’s present day, in which she too has become an officer of the law, as a member of the Tokyo Police Corporation. Tokyo Gore Police is basically a Japanese take on Robocop with one 50th the budget, but 200 times the ambition. Just as in Paul Verhoeven’s vision of law enforcement, the police in Tokyo have become privatized… they play by their own rules: very hard, very fast, and VERY violent. Also like in Robocop, society in general is upside down, as evidenced by its own crop of wacky, fake commercials. On one hand you have the “Seppuku… it’s still suicide!” PSAs, which I guess are supposed to counteract the growing popularity of suicide, especially among the young, as represented by another spot with three cheerful Japanese school girls trying to sell designer blades for wrist slashing. They come in a variety of colors and styles; “Cutting is so KAWAII!” Plus there’s one hilarious spot for a new Wii game in which there’s a blade attachment for the end of the Wii-mote, to further enhance the effect of cutting up some poor, tied up soul on the television screen. Fun for the whole family and educational says the ad!

Anyway, back to the story; Ruka has just celebrated another birthday with the force. The captain is actually Ruka’s surrogate father; he took over when her dad was violently killed on the job. So the Tokyo Police Corporation is basically her family now, hence another reason why she takes being a law enforcer so seriously. And why she’s especially troubled by the latest epidemic; super enhanced killers known as Engineers, each the creation of mad scientist known as the Key Man. He finds victims, inserts a fleshy into their bodies, which transforms them into monsters that, among other things, rip women to shreds and places their bodies part, nice and neat, in boxes. That’s nice of them! And as luck would have it, on a late night subway ride, she comes face to face with the Key Man, who actually plants one of his devices into Ruka! Though she’s totally normal for the time being.

As more Engineers pop up, the search for the Key Man intensifies across the force, though Ruka is not quietly nervous about it all since she’s basically an Engineer in waiting. At point, one of her fellow overworked officers decides to blow off some steam at an underground sex club, which is when the film goes into overdrive. Various genetically enhanced women hit the stage, where interested John point out which one they want to bang, like one girl whose eye is in her mouth and has a penis for a nose (reminds me of stuff seen in Beetlejuice, but all WACKY JAPPY of course), or another who is basically half snail, with a big shell on her back, and her eye balls pulled from her skull extended, again just like a snail. All these macabre, “sexy” ladies elicited gasps and laughs from the audience, but the only girl Hilary and I wanted to see was the one with the crocodile vagina which had been prominently featured in the trailer which itself was prominently on display before most NYAFF screenings (which would explain why the movie became such a hot ticket), so we were completely unprepared for the girl that was basically a chair with human skin stretched across it. Never have you heard a film audience completely loose its breath and fall silent… except for two people who couldn’t stop laughing, like total psychos. Those two being Hilary and myself, naturally. And that was before the human chair started peeing in the faces of the club-goers!

Back to the story: the off-duty cop becomes an Engineer and shows up at the precinct, looking all normal, till he reveals his true gruesome self and starts taking down coworkers. This causes the captain to totally snap and call for zero tolerance for those that might possibly be an Engineer in waiting, which is basically everyone walking the streets. So the whole force goes nuts, killing everyone on sight (mostly just lining people up and chopping their heads off, or driving down the street with a samurai sword stick out the window). Meanwhile Ruka while following a lead discovers that the dude that killed her dad is the Key Man, but it was all a set-up by the captain, Ruka’s surrogate father, due to the fact that her father was firmly against the privatization of the police. He then implores her to join forces, in which she basically says no, and runs off to avenger daddy’s death, as well as take down the rouge cops. Blood and guts engulf the screen, including an awesome fight scene involving a school girl turned Engineer who sports one of those trendy, cute razor blades that has become part of her body and nipples that shoot acid. Also along the way, a gigantic pile of body parts is hit with a car, another moment I had been DYING to witness from the trailer. Anyhow, Ruka eventually comes face to face with her mentor, and its her and her newfound genetically enhanced abilities versus the captain’s slave person, who is a girl (or maybe a guy) with no forearms or lower legs, and who previous hobbled around like a dog, giving her master blow jobs, but now has long blades as replacement limbs. Oh, and the best part of it all is how, out of the blue, the film becomes really racist. This movie literally has it all!

So yeah, Tokyo Gore Police. Two thumbs up. Two BIG thumbs up!

