I grew up with Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet, and Godzilla, still among my favorites

Originally posted on :


Men in Suits is an in-depth documentary directed by Frank H. Woodward of Wyrd Studios which takes a look at the hard work behind ‘monster suit acting’ in films and television.

The film examines the history and craft of suit performers from ‘The Creature of the Black Lagoon’ to ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and beyond. Through interviews with these actors we will learn the skill, strength and art required to be “under rubber”.

It is available to purchase on Amazon.

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New Reading Material!

Introducing the newest blog in the MadSilence family, meaningfulobjects!

Meaningfulobjects is the baby of MadSilence the Older and Wiser, a separate place for him to explore the objects and art that are meaningful to him, and not specifically Asia- or craft-related, as many of the posts here at MS tend to be.

“meaningful objects : explorations into the significance of things.

I enjoy things, both natural and artificial, those objects produced by nature as well as those man-made.  As we are material beings living in a physical world, it makes sense that material objects should have value and meaning, both inherent as well as that applied by the viewer.  The things we surround ourselves with tell us much about ourselves and the world around us.  Things can amuse, entertain and support us, invoke meaning, and tell us stories.  Objects can serve as a mirror of our reality, a lens to study our world, a doorway into our innermost selves.

This blog is a journey of discovery into the meaning of things.

Consider the following:

Objects have meaning, being imbued with emotional and informative value.

Things open up our world and history to us.  We decode our pasts through objects.

–The human inclination is to treasure personal artifacts.

–It’s important to understand what gives seemingly insignificant objects their value.

–What qualities give meaning to objects?

–What objects speak to me the loudest, and why?

–Which things would I like to touch, even to own?”


Check out MS the Older and Wiser's recent post on "Past Objects" by Scott Jordan.

Go on over and check out his latest post about Scott Jordan’s book “Past Objects”!
~MS the Younger

Back to your regularly scheduled program…

Hey all!  Hope you had an amazing holiday and New Year’s!  MadSilence will be back to its regularly scheduled program of interesting tidbits and articles this coming week!

Conceived in desperation

December 7th marks the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy.”  A day later, on December 8, 1941 the United States declared war on Japan and entered World War II.

I remember reading that when President Franklin D. Roosevelt went to Congress to ask for a declaration of war against Japan, the vote for war was not unanimous; a single representative voted no.  I always thought this was a particularly heroic act that defined the American spirit.  Even when provoked the choice to wage war should never be taken lightly.

There was also an incident involving the destruction of Japanese cherry trees in Washington D.C.  Four cherry trees were cut down in 1941, suspected retaliation for the Japanese attack against the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  The trees had been a gift from the Japanese government decades earlier.  In hopes of preventing future damage during the Second World War, the trees were thereafter referred to as the “Oriental” flowering cherry trees.

The hysterical response to the bombing would target more than trees as tens of thousands of American citizens of Japanese descent were later forcibly interned as dangerous foreign nationals.

During WWII my father was stationed on Hawaii but not at Pearl Harbor.  I remember his stories of escorting boat loads of Japanese prisoners of war as they sailed to California, just him, his Thompson submachine and 200 prisoners.  When I asked if he was frightened, he spoke with pity of the Japanese soldiers, gaunt and haggard, barely out of their teens, just grateful to be alive.

Writing for The New York Times, Ian Toll tells the story of Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the man who planned the attack.

During the Second World War and for years afterward, Americans despised Yamamoto as an archvillain, the perpetrator of an ignoble sneak attack, a personification of “Oriental treachery.” Time magazine published his cartoon likeness on its Dec. 22, 1941, cover — sinister, glowering, dusky yellow complexion — with the headline “Japan’s Aggressor.” He was said to have boasted that he would “dictate terms of peace in the White House.”

Apparently the truth was that Yamamoto was against the attack and “persistently warned his government not to fight the United States.”

Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto foresaw that the struggle would become a prolonged war of attrition that Japan could not hope to win. For a year or so, he said, Japan might overrun locally weak Allied forces — but after that, its war economy would stagger and its densely built wood-and-paper cities would suffer ruinous air raids. Against such odds, Yamamoto could “see little hope of success in any ordinary strategy.”  His Pearl Harbor operation, he confessed, was “conceived in desperation.” It would be an all-or-nothing gambit, a throw of the dice: “We should do our best to decide the fate of the war on the very first day.”

Pearl Harbor National Monument

Check out the Big Picture’s photo coverage of Pearl Harbor’s 70th Anniversary on their website.

~MS tO&W

For A Good Cause

T-Minus 2 days and counting until the JETAANY Art Showcase and Auction!  At this point, all the tickets are sold and the venue (the Japanese Ambassador’s Residence in NYC) and the volunteers have all been prepared for the big day!  MadSilence the Older and Wiser has been kind enough to donate 3 pieces from his collection of “Made in Japan” Japanese export ceramics to be auctioned off for the benefit of the people affected by the Great Tohoku Earthquake.  Here’s what we’re donating:

Ceramic figurine, Chinese coolie holding a covered basket, circa 1940s, marked “Made in Japan,” 6.25 inches tall. This delightful example of Japanese-made export ceramics probably served as a cigarette holder. Evocative of Japan’s influence upon Western design (Japonisme), the figurine’s Oriental theme and colorful shiny glazes proved popular in the United States, Europe and Britain. The finely molded ceramic body with skillfully applied glaze suggests this decorative piece was destined for the high-end export market. The Chinese coolie figure with pigtail and vest reflects the influence of Chinese culture upon the Japanese aesthetic.

Chinese coolie cigarette box

Vase, ceramic, 5.25 inches tall, blue iridescent glaze, hand-painted flowers, circa 1940s, marked “Made in Japan.” This exquisite and diminutive ceramic vase is reminiscent of spring afternoons spent lolling in showers of cherry blossoms on the banks of Kanazawa’s Saigawa River. The iridescent finish, a product of mineral salts added to the potter’s glaze, augments the hand-painted flowers. The ceramic body is glazed with a single hue and sparsely decorated is faithful to the beauty and simplicity of the Japanese aesthetic. The use of floral design is an integral element of Japan’s decorative arts.

Cherry blossoms vase

Porcelain two-handled soup bowl and saucer, “Geisha ware,” transfer design with hand painted colors and gilt accents. Unmarked but consistent with Japanese export pottery before 1940. This beautiful set features two women and two children frolicking in an idyllic Japanese landscape garden blooming with a profusion of botan (peony). The outlines of the figures are a transfer pattern, which was later painstakingly hand colored by artists. The women wear brilliantly colored furisode, or long-sleeved kimono. Note the delicate scrolled gilt-work that highlights their obi sashes, hair combs and fans. The underside of the saucer bears a black pock-mark cause by a piece of coal getting stuck in the glaze during firing, indicative of the small kiln in which it was made.

"Geisha ware" soup bowl and saucerHere’s to hoping they’ll bring high bids and plenty of money for the people in Tohoku!

~MS the Younger

“Date A Girl Who Reads” by Rosemarie Urquico

Hey all!  Happy Tuesday!  In between applying for jobs to art galleries and writing articles about the recent JETAANY Career Forum, I took a bit of a break and stumbled across this awesome essay posted on TheHealthyWarrior.  Normally I don’t re-post entire entries, but I LOVE this essay and think you all should read it!!!

by Rosemarie Urquico
(In response to Charles Warnke’s You Should Date an Illiterate Girl)

Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag.  She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.

Being one of those “girls who read,” I could really relate to what she says here – especially about smelling the pages of books, or knowing that books are fiction but still trying to make a little of their magic true in the “real world.”  Books are their own kind of magic.  They allow us to dream while we’re awake, and give hope and support when you don’t have any.  Books are a kind of magic, they way they sit in your hands with the same warm weight as  a friendly hug.  I hope you all enjoyed reading that essay as much as I did!  Viva la book readers!!!

~MS the Younger

“Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers” and “Postcards from Japan: Messages from Tohoku Artists” @Japan Society, NYC

Japan Society Logo.Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit the Japan Society in NYC.  Hidden behind an outwardly unassuming facade across the street from the United Nations, The Japan Society has been promoting Japanese-American relations since 1907.  Inside, the Society shows its true character as the indoor gardens, water features, and shoji-inspired walkways wow visitors as much as the broad range of classes, exhibitions, and lectures they hold each year.

Currently showing (until December 18th) is “Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers.”  It’s a collaboration between The Japan Society and Textile Network Japan along with Tama Art University Museum.  As you enter the exhibit, you walk through the first piece of art!  The doorway is covered with a noren, or traditional door curtain, made of space-age materials that look like watered silk and gold leaf.  It was one great example of how the 30 artists who contributed pieces combined traditional techniques and modern materials to show the versatility and beauty of textiles.

One piece that particularly struck me was a hanging sculpture by Shigeo Kubota that reminded me of a frozen sunset.  Kubota took natural hemp and wove it very simply together with nylon.  He then dyed the material into all the colors of sunset – shimmering crimsons, glowing oranges and strong yellows.  I especially liked how ambient light played differently over the different materials.  And the sculptures aren’t the only things that are pushing the envelope at the Japan Society.  They have designed an app to help guide you through the display, which has a lot of information, like artist statements and videos, that aren’t available in the actual gallery space.  It goes by the same name as the exhibit and can be downloaded for free for both iPhone and Android.

“Fiber Futures” is a great show to see, even with its $12 admission fee for adults.  However, if you’re not in the mood to pay to see very modernistic textile-based sculpture, try going down to the lower level of the building instead.  The hallway is often used as a gallery space and is currently exhibiting “Postcards from Japan: Messages from Tohoku Artists.”  The organizers, Hironori Katagiri and Kate Thompson, were inspired by the Japan Post.  The Post played an important part for people in Tohoku who had no electronic means to reach out and tell their families if they were ok – and they did it in masses, sending out postcards to their friends and family outside of the affected area.  Katagiri and Thompson asked Japanese artists to make a postcard-sized piece of art to express their feelings about what had happened.

"Eyes Welling Up" by Kamo Sachiko

"Eyes Welling Up" by Kamo Sachiko

Many of them incorporate the sea.  Many of the artists felt scared and saddened by the ocean – that a source of beauty, joy, food, and water could also be so inimical to human life.

"Building Up Hope" by Saito Yoshitomo

"Building Up Hope" by Saito Yoshitomo

But many other artists showed their hope for a better future for Japan, as do we as we look at their art.

"Sprouts (MOEMOE)" by Motomura Kenta

"Sprouts (MOEMOE)" by Motomura Kenta

Japan Society
333 East 47th Street
New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 832-1155

Gallery hours (during exhibition dates):
Tuesday through Thursday 11 am – 6 pm
Friday 11 am – 9 pm
Saturday & Sunday 11 am – 5 pm
Closed Mondays & 12/24, 12/25, 12/31, 1/1

~MS the Younger

Post-Halloween Wrap-up/501st post!/Japan Job Resources

Hey all!  Hope you had an awesome Halloween yesterday!  Mine included awesome stripey knee socks:

They even have bats and witches on them to compliment the awesome stripes XD

They even have bats and witches on them to compliment the awesome stripes XD

And my first Jack o’ Lantern in 5 years!  I think I might have to practice my carving a little ^^;;;

This pumpkin needs an orthodontist...

This pumpkin needs an orthodontist...

Sadly it did not include a single trick-or-treater!  Ah well, must have been my pumpkin was too terrifying for them!

