2006-09-29

Otaku hunters.



Tokyo teenagers have been busted for mugging junior high students in the Akihabara district. Apparently, these toughs call their bullying "otaku hunting" because they target young あきば系Akiba-kei, a slang term for people who dig the electronics, manga, and anime products sold in "Electric City", Akihabara 秋葉原. According to the Mainichi Daily News, there have been 25 reports of otaku hunting this year.

From the Mainichi Daily News:
"おたくOtaku are weak and they've got money, so we went after them," one of the arrested youths told the police.

Police said one of the cases involved three boys waylaying a 14-year-old boy who was headed to Akihabara to buy an anime doll and demanding he pay them money or he would be bashed. The boy handed over 3,000 yen (US$25.47), the police said.
We Wish You a Merry Michaelmas.

If you're not up on your knowledge of Saint's Days, September 29th is St. Michael's Day or Michaelmas. (Michael: Hebrew "Who is like God?").

Because it falls near the equinox, it is associated with the beginning of Autumn and the shortening of days. St. ME, one of the principal angelic warriors, was seen as a protector against the dark of night.

St. ME is one of the principal angels; his name was the war-cry of the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against the enemy and his followers. A few times my name is recorded in Scripture:

Daniel 10:13 "and, behold Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me . . . and none is my helper in all these things, but Michael your prince";

Daniel 12, "the Angel speaking of the end of the world and the Antichrist says: "At that time shall Michael rise up, the great prince, who standeth for the children of thy people."

Apocalypse 12:7, "And there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the dragon."

Christian tradition gives St. Michael five offices:
*To fight against Satan.
*To rescue the souls of the faithful from the power of the enemy, especially at the hour of death.
*To be the champion of God's people, the Jews in the Old Law, the Christians in the New Testament; therefore he was the patron of the Church, and of the orders of knights during the Middle Ages.
*To call away from earth and bring men's souls to judgment.
*To crack really bad jokes and puns. (I made this last one up just to see if you're paying attention.)

BUT much more important than any of this rot is that it is MY SECOND BIRTHDAY! Because my birthday falls on that other guys' Mas (Dec.25th...you figure it out), when I was but a wee lad, my parents decided to celebrate my birthday on this date so that I could get a birthday party and two sets of presents every year. For some reason, nobody would ever come out to my place and admonish me with birthday presents in late December. (If you ask me, where are my 3 wise men? Where is my Gold and Myrrh and Frankincense? Of course, I'm grateful that I made it to my 34rd birthday.)

Alas as I got older, the parties faded away and I was again relegated to but the one birthday and thus a bunch of two-in-one presents at X-mas. Even my beer-swilling friends stopped buying me a beer on this date (cheap bastards!) BUT to make matters even worse, my family occasionally forgot my actual birthday on December 25th! No cake or "Happy Birthday to you" for me! One year, after all the Christmas festivities had ended and our family gathering was over and we were all going our separate ways, I meekly asked, "Isn't anyone going to wish me Happy Birthday?" To their credit, they haven't forgotten since. I still don't get a party or a cake or extra presents, but they do wish me "Bonne Anniversaire." (Thanks to my little sister who always remembers!)

How many of you have gone out with your friends on your birthday and had one too many? I had never done this in Canada because the bars are closed on X-mas day! My first beer in a bar took place in 1999 in Tokyo with some of my Nova co-workers. Sure they were out trying to capture some Christmas spirit, but the odd toast was for me! Since then, I have had to go out to bars on my own on Christmas Day when in Japan and ask the patrons to sing me "Happy Birthday" and they always comply. (God Bless the little heathens.)

So this year, I implore you to send me a birthday email on December 25th (aoxoltl atmark hotmail.com) and I will raise a glass to my phone and toast you ... whereever we may be.
Batter up!

Yesterday, was a treat. A beautiful day and cancelled classes to go watch our sister school's boys' baseball team play in the semi-finals of the High School playoffs. This series is MORE popular than regular season and American baseball combined, but the game I watched won't be winning any awards. Our team really shone in the first inning and quickly led 2-0. Unfortunately, that was the end of their aggressiveness and they switched from offense to defense. The other teamed tied it up thanks to runs in the 5th and 6th innings and won overall due to an error in the 10th inning. I (unbiasedly of course) feel that the Umps were favouring the opponents in many of the close calls at base-running. Ah well, it was a gorgeous day (better than most of the summer) and the students and fellow teachers enjoyed a day off from classes.
Better luck next year.

(Note: Photos have been expunged.)

My favourite part of the game was espying this sign to beware of foul balls. Ouch!
Half full or half empty?

