goodness

Japan wins… AGAIN

WTF, Japan?!  How are you still doing that?  In the US, one in ten adults is obese.  That’s ten times more per capita than Japan.  What are they doing over there?  I thought most of them worked ridiculous hours in boring office cubicles, and that there was no room to run around because they have so little land per capita.

If I ate any more ramen, rice, miso and sashimi meat, I think I would just become east Asian.  Which would be AWESOME, btw.

wow. depressing, Africa. and wtf, Afganistan?

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anime, goodness

I WIN!!

Last night I went to Meltdown Comics for an anime-themed benefit event for Japan.  I couldn’t believe how many otaku showed up.  So cool!!!

There was art on silent auction in the back room (I bid $50 for a Fullmetal Alchemist cover signed by the entire English dubbing cast, no word yet on who won it), and a bunch of voice actors in the front sitting to sign whatever the fans brought.  There was a tip jar at the beginning of the line with more than a few $20 bills in it.  Wow.  I love the anime crowd.  They have so much love in their hearts.

All proceeds went toward rebuilding Japan, so everyone was very generous.  I chased down the lady selling raffle tickets just before they stopped selling them, and bought $20 worth.  I won a “small prize,” which turned out to be a bag of anime dvds!  Awesome!

badass

Ergo Proxy (complete series)- This has been on my amazon.com wish list for… I’m gonna say a year.  So the fact that I got to donate to Japan and got this in return is pretty much the definition of serendipitous.  Win!

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Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens (complete series)- This looks kind of adorable.  Looking forward to watching.  And I always like owning the complete series of anything.

we're 12 years old! hooray! lol

yikes

Gurren Lagann (season three)- This looks like complete trash, first of all.  Maybe the synopsis is just awful.  Second, season three?  What am I supposed to do with this, LOL!  I said, “Why would they give away season three of anything?  Why would they do that?”  Boyfriend: “Because it’s free.”  Oh.  Right.

The Story of Saiunkoku (season one)- This is going to be what fills my Fruits Basket void.  Something completely silly and so thoroughly anime, it’ll make make my eyes bleed.  Can’t wait.

Afterward, Boyfriend and I got ramen downtown at Daikokuya.  Delicious.  They had a box on a chair near the door for donations for rebuilding Japan.  My heart is breaking for the people over there.  The last death toll I read about a few days ago said 3,500.  This morning’s toll: 7,000, with 10,000 still missing.  I wish I could fix it.

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anime, badness, goodness, life, martial arts

Japan, you are loved

A 8.9 earthquake is really, really huge.  The scale America uses is scary because the intensity of a quake is measured with exponential values.  Meaning a 4.0 quake isn’t twice as intense as a 2.0 quake, it’s eight times more intense.  Now look at the number again: 8.9.  On a scale of 0-10.  Scary.  Plus, you’re a coastal country, so the tsunami that inevitably follows a quake of this magnitude only exacerbates the problem.

Japan is going to make it through this because the world needs their economy to get back on their feet, but also because the Japanese are an amazing group of people.  Period.  Who blogs about the amazing ideas Russia comes out with on a daily basis?  No one, because Russia sucks.  The Japanese have a repressed culture that somehow allows its people to think outside the box in ways the rest of the world marvels at.  And for that, we love them.

In honor of how awesome Japan is, here’s a list of ten reasons why I love Japan, in the order they occurred to me:

1. Anime

 

Paprika made my brain melt

Who the fuck would think that there could be billions of tiny, diverse ghosties floating around that effect us (Mushi-Shi), or that dreams could be your next form of therapy (Paprika), or that a young girl could work in a bath house run for (and by) spirits (Spirited Away)?  And who else would write a fully-realized, philosophically-driven, action packed science fiction series on the future of human-cyborg robotics (Ghost in the Shell) that actually makes sense?  The Japanese direct my imagination in directions I would otherwise never explore.  Thank you.

