Denny Sinnoh's "Akihabara Starlight"

Archive for April, 2015

Image

“I Can’t Pretend a Stranger Is A Long-Awaited Friend.”

neil peart i cant pretend

Great News! “Beyond The Lighted Stage” is now streaming on Netflix! It is my favorite “Rock Documentary” of all time. I had already seen it on Netflix DVD a couple of years ago, but since then — they put it on streaming! I have watched it another three times. I even like to have it on when I do chores around the house. Having said all that, my post today is not a review of that great 2010 documentary about Canada’s progressive rock band Rush. (That film will have to be the subject of another blog.)

My topic? Well, after watching this rock-doc, I could not help but be mucho-impressed with the persona life story of band’s drummer/lyricist Neil Peart. I was greatly inspired by the interviews with him. He is (arguably) the greatest rock drummer.

Mr. Peart is a GREAT MAN – and that is not an accolade I give out very often. I would have to put him up there with Buddha, George Washington, Mr. Spock, and the guy who invented the Wendy’s Triple with Cheese (hold the mayo).

When I watched Mr. Peart, I saw a talented rock-hero, but in his flaws, I also saw a lot of myself. He is a good role-model — and not just for his expertise on the drums. I think any young person should aspire to live a life as well as he has.

The documentary shows through interviews and home movies the story of Neil joining Rush. It also shows some earlier film of him as a little boy (He was a Canadian boy who could not ice-skate very well – which he admits caused him some trouble in his life.) He was a gawky, bullied teenager. After high school he studied music and — among other things, books about Objectivism while in England but returned to Canada and earned his chops playing in local rock bands. He was working in his family’s tractor supply store when he was asked to audition for Rush – as the original Rush drummer had health problems and could not tour. Neil played like a cross between Keith Moon and John Bonham — and was of course hired.

Neil Peart is not your typical rock drummer. Mr. Peart has always been an avid reader. He is no academic egghead, yet the man is very sharp, very witty, and very astute. His literate nature led to him becoming the main lyricist for Rush. I always liked how he often employed themes from history, mythology, literature, social-economics and science fiction.  Peart lyrics are sometimes a little like J.R.R. Tolkien …and sometimes like Isaac Asimov. Admittedly, rock critics often PANNED his songs for being pretentious and/or sophomoric – perhaps comparable to an English major at a liberal arts college. This is a great injustice. Ok, some lyrics are hokey, but others are very deep, very profound — even mystical. When you look at his entire body of work, it is indeed very ambitiousparticularly considering the lyrics are for a hard rock songs! Rush songs have also “borrowed” famous phrases from literature. This is not “ripping off Shakespeare” as some have claimed. Rather, Mr.Peart has referenced certain well known phrases for context and emphasis. His songs spoke to the generation of us alienated heavy-metal kids who had just enough education to be dangerous. Think 2112 – linked here.

The two other members of Rush – singer bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson are very good about signing autographs. They like to interact with the press and the fans at these “meet and greet” events before concerts. Mr. Peart does not. He does not care for signing autographs, meeting and making small talk with fans, and has a reputation of being an anti-social sourpuss. (Yup, I know what that’s like.)

Nothing could be further from the truth. The documentary shows what a gentle, humorous and thoughtful man he is. You should do so well.

Damn, I wish I was a better writer.*

“Cast in this unlikely role
Ill-equipped to act
With insufficient tact
One must put up barriers
To keep oneself intact”

Some found N.P.’s brooding intensity to be off-putting. However, as Geddy Lee explained, “Neil is not anti-social , in fact he is very shy… He is not good at talking with fans because he is just not com-for-ta-ble.”

Neil Peart made a good point on this, at one point he said “When I was growing up I loved The Who, but I would never, ever think of going up to their hotel room after a concert and try to meet them.” The man is absolutely right. What is there to say in those situations really? Don’t be like these guys.

A poignant great part of the doc also explains what happened during a dark period of Mr. Peart’s life. One night, Neil and his wife Jacqueline were informed that their daughter Selena died in a horrific auto accident. As Mr. Peart and his wife struggled with their loss, Neil’s wife was diagnosed with cancer, and died a few months later. She lost her will to live on the night her daughter died. Peart said that his wife actually died of a “broken heart”. He called it “a slow suicide by apathy. She just didn’t care.”

