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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Japan's Bunny Rabbit Movement

I had a rabbit for a pet when I was a kid... a little black male rabbit named Happy. When we gave him to a rabbit farm for a better life, he was immediately jumped on and humped, thereby confirming that my family had no way of telling a male female from a male rabbit. Sorry... no photos... I think.

By the way... have you ever seen rabbit poop? It looks just like Coco Pebbles or Count Chocula, two cereals I refused to eat for years after we got rid of Happy... and now they don't make either cereal anymore.
A different type of rabbit movement created this poop.

Of course, there is still Nesquik.
To me, this is just weird... a male (?) rabbit chowing down on a Nesquik cereal that may or may not look just like rabbit poop.
I’ve never been sure of just why Japan likes rabbits.

Then again... who besides a certain black duck and a certain bull doesn’t love rabbits?
Ahhhh... Bully For Bugs... one of my favorites... but you have to watch the original cartoon... not the edited crap they usually have on TV nowadays. What a nincowpoop.

But still Japan, like it does with anything it becomes involved in, prefers to take things to another level.

For example:

There are rabbit cafes where you can go and have a coffee and pet a bunny.. though I would avoid spilling hot java on one, less you get a hot, cross bunny. Sorry… that’s an Easter joke. Too soon.

Then there’s the Ōkunoshima Island, an island inhabited with thousands of the furry buggers - enough to drive  Elmer Fudd wild with NRA desire.  I think. In the US, you are allowed to hunt with your guns, aren’t you?
... that moment just before they attack... and they smell your fear.
And then there’s Usagi Yojimbo, a famous indie comic book in the west about a samurai rabbit - love that book.  But why a rabbit?

And… I’m pretty sure that when I was in Japan I saw one hockey game that featured two Japan League teams, one of whom was wearing a yellow jersey with a cartoonish rabbit’s head as the main logo. Oh yeah… the Seibu Prince Rabbits.

Suzuki Takahito (surname first) - captain of the Seibu Prince Rabbits.
Which brings me to today’s topic… a Japanese music group known as Takeshi Terauchi And Bunnys

Terauchi Takeshi (surname first, 寺内タケシ) was born January 17, 1939 in Tsuchiura-shi (Tsuchiura City), Ibaraki-ken (Ibaraki Prefecture), Japan.

Sometimes known as Terry, he is a superb instrumental rock guitarist. His preferred guitar is a black Mosrite with a white pickguard with a sound characterized by frenetic picking, heavy use of tremolo picking, and frequent use of his guitar's vibrato arm.

Terauchi started his career playing rhythm guitar for a country and Western act "Jimmie Tokita and The Mountain Playboys", which had bassist Chosuke Ikariya.

In 1962 he formed his first group, The Blue Jeans.

However, in 1966 he left the group and formed Takeshi Terauchi And Bunnys. Their first album - with a YouTube link to the music, was called Seichô Terauchi Bushi, which apparently means "Let's Go Bushi"...

There's not much information on Terauchi... so I'll just borrow from Wikipedia

In May 1967, he started up his own record company called "Teraon".

He won the "arrangement award" with the song "Let's Go Unmei" at the 9th Japan Record Awards in 1967.

He left the Bunnys in 196 and reformed the Blue Jeans in 1969 - and are still playing together now.

Wow... how badly did the guys in the Bunny's piss this guy off?

 Anyhow... here's the full album: Seichô Terauchi Bushi:



To be fair, I may actually have listened to a Liverpool, UK music ground known as Echo and the Bunnymen...a sortta pseudo-punk of its era... though I don't hear it much now.



In 1981, Terauchi was awarded The United Nations Peace Medal.

That's nice. Why did he get this award?

I decided to look this up: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Peace_Medal

While three Japanese people have been awarded the United Nations Peace Medal, there's no Terauchi on this list.

Anyhow... I'll just leave things at that and hop away back to my hole in the ground.

Ohhhh, there ain't no place like a hole in the ground,
Andrew Joseph
I'm pretty sure I know what's up, doc... but she's a Rabbit through marriage only. That lucky, lucky Roger.
 PS: And because we are talking about rabbits... let's end with the world's most famous bunny... no, not Jessica Rabbit, but Bugs Bunny:


 
PPS: This blog was originally going to just be about the guitar group... but the next thing I knew it was about something else, and then another and another and then another...

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Japan's Reparations Of WW2


I was recently reading one of those annoying but popular lists of famous something or another, and noticed at the bottom of it an article that said you needed at least an IQ of 130 to do well on this WW2 quiz.

Well, mine is a shade under the level of 150, making me a sub-genius and proving once and for all that I am one of those classic under achievers. I know that, at least.

Anyhow, I began to take the quiz and whoop-dee-doo, I was answering everything correctly. In my mind it was more about being old than being knowledgeable.

Still, when I got to a question regarding when Germany made its last WW2 reparations payments, I was bamboozled, guessing at 1960, and completely missing that it was sometime in 2010...

And then I decided to look up and see when Japan made its final WW2 reparations payments.

After WWII, it was estimated by the Allies that Japan had lost 42 percent of its national wealth. Therefore in 1951, Japan signed a treaty which would work for both sides.

Signed in San Francisco 1951, the 'Treaty of Peace with Japan', meant that "Japan will transfer its assets and those of its nationals in countries which were neutral during the war, or which were at war with any of the Allied Powers, or, at its option, the equivalent of such assets, to the International Committee of the Red Cross which shall liquidate such assets and distribute the resultant fund to appropriate national agencies."

Article 14 states: "Japan should pay reparations to the Allied Powers for the damage and suffering caused by it during the war. Japan will promptly enter into negotiations with Allied Powers".

So what does all that mean?

While one apparently can't measure human life and suffering in dollars and cents, victors of war apparently gave it a pretty good shot.

Reparation amounts for Japan were, to:
  • Philippines: US$550 million (¥198-billion), and were made in 1956;
  • Vietnam: US$39 million (¥14.04 billion), made in 1959);
  • International Committee of the Red Cross to compensate prisoners of war (POW): US$6.67 million (¥4.54109 billion) was made.
As well, Japan agreed to relinquish all overseas assets, amounting to US$23.681 billion (¥379.499 billion). Yowza.

