Category: Reviews

Back to the 90s (2015)

Back to the 90s is a movie about a teenager who accidentally travels back in time and tries to repair his mom and dad’s rocky relationship. It’s a fun story, with some touching moments and a couple good plot twists thrown in. Add some nostalgic 90’s references (Tamagotchi!) and you have a nice, entertaining movie. Nothing amazing, but the acting is strong, and the ending is both satisfying yet leaves you wanting more. (sequel please?)

I really enjoyed Som and Tam’s characters, and learning about their motivations brings a welcome level of complexity and interest to the story. It’s also the first time I’ve seen a Thai movie, so that made it fascinating to watch. Cool to get a glimpse into an unfamiliar culture, even if it is off by two decades and covered with a Hollywood-like polish. 😁

BTW, I came across Back to the 90s by reading Age’s blog, Write Them All. Lots of good things to read about there. Check it out if you have a chance!

I definitely recommend Back to the 90s if you like romcoms or are a fan of Baifern (the actress who plays Som), which I have now become. Enjoy!

Some New Pens – LAMY Safari and Uni-Ball AIR

"Lamy Safari" Cedar Park, 2017

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5, 1/55 sec, ISO3200
“Lamy Safari” Cedar Park, 2017

こんばんは。How’s it going?

At long last, I have a fountain pen that I love! It’s the LAMY Safari, with a broad nib. First of all, the broad nib is wonderful and suits my writing style. I mentioned in a previous post that I used to have a pen with a broad nib and that I wanted to find something similar. The LAMY fits the bill perfectly. And the design of the grip, which has two flat facets, is so comfortable to me and positions the nib at the perfect angle. Plus, I love the bright yellow color. It’s really a great pen.

I bought a converter with it so that I could fill it with my Sailor Souten ink, and it looks really nice. The ink’s color really shows with the broad line. However, I want to eventually get a brighter turquoise/aqua ink, which is the color I used to have with my calligraphy pen back in high school. But that can wait. I’ll enjoy the Souten for a while. 😀

The second pen that I newly bought is the Uni-Ball AIR. It’s also fantastic. It too has a very broad line, so of course, I think it is great (my other favorite pen is a 1 mm Zebra Sarasa). I am using the AIR for sketching and it works well for that. It glides over the paper nicely, probably the smoothest pen I own… the design is so sleek and it just gently comes to a point, and since the tip is black like the body, it looks really sharp. I did a sketch tonight using the AIR, and I think the pen worked nicely. The sketch itself is not so great, but I had fun drawing. I’ll probably draw the same scene again (from a reference photo) and try to improve it. By the way, I read that the AIR’s ink is waterproof, so it is good for putting watercolor over it. That’s the primary reason I bought the AIR, actually!

"Sketch" Cedar Park, 2017

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5, 1/40 sec, ISO3200
“Sketch” Cedar Park, 2017

So, back to the Lamy Safari. It’s very different from my Pilot Metropolitan, and I can now form a better opinion about the Metro. I think it’s competent pen, and writes well, but to me, it lacks personality and charm. Simply put, it’s boring. I don’t really have a desire to pick it up. I guess my taste in pens is for something more fun, quirky, and eye-catching. Which is why…

I ordered another “fun” pen: the Pilot Kakuno. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be similar in writing quality as the Metropolitan (although with an even finer nib) but it just looks so fun. The nib even has a winky smiley face on it! How cool is that? I just want to pick it up and write with it.

You know, with cameras, they say the make and model doesn’t make a huge difference in picture quality. But if you find a camera attractive, you’ll want to pick it up and use it more. And if it can get you out shooting more, that’s a good thing! I guess it is the same things with pens. The Metropolitan doesn’t inspire me to take the cap off and write/sketch, but the LAMY does, and I am pretty sure the Kakuno will as well.

Ok, enough pen talk! I’ll let you go. As always, thanks for reading!

おやすみ

Traveler’s Notebook

"Traveler's Notebook (Passport)" Cedar Park, 2017

Photo info: SONY SLT-A77V, 35mm, f/2.4, 1/1500 sec, ISO640
“Traveler’s Notebook (Passport)” Cedar Park, 2017

こんばんは。How’s it going?

Today my brand new Traveler’s Notebook (passport size) arrived on my doorstep. I’ve been looking at these notebooks (formerly named Midori) for a while now, and after watching numerous YouTube videos and reading reviews, I finally pulled the trigger and ordered mine.

I went with the “camel” color leather, which not only looks great but smells nice too. If you aren’t familiar with a Traveler’s Notebook, it’s basically a plain leather cover, with inserts that are held in place with elastic bands. There are two sizes: the regular size and the smaller passport-sized version, which is the one I went with.

The most common inserts are notepads (lined, graph, or blank), monthly planner, weekly planner, and daily planner. In addition, there are craft folder sleeves, plastic zipper pocket, and plastic sticker pockets.