Mr Peart struggled to cope. He considered himself “retired” from music.  In his grief, Neil Peart got on his motorcycle and rode. He cycled around North America. Eastern Canada to Alaska, to Baja Mexico, Belize and around again. 55,000 miles. He would just ride, as the feel of the road calmed what he called ‘his baby soul”. He was never recognized on the journey, and would be never approached when he would stop in small towns and cafés. His experience is chronicled in his book “Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road” (2002).  

travels on the healing road cover

I am currently reading this and highly recommend it. I know that he is a famous musician, but I feel connected via experience to Mr. Peart. He expresses many of the same feelings I have had about travel. 

Readers: My descriptions here cannot capture the virtues of this great man.

Mr. Peart’s official web page is linked here.

Please enjoy the Rush song “Limelight” in super-HD, and featuring these great lyrics linked here.

Lyrics are discussed on the SongFacts website linked here.

* “Those who wish to be / must put aside the alienation / get on with the fascination / the real relation / the underlying theme”

Image

What? You say you’re going to open a can of “WHOOP ASS”?

can of paruru

Well … You might open your can of “whoop ass” but I am going to beat you down when I open my can of “Paruru”!!!

Asahi soft drink corporation has released new promotional commercials for their product line of “WONDA” coffee featuring AKB48!  WONDA promotional campaign spokes-idols are AKB48 members Haruka Shimazaki (島崎遥香), Mayu Watanabe (渡辺麻友), Minami Takahashi (高橋みなみ), Yuki Kashiwagi (柏木由紀) and Yui Yokoyama (横山由依).

They are pretty cute “Japan-is-crazy-type-commercials” which we all know and love. (But nothing as crazy as the music video at the end of the post.)

I actually liked the older WONDA cans when they had the photos of the members on the cans. Then, you could really “open up a can of Paruru”!

paruru on a can

I’m gonna open me a can of Shimazaki-san !!!

Still, I would like to have the promotional poster!

wonder-2015-poster-02

You can see more commercials — one featuring each member for each day of the week — at the post by AKB48-Daily linked here.

Oh, and these commercial themes are also going to be worked into a new AKb48 music video.  Here is the “short version”. The record company does not trust me with the long version. It is still 1:30 of funny.

Starlight: From the Sun to Neptune. Not all that long this time!

Kimonos on Monday: Yui Yokoyama – Part III – Special Collection

This week we take a look at some of the other Yuihan kimono outfits. These are a few odds-and-ends which did not fit to the theme of the last two posts. This gallery will span several years, while my mind wanders …

yui yokoyama kimono

This is young Yui soon after she joined AKB48. What a beautiful, fresh face. She would grow to be one of my favorites.

yui yukoyama as a child in kimono tumblr_mpbjx7YYSN1sxax4uo3_1280

Ha ha. I really went back in time here. Yes, that is Yui! Here she is enjoying the bright sunshine in her little kimono outfit. I don’t know what kind of cookie that is.  Can someone tell me what she is eating?

yui yokoyama green kimono

This one is a little more recent (about three years ago).  This is probably my favorite kimono outfit of hers. I have a full-length shot of this kimono in my “No Politics” page (see my main pages).

yui yokoyama tumblr_mdazebp00y1rw95puo1_500

Oh, goodness gracious! Do you remember how ravishing Yui looked in that “Kodoku na Hoshizora” music video? Here she is getting ready to perform in the video. Of course, a good foot rub between takes may help the young idol relax.

yui yokoyama not yet

“Not Yet? If you say so Yuihan. I think you need that foot rub right NOW!”

yui yokoyama purple yukata

Nice Zen-like perspective. Was it Yui who did the raking? I wish the photographer was less worried about showing the Zen gravel, and more interested in those tootsies. Perhaps I could be of service? LOVING THAT PURPLE!

yui yokoyama cools one foot tumblr_mbscwc7Qdv1rqar03o1_500

That HAS to feel good Yui! … and might I suggest also a …. well .. you know …

yui yokoyama movie 44e5be85bbb1c7f9e2bc9434ac11bf7a

I do not know the where and why of this shot. I know it is for a movie, and that is it. Of course Yuihan is “movie star beautiful” … maybe too beautiful for Hollywood.

YY in kyoto program 5967e1a43fd7bb9b7268449ea0c9e9b8

On the web  site www.viki.com there is a program about Yui Yokoyama in Kimono.  During this recent special TV program, Yuihan takes the viewer on a tour of Kyoto … her birthplace city! Of course, there is A LOT of walking … which might make her feet tired … and so … you know …

“Follow your guide, AKB48’s Yui Yokoyama, as she takes you on a tour of the dazzling city. The unique colors of Japan have been expressed in its history, ever since ancient times. This history encompasses Kyoto’s culture and the colors of traditions that have been passed down. The vivid colors of cooking, the rich colors of architectural structures, the vibrant colors of shrine archways… Yui Yokoyama encounters various aspects of culture, artisans, and cuisine, all steeped in the beautiful colors of Kyoto. © KANSAI TELECASTING CORPORATION”

Dang it! I clicked on it …  The program is not available in my region!