 

delicious

2. Sushi

I realize that raw fish has been a celebrated dish for (tens of?) thousands of years, but it was the Japanese who spread it across the globe for my pretentious Los Angeles palate to enjoy.  It’s a simple pleasure that always makes me think, “Wow, the Japanese are geniuses.  And bears.  Bears who eat salmon all day and sleep all winter.  Fucking genius.”

3. Cars

I’ve had two Pontiacs, and I’ve had trouble with them both.  My roommate has had her Honda for over a decade, and she bought it used, and it’s still running just fine.  Am I buying American again?  No way.  The Japanese know how to make a damn car.

 

adorable

4. Maru

The cutest, and most famous cat in the world lives in Japan.  He has his own website, loads of YouTube videos, and millions of fans.  His owner keeps us up to speed on his newest toys, favorite napping spots, and intense fear of crows.  He’s the only life form (other than his owner) who I feel like I’ve kinda gotten to know over the past year, so his well-being was one of the first things that occurred to me when I heard about the earthquake and tsunami (sorry humans!).  Turns out he’s safe, yay!

 

epic

5. Samurai, Ninjas, Martial Arts

Where do I begin?  The samurai bushido “way of the warrior” will never be replicated en masse the way it was in feudal Japan.  The intense philosophy that ran throughout every aspect of the samurai’s life from the way they fought to the way they ate and slept is just incredible.

Raise your hand if you never wanted to be a ninja.  You, you, and you; you’re all liars.  EVERYONE wants to be a ninja at some point. I just learned recently that ninjutsu is not a martial art, but an art of war.  Yikes.  Awesome.

I’ve been practicing martial arts since I was 14.  I earned two black belts, and now I work at a dojo where I get to teach kids how to be polite, work hard, and beat the shit out of their siblings who are too stupid or unlucky enough not to be included in class.  With all my experience, I can safely say that everyone on the planet would benefit from learning a martial art (especially a soft style like hapkido or aikido).

6. Nintendo

It’s not just some 8-pixel side-scroller.  It’s a virtual world.  My generation grew up with the gray-box Nintento, and Mario was as real a character as any idiot on reality TV today.  Nintendo set the bar for video gaming.  It started an entire sub-culture.  With a video game.  Cultural references to the original Mario Bros. will never end.  There will always be a “Sorry, Princess is in another castle” joke for unforeseen failure.  Coins will always be shiny, floaty thing we all yearn for.  Stars will always look like a chance at temporary invincibility.

 

ruuuunnnn!!

7. Godzilla

Haha, oh my god.  I can’t believe Godzilla is #7.  Where was my brain.  The Japanese took fear of giant monsters to the ultimate extreme.  So classic.  I still haven’t seen this movie, btw.  Must remedy soon!

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woah

8. Noh

If you don’t know anything about the theater of Edo era Japan, wake the fuck up.  The makeup, the masks, the nuances, the costumes, the stories… amazing.  Google it.  It’s the oldest form of theater (even older than the famous Greek tragedies).  Kabuki centered around drama, love and all that mushy crap.  Kyogen was mostly comedies.  The actors were huge celebrities.  Some even had trading cards.  It’s true!  And one of my favorite comics is based on the masks worn during these iconic plays.

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i will never understand it

9. Sumo

I wonder if this should go under martial arts… haha just kidding!  Can you picture one of these guys rounding a corner in full battle gear?  Hilarious!  But seriously, there’s a ton of ceremony that goes into every match, which are fun to watch.  Giant dudes pushing brutishly each other out of a small ring?  While the referee holds a fan and wears traditional robes?  And the attendees get crushed whenever one of the sumo guys tumbles off the platform?  What a sport!

10. Takeshi’s Castle

This is a little-known series that aired in 1989 that started the wave of shows that put normal people through ridiculous obstacle courses for the world to laugh at.  America has a show called Wipeout that does the same thing.  Genius.