Regarding Article 14, Japan signed a peace treaty with a total of 49 countries in 1952, and then concluded bilateral agreements with the following countries:
  1. Burma - US$20 million in 1963;
  2. Cambodia - unknown amount in 1959;
  3. Denmark - unknown amount, unknown date, of completion;
  4. Indonesia - US$223.08 million in 1958;
  5. Korea (Republic of) - US$300 million in 1965;
  6. Laos - unknown amount in 1958;
  7. Malaysia - $25 million Malaysian dollars (¥2.94 billion) in 1967);
  8. Micronesia - unknown amount in 1969;
  9. Mongolia - unknown amount in 1977;
  10. Netherlands - US$10 million in 1956;
  11. Philippines - US525 million US dollars (¥52.94 billion) in 1967;
  12. Spain - US$5.5 million in 1957;
  13. Sweden - unknown amount, unknown date of completion;
  14. Thailand - ¥5.4 billion in 1955).
The actual payments to some of these countries began in 1955, and apparently ended in 1977.

Some countries which could have insisted on reparation payments said don't worry about it:
  • China (People's Republic of): 1972 via a Joint Communiqué of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People's Republic of China;
  • USSR: 1956 via the Soviet-Japanese Joint Declaration.
I think in these two cases that each was hoping to lure Japan over to the red side of communism - especially a country that had shown complete disdain for the west and the Allied nations during WWII.

If you were look at the dollar/yen amounts paid out to some of these countries - even by 1950s economic standards, they seem small.

Perhaps this time, however, the Allied nations learned from their horrible mistake against Germany following the Great War (WWI), when the penalties imposed on that country led to hyper inflation where it was cheaper to wipe one's butt with a 1-million Deutsch Mark bill than to purchase toilet paper.

I'm not exaggerating.

Anyhow, the German poverty that was seen by its populace was staggering. It wasn't the people who were to blame for Germany's actions during the war... that was the leadership.

Regardless, the hyperinflation caused by its forced reparations payments also bred a new type of political party - National Socialism... the Nazi Party and the rise of Adolph Hitler who was able to prey on German pride to allow it to haul itself up from the mud it have been living in in the decade immediately after the war.

You don't have to like what Hitler did, but he did what he had to do to bring Germany and its people strength.

Again... I'm not saying the ends justify the means, but the fact remains post-WWI Germany was totally screwed by the victors.

It's why Allied nations such as the US took a keen interest in Japan and helped prop up its economy post WWII.

You can hate Japan all you like, but the U.S. government saved that country after the war to make it an economic superpower by the 1980s.

While all countries listed above state that the WWII war reparations with Japan to be concluded, small factions within both South Korea and China do not accept their payoff as being significant enough and continue to try and battle in the court of law for further pay-outs.

For the record, I decided to look up other sources other than that quiz to see when Germany made its last WW2 payments... and the correct answer is that no one is sure because no one is exactly sure what amounts are owed.

Toss in the fact that Greece recently began making noise about suing Germany in 2015 for reparations for WW2, while my answer is not correct, none of the options given were correct either.

It sounds like a money grab to me - the Greece thing...

Similar to the situation with Greece, Israel's finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, announced in 2009 that he wanted Germany to pay between 450 million to 1 billion euros in reparations for Jews forced into slave labor during the Holocaust – despite the fact that Germany had paid off their allocated debt to Israel.

And, lest one think that only Japan and Germany were part of the so-called Axis Of Evil, along with major partner Italy, other currently well-respected countries were part of it too, and were told to pay up:
  • Italy - US$360 million;
  • Finland - US$300 million;
  • Hungary - US$300 million;
  • Romania - US$300 million;
  • Bulgaria - US$70 million.
Yes, the so-called Axis of Evil of Germany-Italy-Japan was more than the sum of its parts.

In fact, of all of the countries required to make WW2 reparations payments, only Finland is thought to have actually completed the matter.

And yet some 73 years after WW2's final round of artillery, who here has not a friend from at least one of those countries? Or from the countries making up the Allied Forces?

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Monday, February 26, 2018

Vere Ist Der Apple Jews?

The above apple drink from Mr. Juicy is NOT a Japanese drink, and I only include it here because the drink utilized a variety of apple known as Fuji Apple...

The Fuji apple is an apple hybrid developed by growers at Tohoku Research Station in Fujisaki-machi (Fujisaki Town), Aomori-ken (Aomori Prefecture), Japan, in the late 1930s, and brought to market in 1962.

Before being grown as its own variety, the Tohoku Research Station created it by crossing two American apple varieties: the Red Delicious and old Virginia Ralls Genet (sometimes cited as "Rawls Jennet") apples.

Anyhow... I know it's not just me, but when Mr. Juicy rebranded itself in August of 2014 with imagery to stand out on the grocery store shelf in Hong Kong, it seems to have done so with fellow WWII Axis member Adolph Hitler (of Germany).

Yes... the Fuji Apple flavor of Mr. Juicy appears to adorned with der Fuehrer, himself.

Seriously... there's a reason no one wears that mustache style anymore... Hitler... one of the most vile individuals to have ever walked upon this planet.

Yes, before Hitler, comedians such as Charlie Chaplin and Oliver Hardy (Laurel & Hardy) had the tiny mustache... unique features that made each instantly recognizable as they would wiggle it on screen to comedic relief.... until Hitler came around and made sure that the only people who could dare wear it would be a guy who had a full mustache, and was shaving it off... guys will always (usually) (or is it just me) shave off the ends to recreate that Hitler 'stache... only to reluctantly shave it off moments later as common sense and common decency wins out.

And then there's Mr. Juicy.

Does the Mr. Juicy brand owner believe that 70+ years is enough for the world to get over Hitler, and that it's okay to bring back his mini mustache... or this was simply their attempt to NOT look like Hitler and failed with the mini mustache...

... after all the character on the bottle seems to be wearing samurai garb as he is in the process of replacing his katana sword back in its scabbard after slicing the Japanese Fuji apple...

Mr. Juicy fails. There's that Hitler hair.

Seriously... a Japanese Hitler in samurai garb and sword cutting up a Fuji apple replete with Hitler mustache and hair...

Who do you blame?

Client: Citrus Growers International;
Brand: Mr. Juicy;
Creative Agency: The Gate Worldwide;
Creative Team: Denise Wong, Sonic Choy, Kym Ma, Cecilia Lam, Lai Ming Lok;
Account Management Team: Maggie Wong, Rachel Chan, Janice Ng;
Illustrator: Suntur.

Seriously... did no one look at the artwork and say... hey... Suntur... this dude looks like Hitler?

If they said that they were only following creative orders from The Gate Worldwide, then there is more shame to blame. Even to Citrus Growers International... I don't care if everyone involved is only 30 years old or younger... we're talking about one of the most infamous faces of evil.

For shame.


Holy crap... even the apple beside the bottle looks like Hitler.
In the photo above that shows the three-bottle rebranding of Mr. Juicy, we have the Hitler Apple Jews, sorry juice, the guy in the middle hawking Orange, and the sweaty guy on the right pumping iron selling a low-sugar orange version.