(Denny kicks trash can, stubs toe, calls out in pain…)

OW .. now I’m the one who needs a foot rub … OUCH …

OK, right after this you can wear the next kimono Yuihan : )

OK, right after this you can wear the next kimono Yui : )

AKB48 heading to New York for Japan Day 2015

https://vimeo.com/124565726

New York? Oh No. My second least-favorite American City (after Washington, D.C.). If the group is to make an appearance in the USA, why not choose a place that is NOT a cesspool. I suggest next time choosing a nice safe American city such as Toledo, Ohio.

Girls: Just stay in the hotel lobby, and if you go out, watch out for what is on the sidewalks. Oh, and if you run into Donald Trump, do not … I repeat … do not stare at his hair.

So, I will have to drive 8 hours to NY if I want a glimpse of Kojima-san, eh. Well, I have my plans. I think I can trust WP readers not to notify the wrong Goombas. Let me be clear: My plan for a close meeting with the group does NOT include a hair-brained “Lucy and Ethel” like plan of impersonating NY city officials. My plan would also NOT include using hilariously large false mustaches. Just saying …

allthingsjpop


I know there will quite a few lucky readers here heading for New York as AKB48 will guesting for Japan Day 2015 on the 10th May! The lineup for New York includes Kojima Haruna(omg i’ve never seen her do ambassador work before), Iwatate Saho, Oshima Ryoka, Hirata Rina, Muto Tomu and Nozawa Rena.

Just the presence of Kojiharu alone makes this so exciting, don’t you think?

Official Website

View original post

My more “grown up” reflections on the song “Wildfire”

ghost horse image

I found mysticism and beauty in a surprising place this past week. I have been haunted by a ghost horse for six days now. My recent post about nicknames for Ponyta included the song “Wildfire” by Michael Martin Murphey. At first, I was just being my usual goofy self, and I wanted to include this song about a horse I remembered from the 1970s.

It was a hit in the mid-70s. I must have heard it at least a hundred times on AM radio back then. I may have heard it many times, however I never actually listened to it.

Back then, I was a teenage rock-and-roller – I was listening to a lot of Aerosmith, KISS, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, etc. I was a leather-clad hormone-driven heavy metal teen and too “cool” to listen to some hayseed song about a pony that broke down its stall. It could be said that I could not appreciate “Wildfire” because I was too much of a jackass.

Like too many of things in this life, we don’t realize the simple beauty of things right in front of us. Fortunately it was not too late for me to enjoy the mysticism and beauty now.

The emotions and the lyrics were lost on my teen self during that period, and I am sorry about that.  Last week, I prepared my Ponyta post, but the more I listened to the song, the more beautiful it became to me. I’m listening to it right now …

Thank you Mr. Murphey … I finally get it.

Before my words evaporate into the bogging ether, I want to share a couple of versions of the song, and I hope that you can find a special moment the way that I did.

The first is from a 2007 performance on “The David Letterman Show”. Paul Shaffer does a great job with the piano intro. The rest of the band seems really into it. Letterman himself is impressed and comes out to congratulate Mr. Murphey at the end. Mr. Murphey stresses certain words in the song in this version, but it becomes very heartfelt. You may not ever listen to much “Cowboy Music” but I hope that you can connect to the same emotions that I experienced. Don’t be so cynical — allow yourself to feel it.

The story from Wikipedia was that talk show host David Letterman loved the song. He would discuss with bandleader Paul Shaffer the meaning of the lyrics — particularly the line about “leave sodbustin’ behind” (that part gets to me too). Letterman described the song as “haunting and disturbingly mysterious, but always lovely,” and surmised that the performance would leave the studio audience with “a palpable sense of … mysticism, melancholy … and uplifting well-being.” They invited the singer to perform, and of course Mr. Murphey nailed it as seen here.

