Just a quick update today–I’m currently finding myself swamped with translations I need to finish and my internet has been finicky all day.
I was really depressed when I broke one of my favorite cups while cleaning a while back… It had traveled with me from Japan to America and then all the way here to Australia. That’s 5 years of traveling the world together! I remember I got it as an impulse buy for 300 yen (about $3) because it said “coffee milk crazy” on it and gave really bad English instructions on how to make an iced coffee. I’ve been looking for a replacement cup ever since its untimely demise.
I actually found this cup a couple of weekends ago while Shaun and I were perusing one of our favorite vintage shops. I think we’d even seen it in a previous visit, but hadn’t really given it much notice… I have no idea why! I absolutely LOVE this cup. And it was only $1! The design is so kitschy, honestly. I think Shaun’s jealous of it, though, so we’re going to have to find one equally kitschy for him in the near future. Not gonna argue with that, but I’m telling you, it’ll take a lot to contend with this one:
I wish I could’ve gotten a slightly better shot of the white design. It honestly looks like something you’d see on a Grecain Urn. And the red horse and buggies circling around the top? Ahaha, I love it!
MOS Burger certainly isn’t lacking in great design!
The minute I heard a MOS Burger had recently opened in the nearby town of Sunnybank, I knew Shaun and I would have to make a trip there as soon as possible. MOS Burger is none other than the single most popular hamburger chain in Japan after McDonald’s, with its own unique twist on the traditional burger and lots of famous items on their menu you can’t get anywhere else. They’re most famous for their teriyaki chicken burger, which I honestly hadn’t tried before this Saturday. Other notable items on their menu include a selection of rice-bun burgers, where the usual bread bun is replaced by two onigiri-like rice patties. According to the Japanese MOS Burger website, they have over 200 stores outside of Japan (all located in Asia), but the one in Sunnybank is the first in Australia. For those of you not from the area, Sunnybank is well-known as being a mecca for Asian things, so in many ways it makes sense that they chose to open a shop there rather than in the Brisbane CBD.
Though there were numerous other delicious eateries I frequented while I was living in Japan, I have many fond memories of the MOS burger near my host family’s house in Nishinomiya. Since they were open late (later than the local McDonald’s, I might add), I would often hang out there with friends after having a couple drinks at a nearby bar, or, since my house was only 5 minutes away, meet up with girl friends for a late-night chat over an order of fries. One of my first memories with my now husband was at a MOS Burger, even! I had the special, Osaka-only takoyaki (breaded octopus) burger and took many pictures similar to the ones I’m sharing with you now.
Enjoying my yakiniku rice burger. The rice buns are pretty tasty!
So, out of nostalgia’s sake, my husband and I made the 45 minute trek out to Sunnybank on Saturday. What was supposed to be a 45 minute journey actually ended up taking close to 3 hours, due to some train closures and my inaccurate directions, but we made it there all the same.
Since the shop only opened at the end of March, the line has the tendency to get rather long. Had we arrived at lunchtime, I assume it would’ve been a longer wait, but since we got so lost and only arrived sometime after 2, that wasn’t too much of a problem. We still had to queue up, but we probably only waited about 15-20 minutes, though the ladies at the counter taking orders did seem rather slow. I was psyched to get a curry croquette burger, but is was nowhere to be found on the menu. I’m sure they probably opted to go for a limited selection of the usual Japanese menu to start, and unfortunately for me the croquette burgers didn’t make the cut. We were also disappointed to find that melon soda was nowhere to be found, and had been replaced with more popular Aussie alternatives. I ended up going for the rice yakiniku burger set with a Sprite, and Shaun ordered the teriyaki chicken burger set and a matcha latte. The total was a little over $20, and my set was about $8.50, if I recall correctly.
Fries that came with our burger sets. Love the logo on the bags and the serving baskets.
All in all, the experience was very much like one that you would having going to MOS Burger in Japan, with a few minor cultural differences. I thought it was cute that they also reused some of the original Japanese banners, though the painted wall designs were different from any I’d ever seen in a Japanese MOS Burger. The writing on the walls actually clued me in to the answer to one of my often-pondered questions: What exactly does “MOS Burger” mean, anyway? Well, folks, apparently the MOS stand for Mountain, Ocean, and Sun. There you have it!
Adorable paper placemats warn you not to take your burger out of the bun to avoid spilling the special sauce everywhere
I’d definitely recommend anyone that has the chance to go pay the Sunnybank MOS Burger a visit, even if you’ve never been to one in Japan before. Nay, especially if you haven’t been to one in Japan before! MOS Burger should be experienced at least once by anyone that likes a good burger. It’s a little more expensive than your usual fast food fare, but all their food is made with fresh, local ingredients, and is quite a bit tastier, too. They even have a few soups and salads on the menu, though I have yet to try them. I really hope they are well-received and consider expanding to the rest of Australia in the near future!