Okay... that's all for now. No need for me to get up in arms about an almost four-year-old rebranding in Hong Kong. But people... WTF?!

I don't have a problem with the samurai garb for the Fuji Apple flavor - very smart... but no one wears that mustache style or that hair style in Japan... you could easily have utilized a classic blue scalp:
Artists have been using the blue to represent a shaved scalp on a warrior for centuries.
Or, failing that, they could have had the juice bottle figure wear a warrior helmet:
The Japanese kabuto warrior bonnet is one of the most recognizable helmets in warfare, along with the German/Prussian Pickelhaube - spiked helmet.
No... I think Mr. Juicy's people screwed up.

And... here's a story that made the news on February 28, 2018... which to me is over-blown, as I don't think the product looks like Hitler... http://torontosun.com/news/world/difficult-to-comment-polish-company-receives-backlash-for-hitler-sock-design/wcm/3d33631b-da9a-4689-88f3-ad7a134b7443  


 I suppose there's a likeness... but not like on Mr. Juicy!

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Take A Vacation On A Floating Hotel

I haven't gone on a vacation since maybe 2006, since just after my son was born, and in retrospect, I shouldn't have gone that time, either.

I went to Chicago for a few days to deal with the comic book convention there, as a last-ditch attempt to have a comic book written by my self recognized as being the funniest thing since sliced bread.

Not a high target, as sliced bread is notoriously unfunny.

Usually whenever I have time off, I have to spend it at home... and for whatever reason, everyone else is home too, so I can't even veg out in front of the TV playing LEGO Indiana Jones on the PS3 (I hate the PS4). So I have to do stuff.

i also had a bunch of writing to do for work, which sticks in my craw... plus I had to do my writing for this blog, and for Pioneers of Aviation...

I'm probably reaching terminal burnout soon enough, as baseball season started last weekend (indoor practices), for which I am a coach, plus the outdoor hockey season is still on for a couple of weeks more.

Whatever... I suppose I should continue to enjoy while I still can...

Still... there a part of me that recalls the three years I spent in Japan... and every time I got to that stressful tipping point, I would stop, look around and think: "I'm in Japan!"

Even then I knew that the odds I would ever return once I left would be slim to none, as I would have a job, a home and a family, each with its own financial burdens.

As such, I did my best to enjoy every blessed moment I could in Japan... not really giving a sh!t about what others thought (or so I told myself).

While it's true I often went on "vacation" through Japan, not being one of those foreigners who would simply use the country as a blasting off point for other international destinations. Sure, I did that, but it was also imperative for me to see as much of Japan as possible.

I did not see Hokkaido... that huge island to the north... but what the hell... I figured that scenery-wise, it would just look like Northern Ontario, and I've been there-done that a few times.

One of the more epic trips I took in Japan was with Ashley, as we traveled by bullet train (shinkansen) down from Nasushiyobara to Tokyo, and then west to ... Nagasaki, I think... and from there, we took a boat across the Seto Inland Sea to Kyushu where we traveled around in the humid, rain.

It always rained when I traveled in Japan. It's why they called me the ame otoko (rain man).

So... long story shortened, what we have here is something I wish was available to me 26 years ago... a floating hotel that takes visitors across the Seto Inland Sea.

Created by Japanese architectural studio Yasushi Horibe, the beautiful hotel called "Guntu" is inspired by traditional Japanese architecture and features wooden interiors amongst its 19-room hotel.

"A tranquil journey unique to the Seto Inland Sea can be found here at this little hotel," says Guntu. "Time passes slowly on board, enveloped in the refreshing fragrance and gentle warmth of wood.
When you enter your cabin, exquisite views of the Seto Inland Sea spread before your eyes."

I'm paying how much for this non-gaijin-friendly seat?
Along with the 19 guest rooms, there's a scenic guest lounge with open view of the sea, plus a restaurant, a sushi and cocktail bar, a gym, sauna, spa, relaxation zones and a stunning rooftop terrace.
Should you become bored of screwing your mistress or boy toy, one can always come up for air to visit the outdoor dining terrace. Spectacular! Maybe next time you'll take your spouse. Nawwwwww.
And all with a beautiful nautical view surrounding you.
Your view from your bed... the headboard at the forefront of the photo...
There are three levels of cabin available, rich, very rich, and stupid rich (my terminology):
  • Guntu Suite (stupid rich) offers 90 square meters (969 square feet) of space as the largest cabin. I believe there is only one;
  • Grand Suites (very rich) is the mid-range, and offers the widest berth at 80 square meters (861 square -feet), not to mention the widest balcony. Suck on that, stupid rich!;
  • Terrace Suites are 50-square-meter (538-square-foot) cabins that allow one to up-size to a room with an open-air bath. I only assume there's some sort of protective covering... unless it's like when I used to own my own condo apartment on the 17th floor, and would just stand there at the large wall-to-wall-to-ceiling window dressed only in my birthday suit.
Further full disclosure: I was in such good shape at that time, that you could have bounced a silver dollar off my backside and got four quarters in change. Now, not so much... I might owe you 40 cents. 

Each of these three types of suite comes with a double bedroom, a private outdoor terrace with lounge area, mini bar (NEVER order from the mini bar), full en suite with shower and an outdoor bathtub.
Your own private bath... towel and stuff flapping in the breeze.

The Guntu floating hotel departs from Onomichi City, in Hiroshima-ken with trips up to three nights available to guests.

Prices start from ¥400,000 (US$3,780) per night for two guests, including all meals and access to on-board facilities and services.

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream...
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dreammmmmm,

Andrew Joseph
PS: For all you Alice in Wonderland fans, and who isn't: Don't wake the Red King.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Pet Sweat - The Japanese Drink For Pets - Updated


I'm unsure if Pocari Sweat was the worst drink I ever had while in Japan... it may have been because i predisposed not to like it because it had the word "sweat" in its brand name.

All I can tell you is that even though I might have been dehydrated, regardless of its supposed hydrating promise, the taste was horrible.

That's just my opinion, and need not be yours.

As for the drink pictured in the photo above, we have Pocari Pet Sweat - no, not for people, rather it's a drink for pets... and judging by the graphic on teh label - just for dogs.

Considering my last dog would sometimes eat his own poo, he might actually enjoy Pet Sweat, a drink cultivated expressly for dogs that work out.

Most dogs that are active, will sweat... or at least that's sorta what the whole panting, tongue hanging out thing is about.

Would Pet Sweat actually be helpful to a panting dog? Sure.

Would said dog consider it a horrible taste? Not my poop eating dog, surely. Pet Sweat is calcium-fortified water.

