Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best Movies of 2009

I would like to make a list of the best movies I have seen this year, but the way I see movies in Japan makes that almost impossible. The movie that I watched last March might have been your favorite Summer movie of 2008. A late night showing here starts at 8pm and costs $20. Most new movies I watch were recorder on a lopsided camcorder and come through my girlfriend's laptop computer. It isn't the same thing. I looked forward to Star Trek for a year and then never got home from work in time to see it. All of this being said, here are my favorite movies I saw this year.

1. Inglourious Basterds: Seeing Pulp Fiction on the day it came out in the theatre was one of the most remarkable experiences of my life. The audience was electric. I saw this in Namba Parks amongst a group of people whose disinterest in what was happening on the screen hung down like rain clouds. Natsuki alternated between horror, boredom and sleep. I was captivated. I have rarely liked a movie so much. Christoph Waltz should have the Oscar delivered to his house immediately. Not only was his performance remarkable it spanned at least four languages. He was off the charts amazing. I found myself trying to explain afterwards that it wasn't just killing that was going on, it was killing Nazis. Maybe that is hard to understand in Japan. I don't want to give too much away about the movie but the entire scene in the basement bar is so incredible, not in that it is something we have never seen, but that it is so very well done. Til Schweiger is also notable as Hugo Stiglitz. This is a movie I see myself going to again in the near future.

2. Up: I saw this less then a week after Inglourious Basterds in an attempt to make the previous experience up to Natsuki. I was taken aback by what I saw. It has been talked about a lot already but the roughly 20 minute montage near the beginning of the movie depicting the course of a marriage is one of the most moving sequences on film. If that was the entire movie I would have been satisfied. The rest of the movie is excellent as well. I don't know if I have seen a film that deals so well with sadness and death in an adult way that kids can also understand. It is also notable in the the secondary character is Japanese American.

3. The Hangover: I never new they were making a documentary about my life in Miyazaki, but... Apparently a lot of people felt that way about this movie as it blew up all over America. Summer drug me to see it when I was home this ...well...Summer and I laughed almost as much at her laughing as I did at the jokes. The movie had me at "Paging Dr. Faggot." See it. Laugh at it. Good stuff.

4. I Love You, Man: I was surprised to see this on other people's lists because I felt kind of silly about thinking it was good. It is nothing that original and it didn't rearrange my thoughts on the universe. This was just a formula movie that executed the formula very well. I don't think everyone will love it but it is a solid little comedy about guys being friends which features a little too much Rush for one to be comfortable.

Best Movie Experience of the Year: Going to the drive in in Rockford with David and Jayden. Watching Harry Potter and eating nachos. It renewed my faith in the goodness of small-town America.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Best Japanese Songs of the Decade

It happened as it usually happens; I was hating all of the decade lists as it is such a silly and arbitrary measurement of things that don't obey those kind of lines. Then, amidst all that, I thought of a list. Maybe some people didn't spend the decade in Japan. So for you:

Great Japanese Songs You Might Have Missed This Decade!!!!!!!

In no real order.

1. Chisa no Koi no Uta- Mongol 800 (2001)

This is the one song that couldn't be left of the list. It is undebatable. If you lived in Japan you heard this song. No one doesn't know this song, written by three 19 year olds and promoted with no video and little advertising. Why did it explode all over Japan in the 2001? Because it is insanely good.

2. Everything- Misia (2002)

Misia came a different route than Mongol 800. She is a complete product of the Japanese studio system. That being said, her talent is very real. If you like over the top sappy R and B like I do, this is right in your strike zone.

3. Joint- Rip Slyme (2003)

Japan plays host to a plethora of rap pretender parasites. Amidst the infection lay some healthy tissue. Witness Rip Slyme. These guys are good because they cut their own path rather than ape MTV videos with hot cars and big coats. They make good music. I used to DJ this just so see if people could dance to it. Answer? Mixed. Go on and make me laugh you silly bastards.

