Monday, August 25, 2008

End of the Olympic Extravaganza

25th August 2008, Monday

Has it been 16 days already?
It was just few days ago when I was at Ferris' place watching the grand opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics... The Chinese certainly closed the sporting summit with a bang as they had opened as well as everyone in the world celebrate a great success and paid full compliments on how well the Chinese contingent had run the show while their athletes didn't let their home crowd down with a great haul of 51 golds, way ahead of nearest competitors, the United States of America.

The Americans did ended on a high note with Los Angeles Lakers star,Kobe Bryant saved his best for last in the closing minute of the final game against Spain to win this "Dream Team 8" the coveted gold medal.
I had been rooting for anyone to be able to upstage the pompous NBA stars but full credits to the likes of Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, LeBron James etc who certainly didn't let their concentration down and lived to their billing.
The Spainards caught my eyes as well with some really talented individuals, the Gasol brothers aside. They should be ruling the scene for a few more years for sure.

The US Men Volleyball team also snatched the gold medals under the nose of the hot favorites, Brazil. Together with the victory of the Women's Football team and Basketball team, the American surely might be the king of the ball games.

Argentina didn't disappoint when they reclaimed that gold medal in the Men's Football beating Nigeria in a repeat of the 1996 Olympics final under the grueling early afternoon sun. It was only one of the 2 gold medals for the 2nd largest South American nation. Messi and other well-known players aside, I believe the likes of di Maria, Lavezzi, Pareja, Zabaleta and Monzon will find themselves in bigger clubs than they are now. So will some of their lesser known Nigerian opponents like Obinna, Obasi and Okoronkwo will be highly sought after in the European scene.

Usain Bolt notched his 3rd gold in the Men's 4X100m relay and the tracks surely is well dominated by the Jamaicans this time round.

Our local table tennis queen, Li Jiawei failed to get at least a bronze medal to add to the team's silver medal but the mood in our little red dot was joyous nevertheless.
The only dent was when the president of the table tennis association decided to sack the manager and the coach of the team for not appearing for a men's singles game.
This led to furore to some of the local people and the debacle and debates continue for at least this week.

The mayor of London brought with him his carnival including a signature red double decker bus which can be transformed into a stage revealing hot singer Leona Lewis and Led Zepplin guitarist, Jimmy Page as well as David Beckham who kicked a ball into the crowd to take over the Olympics baton to be hosted in 2012.
We all knew and they themselves knew it would be hard to reciprocate the great work of the Chinese who surely by now had made their mark on international stage.

It had been a soggy weekend which spoiled my plan to head down to the nether region of our island to get the remote control to my home theater system rectified on Saturday morning.
I did made it for the badminton which was well attended by whoever interested these days.
After a hearty brunch (at least for myself), we headed down to Kallang Leisure Park in EK's trusty Vios though the combined weight of me, Chan and Reedy surely had took its toll on the the rear suspension.
It had been a while since the few of us hang around the shop for a good deal of a Saturday but with the location and the bad weather, there was nowhere else we could head towards to.
Reiner (still unsure of the spelling of his name till this very day) had left for greener pastures and KJ who seemed overworked was given an off day, so basically the Tay brothers were running the show on their own especially with Vincent well caught up with whatever business he was entangled in in recent times which tells why he was rarely seen here.

We just hang around chatting about mainly otaku stuff while I waited for the missus to come fetch me, not knowing it would be evening by the time she arrived.
I had intended to reach home for dinner but that became supper as we got back shy of the 12 midnight...

I first compose this post on Monday but only managed to finish up on Wednesday; surely a sign of pace picking up at work...
Everything had been in place after that dormant month or so, and even that 4 pair of hands can't churn out results for 2 concurrent projects fast enough.
The weekend working option was activated and I should be starting the ball rolling with HB this coming Saturday...well at least for the next few weeks till October

Japanese word of the day: 浪費(Extravagance): China's extravagance for the Olympics had made it too hard for London to remotely match it

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Atsuhime...30 episodes to go

20th August 2008, Wednesday

Buoyed by my undying interest in everything Japan including their rich history and culture, I seem to grow to really like taiga dorama (
大河ドラマ), the annual year-long series depicting background story of some well-known historical figure of the past from NHK.
It also helped with the casting of contemporary actors whom we grew accustomed to over years of watching trendy doramas and listening to J pop music.
In 2005, it was Shingo and gang in "Shinsengumi", followed by his Johnny's Jimusho kohai Takizawa Hideaki in "Yoshitsune" in 2006.
The above-mentioned ignited that Taiga-interest within me, eradicating the myth that period drama is long, dry and sleep inducing.

