Friday, January 30, 2009

Unrelated Segments

On the boardwalk: An interesting post by a Canadian guy covering Canadian troops in Kandahar, Afghanistan. "The boardwalk at KAF [I guess Kandahar Air Field--K] is just about the worst strip-mall you've ever seen." Strangely, reading this got me feeling homesick for Canada.

As a personal aside, I happen to believe that going to Afghanistan was the correct thing to do. It made sense to me, if only for the simple fact that, viewed realistically, somebody was going to get their asses kicked for 9/11. And if you're going to kick someone in the ass, well, it's probably best to kick the right ass. Al-Qaeda was/is in Afghanistan. Right ass, right war. Iraq, on the other hand...

As a Canadian I feel it was the right thing to do for us to support the US in Afghanistan. I think President Obama is entirely justified in reasoning that it's time to re-focus American military efforts. I hope, in this instance, that the Canadian government will follow his lead.

(Although it's generally true that I have an easier time associating with more left-leaning views, I refuse to allow myself to be pigeonholed. My father was in the Canadian Army, and he served with UN forces in Korea and Cyprus. He was a good, decent man, and he taught me more than a few things about the world. Sometimes fighting is the right thing to do.)

[Link via: Daimnation!]

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Moving on to less serious stuff...

The other night I watched the movie The Number 23 on TV. It was the stupidest piece of shit I've seen in a while. (The preceding two sentences, by the way, are to be considered the official Kyklops "review" of that movie.)

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Playing The Beatles Backwards: The Ultimate Countdown: The writer has taken every Beatles tune, rather astutely reviewed all 185 of them, and then ranked them. I (or you) might disagree with some of the rankings but it's still a rather impressive bit of work.

[Via: Cynical-C]

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Some people just don't know how to use the Google. I mean really, if you're arriving at this site looking for English meanings for Japanese words (or vice versa), maybe you need a couple of lessons in an IT class or something.

In the interests of promoting international understanding (or some other equally stupid, vague sentiment), I thought I might write down a few of the more common Japanese words/phrases that have, through the wonders of Google, brought people from all over the world to this humble blog. You'll likely be bored by this list, but amazed that someone actually made it this far in their quest to find out how the Japanese say "penis." Without further ado, ten Japanese words/phrases and/or their English equivalents (in no particular order, because I'm like, just doing this from memory, dig?) that have brought inept users of Google to this site:

konnichiwa: "good day"
kombanwa: "good evening"
chinchin: "penis"
hajimemashite: "nice to meet you"
yoroshiku onegaishimasu: "you have no idea who the hell I am, but please be nice to me all the same" (generally follows hajimemashite)
gambatte: "do your best; try your hardest; break a leg; give 'em hell; etc." (basically whatever hackneyed phrase you personally would use in situations which should be clear from the preceding)
kanada: "Canada"
ohaiyo gozaimasu: "good morning"
hai: "yes" ("that's right" is probably more accurate)
o yasumi nasai: "good night"

I hope that wasn't as boring to read as it was to write...

Looking In

Less than perfect, but what can you do in a moving car?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The more things change...

... the more they stay the same..
Listening to MP3 players and other personal music players at high volumes for long periods of time can cause loss of hearing and tinnitus, a ringing sensation in the ears, the EU Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks said.
Yeah, OK... Next week in the "news": Experts warn computer chips pose choking hazard to toddlers.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sinning--It's What We Do!

I mean really, if you don't have a hangover on Sunday morning, then what kind of pitiful existence are you participating in? I wake up most Sunday mornings with a massive hangover and a mission, a mission to sin. Why, just this morning I stole the image below from the website of a friend. I don't feel bad about it at all! In fact, I'm reveling in my sinful wickedness! Mbwahahahahahah!!!!!


Go forth and sin, losers!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cavalcade of Rock: Chicks!

Just having a bit of fun tonight, checking out vids/tunes at YouTube. Although I'm pretty familiar with the music below, tonight is the first time I've seen any of these videos...

I probably should have put this Patti Smith clip last because, frankly, I don't know how anything could possibly follow this incredible performance. Proof, if any was needed, that yeah, chicks can fucking rock. Proof also that rock is a natural medium for poets... Well, good ones, anyway...



"Cannonball"! Heard this Breeders tune at many a party back in the day...