4. The Great Amateurism- Rhymester (2003)

Speaking of Japanese hip-hop, Rhymester had a 2-3 year period in which they couldn't stop making great songs. This is one of the lesser known ones. It never really got a foothold. I always wanted to use it when I was DJing but I couldn't find the vinyl anywhere. Nevertheless it is one of my favorite hip-hop tracks of all time. Pretty bad-ass in my opinion. Look for Rhymester to pop up on here again.

5. Haruka Kanata- Asian Kung-Fu Generation (2002)

This song gained some traction amongst anime fan in the West as it was used a one of the theme songs for Naruto. As I don't watch cartoon I missed out on that, but it is a song that won't really leave you. I included a video with the translation because, for my anyway, it is a strangely hard to understand song even though it is somewhat straight forward.

6. Prism- M-Flo (2001)

In my mind M-Flo is one of the underreported music stories of the decade. A Korean-Japanee guy leaves divinity school in America and forms a group with his friends from international school. This is what happens. M-Flo is still going strong without Lisa, but they don't really do it for me the way their first two albums did. It is worth noting that Lisa has one of the hottest voices ever.

7. Girigiri GanGanGan- The Cromagnons (2007)

Hiroto has been tearing apart the music scene since the mid '80s, first in The Blue Hearts then in The High-Lows. He got it together again with The Cromagnons who released one of my favorite songs of all time in 2007. As usual the lyrics are superb.

8. Tandem- Halcali (2003)

This is probably what people expect out of Japanese music; a little interesting, a dash of underage sexuality and a heaping teaspoon of what the fuck. Needless to say I was in love from the first moment. I turned to Ed and said, "We will probably find out they are in junior high." And we did. Objectively, if I can be, it is a good little song. Weird, yes. But good. It is also my alarm clock tone.

9. Super Butter Dog/Rhymester - This Y'all That Y'all (2002)

Rhymester pops up again for this collaboration with Super Butter Dog. This was from an album of Rhymester collaborations with other groups that I wore out listening too. I believe Super Butter Dog was the dude from Kinki Kids. Either way, they lay it down on this track. I particularly enjoy them rhyming the days of the week.

10. Lifetime Respect- Miki Douzan (2001)

Here it is. The grandaddy of all of them. An insult to call a one hit wonder. No one doesn't know this song. No one knows what happened to this guy. Everyone plays this at their wedding. No one can sing this at karaoke unless they crawled out of the deepest Osaka ghetto. Figuring out the lyrics to this song was one of my most challenging forays into the Japanese language. Result? I now say ええかげん。  Insanely great track about taking care of your spouse when they are senile and watching a movie and then doing it. Also the only love song I know that says "I don't know about getting married, but I sure am gonna get you pregnant." Word. A reggae MC named after a dead pro-wrestler.

11. Sono Nukumori ni Ryu ga Aru- Sambomaster (2003)

Back when I used to have Japanese MTV this song came on. I have never looked back. I love Sambomaster dearly. They have never stopped being good, but this song is still it for me. These guys look like they work in a VCR repair shop and then play music that kick everyone elses's ass completely. I saw them live for free on accident and this is just what they sounded like. Their lyrics are also insane. Insanely good. I have asked Japanese people what they are talking about and not many get it. I won't delve all the way in but the chorus to this song goes, "Me who has lost everything. You who has forgiven everything. The thing that I clutch in my hand now is the scary path called warmth. Tears fall. Love is born. Love is born. The rains of May begin."

12. Scary- The Mad Capsule Markets (2004)

As I have said before, I band that by all accounts I shouldn't like, but they make good songs sometimes. If you have ever seem Takanori Gomi fight, you have probably heard this song.

13. Wadatsumi no Ki- Chitose Hajime (2002)

When some yells out "Amami Oshima Represent!" Who answers? Hajime Chitose does. This song is so odd. No one else sings like her. This will be in your head for a while. If you are wondering what the deal is, she sings in "Shima Uta" style. Something you hear a lot in Okinawan music and many of the southern islands. She was a celebrated folksinger back on Amami.

14. Look Back Again- Yaida Hitomi (2001)

A very Japanese pop song that was stuck in my head for about two years. It wouldn 't be a stretch to call Yaida Hitomi "my type." It doesn't hurt that she has a literature degree from Kansai Daigaku. She wa classmates with my college football teamate and he said no one talked to her because she wasn't cute. Japanese guy fails again.

That's the list for now. I will come back to it as the things I forgot resurface. I will also add some honorable and dishonorable mentions. The "S" on this keyboard is broken. Forgiveness please.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


In a circus tent by a train track a heavy rain fell. Peeking through a gap in the red and white striped canvas one beheld; Strikeforce.

Crispim vs. Fanesca- Don't know, don't care.

Stack v. Douglas- Ibid.

Nakamura vs. Wilcox- Nakamura by flying armbar in the 1st. Enjoy it.

Britt vs. Lighty- Britt gets a narrow decision via experience.

Lawal vs. Whitehead- Lawal is a rare athletic talent coming to the sport. Couple his natural abilities with his mental approach to the sport and you have a future force. I want to buy stock in the guy. Nevertheless he is facing a tough wrestler at a higher weight. I see a decision for Lawal.

Lindland vs. Jacare- Speaking of rare talent, I love Jacare. A freaky grappler that is putting together a triking game. A raw striking game. Lindland used to be a talent but he is going the way of his beloved Republican party. Lindland gets tooled for a 2nd round submission.

Smith vs. Le- Don't believe all of the hype, despite what the commentator will tell you tomorrow, Cung Le isn't a world class striker, he is just a very interesting striker and an occasionally effective striker. I like him. I am just suspicious about someone that has spent so much time off from training to make movies. What level is he at right now? Smith has the ability to win any fight at anytime with one right hand. That applies in this fight as well. What else applies is his strategy of absorbing punishment while looking to use his right and having almost zero lateral movement while moving back and covering. This will not be a good approach against Le. I think Le's kick pile up and get him a 3rd round TKO.

Thomson vs. Melendez- The smart money is with Thomson on this one. He has a load of talent and his striking is far better than Melendez's. Thomson also has enough wrestling to not get tossed around. I worry about his injuries and layoff though. I like the Melendez I have seen lately and I like his camp. I am going with Melendez by close decision.

Lieberman Socks Ass

My hate for Joe Liebrman is a hard thing to define. Hate is a strong word, but I think it comes honest. It might be that too much amateur psychology goes on in political discsussions, but what kind of character adversely effects the well-being of millions based on their own personal grudges? A sad, sad man. I like that Move-on is after him now. Run him off the scene.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

UFC 107: Turn to Stone

Commissioner White pimp walked to the podium in Memphis wearing two Peabody ducks as slippers and weeping for the public option. "How will a new generation of fighters come up with no access to health care? How will extending Medicaid down 10 years cover them until they are punch-drunk and diapered?....Quack!" He blew his nose on his Ted Kennedy airbrushed T-shirt and backed slowly away.

Burns vs. Grant: Burns nickname is "Fire." Almost as clever a "Rock" Quarry. Burns biggest weapon is his cornea death claw punching style. If Grant isn't blinded during the course of the fight he will wrestle and retain top control for a decision.

Johnson vs. Garcia: Has Johnson improved since the TUF finals? I wasn't impressed. He is OK on the ground. Garcia knocks him out in the 3rd.

Palhares vs. Linhares: I like Linhares's size and record. I also like his beard. His non-metaphorical beard. I just don't think his competition has been as fierce as the flesh tank they call Palhares. Tank in the military sense. Palhares has been on my radar for a while and I still expect him to do big things. I think he gets vicious takedowns throughout the fight and pound Linhares out in the 2nd.

Hendricks vs. Funch: Two not so experienced guys here. Although Hendricks has a long wrestling career. Funch is an interesting fighter but Hendricks busts him up with wrestling and some big strikes. Hendricks by decision.

Nelson vs. Wiman: Nelson has the game and background I would like to support. I always bet against Wiman but he is putting together a solid run- when he goes against mediocre competition. Nelson fighting at this level probably has everything to do with being BJ Penn's buddy without having BJ Penn's talent. I think Wiman is the guy to bet on here but I am going to go out on a limb and say Nelson by surprise sub in the 1st.

Belcher vs. Gouveia: Belcher...worst tattoo in sports. One of Gouveia's training partners says Gouveia isn't into training. Both came in overweight. Belcher by sloppy decision via Biloxi boxing.

Buentello vs. Struve: Struve has the game that I support; a giant dude that is all subs. But, and I begin this sentence with a but, I am a giant Buentello fan and I drive the bus for him routinely. Buentello has good-good stand-up and has been in the game too long for a gimmie sub. It worries me that he is a basket case who just severed times with his gym. That is a concern, but I think Buentello gets a TKO in the 3rd.

Fitch v. Pierce: Fitch is one of the best fighters in the world, rotting on the shelf. Pierce is up and coming but Fitch tools him for the decision.

Florian v. Guida: I do admire Guida's heart. I love that he backs his union, but he isn't my favorite fighter. Florian has upped his game so much in every area that he might be one of my favored fighters. Florian's defensive wrestling has gotten good enough and his defensive guard is solid enough that he will be able to stall until he can work his game. Low kicks and elbows plus a jab should be good for the decision. I predict blood in the hair.

Mir v. Kongo: Mir has managed to convince people that he is one of the better heavyweights. Is he? Kongo is one of the best strikers out there. Mir is a smart fighter though and he knows that he has to win on the ground. Two problems- First, Mir doesn't have any real takedowns. Not that good, but Kongo has no takedown defense. Second, leg-locks seem like a good strategy except that Kongo will make Mir pay for being in that position by bustin' up his noggin. The longer the fight goes on, the more chance Mir has of getting knocked out. How do I call this? I am a bit at a loss. Mir by decision?

Penn vs. Sanchez: Please. Is there any doubt of my pick? Once BJ Penn's space capsule make a safe descent to Earth, the deal is sealed. Where does Sanchez match up with Penn? His striking has improved but BJ is better. His wrestling ain't great. His subs are good against humans. Sanchez is going to be big for the weight class. That will be interesting. BJ wait him out and destroys his soul in the 4th.

There you go kids. Mail it off to Santa. Fax it to Markazi. Enjoy.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Something I Don't Care About...and Something I Do

This New York Times article on the White House party crashers (a fucking stupid story that illustrates that Washington is junior high with more vitriol and condonement of death squads) makes an off-hand, and somewhat accurate reference to MMA that seems to me some kind of road marker on the way to popular acceptance. That is all.

Climate Gate the F out of My Face

I haven't been talking politics recently. Hell, I haven't been talking recently. It has been all elementary schools and cold medicine for me this past week. But I gotta tell ya, this whole "Climate Gate" bull shenanigans has got me hotter than Tabasco. First, it is stupid in its own right, second it is is illustrative, and pronounce that correctly, of a larger Republican technique, media complicity, and public dumbitude.

Who out there loves science? What? I can't here you? Who out there mother fuckin' loves science? Man, I am gonna ship in a real audience 'cause I don't be hearin' nothin. Exactly. So a bunch of dipshit TV stars pretend to know something about science, which they don't, and translate it to a public who isn't listening. Go back to talking about Tiger Woods' titanium shaft.

It is such an easy technique the Republicans have developed. Is there a name for it? What can we call it? John Kerry is a real goddamned American war hero. What? He ain't your boy? OK, one guy who never met him in Vietnam and got paid by Nixon to take him down says he wasn't. Everybody who was there and knew him says he was. Well, I guess in fairness we have to call it a toss-up and take the war hero status off the table. There. Aren't we fair?

Health care and education are important. Ted Kennedy killed a chick....maybe. Kinda. Ted Kennedy supports health care and education. Well, you can see why these issues are controversial.

Climate change is undeniable scientific peer reviewed fact. 13 years worth of private emails have been illegally stolen and from them we have gleaned 3 or 4 that we can misinterpret. Climate change is a ho-ax. Obviously. Well, at the best it is a draw. If 98% of scientists agree it is real and 2% deny then you must see how fair the TV stars are when they call it.....Too Close to Call! Exciting drama.

It is too bad Tiger Woods didn't print out the emails and the data, put them in separate stacks, cut holes in them and fuck them back into pulp. Then, maybe there would be an in-depth look into the data and the information contained in the emails.

Questionable mail one refers to "Mike's Nature Trick." Well, you see the word trick right there and we all know that tricks are done by those big liars magicians and convince us that bunnies live in hats. There is no other use of the word. "Hey, neat trick, Coke does get the blood out of my carpet!" Shut the fuck up and speak English. That wasn't deception that was an interesting solution to a problem. Trick can never mean that. (Note to entry 5- you lying sack of shit)

Explanation: (via
The paper in question is the Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998) Nature paper on the original multiproxy temperature reconstruction, and the 'trick' is just to plot the instrumental records along with reconstruction so that the context of the recent warming is clear. Scientists often use the term "trick" to refer to a "a good way to deal with a problem", rather than something that is "secret", and so there is nothing problematic in this at all. As for the 'decline', it is well known that Keith Briffa's maximum latewood tree ring density proxy diverges from the temperature records after 1960 (this is more commonly known as the "divergence problem" — see e.g. the recent discussion in this paper) and has been discussed in the literature since Briffa et al in Nature in 1998 (Nature, 391, 678-682). Those authors have always recommended not using the post-1960 part of their reconstruction, and so while 'hiding' is probably a poor choice of words (since it is 'hidden' in plain sight), not using the data in the plot is completely appropriate, as is further research to understand why this happens.[35]

Two other emails aren't even worth dealing with because they are private emails talking about being frustrated with the whole process. They talk about keeping skeptics out of peer reviewed journals or keeping data to themselves. Were either of these things ever done? No. Who cares? If they had been done, while bad personally, does it effect the thousands of people involved? Does it change any of the data? How?

Mail number four. Four out of thirteen years states: "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't" Oh my God! He just admitted that global warming never existed! Never. There was no warming ever! By "ever" I mean in one small, geographically confined measurement during one small period of time. Oh no! And the scientist implied that that was a travesty....that they couldn't get an accurate measurement and account for discrepancies.

Horrible, horrible climate change scientists, why did you go and prove climate deniers wrong? We all know that the real forecast is cloudy with a chance of meatballs.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's a Draw!

Finally the soccer god's look down on the U.S. and smile. In case you didn't know already we- and I say we like I am involved- got put in a group with England, Algeria and Slovenia. I like the odds of the U.S. coming in at least second in that group. The other upside is a rad first match with England. Do I favor the U.S.? No. Do I think they can but it on England? Hell yes! Without Davies it won't be the explosive showdown I would like, but we already know we have a better keeper who isn't scared of English opposition- witness Howard's awesome penalty stop on Defoe this weekend. Also, the prospect of Onyewu-if healthy- getting in Rooney's head is cracking me up already. One point, I have often spoken of the force that was Tony Sanneh at the 2002 World Cup. I don't know who on this team can be that, but I would like them to include Kyle Beckerman in the team. I could see his work in the midfield really frustrating the English side.

attempting to silence the voices in my head.