The second performance is longer and contains extended instrumentation. They lengthen the piano intro and ending. Both are wonderful. If you like, the original studio version is linked here. So many times I ignored it as it flowed out of a car’s AM radio …

Other references from Wikipedia: The song was made fun of by Dave Barry in an article he wrote about awkward songs (I do like Mr. Barry’s humor, but he was way off about this song). Of course, I was wrong to think it was a hokey song all those years ago. The song is also referenced in an episode of “The Simpsons”.  Lisa played the song for her pony on her saxophone. She introduced it by saying “This next song is also about a girl and her pony. It’s called ‘Wildfire’ “  I think that means it was a tribute!

The full lyrics are listed below. I will interpret them after.

She comes down from Yellow Mountain
On a dark flat land she rides
On a pony she named Wildfire
With a whirlwind by her side
On a cold Nebraska night

Oh, they say she died one winter
When there came a killing frost
And the pony she named Wildfire
Busted down his stall
In a blizzard he was lost

She ran calling Wildfire
She ran calling Wildfire
She ran calling Wildfire

By the dark of the moon I planted
But there came an early snow
There’s been a hoot owl howlin’ by my window now
For six nights in a row
She’s coming for me I know
And on Wildfire — we’re both gonna go

We’ll be riding Wildfire
She ran calling Wildfire
She ran calling Wildfire

On Wildfire we’re going to ride
We’re gonna leave sod bustin’ behind
Get these hard times right on out of our minds
Riding Wildfire

The song is open-ended enough that it could be interpreted in different ways. 

The song starts out by explaining a legend. A woman (or is she a spirit woman?) dies trying to eek out a living on the desolate Nebraska Plains. The song says that she come down from “Yellow Mountain” however there is no Yellow Mountain in Nebraska. Perhaps “Yellow Mountain” is derived from the Indian name for a mountain where gold was once thought to be found. Perhaps she gave up prospecting to settle on the plains. The woman dies, and her horse who loved her so much cannot stand living alone anymore. The pony “busts down his stall” and runs out into a blizzard – perhaps no longer caring about his own life. Without her, any life thereafter would be too painful.

A question remains: How could SHE go running calling out “Wildfire”? She was already dead. Was she calling to the ghost horse to join her? … or was she sad that the pony gave up his own life?

The story shifts to the protagonist a man currently struggling to make a living in the western Nebraska plains.

Now, I do not want to insult any potential readers in Lincoln or Omaha, however I must say that western Nebraska in winter is a desolate place. Early pioneers called that part of the Plains “The Great American Desert” as it was so hard to farm. (I will digress: If you have ever seen the Clint Eastwood movie “Unforgiven” — the Gene Hackman character says at one point: “Dead? No, but even I thought I was dead once, but it turned out I was just in Nebraska.” Indeed it is a harsh environment.)

I like that part about “by the dark of the moon I planted” as in the 1800s there were farming rules about planting according to the phases of the moon. It was superstitious perhaps, or had to do with the ancient trial-and-error wisdom of the aboriginal inhabitants of the Plains.

western Nebraska 1910

Farming peoples would plant, fertilize, harvest – even pick the right time to castrate a horse – all according to the appropriate moon phase. (I am not making that up or trying to be funny.)

The lyric “there came an early snow” means that his crop is killed again and again.

That part about  “There’s been a hoot-owl howling by my window now” is significant. You young otaku may not know that an owl outside your bedroom window is a bad omen in western and hill-people culture. He know that his death is eminent. He knows that the woman will come for him (is the ghost woman someone important to him?… perhaps an ancestor?)

During the Letterman performance, Mr. Murphey’s voice breaks at the “we’re both gonna go” lyric. It is a great emotional moment. If you listen I hope it takes you there.

He will starve too, as he has perhaps given up on life – however this is arguably not such a bad thing. He will die, but he knows that he will join the spirit of the woman and ride Wildfire. He will “leave sod-busting behind.” No more demeaning and futile dirt farming. No more struggling with the harsh realities of this existence. They will be together in the afterlife: “Get these hard times right on out of our minds” …

We tell ourselves when a loved one dies: “They are in a better place”.

I hope that you young otakus never have to have the experience of witnessing a loved one pass away over a long, grueling, painful illness. At some point, there is no coming back, and death is the release. I hope you enjoying these touching and mystical elements in song.

Starlight: 40 lightyears ago –  I was a jackass. Don’t point the telescope there.

ponyta card part

Instead, name your Ponyta “Wildfire” … and please visit Mr. Murphey-san’s website linked here.

