Denny Sinnoh's "Akihabara Starlight"

Archive for November, 2014

Pokémon Nicknames: Shroomish and Breloom

life could be a dream shroomish

Life could be a dream right now !

Shroomish (in Japanese: キノココ  “Kinococo”) is a GRASS-type Pokémon. Shroomish evolves into Breloom starting at level 23.

I named a Shroomish “Sh-Boom” after the famous song by the do-wop singing group The Chords: “Sh-Boom Sh-Boom (Life Could Be A Dream”). Enjoy.

shroomish cosplay

Grass types are not afraid of WATER!

Shroomish might make a good cap!

shroomish_pokemon_hat_by_cutekick-d4cygzv

Great Shroomish cap idea!!!

Perhaps the name “Psilocybin” would work, but I generally do not like drug references.

breloom_painting

Breloom (in Japanese: キノガッサ “Kinogassa”) is a dual-type GRASS-FIGHTING Pokémon.

I think that a good nickname for Breloom would be “Boom Boom” or “Mancini” after the former  Lightweight boxing champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini.

boom boom t shirt

Breloom is a FIGHTING type, and it looks like a boxer.  Youngstown native “Boom Boom” Mancini is a notable part of boxing history.  Mancini defended his title against Korean challenger Duk Koo Kim.  Boom Boom easily defeated Kim, but knocked him around for 14 rounds. (Video linked here.) Kim suffered brain injuries that lead to his death four days later.  Tragically, Kim’s mother then killed herself.  Oddly, even the Caesars Palace referee for the bout Richard Green, also killed himself. These events haunted the very likable Ray Mancini, and the young boxer retired from the sport just two years later – but I digress once again …

For a female Breloom, I might suggest the name “Bloomers” as in a lady’s unmentionables.

breloom cosplay 1

If you have another name for these Pokémon, please leave your suggested names in the comments below!

 

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I really thought I was going to be able to make that turn …

atsuko on bike everyday

But what do I know?  Almost wrecked, you know.

When I first started this blog, I wanted to write about Japanese popular culture and music. I had rekindled my interest in anime, and fell in like with the music and singing of  Hanako Oku.  I also started liking this quirky, all-girl group from Japan – AKB48.  I know that these two acts are two opposite sides of the Jpop spectrum, but I liked them both – albeit for different reasons.

The music of Hanako Oku broke a hole in a dam, and my admiration for Japan culture began to flood out.  I would watch old samurai movies with a different perspective – and sympathy – than I had most of my life.  The cascading floodwaters washed away my waning interest in American popular culture (holds stomach, thinks “ugh” … American movies and music …). I thought that I would become an expert writer about Japanese popular music.

… but what do I know.  I shortly found out that I did not have a clue.

There are several bloggers on WP who are much more knowledgeable on this subject than I am, and  who can articulate the rich variety of enjoyable Jpop  there is to be heard.

There are two bloggers I cannot do without.  I always look forward to their posts.  I’m trying not to make this a “Thanksgiving” post, but here I am. I hope that my 215 subscribers will view some of their posts.

Violetmitsu at HATCHIMITSU II is linked here.  She is writing about exactly what I wanted to write about.  I usually spend about an hour every Sunday morning having coffee, them enjoying a second cup of coffee, enjoying the songs she shares. Yes, Harry, it makes my day.

https://hachimitsublog.wordpress.com/category/music-3/

Also, another blogger who I cannot live without is Yuna at ALLTHINGSJPOP linked here.

https://allthingsjpop.wordpress.com/

There is probably no other soul on the planet to whom I can express my true admiration for (and silly comments about) the 48 Family.  I make a lot of goofy, but sincere comments there. It might be overstated to say that her AKB48 posts validate my existence.  “Might” be overstated.

To all my friends out there, bear with me – I’m NOT crazy.  I just found a genre of music that I love. My long-term friends have seen all of my phases.

Denny the Rock-and-Roller- The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, etc.

