Sunday, December 28, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
I've never had something lost in the mail, but UPS has lost things. Someone sent me something with a slightly wrong address but the right zip code for my birthday, and UPS sent it back. I almost didn't get a Shogatsu present because they needed a signature and all the retired people in my building are either escaping from the building, hiding in their apartments, or watching the contractors like hawks so they don't accidentally break their Hummel figurines. Oh, will this HVAC project never end?
With USPS, if they can't deliver it, you can go to the post office. It's not my favorite thing, but at least it's on a bus line. The only problem I have with Amazon is that every now and then they send something UPS, but it isn't predictable. I might have to order everything from the Zshops, those sellers never use UPS, but then I don't get my Amazon Prime free 2-day shipping.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Now, I love hipster craft sites and mags like Gothic Martha Stewart, Readymade, Craft and Craftster, but there are certain key words in instructions that always give me pause:
1. Saw: My little secret--I am very bad at straight lines. My little condo does not need to be full of random wood scraps that are only good for firewood. You can have the guy at Ace cut it for you, but that kind of defeats the point of DIY.
2. Solder or weld. I actually learned how to solder in Sculpture class. It's fun--if you have a studio dedicated to that sort of thing. I would be sad if my condo were to catch on fire. A hot glue gun is just barely safe in my clumsy hands.
3. Double boiler (or any other piece of fancy-schmancy cooking equipment). These sort of things are often required for beauty products or candles. If I don't have it already for food, I'm sure as hell not going to buy it for soap.
4. Any supplies that are more expensive than actually buying something from a store. I'm afraid to take up knitting because I know I'd bankrupt myself on fancy yarns, thereby defeating the whole point of DIY. If the supplies for one item are more expensive than a new book or DVD, forget it.
Here are some previous projects I've done, feel free to rip them off. One thing about crafts, you can't do the same thing for the same person twice.
Refrigerator magnets/memo clips
Lavender moisturizer and hair spritz
Decoupaged boxes and trays
Then there are semi-crafty things like: a personally-designed CafePress T-shirt, Moo Cards from my photos, and the ever-popular mix CDs.
PS. If anyone knows how to use a sewing machine or knows a good place to learn, let me know. Mom taught me how to sew by hand, but my stitches aren't neat enough for some projects.
Now playing: VNV Nation - Lightwave
Sunday, November 30, 2008
When one of my guy friends dated a girl I thought was too straight, I would be a total ass about it. I regret that my own weirdness made me a fascist about people who were not weird.I'm of two minds on this. Of course, it's wrong to judge people based on what they look like, just like judging them on ethnicity or educational attainment. Some of the weirdest people don't dress weird at all--they don't need to. And it's never a good idea to bad-mouth someone's significant other, unless they are hurting them in some way and you have to intervene. Not to mention, depending on one's orientation, it could sound like you're auditioning for the job of new significant other in a particularly whiny and passive-aggressive way, which just poisons a friendship.
On the other hand, I've been to get-togethers and such with some horribly mismatched couples (thankfully not so often since college), and I just find it uncomfortable and icky. You just end up only spending time with the half of the couple you have something in common with and hope the other one doesn't show up to future events or they break up. My parents and grandparents both showed me examples of couples with a lot of common interests, so that's what I'm used to. Also, I've never seen or read of a couple that had that whole nothing-in-common thing going for them that seemed to be worthy of emulation.
Not that you can ever have everything in common, and it's good to have other friends and learn about new interests, blah-de-blah-blah. Here's where my dear Dr. S. reminds me that I had never experienced the glory of Evil Dead 2 before meeting him. I guess it's not so much what you've done, as what would be in the broad range of things you can see yourself doing. Like Potter Stewart and porn, I can't express in exact figures how much you have to have in common, but I know it when I see it.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
For those who prefer to receive everything in their email box, I have created a mailing list that will receive a message when updates to Odd Obsession appear. So, if I forgot to send you a message about it, subscribe here. If you don't want to get updates that way, feel free to ignore it, I won't be offended. I myself prefer RSS, but I want to make all my readers happy.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I discovered this article via Name That Film on the top 5 marriageable female characters in movies, so I decided to make my own for male characters:
H.I McDunnough, Raising Arizona. He reformed himself from a life of crime and only wanted to do what was best for his wife, too bad it didn't go so well.