My starter set came with a blank notebook and two extra elastic bands. I ordered a craft sleeve and zipper pocket separately, and these three inserts are a nice start. It’s not too bulky, so I think I can add one more notebook (probably a lined version) and it will be perfect. I also attached a couple of small binder clips to the craft sleeve which acts as a little loop for me to attach my pen.

What’s great about the Traveler’s Notebook system (and there are many cheaper clones available) is that when you fill up one insert, you can just pop in another one. It’s super versatile!

If you do a YouTube search for Traveler’s Notebooks or Midori Notebooks, you’ll see that many people love to use them for artistic journaling. Some of the examples are pretty amazing, especially the sketchbook notebooks. Just check out this Flickr group to see some awesome sketches.

I’m using mine to do some little sketches, practice writing hiragana/katakana, and take notes. I’m also using it to replace my wallet – to hold a couple credit cards, blank checks, and some cash. And of course a couple Instax prints of the family.

I’m really happy with my Traveler’s Notebook and can see myself using it for a long, long time. 😄

"Traveler's Notebook (Passport)" Cedar Park, 2017

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.5, 1/100 sec, ISO2000
“Traveler’s Notebook (Passport)” Cedar Park, 2017

Water Bottle

"Stickers" Cedar Park, 2017

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2, 1/250 sec, ISO1000
“Stickers” Cedar Park, 2017

こんばんは。

Today’s photo is of my Liberty Water Bottle, which I got a couple years ago. I like it because it isn’t too big and is great quality. I bought a 16 oz. black one which has a ninja/motorcycle helmet kind of design (with a poor attempt at the kanji for “mizu”), but it looks kind of suspicious since it is all-black. I guess I am just a bit paranoid about it, so I slapped some stickers on it to make it a little more conspicuous.

"Kanji?" Cedar Park, 2017

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/80 sec, ISO6400
“Kanji?” Cedar Park, 2017

Even though my Liberty bottle is relatively small, it’s still just a tad too wide to fit comfortably in the water bottle holder on my Patagonia Minimass bag. It’s a really tight fit, and since I keep my Anker battery in the interior pocket on the other side of the holder, it has even less room and doesn’t slide in easily. So, I left the Liberty at home while I was traveling in Morocco, and I just re-used a small plastic water bottle that I picked up at the store. It made me a bit sad to use the environmentally unfriendly bottle, so I think I’d like to find a slim eco-bottle soon.

The Patagonia bag is pretty great, but the only downside is the single small water bottle pouch. If only it were a little wider! Perhaps a little DIY project is in order to remedy it. Or if there is an add-on holder that I could latch on somehow, that might work. Must look into this!

******************

Update: After fiddling around a bit, I moved the large battery back to the other side of the interior to make room for the water bottle. I think it will work!

"Bottle and Bag" Cedar Park, 2017

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/100 sec, ISO6400
“Bottle and Bag” Cedar Park, 2017

Your Name – 君の名は

"Movie Night" Austin, 2017

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.2, 1/100 sec, ISO1250
“Movie Night” Austin, 2017

こんばんは。

This evening I went with my friend Mikey to watch the Japanese anime blockbuster “Your Name / 君の名は”. It’s the highest-grossing animated movie in Japan of all-time, surpassing even Spirited Away, which is my favorite Studio Ghibli film. I’ve heard so many great things about Your Name that I had high expectations for it, and I have to say that I wasn’t disappointed! I thought the story was amazing, the visuals stunning, and the soundtrack was great. There were several powerful moments, where I could forget that I am a 48-year old 伯父さん and just simply shed an emotional tear or two. Dark theaters you know! But to me, the movie was that good.

But, the only negative to me (pointed out by my more perceptive viewing companion, Mikey) was the placement of the Radwimps song at the beginning of the film. I do like the song a lot, but it “cheapened” the movie a little bit. Instead of a pure cinematic epic, the song brought it down to a tv-like quality since it looked like the opening of a tv anime. And they showed a lot snippets of upcoming scenes. It was weird.

Despite the opening, I thought Your Name was a brilliant movie. I plan on seeing it again soon, and of course owning it when it is released in stores. Recommended, but bring tissues!

Here’s the official trailer:

And another Radwimps tune from the movie, with plenty of great movie scenes:

I hope you had a nice Friday!

またね~

A Treat for My Wrist

"Keeper" Cedar Park, 2017

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/20 sec, ISO3200
“Keeper” Cedar Park, 2017

こんばんは。How’s it going?

It’s the 2nd day of Spring Break for the kiddos, so I worked from home in the afternoon. I think they are old enough to take care of themselves, but I still worry! 😀

New Watch

Well, I kind of knew for a while now that I wanted to get a new watch, and I also had narrowed it down to a certain model. I just had to decide on the size and the color. The watch is a Seiko diver, the SKX. There are different variations: 007 – 42mm with black bezel and face; 009 – 42mm with blue and red “Pepsi” bezel and blue face; 013 – similar to the 007, but a 38mm size.

I went with the SKX007 because I thought the Pepsi blue/red of the 009 wouldn’t look as good with different watch straps, and didn’t go for the 013 because I already have a smaller-sized watch. Plus, I liked the classic black of the 007.

I bought the model with the black rubber strap instead of the metal bracelet to save a few bucks and I knew that I would take off whatever it came with to replace with a zulu strap. In fact, I ordered a black zulu strap with the watch so that I could change it immediately. I read that getting the old watch band off was difficult and by god, it was a pain! Even with a dedicated tool, it was a struggle and my fingers are sore. But in the end, I won and got the rubber strap replaced with the plain black zulu strap. I think it looks great. And so comfortable! This watch/strap combination feels a lot better than even my 37mm Seiko SNK809 with 18mm zulu strap.

One other thing I love is the raised design on the back of the watch. It features a flowing wave 🌊, which is on all the Seiko dive models.

"Wave" Cedar Park, 2017

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/100 sec, ISO2500
“Wave” Cedar Park, 2017

Speaking of dive models, this SNK007 is ISO 6425 compliant, which means it has been tested to meet or exceed some pretty impressive specifications, including depth rating of at least 100 m (this watch is 200 m). So I guess I can be confident taking this watch anywhere. In other words, I don’t have to worry about it. Here’s to a bit more peace of mind!

The SKX007 is the most expensive watch I have ever bought, but that’s not saying much since I am such a cheapskate where watches are concerned. This watch is generally regarded in the watch community as one of the cheapest yet respectable diver watches, but for me, it’s a definite keeper and the highest quality timepiece I own. I am expecting it to be my daily watch for the rest of my life. We’ll see!

I hope you had a nice Tuesday!

おやすみ

バロン

Weekend Watching – Tokyo Tarareba Musume (東京タラレバ娘)

It’s been a while since Yoshitaka Yuriko has been on tv, but finally she’s back starring as Rinko Kamata in Tokyo Tareraba Musume (東京タラレバ娘). It’s a fun romantic comedy about three 30-year-old unmarried women and their relationship adventures. The story is just so-so, nothing new (so far), but the acting is good and there are some really funny scenes, where the character’s emotions are visualized with CGI effects, such as lightning coming down from the sky to vaporize the person who pissed Rinko off, or Rinko being shot with an arrow when she gets back-stabbed by a co-worker. The timing is great, and Yoshitaka Yuriko’s expressions are perfect.

As of episode 4, it’s a must-watch for me, but of course I tend to like these not-too-deep doramas. I love Japan so much, and I especially enjoy the scenes of the city. The izakaya that many of the scenes takes place in looks so great. My favorite type of restaurant/bar!

Please take a look at the teaser for the show below:

And lastly, I love the ending theme song by Perfume. It’s great! Enjoy:

The Bond Strap(s)

"Spectre Bond Strap" Cedar Park, 2017

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5, 1/30 sec, ISO3200
“Spectre Bond Strap” Cedar Park, 2017

こんばんは。Are you well today?

Continuing with my mini-obsession with my new watch, I decided to get a couple new watch straps. I mentioned in a previous post that the band that came with the watch wasn’t highly regarded and that a NATO strap replacement is recommended. Well, I did a little research into the style I wanted, and I ended up going with the “Bond Strap”, which is the same design that James Bond wore. But, he actually wore a couple different styles. In 1964’s Goldfinger, Sean Connery wore a black, green, and red striped design, while in 2015’s Spectre, Daniel Craig wore a black and grey striped design. Naturally, I got both!

"Goldfinger Bond Strap" Cedar Park, 2017

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/40 sec, ISO3200
“Goldfinger Bond Strap” Cedar Park, 2017

What is nice about the NATO style straps is that they are very inexpensive. I paid about $10 each. They are both pretty good, but not perfect. The black and grey Spectre strap is a good thickness, softer, and more comfortable, but the buckles are a shiny stainless steel. I prefer the darker matte finish of the stock band. The black, green, and red Goldfinger strap is thinner, harder, and the buckles are a nice matte nickel color. Unfortunately, they are a little too big and prominent, plus I think there are one too many buckles. There’s a way to loop the strap around two of the buckles so that it is more secure, but I don’t think I need that, so I might Dremel off one of them.

I like the NATO straps, though, and I bet if I search hard enough, I will find the combination of smaller matte buckles and softness. But perhaps it’s not about finding the perfect one, but enjoying the variety that comes with owning several different types. 😊 Luckily, NATO straps are easily removed and replaces, so switching it up to suit your mood is not an inconvenience at all.

I hope you had a nice Thursday!

-B

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