The Progressive Rocker – Todd Rundgren, Emerson-Lake-Palmer

Pub Rocker – Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, Nick Lowe, Graham Parker

New Waver: DEVO, The Go-Go’s , etc.

The LA Punk Rocker: X, Oingo Boingo, etc.

The Rat Packer/Tin Pan Alley – Frank, Dean and Sammy, plus Bobby, Tony and Ella.

And then a long list of hipster/alternative artists. Throw in some jazz, classical and new-age music phases.

What a weird ride, and a lot of bad hairstyles.

Then there was a drought.  There was a long time, when I thought that I would never find anything interesting in music again.  I did not like what I heard on the American radio or TV (hols stomach .. “ugh” ).  I tried to watch VH1, and could not believe how ignorant and disgusting it was. You mean America’s tastes are THAT vulgar?

(The following is only metaphor – in case you are from Rio Lindo.)  Finding a new artist, or a new musical style is a little bit like falling in love.

I discovered Japanese popular music. I never thought I would fall in love again. I’m an aging baby boomer. To think …to be my age … and to feel the intense feelings that I have now, is both surprising and delightful. After being through all those phases and incarnations.  It is startling to fall this fast, this deep, and this truely in love.  What happened when I was young was actually the “old me”. I have seen and heard the truth.  It is better than it ever was.  It is like I have been waiting for this my entire lifeEveryday is a wonderful day if I only can be with you (I’m talking to “Jpop”, remember this is a METAPHOR!)

Elvis Costello once quipped that “writing about music is like dancing about architecture”.  Using one subjective art form to describe what is beautiful in another art form is completely subjective, and perhaps only meaningful to the observer. I will continue to blog about some of the older Jpop artists and songs I lucked into. Others can tell you about the latest Jpop news, and upcoming trends.  I will continue to look back, to interpret the music videos I love, and try to express what they mean to this old heart …

What? “Everyday” was a clip show !  Turn on CC and HD for full enjoyment!

Starlight: It took 15 months for the light of this AKB48 music video to reach my world.

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TWISTED ROOM? … alternative AKB reality.

twisted room

Mariko Shinoda singing with Mii-chan again!!!

TRICK ROOM? TWISTED ROOM? Actually, this is AKB48 “Team Surprise” — a strange reality where current AKB members can exist along side graduated AKB members!

Bonus: Another strange reality where current AKB members are rolls of toilet paper, and the audience is a toilet. Ok, so what does that make Mr. Akimotos’s songs?

The final room.  My personal heaven! Just like the final room in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, only it is Milky in sexy Lolita costume.

Twisted reality?  You have to watch them on Vimeo, which is no big deal.  Just one click brings up the new window … another alternative reality???

So mind-bending!

Starlight: The sub-atomic particle may have arrived, before it left.

UPDATE:

WOW! That did not take long for the RECORD INDUSTRY WEASELS to remove the videos. A “half-life” of only a half-hour !!!

Sorry about that, especially if you have already “Liked” the post.

You can still watch it below!  I put some of the others in “comments”

http://voz48.tumblr.com/post/103632485105/m08-saigo-ni-ice-milk-wo-nonda-no-wa-itsudarou

SHE AND HIM. Finally, something worth listening to on America’s NPR!

she-him_wide

Finally, something worth listening to on America’s National Public Radio!

Apparently NPR has eased its “Never have anything interesting on” format, and has allowed a free listen to the new She & Him modern-meets-retro album “Classics” which will be released on December 2.

You can hear the entire album, or listen to individual songs at the NPR website link here.

http://www.npr.org/2014/11/23/364681077/first-listen-she-him-classics?utm_content=nllink-3dc80127-Classics+Pre+Stream&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=email%7C1036467921%7C20141125&utm_source=uscolumbia-haerts&cid=nl%3A1036467921

WARNING: NPR has put a 10 second self advertisement before the album starts.  Just try not to die of boredom in that time …

I love it of course.  Zooey’s singing is sweet, but old-timey.  She does great justice to the singers of the 40s, 50s, 60s etc.  Was that Matt imitating Louis Armstrong on “Stars Fell on Alabama”?