Well, my school year is now officially half over. We had a closing ceremony for the end of the first half of the year called a 終了式 (shu-ryo shiki) this morning. It means more cancelled classes, presentations to winners of an essay contest and more henpecking by the vp to pull up your socks (or hike up your pants/ or inch down your skirt below your knees as the case may be.) For the teachers, it means finishing marking all your tests and submitting your marks into the computer for term-end grades. I got all my work done...so 15 minutes to blog!

(Note: Photos have been expunged.)

2006-09-28

A Tokyo Rose by any other name.

Iva Ikuko Toguri, who died this week at the age of 90, was probably the most infamous female disc jockey in American history. Born in Los Angeles in 1916, Toguri was forced to broadcast propaganda for Japan during World War II after the U.S. abandoned her there just days before the Pearl Harbor attack.

In 1941, Toguri made an untimely trip to Japan to visit an ill relative, leaving the U.S. without a passport. Her attempt to return home without documentation was stymied: she applied for a passport from the U.S. Vice Consul in Japan, but the paperwork was still being processed when war was declared. Physically and culturally stuck, Toguri learned Japanese and held typist positions with various news agencies during the war.

Chosen out of the NHK/Radio Tokyo typing pool to be a disc jockey on The Zero Hour program by the very Allied POWs being beaten and starved into writing her shows, Toguri became adept at sabotaging her own broadcasts. Though employed to broadcast pro-Japanese propaganda, Toguri's outspoken support of the Allies off-mic (while cleverly concealing it within her message and delivery on-air) resulted in numerous arguments, fisticuffs, and sometimes daily 3 am harassments thanks to the Kempeitai Thought Police. She helped keep American soldiers alive (at mortal personal risk) with food, medicine, clothing, and hope during her almost daily visits to their cells.

As an American unwilling to denounce her citizenship, Toguri was not to be trusted by the Japanese, and as an American woman of Japanese extraction broadcasting for the Japanese, she was considered a traitor in her own country.

Iva kept her position at Radio Tokyo until the war ended, meanwhile the U.S. caught wind of the fact that American citizens were employed by the Japanese propaganda machine. The myth of "Tokyo Rose" (a general term applied to all English-speaking female broadcasters in Japan at the time) spread, and when American reporters arrived in Japan, they were eager to snag an interview with the Tokyo Rose. Led to Toguri by bribing a coworker at Radio Tokyo, a reporter from Cosmopolitan coaxed Iva into holding a press conference. She told her story, imagining that her 15 minutes of fame had finally arrived. Little did she know that her admission to broadcasting for the enemy would lead to an arrest for treason when she later attempted to return to California.

In spite of Iva's commitment to her American citizenship and the help she offered Allied POWs while employed by Radio Tokyo, Toguri was to be only person ever tried or sent to prison for Japanese WWII broadcasts. Her trial, based wholly upon perjured evidence that U.S. authorities fabricated by threatening two NHK workers, was the most expensive trial in American history up until that time. All of this for being an entirely mythical non-existent figure, for neither she nor anyone else had ever broadcast for the Japanese under the name "Tokyo Rose", although tales of such a "Tokyo Rose" that arose from the imaginations of Allied soldiers in the Pacific resulted in Iva Toguri paying the price as a scapegoat.

Long since pardoned by President Ford, himself a veteran of the Pacific War and survivor of many kamikaze attacks, controversy over Toguri's supposed guilt continues even to this day. Of her own broadcasts, during which she actually used the name "Orphan Ann," all that remains are a smattering of scripts, and a precious few recordings that can barely be counted on two hands.

Thanks to J.C. Kaelin of the radio propaganda site EarthStation, who wrote parts (all) of this obit. http://www.earthstation1.com/Radio_Propaganda.html If you cut and paste this link, you can hear a few of her broadcasts.

Here's a still from a cartoon called "Tokyo Woes" made around 1945 by Bob Clampett for the U.S. Navy. As with most 40's cartoons, the gross stereotyping was really overdone.

2006-09-27

Horton hears a だれ.

The lighter side...of Dr. Seuss (Pronounced "Soice" by the way) includes Green Eggs and Ham, The Grinch and Cat in the Hat to name but a few of his creations. Apart from the Chuck Jones produced Grinch from the 60's, and a few Cat in the Hat and Horton specials, there had been almost no live action forays into his work.

The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T was the only one to date written by him and using several of his backgrounds. It is possible that the character of Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons is based in part on the character of Dr. Terwilliker. Not only are their surnames similar (Terwilliger), but Sideshow Bob's accent and countenance bear a superficial resemblance to Hans Conried's performance, and both characters have a nemesis named Bart.





