Friday, August 31, 2007

Went to the San Francisco Asian Art Museum to see the Taiso Yoshitoshi ukiyo-e show. Trevor and I were commenting on how viewing these prints was like reading a story or watching a movie, so rich they were in both color and content. Amazing, the skill and precision, as well as the attention to small details, like the lone pinhead of red as dried plum on the green floor of a teahouse, or the tiny but perfect bloody handprints on the kimono of a murderer. Breathtaking.

Oh my, and in other Japanese news, I got my first taste of the famous cream puffs from Japanese sensation Beard Papa's today. Japanese folks know how to do sweets (and cheese fondue-injected minibreads: I buy them by the bagful when I visit -- gah!). I had the chocolate cream puff, and it was heavenly. Well worth trying to find a parking place around Union Square at 5 pm.

Haha, and speaking of Union Square, I see this quote in the entry for it at Wikipedia:

Grand hotels and small inns, and repertory, off-Broadway and single-act theaters also contribute to the area's dynamic, 24-hour character.

That "24-hour character" is also bolstered by the fact that just a few blocks west you can take in a lungful of second hand crack smoke. Just saying, for the tourists.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, August 30, 2007

If only this were real. If it were, and commercials were also more like Crazy People ("Porsche. It's a little too small to get laid IN it, but you get laid the minute you get out of it!"), I might even buy a TV.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Japanese innovation...

May I present to you, the air conditioned necktie -- for those godawful summer days in Japan that are so sweltering only mad dogs, Englishmen, and office workers venture out in the midday sun. It plugs into a USB port and gives you a generous leash to make your way around your cubicle. If salarymen said things like "righteous!" I suppose they would.

Also, this speaker technology makes me want to both rejoice and run far far away from any place populated with anything owning opposable thumbs and lacking human courtesy (read: the Bay Area).

And speaking of Japan, who knew that Japanese turntablist DJ Krush -- co-creator of one of my favorite instrumental albums while in college, Ki-Oku -- is both a grandpa and an ex-Yakuza?


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Morrissey turns down $75 million for Smiths reunion.

Sigh. I thought his rejection of the $5 million offer from Coachella was a bit much, but it just gets more and more ridiculous.

Turns out Moz was approached with an offer of $75 million smackers, payable upon completion of at least 50 worldwide shows provided Johnny Marr was in the band

I can't verify the veracity of the offer or who it was from, but holy smokes, I can almost believe it. The Smiths are as legendary as they come. I do have a feeling Morrissey will acquiesce to a Smiths tour before he's out. I think he's just holding out to make people rabid, and to toy with Johnny Marr. He mentions whenever he can that Marr was the one responsible for the end of The Smiths when he wanted to keep on going. By most accounts Morrissey is full of pride and spite, so I draw my conclusions.

I do get tired of people saying the real reason is that Le Moz has too much integrity, and that he isn't making music for money, blah blah. Please, his tickets to his last show were running upwards of $85. So c'mon Mozzer -- the more you ignore this, the closer it gets. Take the easy way and give in.

And yes, while we're all sitting around incredulous, Morrissey is touring again, his "last [tour]...for the forseeable future." Riiight. 30 dates in the Americas, including 4 in a residency at the Fillmore in San Francisco and a whopping 10 at the Palladium in Hell-A. I may do it this time around, even for $65 (no one making music for the money here, eh?)

You know why I may go? Because yesterday I was listening to The Smiths' 'I Want the One I Can't Have' and 'This Charming Man' -- from Meat is Murder and The Smiths, respectively -- and these songs and albums are still as vital and visceral and perfect as when they were released in the early 80s. So if I can't see Johnny Marr play his incredible guitar jangle with the rest of The Smiths, I suppose holding out hope for hearing a few Smiths songs at least sung by Morrissey will have to do.

Or maybe I should reconsider in protest and just satisfy myself with this:

Johnny Marr at the end of 'Barbarism Begins at Home' -- wait for it. If only things could be that way again.