  1. “Stars Fell on Alabama”
    2. “Oh No, Not My Baby”
    3. “It’s Not for Me to Say”
    4. “Stay Awhile”
    5. “This Girl’s in Love With You”
    6. “Time After Time”
    7. “She”
    8. “Teach Me Tonight”
    9. “It’s Always You”
    10. “Unchained Melody”
    11. “I’ll Never Be Free”
    12. “Would You Like to Take a Walk”
    13. “We’ll Meet Again”

What FUN! I suggest just starting the album and minimizing it. You can work at your desk, and have a great time with this authentic sounding retro trip. I am going to close my office door, and listen to it all morning. I will be filling out those agricultural chemical purchasing forms with a big smile on my face tomorrow.

Oh, Zooey-chan you are so wonderful …

… now if you will excuse me I will be busy fainting in happiness.

All She and Him albums are available as a high quality vinyl record.  If you want me to send you one for Christmas, just ask.

 

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KIMONOS ON MONDAY (Week #28): The artwork of Rieko Morita

Morita Rieko 00a12552a51d310225f6726c043965fe

Rieko Morita (Morita Rieko) is a Japanese painter from Kobe, Japan.  Although most of her art is not kimono-themed, all of it is interesting. I especially like the “panel art” that she does, and would love to have one of these in my office.*

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The following is from her official website: “A Japanese artist renowned for her remarkable precise description technique of Maiko, symbol of Kyoto’s traditional culture, and other objects such as seasonal flowers and exotic women. Rieko draws keen attention at the present Japan art world as a leading artist of the Japanese painting of the next generation.”

Visit her official web site linked here.

http://www.morita-rieko.com/english/profile/index.html

This YouTube video is a slide show of some of her other (non-kimono) art.

*How many hints do I have to drop!

 

 

“Stay awhile …” WHACK .. ow ….

Please enjoy this great new music video from my favorite American band : She and  Him.

Zooeys intimate dance with "The Invisible Man"

Zooeys intimate dance with “The Invisible Man”

The song is “Say Awhile” originally made a hit by Dusty Springfield in 1964. It will appear on the new She & Him album “Covers” coming out on December 2. Yes, I already pre-ordered it!

I love the Modern-Meets-Retro styles presented here. It looks like a copy of “Better Homes” magazine circa 1966. The choreography is wonderful. The special effects look great (watch in the available HD)!

In case you could not figure it out: This was how the man was making her feel in the bedroom.

In case you could not figure it out: This dream sequence represents how the man was making her feel in the bedroom.

Matt’s production is a great tribute to the original.  Zooey is beautiful of course, and … WHACK!

Ow. Sorry everyone. Mrs. Sinnoh often hits me with a frying pan whenever I stare at Zooey Deschanel too long. … and I was NOT looking when her dress twirled up at time 1:53

WHACK!!

You will have to admit, “The Invisible Man” is one lucky dude here …

WHACK!!!

Gotta go now … ow …

Did you see the shadow of Matt’s guitar at the end?

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Pokémon Nicknames: Pachirisu

R Pachirisu real_pachirisu_by_LeaderWolfGirl

Pachirisu — in Japanese also “Pachirisu”  パチリス is an ELECTRIC-type Pokémon. It does not evolve — at least not so far.  Maybe it will Mega-evolve in a future game. I know that they are not very powerful, but I have always enjoyed this Sinnoh-region native.  I like one on my team, especially in the early part of a Diamond & Pearl adventure.  I like electric types in general, and besides he/she is so CUTE!

I named my Pachiritsu “GiGi” after the famous movie-musical, which won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1958. Trailer linked here. 

Yes, that movie is very “gay” — but not in THAT way!

French actress Leslie Caron is "GiGi"!

“Thank Heaven for Little Girls”:  French actress Leslie Caron is “GiGi”!

