Koko Wa Doko Desuka?

We’re in Japan! Konbanwa! A week ago I realized that my Thai visa would expire the very next day so I made a 12-hour round-trip journey to Poipet, Cambodia to get a new stamp on my passport. Since I only spent all of 10 minutes actually in Cambodia, the obvious choice was to scratch my travelers itch by immediately jetting off to Japan. Well actually, on Sunday my brother decided to fly me out to visit him on Okinawa Island and within 24 hours I was all, like, konichiwa Nippon, yo. Mike is celebrating his last week stationed here and we both fly out on Tuesday; him to America, me to Thailand.

Right now I’m in Ginowan City, but we spent the first part of this week up north in Hentona on the US Air Force’s Okuma resort facility. It’s a very beautiful place and had me spellbound, even with less-than-perfect weather. Yesterday we mostly lounged around in/near the ocean, but did get off our butts long enough for some sick jet ski action. Wave Race 64 fans will be disappointed to know that no, in fact, dolphins do not always magically appear to loyally follow around jet skiers.

Today’s highlight was the Ocean Expo Park — a ridiculously nice waterfront extravaganza that features Churaumi Aquarium, the 2nd-largest aquarium in the world. Churaumi is obviously a main attraction, but the whole park is really brilliant. Hopefully soon we’ll be able to go snorkeling and see some of those cooped up fish in a more natural environment.

Photos will be forthcoming later. I have to leave now to figure out a way to keep Japanese curry from destroying my bowels.

It Felt Like a Trap

I’ve spent the last couple of days of soaking up more films by Adam Curtis, one of the best living documentary filmmakers. Last year I watched The Power of Nightmares; earlier this year I saw The Century of the Self; lately I’ve been working through his two most recent: The Trap (2007) and It Felt Like a Kiss (2009).

It Felt Like a Kiss is an experimental film that is a haunting evocation of the essence of life during the Cold War. Its cast features “Rock Hudson, Saddam Hussein, Lee Harvey Oswald, Doris Day, Enos the chimp, and everyone above Level 7 in the CIA.” The excellent soundtrack was composed by Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz, etc) and performed by the Kronos Quartet, with loads of additional pop tracks from the period. There’s no real semblance of a plot or, unlike Curtis’ other films, any sort of thesis. It Felt Like a Kiss is quintessential Curtis in terms of look: heavy use of montages (including some dizzying works of editing genius) and heavy use of archival footage, proving that Curtis probably spends 8 hours a day poring through old film reels. Yet this is also a new Curtis — less documentarian, more artist. The result is a trippy hour-long exploration of the ironies, oddities, and ambiguities of 3 or 4 of the most pivotal decades in American history. Were the U.S. a psychotic individual, this film would be its deranged subconscious bubbling up, exposing some of the roots of our modern American madness.