Denny Sinnoh's "Akihabara Starlight"

Posts tagged ‘Nostalgia’

IDOL HISTORY 101 – Part 27: Onyanko Club’s controversial song.

Before there was AKB48, the groups’ boss Mr. Yasushi Akimoto produced another group of young idols! Onyanko Club was popular in the 1980s. The group had 52 members, and arguably became the template for many idol groups which followed.

I stumbled upon this video posted by a user on YouTube, and wanted to share it. The song is “Sailor fuku wo nugasanaide”.  It stirred a little controversy back then, as you will see here —  teenage girls are singing about their sexuality. Hmmm … Young girls singing songs with suggestive lyrics – who would of thunk it? The song is actually kinda innocent by today’s standards.

Parents: Teenagers really do not think about sex and discuss it with their friends do they? There is an academic point in there to discuss I suppose. I like the clip because it is just so damn goofy. What a time -warp. It is yet another reason why I think Japanese popular culture can be at times so darn cute  … from my  foreign perspective. It is all starlight to me remember. If you are fan of Japanese music, this clip it should be an important part of idol history. The video is sub-titled in English for your pleasure …

(Spoiler: Don’t worry grown-ups — it all ends all OK. The protagonist really does not do it.) 

AKB48 paid tribute to Onyanko Club and covered the song. Thank you YouTube user. Note that it is an older AKB show clip – when the group was at its peak … (cough) when Acchan was still the center. So many of my old favorites were there — Shinoda-san and Tomochin, etc. I’d rather not get into a pissing contest as to whether the group is now past their peak – just enjoy the nostalgia.

Nostalgia embedded in nostalgia perhaps!

Starlight: This video will disappear in 5 … 4… 3… 2…

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Is it too early for candy corn?

where is the candy corn

Even before the camera moved up, I knew that it was Yukirin front-center here

I know that it is too early for Halloween, but I have been enjoying AKB48’s 41st single “Halloween Night” released a couple of weeks ago. I think that it is a very good disco song. Yes disco. The group did a very good job at capturing what I hear as a 1970s-style sound.

That is a big accomplishment, because in the 1970s, I was one of those “heavy metal kids” with the “DISCO SUCKS” t-shirt. Most of you are too young to know about this: The 1970s hard-rock, FM rock community I was a part of back then, did not like the Disco trend which was taking over the nation in the late 1970s. We loved Led Zeppelin, The Who, Todd Rundgren, Jethro Tull, Emerson Lake & Palmer, etc. , but would not tolerate any disco music. Looking back, I should not have been such a music bigot. I was young, and had a long musical journey ahead of me. I listen to all kinds of music today, and there are few genres that I do not like at least a little bit.

But .. EEE-gads, if the long-haired, leather clad 18-year old Denny would have known that someday the (something-something)-year old Denny would be loving a disco song by a “manufactured” Japanese girl dancers pop group, he would have thrown up his 12-pack of Colt 45.

… or maybe I would have liked this kind of disco music. I might admit, that there were some disco songs I thought were OK. In fact, The Rolling Stones – who were worshiped by the hard rock crowd – were actually kind of “disco” when I think back on it.  There was no getting away from disco in the 70s, no matter how hard you rocked. Furthermore, most 1970s “chicks” were OK with the Disco. Even if they liked hard rock too, most of the ladies I knew liked to disco dance! The girls had it right. They might rock out at an Aerosmith concert, but they also knew that disco dancing was fun too. I guess I was too “anal” (which is the nice way to say what we heavy metal fans were). 

“Look, if you are going to talk to this chick, you are going to have to go out on the disco dance floor”. 

… and I’m wearing a “Black Sabbath” T-shirt.

Awkward.

Oh, getting back to the new AKB48 single. It is pretty cool. Sashi does a good job centering this single. (All is forgiven. You deserve to be center, Rino-chan.) The integration of occasional English words is pretty cute, and lends itself to that 1970s feel. That “Boogie Night” phrase kills me. “Ready? …”  So cute.