I only keep Pachirisu if it has the “PickUp ability”.  When GiGi finds an item, I always say “you good girl”.

Thank heaven for little squirrels!

I have nicknamed several Pachirisu.  It is a cute Pokemon, so I always give it a “cutsey ” nickname, like “Sparky” or “Mr. Chips”.   Here are some more examples.

“Chi Chi” – after the Mexican Restaurant Chi-Chi’s.

chchis restaurant

Buy this restaurant property. Please.

“Pocky” – after the snack sticks popular with otaku.

pocky sticks

“Puccho” – after the Japanese candy chews.  See this old Puccho candy commercial by AKB48.

Everyone loves Puccho! 

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“Kokoro no Placard”: I will not feel so all alone — only because of this Chibi version!

placard part

I LOVE THIS!

Until now, I never liked the AKB48 single “Kokoro no Placard” all that much, for reasons which I hope are understandable. (A fan posted the original AKB48 version on YouTube  linked here.)

Thing 1: I am not a fan of all this “hash tagging” these days.  Hash Tagging: It sounds like something from the movie “Midnight Express”.  I don’t get it.

Thing 2:  I was TRYING to follow the tune.  The more I tried to follow it, the more it started to sound like that Bob Dylan song about “Everybody Must Get Stoned” linked here.

Thing 3: Most importantly, I CANNOT READ THE SIGNS.  I cannot read Japanese, so it is all lost on me.  Everyone else is singing, dancing and having fun with those placards … EXCEPT ME.  It is such a happy song, but I feel so left out.  I cannot understand the words either, but I did catch something that sounded like “Cinco de Mayo” … Huh?  I feel just like the English translation of “Kokoro no Placard” … WHAT’S SO AMUSING???

My heart’s placard
I’ll try holding it up
With my true feelings
On display…
If I can’t put it into words
I can write it down instead
The thing I want to convey
The thing I want to say
Please notice my placard

Full lyrics are linked from Studio 48 here

http://stage48.net/studio48/kokoronoplacard.html

Although I was not hot for the original AKB48 video, I LOVE this Chibi version!  It is a lot of fun.  I love the adorable Chibi-versions of the AKB girls.  The Chibi-AKB girls are wearing some of their famous outfits from other music videos. I would also say that the Chibi-versions are still recognizable as the real idols! Acchan makes an appearance at the Tokyo Dome! … and did you see Sayaka Yamamoto on the guitar (Time 1:14)? Maybe that squeaky, quirky singing works better for cartoons (sorry girls).

Just kidding. You ladies go ahead and make great Jpop song and dance. I’m not Japanese.  You make your videos the way you want to, even if I cannot understand it.

I’m just an aging, burned-out American kung-fu retro new-wave hippie punk hipster wannabe poser.

Gonna just hang out with the “Rainy Day Women” today.

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My Pop Music History: What ever happened to CHAM ?

CHAM_by_MirrorQueen

Most anime fans are familiar with the late Satoshi Kon’s directorial debut  “Perfect Blue” (trailer linked here).  The all-girl Jpop Idol group “CHAM” were an important part of this compelling, and mind-bending drama. Despite the initial  popularity of CHAM, the group has now been relegated to the “Where are they now?” files of Pop Music History.

I LOVED their big hit single: “Ai no Tenshi”.  The video below captures Mima, Rei and Yukiko at the time just  before they would rocket to stardom. It is a fantastic peak inside the recording studio.  The girls are not wearing their stage outfits here —  but who cares – they look (and sound) AMAZING.

One of the greatest anime film songs ever IMHO.

Here is a brief snippet of how they appeared in the German (translation) version of the film. Sorry for the obscure video reference — original CHAM footage is very hard to find, and valuable these days.

They were an exciting Jpop trio to watch live.  CHAM paved the way for other Idol groups.  Without CHAM’s trailblazing, Jpop girl groups today would probably not be the same!

cham on stage

Classic CHAM moves. They did it first. They did it better!