Willie Mossup, Hobson's Choice. Possibly the only husband in the history of the movies to admit that his wife's bossiness was a good thing. Also, he and his wife are great partners in business as well as life, so they'll always have something in common.
Lloyd Dobler, Say Anything. Obvious, I know. Not many 18-year-old males would fly to London for their girlfriend's career. On the other hand, he's got his kickboxing, so you know he's not just a hanger-on.
Alfred Kralik, The Shop Around the Corner. When you've found your soul mate, the fact that she's a bit of a bitch shouldn't stop you. Having already aired out both their petty disagreements and their deepest ideals, the rest should be smooth sailing.
Mr. Darcy. Pride and Prejudice. You can't trust the smooth talkers, but a guy who'll bail out your loser relatives after you've rejected him in a humiliating fashion is a keeper.
I almost included Nick Charles from The Thin Man. The first film to have the concept of a married couple as fun-loving best friends is an important landmark, but in reality I'd fear the inevitable alcoholism-related bills later in life. I once counted all the martinis they had and realized if I drank that many I'd be dead. Dude, that's pure alcohol!
Of course, my sweetie is a combo of the best qualities of all five.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
This idea would solve two problems-- 1) everyone forgets Veterans Day, schools usually don't close, so vets are not being properly honored, and 2) voter turnout is (usually) rather low. VV Day would honor vets by reminding everyone what they fought for, while giving more people a chance to vote without creating another national holiday.
Here's my Facebook group--join the Jfro juggernaut!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Here's my superhero, Badass Jfro, via the HeroMachine. I'm pretty happy with her, although they didn't have a lemur, so I made do with an ermine as my mascot (maybe a fennec would be more appropriate). Nice choice of ninja weaponry, though.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Inspired by this article in Lifehacker, here is my new calling card for social situations. Moo lets you print business-size cards from your Flickr photos. Selections from my "Urban Decay" series are on the other side.
I enjoy the contrast between old-school and new-school social networking. I know the thing to do now is call people on their cellphones to give them your number, but that just isn't as cool. What is more suave, taking five minutes to text in an email address, or flashing them a card? I didn't put in all the personal stuff, since acquaintances from Meetup groups or some such don't need to know.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
In a somewhat recent New York Review of Books article, Joyce Carol Oates wonders why boxing is no longer so popular. That's obvious, its ass has been beaten in the global marketplace by kung fu. Not that karate, tae kwan do, muay thai, and capoiera aren't also beautiful in their own way, but the Chinese created the martial arts movie and if someone in Hollywood is looking for a martial arts choreographer, it's probably going to be someone from a kung fu background. Kung fu movies led to Hollywood rip-offs, video games, and a whole new sport based on the plot of Enter the Dragon. Nowadays, you almost never see a John-Wayne-style slugfest in a movie. Even all-American Jason Bourne uses martial arts (it looked like krav maga to me).
Kung fu has become part of American culture. African-Americans were again ahead of the curve on this, as they found the martial arts movies' themes of self-improvement and struggle against the (Manchu) man congenial. In the days of the melting pot, it made sense for ethnic groups to show their pride by fighting by the same rules and in the same tradition. Nowadays, with the multicultural salad bowl, it's only right that each fighter compete in his own martial style. Or what the hell, why not an African-American sumo against a French capoeira mestre? That's the way the world is today. Let's face it, what's cooler to watch: a guy holding his hands in front of his face and jabbing occasionally, or a guy who can stand on one foot and kick somebody behind him with the other?