The official music video features the ladies in great (but freaky) Halloween costumes. However, I think that I prefer these shiny-silver dance outfits used in this promo performance video. I think these silver mini-skirts are cuter and sexier than the scary stuff. Overall, I am liking performance videos better than the official music videos these days. I think the TV appearances and other performance videos (PVs) allow for a better look at all the Idols. The official music videos (MVs) are usually cut pretty fast, and are often about something else than the song.

I like to watch the PVs and identify the members who I know. I don’t know ALL the members, particularly with all the recent graduations, and the creation of so many sister groups and sub-units.  I can only identify about 30 current members by name, but may remember the name when reminded in a subbed video — “Oh, yeah … her.” The funny thing is, that I can ID which one is Yuki Kashiwagi, just from looking at her legs. (See top photo above.)  As the camera pans over the dance floor, you just see the girls legs, but then before it panned up, I thought “oh, there is Yuki”. Ha. I am so much of a fan, I can now identify her just by her legs. Hoo boy … I should really get going to work today.

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Here is what some of the “Halloween” costumes look like …

akb48 halloween-knight costumes

… which you can see more of in the commercial — I mean — the “short version” of the official MV approved by the company..

Sakura is a great choice to be a jester. Mayuyu is adorable as a goth-lolita, and Jurina is a perfect black widow.

sakura mayu jurina

If you can get Jpopsuki to load, you can view the entire HN video here. You may have to “boogie” something while it loads, but it is worth the wait.

http://www.jpopsuki.tv/video/AKB48—Halloween-Night/d3e3617a69eda9fe181b4c95b7a5e55a

How do they get away with it?

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The music video has a lot of lighted-floor disco dancing — straight out of Saturday Night Fever. There are a lot of dancing dudes too.  “There are girls who look like guys, dancing with guys who look like girls.” I think that I actually owned some of those polyester shirts shown. The great thing about those polyester leisure suits those guys are wearing is that they did not need any ironing or special care. You could “boogie” all night in it, wash your car with it the next day, then hang it up and it would look fine.

We also get to see disco dancing styles from not just the 70s — but some 80s “break” dancing, those 1990s dances, and the more modern “whatever-the-devil-you-young-people-call-dancing-these-days.” It is a very fun concept video, but  I will probably stick with the performance video instead.

OH! If you want to learn how to dance AKB’s “Halloween Night” dance, instructions are linked here. I can only do the “bat” move.

STARLIGHT: Don’t point the telescope at all my embarrassing 1970s Heavy Metal T-shirts!!! … too scary …

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Think Baseball ! … Baseball !! … Baseball !!!

For Readers 18 years and over only. Denny uses “maritime language” here. No kids allowed, and no Judgmental Ninnies.

Welcome. There’s nothing like having a beer and a dog … and another beer … when you watch the game, right? Tell the bartender to turn up the game, and I’ll get us another round!

viagraadlady

Baseball season is upon us once again! Remember last fall during the MLB playoffs and World Series? Remember these ads for “Viagra” featured this sexy lady? I guess it makes sense to have the Viagra ads during televised sports. Many men — and a smaller percentage of women — are watching. If you wanted to get a message out to “the guys”, the playoffs were a good time to sow interest. A lot was said about these ads when they aired during the Division Series last fall, I won’t repeat that now, short to say that many people found the discussion of … ahem … E.D. a little too discomforting during the tension packed playoffs.  More on that later …

I do think that sexuality and baseball are most definitely are causally* linked. Lemmie tell ya a story …

One day when I was in the 6th grade, the teachers took all the girls to one room, and all the boys were left in another classroom. We were to receive information on sex education you see. We were to be given an open, honest and frank conversation about sex, boys and girls bodies, and the changes some of us were going through.  Ha! Of course they never did that, and they danced around the issues so much that we were all more confused than before they “educated” us.

I can remember that in 6th grade I finally noticed girls.  In 5th grade I still thought liked a kid … liked toys … liked MAD magazine … girls were the ENEMY back then. By 6th grade there were girls that I liked. Oh, man but this was in the stone age with no Internet. I really wanted to see what one looked like. You know … what a girl is like DOWN THERE.  I had not a clue. Some of my friends said that they had seen one. Others said that they were going to bring in a dirty magazine that shows the good stuff. I had my hopes up for a while, but they never brought in the dirty book.  Dammit! I wanted to see one!!! What does a hoo hoo look like?  Was I so wrong for wondering this?

