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Squared Sevens Blogging Corp.
Sunday, 29 August 2004
Carowinds Report
Went to Carowinds today, an old summer tradition, but this time with Ayana. A couple of thoughts and observations...

-Big security presence there. It was probably there last time I went in May 2003 but I don't seem to remember it. We got to do metal detectors, bags searched, the whole bit. Interesting to see at a theme part of all places.

-There's been a lot of changes there as well. Seems like everything got a fresh coat of paint, and they've taken out a lot of old stuff recently, but one bonus is that it seems to be a lot easier to walk the park. For example, it's easy to access Thunder Road now, but back in the days it was more or less stuck off in the corner of the park.

-Also, sad to see the Viacom/Paramount influence everywhere. There's the CBS Cafe(?), and of course everything in the kids park is plastered with Nickelodeon logos. They even renamed the Gauntlet to the "Rocket Power Blastoff" or something like that. And there's VH1 and commercials playing on TV while you're waiting in line. Thanks, guys, just what we need. More commercials. Smurf's island is completely gone, I mean demolished, to make way for a new ride (see below). Too bad, because I had good memories of that place then Carowinds just let it turn to sh-t.

-I just realized what a license to print money that place is. I mean, you gotta pay to get in, and then every square foot is utilized to get even more of your dough- you know the deal, photo booths, souveneirs, lemonade ice, Dippin' Dots, and overpriced food and drinks. I know it's a huge operation but I'm starting to see why Paramount opted to buy the place. However, after all the changes they've made, maybe I wish they hadn't, being the nostalgic guy that I am. You wouldn't recognize this place from 10 years ago at all hardly.

-There's a new ride in town, and it's called the Borg Assimilator. It's Star Trek-themed, which you may or may not like, but they do show some ST:TNG clips while you're waiting in line, which isn't too bad. Anyway, the ride is incredible. The short explanation goes like this: the seat you're in is laid back horizontally, then right before the big drop the track rotates over 180 degrees- and you're facing the ground, with nothing in between. It's nuts. Then you go on a pretty good steel coaster, but it's made all the better by the new ride design. I guarantee you'll experience a few things you haven't seen before, and this is coming from someone who's been on a lot of coasters. I'm glad that I live to see technology create things like this.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 11:01 PM EDT
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Friday, 27 August 2004
Yabai!
Major Tokyo Quake Expected Within 50 Years


TOKYO - Japan's capital has a 90 percent chance of being devastated by a major earthquake some time in the next 50 years, according to a study by a government panel.

The study, released earlier this week, marked the latest attempt by scientists to address one of this quake-prone country's most pressing concerns: when the next "Big One" would level one of the world's most densely populated cities.

Tokyo was last hit by a destructive quake in 1923 that toppled buildings, set the city aflame and killed at least 140,000 people ? and experts warn it's overdue for another.

From Yahoo! News

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 11:17 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 25 August 2004
Trends in the States
been putting this post off for awhile, so here goes. One thing that I wanted to see when I went away to Japan was what kind of trends would develop when I wasn't there. And while I'm still not all back in the swing of things, I have noticed a few pretty big trends (or fads, as they may be) pop up while I was gone.

The first thing that I saw was the Carb Craze has gone all out. Seriously, every other commercial on adult TV is some sort of low-carb something. There's even low-carb milk for some reason. The other thing that I saw is the rapid rise of the popularity of poker. It's on ESPN for crying out loud- I generally turn the channel when I see it on, but somebody's got to be watching it. A thing that I noticed was that both of these were around before I left and were still pretty popular- people had been doing the Atkins thing for at least a couple of months and there's always some guys up for Poker somewhere. But somehow they both reached a sort of critical mass while I was gone, and are truly mainstream. There might be an interesting study on US Society in there somewhere. Or not. I'm not getting into these, taking a wait-and-see on the carb thing (still got an iffy feeling about it), and staying away from poker- I always lose money. I'm just too nice of a guy for that game I think. Don't quite have the killer poker instinct. Dodgeball on the other hand...