One of the series I had been yearning to catch is "Furin Kazan" from last year starring Gackt about a general under the leadership of renowned damiyo, Takeda Shingen.
However there was no reliable source for a English/Mandarin sub back then and I am still seeking a DVD set from perhaps Taiwan eventually.

This year's Taiga goes back to the late Edo shogunate with the story of Tensho-in or Atsuhime, the wife of the 13th Shogunate Tokugawa Iseda.
The series was well billed by popular actress, Miyazaki Aoi (Nana fame) as Atsuhime. This tale about the Ooku surely generated plenty of fanfare in Japan with wide viewership since it began its run in January.
We caught the 1st episode over the weekend which really build on the character in her early life (as with most Taiga I've watched) and things surely get interesting as she was betrothed to the shogun.

The big obstacle now is to gather the remaining 31 episodes (as of this week) which can be really daunting (since some episodes are uploaded so long ago).
Then we have to find a good time to do a marathon on it though from past experience it wouldn't be hard to really immersed yourself in the storyline since there are always conniving and cunning heels you just want to see what ill fate they deserved in those times.

We also caught 3 Japanese movies of recent times over the weekend:

Kurosagi : The film version of that popular dorama starring NEWS leader Yamaguchi Tomohisa never really arrived in Singapore as me and the missus expected. Carried on from the drama series, Kurosagi, the swindler who swindled other notorious swindlers continued his vendetta and faced a tough opposition this time portrayed by Takenaka Naoto (one of the funniest guy on J dorama and no show could fail with him in it...maybe Andromeda). The ending left with the prospect of a sequel.

Naoko: A pretty good show to catch in the middle of the Olympics fever which tells a tale about the struggle of a talented marathon runner to gear his team to beat the odds in a relay marathon. The movie stars 2 od the brightest young stars these days, Ueno Juri (Nodame no Cantabile & Last Friends) as Naoko, the girl from Tokyo with asthma and Miura Haruma (Koizora & Gokusen 3) as the talented runner, Yuusuke. While the show really tells the tale about Yuusuke, the role of Naoko becomes very peripheral yet the title of the show tells otherwise which can be rather befuddling.

ALWAYS zoku Sanchome no Yuuhi
: The whole gang from Sanchome is back... Suzuki, the brute automobile repairman and his family as well as the wretched aspiring writer, Chakawa and his obedient Junnosuke under his inept guardianship. This sequel of the award winning first ALWAYS was released in Japan on my birthday last year when we were in Japan. Had been anticipating to catch it, knowing it would not be shown in Singapore as of the prequel. I am just glad to watch the conclusion of the nostalgic Showa period comedy cum sentimental drama with great visuals which set us the mood back to the 1950s Japana, fantastic acting chemistry between the cast and splendid storyline.

Now with this new source of Japanese entertainment, our weekends should sure filled with more Japanese movies quite impossible to be watched in local theaters...

Japanese word of the day: 忍耐 (Patience) Really need that while waiting to gather the entire series of Taiga dorama at one go

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Bereavement, Breakthrough and Babies

18th August 2008, Monday

Over the weekend, my forth maternal uncle (and the 2nd last surviving ones) passed away at the ripe age of 70 due to colon cancer I assume from what I can depicted from Mom.
My recollection of him usually was during that few and far between expedition to the small durain plantation the household owned.
A swinging bachelor with a history of promiscuous lifestyles, he certainly had a life he envisioned to be and hopefully he felt it was fulfilling enough for him. May he rest in peace.
Once again it is hard to accept when there is a death in the household, despite not a close one... but life goes on...

