Plain Talk


An Obon Story by James Gombas

Feeling very tired, I laid down before dinner. Waking up, I heard my wife and daughter in the kitchen, presumably preparing dinner. I walked to the bathroom, which was directly across from my daughter’s room.

While in the bathroom, the door was closed. Immediately upon opening the door, I saw a single glass marble rolling toward me from out of my daughter’s room. I could hear the sound of the marble rolling very clearly on the marble floor; it made a very distinct and eerie noise. The marble rolled toward my feet, hit the small lip which separated the bathroom from the hallway, and rebounded straight back into my daughter’s room from where it came. I heard the sound of its rolling slow down until it stopped in the middle of her room.

I went to stand over the marble, looking at it for quite some time trying to make out what had happened. From there I immediately went to my wife and daughter to ask if they had kicked anything down the hallway. From their blank expressions, I could tell they had not.

Later that evening when I was thinking about the entire episode, I felt that the marble may have been pushed by my father who had died five years prior. He had been sick for a while with cancer, but I was not able to say goodbye to him before he died. However, the impression that it was him was related only to the timing, being almost five years to the day since he died.

I also had the stronger impression that the marble may have been pushed by my mother who died 4 months after my father. I always had a strong bond with my mother, so I feel if one of them tried to reach out to me, it would be her. My mother died after a long battle with her own cancer. After 12 years remission, it had come on very strong after my father passed away. I will always believe she held out until he died and she didn’t need to take care of him any longer.

That night my daughter slept with my wife while I slept in her bed. I hoped that if it was either of my parents, I would see them or dream about them or have some further encounter.

Unfortunately, I didn’t experience anything further. My daughter did come to me in the middle of the night saying she couldn’t sleep, so I spent a considerable amount of time lying awake, hugging her and reliving memories of both my parents. Had she awoken a second time, she would have wondered why her hair was wet and why her papa was crying.

To this day I don’t know if it was my parents trying to reach out to me. I do know that something had to propel that marble and it came from my daughter’s room by someone or something unseen. Of that I am certain.


トイレに入っている間はドアは閉じていた。ドアを開けるやいなや、ガラスの丸いビー玉が娘の部屋から転がって来た。大理石の床を転がるビー玉の音をはっきりと聞いた。 紛れもない気味の悪い音だった。僕の足下へと転がって来た丸いビー玉は、廊下とトイレを仕切る縁に当たり、再び、娘の部屋へと跳ね返って行った。ゆっくりと転がり、部屋の真ん中で止まる音を聞いた。







Tokyo Fab


Secret Source of Inspiration

21_21 DESIGN SIGHT holds "Secret Source of Inspiration: Designers' Hidden Sketches and Mockups" from November 22, 2019. The exhibition consists of sketches and mockups produced by JAPAN DESIGN COMMITTEE members. Each varies according to the person's field, generation, and personal preference. Videos are included to record initial steps in creative processes, and these are also supplemented by members' publications. Together, the array offers fascinating glimpses into designers' thinking. The show uses the activities of the members to look back over the developments in Japanese design, seeking also to expand conventional exhibition frameworks and secure a wide impact but also delivering members' Podcast interviews, and holding talk events with the next generation of designers. This exhibition aims to be a node of connectivity for people across different generations and fields, and to provide everyone with the opportunity to assess the rich strains of Japanese design, so as to further future creativity.

Date: - September 22 (Tue), 2020
@ 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT Gallery 1 & 2
Closest Sta.: Roppongi Sta.


Kitawaki Noboru: To See the Universe in a Seed List

The avant-garde painter Kitawaki Noboru (1901−1951) was active in Kyoto in the 1930s and 1940s. Thus far, his work has generally been discussed in terms of Surrealist influence. For example, this aptly describes his approach in Airport (1937) of generating fantastical imagery through association of shapes, so the maple seed pods can also be seen as planes. However, this exhibition aims to examine what Kitawaki was actually seeking to accomplish in referencing the ideas and techniques of Surrealism: to decode the invisible laws behind the world around us, and visually reveal a model of his worldview. Based on this philosophical mindset, Kitawaki produced paintings that reference not only Surrealism, but also mathematics, the natural science of Goethe, and ancient Chinese divination.

Date: - October 25, 2020
@ The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
Closest Sta.: Takebashi Sta.

What’s App With You?


David Bowie is…:

David Bowie is… reimagines a famous touring exhibition about a music industry icon as an augmented reality experience. You work your way through Bowie’s life story, exploring videos, costumes, handwritten lyrics, and other objects, which sit before you in a pseudo-3D desk-bound view. Although less directly immersive than Shepard Fairey − Damaged, it’s arguably more accessible, simply due to Bowie’s infusion into popular culture. And although there are limitations on the smaller screen − the slight awkwardness of a letterbox view; costumes looking a bit like videogame character clothing − this is a fascinating glimpse into one of pop music’s most famous and influential artists. Given the content lurking within, and its price tag being far less than a ticket to the original exhibition, it’s a must-buy for fans and the merely curious alike.


Retrospecs is a camera app that wants you to see the world as if it was being rendered by ancient computing and gaming hardware. Load a photo − or take one using the app − and you can select from a wide range of systems, such as the Game Boy, Commodore 64, and original Mac. But this isn’t just a single-tap filter app for aficionados of pixel art. You can adjust dither, image corruption, and virtual CRT distortion. You get animation effects and video support. And should you get fed up with the included emulated systems, you can even make your own. So whether you believe all your photos should look like an eight-bit video game or want to add a crazy glitch sequence to your next YouTube video, Retrospecs fits the bill perfectly.

Strange but True


Hand Sanitiser Burns

British doctors have issued an urgent warning about using hand sanitiser in the sun as temperatures are set to skyrocket. If you’re planning on getting out and about this week, it’s likely you’ve got a hand sanitiser packed and ready to go. But doctors at Zava UK have warned that in certain cases alcohol-based hand gels can react with sunlight, leading to painful burns and blisters. While regularly cleaning your hands is an essential way to limit the spread of Covid-19, people with existing skin conditions should try to use soap and water, rather than hand sanitiser when possible, according to Dr Deo. She advised: “Using soap and water remains the most effective way of cleaning your hands after coming into contact with surfaces carrying the virus, but this isn’t always possible when you’re outside of your home and can lead to the same reaction if moisturisers are not used after frequent handwashing.”

Tall People are in Danger

From being male to having an underlying health condition, there are several factors known to increase your risk of coronavirus. Now, a new study has warned that another factor can increase your risk - your height. Researchers from the University of Manchester have revealed that people who are over 6ft tall are twice as likely to catch the virus. In the study, the researchers surveyed 2,000 people in the UK and US to understand the personal and work-related predictors of virus transmission. The results revealed that aerosol transmission of Covid-19 is very likely, with taller people at highest risk - something that wouldn’t be the case if the virus was exclusively spread through droplets. Droplets are bigger than aerosols, meaning they travel relatively short distances and drop quickly from the air. In contrast, aerosols are very light, and can travel upwards to reach tall people.



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