Oh, yeah, the “Sex Ed” class.  I was very disappointed by the filmstrip. In between the slide sequences and the beeps and the bad narration we saw some images of bees, fish, dogs, flowers, etc. Not a girl’s hoo hoo was to be seen however. Everyone knows that the special place is full of mysteries even if you have a map … and there I was with all my unanswered questions. I just had to keep guessing. Some of the 6th grade girls wore pretty tight blue jeans, and sometimes the morning sun would make an eclipse through a dress. If you have the right angle on a pair of culottes you can get close. I would have done anything to see a real one … oh, and especially … Laura’s … Oh, Laura … um … er … I digress …

At one point. one of the gym teachers drew a chalkboard diagram of a dick and balls, but you would never know if they hadn’t told us. They also told us that we may begin to experience what they called a “wet dream”.  Too late, Mr. Gym teacher, I was already there. I could not stop thinking about Laura … and Linda … and oh yeah, Teri … and Patty, who was already growing big by that time … sorry … um…  Baseball, right?

Anyway, during the filmstrip the narrator said that if we ever were lying in bed at night … and our thoughts turned to girls (Oh, Laura) … we should DISTRACT OURSELVES IN SOME WAY, and think about something else. The narrator said “think about the big baseball game…”.  The narration echoed: “think baseball …baseball …” as if they were trying to hypnotize us into never touching … well … you know.

You see, the geniuses in Sex Ed at that time were afraid that boys going through puberty might try to masturbate, which was to be avoided at all costs, for some reason. Thus, it was drilled into me: “THINK BASEBALL, BASEBALL, BASEBALL!” Getting a boner? … THINK BASEBALL!!!

One time I was watching a stand-up comedy bit by the late Robin Williams. He was doing this manic collage of different characters and free-associating like he often did. At one point he stopped a sexual joke comment and said “Think Baseball … Baseball”.  Mr. Williams MUST have seen the same filmstrip as I did. We were of the same approximate generation and are both from the same region of the country. He HAD to have seen that standard filmstrip, because he voiced it with the same bland inflection the narrator in the Sex Ed film did.

True story:  Eddie Snyder (yes, his real name, but let him sue me) raised his hand and shyly asked the teacher: “How long does a wet dream last?”  He asked the question as if he was afraid. Poor little guy did not want it to happen to him because he thought that it was going to HURT.  Poor kid. I had to laugh to myself though. I knew all about it. In fact, I was an expert already (oh, Laura … Laura).

One time when my team was at a baseball practice, one of the other kids brought a “dirty” paperback book into the dugout. There were no pictures, other than the cover, which was risqué but had no nudity. It was all text, but my buddy had underlined a lot of the swear words and the “good parts” – if you know what I mean. Of course this book was lost on me because I still did not know exactly what the female anatomy looked like.  Passages such as “He shoved his cock into her cunt” had no meaning — as “cunt” was terra incognita to me, and still only a theoretical concept.

I know what you are thinking: “Denny, is this how you became an expert on Baseball?”

Well, I will admit, baseball is a great sport, especially for those of us too small for football. I could play any position. I learned all of the fielding positions. I could even play catcher, which most of my friends could not play. “How can you catch the ball, when someone is swinging the bat in front of you”, they would ask. “Just put your glove where you expect it will go” I replied. I loved playing First Base, even though I did not have the build for it. A Firstbaseman should be a tall, lanky left-hander. I was a short, squat right-hander. First base is great because you are in on so many plays. Especially if Laura is watching …

ball hit to right field who covers

Off topic: You know, a first basemen’s mitt does look a little bit like a wide-open vagina. I’m just glad I never made the connection back then.

I saw plenty of crusty mitts back in 6th grade.

I saw plenty of crusty mitts back in 6th grade.