If you've ever had water that was heavy in calcium - IE from poor taps, you might not think that having calcium in a drink is good for you.... but perhaps it's okay.. in limited doses.

For example, a person sitting on their butt watching the Olympics should probably not drink Gatorade... because the body doesn't require the salts that are in it. (I like Blue flavor.)

(Yes, I know blue is not a flavor.)

But how about calcium-fortified water for your pet? When does the dog need that extra calcium? Why isn't water good enough? Just what sort of activities is your dog doing that requires an injection of calcium in its water?

Only you the pet owner who gives their pet Pet Sweat can answer that.

Still.. there's probably a reason why this drink hasn't caught on in North America... or Europe...

Anyhow... neither it seems did Pet Sweat catch on in Japan... as this 2008 debut doesn't seem to be around now.

Fortunately, no animals were harmed in the making of this blog.

By the way... for my poo-eating dog... I would slip him a Listerine breath strip to at least freshen that breath should he come near me. I like to think it worked and killed any bacteria in his mouth that was there from his horrible, horrible meal.

Addendum: Hours after this was publisher, General Mills announced the purchase of Blue Buffalo Pet Products, a "wholesome" pet food manufacturing company for a cool US$8-billion

Shows what I know... perhaps Pet Sweat was simply ahead of its time...


Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Japanese Owl Flies Down Parking Lot At 100 kph In 1.89 seconds

Hmmm, maybe those headlights give the Owl the owl appearance.
The Aspark Owl supercar. Who?

Puns aside, the Japanese supercar, the Owl,… an electric car… recently ran a 1.89 second 0-100 kilometers per hour (0-62 miles per hour) - an absolutely stupid speed done February 11, 2018 in some place in Tochigi-ken, my old home prefecture.
Sadly, this is the nicest back end I've seen in a while. It's winter hear in Toronto.

The Owl hit the triple-digits after just 27 meters (88 feet). What’s impressive, is that the speed run wasn’t even done on a real race track. It was done in a parking lot, as the electric (!!!) car took off with a non-classical automobile whine and just as quickly the driver had to slam the brakes less he slam into a wall directly in front of him.

You can see a YouTube video of it HERE.
Look at that side-paneling... not sure if there's anything there resembling an Owl, but who the heck cares?

The 1.89 second achievement makes it .01 seconds faster than what the Tesla Roadster can do, the Elon Musk car company that says it has a top speed of over 250 miles per hour (402.3 kilometers per hour) and a single charge range of 620 miles (997.8 kilometers).  

Now, to be fair, the Owl did use hot tires in this test run, but whatever…

When it comes to supercars and top speeds, a truism is that electric vehicles have a virtually limitless potential top speed with the greatest limitation being the tire to street interface.

In two years time, Aspark plans on bringing the Owl into production for us average people with US$4 million-plus in their pocket to purchase - with plans to offer 50 vehicles.
Gull wings are always way more cool than scissor or butterfly doors, but I have a fondness for suicide doors, though that wouldn't have looked good on the Owl.

These sleek looking cars have gull wings, a true digital dashboard, and a steering wheel that has more buttons on it than when you tried to BeDazzle that sweater back in the 1980s with sequins. Okay, sequins aren’t buttons, but I just wanted to utilize the BeDazzler.


Weighing an unladen (no driver) 850 kilograms (1,874 pounds), the carbon-fiber Owl’s maximum power output is one 429 horsepower (320kW)… or for you grease monkeys who believe torque is more important, it has 764 Nm (563 pounds - feet) of torque.

Right-hand drive? Ugh.
The car runs on a 300-volt, 2,000 amp 4-wheel drive system powered by a combination of supercapacitors and batteries with an as yet unknown capacity or range.

Should you buy one? Maybe.. but the Tesla Roadster which will be more readily available is only going to cost my next wife a mere US $200,000, and will have four seats, meaning that unlike the Owl, you will NOT have to open the door, lie on the ground and roll in.

I'm not sure if this is comfortable seating or something to prevent the G-forces from turning your front into your back.
For the extra one or 2/100ths of a second, you will get a Tesla that is generally a car that you could drive the whole family in, especially those with the standard 2.2 kids… and you can still have enough oomph to pull into a parking space to make sure no one snipes that space you were waiting for.

Best work on your braking, however.  

Still… for now, the Owl rules the asphalt. 

Banzaiiiiiiiiiiii,
Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

100 Million People Could Die - And Japan Is At The Heart Of It!

Did you know that down in the ocean  - part of Japan - there's a lava dome that could potentially erupt and kill over 100 million people?

That's 1/76th of the world's current population of 7.6 billion as of December of 2017.

Thanks, Japan.

Okay... but how likely is it to actually erupt and kill all of these people? Scientists peg that percentage at a measly one percent.

Uh... that's actually quite high, if one actually thinks about it.

And just how accurate is that one percent number? It's not like scientists can actually predict when or where or how hard a volcanic system will erupt!

The lava dome, which is inside an underwater volcano was discovered by the Kobe Ocean-Bottom Exploration Center (KOBEC), locating it approximately 50 kilometers (~30 miles) south of the Satsuma Peninsula in Kagoshima Prefecture.

The lava dome is about 610 meters (2,000 feet) high and 9.66 kilometers (six miles) in diameter... so it's a big mammajamma.

Kagoshima Bay itself is actually something called the Aira Caldera (姶良カルデラ, Aira-Karudera). A caldera, as opposed to a volcanic crater, is a huge depression in the ground which formed after a previous supervolcanic eruption. As the magma chamber emptied, the ground above sank in and partially filled the hole left behind.
  
According to KOBEC head professor Tatsumi Yoshiyuki (surname first) in speaking to Japan newspaper The Mainichi: “Although the probability of a gigantic caldera eruption hitting the Japanese archipelago is one percent in the next 100 years, it is estimated that the death toll could rise to approximately 100 million in the worst case scenario.”

Does that imply that it's at two percent over the next two hundred years, or is it like the way we measure earthquakes, and go up by a level of 10 per 0.1 magnitude?

And really - again - one percent over the next 100 years... so it could be the next 10 years, and an even higher percentage...

While an ordinary volcano is triggered (we think) by internal mechanisms such as magma pressure build-up up over time, whereby it punches through the rock....

A supervolcano is triggered by going's on above the Earth’s crust.

Considering it has a large magma chamber below it, just its weight alone can cause it to become unstable and to form cracks and faults.

Via the faults, magma can create a chain reaction that could lead to an explosion which could extinguish a whole lotta life on the planet... maybe even all life.

So how can you tell when a supervolcano will explode? You can hazard a guess... and that's all.  