Labels: , , ,

beauty beauty beauty beautiful

500 years of female portraiture in Western art.


In case you didn't know...

...that Caltrans spent over $500,000 of California tax money to pay for something that could have been conveyed for far less if we just stopped pandering to the willfully clueless, now you do.

I get the need for some level of advertisement. And if you have driven on the freeway at all in NorCali in the last three weeks, you could not have missed those flashing signs on the side of the road screaming, "BAY BRIDGE CLOSED LABOR DAY WEEKEND!" But expensive color flyers and paid tv and radio and movie preview ads? Grrr, give me my hard earned money back! Hire one person to actually work at a State of California office to call churches, schools, and other community centers to get the word out! News and radio peeps will follow up -- for free -- because that's how news and community works.

But for those who've been hiding in a cave or on a six-month world cruise: The bridge will close at 8 p.m. Friday and reopen no later than 5 a.m. Tuesday.

It's cold, I know, but if you fall into these categories: while you may not deserve to have to turn around and drive to San Mateo to get into San Francisco, sometimes you gotta take one for the team.

I too have been stuck on the bridge -- which is HELL -- and also had to go 'round "the backdoor of the Bay" on the Golden Gate and Richmond/San Rafael to get home to sweet Oakland when they've been working on the Bay Bridge. So, when I have something to do in the city, now I check to see what I'm in for.

I can, however, get fully behind footing the bill for the insanely expensive BART trains for the weekend, and running them 24 hours. May even take a wee electric voyage myself over the weekend then.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saw the new Jet Li film, War, last night. Lured by the terrifying premise of an all-out gang war between a branch of the Yakuza and a Chinese Tong -- and thus the promise of kickass martial arts action -- we found instead the film was kind of a dud.

However, abysmal fims like Romeo Must Die and The One were saved significantly by the presence of Mr. Li, and this was no exception. While there was really bad acting, cliche after cliche, and hardly any hand-to-hand combat scenes (and waaaay too much gun play), the scenes with Jet Li showcase how fantastically cool he is. He really is smooth, and I think he should play bad more often.

Also, set in San Francisco yo!

The verdict: The Bourne Ultimatum did loads better with a mere PG-13. Wait for DVD.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I’ve mentioned before how very seriously Japanese take their bathroom activities. From the ubiquitous Toto Washlet found in so many homes with heated seat, bidet, and blow dry, to toilets in even the most run-down mall that serenade you with chirping birds while you do your business (or, rather, serenade the people sharing the bathroom with you), to Starbucks loos that are more luxurious than my Japanese apartment ever was, Japan has the market cornered on toilet tech.

If you are as fascinated with this as I am, check out the future wave of toire in today’s Japan Times.

A Toto darling is the advanced Apricot F5A featuring a fragrance dispenser, a light sensor so you know where to aim (an innovation for male users fumbling in dark bathrooms), a spotlight for reading (if you plan on a lengthy visit), and naturally, an embedded MP3 player.

A frikken mp3 player, yo. That cannot be good for you.

But watch out Toto!

Toto isn't the only Japanese firm hawking fancy toilets. Manufacturers like Matsushita and Inax have joined the battle to provide the most beneficial, hygienic, and luxurious lavatories. Some toilets take your blood pressure or conduct urine tests, then send the information to your family doctor. Other repositories blast cool air in summer and heat in winter. And still other highly superior sandboxes allow you to set the pressure of jet sprays designed to massage the rear.

I always thought the sexy toilets were only limited to “Western” style. Nope – this last trip I hunkered down in a train station WC over the traditional personal trough in the floor and lo and behold – soft music came out of nowhere to mask my tinkle. I looked around frantically to figure out how I triggered it, and my eyes finally settled on a metal plate anchored to the bottom of the trough. Stop tinkle, stop music. Genius! Well, except for what happens if it’s not a tinkle. And oh my, those poor repairmen.