Some people think it's weird that Joyce Carol Oates loves boxing, but I see the appeal. Hey, sweaty, half-naked men moving around in a choreographed fashion, what's not to like? I just find kung fu more beautiful and (since I limit myself to fictional entertainment) less likely to cause irreversible brain damage.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I am of the generation that believes that dance music is techno or house. Listening to Groove Radio will give you an idea of what I mean. Industrial or electro is also acceptable. Of hip-hop influenced genres, dancehall, bhangra, reggaeton, or baile funk are also good, but I have to have an assurance that regular, mainstream, top 40 rap will not be mixed in. Sadly, the good stuff is often reserved for weekdays when only young'uns and those in the hospitality industry can attend.
I just can't dance to rap music. It does not make my boogie muscle move. The good stuff is great for listening in a car or at home, but not dancing.
Well, at least there's still Ground Zero's Bondage-A-Go. Too bad it is hard for me to get to by bus. What is up with all these clubs being so far away from transit now? Is it a conspiracy of the taxi industry? I don't want to haul my ass all the way to Maplewood and walk 1/2 mile through mall parking lots in order to get down with my bad self.
Friday, September 12, 2008
The Spiritualized show at First Avenue was awesome. I needed some powerful guitar feedback in my life. Ctrl_S turned to me and said something that would make a perfect title for the singer's biography:
Dear God, Please Give Me Some Heroin: The Jason Pierce Story
Here's some other imaginary biographies I thought of on the bus:
Thanks Jesus, But I'll Take It from Here: The Bono Story
I Will Shoot You in the Face: The Dick Cheney Story
The New Yorker Turned Down My Poignant Short Story and Now You Will All Have to Pay: The Craig Finn Story
If you have any more, please post comments.
PS. More Spiritualized pics here.
Now playing: Mayumi Itsuwa - koibito yo
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Here are some more signs you are in a post-apocalyptic movie from the gang at Name That Film:
11. Someone always has an eye-patch. 
12. The use of seatbelts is decidedly not in fashion. 
13. The sky is a strange colour , usually red. 
14. Mode of transport if not # 4 is either futuristic or horse and cart. 
15 We only see what happens in America or America is the default saviour of the world. 
16. There just happens to be one person who knows how to save mankind. 
17. It helps if you ride on top of the bus or just stand up in a convertible. 
18. Also, somehow the place to be is the Junkyard/Quarry. 
19. Your grooming hasn't suffered as much as one would expect. 
20. You feel an uncontrollable urge to beat Kevin Costner to a lifeless pulp. 
21. Canned goods have a shelf life of 25 years. 
22. Everyone has surprisingly good teeth. 
23. Why are we in a desert??? 
24. You find an ancient cave drawing, incription in a leather bound tome, a carved figure in a deserted ruin, or even a 100 year old dust covered portrait that suspiciously happen to look exactly like you. (this may also apply to time travel movies) (or you may be a vampire). 
25. You have a chainsaw for a hand. 
26. Giant scorpions and man eating cockroaches abound. 
27. A little robot boxes up all the trash and stores them in giant edifices. 
28. 8 Skeins of Danger: sends you a note: "Hi, I'm an admin for a group called APES SHALL RULE US ALL" . 
29. You live in a castle with a dragon alarm and fire sprinklers rated at 4000 degrees Centigrade. 
30. Cannibals... doooooon't forget the cannibals. 
31. Dennis Hopper has set up some kind of evil fool's paradise that will be overrrun and/or blown up in the end. 
32. A prominant American landmark is sticking out of the sand when you go to the beach. 
33. Somewhere, underground the mutant descendents of 20th century earth are worshipping the last functioning "doomsday device." 
34. You hear Don LaFontaine. You don't see him...just hear him. 
35. Being unable to voice actual words is not necessarily an obstacle to social climbing. 
36. The veil of the temple will be rent in twain before we see the sign of the manifest flying beast head in the sky. 
37. Fingerless gloves are fashionable. Villains, their goons and other assorted hoodlums favour studded leather, Downtrodden proletariat hobo scum wear woollen or cloth. The chief villain is likely to only wear one. 
37b. . . .unless you live within the hermetically sealed bubble city, in which case you probably wear a diaphanous toga and a chrome headband. 
38. Any time machine you may encounter will only transport you to Los Angeles in the year the film was made no matter how hard you try to get it to go somewhere more interesting. 
39. You live in a cage underground and are repeatedly subjected to medical and/or time travel experiments. 
40. Michael Caine sits down with you and advances the plot through expository dialogue (true of any film these days, actually) 
41. The Humans Are Dead. (Affirmative. I poked one. It was dead). 
42. Whenever someone dies, their body is put through the Juicinator and cold filtered to reclaim their precious waters. 
43. You get upset when pig crap tops $100 a barrel. 
44. There is a guy with some major physical deformities, living in a hidden location, that you can take any mechanical junk to, and he will tell you what it was before the apocalypse. Use his talents wisely as he will be killed shortly after you meet him. 
45. You can hear my inner monologue. 
46. I notice very important things off in the distance. So very far away.... 
47. Two words - Toaster Ovens. 
48. Your computer operating system is DOS with graphics by ATARI. 
49. Effete, transhuman immortals enslave humanity, but become consumed with ennui and yearn for death. 
50. Sean Connery appears in a red diaper and shoots them. 
51. Some gofer with weird hair always serves the main villain. 
52. Everyone is a cannibal, except for you, your son, and the grizzled old man whom you meet on the road to exchange pithy comments with. 
53. You've been captured by a primative tribe of pre-teens who poke at you with sharp sticks and spend a lot time on their headscarves and facepaint. 
54. The sudden discovery of a single small plant sprouting from the wasteland announces to everyone that everything's going to be all right again. 
55. You stumble onto an abandoned military base and discover a stash of miraculously still-functioning harrier jets that you teach yourself to fly in a week. 
56. Two words: "Thunder Dome." 
57. Sean is watching your movie. 
. R. Cranium . Sean's Jawns . Hytam2 . Onibabah . Sidewalk Story. Pere Ubu . Phrank the Creatch . Oh! NoNo Joe! . Bswise . Skipper Bartlett . Mr Bali Hai . Herbynow . The Junk Monkey
Now playing: Groove Radio
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
1. If you are a male, you have a mullet, yet no one is laughing at you.
2. Suddenly all sports and games of chance are "to the death": boxing, basketball, drinking games, motorcycle races, Old Maid.
3. You are surrounded by people with mohawks, face paint and/or tattoos, leather jackets, studded bracelets, and dominatrix outfits, but you aren't at an Exploited concert or 2-for-1 night at the Iron Eagle leather bar.
4. You have a sudden desire to pimp your car/motorcycle/bicycle with one or more of the following items: armor plating, barred windows, guns, spinning rotary blades of death.
5. No one has last names anymore, and badass-sounding one-syllable first names are preferred. Anyone who would introduce themselves as "I'm Clarence Higgenbottom III" has already met an untimely end.
7. If there is a rumored "paradise" or "promised land", you won't find it. It will turn out to be a) a trap b)just as bad as everywhere else, or c)the movie will end before you get there.
8. Guns may be around, but people prefer more unique and stylish weapons such as flamethrowers, arrows, killer boomerangs, whips, and the ever-popular crossbow-on-a-gauntlet.
9. There's a megalomaniac around with a crazy plan to fix society by such means as: rejecting all technology, reviving the exact technology that caused the apocalypse in the first place, breeding with the last fertile women, killing all the fertile women, or simply forming a Nazi biker gang. These plans never end well.
*Or people who just look like mutants.
PS. Thanks to Dr S. for his help.