And for all you hypochondriacs out there, there's a supervolcano out in the U.S., as well. Out in Yellowstone National Park, where that self-same volcanic system last erupted 600,000 years ago... and while a volcano is usually considered to be extinct if it has blown up in 10,000 years, the Yellowstone National Park is a hub of volcanic-like activity.

Ever heard of Old Faithful, the hydrothermal geyser that erupts like clockwork every few hours?

That's part of it.

Grand Prismatic Spring, one of the geothermal features of the Yellowstone Caldera. Photo by Brocken Inaglory/Wikimedia CC-by-SA 3.0

But it's not ready to explode just yet... it takes a few decades for the volcanic system to become hyper enough to explode in an eruption.

Scientists do not believe that the Yellowstone supervolcano will erupt for at least another 1,000 years.

But again... how do you know?

There's also a supervolcano in Long Valley, California, one in New Mexico, one in Sumatra Indonesia, one around the North Island New Zealand,  and one under Naples Italy.

Nowhere is a safe spot. Maybe Africa. Yeah... the cradle of humanity...  but the southernmost part.

Okay, so some 100 million people could die if the Japan Kagoshima supervolcano erupts... how do we know that?

After the explosion comes severe pyroclastic flows of a fluidized mixture of solid and semi-solid fragments of rock, ash and incredibly hot expanding gases which act similarly to a snow avalanche.Have you ever seen the "statuary" of Pompei?
The casts of the corpses of a group of human victim of the 79 AD eruption of the Vesuvius, found in the so-called “Garden of the fugitives” in Pompeii. Image by Lancevortex - Own work.
Now... just because you live a long ways away from the volcano, in a supervolcano's pyroclastic flow, the ash is so stupidly hot that it would turn back into lava as soon as it hit the ground... and consider that a supervolcano can push ash hundreds of miles away (100 miles  = 161 kilometers). That means, that even if you are say... 500 kilometers (310 miles) away, you could be showered with lava.

This map refers to the fall out from a possible Yellowstone volcanic eruption. For reference in gold, is the spread of ash from Mount St. Helens back in 1980. 

Should you have survived this onslaught, next comes the winter that never ends, as ash enters our atmosphere and effectively acts as a shield blocking out the warming rays of the sun... dropping the temperature on the planet, as well as effectively stopping plant growth...  

Anyhow... you can see a teeny tiny video below describing the Japanese supervolcano.... though you probably will have learned more just from reading the above....  


You're gonna need Sunscreen 2 billion, I think. 
Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Ultraman And Me


When I was a kid - pre-teen - somewhere around the age of seven or eight, I was lucky enough to have watched the Japanese kid sci-fi show Ultraman on television here in Toronto. That's Ultraman performing his special Ultra Beam (ウルトラビーム, Urutora Bīmu).

Ultraman was awesome.

My friend Umberto D. and I would watch it at either his place or mine - on Channel 29, back when we had to turn the main dial to UHF, and then use the TV's second dial to crank it around to find the station... and then adjust the other knobs to make it come in properly from its signal in Grand Island, New York.

While I was always intrigued by the Carvel ice cream commercials that were delivered by the monotone voice-over - probably the owner describing how delicious the ice cream Cookie Puss and Fudgie the Whale was, Umberto and I were fascinated by this weird Japanese television show, Ultraman.

I wish I could find the real old 1970s commercials for Carvel... still, this one has THE man. The fact that myself and my wife can still recall his voice - that tells you how effective it was!


Perhaps because Channel 29 was also in the habit of showing Chinese martial arts flicks and Japanese monster movies on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, we were not put off by the overdubbed English voices on these Oriental programs.

Yes, back then... and even through the early 1990s, we called such things "Oriental" rather than "Asian"... and to be honest, I'm unsure about when that change fully came about. It's like Colored, versus Black versus African-American... but I don't know how any Black person in The Netherlands is an African-American, which is probably why I appear to use a North American archaic term of "Black"... though none of my Black friends have any issue with the term as I use it. I know, because I asked them.

Anyhow... Ultraman (ウルトラマン, Urutoraman) is a tokusatsu (特撮 - a Japanese term that applies to any live-action film or television drama that features considerable use of special effects) that first aired on TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System) produced by Tsuburaya Productions (円谷プロダクション, Tsuburaya Purodakushon) back in July 17, 1966 to April 9, 1967, with a total of 39 episodes, or 40 if we count a pre-premiere special that aired one week earlier on July 10, 1966).

Because it's Japan, things are never as cut and dry as things ought to be. The Ultraman television show is the first show to feature an Ultraman character, but it is the second series within the so-called Ultra Series, with the first being Ultra Q (ウルトラQ, Urutora Kyū), a black-and-white show that appeared on TBS from January 2 to July 3, 1966 (though the final episode was preempted until December 14, 1967), with a total of 28 episodes.

As such, Ultraman appeared one week after July 3 on July 10, 1966.

In Ultra Q, a team of investigators would check out weekly reports on strange monsters appearing in Japan. It was originally akin to The Twilight Zone and/or The Outer Limits, but after a few episodes TBS asked Tsuburaya Productions to add more giant monsters, perhaps as a way to capture kids who were already into Godzilla and Gamera.

The show's title of Ultra Q was to have been "Unbalance", but all that changed after the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Japanese female gymnast Endo Yukio and and male gymnasts Hayata Takuji and Yamashita Haruhito (all surname first) and the Japanese team as a whole won gold medals. At that time in the gymnastics world, an easy routine was rated A, a more difficult one, a B, and even more difficult one a C.

The Japanese team liked to call theirs Ultra C, as in even more difficult than C (or, the mathematically incorrect more than 110% effort). Nowadays, the ratings have increased to A to G.

Because of the team's success at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the term "ultra" had entered into the everyday Japanese lexicon, becoming one of those words people liked to use.

As such, the "Unbalance" show was renamed Ultra Q before it ever aired.

Q, by the way, was chosen as a link to another TBS television program, Obake no Q-tarō, an animated series based on the manga by Fujiko Fujio. The Q does stand for "question".

So... Ultra Q introduced a Japanese world where giant monsters were now part of the world, and Ultraman... well, it offered a new hope as a means to combat the giant monsters.

 The Ultraman show actually opens with the Ultra Q logo exploding into the Ultraman logo.

As for the Ultraman show itself, the premise is: Whenever Earth is threatened by alien invaders or  giant monsters, the Science Patrol will fight them with their cool 1960s high-tech weaponry and ultra-cool vehicles reminiscent of The Thunderbirds.

However, after one of the Science Patrol members, Hayata, is injured by a craft that was also chasing an orb carrying a giant monster, that other space craft's occupants - an Ultraman - provides Hayata with special abilities to change into the giant alien himself, Ultraman.