Fine, Totally Fine

This year’s NYAFF was unofficially in honor or Yoshiyoshi Arakawa, the somewhat dopey yet completely lovable comic actor that anyone who has seen a Japanese movie in the past four or so years. I first took notice of him in Survive Style 5+ a few festivals back, and this year alone he was in like five movies. Well because of this, Fine, Totally Fine was perhaps the strongest pushed movie, though quietly so, since it marks Yoshiyoshi’s very first starring role. Which as expected was a perfectly fine, bittersweet romantic comedy, a genre the Japanese pretty much excels in; once again, I hate to go down the pompous “the reason American movies suck route is because…”, but when it comes to this particular genre, I generally can’t stand Western romantic comedies for being heavy-handed or trying too hard. Also helping is how everything feels like the Taste of Tea, also from a few years back, where the director and the actors embrace and revel in the quiet absurdities of life.

The story centers primarily around three losers. Starting with Yoshiyoshi’s character, Teruo, who is an almost 30 year old schlep that has a part time gig working as a groundskeeper for local parks and is completely oblivious to the world around him. So much so that he doesn’t realize the job is a part-time thing… hence why he wonders out loud why he has so much free time. Though some of those spare hours soon become absorbed by his father’s absence, who runs a used book store and one day decided to take a much needed vacation (the guy was so depressed that he was practically comatose). But all throughout, Teruo has aspirations to create the absolute greatest haunted house in the whole world. Problem is, he lacks the initiative to get it seriously started, and can only muster up the energy to create costumes and toys (mostly just monsters with his head on them), and occasionally convincing his friends to take part in recorded sketches. One of these friends is actually his brother Hisanobu, who is the perennial nice guy that always finishes last. Dude works at a hospital administrator and one day decides to hire Akari, the clumsiest girl to ever walk into his office, so much so that she couldn’t even open a box of tissues during her interview. That and how she was also covered in mud and blood at the time as well; one of the funniest scenes is early into the movie, with Akari on her way to the interview. She’s asked by two out of town bumpkins to have their pictures takes, but when she drops the camera in such an exaggerated manner, they assume that she’s some snobby big city girl giving them shit, hence the pounding.

Perhaps the best part of the movie, more so than Yoshiyoshi, is actress Kimura Yoshino, whose portrayal of the extremely awkward girl is a pure delight. It’s both hilarious and sad when she breaks her finger while simply hitting the elevator button, which leads to later interactions at the hospital becoming rather tense filled for the audience, such as how she has to simply create a box to hold medical waste. Though unfortunately, Akari doesn’t last long at the hospital, when she slips and falls on a big mess of blood on the floor, and almost takes out some expensive medical equipment with her. But Hisanobu becomes fascinated with Akari and soon discovers her other various personal pursuits, such as secretly observing a crazy old trash lady who lives near a bridge, whom she then immortalizes in a series of drawings, all done with a tape of the sounds of rain playing in the background (also while munching on sticks of fish paste). So the girl’s an artist as well! Meanwhile, Teruo goes to his rich uncle to ask for some money to help realize his vision, but is turned down due to an apparent lack of initiative. So to prove he’s serious, Teruo decides to spend a night at an apartment that is supposedly haunted and gets the shit scared out of him, enough to make him give up on his dreams, so it’s back to filling the empty seat at the used book store. And that’s where he is introduced to Akari, whom Hisanobu brought in since he felt sorry for her lack of gainful employment. Thus the love triangle is formed, as both dudes try to vie for her affections, though she’s completely oblivious to all this… in fact, unbeknownst to the dues, she ends up falling for a customer who takes a strong liking to her art, which later on is placed around the book store to add a bit of color of life (which was Hisanobu’s ideal initially… ouch), and who has a huge birthmark on his face, so you know that guy hasn’t had it easy as well.

Fine, Totally Fine is not groundbreaking filmmaking. It simply tells a simple tale of confused, stuck in a rut people who aren’t exactly looking for the answers to solve all their problems, which is good, because there certainly aren’t any. It’s well acted, superbly paced, and most importantly, quite funny, yet also a tiny bit sad and depressing, but with none of the sentimental bullshit that it’s American brethren generally suffers from. Though not to give anything away, but there is at least one person who finds true happiness and its the father; his time away from the city for R&R ends up into a folk career or sorts, where he hooks up with ultra gawky but cute as fuck Japanese girl that does nothing but sport a deer trapped in headlights look and beat the tambourine. Her alone is worth the price of admission (along with the scene where Akari fucks up some customer’s copy of a dirty mag while learning the ropes at the store), but the movie as a whole also happens to be charming and overall awesome as heck!