The other thing that I saw pop up was this "Orange County Choppers" thing. This was completely new to me, but then I hadn't had cable for quite a while even before I left. It's the name of the company in the show "American Choppers" on one of the "learning" channels, where they make bikes. I saw it once, and I gotta say I was impressed. There's some real creativity and technique in the bikes, and the people on the show are certainly intersting enough. So I give this trend some credit, even though I can't sit through hour long TV shows for some reason without getting bored (but watching a 3-hr long movie is no problem).

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 11:46 PM EDT
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Monday, 23 August 2004
College Blog Entry
Hello everyone, this is Mike from college. Things are doin' fine here. Had my first day of classes today, nothing too bad. The walk isn't bad either, and even better I don't have to live on campus. Sammy went ahead and brought about half of his living room down to the Apartment, so we got surround sound, a big TV and wireless internet. I was wondering how I would fit back in the UNCC Japanese classes, but apparently some people in my class can't read Katakana (something that's pretty basic), so I think that I will be alright in there.

I'm gonna visit Ayana tomorrow, we might walk around Uptown some. Hopefully we can watch Zatouichi: The Blind Swordsman soon (it's in Japanese with English subtitles you see), and maybe a trip to Carowinds somewhere in there as well. That's it for now, I'm probably gonna talk more about sports next time. Later.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 11:27 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 18 August 2004
Sports Talk Radio 490AM
In this blog entry series, I'm going to talk about sports. Like any red-blooded American, I enjoy spectator sports a lot and I believe that people really care what I have to say about them. Now, even since I was a kid I've always enjoyed the Olympics. They were something big and great that I could always cheer and dream about. However, as I've grown older, as I've tried to become more cynical and less manipulated, and I tried to shut myself off from the Olympic scene this year.

It looked like it was going to be easy, with all the Drug testing scandals, the "Nightmare" Team (more on them later), terrorism concerns, TV Soap Opera Presentation, and the overt consumerization/corporatization of the games, and all of that fun stuff. But sure enough, I got sucked back in, as usual. I mean, when you get down to it, it's still a great one-of-a-kind event in the world. Where else can you see people going nuts when some 20-year-old from Bulgaria wins a bronze medal in the 800m Steeplechase? The emotion and drama are still real, even with all the added extras. What I can say, I'm still a sucker I guess.

BTW, My Aunt and Uncle survived Hurricane Charley ok. They were in Naples, FL, which is pretty close to where it made landfall, so it was... touch and go for awhile there. But everything seems alright now, and I'm sure that we will all hear about it later. Anyway, shouldn't you start your own blog by now Barb?

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 11:50 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 18 August 2004 11:54 PM EDT
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Thursday, 12 August 2004
This will be interesting
My girlfriend Ayana is coming flying into Charlotte today. I'm pretty excited, but a little but nervous too, I've never hosted anyone before and I feel an obligation to make sure she has an awesome trip. I'll try to find good activities to do in Charlotte, could be a tough search as anyone who has lived here can tell you. But, I'll try my best.

In other news, I saw my Aunt and Uncle that I hadn't seen in 2 years at Food Lion, um while I was working. That was a bit of a surprise. We got Bojangles and ate outside in the parking lot, man that was great. Then they drove down to Florida, and they're there right now, which in hindsight may have not been the best idea (hurricanes and such). Well, I'm sure they'll have fun anyway.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 5:08 PM EDT
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Sunday, 8 August 2004
Frohman's first DVD Review
Well, I'd like to talk about some junk that I acquired recently, so I can help others with their buying decisions. The big purchase that I got recently was the Indiana Jones DVD box set. Like any other grown-up kid I've been a fan of Indy for a long time. His outlandish adventures and the classic character of Indy himself always provide an outstanding movie experience.

However, being a Lucasfilm entity, I approached the box set with guarded enthusiasm. As everyone knows now, Good Ol' Beardy McBeard is more than willing to change (i.e. ruin) everything people have loved about his movies. Just mention "Greedo shoots first" to any Star Wars fan and check their facial expression to see what I mean. Fortunately, everything more or less remains intact. The picture and sound quality on these DVDs are both dynamite. The movies are sharp and full of details, and Indy's whip never sounded better. So, in that respect, this is the best way you're going to be able to watch the Indy movies short of a movie theater.