Here's something I wondered at, but now find confirmation... TBS wanted the actors on its show to look as "westernized" as possible... and they succeeded.

For example, the female character in the show has brown hair... and while not impossible in Japan, I saw only natural black hair when I was there in the 1990s.


After each episode, Umberto and I would wrestle with each other much in the same way Ultraman and whatever monster he battled that week - taking out tables and lamps as though they were buildings and bridges. We would each perform the Ultra Beam on each other as the finishing move.

We were good kids, each one of us got to be Ultraman during our weekly battles, and no living rooms were destroyed during the course of our battles. Maybe.

Anyhow... I watched the first episode of Ultraman on YouTube. And now, so cane you. Just click on the link: https://youtu.be/4x7_DBzBetM

The second episode I was able to embed - and what's impressive, is that it breaks the FOURTH WALL, as the Space Patrol folk talk directly to us, the kid, er viewer:

 
Enjoy. Ultraman's not rocket science, but it is fun. Other English dubbed episodes should appear on the right of the YouTube page!

Since this original Ultraman television show, there have been numerous spin-offs over the decades, with some saying Ultra Seven is the best, coming hot on the heels of the Ultrman show in 1967-68.

Since 1966, there have been 31 different series of Ultraman through 2017, with one new series each scheduled for 2018 and 2019. You can all the iterations HERE.

Even though these 1966 episodes were watched by me circa 1972, in 1990 when in Japan I mentioned to one of the classes of Japanese junior high school kids I taught in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken that I used to watch Ultraman... and everyone, from all the school's students, teacher and principals were soon chatting with me about the show!

Sometimes, alcohol need not be the only ice-breaker. Some times it's Ultraman.

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Human Vapor

At work I sit beside a guy who has an OCD issue where he constantly has to rub his hands together every 20 seconds or so.

Despite him having a bottle of hand lotion on his desk, which he does use, the hand rubbing sounds rough and dry, giving it an audio appearance similar to snakes having sex while shedding skin.

Annoying for myself and others around him, we are at least respectful enough about the poor bugger.

But what about us poor distracted buggers? Tough noogies. I wear a cheap pair of earbuds I picked up at a convenience store for $15 out of my own money.

Of course, when I have the ear buds in, the cord floats centimeters over my keyboard constantly getting in the way of me when I type.
Wired! On the plus side, you can see the cool-looking bluejay and mallard duck made with LEGO bricks.
Anyhow, I now listen to music all day long at work in my attempts to drown out the scratchy palms… but because I don’t wish to go effing deaf, nor do I want to be completely oblivious of people around me needing to ask me questions, I wear the ear buds, listen to music at a low volume, can hear people when they talk to me, and can still hear the palms scratching back in forth - just not as loudly.

What do I listen to at work? Besides never wanting to hear the classic rock song Hand Jive, I listen to songs with a heavier rock and roll sound - like Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, and love listening to nasty funk from the 1970s. But I’m already running out of things to listen to as I have nearly gone through everything on the Internet.

Yes… nearly everything on the frickin' Internet.

A favorite Far Side cartoon!
I can’t listen to anything resembling Ted Talks or books or anything that takes away my already compromised concentration - I write creatively in my day job, too.

Anyhow, after rediscovering the hillbilly punk sound of the Reverend Horton Heat I used to listen to, YouTube suggested I give a listen to some weird group called Man or Astro-man?

Pleasantly surprised by this Auburn, Alabama, U.S. surf rock group from 1992 - present, I listened to the entire album of Destroy All Astromen (1994). 

I suppose by not including a hyphen in astromen, these are different astromen from the group which has a hyphen.

Do I pronounce the hyphen when I talk about the group?

Then I listened to their first album: Is It ... Man or Astro-man? (ASTRO is italics).  Have a listen:



It's largely believed the group took its name from the poster of the U.S. release of the Japanese film The Human Vapor, which includes the tagline “IS HE MAN OR ASTRO-MAN?”.

American movie poster for the Japanese flick now known as The Human Vapor. You can see where the rock group took its name... lower left...
Because I write a lot, I try and move all over the place in topics to give the reader several options to mull over per writing... like in this article where I talk about work, music and movies... though this might be the first instance of me doing that...I should do that...

The Human Vapor is indeed a Japanese sci-fi flick, released by Toho in Japan on December 11, 1960 coming in at 91 minutes in length, but with the Japanese name: Gasu ningen dai 1 gō (ガス人間第一号, with the literal translation of "Gas Human Being No. 1"). The Japanese movie poster can be seen at the very top of this article. 

It took a few years, but the film was later released in the U.S. by Brenco Pictures as The Human Vapor, with an English-language over-dub beginning May 20, 1964 and shortened down by 12 minutes to come in at 79 minutes when released.

It was probably done because the film was part of a double-feature (Drive-In anyone?) with another Japanese science-fiction movie called Gorath in the U.S. (but in Japan it was known as: 妖星ゴラス, Yōsei Gorasu, aka Ominous Star Gorath) about mankind's efforts to move Earth out of its orbit to avoid it from colliding with a runaway star.That actually sounds interesting.

Sure, but what is The Human Vapor about?

It's about a man named Tsuchiya Yoshio (surname first) and his love for a Noh (能) dancer... oh and his ability to transform into a gaseous state.

Here's what IMDb has to say on the plot:

A (REMOVED by ME) is subject to a scientific experiment which goes wrong and transforms him into 'The Human Vapor'. He uses his new ability to rob banks to fund the career of his girlfriend, a beautiful dancer. The Human Vapor is ruthless in his quest for money and kills anyone who stands in his way, especially police. He soon becomes Tokyo's most wanted criminal. Can he be stopped before he kills again?

IMDb spells "Vapor" as "Vapour", but I have edited to the American standard spelling.

Anyhow, today we've learned: that smart men can turn into criminals if a woman is somehow involved; how I spend my time at work, and; that more-modern surf music is kindda cool.

Wanna watch The Human Vapor? Click on the link HERE - it's in Japanese with English sub-titles.

The first thing I noticed, was the left-hand drive car! The next thing is that the first two women we see in this movie are absolutely drop-dead gorgeous! If Japan ever wanted something to boost tourism, this movie was a fantastic start!

Also... it only took about $200 to get him to undergo the experiment. $200. Of course, we'll learn why it only took that amount. Oh... but when he signs the papers, look at the room... the scene is shot at an angle... giving one the subconscious impression that something is askew.

Actress Sata Keiko (surname first), who stars as the plucky reporter in The Human Vapor, is also in Gorath, as the Prime Minister's secretary! She doesn't appear to have done much else in acting - a total of six movies between 1960-1962. I'm unsure if she's still with us.