Anyway, for future reading, Wikipedia has the BEST article on Japanese toilets around. Learn about toilet slippers and Otohime, and why no one seemed to care when some dude peed into the bushes next to where my hubby was sitting, in broad daylight in a crowded shopping area.

EDIT: OMG! You must see the Toto Washlet US website from the beginning. "Washlet is the bathroom feature with one fixation -- your happiness." Awesome.

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 20, 2007

I just finished a great book, The Horrific Sufferings of the Mind-Reading Monster Hercules Barefoot: His Wonderful Love and His Terrible Hatred, by Swedish author Carl-Johan Vallgren.

This is Vallgren's most recent book, and the first of his eight previously published in Swedish to be translated into English. He lives in Stockholm. But on page 280, the title character of the novel ends up living in the 4500 person county seat of my hometown county in California.

How about that?


Sunday, August 19, 2007

1) I just bought tickets to see Final Fantasy at The Independent in October. I am stoked!

On a seemingly unrelated note...

2) ...this weekend I picked up the brand spankin' new, 180 gram vinyl reissue of John Cale's 1973 album Paris 1919. This is another goodun from the excellent folks at 4 Men With Beards, who caused many a flurry of excitement when they recently reissued PIL's Metal Box.

Which, while a fetching prize, is not in my grubby little hands, but Paris 1919 is, and...

3) ...not only is one of my blog sidebar namesakes on this album, but the title track is one of my favorite John Cale songs ever. Yummier on warm, delicious vinyl -- curled up on the couch with tea or in the kitchen making something exquisite on a rainy Sunday afternoon required.

Leading me to the fact that...

4) ...Final Fantasy does a equally beautiful cover of this lovely gem, which I am very excited to see live in just a couple of months.

My conclusion?

5) Life is good!

For the uninitiated:

Paris 1919 by John Cale.

Paris 1919 covered by Owen Pallett (AKA Final Fantasy):

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Neil Gaiman reports that Stardust was deemed "Very Offensive" per a reviewer utilizing the moral ratings guide of the Christian Spotlight on Entertainment. I was curious to see what the criteria was for this rating, and it looks like it stems from the way women are treated in the film (geez -- classic fairy tale archetypes true to era anyone?) and, of course, the pagan aspects of Faerie.

Also curious to me was the going on and on about the horrible violence for a PG-13 film and the terrors of "fantasy violence," yet the site's sunny review of the excellent PG-13 violence-fest The Bourne Ultimatum doesn't admonish the film at all for its insuitability "for the children" and in fact deems it merely "Offensive."

I just wish Goody Hysteria would have left the Stardust review at problems with the heathens and the presentation of any worldview outside of Christianity, because we all know that's the real stinker. The hypocrisy of padding out the review with the other bits to be more well-rounded in criticism is just laughable.

Anyway, there are bigger fish to fry, heathen-hunters! Can't wait for wild-eyed hysterics over the upcoming PG-13 holiday film The Golden Compass. Never mind the daemons and organized religion-power-trippin' story -- the bits concerning The Authority can't get much more in your face for misguided people who are constantly sniffing around for "threats" to their faith. Won't say more in order to keep y'all who haven't read the series by Philip Pullman in the dark, but let's just say oh glorious impending trainwreck.

Don't hate me for saying this, but I didn't care for the book. But check this trailer yo!

Going to hike, laze around, eat caramel apples, get a massage, and see Immortal Technique this Friday and Saturday in Santa Cruz. Can't wait!

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Apparently, this rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

sex (12x)
hell (6x)
crack (5x)
pain (3x)
kill (2x)
knife (1x)

...none of which should, in my opinion, make baby Jesus cry, but hey, what do I know?

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, August 13, 2007

When I read things like this I want to seriously move far away from the Bay Area to a cabin in the woods and never come out.

Spa camp? For children? Is this for real? Or is it something conjured up by Fox News to make the Bay Area look even more insane?