The ladies also recorded an English language version of “Ai no Tenshi (Angel of Love)”.  The song has been covered and performed in stage concerts by American singers Madonna and Tiffany. (No, Denny is NOT making that up!)

The lyrics translated into English, although seemingly cute and innocent, recap the very creepy story that is “Perfect Blue”

“Angel of Love” translation:

And now you come and see it all just for yourself
See the angel’s wings, but something else is there
And all those magic hearts are all for you again

And then you come and listen to the sweet little voice
Singing there for you and only just for you
She is protecting you right now…

And if sometimes you feel for your love
Send a little heart for her
And she’ll be there with you with her love
Waiting only for you!

And when you love her, love her she will be
A little angel, angel in your heart
You’ve got to push it, push it for her love
And then forever, ever she will be
A sweet angel of your heart to be there together

And now you need a little faith in me and yourself
When you make your way to change the destiny
If you could only see what I could do for you

And even when you feel you have a difficult time
Listen to my heart who sings to make you shine
When you start to fall in love …

Another amazing moment was captured on this YouTube video. After years out of the limelight, CHAM makes a sudden guest appearance at an Anime convention. Here, the cameraman only captures part of their show.  I do not blame him however.  My jaw would have dropped in shock: OMG — IT’S CHAM!!! … grab the camera!!!  Pardon the quality, but can you imagine, being at an Anime Conference in Russia, when CHAM makes a surprise appearance after being gone for so long?

The group had its ups and downs over the years. Mima graduated from the group to purse an acting career.  Although she was critically acclaimed, she never reached the commercial success and popularity of CHAM.

For a few years group member Mima tried to go solo as a singer, and made a number of convention appearances. Yet these never came close to matching the appeal of the three-member unit.  The video is very low quality … still any CHAM footage is valuable. Please forward to time 1:35 to see Mima’s solo.

The group would often appear at conventions, but mainly to sign autographs as they were without a record contract for over a decade.  The ladies appeared in various commercial ads, sometimes as solo models, and sometimes in pairs (Documented in this slideshow below.)

 

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Many years later the group surfaced at this Lisbon, Portugal fundraiser in support of Pancreatic Cancer research. This performance may actually be a little difficult for dedicated fans to watch.  The ladies are older, out of shape, and have a hard time performing their moves. Still, it is an interesting, and final note of CHAM history.

Although CHAM may have now faded into pop music history, they will be remembered as one of the most inspiring pioneers in the Idol genre.

perfectblue06 cham poster

CHAM is gone, however fans keep a Facebook page linked here.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/CHAM/278278312204229

 Enjoy the memories. It took 12 years for the light of “Perfect Blue” and CHAM to reach my world.

KIMONOS ON MONDAY (Week #27): The “eternal virgin” Setsuko Hara

legendary actress setsuko hara

I think I fell in love with Setsuko Hara through her character “Noriko” in the Yasujiro Ozu film Tokyo Story.  She played a beautiful, and traditional Japanese woman – a widowed daughter-in-law, still devoted to her in-laws. Especially in the Ozu films, she epitomized such beauty of modern Japanese women.  Such warmth. Although she was not mainly known for wearing kimonos in film, I was still able to find a few kimono images from the Internet. Please enjoy this gallery.  Then go rent one of her movies!

It is unfortunate that this endearing actress chose to cut her career short. She disappeared from movies to lead a solitary life at age 43. Satsuko Hara (real name Masae Aida) is 94 years young, and lives (in seclusion) in Kamakura Japan. She never married. There is much speculation as to why she abandoned her film career. She retied soon after Ozu passed away, fueling more mystery and speculation. Satsuko Hara is attributed to be the inspiration for the late Satoshi Kon’s anime film “Millennium Actress” (trailer here).

setsuko hara was in tokyo story

Dear lady, let us celebrate our birthday’s together next year!

You can see more of the great Setsuko Hara here on on my Pinterest board.

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