I just noticed that, in the preceding and following videos, the only guy (so far as I can see) in the band is the drummer. Damn, how come I never had any gigs like that? Why has life been so damned... unfair? (Look, I'm not a pig, or anything, but if you knew how many cramped bars I've played in with the (male) lead singer's butt practically in my face, well, maybe you'd understand...)
Anyway, here's Throwing Muses...



Liz Phair... I, um, had no idea she was so... hot (yeah, OK, so I really am a pig...):



Chrissie Hynde/Pretenders: the 80's weren't a complete waste of time. I almost rejected this vid for this particular post, but when Chrissie actually whips out the harp for the solo in "Middle of the Road," well shit... Classic line: "When you own a big chunk of the bloody third world / the babies just come with the scenery." Yeah.



One of my favorite bands is The Detroit Cobras. Sadly, I was unable to find a half-decent video for this post (I mean, a video of a rockin' tune.). Anybody out there got any links?

Leftovers

Some leftover shots from last month.





Wednesday, January 21, 2009

From the Land of "Resonating Cigars"

More wingnuttery this week from the culture warriors over at Big Hollywood. Check it out: Lt. Starbuck … Lost In Castration, by none other than Dirk Benedict (the original "Starbuck" himself!). (It's kinda funny, really. This article was actually published at Benedict's own website at least a couple of years ago. He's had a whine on for a while, I guess...)

Anyway, witness:
[...] a television show based on hope, spiritual faith and family is un-imagined and regurgitated as a show of despair, sexual violence and family dysfunction.
And here I thought the original show was based on milking as much from the success of Star Wars as it could get away with (or not)...
One thing is certain. In the new un-imagined, re-imagined world of “Battlestar Galactica” everything is female driven [...] the female characters are decisive, bold, angry as hell, puffing cigars (gasp!) and not about to take it any more.
Benedict has a good point here, although I'm somewhat surprised that he'd bring it up. Nobody today would dispute the fact that the new Starbuck's got a much bigger set of balls than the old one...
Starbuck would become “Stardoe." [...] I'm not sure if a cigar in the mouth of Stardoe resonates in the same way it did in the mouth of Starbuck. Perhaps. Perhaps it “resonates” more. Perhaps that’s the point. I’m not sure. What I am sure of is this...

Women are from Venus. Men are from Mars.
What the fuck? Resonating cigars? Venus and Mars? Whoa, dude! Seriously, is he talking about "just a cigar"? If so, then who gives a shit? And if he's talking about a "Freudian cigar," well, it seems that I'm a lot more certain than Dirk is about who can light mine...

There's more, of course. There's always more. But I'd better stop now. All this Freudian stuff has got me rhyming "Venus and Mars" in my head with "penis and arse." Say, you don't suppose...

Blackface

Go have a look at this. Then go read what David Marx has to say about it. Excerpt:
I have only one problem with Japanese people in blackface: it’s totally inexcusably awful. I hate to be shrill about this, and outrage in this case feels like almost like a cliche, but how many more of these are we going to have to see?
Since this is hardly an isolated incident, I have to say that I'm in complete agreement with David. I'm quite willing to accept that Japanese who put on the blackface are well-intentioned and perhaps even believe they're somehow being flattering. But seriously folks, this should simply be unacceptable in any society that wants to be taken seriously by the rest of the world; or, at the very least, in any society that wants to be taken seriously by the President of The United States of America.

Give it a fucking rest.

Monday, January 19, 2009

It's Funny Because It's True

To my mind, the truest, funniest moment of the most honest rock "documentary" ever made:



I've seen that a million times, and it still makes me laugh...

Reality

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Vending Machines, No. 55

Foliage at Night in Black and White



The Allman Brothers Band

I think I've probably mentioned here before how much I've always liked The Allman Brothers Band. I guess I don't just like them. The older I get, the more music I listen to... there really is no better American band...

A few weeks ago I was watching a movie on TV. I don't know the name of it (and I don't feel like looking it up). It had Bill Murray, Sharon Stone, Jeffrey Wright... It was a pretty good movie.... I think Jim Jarmusch directed...

Anyway, at one point in the movie the song "Dreams" by the Allman Brothers was playing and when I heard it I just thought, fuck, that's the best fucking tune I've ever heard. I mean, I'd heard it before, of course, but right then it just kinda grabbed me...

There is one activity I used to pursue in my younger days that, in my present context, would be almost almost suicidal for me to do (in the sense that I could quite literally lose everything that I love and cherish; you can put the pieces together). Listening to The Allman Brothers Band is the nearest I come to those younger, more reckless days.

I like new stuff, don't get me wrong. But for me The Allman Brothers are like, my jazz, my classical music. Check them out:



Yeah.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Roy Buchanan

If there ever was a guitar player who could wrench more emotion and play with more dynamic range than Roy Buchanan... well, no, there wasn't, and isn't...

You really have to listen to the whole thing just to get a sense of how good this guy was. And, as good as this "Austin City Limits" performance is, I've got lots better recordings.



As a point of interest and comparison (guitar geeks already know this stuff), you might find the following interesting. Some bum named Jeff Beck...



Yeah. Roy had acolytes, tons of 'em...

Hockey Moms Against Sarah Palin

I'm always looking for hockey-related stuff, so I'm a bit surprised I just saw this for the first time tonight:



Now tell the truth: do you know the difference between "icing" and "offside"?

I got nuthin'...

... to say or post...

Please enjoy White Zombie performing their hit "More Human than Human."



[I feel a YouTube binge coming on...]

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Lightning

I was going through some video stuff I took last summer and found this.

Call of the Wild

While walking along the beach on the outskirts of Miyazaki recently I stumbled across what I believe to be the last member of a mysterious lost tribe. Any anthropologists out there know what to make of this?

Vending Machines, No. 54

Hollywood's Left Wing Agenda...

If the title of this post isn't enough to make you spew beer (or your latte) all over your keyboard in wonder-struck hilarity, maybe you should head over to Big Hollywood for some real guffaws.

See, for example, The Top 5 Conservative Characters on "Lost", and wonder to yourself, is this a joke? There are people out there who give a shit about how characters in a fucking TV show might vote? Really? Sadly, yes.

There's much more, of course, but I won't bore you with the sorry details. You can check it out for yourself and come to to your own conclusions. You should probably also check out this post at Kung Fu Monkey [Note: Link fixed 1/22] if you want to get some sense of how things really work in Hollywood.

I'm going to go off on a tangent for a moment or two. Clearly these conservative idiots have no understanding of what constitutes "drama." Don't get me wrong. It's not necessary to have read Aristotle's Poetics to have an intuitive idea of dramatic concepts like "recognition" and "reversal" (for example). In fact, just reading the terms is probably enough to evoke a pretty good theory of what they mean from anybody who's actually watched any sort of dramatic presentation. It gets a bit thornier with concepts like "plot" and "character," and this is where these conservative "critics" show themselves for the un-cultured assholes that they really are.

(Aristotle, by the way, laid out the template for pretty much everything we recognize as "drama" even today. However he, wrongly I think, assigned more importance to "plot" than to "character". A great strength of "Lost," for example, is its meticulous attention to both. I would also include the newer version of "Battlestar Galactica" in any list of good TV shows. I remember very clearly watching the movie Reservoir Dogs at around the same time I was studying Greek drama and the Poetics. I was completely fucking floored. It's one of my favorite movies of all-time. It's a bloody Greek tragedy!)

I remember a few years ago somebody tried to do a hack job on The English Patient by comparing it with Casablanca, the basic beef being that the main character in the more recent movie tells the Nazis what they want to know in a desperate attempt to save his lover, whereas Bogie sacrifices his personal interest in order to fight the Nazis (well, something like that--I'm working from memory). I think both movies are great, and I think both movies are "true" (in an artistic sense--they both speak to some human truth). I think a typical TV-watching, movie-going person has absolutely no fucking problem whatsoever with the moral and ethical dilemmas posed in a good dramatic presentation. Only a fucking retard would walk out of The English Patient thinking to himself, "What a fucking sissy commie wimp, talking to the Nazis for a piece of tail." Nor would anyone leave Casablanca thinking "Man, that Rick is a fucking loser, I would have so nailed her ass."

Now that I'm going, I'm reminded also of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, and Virgil's Aneid. And really, this brings us directly to what the Big Hollywood site would like to see: propaganda. They would like to see productions that glorify their view of the world, their achievements (whatever conservatism's achievements might possibly be...), their worldview. But wait...

Homer and Virgil? What the fuck am I talking about? I'll tell you what the fuck I'm talking about, and I'll tell you because I've had the benefit of a liberal arts education and because I've read this stuff and it's secondary literature, and because I'm not just making funny noises out of my asshole.