I want to write more about each of these but I’m at work, and no one wants to read that much about this stuff (including me).  Suffice to say, the Japanese people have my adoration and respect.  Now if they could just give a serious apology about invading Korea, and the whole “comfort women” thing, that’d be great.

UPDATE: March 15, 5:32pm

Wait!  I thought of another reason to love Japan: the Polysics!

I mean people do fun, silly stuff people do in music videos.  The Japanese are clearly no exception, and for that, I love them.

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goodness, humor, work

Old work goodness

I was looking through a folder called “Me from work,” meaning the stuff I had saved on my old work computer that I removed promptly before leaving.  There’s an image folder.  It’s full of hilarious wierdness.

Old Work Goodness Number 1: The Beavers

looks like someone needs a good ass-kicking

WTF is this?  I mean, aside from clearly being a Japanese ripoff of The Beatles.  This album cover made me laugh out loud.

Time for some research.

The initial search (cleverly done: “beavers”) yielded nothing but pictures of beavers, and an informative Wikipedia article which described beavers as “large, semi-aquatic rodents.”  Not the kindest set of adjectives and nouns to string together to describe an animal that can build its own home in a single night.  Be cool, Wikipedia.  Beavers are pretty great.

Second search: “beaver music”  A Swedish group came up.  I listened to one of their songs all the way through; all three minutes and forty two seconds.  Specifically, I watched the music video, which consisted of stock footage of someone typing on a typewriter, a silhouette of a happy couple in front of a sunset, and shitty home footage of some horses running in slow-motion on a beach, for fuck sake.  I should have stopped fifteen seconds in.  Here’s a sample of their lyrics:

Hesitation in a place pristine / Revelations of a space unseen / Knowing you from the inside out / That’s the only way to let you out / And that’s all that I care about.

Yikes.

Third search: “the beavers japan”  Apparently there’s a clothing store called Beaver in Japan that resembles a very abstract hairy va-jay-jay.  Just squint.  See?  Eew.

the Jimi Hendrix era of album covers

Fourth search: “the beavers music japan”  Jackpot!  Someone wrote a quick bio of one of the band members, Hideki Ishima on a website called Golden Best Japan.  Before The Beavers, this guy was a member of such ridiculously named bands as: Jarows, The Outlaws, and Spiderduction before some genius at the record label told them to change it to something “cuter.”  According to this website, they only released one album with five singles.  Here are a couple of them!

Kiminaki Sekai (The World Without You), the moody, wail-y version of something that sounds like Love Potion #9.

Why Baby Why, a poppy hit in which the band shouts ‘why baby why’ and ‘I love you’ amid much more comfortable Japanese verses, and some screeching that actually sounds pretty cool.

The author of  thought the following sentence made sense: “The Beavers were known as “Japan’s Yardbirds” so it’s not suprising that they covered “I’m a Man” and “Over, Under, Sideways, Down” on this album.”  Uh, right… thanks for the insight.

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life

Ogami Itto, the orphan

In early January I bought the entire Lone Wolf and Cub manga series on craigslist for $100.  Such a deal.  I finished it before the end of the month, which means that in about three weeks, I read 28 issues of manga about a samurai assassin and his infant son on their quest to destroy an enemy clan.  That’s one and a third manga per day, which doesn’t sound like much, but let me tell you there was a shit-ton of sword-slicing, blood spurting violence in every single issue.

It’s a really cool series though.  Lots of accurate depictions of various Edo-era lifestyles with plenty of bushido philosophy throughout.  The women though… yikes.  They get the shit end of the stick every time.  It’s pretty gross.

Regardless, what do I do with it now?  I have this whole series, which I was proud to finally own in its entirety.  I know I’ll want to go over it again some other time, but… it’s 28 little books.  Twenty-eight.  Where am I supposed to put them?  My parents bought my sister and I about a dozen books we used to read when we were kids, and I have no idea where to put those either.  Where am I supposed to find room for this stuff?

