Categories
Personal

To Move or Not to Move

Weren’t you supposed to move to Shanghai?

I sure was, and I still am, but since accepting my new role at Ubisoft Shanghai back in May (and then starting to work for the studio at the start of July), we finally (hopefully) have more of an idea of when that’s going to happen.

Indeed, ever since the start of summer, we have been without news on when we would be able to apply for visas (for both my wife and I) to make the move. When I accepted the role, the thought was that things were going to start re-opening towards the end of summer, but then the world didn’t suddenly start getting better as many of us thought. Enter the delta (and more).

That meant that things were getting trickier and trickier for us here in Montreal. Apartment leases here are for 1 year, and you are unable to break them, and so are responsible for that rent until it’s over (you can try and sublease, but that can be challenging as well). My latest lease was over at the end of May, and I of course didn’t want to renew for another year, and so managed to negotiate with my apartment building administration to stay a few more months (until we could move). That was great for the summer, but I was recently informed that this was no longer possible, and would have to now commit for a longer period. What to do?

Luckily, 2 weeks later we got news that China was re-opening the visa process — as well as the news that China would now recognize WHO-approved vaccines — and so we’re up and running again in terms of the application process. Before that, we were even floating the idea of moving to Japan for a while (as a call to the Japanese embassy had revealed that I am currently able to apply for a spouse visa), to then move to China when things would open up again. It would at least have put me in the same timezone, making it easier to connect with my colleagues.

So when are we moving? It’s still not a given, and there are multiple parts to the process that are estimated to take at least 2-3 months. This means that if everything goes well, we could look at a move towards the end of the year — January being the most likely.

This is all incredible news for us, because it finally gives us a tentative timeline on when we might finally be able to make this move happen.

Categories
Film

Like it’s 1981

It certainly took a while (most of this year), but my latest year-based movie marathon (previously 1967, 1968, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, and 1990) is now done. 1981 was certainly an interesting year, and there was a lot more I wanted to watch than in 1980 — in the end I capped it at the 24 films you see listed below, but there were still a few more on my list, but I just felt like it was time to move on. The other thing that happened this year was that I stopped doing my mini write-ups on this blog, and instead started doing them on the Letterboxd site — so all of the films listed below link to those reviews, which have the bonus that I give them a star-rating as well. So if you’re curious to see what I thought of all these films, I invite you to click through the titles, and you can also follow me on Letterboxd for all of the movie reviews I share there (since I started using the site, I now review every film I watch, not just the ones that are part of my movie marathons). And in terms of marathons, what’s next? Well, that would be 1991, which I will kick off soon.

  1. American Pop
  2. Death Hunt
  3. Excalibur
  4. Escape from New York
  5. For Your Eyes Only
  6. Friday the 13th Part 2
  7. Halloween II
  8. Heavy Metal
  9. History of the World Part 1
  10. My Bloody Valentine
  11. Night Hawks
  12. Omen III: The Final Conflict
  13. Outland
  14. Porky’s
  15. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  16. Scanners
  17. Stripes
  18. The Cannonball Run
  19. The Decline of Western Civilization
  20. The Evil Dead
  21. The Funhouse
  22. The Howling
  23. The Road Warrior
  24. Time Bandits
Categories
Personal

To Shanghai

I’m moving to Shanghai.

Well that’s something. After six years here in Montreal, we’ve (my wife and I) decided to embark on a new adventure, and one that involves a return to Asia. It’s not a return to Japan, that I think many would have expected, but rather a return to China, which is how I started my Asia adventure in the first place.

May has turned out to be a defining month in my life — on top of the fact that it’s my birth month. It was in May 1997 that I first went to China, to the city of Tianjin for what was supposed to be a 10-week study program (an exchange program between my university in Montreal and Nankai University), and saw me changing my plans and remaining there until the end of the year. It was in May 1998 that I moved to Tokyo, which would become my home for over 15 years. It was then in May 2015 that I moved to Montreal to embark on a new journey working in the games industry (first at Eidos/Square Enix, then at Ubisoft).

And now, in 2021, it’s in May that I’ve accepted an offer to take on a new role at the Ubisoft Shanghai studio — I’ll start this new role in the summer, with the move happening when our visas our sorted, which we expect will be towards the end of summer, maybe September. After two years working in esports, this will also mark my return to game production — my new role, Production Services Manager, is a transverse role within the studio, working closely with all of the production services teams that support all of the production teams at the studio.

Why this move? After six years in Montreal, we felt like it was time to move on and experience something new. I’m incredibly thankful for the time I was able to spend at both Eidos Montreal and Ubisoft Montreal to “level up” this new career in games I embarked on not that long ago, but at the same time it hasn’t been as productive a time for my wife, in good part due to language issues, but we’ve had other challenges to deal with in our time here, and so we decided it was time for a new adventure in another city.

Why China? As I mentioned earlier, my first stop in Asia was in fact in China, as part of the East-Asian Studies program I was enrolled in at my university, which focused on the Chinese language and culture — and my time at Nankai University in Tianjin was spent studying Mandarin. It’s also where I met my wife, who was also studying Mandarin at the same university — and who, unlike me, continued to use it as part of her studies in the years following our move to Japan. So even though I have never been to Shanghai, I am excited at the prospect of rebuilding my Mandarin skills, and for my wife it means a chance to explore new opportunities in a language and setting that she knows very well. I’m also thankful to work in an expansive global company like Ubisoft, that let me find an opportunity like this, and that allows me to continue to build on the years of experience and contacts I’ve accumulated over my five years here.

So there it is, 2021 is turning out to be a big year for me, as I was hoping it would — it’s maybe a good sign that we’re in the Year of the Ox, which is my Chinese Zodiac.

Categories
Books Film Meta

Letterboxd & Goodreads

I’ve decided to change the way I track all of the movies I watch — which I share here mostly in the form of my various movie marathons — and my book reading as well.

For books, I actually did start using Goodreads to track my book reading in 2019 when I decided to increase the number of books I read each year, but it was only at the end of the year that I bothered writing mini-reviews in posts here (2019, 2020). I’ve now copied over all of those mini-reviews to my Goodreads log, and written a few for what I’ve read so far this year (I’ve read 6 of my planned 20). So if you’re curious to follow what I’m reading and my thoughts on those books, I invite you to follow me on Goodreads.

As for the movie stuff, as mentioned, I’ve been writing mini-reviews for the movies that I watch as part of my movie marathons over in the “Debaser” section of this site, which I then sum up in round-up posts for each. In terms of all of the other movies I watch, I usually just write quick thoughts that I share on Twitter — like this thread when I recently started re-watching Wong Kar-wai movies, as well as the films of Zhang Yimou, and Tintin films. I started thinking there might be a better way to share and then track all of this, and remembered Letterboxd (I’ve had an account for years, but never used it). So I’ve gone and added most of my movie watching so far this year there, creating entries for all of the 1981 movies I’ve watched so far, and the other things I’m watching. My intention is to still create round-up posts here when I finish a marathon, like I’ve done in the past. So if you’d like to follow all of my movie viewing — which now include adding a star rating — I invite you to follow me on Letterboxd.

Categories
Debaser Film

My Bloody Valentine (1981)

I definitely remember the VHS box art for this movie, from when I was a kid, but I don’t think I ever got around to watching it — I wasn’t as much of a horror fan back then as I am now. Also, I didn’t know that this is a Canadian film — and after wondering where it was shot because the area and accents felt so familiar, I found out that it was shot in Nova Scotia, not far from where I grew up (in nearby New Brunswick). As for the movie, I thought it was a pretty decent 80s slasher flick — the deaths are pretty gruesome, and the setting (in and around working mines) is actually novel I felt, as is the age of the victims (young adults instead of teens). The setup at the end is also great, and I’m a bit surprised that the reception was apparently pretty negative at the time, and so we never got a sequel (just a remake a couple of decades later). All in all, not a fantastic film or anything, but it was enjoyable to watch.

Categories
Books On Something

Busy Doing Nothing

I’ve been a huge fan of Rekka and Devine’s — better known as Hundred Rabbits — adventures sailing around the world over the past few years, following them through their various posts, tweets, and especially videos that they would share as they sailed from Vancouver, down the coast to Mexico, then to New Zealand, before reaching Japan and then back again. But despite all the following I was doing, it’s reading their book Busy Doing Nothing that gave me the best understanding of what they were actually experiencing and going through as they made those multi-week crossings. From the mind numbing to the fear-for-the-end-of-your-life, the book is an extended log of the 51 days it took them to sail from Japan back to Vancouver, and it’s a fantastic read. As much as I admire what they achieved, there’s no way in hell that I could put myself through something like that, but Busy Doing Nothing at least gave me an intimate look at what they had to endure, both physically and mentally. You can read the raw logs on their website, but I recommend picking up the digital book, as it expands on the entries, with additional info and details, as well as all of the recipes that kept them going through those long days and nights. I can’t recommend this enough.

Categories
Debaser Film

Porky’s

Even before I started watching this I was fully expecting it to be problematic, and oh boy, it sure was. I mean, yes, it’s a product of its time, and rampant sexism and misogyny is pretty much par for the course when it comes to that era’s comedies — especially anything that revolves around teens or college students. At first I was even taken aback by some raw examples of anti-Semitism, although that turns out to be a plot point that becomes surprisingly progressive. Did I laugh? A bit, and of course I was looking forward to that “classic” shower scene. Oh, and what a weird freeze-frame ending.

Categories
Debaser Film

Halloween II (1981)

This was a lot better than I was expecting — it had been so long since I’d last seen it that I really didn’t remember much, other than the fact that it infamously reveals the family connection between Myers and Strode (that has now been eliminated with the new films, that act as direct sequels to the original film only). What I especially like is that it’s a direct continuation of the first film, and basically continues straight from the last scene of that movie, with the action taking place on the same night. The one thing I don’t quite like is that at this point, as far as I can tell, there’s nothing supernatural about Myers, but he gets drilled with so many bullets that it’s really hard to accept that he keeps going. But hey, it’s still a thrilling ride, I love that small town Halloween night setting, and the Carpenter theme song is still one of the best and most effective movie theme songs of all time. Oh, and Carpenter doesn’t direct it, but it’s still written and produced by him.

Categories
Debaser Film

The Final Conflict

I’ve always been a pretty big fan of the Omen movies, and have revisited them a few times over the years. I remember liking the third film as well, even though it takes a bit turn by aging our young Damien, presenting him as an adult — and we also finally veer towards the climax that sees the second coming of Christ, and what our good ol’ son of Satan can do to stop him. It’s still a decent film, with some great sequences throughout, but I find the ending to be a bit too anticlimactic. Seems like Damien is defeated just too quickly and easily, and that scene with the awakening of Christ comes off as a bit cheesy. But I still enjoyed it, and still think that Sam Neill is great as adult Damien.

Categories
Debaser Film

Outland

I didn’t have particularly fond memories of this movie — I’m sure that kid me was probably expecting Bond in space, and that’s definitely not what this is. It’s basically a slow-paced crime drama in space (or more specifically, in a mining colony on the moon of Io), and one that I ended up quite enjoying. Connery plays the role of the marshal well, and I liked the slow build towards the confrontation that we get near the end. I can’t remember if this was generally well reviewed when it originally came out, but I’d say it’s probably underrated, and a decent crime film with the novelty of a sci-fi backdrop.