Friday, July 31, 2009

Summer

Great Millie Jackson tune from her 1974 album Caught Up. I had been planning a bit of a write-up for this tune, but I just don't have the time to do it justice (as I was mapping it out in my head it occurred to me that by the time I was finished it would be the longest thing I've ever written). Listening to this just reminds me how utterly simple-minded and juvenile popular R&B has become-- structurally, thematically, and lyrically. The song tells a story. It deals with difficult (or at least sensitive) subject matter. It has musical and lyrical unity.

It's well worth a listen.

Millie Jackson-Summer (The First Time)
Alt. Link

Band of Gold

Came across this and there was no way that I was not going to post it. Freda Payne. Sizzling!



Yeah!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's a Mystery to Me

I'm sure someone else in Japan must have asked themselves this question before, but: Why, in Hollywood movies, when people answer their cell phones, does it always seem like they have no idea who's calling? Even if it's their wife or husband or best friend or whoever, they look at the damned phone and just say "Hello?" I swear, I must have seen this happen least a hundred times, and every time it just seems weird and strangely unnatural to me.

Kirishima

PSA: "Come Play, My Lord"

If you happen to be cruising around the web and you come across something that looks like this:

Evony (and Ibory?)

Don't bother clicking, unless you're really into geeky, time-consuming, never-ending/open-ended role-playing games. I actually spent about ten minutes there (username: Rocknar--"Ragnar," my first (and obvious) choice, was already taken) looking in vain for the comely lass pictured above.

"Bored at office/class room/ home?" Come, my lord, and be bored online as well!

Talk about false advertising. Fortunately you, faithful readers, have me to do the dirty work for you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Recommended Reading

Here's an article from the New York Times Magazine about an apparent Japanese "phenomenon." You probably figure it has, at the very least, some relation to the truth. You are dead wrong. Some fact-checking and reaction to the NYT story on anime fetishists.

I confess that in the early days of this blog I was guilty of similar shit. I wasn't on the payroll of The New York Times, though.

Monday, July 27, 2009

51

Today marked the 11th time I've celebrated my birthday in Japan. After an early disappointment (the Mexican place my wife and daughter and I planned to eat at--run by a couple of buds from Mexico--was closed; I really hope this was just bad timing on my part because, aside from the excellent food and beer I was looking forward to, I was kinda hoping to hang with one or both of the owners for a while...), we went to an excellent yakitori-ya and enjoyed some very fine Miyazaki cuisine. And I enjoyed several beers. Actually, this particular shop ("Den Den Den") seemed appropriate to me because it was one of the first restaurants I regularly went to during my early days in Miyazaki. (It's also one of the few places in all of Japan where I know more about "what's what" than my wife! Along with "gaijin" bars and the rules to sumo, this is a rarity meant to be savored...)

When we got back home I decided (against my wife's better judgements) it would be a good idea to walk down the street and pick up some beer (have I ever mentioned how convenient a place Japan is?). This led to an amusing moment when, on my way back, my wife called my cell phone to tell me that my mother was on the phone from Canada. She was telling me to hurry the hell up because she didn't know how much longer our daughter (who's six) could carry the conversation! My wife can't really speak much English. I can't really speak much Japanese, although 11 continuous years in Japan have probably given me a bit of an edge language-wise. We manage...

So, I get back home and spend some time catching up with my Mom. Her older sister has "the Alzheimer's" pretty bad, and my Mom has been worried for a long time that she might get it as well. I'm no doctor, but when I talk to my mother I'm filled with certainty that, no, she doesn't have Alzheimer's. I tell her this, and then jokingly "test" her. She seems genuinely pleased to pass my silly "test," but I think she's also genuinely pleased (like any sane person) to have someone else tell her that no, she isn't losing her mind. She's as sane as I am, whatever that's worth... (Well, fuck it, that's worth a lot.)

So, here I am now...

The Beatles-Happy Birthday
Alt. Link

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Vending Machines, No. 73

I Heart Black Sabbath

I harbor a secret fantasy in which I'm paid large sums of money to expound upon the genius of Black Sabbath. Unfortunately for me, that ain't never gonna happen. Luckily, though, there's this interweb thing and blogs and stuff. I can sit here drinking shochu and expound upon Black Sabbath until the cows come home. It doesn't pay much, but damn if it ain't like the real thing! And really, it begs the question, doesn't it? Why can't we all have fun and make friends blogging about Black Sabbath? After we stop nodding our heads and staring blankly into space... (Whoa, I gotta tell ya, blogging about Black Sabbath while you're actually listening to them is harder than it sounds. It's difficult, too.)

Anyway, I remember my own rollercoaster ride regarding listening to Black Sabbath. First, I hated them, because I didn't like heavy music so much when I was 13. By the time I was 15, though, I loved them because I really loved heavy music then. Later, though, I didn't like them so much, because most of my friends were listening to really cool bands like Chicago and The Doobie Brothers. At the time I liked these bands, too. And really, who would deny the lasting impact of these musical giants?

There was a brief period in the mid-80s when I liked Black Sabbath again, but I'll be damned if I can remember why...

I guess it was around the early 90s when, working in the kitchen of a bar in Halifax, I discovered that Black Sabbath was cool again. I mean, everyone was copying them, and even bands that pretended they weren't really were! Ha ha! Who was cool now!? I was! I knew all about Black Sabbath. Fuck, was I ever cool then....

Below is an incredible video of Sabbath performing "War Pigs." It's brutal. Bill and Tony in particular are smokin'. It's 1970, and this performance vaporizes anything that comes later, by any band.



Yeah.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Some People Actually Pay for This Crap?

Screen grab while browsing the web today:


So many questions bouncing around in my head.

Like, why should any person with intact higher brain function care that Windows Live Messenger has been around for 10 years? Does anyone still actually use it? (Really? Why?)

Are there really people out there looking for "free winks and emoticons" (presumably for use with Windows Live Messenger)? Are they salivating at the thought of a "gift pack" of these things?

Do you think if I asked nicely Windows Live Messenger would just give me the cash value of these winks and emoticons? (You're way ahead of me, aren't you, O clever reader!)

Am I too cynical? I doubt it...

Corporate largesse is really something else, isn't it?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Not So Scary

Big Cats

It's been very hot and humid here lately. I've been very busy. In the meantime, nothing but photos from me.
These were taken in the same park as the pics in the previous two posts.



Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Slider


T. Rex-The Slider
Alt. Link

When Dinosaurs Roamed... Wherever


Yesterday we took a drive down to Kagoshima and checked out a few of the sights around Sakurajima. One place we visited was the somewhat misleadingly named Sakurajima Nature Dinosaur Park (there doesn't appear to be any official site in English or Japanese). This place is essentially a big playground with several "life size" dinosaur replicas acting as slides and other stuff for kids to play on. It's quite a nice park for kids, but not especially educational.






Of course, with all these dinosaurs wandering around you can't expect to leave without incident. Thanks to the fierce struggles of my little girl I was barely able to escape the hungry jaws of this horrible beast.


Soon afterward, however, the foul beast devoured both my daughter and my dog!


As torn by grief as we are, my wife and I did enjoy the relative quiet last night and this morning...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Demon Fuzz Revisited

I first mentioned Demon Fuzz in this post back in 2006. Since that time I've noticed a slow but very steady number of people arriving here via that post's page, most of them looking to hear some Demon Fuzz (no doubt with the intention of buying this very excellent album). At the time of the original post I was unable to put up anything in the way of a sample. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, though, that's no longer true! Please enjoy, and then go buy the album--it's a killer!

Demon Fuzz-Mercy (Variation No. 1)
Alt. Link

Clouds

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cows


[Added: It's probably not very cool of me to say, but I think this one rocks! It's not perfect, but I'm really pleased with this. I'll shut up now.]

Pink and Yellow

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pink, Green, and Gray

Vending Machines, No. 71

Adventures of Jimmy Jones (Excerpts)

He went down to Halifax early, hoping to score something to smoke before going across the bridge to The Crazy Horse in Dartmouth where his friends were playing later that evening. Jimmy didn't really know Halifax at all, and figured he'd go to Scotia Square and see if there was anyone hanging out.

He'd only wandered around the mall for 30 minutes or so when some guy came right up to him and asked him if he wanted 5 joints for 10 bucks. It was a bit steep, but Jimmy figured it was better than wandering around all day, so he agreed. They walked to the parking area, made the deal, and parted ways. Jimmy hadn't really checked the dope, so he headed for the nearest toilet to could check out what he had bought.

"Fuck me," he said to himself, as he ripped open one of the "joints" only to find tobacco.

---------------------

The Indian guy from the CBC said, "OK, man, why don't we swap half and half? I know where my mushrooms are from--man, they're blended with tree fungus and shit, they'll really fuck you up." Jimmy handed over about half of the mushrooms he'd scored earlier, and the Indian guy passed over a roughly equal amount. They did them up.

--------------------

"You seem to be handling this well," the Indian guy said. Jimmy was not handling it well. He was pleased, though, that he didin't look like he was about to puke and go insane. He saw the Indian guy from the CBC clearly, like some kind of psychic anchor, a cardboard cutout around which all manner of hallucinations were taking place. His conversation with the Indian guy was happening in "real time." Outside the cutout, time sped up, slowed, sped up again. At some point Jimmy realized that, although he could speak to and understand the Indian guy, he was completely incapable of ordering a beer, distinguishing a two dollar bill from a five, shit like that.

---------------------

Jimmy climbed the steps up to The Crazy Horse. He was fucked up, but the true horror of it hadn't quite dawned on him yet. At the top of the stairs he could see assorted bouncer-types gathered around an area where it looked like someone was taking tickets or money. His friends were playing, and they'd left his name at the door, so he wasn't worried about having to pay to get in...

--------------------

Jimmy couldn't speak. He was mute. He took a step back and, too late, realized he was falling down the stairs...