No, I’m not having relations with another man… I’m talking about a certain big-headed blue alien of recent movie fame! Why doesn’t anyone seem to care about Megamind? I’m going to say it right now, loud and clear: Megamind is the best animated film I’ve seen in a long time! Rango? Meh. Despicable Me? Saw that yesterday. Eh. Toy Story 3? Cute, made me cry… But no. How to Train Your Dragon? Good, but it just can’t hold its own when compared to Megamind. Granted, I have yet to see Tangled, which everyone is raving about, but somehow I doubt I will be able to say I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed Megamind.
So what’s so good about Megamind, you ask? First and foremost, beyond anything else, Megamind is hilarious. My husband and I went to see it in theaters for my birthday back in December and were oh-so-pleasantly surprised by what a funny film it was. Just the other day we popped a rental copy in the DVD player and found, to our glee, that it was just as funny, if not more so, than the first time we watched it.
After much thought and deliberation about what makes the humor in Megamind stand out from other similar films (Despicable Me, I’m looking at you), I’ve come to the realization that Megamind is a lot more adult, and I dare say, sophisticated, than many other recent animated films. There’s very little slapstick comedy–instead, the humor is largely dialogue-based, and the script is brilliantly written. The comedic voice actors such as Will Ferrell and Tina Fey really went wild with it, and it shows.
This brings me to my next point: Megamind has great characters. I think almost everyone who likes Megamind would agree that you don’t watch it so much for the story, you watch it for the characters. Will Ferrell is a genius as Megamind, and I don’t even like Will Ferrell. He and his minion, referred to as, well, Minion, have some great interactions that are just hilarious to watch. Brad Pit does a perfect satire of the classic superhero as Metro Man, the hero Megamind is always at odds with. And let’s not forget Titan–the true villain of the story, whose awkward, stalker-like behavior towards the Lois Lane-inspired female lead is at times both gut-wrenchingly funny and cringe worthy. His character is the first to make me feel genuinely creeped-out by an animated villain in a long, long time.
If there’s so much going for Megamind, why don’t we see more people raving about it? This is a question that plagues myself, my husband, and many other fans of the film. Granted, the film did pretty well in the box office and for its DVD release, but it still feels under-appreciated. The first reason could be chalked up to poor marketing. I, perhaps fortunately, only ever saw the teaser trailer, and not the full trailer, for the film. From what I’ve heard in cyberspace, subsequent trailers basically give away a main plot point of the film, leaving little up to the viewer’s imagination before they actually go see the movie.
Megamind seems to be plagued from start to finish with bad advertising decisions, as even with the DVD release we can see major discrepancies in the representation of the film from just the DVD cover alone. First and most notably, Megamind doesn’t have a goatee anywhere on the cover. Come to think of it, in almost all of the promotional material he appears sans goatee. In the film, he clearly has one. This may seem like a cosmetic mishap, but I think it appropriately illustrates the lack of attention that was spent on advertising the film. Not only that, the Minion on the back cover of the DVD is shown carrying a bazooka, something that also never appears in the film. What gives?
Perhaps Megamind just wasn’t released at the right time. At first glance, it appears to have many similarities with Despicable Me, which seems to have done much better in the box office. Maybe it was too smart for its own good. While advertised as a relatively average kids’ film, Megamind has a sensibility that I’m sure many adults would appreciate, but perhaps alienates some of the younger viewers.
If anything, I urge anyone who enjoys a good superhero film to rush to your video store and rent Megamind as soon as you can. It puts a great spin on the traditional superhero flick, in more ways than one. And to anyone else who enjoys a good laugh–I can’t guarantee you’ll love the sense of humor Megamind brings to the table, but if you like Will Ferrell, I see no reason why you won’t be charmed by Megamind’s character, even if he is an animated blue alien.
Have you seen Megamind? Love it? Hate it? Let me know in the comments! And if, after reading this, you’ve been inspired to check it out for yourself, please let me know what you think! Thanks for reading!
Scone, favorite cup full of tea, and a Japanese text to translate! What’s not to love?
Do you love scones? I know I sure do! One thing I love about Australia is that they sure appreciate a good scone and tea around here. This picture is a little old, but I never managed to post it. I found a nice recipe for British-style scones on a lovely food blog here.