"This class is good for little kids because they need to relax more," [Maggie, 6], said, lifting her handmade lavender-scented eye mask for an interview. She said her anxiety comes from arguments with her parents over going to bed when she wants to stay up and read her mystery books. Another stressor is struggling with new tasks, like washing the dishes.

"I can do it for like 15 minutes, then I start feeling like I can't, and I have to take a five-minute break. I use that method to get through it," she said.

Sorry sweetie, but your parents telling you what to do isn't something that facilitates being so stressed that you need self-indulgence reserved for adults with real stress in order to deal. I hope this is being conveyed to her; otherwise, this is just nurturing psychosis around normal childhood. You know what works well for kids (and some adults too?) Get off the Wii and go outside. Jump around. Make mud pies. Eat ice cream. Anything but wallow in how much you need pampering and a eye pillow at age 6.

But you know, I bet life is a real bitch if your parents send you to spa camp. I can only assume any 6 year-old having her normal anxieties pandered to like they're going to destroy her is not getting modeling nor encouragement of healthy coping mechanisms in the first place. Poor thing's gonna prolly need therapy to deal with the injustice of real life -- that you can't take a 5 minute break every 15 minutes when you have responsibilities. Never mind the cruelty that is learning new tasks and adapting successfully without needing shiatsu or a lavender sachet at every turn.

It is utter shite like this that makes me truly feel like we're devolving.

And y'all just know leviathans and such are marking time until that happens, when they will flood the earth and take over, and we'll all be screwed. Man, that's when we'll need those killer robots to do battle for us. Hope the humans that end up with the "technology over all" part of human devolvement get those suckers online in time.

Um, camp for kids bad! :)

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The world is getting crazier and crazier.

I'm starting to feel like I never thought I would -- like my parents, willfully left behind in the technological free-for-all. I suppose it's just another enduring natural cycle, like my increasingly frequent cane-shaking at what tripe the kids listen to nowadays. Tragic.

Crap music and Second Life, that is. :)

Also notable today, from the hometown:

8:46 p.m., Jamestown — A woman on the 18700 block of Highway 108 said her husband's twin brother was tearing their house apart and that she never knew he had a twin.

Hee! Must. Use. Someday.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, August 09, 2007

'scuse me, is you sayin' something?

Labels: , ,

Violet Blue, SFGate sex columnist, takes a tongue in *ahem* cheek look at ultra right wing sexual fetishes.

While a sort of trite regurgitation of things we already know about the ultra right wing and their treatment of sex (the more you condemn, the nastier you prolly are), the greatest thing about this article was finding out that when you Google Santorum you still get this and not this as your numero uno hit. Proper.

Okay, and while her article was blowing some well-deserved snark up the asses of scary conservatives like Rick Santorum, she has a serious point. It is ridiculous that many consensual sexual acts between adults are linked to moral legislation by pounding the pulpit lawmakers, which results in a very narrow and unrealistic view of sexuality being served up as a litmus test for how upright and "good" someone is.

Ugh, so listen up otaku -- while I still think anigao is creepy as fuck and totally not conducive to healthy relationships, I guess I got your (creepy-ass) back.

Also, can I get an amen for this:

Disney movies have shown my friend's 4-year-old how to strike freakishly provocative poses, yet give her no tools to know not to do that in front of strange men at the mall. How about instead of "OMG sex!" in the media and hiding sex "for the children", instead we give accurate sex information, and provide kids with tools to navigate the sexuality they're already encountering in the world?

I'm not so knee-jerk that I think plain old conservatives, social or otherwise, are idiots, but why oh why aren't these facts an across the political spectrum thing?

Yeah yeah, I get that people want to be responsible for their own kids' sexual education, but face it, so often it just doesn't happen. So, moral busybodies: get an excuse slip for your kid and leave the parents alone who want comprehensive sex education taught to their kids.