Friday, July 10, 2009

One Flu Over the Cuckoo's Nest

I usually try to get back to Canada every couple of years--keeps my mom happy, my wife and daughter enjoy the holiday, I get to hang out briefly with a couple of old friends, that sort of thing.

We decided a few months ago that maybe we wouldn't go this year, mainly because of schedule-related stuff, and partly because of the expense (it costs about twice as much to fly to Halifax and back as it did pre-9/11--there's the free market in action!). When the swine flu stuff came along it was basically icing on the let's-stay-in-Japan cake.

I confess that I've still, somewhat secretly, been toying with the idea of finding a way to go. Or at least I was until today. It seems that this week alone there have been 32 new cases of the (ahem) dreaded swine flu in Nova Scotia. That's pretty much put an end to any thought I had of making it back home this year.

Don't misunderstand. I'm not personally paranoid about catching the flu (and really, that's what we're talking about here, isn't it--the flu?). No, I'm worried about the hassle of coming back into Japan (a country with confirmed flu cases) from an area with confirmed flu cases.

If that sounds weird, well, that's just the way it is.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Canvas Sky (2)

About 20 minutes later...



Canvas Sky (1)

I suppose I post too many of these "here's a sunset from my balcony" pics, so I can't blame anyone for getting bored. But this is what's staring me in the face, just to left of my computer screen, most evenings after dinner when I sit down to check my email. It's hard to ignore, especially in summer.

Anyway...



Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Another Way to Kill Time...

My first tweet.

Not sure how this is going to work out...

Sky, Moon, and Water





Fun Facts: Mortality by Category

According to the most recent statistics, Mexico leads the world in deaths due to acne (3). It's also tied for first in the category of people who died after being bitten by a rat (1).

Georgia, meanwhile, has the most deaths due to contact with plant thorns and spines and sharp leaves (2).

The United States, with somewhat higher numbers, leads the world in death by explosion (197), and is tied with Japan for the most deaths caused by falling off a cliff (82). (The US and Japan are also ranked highly in the related categories of falling down the stairs, falling out of bed, and falling from a tree.) Japan is the runaway leader in death by falling on same level from slipping, tripping and stumbling (3,269). In case anyone is getting the wrong idea, this could simply be the result of bad luck, since both countries are also leaders in death due to being struck by thrown, projected, or falling objects.

I could look at this stuff all day...

Monday, July 06, 2009

Dark Water

I Am Iron Man

You know how when you put your mouth up close to an electric fan, and then speak into it, it makes your voice sound kinda machine-like? This might sound weird, but whenever I'm in that situation I can't resist the urge to say, "I Am Iron Man."

I hesitate to say how much doing this pleases me and, to be honest, I have a hard time identifying with anyone whose first words into a fan wouldn't be "I Am Iron Man."

I mean, what, you wanna quote Shakespeare or something?

Black Sabbath-Iron Man
Alt. Link


Yeah.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Vending Machines, No. 70

Happy Birthday America!



I remember as a grad student in Halifax having a friend, a fellow student, from somewhere in the New England states. We were sitting in the grad bar of our university, and this tune came on. He got all agitated and shit (he was a very conservative fellow). "Why," he wondered aloud, "does that sound so angry"? As a Canadian, I could only dream of a national anthem sounding so utterly fucking cool...

The Slumbering Ones

Listen to this. Click the thingie. You won't be disappointed. If you are, leave a complaint in the comments, and I'll explain to you why you're wrong...

Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound-The Slumbering Ones
Alt. Link


My work is done.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Agog

In a recent homework assignment, discussing the issue of "intelligent design" vs. evolution, one of my students (who really did an OK job otherwise) repeatedly referred to "God" as "Gog." [Before I continue, I'd like only to point out that students' opinions on any given topic are irrelevant to me, so long as they can express them coherently.]

Anyway, the first time I read "Gog" it brought a teacherly smile to my lips. By the end of her rather damning indictment of "intelligent design" (i.e. about 10 "Gogs" later), however, I was laughing so hard I had to run across the hall and share it with one of my colleagues.

We've all experienced it. If you repeat any word enough times, it loses all meaning...

The Narrow Way

Pink Floyd-The Narrow Way (Part 3)
Alt. Link

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Canadiana

Right Through the Heart

Another quote from the NY Times article in the previous post:
When I was a child, it wasn’t unusual for my 15-minute walk home from school to begin under clear skies and end in a blizzard. I remember once, when I was 8 years old, stumbling into my house, my hair covered in powder and my eyelashes frozen together, and screaming, “Why do we live here?!” My mother took my face in her warm hands and said, “Because it’s where people love you.”

At the time, that struck me as the lamest statement ever uttered by a human being. But today, as I sit under the California sun, it only strikes me as halfway lame, and maybe even less than that.

— TIM LONG, a writer for “The Simpsons”
I seem to have something in my eye...

Quote of the D'eh

From a New York Times editorial celebrating Canada Day:
Back home, hockey highlights lead off SportsCenter. That is the height of civilization.

— SEAN CULLEN, a comedian
Damn straight.

Scenes from a Horror Movie