She does a great job in The Human Vapor! Plus, I would have traveled to Japan to meet someone like her if I was around in 1960! Wowser!

As for actress Yachigusa Kaoru (八千草 薫) who plays the Noh dancer, she still about at the age of 87, and has a full-body of movie work. Gorgeous!

But... do you know what's really surprising?

The Human Vapor is a really, really good movie! Watch it in its entirety at the link above! I did!

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Ku-Go Death Ray Rumor


First off, let's start by saying that the concept of a death ray is just that - a concept.

While it's true that we could have someone stand in front of a super hot laser beam stream and be killed by it, but as of yet, no one has turned it into a real weapon.

The same holds true for a death ray.

Nikola Tesla, one of the most brilliant men (generic) to have ever walked upon this planet claimed he had invented a death ray back in the 1930s.

Tesla so-called death ray was known as teleforce, and was supposedly invented in the 1930s…. and claims that continued until his death in 1943. Sure… but you know that if it existed, the American military would have swooped in and appropriated it… and surely after 75+ years we would have seen it in action in some myriad form.

Then there was the supposed connection regarding Telsa having created and tested a death ray in 1908 Siberia over an area known as Tunguska. You can read about that HERE.

While Tesla is the most famous, inventor Edwin R. Scott of San Francisco supposedly invented a death ray that could kill a person as easily as take down an aeroplane (airplane) with ground to air accuracy. This was 1923.

Harry Grindell Matthews tried to sell the British Air Ministry a death ray in 1924 but obviously failed in his attempts to give them a working model.

And then there was Antonio Longoria who in 1934 said he had a death ray that could kill pigeons from four miles away, though I have no idea why anyone would want to do that.

The only functioning death ray I ever saw was in the movie serials and Big Little Books of the 1930s - usually revolving around Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. I used to own all the Buck Rogers Big Little Books, and a few of the Flash Gordon comic books. If you were a kid in the 1930s, this was cooler than cool.
I think this is the 1934 edition. I bought all of them in the 1990s when the market hadn't caught on to these and sold them by 1999 making a very nice profit.
I still enjoy reading the Flash Gordon comics put out in the 1930s, 40s, 50s, and late 1960s (see image at very top - a top quality comic book series!) and 2000s from time to time.
A Flash Gordon comic from Harvey Comics circa 1950, from the same company that would later bring us Casper, Richie Rich, Sad Sack, Little Lotta, Little Dot, Little Audrey, and Baby Huey! I have over 800 Richie Rich comics for some reason.  Okay, I just liked Richie Rich.
Of course, the best known example of a death ray in science fiction is the Star Wars Death Star I and II.
Gotta love the Death Star!
Perhaps spurred on by the fantastic science fiction of Buck and Flash, the Germans during WWII had two separate projects trying to develop a death ray… and of course the Japanese would have been remiss if they didn’t have a program, too.

The Japanese weapon was known as "Ku-go" and involved using microwaves created within a very large magnetron.

Obviously having a weapon that could take out the enemy from a safe distance away would be ideal... which is what the American came up with with their atomic weapons program.

According to a tiny news brief from the October 8, 1945 edition of the Winnipeg Free Press, discusses that the Japanese were at the very least trying to create a death ray.


I'm not sure where this information comes from, but some believe that the Japanese began working on their death ray concept as early as 1939 in Noborito (登戸) is a neighborhood in Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa Prefecture near Tokyo.

Okay, let's suppose this is all true... just how far are the Japanese supposed to have got in their quest for death ray dominance?

Well... there's a Japanese physicist named Tomonaga Shin'ichirō (surname first, 朝永 振一郎) who was a major domo in the development of quantum electrodynamics, gaining joining credit for a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965... sharing it with Julian Schwinger and Richard Feynman... the latter a name you might recognize if you watch The Big Bang Theory on television.

Born in Tokyo on March 31, 1906, Tomonaga was the son of Japanese philosopher Tomonaga Sanjūrō (surname first), so it's at least easy to see where he developed his ability to think outside the proverbial box.

He went to Kyoto Imperial University in 1926. One of his under grad classmates, Yukawa Hideki (surname first, 湯川 秀樹), would also win a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1949.

Anyhow, in 1931 after graduate school, Tomonaga joined Nishina Yoshio (仁科 芳雄 , surname first) and his team at the Japanese Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (now known as RIKEN). He was called "the founding father of modern physics research in Japan". Nishina would later lead the efforts of Japan to develop an atomic bomb during World War II.

Then in 1937 Tomonaga worked at Leipzig University in Leipzig, Germany where he worked alongside the famous Werner Heisenberg, a major contributor to quantum mechanics (and as an alias for Walter White on the television show Breaking Bad).

But, when WWII broke out with Germany becoming the major problem starting in 1939, Tomonaga headed back to Japan. There, he completed his thesis on the study of nuclear materials and finished his doctorate at the University of Tokyo.

He was then appointed to a professorship in the Tokyo University of Education (a forerunner of Tsukuba University).

But when Japan became fully embroiled in WWII in December of 1941, Tomonaga began studying the magnetron, meson theory, and began to formulate his own super-many-time theory.

So... at least Tomonaga's research and the Japanese death ray project focus line up.

Apparently Tomonaga's team had built a magnetron measuring 20 centimeters (eight inches) in diameter with an output of 100kW.

According to someone else, that if this was the energy output, the ku-go death ray might have been able to kill a rabbit 1,000 yards (914.4 meters) away, but only if the rabbit stood still for five minutes.

But what is a magnetron?

Now called a cavity magnetron, it is a high-powered vacuum tube that generates microwaves using the interaction of a stream of electrons with a magnetic field while moving past a series of open metal cavities (cavity resonators).

Sure... but what we can determine is that this technology is now used in microwave ovens in the home... and yeah, one of those things could kill someone, as it cooks from the inside out meaning a person would boil their insides before exploding outwards.

What's brown and bubbly and knocks on the window?
A baby in a microwave.

Welcome to the stoopidist jokes kids created back in the late 1970s back when those type of jokes were making the round. Sadly 40+ years haven't dulled the memory.

The point of all this is that the Japanese did not have anything close to resembling a death ray weapon during the 1940s...

However, the United States Navy does posses its own Laser Weapon System (LaWS).

Its full name is the AN/SEQ-3 Laser Weapon System or XN-1 LaWS, and is a directed-energy weapon - making it akin to a death ray.

The Navy installed it on the USS Poncean Austin-class amphibious transport—for field testing in 2014.

In December 2014, the United States Navy reported that the LaWS system worked perfectly against low-end asymmetric threats, and that the commander of the USS Ponce is authorized to use the system as a defensive weapon.