After his death in 1991, his wife refused to license his characters to Hollywood until she saw a certain Jim Carrey perform and allowed The Grinch to be made, provided he play the role. She later released The Cat in the Hat into the fold, under the condition that Mike Myers play the role. I didn't see it, but really with Seuss's source material, you shouldn't have to rely on fart jokes.


The next big event will be an all CGI version of Horton Hears a Who. I always loved this story (a possible allegory for atomic war) and if the final result looks anything like these two stills, I have high hopes for it.
It's the Surreal thing.

The weird side... of the good doctor wasn't all freaky propaganda. He also has numerous examples of surreal artwork that is leagues away from his kiddie books. Here are a few samples:








Uncle SamIam.

The dark side of...Theodor Seuss Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, began his career as a little known editorial cartoonist in the 1920s. Here are some of the political cartoons he wrote between 1941 and 1943. They are EXTREMELY racist but were merely the propagandized voice of the times.































To find more of these political cartoons, you can always click over to Seuss.

Our Job in Japan (1945) was written and directed by Dr. Seuss. It was a training film for soldiers who would occupy Japan after the war. Our Job In Japan was shown to the troops sent to occupy post-war Japan. It explained that Japanese people are not inherently evil, just brain washed by religion and cultural into becoming killers. There was still hope for them.

He also wrote, along with Warner Brothers' animation department, a character named Private SNAFU. Snafu (Situation Normal, All Fucked Up) was created by Frank Capra, and voices were done by Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny). He always got into trouble and created more harm than good. Through his irresponsible behavior, Snafu demonstrates to soldiers what not to do while at war.



You can always go to YouTube to find more toons like this or go to this site to download your own FREE tunes: movies.

2006-09-26

I don't know much about art,

But I know what I like. And I like Superheroes photoshopped into classic paintings...








Bacchus and Ariadne by Titian. Last July, I had the opportunity to see this painting at the main gallery in Ueno. It's much better, but I also dig that groovy Atom, the mini-Justice Leaguer, and a nasty looking Martian Manhunter.

Mona Lisa (Da Vinci) of course becomes Mona Xena. Her smile is not quite as captivating, but those eyes... Da Vinci used the wrong code!

Gainsborough's The Blue Boy becomes The Man of Blue Steel. Must be hard to fly in those britches.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus by Jose Ibarrara has become JC Superstar. In Singer's latest movie version, there were many Christ metaphors...this one would have been too blatant.

Birth of the Venus (Boticelli) = Birth of the Phoenix. Phoenix always did need a bit of meat on her bones and Boticelli does her justice. I also quite like the conch-blowing Wolverine.

Michelangelo's David becomes SuperDave. No, not the iconic character SuperDave Osborne. Please notice the shorts on David, we wouldn't want to get Springfield up in arms over censorship again. (Oh, so many obscure references. Someone thinks he's so smart.)
Aiding and ABEtting.

Shinzo Abe 安倍 晋三is our new Prime Minister (Japan's that is, not Canada's.) He's a life-long politician (has grandpa was a PM) and hasn't lived that long a life yet. He's the youngest PM since prior to WWII and has been pretty active to date. Amongst other feats, he negotiated the return of the abductees from Kim Jong Il. Will he piss off the North Koreans? Time will tell.

I'm not sure what to expect from him. He'll probably make the Chinese happy by not visiting War Crime graves, but he may become a new patsy of GWB. Time will tell.

All I know is that so far, he hasn't done anything worthy of making jokes about. Time will tell.

2006-09-25

To boldly go...

This is the funniest clip that I have ever seen. What really pisses me off is that I didn't think of it first. Enjoy...

Beware the Mongol hordes are attacking!

I caught the last 5 minutes of September's Sumo (相撲,) tournament and sure enough, Yokozuna (横綱) Asashoryu (朝青龍) took the top division championship for his 18th Makuuchi Division title! Dolgorsuren Dagvadorj is his Mongolian name, relinquished for his more Japanese-sounding title.
Date of Birth: September 27, 1980
Place of Birth: Mongolia
Height: 184.0cm
Weight: 148.0kg
Career Record: 473-128-17

The following are the Top Ten Techniques he's used in the last 6 tournaments: Yorikiri 19 Oshidashi 12 Uwatenage 6 Yoritaoshi 4 Shitatenage 3 Sukuinage 3 Uwatedashinage 3 Hikiotoshi 2 Okurinage 2 (66 wins in 78 bouts!) (If you want to know what each of these means, look them up! Do I look like a freaking dictionary?)