And everybody should check this Good Vibrations sponsored reference guide of sites that promote knowledge-based sex education for teens.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, August 06, 2007

You have to check out this interactive subway map -- based on Tokyo's excellent subway map and system -- that details the world's top 200 Web sites, color-coded by genre. It is fitting that the Googleverse gets the all-night hot spots of Shinjuku and Shibuya. Too cool.

I love the trains in Japan. And while I hate noise pollution, a big part of my love for Nihon no densha (aside from the fact that they are almost never late) are the musical codes for when the train is arriving, departing, etc. A friend of mine once made a video of his travels in Japan and he ended it with the song for an incoming train. It actually brought a tear to my eye. Sounds strange, I know, but hearing it always makes me want to be there at this very moment.

So ingrained is the Japanese railway system in my mind with good times that I am very very tempted to purchase this crazy Yamanote Line clock. Green like the Yamonote line traincars and map route, it features the stations around the face and wakes you with the song for a departing train. Brilliant.

Christmas is only 4 months away. Just sayin'.

Labels: ,

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The day to honor the honorable but human has arrived at sine qua non. Check it, yo:

Saw The Bourne Ultimatum this weekend. Not the best of the three, but you gotta love the badass that is Jason Bourne, even though Matt Damon tends to give me a rash. Mmmmm...competent, honorable men who just happen to be trained killers.

Speaking of -- you must watch this, full screen, with your speakers on HIGH. This is why Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune are legends, and the music for victory is metal.

Okay, and while I was shopping today, I heard some lady at the grocery store call her kid Lando. You gots to respect!

And some kid with a mouthful of grill accidentally spit on my hoodie while I was riding my bike home. I stopped to ask him WTF? and I was thinking "aw shit, this is it, the time to use my U-Lock as a deadly weapon has arrived. I'm going to have to get in a frikken brawl with some scary-ass 16 year-old and I'm either going to jail or the hospital." But he totally apologized -- TWICE! -- in front of his friend and cleaned off my sweater with his sweater, and then gave me the friendliest smile ever. No joke, I was so shocked I thanked him for saying sorry.

I felt kind of bad that my first reaction was that it was brawling time. Just another sucker, I was. Honor abounds, in real life. Something to think about.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Went to a preview of Stardust tonight. Now, I don't know if it was the heavy pimping that creator Neil Gaiman was doing on his blog (heavy self-advertisement from someone as universally loved and famously level-headed as Neil Gaiman I tend to regard at times as more trepidation than triumph for some strange reason) or if it was my pessimism about most comic book movies getting to me, but I was bracing myself for a disappointment.

Well, if I were Mr. Gaiman, I would have been working it like he was too. He must be, quite honestly, very proud. Stardust the film was a perfect reproduction of the 4-part series beautifully rendered by Charles Vess. No over the top special effects for special effects sake, no fart jokes or animals voiced by Eddie Murphy inserted to play to the lowest common denominator. Just a superior story told through picturesque sets, wondrous special effects with an eye toward restraint and beauty rather than "look what we can do," nicely done action sequences, and classic character archetypes. Especially impressive -- no dumbing it down "for the children." It was, in fact, a great family film, and also a very romantic love story. Casting choices were lovely. Robert DeNiro and Michelle Pfeiffer were absolutely amazing. In a word: quality.

I love stories that can so seamlessly transport you into a fantasy world and hold you there, rapt, right up until the final page. If you are familiar with Gaiman, it goes without saying that he has a gift for conjuring forth vibrant, whimsical, exhilirating, and dangerous fantasy worlds -- but with just enough of the real to seduce and allow your imagination building rights on it. And the fans' imaginations do run wild. That is why it is such a daunting task to try to put Gaiman's -- and so many other beloved authors' -- creations to film. So to take this story and make such a successful visual of it, that's something. Lovely lovely film.

Alan Moore, take note -- Neil was a producer on this one.

Labels: , , , ,