Homer (it's very questionable whether "Homer" was a single individual, but that's irrelevant for the purpose at hand) told stories. He told stories that he'd had passed down to him, and he likely embellished those stories with things he thought might be interesting to those listening. Homer is especially famous for telling the story of The Trojan War and the story of Odysseus and his voyage home after the war. You know that (I hope). Homer told (well, actually, he sang) his stories in bars and pubs and such for food and drink. Homer was an artist.

Virgil was an artist, too. (I don't want to diminish the importance and sheer skill of Virgil in the following. He had a tough boss, though.) Virgil had the (arguably) good fortune to be in the employ of Augustus Caesar. Virgil was basically instructed to write a poem glorifying (and justifying) the origins of the Roman Empire. He did a damned good job (although he plagiarized Homer almost unforgivably). Such a good job that, a couple of thousand years later, most people don't recognize it as an early piece of propaganda. (Let the evil comments begin!) Apocryphally (i.e. I read it somewhere, but I'm getting too drunk to verify it), Virgil, on his deathbed, instructed that the Aneid be destroyed.

As I think I've suggested above, most people can distinguish between "art" (something that, somehow, imparts some human truth) and propaganda (something that attempts to tell you the "correct" way to do or think about something.). The mere idea that somebody, somewhere, thinks I should be watching this or that material is, in and of itself, extremely offensive.

"Lost" is not a "conservative" show, you incompetent fucking idiot.

[UPDATE: See also alicublog and Sadly, No!.]

Friday, January 09, 2009

Props

Blogging friend Susan's ArtSpark Theatre is "Blog of Note" for January 8. Check it out.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Parrots

To preempt any smarty-pants-types out there: these are parrots (i.e.Psittacidae) whether they are or aren't called "parrots" by smarty-pants-types. So there.




These were taken at the Cape Nagasaki-bana Parking Garden mentioned in the previous post.

Ibusuki/Mt. Kaimon

While in Kagoshima last week we stayed one night in Ibusiki, at a rather posh hotel where we got to experience the "medically proven" effects of an Ibusuki sand bath.
This Sand Bath in Ibusuki is very unusual throughout the entire world. Bury yourself in the sand comfortably, and have some snooze with a sound of the sea.... After burried in the sand, you can take a bath in big bathhouse, wash off the sand and refresh like... a baby!
Image Source

I don't know if I'm any healthier due to the sand bath, but it was relaxing (a bit less intense than a sauna). The best part for my daughter and I was breaking out of the sand when we were done and pretending we were zombies beginning our march to the mall.

Ibusuki is also known for (among other things) Mt. Kaimon. I took the shots below while we were visiting the "Parking Garden" (I have no idea why it's called that) of Cape Nagasaki-bana.



Monday, January 05, 2009

Bears (2)

A minute and a half of a bear pacing around his enclosure at Hirakawa Zoo in Kagoshima.



You'll never see me marching with the PETA crowd, and I believe that zoos are generally more a good than a bad thing. Sometimes, though...

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Crossing Kagoshima Harbor

On a ferry crossing Kagoshima Harbor on the way to Mt. Sakurajima.



I apologize if these little video clips I sometimes post seem a bit boring. Right now I'm more interested in the mechanics of making a video, and the process of editing and getting it online. It's actually quite a pain in the ass, and clearly I need a bit more practice. I should probably be honest and say, however, that even if I manage get a lot better at it, the most you can expect from me is a very well-done scene of a ferry crossing a harbor or of some guys jumping from an airplane. That's what interests me visually.

Bears (1)

As I mentioned in the previous post, we spent a couple of days this week in Kagoshima Prefecture. While we were in Kagoshima City we visited the Hirakawa Zoo. Be prepared for an onslaught of animal pics, beginning with this post.






My little girl, having a child's sense of geography and history (besides other, very acute senses) asked me if seeing polar bears made me homesick for Canada. Not really, I told her, but it was clear to me she was on to something...

Sakurajima by Night

I don't think I've ever explicitly said it (at least not here), but Japan really is a beautiful place. None of the photos I've posted here really do it justice, and most of what I've written about Japan and/or the Japanese has been griping (i.e. the same sort of shit a well-balanced skeptic would say about any place he might happen to be; you should hear what I say about Canada when I'm actually there amongst the cheap, lazy, smoke-bumming bastards...).

The pic below is of Sakurajima, an active volcano in Kagoshima. It was taken at night, so it's kinda sucky (I'll post a couple of sucky day-time shots later). Try hard, though, and maybe you'll see what I saw a few hours ago on my way home.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

At the Beach

If you're commenting and I'm not responding, it's because I'm not actually here. Back in a couple of days.