They say it’s your EARTH DAY!!!

big_gaia_image_for_earth_day

Dear Gaia,

Happy “Earth Day” to Ya … I think that The Beatles said it best — take it away boys:

The “Gaia hypothesis” proposes that all living things (plants, animals, microbes, us, etc.) interact with all the non-living parts of Earth (rocks, water, gasses, etc.) to form a self-regulating complex system which maintains the conditions for life on the planet.  We are all parts of the same whole being!

Thus, we are the “cells” of one very large and complex organism – a being – just the same way that you and I consider ourselves to be a single being. For example green plants act as the “lungs” of our Earth.  You and I may be like the red blood cells in the circulatory system, and “The Kardashians”* are like the fecal bacteria in the gut.

Gaia theory can be extrapolated to say that planet Earth is not just LIKE an organism, our planet IS an organism!!!   

So Happy Birthday to Gaia! They say it’s your Earthday!

My vision of Gaia Goddess may actually be a little sexier than that envisioned by Environmental Scientist James Lovelock

* Insert your least favorite pop culture phenom here (does not have to be watching the Kardashians).

Image

Kimonos on Monday: Yui Yokoyama in Kimono – Part II

yui yokoyama kimono with umbrella

More Yui Yokoyama in kimono! 

I am a “BIG FAN” of yours Yuihan!!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Yui Yokoyama is always lovely in kimono or yukata.  

Up for more Yuihan next week? Part III next time … 

PS: They did not have a Yui-in-kimono video on YouTube, but here she is dressed as a military man and courting Yuko Oshima in an old AKBINGO “Danso” sketch.

Tag Cloud

Writing Under The Shades of Blue

I write not just to express but to explain.

Brian Camp's Film and Anime Blog

Flash Gordon meets Cowboy Bebop at Shaolin Temple

YuriReviews and More

YuriReviews is a blog about everything yuri~

ANIME ANIMÁCIÓK

ANIMÁCIÓS GYŰJTEMÉNY KÉPEKBEN

SilentReaders

Just Readers

Kurayami Monogatari

Would love a comment every so often <<

愛の演歌: Love of Enka

A blog about my passion for Enka music~

Gastradamus

Gastradamus is my name, and Gassy Topics are my game!

Rationalising The Universe

one post at a time

The Reviewer's Corner

The Sometimes Serious Corner of the Internet for Anime, Manga, and Comics

Pinky's Palace

All Things Anime

Tokyo Five

A family of five in Tokyo, Japan...

Life Confusions

"I Will Find Words, Smith them Down. For Love Is Infinite And So Are They."

Fantage Chatter

Lost in Words

Manga Toritsukareru Koto

"We are not obsessed. We just need anime and manga in our life."

Inner Thoughts of an Extrovert

Thoughts and ramblings from an extroverted anime fan.

2+2=4

AKB48 Shipper? welcome

百合 Goggles

百合 Is Life

Kawaii Kakkoii Sugoi

Japanese Culture Magazine for the perpetually Cute and Cool

Rhino

My Journey through Video Games & Geek Culture

The Punch Bowl

raw feelings and thoughts

Dyversions: Blog of 1,001 Games

The [mis]adventures of a gamer and shopaholic

~AUTHORSINXCESS~

Shubham's blog... Write to inspire!

Falconhaxx

This and that, sometimes and occasionally.

Anime Reviews and Lots of Other Stuff!

Where We Can Watch Our Anime in Peace

Pokécology

Ecologically overthinking representations of space/place and nonhumans in pokéverse! Updated Fridays

Michael Philip Atkins Travels

Journeys of a World Traveler

Mage in a Barrel

An Anime Blog for Those Who Want to Find Magic in Unexpected Places

Land of the Rising Sound

Alex Shenmue's blog on Japanese Music

s e n t i m e n t i a

population: me

OtakuGamerGirlT

All Anime, Manga, Games, All the Time

CheesyBits' Paradise

Heya! Welcome to my paradise! Feel free to explore my blog! (^o^)/

Coal talents

coalition of arts and entertainment

the limitless imagination

a place to let record what exists in my head, at this point in time.

Sakura Publishing Official Blog

Interview with independent and mainstream authors, and the latest scoop on the best new indie books in the world

Rated A For Anime

The Best Place to Get Anime Bookmarks, Calendars, More

STAR ♥ DUST

by Rosie Darling

honyasbookshelf

sharing a passion for story

An Anarchist's Cookbook

Cooking up a world without coercion

48 Family Center

Everything about 48 Family, is here!

A Visual Delirium

Personal deliria on my ongoing research on Japanese Visual Culture, Aesthetics and Art.

%d bloggers like this: