Denny Sinnoh's "Akihabara Starlight"

Archive for January, 2015

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY WASAMIN!

happy birthday wasamin

Happy Birthday to my OSHIMEN !

Miss Iwasa Misaki-san, born January 30, yada-yada.

WASAMIN — I HOPE YOU ENJOYED YOURSELF TODAY!!!

A few Misaki moments: here is another wonderful “Enka” ballad in kimono!

One of my fav old clips:  Wasamin will DESTROY anyone in a karaoke battle.  I love her demonstration of the “Enka” style of singing … and WOW what a set of gams!

Misaki-san is beautiful in kimono, … but does she look good in a bikini? See for yourself.

Please see more on my Iwasa Misaki board on Pinterest linked here.

Starlight: a 20 year journey to my world!

Pokémon Nicknames: Riolu and Lucario

Pokémon.Nicknames: Riolu and Lucario

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Lucario ( in Japanese: ルカリオ  “Lucario”) is a dual Fighting & Steel type Pokémon. Lucario evolves from the (baby form ) Fighting type Riolu (in Japanese: リオル  “Riolu”) when leveled up with high friendship during the DAY. Lucario does not evolve, but can mega-evolve into Mega Lucario using the Lucarionite stone.

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I named a Riolu “Rolo” after a character on the famous TV show “Sanford and Son”. Rolo was often on the receiving end of Fred Sanford’s (comedian Redd Foxx) famous “You big dummy” line.

rolo from sanford and son

I have also used “Rolo” thinking of the caramel filled candy rolls by Hershey:

rolo candy roll

I named the Lucario I received in Pokemon Y, “Cool Hand” after the famous character played by Paul Newman in the movie “Cool Hand Luke” (movie trailer link here). The 1968 film was about a young anti-hero who is sent to a Southern prison farm for – get this – cutting the heads off of parking meters. The movie is a goldmine of famous pop culture sayings, such as “I think what we have here is a failure to communicate!”.  My favorite line is “I’M SHAKIN THE TREE, BOSS” … but I digress.

What? You’ve never SEEN it? What are they teaching kids in school these days?

I also think that Cool Hand is a good name, because Lucario is a fighter/boxer.

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Of course you can name a newly born Riolu if you hatch an egg!

A man can eat 100 eggs

I named another Riolu/Lucario “Sir Luke” after the famous scene in Star Wars.

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Remember when C3PO first conversed with Luke Skywalker? C3PO said at one point “I see Sir …”.  Luke laughs (as if anyone would call him “Sir”), and says “… Luke” (meaning just call me Luke). C3PO misunderstands, and says “I see — Sir Luke” – to which young Skywalker laughs again: “No … just Luke”.  It is a great foreshadowing moment because knights are called “Sir” and Luke Skywalker will one day become a Jedi Knight!

I may be at a lost as to what to nickname a SEXY Lucario however:

Use "FORCE PALM"? ... I was already there!

Use “FORCE PALM”? … I was already there!

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Please comment on your name for Lucario! 

Kimonos on Monday (Week #37) – Pink Lady in Kimono

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Mitsuyo Nemoto, (“Mie”) and Keiko Masuda  (“Kei”) of the Japanese pop group “Pink Lady” in the kimonos that they wore for their short-lived 1980 American television show.

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Come back to us Mei and Kei ! 

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Pink Lady, I owe you an apology.

“I would rather eat worms than ride a Jap bike”

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OK, how about this for idea for an American TV series: An all-girl Jpop group comes to America and teams up with a dorky American comedy guy.  Sounds too good (for Denny) to be true?

In fact there WAS a 1980 television show close to the Denny dream,  No, I’m NOT making this up. Despite the brain cells I killed in my late 70s and early 80s “punk rocker” days, I can still recall the NBC show “Pink Lady and Jeff”.

The NBC show is regarded by most TV historians and critics as “one of the worst television shows ever”. There was a time in the late 70s/early 80s when NBC produced a number of shows now regarded as “worst ever”.  Not the type that were “so bad that they are good” – just shows that were BAD. Remember “Sherriff Lobo?!?”, “BJ and the Bear”!!?? … “Manimal”???!!!

Unfortunately, Pink Lady’s variety show is on that list. Six programs were produced, but only five aired, as it was hated so much. It did not play in Peoria. Looking back, it did NOT deserve the hatred that was set loose on it.  Full disclosure: I also thought it was pretty stupid. It was full of actors and musical acts I could not care for.  I want to make an apology to you Pink Lady, for my involvement and anything I said.

The following is from the Pink Lady and Jeff Wikipedia article:

“The series starred Japanese female singing duo Pink Lady — Mitsuyo Nemoto, (“Mie”) and Keiko Masuda  (“Kei”), and American comedian Jeff Altman (who oddly was also on “The Dukes of Hazard” show over on CBS in the same time slot – DS). The format of the show consisted of musical numbers alternating with sketch comedy. The running gag of the series was the girls’ lack of understanding of American culture and the English language; in reality, Pink Lady did not speak English. (It is cringe-inducing to watch the dialog — DS) Jeff would then attempt to translate and explain the meaning of things, which led to more confusion.”

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I do love a good fish-out-of-water story. Oh, man so much potential, and actually the ladies are pretty good.  The group was very popular in Japan (here is one of their songs “SOS” linked here), but unheard of in America. Heard that before?  VideoPirates on YouTube has produced a clip show here.  It is jaw-dropping amazing. Forget the train wreck … this is worse … you can’t look away …

See … “UN-FREAKING BELIEVABLE LOIS!!!”  Pop Culture enthusiasts: WATCH THIS!!! It is a great cross-section through the wasteland that was American popular culture.  Looking back, some acts I do like.  There was a nice moment where Pink Lady met the great Roy Orbison.

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The producers Marty Krofft and Fred Silverman recall a story during production:  When the girls arrived in Los Angeles they wanted to go to Disneyland.  Of course no Americans knew who the Japanese star duo were, but there are many Japanese tourists at Disneyland, so the girls were mobbed for autographs.

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They were so beautiful … and I was so dumb …

It is really too bad .. and unfair that the show was over-criticized by the American audience.  (Consider the crap we watched on our three channels at that time.)  Watch these clips.  Comedian Jerry Lewis is there, and he even performs his usual “HEY LADY” schtick.  Looking back, some of the jokes were really, really bad.  Many would be considered “politically incorrect” as well today. Some of the guest stars were has-beens, or “never-weres”.  Some like Roy Orbison and Alice Cooper would revive their careers later in the 1980s.  I have to admit it — their duet with Donny Osmond does sound pretty good. I hated seeing Playboy Hugh Hefner interacting with the girls however. (Cut to Denny imitating Homer Simpson — shaking a threatening fist ”Get away from them you old perv.”). However, all through that Mie anf Kei are GREAT!  Their sweet personalities shine through the goofy sketches. They are super pretty, look great in the bikinis, and I love their musical performances.  Well, now .. not back then … Sheena was a punk rocker.

“I would rather eat worms than ride a Jap bike”  my leather-clad biker companions would say. In fact I would see that on T-shirts. There was a significant amount of anti-Japanese sentiment and misunderstanding in the industrial cities of America in the 1970s and 1980s.

I grew up in a corrupt American steel-making city. The mill-hicks would always go ape-shit over imported steel product.

Myself, I did not ride a Harley.  I rode a “rice grinder” — a Yamaha 250 dirt bike. (FYI: This is a completely different type of motorsport than the Harley crowd). My dad was a steelworker, and cussed me out for the Japan import.  Assholes would ask me: “Why do you ride a JAP bike?” “Are you broke? .. eat your import”

Why the Japan-bashing? Well, they were beating our pants off, and we union-bleeding creeps wanted our government to “protect” us.  Meaning: “Slap a $1,000 tax on all Japanese auto imports.” I remember this statement getting a cheering ovation at my graduation. We made cars. Japan made better cars for a cheaper price. But isn’t that what America is all about? Man, I have seen factory workers smoke pot and snort THC right on the job. If you have ever seen the Michael Keaton movie “Gung Ho” – you will see how the comedy film captures the anti-Japanese feeling at the time. So many of the World War II veterans also had jobs in the mills, and you should know how they felt about Japan.

Things were different in California. Everyone drove imports there.  I think if the Pink Lady producers knew what type of resentment there was in the US Northeast, they may not have backed the show. That is beside the point of it being a goofy idea.

Pink Lady and Jeff – unfortunately — was doomed from the start.  OK, it was a goofy show, but so were all the others. Pink Lady — I apologize for the bad Hollywood television writers. I apologize for the bad taste of the American public. We just were not ready. Pink Lady (and even you Jeff) … I apologize for not seeing your beauty and talent back then.  I would love to see a reunion concert or show in America.

It would be great if the media geniuses in Hollywood would take advantage of the otaku market in America and create a Japanese variety show for the US audience.

I sure know where you can find the dumb American co-host … I will wait for the call.

Starlight: It took 24 years for me to see the beauty of Pink Lady.

Hanako Oku and the English Sessions

FAN FICTION! “Hanako Oku and the English Sessions”

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Ok, Miss Oku, once again don’t worry so much about the “Ps and Qs” think more about the “Ls and Rs”.

I was ecstatically happy to find out that my favorite Japanese singer-songwriter Hanako Oku is going to release a CD single with cover songs sung in ENGLISH. The mini-album is oddly titled “Rum Raisin”.

I am a huge –Oku-fan, but I do not always have English translations of her original songs sung in Japanese. I feel a little left out sometimes because I am not a Japanese-speaker. I love her songs, but find myself wishing that I could better understand the meaning. … and no one can communicate the intense emotions of unrequited love like Hanako Oku.

This must have been a tremendous amount of work for her.  She employed language experts, dialect coaches and a couple of hipster English majors from a famous American university.  I was able to link up some images from these sessions.  A few slides are presented here.

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I think that she has made excellent choices for her first mini-album of English covers here.  Each song is similar in many ways to her emotional ballads, yet this selection also allows her to explore some different – but just as intense – emotions. The songs are all from the genre that would be classified as “classic rock” and may be unknown to her younger fans.

I can’t wait until this is released.  I listened to the preview, but these songs are not yet available on YourTube. (The “Record-Industry-Weasels” as per usual).

Until then, I will share with you the original versions by the original artists until such time as the Oku covers are sold. Just imagine The Little Great One breathing life into them. The songs are: 1) “A Dream Goes On Forever” originally written performed by Todd Rundgren, 2) “The Blue, Red and Grey” written and sung by Peter Townshend (The Who), and 3) “The Town Cryer” originally by Elvis Costello. I am also including links for the original lyrics.

“A Dream Goes on Forever”

Todd Rundgren’s song pulls on the heartstrings just the way an Oku-ballad does. A lost love.  Hanging on to a dream that can never happen. Otherworldly and interdimensional hopes that it will.  Oku-san shows the “cosmic” side of herself here. There are no cheap synthesizer tricks to space you out.  The lady’s raw emotional disappointment and longing are enough to take you to the dream world.

Slide13

… you’re so far away and so long ago …

(The reference to “old soldiers fade away” is odd, however. A Japanese singer making a Douglas MacArthur reference?) However, I fell like a heap on the floor as she sang “I guess I believe that I’ll see you someday” and “how much I loved you you’ll never know til you join me within my dream”. Lyrics are linked here.

“Blue, Red and Grey”

The next one is a little lighter, and a little bouncier, but just as poignant.  The song is from a 1975 album by The Who, but it is all Pete Townsend. There is a ukulele sound on Oku’s version, but her happy-bouncy piano is the main instrument, and Oku also plays part of the interlude on her melodica. It sounds quite whimsical, especially at the end.

I am in Oku-heaven when she says “I dig every second” – instead of “like” or “love”. The 1960s expression is given new life by Oku. Oh, you are so very groovy Hanako.  I wonder if she knows what “buzz” means in the song however.  I have to think that in her mind, happy Zen-bees are buzzing about.

Slide14

Funny moment when Oku breaks her own “banana rule”.

She perhaps takes a jab at the music industry with that line “I even shun the south of France”.  Oku is not your typical rock-star celebrity.  Other artists are much more “popular” and have greater sales right now, but the lady is a very down to Earth and lovable (see her website). She is not among the stuck-up celebrity elite.  Lyrics are linked here.

“The Town Cryer”

All of that was great, but then there is the big finale. I was unprepared and shocked at how great it was.

Slide12

“They say they’ll die for love — then they leave it out”

She must have spent countless hours rehearsing not only the English words, but the vocal inflection needed to convey the emotions of the song.  I was not prepared to hear an angry Hanako Oku.

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Kudos to her English voice coach.  Somehow — she nails it.

The song she has produced is like the world’s greatest waterfall.  There is great, towering piano and orchestration. That little bit of anger that is in her voice …  may be her attempts to convey Costello’s trademark snarl. It does live fans wondering what will be coming next.  Anger – even heartfelt anger – has not been part of the usual Oku repertoire to this point.  Is she stepping out of herself to show this emotion?  What is she angry about, and why does she choose to express this subtle rage in English? Is English Oku’s “minstrel” language? The one that she uses when she needs to step out of her calm Japanese “Hanako Oku” demeanor … in order to say the things she would not otherwise say?   Lyrics are linked here.

She does flip the “boys” to “girls” to be the protagonist of the song. The accusatory tone in her voice against the man actually works BETTER when sung by a woman. I think that this flip of the male/female roles improves on Costello’s original. Who knew – until Oku! Her voice starts gentle and affraid, yet hits the crescendo in bitterness.

Slide9

Oku, “in the zone” getting herself psyched for the aggressive ballad.

That part about “teddy bear tender” may be lost on her Japanese fans without the Elvis Presley reference. You can really feel that she is letting loose on a man she is disappointed with.  Go get him Hanachan, the weak bastard deserves it. Listeners may not know that the phrase “tragically hip” was coined by Elvis Costello in this song.  It is interesting to hear it in Oku’s Japanese accent, with the additional sarcastic inflection.  Amazing, amazing, amazing.

Slide15

The song is heavy on strings at the end, which is also unusual for a Hanako Oku song.  The use of “movie soundtrack” type strings at the end are like a trail … leading us to perhaps a new musical direction for The Little Great One?

Like the ice cream flavor, this “Rum Raisin” is a surprising, unique taste of intensity. 

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Kimonos on Monday (Week #36): Seijin no Hi / 48 Family Photos

Kimonos on Monday – the “48 Family” Photos: I am so happy that it is Monday (12:01 GMT), so I can finally share these photos from “Coming of Age Day” 2015. This first photo is a large image that is perfect for PC wallpaper.  I am using it as my wallpaper right now.  It makes me happy just looking at it.  It makes me feel good every time I boot the computer!

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Wallpaper size image for your computer!

Several members of the AKB, NMB, SKE, and HKT 48 groups attended “Coming of Age Day” ceremonies held at the Kanda Myojin shrine in Tokyo.

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The young women dressed in furisode, were blessed by a Shinto priest and drank holy sake as part of the ceremony.

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Perhaps there were fewer “big name” participants from the AKB48 family turning 20 this year, but my oshimen — Iwasa Misaki was one of them.  Best wishes to you Wasamin!

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My oshi … Wasamin !

More “48 Family” Photos

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So much cuteness AND traditional beauty!!!

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… each one more lovely than the next!

The news reported that there were sub-freeing temperatures that day. The girls — I mean — ladies  (as they are considered adults now) were good sports about having the photos taken!

You can read more on the Tokyo Girls Update web page article linked here.

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Welcome to the world of grown-ups ladies!

 

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KIMONOS ON MONDAY: “Funashi” and friends!

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Funashi and friends: Yuko, Acchan and Sashi!

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Funashi gets to interact with the ex-#1 members Yuko Oshima, Atsuko Maeda and Rino Sashihara.

Funashi and friends!

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