Anyhoo, how time flies!  It’s November 1st, and I’ve been home for 3 months now – and this is MadSilence’s 501st post!  Certainly doesn’t feel like we’ve been around for that long!  Appropriately, the entry for November in Sarah Breathnach’s Simple Abundance (which I picked up at the sale rack at the library for $1) is a Japanese haiku:

All freezes again -
among the pines, winds
whispering a prayer.
~Riei, 18th century Japanese poet

Luckily we haven’t frozen yet, even in that dreadful winter storm that passed by this last weekend.  Though my job-search seems to have frozen at a stand-still!  Luckily, the people in all my groups on LinkedIn have been keeping me on my toes.  Here’s some information for anyone looking for Japan-related organizations in the NY area:

In New York
Consulate General of Japan (Japan Information Center) Telephone: 212-371-8222Fax: 212-319-6357
The Asia Society NY Headquarters and Museum:725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street)New York, NY 10021

Tel: 212-288-6400

Fax: 212-517-8315

The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership CGP New York Office152 West 57th Street, 17th FloorNew York, NY 10019

Tel:  (212) 489-1255

Fax: (212) 489-1344

The Japan Foundation, NY branch 152 W 57th Street, 17th Floor New York, NY 10019Tel. 212.489.0299 / Fax. 212.489.0409E-mail:

Japan Society Japan Society, Inc.
333 East 47th Street
New York, NY 10017Fax: (212) 755-6752
United States-Japan Foundation New York Office  (Headquarters)145 East 32nd Street
New York, NY 10016
Tel: (212) 481-8753
Fax: (212) 481-8762
Japan External Trade Organization 1221 Avenue Of The AmericasMcGraw Hill Building, 42nd FloorNew York NY 10020

Phone: 212.997.0400

Fax:     212.997.0464

Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations 866 United Nations PlazaNew York, NY 10017Tel: 212-223-4300

Fukui Prefectural Government, New York Representative Office, c/o JETRO, New York Telephone: 212-997-0445Fax: 212-730-8546URL:
Japan Local Government Center NY (CLAIR NY) Address: 3 Park Avenue, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10016-5902
Tel: (212)246-5542Fax: (212)246-5617E-Mail: jlgc@jlgc.org
Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of New York, Inc. 145 W. 57th StreetNew York, NY 10019Phone: 212-246-8001

Fax: 212-246-8002


Nippon Community Center 50 Columbia AvenueHartsdale, NY 10530Telephone:914.949.2071

FAX: 914.949.2072


NY de Volunteer 601 West 110th Street Suite10K5New York, NY 10025 USA212-932-7208

The Nippon Club 145 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019T. (212) 581-2223
F. (212) 581-3332E.

Hope it’s helpful for people looking for jobs or looking to learn more about Japan!
~MS the Younger

Ghibli’s 借りぐらしのアリエッティ (aka “The Secret World of Arietty”) being released in US!

I was so excited when I saw a friend post on Facebook this morning that the most recent Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli film, “The Secret World of Arietty” will be in theaters in the US in February of 2012!  I was lucky enough to see it in theaters in July of 2010, and I was blown away.  Here’s the Japanese trailer:

The story is based off the classic children’s novel “The Borrowers” by Mary Norton.  Essentially, the Borrowers are kobito, literally “tiny people,” who live by borrowing the things they need from humans.  They live under the floorboards or close to human’s houses so they can sneak in when no-one’s around to borrow what they need.  The main characters are Arietty and her family, the last remaining Borrower family in their area.  One day, while borrowing sugar from the house, Arietty is seen by the sick boy who’s come to visit the house for the summer.  What will happen now that a human has seen her?  The adventure begins!

Studio Ghibli films are always beautifully produced, but I thought that Arietty was even a step above their normal production.  The scenery from the garden around the house was exquisite… every leaf, flower and dew drop was so fresh and colorful that when you watch it on the big screen you truly feel you are the size of a Borrower, walking though the jungle of an overgrown garden.  The soundtrack was equally amazing – ethereal and quirky, performed by the immensely talented French singer and harpist Cecile Corbel.  I’m not one for buying movie soundtracks, but after I saw the movie I immediately went to the closest Tower Records and bought the “Kari-gurashi SONGBOOK” soundtrack, which has all of the best themes and songs from the movie on it.  Here’s the main theme:

Disney will be releasing Arietty in February.  Although I’m a die-hard subtitle fan, I’ve been really impressed by Disney’s translation and dubbing for the other Ghibli movies.  They bring in top-notch actors and really smooth out the dialogue while keeping close to the original meaning and feeling of the Japanese.  Translation of movies has got to be one of the hardest jobs ever – it’s not just language but a whole different set of cultural cues that you’re translating for another audience.  Arietty will be voiced by Bridget Mendler and supported by a great cast including Carol Burnett, Amy Poehler, and Will Arnet.