The Olympics though took centerstage in the family and perhaps the rest of the island when the female table tennis team managed to clear the semi finals stage to earn the rights to go up against the home team and World No. 1 last evening to claim the gold medal.
However we were already in jubilation on Friday when they toiled to beat South Korean in 5 sets as we would the least get the silver medal, an honor 48 years in the making.
The live telecast even put the Prime Minister's National Day Rally at the backseat as we braced for a near impossible task to overcome a China team with the top 2 seeds in the world.
In the end, we lost sheepishly in 3 rounds with Dad adding his own commentary about how bad our "bought-over" team is and what rights they had to earn 750K prize kitty. He was just being sore and negative as usual and the missus who was watching the first few match-up with him in the living room got tired of his constant hounding of our local peddlers whom she supported and retreated to the comfort of the room for the final match up.
Elsewhere Phenomenal Phelps finally notched his 8th gold medal on Saturday and he barely lost his 7th (1X100m Butterfly) by 100th of a second.
Jong Oranje failed to beat hot favorites Argentina in their Quarterfinal tie while 10 men Belgium caught the scene by storm by beating Italy 3-2 to make it into the semi finals.
Rafael Nadal won gold medal for men's single tennis while Federer redeemed himself by clinching gold for Switzerland in the doubles.
Russia clean swept the women's singles while the Venus sisters retained their doubles gold.
Usan Bolt became the fastest man of earth with his 100m sprint but China's golden boy of the tracks, Liu Xiang ended his quest for his 2nd consecutive Gold in 110m Hurdles when he pulled out of his heats due to problematic Achilles tendon, surely to much awe and exasperation of the local fans supporting him.

While even the Prime Minister was exhilarated with our first Olympic medal for half a century, many insensitive mood-spoilers claimed that there is no glory with the medal since the team including the coach comprised of mainly China-born Chinese.
This brought the whole FTS (Foreign Talent Scheme) issue up on the surface and it was so well documented and discussed, I'm starting to yawn just typing this.
Seriously with no sporting culture whatsoever, the laidback mentality of Singaporean plus the way our government manufactured us to be, we would never win anything on international level without imported talent as highlighted by the PM himself.
In a virtual reality of 2017, a Singapore National football team won the 3rd placing of the Confederation Cup, beating the likes of Colombia and Uruguay and matching against Spain and Argentina with a squad comprising a Chilean rightback and a couple of Thai midfielders and on anyday might even include some China-born players as well as a Nigerian defender and a host of many other non-Singapore born players...

Mr Lee also emphasized on our appalling birthrate especially among the Chinese population, and fervently encouraged more couples into the parenting bandwagon.
This news came to me mere minutes before the missus bemoaned how envious of other friends who are basking in motherhood.
I do believe in having my own children but once again I just don't know when...
Once again another topic we had stumbled upon time and again...sigh

Think Foo & myself had finally gave up hope on Sengkang Punggol when we witnessed yet another pathetic display one which if I have a kid would never want to show them.
We made an effort to head down to Jalan Besar for the S League duel against fellow strugglers, Young Lions hoping for another victory under Gravobac's tutelage.
But almost half of his first eleven was robbed from service and the youngsters modeled themselves after the senior squad in the most wretched way.
For an entire match, we couldn't string a good attacking opportunity and there was perhaps a tame shot on goal even Massimo Taibi can save for sure.
The Young Lions our next hope for national team isn't any better in footballing wise but just lucky they meet a Sengkang squad on their usual lousy day as we succumbed to a 2-0 defeat.
Once again it's not about the scoreline but how woefully the team displayed in the loss that really made us jaded....doubt we may attend another match featuring our team for sometime till the end of the season.

Japanese word of the day: 育てること(Parenting) If a kid is like a professional footballer, I may fancy taking up parenting. But if it's like Sengkang Punggol, I rather not...

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My Wife don't like Crybabies

13th August 2008, Wednesday

Michael Phelps swept the Olympics as we speak with his 5th gold medal for this tournament today and now the only person who won the most gold medals in just 2 tournaments.
He surely isn't a crybaby when he lost that 200m freestyle 4 years ago which spurred him on for conquering all the challenges and beat Mark Spitz's record of 7 gold medals in one tournament.

With exposure to regular dosage of Japanese dorama, my missus surely had developed into a certain level of connoisseur for picking the type of male characters she had liked and this might reflect in what kind of personality she found appealing in man....

From the cheeky or naughty type like Yamashita Tomohisa in "Proposal Daisakusen" & "kurosagi" or Narimiya Hiroki in "Orange Days" & "Honey & Clover" to the cool prince type like Oguri Shun in "Hana Yori Dango" & "Hanzakari no Kimitachi e" or Tamaki Hiroshi in "Nodame Cantabile" to her recent badboy with a painful background type like Ichihara Hayato (Aniya) in "Rookies", she couldn't stopped going ga-ga over dashing Japanese heiyuu though there's a specific type she might find a distaste for.

In "Rookies", the captain Mikoshiba (portrayed by Koide Keisuke) was constantly weeping like a baby with wet diapers when prompted by frustration or anger...
To her, guys with active tear glands seem too "unmanly" though true men do well their eyes during crucial moments in life (see Shinsengumi).

Then there was Yamada (Itoh Atsushi) from "Densha Otoko" who most probably is the most dislike male character among all doramas she had seen and I couldn't blame her 'cos this Yamada's emotional bursts can be overwhelming at times and was very much the killjoy for the latter part of the series.

There was this pretty popular Taiwanese singer these days which came from this particular singing competition who had the tendency to make those episodes he was in back then a tear-jerking affair which might even put "Titanic" to shame perhaps.
Being an avid listener to Mandarin pop, I assume she would enjoy music from most artistes but she developed a string distaste towards this artist's works, perhaps prejudiced against his wretched crying personality to lure sympathy from his fans.

I do agree a true man shouldn't weep uncontrollably from time to time... But didn't she know that she had married to the biggest wuss in history?
Well at least I don't weep like Otacon when betrayed by women in the Metal Gear series that often...heehee

Personally the male type of character I like mostly lie in the masculine and loud type like Nagase Tomoya's gangster roles in "Tiger & Dragon" & "My Boss My Hero"... Even his Tokio bandmate, Matsuoka Masahiro borrowed some of that in his new dorama series, "Yasuko to Kenji".
It would be better if they had some comedic element but not too slapstick much like the Hiratsuka character from "Rookies" or the all time classic Professor Ueda (Abe Hiroshi) from the Trick series.

To conclude with the Japanese theme of this post, a colleague of mine sent some eye-catching and perhaps pretty "stimulating" pictures to showcase the latest fashion fad in Japan as seen below (the least provocative one at least):

There has been such pictures circulated for the past couple of years of young nubile women of Tokyo and perhaps other major Japanese cities are spotted exposing too much flesh in public but I have been to Japan during summer time twice but never seen it for myself (but the last time was 2005, so it was still a good 3 years back).

In a nation where fetish white-collared workers would pay alot of money for worn undies or sexually-deprived confined-in otaku indulging in their harem style bishojo games, these ladies are really asking for troubles...
Definitely in modest Muslim countries in Africa (think Cameroon), a woman wearing skimpy skirt once was warned by a bus driver that she would be raped by him ir she insist to be such clothing....

Japanese word of the day: 泣きなさい ~na-ki-na-sa-i~(Weep) My buddy once nearly wept while watching Buz Lahrmann's "Romeo+Juliet"

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Monday, August 11, 2008


11th August 2008, Monday

Had to attend a screening for HIV this very morning for the Taiwan training 3 months back.
Took the latter half of the day off, very much similar to the missus who like many had their National Day holiday being stipulated on this start of the week.
Got a ride to Tuas Naval Base from the same source though he wasn't too sure where the obscure base is located among the endless labyrinth of ship yards and industrial parks.
Personally I had vague idea where the place really is after not coming to this extreme West spot for a while now.
After reaching the location without getting any fracas with the base security this time round, we headed to the medical center for the medic to draw quite a hefty amount of blood for the screening.
Then we met up with the rest at the canteen as they planned a gathering by the end of this month.

The Beijing Olympics had started with a bang on Friday and we spent an evening of Playstation male bonding turned out to be one in which we were marveled by how well the Chinese capital had dished out the fanfare of an opening but we were more interested in the procession of contestants representing all 209 countries respectively including some obscure nations we had ever heard of like Sao Tome and Principe & Djibouti...
Then our attention to the sporting beauties several nation had on display... Usually sportswomen tend to be abit average at best with certain sports having ladies perhaps due to their training regime are faces of little sexual appeal but the class of 2008 are very much eye candies for a few grown men in Singapore to ogle at, even various African and Middle Eastern nations.Maybe Maria Sharapova was not well missed after all.

Slept by 5 that Saturday morning after a few hours of "Army of Two" and some roti prata at Jalan Kayu (nothing special to rave about) and was awoken by Dad's own noisy commentary of the women's weightlifting contest which China got their first gold medal.
This kick started 2 days of sports watching including Brazil's whipping of New Zealand in the men's football, USA soundly beating host nation China 101-70 in their first match up the men's basketball and how our local sports persona failed in the likes of shooting and badminton though Tao Li did very well to break the Asian records in the games only to meekly attain a 5th placing in the 100m butterfly swimming, but still a great achievement.
Now back to the peddlers for the medal's hopes.

Didn't just solely spent time watching top sportsmen slugging it out in the humid and at times hazy Beijing, I had some sports when I was really late for badminton at Bishan stadium despite the missus drove me there.
Saw some parents coercing their budding young gymnasts to the sports hall to have a first taste of the beam or whatever apparatus present, hoping one day their kids can represent our nation for the world's stage.
Surely I would never dream about representing Singapore for badminton with my awry serve and misses.

Had intended head towards La Tendo after the game but didn't count on EK leaving for his next round of ball game briefly before our session ended.
With the sky overcast and rain pelting on our well-showered bodies, we headed for Bishan Junction 8 for a long brunch hoping the rain would ceased by the end of it; thus we filled up whatever calories we had lost from the badminton with a hearty American lunch at Cafe Cartel.
It was then Chan persuaded me to join him and Bryan for their figurine collection at both China Square Central and La Tendo.
The former still oozed some appeal with the flea market with some collectors scouring for some good deals while the latter was very much a ghost town on a soggy Sunday afternoon.
Definitely the thought of traveling home with a long wait for a bus and then transit via the crowded MRT could be a turn off why people had shy off this obscure location like Kallang Leisure Park.
With our hefty purchase, we resorted to sharing a cab to our place at the north-east region of the island.

My Sunday ended with our losing streak finally broken when Sengkang consolidated their 2nd bottom placing with a 0-0 draw against Albirex, the same side they had drawn twice this season already.
It was really 2 points lost by the visiting Japanese side, who really should put away many chances they created but could be our defense held their stance throughout with Winston Yap redeeming himself after that torrid game against Geylang.
If only Simic was introduced earlier and we had more conventional targetmen in attack to support Reginaldo, we might even net the 3 points...
Well we had to keep our fingers crossed for a victory this Saturday at Jalan Besar against the Young Lions...

Meanwhile, looking forward to more sporting miracles in the Olympics...

Japanese word of the day: メダル (Medals) Michae; Phelps wanted to haul 8 golds, Singapore are just glad to get a bronze

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Losing Streak Continues...

5th August 2008, Tuesday

24th May: Sengkang 0 : SAFFC 1
3rd June: Singapore 3 : Uzbekistan 7
14th June: Singapore 0 : Saudi Arabia 2
20th June: Sengkang 1: Dalian Shiwu Shide 2
28th June: Tampines 3 : Sengkang 0

We thought it would be 6 time lucky as me and Foo plucked up enough confidence as we strode towards Hougang Stadium to cheer on our rejuvenated Dolphins.

Rejuvenated, you ask?

Well the past fortnight had been pretty interesting for the north-east based club.
Firstly with the transfer window opened in late June, Sengkang who was scoring a mere 7 goals in around 19 games sure in dire need of some inspiration up front.
Under Singapore's favorite footballing son, Fandi Ahmad's (now coaching in Indonesia) recommendation, Sengkang wooed a relative unknown Brazilian forward Reginaldo Estevao who had a few years plying his trade in Indonesia.
They then plucked an even more obscure 20 year old Japanese attacker Kato Toshiaki from nowhere to add more bite.
In the process lackluster Chilean forward Ivan Asenjo (who we suspected had a shameful spat with the management) was released while young striker Fairoz Hassan who had been doing his best running on the front on his own the entire season was transferred to the Young Lions.

The outcome was a 4-0 mauling at Yishun Stadium which we would had attended if Foo hadn't been under the weather but our absence didn't prompt the new look Sengkang side to perform better; then again we couldn't take away the superiority of this season Super Reds side.

Our goalscoring woes could be alleviated if Mirko had passed the mandatory fitness (beep) test but it wasn't meant to be as he failed the final round.
However a surprise twist of fate led to under-performing gaffer, 1994 M Cup winning leftback Saswadimata Dasuki from relishing his duties for a 4 match holiday with the former Tampines & SAFFC marksman to have a taste of full management role after deputizing Saswa at the sidelines the whole season so far.

Everyone were skeptical about the change would translate better results for the Dolphins but a former striker seemingly tends to instill more attacking tactics than a defender and our team duly shocked the local footballing scene by beating Gombak Utd at their home turf last weak for only our 2nd win of the season.
The result coupled with Balestier's inability to get any points at Yishun Stadium against the Super Reds led to the Dolphins pulling off the bottom which we had so accustomed to since the start of the campaign.

Buoyed by the win, we were quietly confident that the next 3 games for Sengkang (home against Geylang & Albirex Niigata and away against Young Lions) might bring more points to our team and perhaps more goals scored as well with Mirko onboard for this quartet of fixtures.

However on the flip side, we were burdened by that curse of not witnessing the team we support winning for 5 games straight as our team in white faced the Eagles recently on full flight form with 2 wins on the trot in blue.

The first half we showed self belief and had most of the possession, totally smudged off the minnows tag as we square up strength to strength against a Geylang side with 2 full internationals and several other ex-internationals.

New striker Reginaldo was a menace up front for Sengkang but constantly in the offside position which Foo pointed out that it reminded him of Italian striker Filippo Inzaghi who strayed up front but once you allow him to be on side he will nicked in the goals.
The 31 year old Brazilian did incurred the wrath of the Geylang defense throughout the game for his playacting and foul plays at times.
But it was him who conjured the opening goal when Slovenian midfielder Belicak was adjudged to foul him from a corner and he duly put a spot kick past Amos Boon who made no effort to dive whatsoever.
The bald-headed striker made an effort to cheer with the bench and get the crowd which might be straight of the cast of "The Night of the Living Dead" cheering in high decibels.
The Geylang attack was pretty wasteful for the first half with Noor Ali having a poor night and Fazrul Nawaz continued to run like headless chicken as we knew he would. Geylang's own Brazilian Rivaldo Costa was non-existent.

So going into the break with a precarious lead, we thought it could finally be the night when the curse is broken...boy were we wrong.
The 2nd half ensues and the attack was eager to bring a 2nd half which would wrap things up.
But we neglected the fact that our defense is still an Archilles heel despite the fact we had conceded much lesser goals than at least 4 clubs.
Former Geylang player Winston Yap uncharacteristically headed a harmless ball from the opposition hoping that keeper Hafez would pick it up.
He totally misjudged his force allowing the fleet foot Masrezwan Masturi to dance between the Sengkang centerbacks and lob the ball over the hapless Hafez.
Within minutes the shambolic defense was well prised open as impressive Slovenian midfield dynamo, Miroslav Latiak picked a loose ball in the 6 yard box and tugged simply beyong Hafez and from 1-0 up, we were trailing 2-1 with about 20 minutes to go.

Winston who had a torrid evening was substituted for young Kato for more attacking option with left winger Hicks taking his place in defense.
While Hicks was in marauding form in the 1st half on the left wing, Kato could conjure little but he was willing despite his tender age and lack of common language.
Razali Johari and Haris Sumri had shown instances of good ball control and trickery but just lack that telling ball for the forwards to convert.
There was a chronic lack of idea to prod the Geylang's defense for the 2nd goal to salvage a draw we should deserve.

In the end we faced yet another loss, one which surely sore especially we had the chance to win it for sure.
But plenty of positives to draw from it especially the first half display, and we might finally break this losing streak in the coming 2 matches...
Unanimously, we felt as long as we stuck with the club, we will see brighter days ahead, or will we?

Japanese word of the day: 勝ちのない (Losing) No one wants to support a losing club but a true fan will stick by your team...but surely there's a limit

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