He was promoted to Yokozuna, the highest rank of Sumo in January, 2003, only the second foreigner to be thus promoted.

2006-09-23

You say you want some Evolution.


Legends of the Fall.

ハッピー秋分の日! Or Happy Autumnal Equinox Day! (happi shuubun no hi)

This is one of the most traditional Japanese National Holidays and seems to have a double origin. One is the celebration of seasonal change typical of an agricultural society: this is the day when the day-time and the night-time are of equal length. From this day on the night-time hours will be longer than the day-time hours, until the winter solstice in late December, the shortest day of the year.

 This autumnal Equinox Day is also called 彼岸の中日 (higan no chu-nichi), which is based on Buddhist teaching. Many Japanese visit their family tombs on this day in the middle of the week of higan to pay their respects to their ancestors. People weed their family tombs and leave flowers, incense and おはぎ (ohagi sweet rice balls covered with soybean paste.) It is tradition that ancestors' spirits prefer round food!

There is another higan in spring, at the time of the Spring Equinox. Thus there is a saying, 暑さ寒さも彼岸まで ("Atsusa samusa mo Higan made"/ "Heat and cold last until Higan")

And a heads up to my Toronto friends! Have a pint for me!
I'm a good sport...

poster (and poser).
*The Leafs are off to a good start, beating Montreal 5-1 in Exhibition play.
*The Blue Jays won their last game but it was too late to make the playoffs.
*The Rakuten Eagles are struggling to maintain their last-place position. They almost won a game the other night.
*Tomorrow is the finale bouts for the Grand Sumo Tournament held in Tokyo. I'll give you an update afterwards.

2006-09-20

Wouldn't you like to be a Pepper too?

I haven't posted a video clip in a while (I'm trying to cut down, it's lazy posting) but this is a good one. The "Big G" sells out...




Want to hear an interesting Dr. Pepper story? (No choice...) Back in the late 70's/ early 80's, David Naughton sang & danced his way through a bunch of ads and they were very catchy. Back in my Psychology days, I attended a workshop on "Sexism in the Media" or some such nonsense. These media watchdogs would watch commercials frame-by-frame to be sure we weren't infected by any subliminal messages. Well, they showed a reel of a whack of ads and one of them was one of these "I'm a Pepper" bits and there were a bunch of cheerleaders. Sure enough one of the cheerleaders who was being swung in the air by David was NOT wearing any panties and in their vigilance, the hawks caught it. The commercial was yanked. I raised my hand and offered an interesting tidbit for their perusal. After Mr. Naughton starred in "An American Werewolf in London" (my favourite lycanthropic flick), he was axed due to the graphic violence in the movie and the fact that he ran starkers through the zoo baring his bum. I guess the producers of Dr. Pepper aren't very good at turning the other cheek!
ARRRR! Avast there, mateys!

Today be annual "Talk like a Pirate Day",
so grab your rum and YOHOHO away!

"Avast, belay, yo ho, heave to, A-pirating we go! And if we're parted by a shot, we're sure to meet below! Yo ho, yo ho, the pirate life, the flag o'skull and bones! A merry hour, a hempen rope, and hey for Davy Jones."



Come night, I be seein' Cap'n Jack Sparrow and his motley crew (Not Motley Crue!)So all o'ye be sure to see a Pirate (not pirated!) movie tonight! Try "Muppet Treasure Island"/ the anime "Animal Treasure Island" or the grandaddy of 'em all, "Treasure Island". If ye be brave, get yer mitts on "Yellowbeard" or "Peter Pan" and blow the man down!
Most of all...Be certain ye all talk like pirates! Ye Scurvy Dogs!

2006-09-19

Do you know what "procrastinate" means?

I'll tell you later...

This is the amount of tests that I need to mark! I've finished two and have another one coming tomorrow, but this stack of ten is rather foreboding. So rather than working at it, I decided to finish the Echophonyk flyer instead. It looks good and you'll see it later...

(Oh yeah, procrastinate (ぐずぐずする・延ばす guzuguzu-suru/ nobasu) means to put off or delay doing something you should be doing.)
I'm flummoxed!

Boy, do I feel silly! It wasn't a lecture by Dr. Janov; it was a rock group named "Primal Scream"! Who knew?

Of course, my musical tastes in the 90's went into hibernation during my busy Social Work years, so I missed out on all kinds of bands.

I could give you a "Wikipedia" entry on "PS" but you can do that yourself, for doubtless you already know all about them. Furthermore, I don't know all that much about their roots in "Jesus & Mary in Chains" or "Stoned Roses" either...


But a fun concert, nonetheless.

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