Quarantine is over! It’s warmish outside! Kaohsiung is a noisy place! Finally I get to be outside in Taiwan during the day!
First thing on the docket is to get a haircut. Pro tip: if you’re white, don’t go to this place
I walked around and found my first street food – which was a drink – I got guava and yakult (yogurt), delicious.
Got to see our quarantine hotel from the outside. One of the things I looked at every day was the 9×9 stationary store across the street. This photo is from the door of that store. I bought pens!!
Typical Kaohsiung street views – notice the abundance of scooters. Because of the pandemic, whenever you went into a business you were supposed to scan a QR code for the purposes of tracking any spread. Naturally me and my phone took forever to do this.
Residents in Kaohsiung don’t have lawns, so they do what they can by having gardens in planters out front! Also check out the crazy trees!
AFTERNOON: ANPING OLD STREET, Tainan
Wife’s sister’s friend drove us 50 minutes North to Tainan City for the lantern festival. During the afternoon we walked about and found some fun places in Anping Old Street, including Miaoshou temple, a crazy soft serve ice cream shop, and some place with fun crustacean mascots.
Sadly, the lantern festival was called due to rain, so at dusk we travelled to Ba-Wei hot pot/ginger duck restaurant on Anping Road where we met some of Erica’s old friends who luckily speak English!
Unfortunately comfortable seating is a rarity at these kinds of restaurants, as you can see the stools are tiny. I had hurt my back somehow during the flight and/or quarantine hotel and I had to stand up periodically to manage the pain.
A great first day out and about! By the way, if you come across these – they’re delicious. It’s like what if bubble gum ramune was an ice cream!
So once you reach the ripe old age of 50 Earth years, they tell you to take get the F.I.T. Not to get fit, though you should do that too, but rather to take the Fecal Immunochemical Test. You go to the pharmacy and they give you a kit comprised of a collector swab dealio that you scrape into your scat to get a stool sample. You do this on your own time, and is quite an alarming procedure, and you return the poop to the health professionals, they check the sample for blood, and if they find it you win the prize of a colonoscopy!
My report came back positive with “occult blood,” which I’m quite certain will be a future song title for The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets. BC Cancer Colon Screening sent me a package in the mail including an info pamphlet and a letter stating that someone will be in touch. They also include a number you call to find out how long you will have to wait to get contacted: 10 weeks in my case. The pamphlet was very specific that I should not worry that I have cancer, because “abnormal results are common” (but not common enough to be normal, I guess?) and does not mean I have or will develop cancer. Knowing that I suffered chronic hemorrhoids for well over a decade, despite the not-even-remotely-best efforts of my proctologist, I assume that these banes of my fartbox were the source of the occult blood. Two months later they called me to set up the colonoscopy, which would take place in a further month. I was given multiple opportunities to eschew the test altogether, I guess they really thought it wasn’t that big of a deal.
Detailed instructions were provided! Seven days prior to the test I was to go to a pharmacy and pick up 4L jug of PegLyte laxative. I wasn’t supposed to take the laxative until the day before the procedure, so I’m not sure why the instructions specified 7 days exactly, but despite it being very inconvenient to my schedule, I picked it up on that date. I asked the pharmacist about that and they kind of shrugged, suggesting only that waiting until the last minute would be a bad idea in case they were sold out. I also asked them about getting a pill instead, as someone on my facebook mentioned I should try, and they said if you were told to take the liquid, take the liquid.
Five days before the anal probe, you’re supposed to “stop eating foods that contain seeds (eg: blueberries, flax seeds, etc), nuts, popcorn, corn, granola, multigrain bread.” On the advice of my proctologist, I had been consuming oat bran daily to beat my turds into submission. Would that fall under the no-fly list? What about my current fruit obsession – pomello? They have seeds but you don’t eat those. I had so many questions, so I called for clarification. The nurse explained that certain foods might get stuck in the hardware they’re sending up my bottom, and if the probe-ologist detected such intestinal cling-ons they would abort the mission. By the end of the conversation, pomello was approved but oat bran, quinoa, and even rice were banned. It would have been nice if they had sent a list with every food known to mankind either on the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ list so I wouldn’t have to use my own terrible judgement. The next three days were confusing and stressful.
Two days prior to the colonoscopy, it came time to prepare the dreaded 4 liters of evacuant. “Berry flavored.” Okay. The jug, when purchased, just had some powder in it, and to transform it into liquid you simply added water up to the fill line on the bottle and shook vigorously. Then, refrigerate.
The day before the exam, start the clear food diet. No solid food! No dairy! No nothing except clear broth, gatorade, and jell-o. I mean I could have had coffee or tea without milk but I don’t drink that rancid shit. Luckily my lovely wife made a big ol’ pot of chicken broth for me and that was a life saver. Oh…also you can have lifesavers and other hard candy. At 4pm I began a 1.5 hour process of drinking 2 liters of the lax-o-juice, one “glass” every 10 minutes. How much is a glass? Well, being a classy S.O.B. I chose a wine glass. The first one was fine, but after a few, I was NOT into it. The documents had advised drinking it through a straw to better “tolerate” it, but that just made the drinking part last longer.
After about an hour through the process, the flood gates opened. It’s weird and not-so-pleasant to pee voluminously through your anus, which certainly seemed to be happening. I used an entire T.P. roll throughout that night. I had the runs until about 10pm. Then I hit the sack and set the alarm for…
5am the morning of the colonoscopy. Now I had to finish the second half of the 4L jug. Horrible. Yucky. Very difficult. After about an hour, I started to feel not so hot. I tried to distract myself by watching Zulu on Tubi. But soon I was moaning and shivering on the couch and my dedicated wife piled a number of blankets on me and cranked the thermostat. She lay on the floor next to me to make sure I didn’t die, because I was being very dramatic. I thought I would puke, but I didn’t. I also didn’t finish the medicine 100%, but I felt very okay with that at this point. After about an hour, I started to feel better and drifted off, but was awoken (Woken? Awakened? Woke? Am I woke now?) regularly thanks to my sleep apnea. I got an hour of real sleep before it was time to get ready for my appointment. That prep was, of course, punctuated with watery poops.
We had debated how would we get downtown to the doctor’s. Would I rather shit my pants on the bus, skytrain, a cab, an Uber or our own car? Definitely not our own car because time spent hunting for parking would increase the risk. As it happened I felt reasonably fine and we masked up and called an Uber. Zero shits were given.
After signing the various forms I was directed to a change room and stripped down to my socks, then donned two gowns (one front, one back for added protection) and booties. As always in such situations I worry about my wallet and phone, but the staff assured me nobody else would use that room while I was having my probing. My wife was dismissed, as they would call her 20 minutes before I would be released so she could go have a coffee and collect me then. It was mandatory that I have someone to pick me up, because the sedation they would use would have me legally impaired for 24 hours, and if I didn’t have a trusted escort they wouldn’t even glance at my chocolate starfish.
They took me to the exam bed, took my blood pressure, put my finger in the thingy-thingy monitor, and tried to jab a needle in my arm for the intravenous sedative, but I guess she had trouble with my vein so it went through the back of my hand. I asked “how far in do you usually go?” and about three feet was the reply. They asked a couple times if I consented to the sedative, so I found out that it was optional only at that time, and asked what would happen if I declined. The answer was that it would be more uncomfortable for me, because the human bowel does not like foreign objects in it, and will try to paristalsis it the fuck outta there. They mentioned it was 2 separate sedatives, but I didn’t think to ask which ones, and yes I consented. When I first read that I would be sedated, I assumed that meant I’d be unconscious, in which case I couldn’t watch the fantastic voyage through my intestines on the monitor, and that made me sad. But I was wrong! I was conscious and watched with glee, rolled onto my left side. I was advised that I might not remember what happened because of the drugs, but I remember them finding a single small polyp and excising it. The whole procedure wasn’t painful at all, and took about 15 minutes. I asked them if they found any tiny submarines and they said sadly no.
I was up, but a little wobbly on my feet, and after I got changed and rested in a chair for about 5 minutes, I was free to go. And that meant…FOOD! Glorious solid food! Tacos! Butter chicken! Cannelloni! #torentries!
They told me it would be 2-3 weeks before I get the results of the test. So all told that’s over 3 months from first test to results (which, I guess, could come up with more bad news and demand further tests). So here’s a tip, if you’re applying for life insurance, don’t schedule any medical tests of any kind, because they won’t approve you until all the test results come back okay.
That’s my story. Hopefully they tell me I’m cancer free and I can do this all over again in 5-10 years. Next time I’ll ask for the pill laxative.
In an effort to inspire and educate, I present a list of cartoon movies you may not have heard about, much less seen! Since these are lesser known films, I’m not including any Disney or DC Universe films or Tolkien stuff, and I’m assuming everyone who’s reading this sentence already knows about Heavy Metal and Iron Giant. There will be scant Studio Ghibli entries. Also I will avoid films I deem to be of low caliber, such as Wizards or Rock and Rule. Lastly, these are traditional animation, so no CG or stop-motion. If you have something you think should be added to the list, let me know in the comments or @ me on social media!
The Adventures of Prince Achmed / Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (1926)
I’m starting out with a cheat already because this is kind of puppet animation, but since it’s basically the first ever animated feature film it’s worth checking out. I gave it 7/10
Gulliver’s Travels 1939
From the studio that brought you Popeye, Betty Boop, and the Superman shorts comes this mix of classically drawn Lilliputians and heavily rotoscoped giant. I actually haven’t seen this so can’t give you my rating. Oops!
Mr Bug Goes to Town 1941
Another Fleischer production, While an impending human construction project imperils the insect city, a power struggle develops between an upstanding grasshopper and corrupt business owner. Also known as Mr Hoppity Goes to Town. No Toren rating yet!
Fantastic Planet / La planète sauvage 1973
This is a weird one from France/Czechoslovakia that requires a lot of patience but it’s an experience you won’t forget! It does what animation should do. 6/10 from me.
Belladonna of Sadness / Kanashimi no Beradonna (1973)
Big trigger warning on this one. Super artsy and very 70s. I saw this at a local repertoire theater and it was one to remember! 7/10 from me.
Watership Down 1978
Another movie of cute animals to traumatize children. 7/10
Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro / Rupan sansei: Kariosutoro no shiro 1979
Pre-Ghibli and directorial debut of legend Hayao Miyazaki. Amazing work and not to be missed! Go in cold and be delighted. 9/10 from me
The Plague Dogs 1982
Two dogs escape from a research facility and run afoul of sheep herders as they try to survive in the countryside. Great stuff with John Hurt, Nigel Hawthorne, and Patrick Stewart. Easily 8/10 from me. You can watch it on Tubi
The Last Unicorn 1982
Not 100% sure this belongs on the list because probably you have watched it. But if not, get on it. Brilliant performance by Rene Auberjonois as a thirsty skeleton plus Mia Farrow and Alan Arkin. 6/10 from me only because the ending is so limp and the maudlin songs. You can watch it on Tubi
The Flight of Dragons 1982 Rankin/Bass
Weirdly proportioned dragons but they didn’t skimp on the linework. Pairs great with The Last Unicorn, James Earl Jones and Harry Morgan with John Ritter of all people. 7/10 from me.
The Secret of NIMH 1982 Don Bluth
Masterful animation, great story with great villains, and Dom DeLuise really delivers as the comic relief crow. Just thinking about this makes me want to watch it again. 7/10 You can watch it on Tubi
Time Masters / Les maitres du temps 1982
What if Moebius made a movie? Well, it would be kinda weird. But also kinda cool. What a year for animation 1982 was! 6/10 from me.
Unconventional, inscrutable, weird – A young girl wanders a desolate, otherworldly landscape, carrying a large egg. That’s… pretty much it, though there is an ending. Not for everyone but it might be for you, unless you’re prone to falling asleep during films in which everything is grey and there is a monotonous droning while holding on still images for several minutes. It’s a 6.5/10 from me.
When the Wind Blows 1986
This is where my fascination with post-apocalyptic movies and love of animation intersect in a traumatizing way. A naive elderly British rural couple survive the initial onslaught of a nuclear war. 6/10 from me.
Light Years / Gandahar 1987
A really involved and interesting story and characters in a fantastical world + boobies. One of my favourites that I still have on VHS. With Glenn Close, Penn & Teller, Christopher Plummer, and Paul Shaffer??? My rating: 8/10
Only Yesterday / Omohide poro poro 1991
A twenty-seven-year-old office worker travels to the countryside while reminiscing about her childhood in Tokyo. This is on my to-watch list so I’ll rate it as soon as I can.
The Thief and the Cobbler 1993
An unfinished film 29 years in the making, you can still watch ‘restored’ cuts on youtube. I hope to watch this very soon and give my take.
Ninja Scroll / Jûbê ninpûchô 1993
It’s about what it sounds like. Trigger warnings abound. 7/10 from me.
Pom Poko / Heisei tanuki gassen ponpoko 1994
Giant balls! You won’t regret watching this. A community of magical shape-shifting raccoon dogs struggle to prevent their forest home from being destroyed by urban development. 7/10
Memories / Memorîzu 1995
3-part film anthology with great visuals and interesting stories, except for the last one was light on story. 7/10 from me. You can watch it on Tubi
Perfect Blue / Pâfekuto burû 1997
The Japanese are on a roll! A pop singer gives up her career to become an actress, but she slowly goes insane when she starts being stalked by an obsessed fan and what seems to be a ghost of her past. 7/10 from me
I Married a Strange Person! 1997 Bill Plympton
A newlywed develops a strange lump on his neck that gives him the ability to transform people or objects at will. Animation doing what it does best! 8/10 from me. You can watch it on Tubi
Titan A.E. 2000 Don Bluth
Ooookayyyyy I’m being very lenient including on this list this only PARTIALLY traditionally animated movie with a run-of-the-mill story. But with Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore, Jim “Winnie The Pooh/xxx” Cummings, and Ron Perlman, it’s worth checking out. 6/10 from me.
Metropolis / Metoroporisu 2001
Another melding of 2D and 3D. Based on a manga by Osamu “Astro Boy” Tezuka and Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent film of the same name. 8/10 from me
The Triplets of Belleville / Les triplettes de Belleville 2003
When her grandson is kidnapped during the Tour de France, Madame Souza and her beloved pooch Bruno team up with the Belleville Sisters–an aged song-and-dance team from the days of Fred Astaire–to rescue him. I have the DVD but haven’t watched it yet. Poor me!
Tekkonkinkreet / Tekkon kinkurito 2006
This isn’t your grandpa’s anime! Two boys defend their territory when Yakuza try to take over and clear it for new development. Striking visuals. 7/10 from me
When a machine that allows therapists to enter their patients’ dreams is stolen, all hell breaks loose. Only a young female therapist, Paprika, can stop it. Gets weird. 7/10
A precocious and outspoken Iranian girl grows up during the Islamic Revolution. Get’s good ratings but to my shame I haven’t watched it yet.
Despite the fact that I know tons of people who worked on this, I haven’t been able to track it down. Shame on me!
A Cat in Paris / Une vie de chat 2010
In Paris, a cat who lives a secret life as a cat burglar’s aide must come to the rescue of Zoe, the little girl he lives with, after she falls into a gangster’s clutches. I haven’t seen this one, if you have tell me if it belongs on the list!
The Illusionist / L’illusionniste 2010
A French illusionist finds himself out of work and travels to Scotland, where he meets a young woman. Their ensuing adventure changes both their lives forever. Follow up to Triplets of Belleville, still on my list!
The Rabbi’s Cat / Le chat du rabbin 2011
One of my favourite comic artists made a movie and I just learned about it! Set in Algeria in the 1920s, a rabbi’s cat who learns how to speak after swallowing the family parrot expresses his desire to convert to Judaism.
Children Who Chase Lost Voices / Hoshi o ou kodomo 2011
A coming of age story involving young love and a mysterious music, coming from a crystal radio left as a memento by an absent father, that leads a young heroine deep into a hidden world. No rating yet
It’s Such A Beautiful Day 2012 Don Hertzfeldt
From the genius who brought you “my spoon is too big.” Get ready for something unusual. 7/10 from me
Ernest and Celestine 2012
Celestine is a mouse trying to avoid a dental career; Ernest is a bear craving an artistic outlet. When Celestine meets Ernest, they overcome their natural enmity by forging a life of crime together. Not yet rated by Toren
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya / Kaguya-hime no monogatari 2013
If there’s one Ghibli film you haven’t seen, it’s probably this one! Delightfully different. 7/10
Boy and the World / O Menino e o Mundo 2013
I haven’t seen this one but it was recommended to me and has good reviews. Have you seen it? Let me know your thoughts!
Bird Boy: the Forgotton Children / Psiconautas, los niños olvidados 2015
Three children decide to leave their homes looking for a better life. Really quite something! Not for kids. 8/10 from me.
April and the Extraordinary World / Avril et le monde truqué 2015
It’s 1941 but France is trapped in the nineteenth century, governed by steam and Napoleon V, where scientists vanish mysteriously. A teenage girl goes in search of her missing scientist parents. I haven’t seen this but it looks great!
Long Way North / Tout en haut du monde 2015
In 1882, a young Russian aristocrat goes on an epic adventure to find out what happened to her grandfather and save her family’s reputation.
Nova Seed 2016
An evil scientist creates a super weapon beneath the surface of a decaying world. Story shortcomings but a stylistic trip, for sure. Harkened me back to the animation style of the 80s. 7/10 from me
The Breadwinner 2017
In 2001, Afghanistan is under the control of the Taliban. When her father is captured, a determined young girl disguises herself as a boy in order to provide for her family. Powerful stuff. 7/10
Loving Vincent 2017
Animation depicted in oil paintings – worth the price of admission for that alone. Not shabby storytelling either. 6/10 from me.
Bunuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles / Buñuel en el laberinto de las tortugas 2018
In Paris in 1930, Luis Buñuel is left penniless after a film leads to a falling out with Salvador Dalí. On a whim, a friend buys a lottery ticket and promises to devote his winnings to fund Buñuel’s next film. Not yet seen by me but comes recommended
The Spine of Night 2021
The spiritual successor to Heavy Metal and Fire and Ice. Ultra-violent, epic fantasy set in a land of magic follows heroes from different eras and cultures battling against a malevolent force. 7/10 from me.
D&D, Mork Borg and Ruin Nation Sessions Played: 17
Band practice/writing sessions: 7 Live Shows: 2
Shows worked on that I can talk about (2):
Number of #torentries: 62
Number of pomellos eaten: 7
Movies watched for the first time: 150
Movies I watched that rated 8+ out of 10:
The Stranger, Barbarian, The Guns of Navarone, Bullets or Ballots, The Verdict, Everything Everywhere All At Once, East of Eden, The Grave of Fireflies, Licorice Pizza, Doctor Zhivago, The Wages of Fear (1953), Hotel Rwanda, Flee, The Handmaiden, Mississippi Burning, Your Name, Minari, The Banshees of Inisherin
2020 Texas Gladiators, Captive Women, Deluge (1933), Tides (The Colony), Appleseed Alpha, Beyond the Time Barrier, Black Crab, Teenage Caveman (1958), Stryker (1983), Raiders of the Sun, Mother/Android, Virus (1980),
In post-apocalyptic Texas, green-faced baddies (possibly mutants?) ravage a group of churchies, killing and raping. A group of Rangers (*not* gladiators) take their sweet time in killing the baddies, and only manage to save one survivor, the beautiful platinum-blonde-haird Maida. The Ranger named Catch Dog sexually assaults her, but the other Rangers find and exile him for breaking their zero tolerance policy. Years later, Maida and the bearded Ranger hook up and have a daughter, living and working in a refinery of some kind. Catch Dog has joined a group of fascistic Nazi-men in brown uniforms and they assault the refinery, killing and violating both women and boys. Bearded dad is forced to watch Maida violated, and then Maida is widowed and sold as a slave. The other rangers win her back in a biker/Western bar in a game of Russian roulette, and eventually conscript a group of white guys in redface, going up against the nazis superior technology with bows and arrows.
After the gratuitous sexual assault and racism, the worst offender is the editing. I regret watching this.
Tropes: Cocking weapons for no reason; bikers drive around enemies rather than fight them; shooting people who are already dead; indigenous people help white folk against their own interests; bringing out effective weapon only after sending waves of soldiers die; battle garb prominently displays breasts
After WWIII in the ruins of New York, our two heroes Deunan and cyborg Briareos are forced to work for a cyborg gangster in order to pay off a debt. They try to abandon the gangster and find the legendary city of Olympus. They rescue a cyborg Olson and a young girl who are from Olympus and being hunted by two *more* bad cyborgs, who believe the girl is the key to activating a doomsday weapon.
I’m not sure much of the plot or setting makes sense (do people need food?) but the action pieces are well done and the voice acting is fun in places if not exemplary. It’s got the usual shallow and cliché characterizations you find in most anime. I haven’t seen the original anime film, but apparently this one is less a sequel and more a re-envisioning.
Tropes: Everywhere is armored except boobs; Gearhead/scientist is ‘a bit off’; character must sacrifice self to save the group; enemies unite against common foe;
Season 16, 1978, 4 episodes… Second story in the Key to Time story arc.
If you’re wondering about Tom’s lip it’s because he was bitten by a Jack Russell terrier.
The Doctor and Time Lady Romana arrive on the planet Calufrax and are surprised to find the docile society placated by the prosperity gifted by the bombastic, murder-hungry Captain. Turns out the planet is not Calufrax, but a shell planet Zanak enveloping Calufrax, destroying the latter in a planet-wide mining process. After that’s done, the Captain would move on to ‘process’ planet Earth, were it not for the Doctor and help from the psychic Mentiads.
Some really interesting ideas here, and it’s written by Douglas Adams! He even uses his catchphrase “I’ll never be cruel to a [insert noun] again!” The bombastic Captain is 110% ridiculous with his assassin robot laser parrot. There are some interesting twists and I was hoping for a clever ending but it all just winds up with technobabble nonsense that is a very unsatisfying ending to a story with a lot of potential.