Sukiyaki Western Django

I’m going to try and keep this one nice and short: didn’t like it. And this coming from a diehard Takeshi Miike fanboy. Movie didn’t flat out suck, but I clearly did not enjoy it as most have, especially the crowd at the theater, who were all totally hot for every single thing. Basically it’s Miike’s take on the classic spaghetti western, but with a Japanese cast (well, mostly). In fact, the plot is basically Yojimbo, at least in the beginning, which I would have to assume a nod to The Seven Samurai, which was the basis of The Magnificent Seven.

First, the positives: the cast is super strong. Hideaki Ito does the role of the lone gunman that rides into town (called Nevada… actually “Nebada”… lol) and immediately causes problems for the warring factions that have run things into the ground to a tee, along with Masanobu Ando as the vaguely spiritual head of one of the factions, and Teruyuki Kagawa as the spineless, double-crossing sherrif. Though the real star is easily Kaori Momoi, the rough and tumble woman that has stood her ground, even when most of the men folk have either fallen or left town long ago. The movie as a whole simply looks beautiful, with great art direction, and as for the story, it’s pretty decent. Not the wacky, out there Miike affair that one might be expecting, mind you. In fact, that’s basically why one of my fellow writer colleagues enjoyed the reigned in nature of the movie, how it stays on course and doesn’t go on wacky tangents and the such. To me, I like the wacky stuff, but not exclusively.

Now what I did have a problem with was the basic gimmick of the film: everyone speaks in English, often going for some wild west, cowboy affect. Which to me was entertaining for about three minutes. With the biggest problem being, one couldn’t entirely understand what was being said, and often what was going on. Though everyone thought it was hilarious. Hmm. Though there is one native English speaker in the cast, that being director Quentin Tarantino, also a major fan of Miike. And while it’s to see him have so much fun, hamming it up in a production of a movie by one of his favorites, its odd how even he’s less intelligible than those who are struggling to speaking English.

But yeah, not a horrible movie by any stretch, it just didn’t do anything for me. And I guess it didn’t also help how it came at the tail end of Shadow Spirits, Big Man Japan, Sparrow, X Cross, Most Beautiful Night In The World, Mad Detective, Fine, Totally Fine, etc. Still worth a gander, I suppose.

NYAFF 08: Notes

So yeah, this year’s festival was perhaps Subway Cinema’s best yet…. it was certainly their biggest ever. And on my end, it appears to have been a tremendous success; every single showing I went to had a fairly strong turn-out, even during the weekday afternoon screenings.

I guess one definite benefit of not having a full-time job is how I had a lot of time to spare to dedicated towards movie viewing. Or so that was the thought going in as I purchases the festival pass…

… For just $100 one could see any movie playing on a weekday before 4pm for free, at least at the IFC Film Center where the bulk of the festival went down, plus get free popcorn (just one per showing, but that’s more than enough, and the IFC sure does have damn fine good popcorn), as well as a free shirt!

I simply figured that, with the IFC theater being half a block away from the A train station, much like as it is at home, I could easily swing by whenever to see whatever. Unfortunately, I found myself quite busy with last minute freelance gigs and just unexpected shit in general, to the point where I all of a sudden found myself having to juggle things to ensure I saw enough movies to “justify” the purchase the $100 investment. Which in the end didn’t exactly happen… though i did get about $80 dollar’s worth of it, plus in the end, it was going to a great cause, so I didn’t mind.