Now playing: angela - kirei na yozora
Thursday, August 21, 2008
The Shifted Librarian made this awesome READ poster generator, so now you don't need my sweetie's mad Photoshop skillz (or my OK ones) to make your own. Give it a try and add it to the Flickr READ poster pool.
I made another one from a photo on the Chunklet blog of some garage rockers reading the Rock Bible. Pre-order yours today for some Jfro words of wisdom.
Now playing: Groove Radio
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Of course, living in a fantastical, anime world all the time is not healthy, just like living in a video game, fantasy baseball league, science-fictional TV series, or (my favorite) the world where 15th-century Europe was a land of fairies, wizards and non-stop orgies even for people who forget to bathe, all the time is not so good. But then, in the very act of trolling, their critics indicate they have no life as well, or why would they care so much? Wheels within wheels! Nobody ever says, "Sorry honey, I can't make love to you on a pile of money right now, I have to tell the guy on the anime photo-sharing site he has no life." Hating someone for having execrable taste is more acceptable than hating them for something like race or sex which they have no control over, but it tends to bounce back on the perpetrator. Who has such perfect taste that they can't be made fun of for what they like?
I also don't like the implication that one should only like entertainment that issues from one's own race and/or nationality. To me, that brings up the image of a Neo-Nazi realizing that all American music has either African-American or Jewish connections, and retreating to his bunker to listen to Wagner all day. Fun!
I don't understand people who only like one type of entertainment in this world where global options are easily available, but it doesn't bother me. I haven't met any Japanese-only entertainment chauvinists yet, though, probably because I'm too old and that kind of extremism is mostly for the young.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Oh happy day! The 2.2 update did it--I can listen to internet radio on the Apple TV without having to stream it from my computer. I'm blasting with the big speakers any music that the vast sea of the Internet can provide. You do have to create a playlist of radio stations on iTunes, since there still isn't searching available for radio like with podcasts and YouTube. Get on it, Apple! And while you're at it, could I have an iPod Touch with 80 GB of storage for less than $300? Especially now that LastFM is available on it. That'd be great, thanks.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
To be honest, it's the same thing with music downloads. I've been screaming for monthly subscriptions for years now, and they're still not here. (At least not on the scale of an iTunes or Amazon.)Of course, I had to respond.
I'm sorry to hear you've been screaming for years--you must be very hoarse. I believe the service you're looking for is called Rhapsody. I don't know what counts as "the same scale", but they have ads on TV. I don't know why anyone would pay $12.99/month to rent music, though. I want to own my music, I don't want some company to be able to take my access away or jack up the price at a whim. Rhapsody's main market must be people who don't own much music, have a lot of electronic devices but no interest in learning about podcasts or Internet radio, and have tastes that change on a monthly basis---AKA teenagers. Podcasts are free, internet radio is free, LastFM is free, Pandora is free, Songbird is free, making any streaming Internet audio into a podcast is one-time cost of $15, so why pay $156/year to sample new stuff?
If an internet radio station is good enough, make a donation. Radio stations also add news, personalities, tour dates, and other added value in addition to the songs themselves, so that's another aspect worth rewarding. I admit I am very anti-subscriptions. I don't have cable and I won't get a PVR because of the monthly fees. I will buy the occasional TV show on AppleTV. Netflix and certain magazines are the only subscriptions that are worth it on a quality-vs-cost basis.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
I'm not a big Western fan, they tend to be too conservative for a big liberal like me. The strong, silent good guy is the best shot, so he kills the bad guy, saves civilization and marries the schoolmarm (My Darling Clementine, Gunsmoke). I tend to prefer the "adult" Westerns of the 50s like Man of the West, The Unforgiven, 3:10 To Yuma, Johnny Guitar and Warlock that acknowledge that there was sex, racial tension and moral ambiguity on the lonesome prairie. Another interesting variation was Western family drama, like Broken Lance, Duel in the Sun, or Giant, where a powerful paterfamilias was respected throughout the county but had trouble with his own family (Bonanza is a watered-down version).