In the proper Easter spirit, Shaun requested chocolate scones this morning. “Chocolate scones? Blasphemy!” I thought, but actually they were quite good! And even though we were virtually out of butter, they still tasted quite nice. I use regular milk rather than buttermilk as well, and I find I like them just as much as any buttermilk scone I’ve ever had.
For all of my international readers, tomorrow is Anzac Day here in AU, which is much like Memorial Day in the US (I believe; I admit I don’t know too much about Anzac Day history). Shaun and I will be attending the parade in the Brisbane CBD, and you bet I’ll have my 3DS on sleep mode to see if I can collect any StreetPass hits!
Some feedback on my previous 3DS impressions post has led me to believe that perhaps I came off as a little too harsh… To clarify, though I am still not entirely impressed with the 3DS’s launch lineup, I am very content with the capabilities of the system on the whole, and am excited for numerous games on the horizon such as BlazBlue Continuum Shift II (NA release May 31) and Legend of Zelda: Ocarena of Time in June. I’ve even gotten a little more play out of Nintendogs + Cats, and I have to admit that it is quite cute. It’s always exciting to find, after having the system in my purse on sleep mode all day, that I’ve encountered another 3DS user and exchanged puppy pictures with them.
Official image illustrating how StreetPass works
Which leads me into the meat of this post, where I’d like to talk a little more about the nifty StreetPass function of the 3DS. While considered a “useless” addition to some, I was intrigued by the idea of the StreetPass from the moment it was announced. Not only can you randomly exchange Mii data with other 3DS owners as you pass them innocuously on the street to fill your Mii Plaza, but you can send and receive game-specific information that allows you to trade items, battle, and more, depending on the game. Of course, the inherent problem with all of this is that you actually have to encounter other people who own a 3DS, have it with them, and have it in sleep mode, for the data exchange to occur. Some have criticized this function as being useful in an extremely densely populated nation as Japan, but not as much so in larger countries such as the US and Australia, where you might be one of a handful of people in your town to even own a 3DS.
With StreetPass Network, that problem has been solved. Gamers from all around the world have started creating their own grassroots StreetPass groups using the page function on Facebook, and they are all cataloged by the man behind the first StreetPass group to gain fame, Joshua Lynsen. Who said gamers weren’t social? If you have a 3DS, or even just a DS, you can go to the network website, find your city, and there’s a good chance a group has been made. If not, why not create your own?
In the Mii Plaza, you can view all the different Mii’s you’ve encountered! (source)
That’s what I did! Introducing StreetPass Brisbane, the first and only StreetPass group for Brisbane, Australia! Excited about meeting and trading data with other 3DS owners, I searched the StreetPass Network’s website for a local group for me… Only to find that the closest one was in the Gold Coast. The kind owner of the Gold Coast StreetPass page suggested I create my own for Brisbane, and the rest is history. Don’t mind that right now I’m the only one who “likes” it…
I contacted Joshua at the StreetPass Network and inquired about getting StreetPass Brisbane listed, and within an hour it was up on the site! His website is really much more informative than I could ever hope to be, so I really encourage you all to go check it out! I’m hoping that through some networking, StreetPass Brisbane will be able to grow and succeed like so many of the other groups around the world already have.
Besides joining a StreetPass group in your area, Gamertell has a nice article to help you get started with StreetPass, and hopefully exchange some data with other 3DS users.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that StreetPass Brisbane will be successful enough to do an actual meetup sometime soon! And I hope this post has helped anyone who is looking for more information on how to get involved with StreetPass. Let me know in the comments!
Today I stumbled upon The Patchwork Pokemon Gym, a group of cross-stitching Pokemon fans who plan to make a quilt of all the original 151 Pokemon and gym leaders to raise aid for victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. They’re constantly updating with their progress, and it’s great to see all the patches as they’re finished, so check them out! And if you enjoy cross-stitching and would like to join their team, there are still some patches that have not yet been claimed.
Though I wasn’t originally planning on getting a 3DS for a while, Shaun and I were lucky enough to receive one from my mom last week as an early Easter present! Thanks, Mom! It’s that lovely blue color, and came with Nintendogs + Cats Toy Poodle and Super Monkey Ball 3D. Now I’ll be the first to admit that the launch lineup for the 3DS was rather lackluster, so unfortunately I wasn’t particularly enthralled by either of these games. Nintendogs is cute (I never played the original, incidentally), but the novelty wears thin pretty quick–especially after taking your virtual dog for a walk and watching it do its business on the street. It does do a nice job of showcasing the 3D capabilities, particularly when your dog jumps up and licks the “screen.”
Super Monkey Ball is a series that I also have never gotten into, purely from lack of interest in general more than anything else (I haven’t read reviews, I don’t know how popular it is). In Super Monkey Ball 3D you can choose from three modes–the regular adventure courses, Mario Kart-like racing, and multiplayer. I think the first option is where the “monkey ball” comes from, as your monkey of choice will roll around through short courses in a hamster-ball like apparatus, the goal simply to get to the finish line while collecting bananas. Yawn. The racing was a little more interesting, for me at least, and felt kind of like a preview of what a 3D Mario Kart would look like. Oddly, I found the 3D in Super Monkey Ball to be less crisp at higher levels than Nintendogs. As I moved up the slider to increase the 3D effect, I quickly began to see a double-image that really aggravated my eyes. At a lower level the double image seems to disappear and I found it much more pleasing to look at that way. I can’t comment on the multiplayer, but I assume it’s probably very similar to the other modes.
Now on the 3DS itself! I only have a DSlite, so I can’t compare the 3DS to the DSi or XL, but in terms of size and weight, it seems about the same as my lite, only a little thinner. I’m even carrying it around in the same case that I was using for my DSlite. As most of you probably know, the top screen is wider than the bottom, and another notable upgrade is the addition of an analog stick on the left side along with the traditional D-pad. I began playing Pokemon White on the 3DS, which I was previously playing on the DSlite, and have noticed that the slimness of the console means that I have to bend my fingers at a slightly increased angle to press the buttons, which I find slightly uncomfortable. I think it will take getting used to, but isn’t a major downside by any means. What I have found, is that even though I want to use the D-pad for Pokemon, the lower positioning of the D-pad due to the addition of the analog stick means that it isn’t really that comfortable to use the D-pad for long periods of time, where it was fine on the older DS models. This means I found myself using the analog stick just because it felt more comfortable.
I know I touched on the 3D capabilities a little already with regards to specific games, but I’d like to say a few more words on it before I move on. It is, after all, the driving force behind this new handheld!
I have to say I haven’t really been bitten by the 3D bug yet–when I go to the movies I always opt for the cheaper 2D tickets, and when the 3DS was announced I was more excited by the fact that it was just a new system rather than the whole “3D without glasses!” thing Nintendo is going for. So, how does the 3D really stack up, then? Well, after hearing that the 3DS gives people headaches after 15 minutes or less of gameplay, I have to agree. When you’re not used to looking at the 3D top screen, it can be quite eye straining to view with the slider turned all the way up. That said, Nintendo made a very smart move by making the 3D adjustable. I enjoyed playing on a very low 3D setting–I could still see the 3D effect but it didn’t strain my eyes nearly so much. It’s a little frustrating that you have to angle the screen very precisely to be able to see the 3D effect well, though. Even so, all games can also be played in 2D, and they still look nice and crisp. I’m still not completely sold on the magic of 3D, but I’m hoping future titles will make a believer out of me.
One thing I find really intriguing about the 3DS is the Streetpass–the idea being that if you walk around with your 3DS on sleep mode (closed, but still on), you can swap information with other 3DS users you pass during your day. With Nintendogs + Cats, you can share pictures of your pets and even send presents to other players. I’m not sure of Super Monkey Ball 3D has any Streetpass functionality, but I don’t believe so. Even without any games, by using Streetpass you can get info on other 3DS players such as what game they are currently playing or download their Mii, which will then be sent to your Mii Garden to be viewed at any time (I believe this also unlocks some mini-games as well). I’ve only tried Streetpass once so far, when I knew I would be around a fair number of people, but regrettably I didn’t pass any other 3DS owners. The possibilities of the Streetpass are really interesting, I think, and I look forward to see how future games will take advantage of this new technology.
Finally, I’d like to comment on Face Raiders, an augmented reality shooter that comes already installed on the 3DS. In this game, you take pictures of faces, which are then used to create these little enemy face ships you have to shoot down. It’s a pretty funny concept, and I enjoyed playing around with it. There’s something oddly satisfying about shooting at your own face. The game also makes use of the camera in real time (hence “augmented reality”), so rather than shooting at faces superimposed on a pre-made background, you’re twisting and turning your hands to move your 3DS around your living room, or wherever you happen to be playing (imagine how silly you’d look in public!). Apparently, though, there is an incentive to play this outside–any faces that show up in the background while you’re playing will be added to your game (source)!
All in all, I’m really excited to have gotten my hands on a 3DS so soon after it was released (thanks again, Mom!). Unfortunately, the lack of a strong launch line-up means that for now, I’ll probably just be playing my old DS games until something good comes along, but I am certainly looking forward to what the future holds.