Take a look at the CNN video below:

WHOOPS - They blocked me... whatever...

You can go to the Wikipedia page for Laser Weapon System (HERE) and look at the second image on the right - a video that may show a better example of the laser system on the USS Ponce.

So... 70 years later, we have a working example of a death ray or as the US Navy calls it - a defensive weapon.

Sorry Tesla. Sorry Ku-go.

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Anime Song Used During Olympic 2018 Figure Skating

I enjoy watching the Winter (and Summer) Olympics... I do. While I certainly enjoy watching men's and women's hockey, I really enjoy watching long-track and short track speed skating, downhill skiing, skeleton, ski jumping, and snowboarding, Nordic combined, and even curling.

There's no sarcasm here, folks. If it's an Olympic sport, I'll watch it. Cross-country skiing, biathlon, moguls, luge, bobsled, 

And, much in the same way I enjoy the athletic grace and skill of gymnastics (men and women), I also enjoy figure skating.

The only thing I dislike is the frou-frou clothing some of the figure skating athletes wear... and that nude fabric which always surprises me when I'm not seeing skin.

Frou-frou does not equal sexy.  Look, I get it that the costuming of today allows for greater stretchability allowing the skaters to better perform their incredibly athletic leaps and spins. But man, oh man... the look.

Here's the awesome Peggy Fleming in 1968. Nothing frou-frou here.

I can't do any of these sports, save cross-country skiing (even did so when I was in Japan), and have curled only once (it was fun).

But yeah, I enjoy watching all aspects of figure skating. While I couldn't judge an event, I have, over many a decade now, picked up a keen enough eye to know when a routine is superb or sub-par.

Which brings me to these 2018 Winter Olympics being held in PyeongChang, Korea.

By the way... since when did we start capitalizing the "C" in PyeongChang? Shouldn't it just be Pyeongchang? That's what it it's called. 


I suppose putting the capital "C" in there makes it easier to spell and pronounce, when visually taking in the word.

Anyhow... figure skating... at these Winter Olympic 2018 Games, Japanese pair skaters Kihara Ryuichi (dude) and Suzaki Miu (dudette) - surnames first - they skated to a song from the anime series Yuri!!! On Ice (ユーリ!!! on ICE), a Japanese cartoon that is about figure skating and does indeed have three exclamation marks after Yuri.

The anime was produced by MAPPA, directed by Yamamoto Sayo and written by Kubo Mitsurō. Character design was by Hiramatsu Tadashi, and its music was composed by Umebayashi Taro and Matsushiba Taku.(All surname first)

How popular was the anime? Well, if you blinked back in 2016, you might have missed it. Just 12 episodes were produced and televised between October 6, 2016 and December 22, 2016, although there is supposedly an animated film in production.

No... I shouldn't be so snarky. The miniseries - because that's what it was - was well received, winning three awards at a Tokyo Anime Award Festival.

The series revolves around the relationships between Japanese figure skater Yuri Katsuki; his idol, Russian figure-skating champion Victor Nikiforov, and up-and-coming Russian skater Yuri Plisetsky; as Yuri K. and Yuri P. take part in the Figure Skating Grand Prix, with Victor acting as coach to Yuri K.

By the way... Yuri is not exactly a traditional Japanese name for men. Hence the katakana alphabet used in the Japanese title of the anime.

However, Yuri is Japanese for the flower we call a "Lily", so it is a woman's name.

As for our real life Japanese figure skaters, the team has used the song as part of their program before, performing it multiple times in 2017, but it is believed that this is the very first time an anime song has been used on the Olympic stage.

The actual song they skated to has the same name as the anime, IE "Yuri!!! on Ice".

Hmmm... the Japanese version of "Ice" in the anime title is all CAPS, but there is no reason for that - just like there is no reason for the exclamation points...

Sigh.   

For those in the know, nowadays music from Japanese video games and from animated movies and television programs are highly complex, having come along way from the 1981 Donkey Kong video game theme, and the one from the 1960s television anime Speed Racer.

Be forewarned, the sound pick-up isn't the best, so you may have to put the volume up (you are wearing headphones at work, aren't you)... and fair warning... the music still makes me want to puke.



I still prefer my music - figure skating or other - to have a bit of bite... some élan (vigorous spirit or enthusiasm) at least. 

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph
PS: And because you know I have to present it, here's the theme song for Speed Racer:


PPS: And what the heck, Donkey Kong:

Friday, February 16, 2018

Weird Japanese Snack - Crunky Ball Nude



What we have here is a Japanese snack food company trying to capitalize in on the Japanese love affair with English.

No, they don't necessarily want to speak English, but they do enjoy being associated with things that sound westernized, such as the Lotte company's Crunky Ball Nude, aka Gianduja, which sounds like some sort of Spanish narcotic.

Now... Crunky Ball... I have no flippin' clue as to what that is. Ball, sure. Crunky, unh-uh. Nude? You bet your sweet bippy I know what that is... but WTF do all those words have do with a Japanese snack.

Featuring balls about the size of a standard Malteser, aka malted milk ball, they look pretty neat-o.

Apparently "crunky" is a malted crisp rice concoction, and these gianduja version of the Crunky Ball contains a hazelnut paste. So... it might actually taste sorta like a Ferraro Roche chocolate... though what the heck, just buy those.

There is no explanation as to why these things are called "Nude"... that means bereft of clothing... but since everything is covered in a chocolate and walnut paste - these ball aren't nude.

Perhaps it's just a marketing ploy to get people to purchase something that appears to be "naughty" but in reality is just stupid... but since you are here and have tasted our chocolate crunky balls, you might as well enjoy them.

Anyhow, all I can think about is the animated American comedy South Park:


And yes... I bought the CD soundtrack when it came out. I believe I loaned it to a waitress at a strip club just north of Toronto. I never got it back, but I slept with her in my car in the parking lot so... I win?

Yeah... you think dating a dancer at a strip club is tough... try a waitress at one of those joints. They see men at their worst. Me? I was normal to them... or about as close as it was going to get considering I was at one of those places... yes, I had another weird chapter of my life after I returned from Japan, lost Noboko, had my mother die... and then began working out at the gym with a ferocious lust while growing my hair nearly down to my waist. Also, my eyes glowed purple thanks to the anti-glare protection I had on them and the strip joint's black lighting.

That was me 20 to 25 years ago. Single and wild. A different me, to be sure.

Oh! The stories I could tell... I could do a blog... not just an article, but one like Rife... but sigh... no... maybe in another 10 years time.

And no... I still haven't had a Crunky. I don't even think they are still around anymore...

Always use protection,
Andrew Joseph