The Big Valley is the closest TV came to the adult Western. Of course it was constrained by censorship compared to the movies, but it was daring at the time to have a main character be an illegitimate son of late paterfamilias who is accepted by the family as one of their own (after some conflict, of course). Also, the prostitutes were actually whores, not the fresh-scrubbed "dance hall hostesses" of Bonanza.
Unlike the usual powerful ranching families in movies and TV, the Barkleys were headed by the strong-willed Victoria as played by the great Barbara Stanwyck, who after the first few episodes took to wearing an all-black cowgirl-dominatrix outfit reminiscent of Joan Crawford in Johnny Guitar. Instead of ruling the valley with an iron fist and fearing change, the Barkleys were the 19th-century equivalent of "limousine liberals", always helping the less fortunate, whether they are poor farmers, black ex-cons, prostitutes, Mexican revolutionaries or inmates of a women's prison (Victoria goes undercover and endures beatings in order to expose its inhumane conditions). Unlike the many movie Western heroes who are embittered ex-Confederate soldiers, like John Wayne in The Searchers and the many versions of Jesse James, son Jarrod was the captain of a black Union regiment. Still, they are often resented and even kidnapped due to their wealth. Poor Audra, the daughter of the family, was always being threatened with rape, most memorably by a psychopathic Civil War vet played by Adam West.
The Big Valley has something for everything with its three brothers: smart, sophisticated lawyer Jarrod; hot-headed diamond-in-the-rough Nick; and quiet, brooding friend-of-the-underdog Heath (Lee Major looks and sounds a great deal like Elvis Presley at this point, which I assume was intentional). Not to mention the uncannily lovely Audra and the intriguingly butch Victoria. There are many great guest stars: having only seen the first DVD of the first season, I've already enjoyed Andrew Duggan as a charismatic-but-warped Civil War general who tries to get the ranch hands to turn to crime, and Jeanne Cooper as the murderous Lady MacBeth of a dying Gold Rush town.
My other favorite TV Westerns, The High Chaparral and Maverick, are sadly not on DVD, but the 10 discs of The Big Valley, Season 1 should get me through summer reality-show hell.
Friday, June 27, 2008
I've learned from bitter experience that any movie that can plausibly be described as "a triumph of the human spirit" is bunk. Hence, I've avoided the following movies like the plague:
Life is Beautiful
Dances with Wolves
Children of Huang Shi
These sort of Oscar-bait movies drop off the best-of lists after a few years anyway, to be remembered only as a historical record of what was considered serious and important in the past. (Gentleman's Agreement, A Patch of Blue, The Greatest Show on Earth, anyone?)
Now playing: Globe - What's The Justice? [00:07:59]
Sunday, June 22, 2008
I never get tired of internet services that define me by my tastes. The reason I got into LastFM was because someone else had the widget on their blog and it looked cool. It filled me with a burning desire to have my favorite songs streaming here on Odd Obsession. It also lets me broadcast my soundtrack on Facebook. I don't really use it for recommendations, though. For that, I'm still a bit old-fashioned in using radio, albeit of the Internet variety (it is handy to have all the tracks listed. Listening to regular radio and having to wait for the DJ to say what they're playing seems so frustrating now, doesn't it?) Another hint from Dr. S is searching for lists of bands under a genre like "Stoner rock" on Wikipedia, then going to SeeqPod or MySpace to listen. Really the only reason for MySpace to exist.
Anyway, for those with a lot of time on their hands, LastGraph offers a lovely visual representation of what you're listening to. I was loving the Hives and stoner rock, wasn't I?
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Other than that, my Flickr photos were linked to two mid-century modern design lovers, a Portuguese crafter who was interested in the Flickr plastic bag group, and the enigmatic Wansmile, who may be a Flickr Name That Film member and enjoyed my still from the Italian cyberpunk film Nirvana. Awesome.