Now, on to the special features, a crucial part of the DVD experience. Frankly, I was a little let down on this part-the content is solid, but overall I missed out on the "behind the scenes/insider" feel that makes DVD Special Features so great. What you get is a Full 4th DVD of Special Features, but they are only slickly edited features and documentaries- these are all well done, but make no mistake there is plenty of self-praise involved, and the whole process goes a long way towards making everyone involved looked good.

There are no outtakes, deleted scenes, commentaries, or in-depth interviews- the way that I saw it, nothing that would make Speilberg, Lucas, or the rest of the crew look bad. Maybe I'm too hard on them, but I saw the lack of deleted scenes as a way of almost saying we never made a mistake on these films- a sort of arrogance and hubris and that I've come to dislike increasingly.

So overall, Indy fans should still get these DVDs as the overall presentation and quality of the films stands up over time, although I still have nit-picky complaints about each one (The ending of Raiders, trying to make Temple of Doom a horror film, the lack of risk-taking in Crusade). Just don't expect, like I did, any earth-shattering special features. And yes, I know that this DVD set came out like 9 months ago. Cut me some slack, ok?

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 12:05 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 3 August 2004
DSL is slow, folks
In other news, Dave Chapelle (Of Chapelle Show and Robin Hood: Men in Tights fame) recently reupped with Comedy Central for $50 million dollars! Phew! That's a lot of dough, but I think the guy deserves it, he's truly funny.

One thing that I'm glad to see back in the States is some beautiful blue skies and panoramic views again. See, Japan has probably the world's most ugly, jumbled and disorganized power line system. Concrete poles stand out about every 10 feet or so (I mean that literally) with dozens of power lines running any which way. It ain't pretty, and I have no idea why people put up with it.

It might have something to do with the fact that power lines are practically never buried in Japan, something discussed in length in Alex Kerr's book "Dogs and Demons" (a good read for Japanophiles). It's a real shame too, because from practically anywhere on the islands there are majestic mountain views to be seen. Anyway, it's good to look up now and see skies and night stars, and not a cobweb of power lines in the way. Living on the lake doesn't hurt either, of course.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 8:30 PM EDT
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Sunday, 1 August 2004
Mike Mike Mike
You bought these Haichews to give away as gifts, but sure enough you just eat them all for yourself. Of Course.

In other news, Mike Tyson got beat pretty badly by some guy. I saw the fight, I couldn't believe it at first, but we shouldn't have been surprised. First of all, the guy is 38 years old. I mean, that's old. People still have this invincable image of him for some reason, I think that's pretty much all but gone now though.

Good news, I bought NFL 2K5 for about 17 bucks, which is just incredible. They're practically giving this game away, folks. And the rest of the game is as good as the price, my only problem is that I suck at passing and throw way too many interceptions. Other than that, I'm having a great time.

Finally, about the last post, I didn't mean for it to come off as negative or complaining, but I guess that it did. It was just an observation that I had made, nothing more, nothing less. And, that's about it.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 10:11 AM EDT
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Friday, 30 July 2004
Frohman's Special Thoughts
Well, I'm back in the United States. Everything is in English, I know what all the foods are, I know what to do and where everything is, I have car transporation to anywhere. I guess that it's pretty solid overall, but I definitely want go back to Japan soon. I mean, I left a lot of people that I like behind there. But, I like my family, and my car, and my house. But life in Japan is so much more interesting. Yet, life in NC is more relaxing. See where I'm going with this? I could go either way. Bottom line- it's great to be home, but gotta to go back to Japan someday.

My goal of this trip was to be challenged and rewarded, and I definitely think that happened in the past year. I handled a lot of crazy situations, and improved my Japanese, so that's not too bad at all. I wanted to go to a foreign country for the first time, and also get a chance to see the USA from a new perspective after living in another country for a while.

And after coming back from Japan, my first observation was, Why do we need such big things in America? Why do we need such huge sodas? Huge cars? Cable with 60 channels? Big Houses? Big people? Big roads? I'm not questioning the reason for their existence, just why does everything have to be so big here? Hope I'm not complaining to much, but this is just what I've noticed since coming back.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 5:08 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 30 July 2004 5:19 PM EDT
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