I’m going through a shedding phase, too.  I don’t want this stuff.  I want to get rid of it, but more than that, I want to not crave its company.  I tend to think of books as friends.  I don’t want to get rid of my friends, but they’re taking up so much fucking room.  Plus, I like the idea that someone else will then enjoy what I’ve given away (read: sold).

I really, really don’t want to get rid of this manga.  As a comic book reader, I take pride in being able to say I have a “manga collection.”  And to have the entire Lone Wolf and Cub series?  Braggin’ rights.  Mm’kay?  *sigh*  I have to find some place to put this shit.  Maybe get rid of the books I’m keeping just to feel smart (I’m looking at you right now, Women, Gender, Religion: A Reader).  But I can’t get rid of that, I’m totally gonna read that one day!  You see my dilemma.

I used to have just piles of books sitting around my room.  I thought buying a big ole’ bookshelf would solve this problem.  Surprisingly, it didn’t.  I forgot that I was also clearing up space in the lower shelves of the beautiful hutch my dad built when I was a kid to make room for my clothes, of which I also have too many (but I’ve made some significant progress in that department recently).

And y’know what I’ve been saying a lot lately?  “Tomorrow I’m gonna do some laundry, and vacuum my room.”  Lemme tell you, that shit does not do itself, because my hamper is over flowing, and my rug is still coated Diminutive Roommate’s cat’s (Calico) hair.  Calico is a sweetie and everything, but FUCK, the shedding.

So now we’ve come full circle: Manga, organization, cleanliness, cat hair, cussing.  And where do I find escape from the vacuum that stares at me as it sits next to my bedroom door?  Joss Whedon.  Specifically, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Oh no!  Look at the time!  It’s almost ten on a weeknight!  Darn, can’t vacuum now!  The noise might disturb the neighbors!  Hahaha!

(Feb 10, 5:19pm)

UPDATE: I’m taking a break from vacuuming to update my blog to let everyone know I’m vacuuming.  If only this wasn’t a secret blog.  Oh well.

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goodness, humor, life

The sound of patriotism

The United States has the greatest national anthem in the world.  It’s a bold anthem which, instead of ending with a strong statement of our worth, wonders if it was all worth it.  I especially appreciate no mention of a god (which is somewhat unusual in modern national anthems) because anthems are for and about the people, not their religious beliefs.

The US national anthem is not just your typical, “bless this land, which is ours by the way, and it’s it pretty?”  It’s a challenge to future generations to be as unified and courageous as its past generations.

I love that it questions its citizens.  “Does that symbol for which we fought and died still represent something for which another generation would fight with equal valiance?”

O say, can you see by the dawn’s early light
what so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star spangled banner yet wave
o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Now let’s have a look at a few other national anthems for contrast.  Let’s start with our neighbor to the north, Canada (which I can sing from memory, oddly).

O, Canada, our home and native land,
true patriot love from all your sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
our true north, strong and free.
From far and wide, O Canada,
we stand on guard for thee.
God, keep our land glorious and free
O, Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O, Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

All I can say about this national anthem is that it assumes a lot.  Against whom do they stand on guard?  Who are these people that are so ready to invade Canada that the entire populace must reaffirm their dedication to its defense?  Plus, I’m pretty sure most other countries are asking god for help in their anthems, too, so don’t hold your breath, Canada.

Next is France!  With one of the most recognizable melodies in the world, France’s national anthem is also one of the most bloody due to its origins: the French Revolution!

The French national anthem is long as hell, so after the whole first verse and chorus I’ll just pull out a few of my favorite parts to give you an idea of what it’s like:

Arise, children of the Fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us, tyranny’s
Bloody banner is raised, (repeat)
Do you hear, in the countryside,
The howling of those ferocious soldiers?
They’re coming right into your arms
To slit the throats of your sons and consorts!
Chorus:

To arms, citizens, form your battalions,
Let’s march, let’s march!
Let impure blood water our furrows!

Yikes!  Using the blood of the enemy to water your crops?  That’s fucking metal.  What a picture to paint, all of it!  So brutal.

It goes on to include gems like this:

Frenchmen, for us, ah! What outrage
What fury it must arouse!
It is us they dare plan
To return to the old slavery!

Hey, they’re trying to make us slaves again!  Fuck that!  Get angry, you French people!

Tremble, tyrants and you traitors…
…Everyone is a soldier to combat you.

…as long as they’ve retained their right to bear arms.  But seriously, I picture farmers rushing a line of fully armed invaders with their pick axes and back hoes.  Pretty great.

The last verse might be the best for its evocative sense of honor.

We shall enter in the (military) career
When our elders are no longer there,
There we shall find their dust
And the trace of their virtues (repeat)
Much less jealous to survive them
Than to share their coffins,
We shall have the sublime pride
Of avenging or following them.

Ok, so the French are giving us a run for our money in the “World’s Best National Anthem” contest.  Theirs is pretty fuckin’ awesome.  But minus points for length.  Or whatever.

Oooo-kay, I just had a look at the full lyrics of the British national anthem, God Save the Queen.  It’s about as good as it sounds.  Lots of divine evocation, no mention of the citizenry, super dull.  But the lyrics used to include another verse (for a very short time):

May he sedition hush,
and like a torrent rush,
rebellious Scots to crush,
God save the King.

Haha, oh no!  Not the Scots!  Leave them be, King George II!  Bad king, no!

Japan.  Wow.  Leave it to Japan to make me feel stupid.  What a pretty anthem.  Very short and pretty, but not a whole lot to say.  Tough to inspire the citizenry to take up arms to defend their country with such an understated, slowly paced song.  But that’s so Japanese, lol.

May your reign
Continue for a thousand, eight thousand generations,
Until the pebbles
Grow into boulders
Lush with moss.

Touché, Japan.  Touché.

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goodness, humor

May I introduce Maru…

If you’re not familiar with the phenomenon that is Maru, the dark times are over, friend. It’s time to stop being lame and look him up. He’s just the best.

Maru the cat lives in an apartment in Japan with an owner who has done the rest of us the favor of encouraging his eccentricities, filming them, and putting them all over YouTube. If you’ve been stressing about the complete lack of watching a fat cat do a sliding dive into an empty box, let me put you at ease. Maru is a big, fat, adorable sweetheart that will win over dog-lovers everywhere by intentionally cramming himself into tiny, lidded trash bins, and sliding comically out from under couches on his back.

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goodness, humor

Oh, the Japanese

one seriously pansy-ass mascot

I discovered recently that the Japanese police force has a mascot.  I imagine the conversation between some Ladypants reporter and some Suit in charge of Public Relations would go something like this:

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Ladypants: Every major corporation needs some good PR now and again. How should one go about attaining said PR?
Suit: Well, one way of doing that is to assume an adorable mascot to prance around and misrepresent our vicious company as a sweet, friendly animal.
L: But what if you’re the police?
S: …I don’t understand the question.
L: I’m just saying, it’s fine for a business to use some cute little animal to trick kids into thinking they’re harmless, but the police don’t want to achieve the same goal, so…
S: Wait, which police are we talking about here?
L: Uh… what?
S: Have you ever been to Japan?
L: No.
S: Oh. Well their law enforcement mascot is just PRECIOUS.
L: …Excuse me?
S: Seriously, they’ve done such a great job at emasculating themselves over there. It’s like they’re not even police officers any more. They’re like children dressing up for Halloween. People keep candy in their purses to throw into the windows of passing cop cars.
L: …You’re kidding.
S: Kinda. But their mascot is pretty cute, though.
L: Why would the police need a mascot?
S: …I don’t understand the question.
L: OK, WE’RE DONE HERE.

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