If you’re intrigued by the glimpse of Miyazaki and Ghibli’s world that you got from the Arietty trailer and don’t want to wait until next year to learn more, check out some of their other movies!  My favorites include:

Porco Rosso (紅の豚 Kurenai no Buta), the Casablanca-esque story of a mysteriously enchanted pig-cum-bounty hunter who swoops around the Adriatic saving school children and the hearts of beautiful cafe owners…

My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ Tonari no Totoro), a story of two little girls who move to a new house in the country with their father.  Strangely enough, the house is inhabited by an amazing array or spirits that can only be seen by children, including the large, fuzzy, and toothy monster called Totoro and his friend the Cat Bus.

Howl’s Moving Castle (ハウルの動く城 Hauru no Ugoku Shiro), based on the Diana Wynne Jones YA book of the same name, is a light tale of love and magic with a twist of Miyazaki’s anti-war messages…

I hope you guys will get as excited about Ghibli and Miyazaki as I am, it’s a great way to get introduced to Japanese culture and animation and find your next favorite movie!

~MS the Younger

Marching to a Different Drummer – NYC’s Steuben Day Parade

Two lovely girls in their traditional outfits on the day of the parade - picture from New York Daily New's coverage of the parade.

Two lovely girls in their traditional outfits on the day of the parade - picture from New York Daily New's coverage of the parade.

Watching NYC’s Steuben Day Parade lead me to disturbing speculations on the impact of the American melting pot upon cultural pluralism.  If we are all equal as Americans does that mean we are all the same?  Will the cultural idiosyncrasies of small groups of German citizens as reflected in their manner of dress, language, cuisine, dance and music lose their savor and fade away into the American cultural hodgepodge?  Is the parade merely a pale reflection of the glory of German culture now many times generationally removed?

Moreover, will the American cultural juggernaut and forces of globalization encourage a world-wide cultural landscape where difference is minimized and pluralism reduced?  I can imagine a worldwide cultural landscape where the nail that sticks up is hammered down, differences homogenized and creativity stifled.  What a tragedy!  It would be a sad and insipid world indeed without the glories of the dirndl, lederhosen, and Schuhplattler, the flavors of bratwurst, sauerkraut, potatoes and beer.

German marching band - hope they didn't drink too much beer before the parade!  From

German marching band - hope they didn't drink too much beer before the parade! From

According to Michael Kimmelman of The New York Times, we have little to fear from American cultural imperialism and the forces of globalization.

“Nationalism, regionalism and tribalism are all on the rise.  Societies are splitting even as they share more common goods and attributes than ever before. Culture is increasingly an instrument to divide and differentiate communities. And the leveling pressures of globalization have at the same time provided more and more people with the technological resources to decide for themselves, culturally speaking, who they are and how they choose to be known, seen, distinguished from others.”

Kimmelman believes that globalization acts rather to increase our choices.

The “…leveling pressures of globalization have … provided more and more people with the technological resources to decide for themselves, culturally speaking, who they are and how they choose to be known, seen, distinguished from others.  […]  Anyone may now pick through the marketplace of global culture.”

The Steuben Day Parade may reflect the growing need for people to distinguish themselves one from the other, to resist the trend toward sameness, or rather to encourage the preservation and dissemination of individuality.  That individuality which is, paradoxically, another basic American trait.

“This may sound like the essence of globalization, but the fact that everybody from Yerevan to Brasilia, Jakarta to Jerusalem, knows songs by the Black Eyed Peas or wears New York Yankees caps doesn’t mean that culture is the same everywhere.”

So wear your lederhosen and hold your bratwurst with pride!

~MS the O&W

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