Archive for April, 2008

damned dirty apes

Inspired by a hunting orangutan, I decided to sit down to ‘Planet Earth’ with lunch today…

fungi are baaaad mofos…

5/8/08 UPDATE: it turns out that the badassery of fungi is far greater than initially believed…



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any requests?

Well, I often find myself sending and/or receiving emails about music, so I thought I’d post some random Japanese music…

The Blue Hearts

A staple in every Japanese person’s diet, their songs are used in countless commercials and there was even a hit movie here that took its name from one of their hit songs. They played from the mid-80s to the mid-90s and have been in other bands since then… anyway, this is one of their bigger hits “情熱の薔薇” (Rose of Passion) and like any performance near a camera, the lead singer just can’t refrain from doing his trademark spastic lizard impression :o)
It’s a live performance that’s unapologetically retro :o)

Puffy AmiYumi
Probably the biggest duo of the 90s, everyone knows them and because their songs have been played endlessly since the mid-90s, some have grown to hate them. Regardless, this song’s cuteness is only amplified in the video by the stiff choreographed dancing that seems to be a signature of their music videos. And with that, we’ll overlook the fact that they threw in lots of ‘foreign’ babies for cheap ratings :o)
…it’s hard to be in a bad mood after listening to this :o)
(sorry, no embedding for this one… but it’ll open in a separate window)

They used to make Nintendo-like music and now they’re moving into house/electro territory. This song marks the beginning of their transition and with it they’ve started to get big here. The producer, Yasutaka Nakata, has been producing a few other groups here as well. Especially one of them, Perfume, is getting huge. Yasutaka’s also associated with some fashion designers and so this group is really trying to push their ‘Shibuya’ style in terms of music, fashion and art. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if some TV station has bought the rights to their earlier songs because I seem to hear snippets of their music played on just about every kind of show imaginable.
Anyway, this is “Sugarless Girl”

I haven’t a clue what their name means but they’re about the most talented Japanese band I can think of. They formed in Osaka over ten years ago and they’re still together. At this point, I don’t quite understand their lyrics but even talking with some of their Japanese fans it seems I’m not the only one :o)
Anyway this is “色彩のブルース”, which could probably be translated to “The Color of Blues”

Ryo the Skywalker
I saw a Japanese movie a long time ago and I was amazed to hear Japanese reggae. After some digging, I found out it seemed to be quite popular but I couldn’t get my hands on much else. Anyway, those were in the dark days of the internet before the wonders of youtube. Also, living in Osaka, which has a particular fondness for reggae, I hear it all the time… whether that’s a good thing or not is still up for debate but there is some good stuff amid the rubbish. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything I know well on youtube but this will suffice for an intro to Japanese reggae…
So, also from Osaka, this is Ryo the Skywalker…

Thee Michelle Gun Elephant
I’ve gotta admit, I found this song from a great movie “青い春” (Blue Spring). These guys got together in ’91 and broke up about 5 years ago. You’ll notice almost everyone’s name so far has been (somewhat) English… well this group is no except and it’s entirely nonsensical, which makes it all the more enjoyable. Anyway, this song epitomizes badassery, making it a great choice for the movie.
Here’s “赤毛のケリー” (Red-headed Kelly)

Kiyoshiro Imawano
Found out about him from another movie I recommend, ‘Happiness of the Katakuris‘ but it wasn’t until I came to Japan that I could actually hear more of his music (almost nobody my age seems to know about him). His old album covers are great… the guy looks like he made a lot of yakuza drug dealers rich back in those days. His voice is quite unique and even now, at 57, he’s putting out music. The only thing more strained than his worn-out vocal chords is his face, which he unfortunately still pastes on his album covers :o)
Anyway, this guy is awesome and thankfully he’s been getting more and more film roles recently. Here’s him doing a cover of Daydream Believer with one of his bands RC Succession.

(sorry, no embedding for this one either… but it’ll open in a separate window)

Katamari Damacy
A kick-ass game where you run around picking up random junk to make new stars (or planets?). You can start with a couple rubber bands and some paper clips and before you know it, it’s snowballing into cows and ocean liners.
The soundtrack is also great… here’s the intro.

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Here in Japan, just about everyone rides a bike. I probably rode a bike more in these 20-or-so months in Japan than I did in my childhood. Not only that, I’m now on my third bike here (for various reasons), which is about the same number of bikes I had from ages 0-16 haha

Here, rather than seeing a family pushing a stroller you’re much more likely to see a child peering out from their plastic seat behind their Mum while she weaves around all the other bodies and bicycles on the sidewalk. Also, especially in Osaka, you don’t have to be here long to have the experience of hearing a bell ringing, only to turn around and see a lady that’s pushing 60, booting it down a hill in your direction. And even if you don’t feel in danger of getting hit, you’ll probably be punished from a high-pitched squeal from the brakes. After living here awhile you’d swear that all bikes are sold squeaky.

Anyway, this is all just a thinly veiled segue into the coolest bicycle parking system I’ve ever seen.

In other (more English) words, this thing can hold 9400 bikes and cost just under $70M CDN to build. But, this is in Tokyo… a city that, not even including the surrounding metropolitan area, has more than 9 million registered bikes. So, with their supply and demand curves presumably correct, they’re only charging 100 yen (less than a dollar) for one-time use and a monthly pass goes for just 1800 yen!
Think of how happy your bike would be… it could live like it’s in a sci-fi movie while you’re off tending to your boring above-grounded affairs :o)

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“An Ceiling Cat sayed, i can haz lyhte blog? An blog wuz.
An Ceiling Cat sayed, do not want!
An Ceiling Cat sawed teh blog, an it iz terrbl passabul”

a blog has been born…
and this message is to get rid of the error message on the front page :o)

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