I also learned to switch hit. I am a natural right-hander. I bat for average, line drives, rocket ground balls, etc when batting right. When I bat left, I have an upper-cut swing, hit more fly balls, hit less for average, but hit better for power.

pinup beauties baseball

… Maybe if I was a good baseball player, Laura would be impressed?

Oh, yeah, back to that Viagra ad …

Thing one: It is an embarrassing thing to have on TV, if there are any other humans present.  I know it is an important subject … but don’t they know my wife is in the room?  It was INTIMIDATING!

OK, I am at the age, I know I am the target market for the drug, which is unfortunately not covered by insurance. My body and hormones are on a roller coaster ride however.

I am not like I was when I was 19 years old and thought about pussy 99.9% of the time. At my age now, I have my “Percent-of-the-time-I-think-about-pussy-ratio” WELL UNDER 90% now, thank you. Every once in a while I am even able to think about complicated subjects for a prolonged period of time. Serious topics. 

When I am at the bottom of the roller-coaster, I am in a fragile state.  When I watch that intimidating ad, with the sexy but disappointed lady, I think: “Oh, can’t we just talk … can’t we just cuddle … um … don’t I show you that I care in other ways? … let’s change the subject”.  Dammit, I am like a frightened little turtle.

viagra lady closeup gulp

Me: “This has never happened to be before …”/ Her: “Don’t worry about it. But thanks a lot for the finger-fuck, Superman.”

Other days, my hormones are raging, and I am a one-man diamond cutting machine. When I am at the top of the roller-coaster hill, I look at that Viagra ad, and think: “Oh, you want to see some FUCKING now do ya lady? Oh, I’ll show you some FUCKING …, I’m going to show you some FUCKING that is going to wipe that smirk off your face.” Oh, yeah … I think,  I’m going to explode in her so hard, it would make those blue, wanting eyes bulge out!!! **

… what? … too much swagger?

viagra lady closeup gulp

When I am at my best, you have to visualize these sound effects: 1. The sound of a zipper being unzipped. 2. The sound of kielbasa sausage hitting the floor. That’s ME alright!

I hope all my readers will enjoy this young baseball season.

Starlight: I wonder what ever happened to Laura?***

Laura looked like Susan Dey

 

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My Gingham Checked Nostalgia

“Should I tell you how I feel inside?  … I feel just like Gingham Check”

Slide1

Young Denny was full of good ideas!

If you are following this blog, you are likely already familiar with AKB48’s fun and crazy  “Gingham Check” music video.  The official YouTube video is below. (I remind you to turn on HD and “CC” for English translated lyrics.)

I think that a lot of AKB fans — and all of the the big-butted critics — could not appreciate the nostalgic meaning contained within the lyrics however.  The lyrics may have gotten lost in these humorous parodies of Japanese horror movies.  The video was a lot of fun, but it has already been the subject of other blogs. I will not talk about that now —  but I will share this screen shot I once used as computer wallpaper:

Yuki Kashiwagi suggests this wallpaper for your computer.

Yuki Kashiwagi suggests this wallpaper for your computer.

The video is so Japan-pop-culture-bat-shit crazy, and the music is so fast paced, it may be difficult for one to catch the endearing simplicity and meaning in the lyrics.  Despite the crazy humor of the video, it is actually a sweet, nostalgic song.  The original lyrics are by Yasushi Akimoto.  The Japanese/English translation is available from Stage48 linked here. (I do think that the English translation for the JKT48 later is a much better  translation.)

I always loved the original, but now I think I like the JKT48 version more.  It is sung in an Indonesian-dialect.  Turn on the HD!

Somehow, someway — I am transported back to my childhood.  In this twisted, time-distorted realm, the JKT48 girls are there!  We are at one of those Americana “theme” restaurants, which feature pop culture artifacts such as Marilyn Monroe posters, juke boxes, neon signs, gas stations, etc.  I do not know how, but the girls transport me back to my youth in the early sixties. This JKT48 music video is all about how I wanted to go on a date with this one girl that I liked. Somehow she has also been transferred to this time-and-space distortion.  

Slide2

Even at that age I was already girl crazy! Here I am being a little gentleman.

The Jakarta 48 girls will help me out, as you will see.

Thanks for all the advice ladies!

Thanks for all the advice ladies!

This video version is probably a little better at capturing the spirit of the original song lyrics.  Gingham Check is another “boy’s perspective” song, a format often used in the Idol genre. (i.e. although it is sung by a woman, the lyrics tell a man’s story). I think the lyrics read better if said by a male, and that is how I will explain the song.  (Although the video above does not describe the lyrics exactly, it is still closer than the AKB48 version.) The tempo of the song is the same — upbeat, fun, and contains those great searing guitar parts.  I think they used the same music track as AKB48, but just added JKT48 vocals in Indonesian. The happiness of the music perhaps masks the bittersweet nostalgia and (perhaps) emotional pain of the lyrics.

The song is about a boy and girl walking their bikes to work on a summer morning.  I will infer that they work at the same seaside resort.  The young lady wears a blue and white “Gingham Check” uniform for her job.  The boy is in love with the young girl, who, unfortunately for him is only his “friend”.

He feels very conflicted.  He likes the girl but is too afraid to ask her out.  This conflict is symbolized by the blue and white “Gingham Check” pattern on the girl’s uniform.  “Blue-White-Blue” is the pattern the pretty young lady wears, but it is also the pattern of his internal conflict.  He wants to tell her he likes her, but what if she rejects him?  His good intentions are checked by his doubt — blue-white-blue

You girls have no idea how hard it is to make that first move. If women have the physical pain of childbirth, then men have the emotional turmoil of asking a girl for a date. I know, you are sitting in the comfort of your computer chair thinking: “That’s so easy. He should just tell her!!!”  Well, he does not want to ruin their friendship.  You see, he likes her, which makes him happy, but he likes her so much it hurts. Conflicted in opposite directions … blue-white-blue … just like Gingham Check.

As the sea comes into view,

 In a single shade of blue, 

It will tell me all I have to do,

All it takes is just one word inside my mouth,

But I try to speak and nothing will come out ..

I remember having these same feelings. I think that anyone can relate.

The summer goes on. Everyday he thinks that THIS WILL BE THE DAY that he will finally tell her how he feels.  But of course he doesn’t.  Blue-White-Blue.  Of course, he is kicking himself, but there is always the next day when he will walk with her to work again.  Should he tell her?  … “Yes-No-Yes” … feeling conflicted by LOVE cross-hatched by DESPAIR  … Blue-White-Blue

The summer days, begin to shorten, the days become cooler, and the boy realizes he will never tell her.  They will work together again next summer, so he might tell her then.

Should we be critical of the boy for never having the guts to speak up?  No.  That he never tells her of his love — is maybe not such a bad thing.  One has to have compassion, even for your former self.

There was once a great movie line read by actor Jack Palance in the old Billy Crystal comedy movie “City Slickers”.  The Palance character describes a farmhouse woman he would often see while riding herds back and forth across the prairie.  He describes her beauty, and the song she often sang as she hung out her laundry.  Smiling, he tells the other cowboys that he fell in love with the woman, and goes on to say what the memory of her means to him.  The other guys exclaim: “But why didn’t you approach her … she could have been the love of your life”!   Palance replies “… She is.”

It may be difficult for a young person to understand that.  When you eventually reach the nostalgic place a mature heart has traveled, you may understand. Do we have the compassion to forgive ourselves?

I am also going to include the “English Version” performed again by JKT48.  English lines are onscreen. Although some lines feel a little forced, a little awkward, in order to match the rhythm of the song, I think that the simple sweetness of the Mr. Akimoto’s lyrics shine through.

Lastly I will share with you the cover by GooseHouse sung in Japanese.  It is very sweet.  Full of joy in the way that only GooseHouse can make it! Their version slows the song and captures the bittersweet emotions and simplicity of the original Japanese lyrics.

The music video is FUN and CUTE.  It makes me happy, in my world that is otherwise filled with ugliness. The “Big Butts” will never understand.  Yet another reason Why I Like AKB48 — and the 48 Families!

Starlight: The JKT48 Indonesian version took four months of light-speed travel to reach my world.

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