A few of the movies I wanted to see, but just couldn’t, included Accuracy of Death, which is basically Meet Joe Black, but with Takeshi Kaneshiro, though I figure that one will come out on DVD around these parts rather easily, Sad Vacation, also starring Takeshi Kaneshiro and Joe Odagiri from Adrift In Tokyo, but once I discovered it was part three of a trilogy, I figured it might be best to catch both Helpless and Eureka (the later which I have been seriously meaning to for years now) first, This World Of Ours, simply because it was described as Clockwork Orange but with Japanese high school kids but simply couldn’t find the time, and M, the Korean dream movie, also because of a busy schedule. The same once again regarding my plans to re-watch The Shadow Spirits, since I have a feeling that’s never, ever coming out over here on DVD. And the recently released disc over in Japan doesn’t have English subtitles. I just think it’s a real shame that it, along with Most Beautiful Night In The World, never got screenings during the evening, and therefore lots of folks had to miss out. The reason? They were both digital projections from a Beta SP tape, and I guess the folks at Subway Cinema figured most people only want to see stuff projected, at least the “serious” stuff.

Also missed out on Yasukuni, the controversial documentary on the shrine in Japan that pays tributes to those that died in WW2, including war criminals, but it’s also playing at the Japan Society tonight, as part of JAPAN CUTS, the festival of new Japanese cinema that’s going on right now, which the NYAFF was somewhat a part of. But the DigitalLife preview press event is happening at the same time, so might have to miss out yet again (fuck, I also just realized that tonight is the night Boris is in town!). At least I’m definitely slated for Sakuran with Hilary later this weekend, and am trying to squeeze in both The Inugami Family and Kisaragi as well.

Back to the IFC theater… Once again, THANK GOD the NYAFF is no longer at the Anthology Archives. God, dealing with that place is still a nightmare. The IFC is just a nice movie house, with not a bad seat to be found, and every one of them is comfortable as well, even if they all squeak like crazy. Plus the staff is ultra friendly, unlike the too cool for fucking school hipster douchebags that run the Anthology (if not for the fact that they’re the only place to see many rare, experimental and classic films, it would have absolutely no fucking redeeming value whatsoever).

As for the crowds, the people who come out to the NYAFF are generally well behaved when compared to the troglodytes that frequent the AMC 25. If I had to see as many movies as I’ve seen at the NYAFF at a regular movie theater, I would have long killed myself. But that’s not to say that there weren’t moments…. The Sparrow brought out the worst of the worst diehard movie nerds, and the most annoying kind: Hong Kong cinephiles. Waiting for the movie was hell in itself, being surrounded by fat smelly dudes trying to outdo their fellow virgin movie (and ass) buddies with dueling HK movie factoids. It’s especially bad when there’s a girl sandwiched in between them, cuz king dork thinks he’s in his element, and might possibly get laid tonight for knowing a lot about Johnny To and Milyway. Yeah right. Also, a simple fact of life for some of you: knowing a lot about movies does NOT make you cool. Not sure how misconception came to be. Knowing a lot about something doesn’t put you anywhere near the level of those that actually create the stuff. At least IMHO… which I guess explains why I can’t stand so many critics! Even worse was how the unbearable asshole who almost single-handedly ruined Funky Forest for me a few years ago was directly in front of me, but thankfully he kept his fucking mouth shut. But the grinning dude next to me… glad he enjoyed the movie and all, but that fellow was just plain creepy. Then there was the audience at Sukiyaki Western Django, who again enjoyed the movie quite a bit… perhaps too much? Especially the white trash, biker type, Miike/Tarantino devotees that took up the entire row behind me that laughed at everything really, REALLY hard. Though at least it wasn’t as bad as, once more, Funky Forest, where people were laughing so much that it began to feel borderline racist. Another annoying thing about said biker clique? They decided to bring their dinner to the movie, so I had to hear tons of bags crumpling for the first forty minutes. Grab a bite before coming to the movie, dumbasses.

That was at the Japan Society, and gotta say, not the best place in the world to see a movie. Among other things, like how its an absolute bitch to get to, the layout of the seats are piss-poor, so you seriously do have to sit in the front row, otherwise people’s heads will be in the way, and if you’re watching something subtitled, which is probably the case, you’re fucked. Last year the NYAFF was also at the ImaginAsian Theater, which retarded name aside, is still a great venue. Plus they serve these awesome samosas.

Holy shit, I’m just rambling now. You’d think after three weeks, I’d be sick and tired of writing about the NYAFF, so I’ll just wrap it up by finally addressing… So, what cool prizes did I nab this year? Well, not much, at least compared to last year, where I got TONS of awesome stuff. I actually still have to frame my Dasepo Naughty Girls and Aachi & Ssipak movie posters. But in addition to nabbing a Stone Bride book on new wave Japanese cinema (they’ve been a sponsor for years now), both myself and Hilary nabbed this kinda neat Sukiyaki Western Django water gun…

As well as the shirt, which the folks at Subway Cinema were trying like crazy to give away; “Who wants a free Sukiyaki Western Django shirt? Okay, now what if I told you that they SMELLED LIKE GARBAGE!”

… And yeah, even after a wash, it still smells like shit.

One last thing: the people behind the New York Asian Film Festival seriously should be commended for the kick ass job they do year in and year out, and for once again topping themselves and exceeding expectations. Each and every one of those fine folks are super nice people and are a true asset to this city. So if any of you guys might be reading this… THANK YOU!

Oh, actually, one additional last thing: check out Hilary’s blog for some drawings inspired by some of our favorite NYAFF faces!
________________________________________________________________________________

Everybody Loves Hot Dogs

So, what else has been going on? I guess it might be almost pointless to talk about it since it was almost a week ago, but… How was everyone else’s 4th of July and the following holiday weekend? Mine was pretty tops. On the day of, I took Katie out to Long Island to take part in my long-standing 4th of July tradition, that being the John Green pool party, which I always look forward to… despite how I never go in the water. It’s a little thing called aquaphobia; for those who don’t know, I have this irrational fear of the water, stemming from an incident as a child in which I almost drowned. Even standing in a pool where the waterline is nowhere near my head will make me queasy, so don’t even get me started about being near the ocean. At least Katie enjoys swimming, and there was also plenty of what I generally come looking… fine eats! That and shooting the shit with folks like Dave and Raina, and John and Marion, all of whom I rarely see due to the hectic lives we all lead.

But I had to skip out on the hot dogs; as previously mentioned, Mike insisted on cooking up franks at my place, so by evening time, Katie and I were back at our place, entertaining O’Connor and his wife Liz. Didn’t get a grill for a rooftop thing, like Mike has suggested numerous times, but simply cooked them up in the toaster oven, which was more than sufficient. Though we did head on up there later on to soak in the fireworks and to smoke in the light drizzle. We also pointed and laughed at the spot Phil Fish almost fell off to his death down below that one time he came to visit.

The following Saturday was the final two NYAFF screenings for me (I guess I could have seen stuff on Sunday, but by that point, I was again, kinda Asian movie-d out), which Hilary was supposed to be a part of, at least for Fine, Totally Fine. But I neglected to remind her that it was at the Japan Society, so she ended up going to the IFC to meet me, and thus missed the whole thing. Oops! My bad… After Sukiyaki Western Django was the after-party, which was less than expected; I figured it was going to be at a bar, like after-parties past, but instead it was at the Japan Society, which was less than ideal for kicking back and mingling, nor was there Quentin Tarantino as I had heard on the grapevine (hence why I brought copies of my comics for him along). So I quickly downed the free Sapporo beer they were offering and went downtown to meet up with Joe Salina, Mooney, and Katie for another long night of chowing down and boozin up at Kenka. Afterwards we went over the Yafa Cafe where some dumb blonde bimbo wanted to kiss me on the cheek because her boyfriend dared her to. At first I was all offended… was I chosen cuz I was the ugliest guy in the house? Was this some college bullshit? But I was assured that there was no mean-sprited motivation, and because Katie gave the okay, I accepted. Anyhow, we were all out till daylight, which is the first in a long whiles for me… felt like college once again!

Slept in fairly late on Sunday, but not too late, since Katie wanted to check out some show at the Cooper-Hewitt design museum, which was wrapping up that day. Afterwards we met up with Mooney once again to take the shuttle bus to Mitsuwa, that fine and dandy Japanese food market in New Jersey. It was certainly nice to have Mooney along, to help translate stuff for us. He also ended up picking up some Disney candy that he hadn’t had since his early childhood. I myself ended up getting some Japanese candy, but for the most part, the $100 spent went primarily towards instant ramen, curry, and beef bowls. Ah, Japan!
________________________________________________________________________________

F*CK YOU AT&T

Once more, I was gonna go over all the games I’ve been playing for the past couple of weeks, but since I’ve gone pretty long as is, I’m going to have to save it for next time yet again.

Though there is something I wanted to talk about that is kinda time sensitive: the iPhone 3G, aka the greatest handheld device ever version 2.0, aka the second coming of the Jesus phone, indeed comes out tomorrow. As of late, I really wish I had my old cell phone blogging gig, not just because so many of the movies I caught at the NYAFF had mobile handsets prominently featured in them (ESPECIALLY X-Cross), but because I’ve been dealing with AT&T quite a bit as of late, and the following might be better suited for that audience. Regardless, I’m fucking pissed as hell, and simply have to get it off my chest…

Again, the iPhone 3G comes out tomorrow, and I was going to get it. But I can’t. Why? Because AT&T fucking sucks a cock, that’s why.

When it was revealed that the $200 price point for the 8 gig model (and $300 for the 16 gigger) was for those who qualify for an upgrade, I called AT&T to find out if I was indeed eligible. I wasn’t, so I then asked when I might be. The date given was near the end of September, a little over two months after the launch of the device. Sorry, but this wasn’t good enough… The phone I’m using right now, my trusty little Samsung from Hong Kong which looks as cute as heck, but doesn’t get the best of reception I’m afraid, simply does not cut it any longer. So I really need a new phone since it’s officially become my main mode of contact due to not having an office line. Furthermore, I increasingly require a means of interacting with email on the go, plus I desperately need a new portable music-playing device. Sorry, but I can no longer stand the sounds of New York City, especially during the summer. The iPhone 3G appears to address all the needs I seek to appease. And I just can’t wait around an additional two months to meet them. Furthermore, AT&T has been pure shit since day one, and the iPhone would also be the one thing to justify my association with such a shit company, so if I can’t have what I want, I’d rather pay the penalty for breaking my contract early and go with someone else. Despite the fact that the same exact amount would pay the difference (without the upgraded eligibility, the device becomes $399 for the 8 gig model, which is what I want). It was simply a matter of principle.

But the guy I spoke to on the phone said it wouldn’t be necessary… that I have been a loyal customer for years now, and that since the eligibility date was just a few weeks away, it could be bumped to accommodate me. Well, guess that takes care of that!

Though not wanting to stand in line for hours to finally get to the cash register to only find out that I am indeed NOT eligible, I decided to double check the AT&T website this past Monday, and wouldn’t you know… the date is still in late September. So I called to find out what the fuck and was explained that in the case of the iPhone, no special arrangements could be made, including the one the dude pulled for me. When I stated WTF, the lady kindly explained to me, and I quote “Yeah, I have no idea why he said that to you… he should have known better… in fact, he probably did.” The funny part is, this is not the first time it’s happened; there’s been a history of one AT&T rep saying one thing, only be disavowed or simply contradicted by the next person.

I was fucking LIVID. But the woman fully understood why, or so she claimed. And even though the rules were “ironclad”, she also stated that perhaps an exception could be made in my case, given all the fucking ridiculous bullshit I had to go through (I spent a good solid 15 minutes just skimming the surface). So she put me on hold why she got someone high up… was kept waiting for about 15 minutes. Mind you, this conversation was already half an hour long, one of many. I don’t know how many precious moments of my valuable time has been eaten up by AT&T. Again, mostly to make sure whatever they say is legit, and most of the time, it isn’t.

Finally, the lady was back with someone to help me, and the minute we got connected… I was disconnected. Holy shit. My phone then rang, and it was the first lady again, who noticed what happened, but couldn’t explain why it did. Was put on hold for another five minutes, and was again connected to this higher up, This time we exchanged “Hello”" before once again getting dial tone. I waited again, though now there was no call back. I was angry before, but now…

I decided to call AT&T one last time, to let them know I had officially had it. Time to end this bullshit right then and there. After yet another extended wait, I got some other lady who then passed me along to her supervisor (after I barked at her of course, but by this point, all civility had been thrown out the window, though I’d like to think I wasn’t the first to do so). I explained what had happened and asked to once more be connected with this grand poobah, which this brand new woman couldn’t do, despite me supplying both the first and last names. I then decided to explain to her my entire situation (she did ask), and why I fucking hated AT&T so much.

Among other things, I explained how I refused to pay $400 for a device that I feel I am rightly entitled towards for the price of $200. All this bullshit because my current contract expires at X date, even when I never originally consented to it in the first place; a while back I had a great phone that broke, and because I was paying for insurance, I decided to use it towards a replacement, but of course, it wasn’t available, so another phone was given to me, one that fucking sucked of course. But during all this, my contract was secretly extended WITHOUT MY CONSENT. I also noted how when I was going to Japan, I asked if the piece of shit phone I was saddled with was able to work there and was told yes. Then, right before my big trip, I once again decided to double check on things, and naturally, what I was told was complete horseshit. And because I was flying out the very next day, I had zero time to get a travel phone while in America like the rest of my crew, leading to much hassles and needless money spent, all because AT&T ONCE AGAIN HAD FUCKING LIED TO ME.

But the woman was steadfast; the rules were rules, nothing could be done to accommodate my need for an iPhone (again, no exceptions could be made for this particular device), so with that, I simply stated goodbye and that I will be switching to a competitor very soon, then hung up. A few minutes later, the phone rings, and it?s the last woman I spoke to. She stated that she felt really bad that I was so upset and wished I would reconsider. She then noted that a deal could be made for any other handset, but no, I wanted the iPhone, end of fucking story. She tried to sell me on some other device, but then I mentioned how, after that one phone from before had died, I actually had my sets on something as a replacement, but the dumbfuck phone rep at the time talked me out of it, and sold me on something else that again turned out to be a piece of shit clunker (I would then do research on what originally, and discovered that it was actually a pretty decent device), so no more goddamn recommendations. I once again re-iterated how I knew canceling my contract at this point was pretty infantile and retarded, but again, it was the principle of it all. I was tired or being constantly shit upon and ripped off, with the funny part being I was more than willing to let it continue, and even more so with the insane contract that AT&T is forcing up all iPhone 3G users. Naturally, she couldn’t explain to me why text messages couldn’t be included in that obscene $30 a month data package. But again, no fucking more, and unless you’re going to actually get me what I want, than this is just another huge waste of my time. She had no response to that, and yet again, I hung up on her.

Now here’s the deal… what are my options exactly?

Verizon – The only good thing I can think about this is how I NEVER hear anyone complain about their reception. Otherwise, they have those draconian contracts that they’re mostly famous for, as well as ugly as fuck devices, all of which sport even more obscene user interfaces.

T-Mobile – The biggest thing going for them is how they have by far the cheapest rates. Other than that, reception is for the most part fucking shit, and they also have a host of boring as sin phones. Plus, they don’t even have 3G. They say it’s finally coming this October… yeah, right.

Sprint – Used to be a customer so I already know the bullshit they like to pull. Actually, not a bad bet considering that they’re such damaged goods that they’re actually trying real hard to fix their piss poor reputation. Though if one word describes them best, it has to be “ghetto.” They only have one single phone that looks semi-decent, the Samsung Instinct, but I’m still mad as hell that they completely replaced the ultra beautiful UI in favor of some wannabe iPhone looking bullshit.

Helio – LOL. Even though I am still a big fan of the Ocean.

… I could always stick with AT&T and simply wait two months and get the fucking iPhone. Lord knows that I probably wouldn’t be able to get it this weekend anyway. Speaking of, I don’t know why I’m shocked that idiots are once again lining up for the thing (don’t even get me started on Apple fanboys). But then I’ll have to deal with an insanely expensive contract. Christ. Plus there’s another issue, one that basically keeps me tethered to AT&T whether I like it or not; my shitty credit history. So even if I decide to actually spend $200 to cancel my contract, with whomever else, I’m probably going to have to spend an extra $250 as a deposit to show them I’m worthy of a contract as I have in the past. Fuck…

All this goes to show how abysmal the state of cell phones is in America. I hate to refer to Japan again, but aside from the abundance of awesome food, among many other things, I truly miss the totally awesome phones they have over there. At least once a week I troll eBay for phones by Softbank and DoCoMo. One more time, re: the NYAFF, everytime someone would pull out a phone, I would practically forget about everything else that’s going on and just concentrate on the device. What can I say? I fucking love cell phones.

But what about music? I sure as hell don’t want to buy another iPod… I don’t think I’ve ever gone into my whole iPod Nano debacle, and how the Apple Store and all the douchebags that work there, at least the ones in NYC, can all fuck themselves. I might just have to bite the bullet (I’m already reneging on my “never again with another iPod” by entertaining the idea of a iPhone purchase) by getting a shuffle… I simply need something as I walk around the city. I don’t even know how the hell you’re supposed to work the fucking thing, since there’s no screen.

So yeah, AT&T, you can go fuck yourselves. And the same goes to Apple for allowing this shit to go down. Also, I hate to bitch about it, since it was a hook-up by a friend, and still a bargain, but I am growing increasingly annoyed by the crappy quality of my 20 inch iMac monitor, now that I’ve been trying to do color work on it. Which simply does not do the job at all. Again, thank God for Katie’s eMac! CRT for life, yo.
________________________________________________________________________________

Coming Up…

Okay, enough bitching and moaning. I know how silly it all is. Whatever, bite me. Next time, lots of talk about games. But I guess it’s worth mentioning three other things that are coming out which has me all hot and bothered as well, but in a good way! First, the recently announced Mega Man 9 of course, which the whole world is already talking about…

The funny thing is, I just think it’s ultimately a very neat thing, but it’s become the basis of serious debate in some parts. At the very least, I hope this means even more brand new NES games for the near future! Which honestly, is what WiiWare should be really about, more NES/SNES/Genesis games, not crappy ports of crappy webgames.

Anyhow, I’m also just as hyped for the recently confirmed North American release of Persona 4!

For those that might be interested, Sankaku Complex has a few videos of the recently released Japanese version. God, that front-end is PURE SEX. It might also be worth pointing out that in this iteration, the kids don’t put guns up to their heads to bring out their inner demons to wage battle. Now they just deal cards. Which has to make some happy; almost everyone I know found the whole gun thing really freaky and uncomfortable. I just hope the game stays in tact as it makes its transition… specifically, the peeping tom game will manage to stay!

Plus, and I still can’t believe it… Thunder Force 6! It’s coming out for the PS2 after all this time. The only thing that would make this absolutely perfect is if it was the Dreamcast! Scan courtesy of Kotaku btw…

BTW, my 600th post is coming up and I’m trying to figure out what to do to mark the occasion! Finally unveiling the podcast seems to be the logical choice, as well as do some much needed fixing up/site maintenance (even I’m beginning to wonder if the forums will ever be properly skinned… at least I finally got around to updating the links page) but I want to do something else, either to shake up how this journal is currently handled, or maybe add a new feature? One possible such thing would be “What did Katie say last night?”

Long story short, I’ve recently begun waking Katie up in the middle of the night when going to sleep (we both have different schedules; she goes to bed around 11 or so, while for me it’s something like 3) to ask brief, random questions. I then ask her the next day if she remember what was said (which is always a no) and sometimes re-ask the questions to compare her responses when fully awake to only half awake. The other night I asked if she enjoyed football or baseball better, and the answer given was baseball, which is how she normally feels. But when asked if she’s voting for Obama or McCain, the response was, curiously enough, McCain! And she’s not exactly the Republican type either… at least in her waking life. More to come I guess?

  • Thom

    Seven Samurai : The Magnificent Seven :: Yojimbo : A Fistful of Dollars

    So rather than being a reference to Seven Samurai, it sounds like Sukiyaki Western Django is a Japanese remake of A Fistful of Dollars, which was an American remake of the Japanese film Yojimbo. Which sounds like the semi-retarded meta-meta-meta stuff that a lot of directors, especially Tarantino, are into right now.

  • http://www.fort90.com Matt

    Oh yeah, I totally forgot about Fistful of Dollars connection to Yojimbo. I guess maybe because I’ve only seen that movie a small handful of times, whereas I’ve seen The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, no joke, almost 500 times.

    Anyway, I personally don’t mind meta-meta-bullshit so long as the end product is actually good and can stand on its own. For example, I was able to enjoy Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs despite having no previous knowledge of Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing at the time of its debut (before I knew all that much about film history).

    Okay, maybe that’s a bad example… And nowadays people are becoming more obvious/less clever with their homages. Though I guess my biggest beef with circle jerk filmmaking is the fans. It’s not so much they enjoy whatever version of whatever, it’s how they are somehow “smart” enough to know all the references and such related bullshit. Hate to say it, but, once again, see: Family Guy fans.

  • Isfet

    man, i dunno; i sort of enjoyed the whole “shoot yourself in the head to summon a Persona” aspect of the game. it just seemed to fit SMT’s whole aesthetic of being weird but making it seem normal.

Previous post:

Next post: