News Sushi: Morsels of News from Japan and Beyond #20

Editor Note: It is Friday and that means it is time for the World Famous, soon to be Intergalactic Famous, News Sushi from our very own, Hamish Downie. He brings us a decidedly different slant on Pop Culture as viewed through the lens of a non-native living in Japan. Thank you Hamish for your insights.


We are 20!

Which is the age of maturity in Japan! Which means that we can drink!


And that is indeed the drink I want…


That’s better. Now that we are drinking… I’d like to fire up the music… hey, mister DJ…


That’s better! Thanks Angelo! Now, on with the show!


I’m feeling fancy!


Michael Chan!

TGG: For the readers of News Sushi, you’ll know Michael Chan as the man of a thousand puns, and the creator of the “Pun-issuer” series of cartoons that I feature in the column. But, we don’t really know you… who is the man behind the puns, who is Michael Chan?

MICHAEL: I’m a dude playin’ a dude disguised as another dude… No, no, I’m actually just a nerdy dude from a town just north of Toronto. I grew up wanting to be a doctor and even got myself a degree in Human Biology, but while in university, I was bitten by a radioactive acting bug and, next thing I knew, I was in film school training to be an actor. After graduating, I worked for a few years as a background performer and added quite a few credits to my resume doing independent and student productions. I eventually got an agent and then joined the actor’s union, ACTRA, to try to land bigger roles. I’m often asked if the switch from something “practical” like science to something “risky” like acting was worth it. My answer is always a loud and resounding “YES” because I’m a huge believer in being true to oneself. I like science and medicine, sure, but I discovered that it was more of a hobby. Acting is my passion and doing it makes me whole. Yes, it’s risky and a ridiculously tough business to actually make a living in, but my soul is happy and that’s what truly matters. Outside of acting, I also have a real estate license. That business is in my blood since my dad’s a Realtor, too. I do a lot of selling for new home builders since I love watching the whole process of what I sell get built. I’ve also found a bit of synergy between my two careers. I look at property details as scripts and the process of selling as an exercise in improvising around the script. It’s why I’ll never get bored of being a Realtor.

TGG: You’ve managed to achieve something very rare… you are a working actor! What are some of the things we can see you in?

MICHAEL: My most recent appearance is in a Toronto Blue Jays commercial where I play a fan with some Jays war paint on. My most well-known commercial role, though, is as the “pickle guy” in a Honda commercial from a couple years back. I’ve also been in TV shows like “XIII: The Series” and “Covert Affairs”, and you can find me as a character in the video game “Slasher VR” on Steam. Oh, and if you keep an eye on my Twitter, I’ll have news later this year on my biggest role yet!

TGG: As someone who struggles with my weight (I love to eat too much), watching your weight loss journey has been inspirational. What got you started and what was the secret to your success?

MICHAEL: My goodness, I love to eat so much! I saw a t-shirt recently that says, “I like exercise because I love eating.” If it wasn’t sold out, I’d be wearing it right now! In all seriousness, though, it all started when my wife got pregnant a little over a year ago. My doctor had just told me that I was the heaviest I’d ever been and was at risk of getting a heart attack or stroke, so when my wife broke the good news to me, I panicked. How was I going to be a good dad if I couldn’t keep up with my child and my wife had to keep worrying about potentially losing me? That got me into the gym and, more importantly, got me to start trying to understanding how I ate and how to improve that. Now, I could talk all day about things like food tracking or the importance of nutrition compared to exercise, but I’ve come to realize that everyone is different, so everyone needs to find what works for them. That’s going to take hard work, full commitment, and more importantly, finding something that isn’t a short term thing. What you choose to do has to be sustainable. Expect it to be your new way of life, not something you do to lose some weight and then go back to how things used to be. So, you have to be happy with what you choose to do. For me, that has been eating better, but also not giving up less healthy things I love to eat altogether. I’ve found ways to balance my eating so that I could have those foods from time to time in moderation.

TGG: You are always so positive on your way in and out of auditions. For any thespian readers, what’s your secret to a positive mindset on auditions?

MICHAEL: One of my teachers back in film school used to say that one has to be insane to be an actor because auditions are essentially job interviews, and who in their right mind would subject themselves to job interviews over and over again knowing full well that they’d be rejected most of the time? So, maybe I’m crazy? If I did have some advice, though, it’s for actors to not take rejection personally. It’s not a matter of having thick skin. It’s understanding the industry and that even if you give the best performance of your life in an audition and have the casting director pushing you as the number one choice, in the end, production could decide to go with someone else because of something like their look fitting the rest of the cast better. You not getting the part more often than not has nothing to do with what you did in audition. This is why you have to keep honing your craft and keep putting out audition performances that you yourself are happy with. That way, you know you’ve already done all that you could. The rest is up to the powers that be and not you.

TGG: And, because this website is all about geek culture, please tell us, what are you into at the moment?

MICHAEL: I admittedly haven’t had much time to geek out since become a dad, but thankfully, I still occasionally play “Overwatch”, watch “Dragon Ball Super” and wrestling, and play board games.

TGG: And finally, how can readers keep up with what you’re doing?

MICHAEL: If you have Instagram and Twitter, I update those the most and have the same handle on both – @michaelcwchan You can also keep up with my acting career on my web site at

Thanks again for doing the interview. We’re looking forward to seeing more of your work!


First we go to San Juan del Sur with Misty Brooke (from the Dust Storm in Kuwait last week)… here she is relaxing in the sun with her awesome sisters!

My friend Andy, who is an absolute social media king, recently posted this beautiful picture from his hikes…

A bit of a scary one… but this picture was snapped in Alice Springs, in the dead heart of Australia’s desert…

And here is Naotomo Umewaka (who has the unfortunate misfortune to have a first name which is a combination of two of my exes… but, that’s no fault of his)… recently went scuba diving in Indonesia –

We worked together on the Paul Leeming horror project, “Pieces of 8”, with Naotomo shooting the behind the scenes footage. Here’s some of his other work:

And another one of the “Pieces of 8” crew (that was an incredibly large crew – what we pulled off on that film was not easy at all)… Matthew T Burns, who’s film “The Trade” is available on Amazon Prime, was just snapped on the very beach were JAWS was shot!

And, for more information on “Pieces of 8” please follow the @TheTwoGayGeeks @TGGeeks


Yes, it’s the man with a thousand puns…

That’s all for this week. Insert Dramatic Goodbye.


But, really, see you next week!


Yes, I’ve decided to go with a weird good-bye…

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