Now playing: Devil Riding Shotgun - Who Am I
Friday, May 30, 2008
9 AM: Early for me, but it's a perfect day and I have a lot to do, so Dr. S tickles my toes. I look out my balcony at the Mississippi: it looks like a perfect day.
10:30 AM. We walk along the Mississippi River and look for any new graffiti to photgraph. Who needs camping when you have the river in walking distance? I've seen bald eagles, wild turkeys, and a mama duck with ducklings. Then we go over to see if there's some new art at the railroad tracks at 280 and Pelham.
11 AM: Brunch at Key's on Raymond, a nice, homey Midwestern breakfast and lunch place. There are several in the Twin Cities, each run by a different family member, but the Raymond one has the most character.
12 PM: I check out Succotash to see what incredible midcentury-modern finds are there today. This is were I got my lovely tiki bar, they were so nice they delivered it to my house at no extra charge.
12:30 PM: More than just a surplus store, Axman is a museum of oddities. Employees create handmade signs suggesting weird uses for all their stuff. It has to be experienced to be believed. No Halloween is complete without it.
1:3o PM: We stop at Saigon in Frogtown for some yummy banh mi to take along for a picnic in Como Park. Frogtown is a neighborhood full of Southeast Asian businesses. Its name is ancient and shrouded in mystery.
1:30 PM: We check out the animals at Como Zoo. It may not be the fanciest zoo around, but it's one of the cheapest ($2 suggested donation). There is also a lovely park, a conservatory, and a slightly pathetic but sweet amusement park. It is a very St. Paul kind of place, small cute and not changed much by time.
4 PM: The Source is aptly named. Here is the source for all your most geeky needs: Role-playing games, comic books, miniatures, plushes, figurines, funny-shaped dice, DVDs, manga and a calendar of geek events. The staff is friendly and not freaked out by females.
6 PM: Tomodachi is a little slice of Akibahara in the Twin Cities. There are toys, CDs, stationary, stickers, t-shirts, robots, figures, and plushes from Japan, plus some Asian-inspired toys like Uglydolls. Where else would I get a poseable Tachikoma? Items I've purchased there include: a Domo-kun T-shirt, Badtz Maru slippers and a Samurai Champloo calendar. It's a perfect day, so the cosplaying employee with the furry pink leggings is there and some good J-Pop is playing.
7:30 PM: There are a lot of Ethiopian places in the Twin Cities, but Fasika is my current favorite. There is so much food for such a good price, we have to each get a giant platter on a big piece of injera bread.
9:30 PM: We go to the Turf Club and a great local band is playing. The Turf Club is small and unpretentious, just the right size, location, seat/floor ratio, and attitude for a show. The good band ends just in time for us to catch our bus, and we go home thinking of our perfect day.
Note: This is certainly not everything that could be done in St. Paul, only what could plausibly be done in one day (I'm still taking the bus, but I catch every connection perfectly). I didn't even mention the State Fair, the Art Crawl, the cool old buildings in West 7th and Summit Ave., the Black Sea, the Science Museum, Shish, Punch Pizza, Uncle Sven's. Babani's, Taste of Thailand, Peking Garden, the downtown St. Paul library and the three Carnegie branches, the Art Deco City Hall, Pino's, Khyber Pass, and a downtown that's not filled with ugly buildings because they tore most of the good ones down in the 60's.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Well, thanks to recent posts of the new Intermedia Arts mural and the Como Zoo, I have finally achieved my dream of 10,00 hits on Flickr. I would have more, but apparently Name That Film posts don't count (it's technically 18+, but not for reasons of naughtiness). The popular blog Boing Boing mentioned NTF a couple of months ago, so we were swamped for a while. I prefer getting props for my abilities (at least those of being in the right place to capture street art) than because a lot of people are trying to guess what movie my snap is from, anyway.
Friday, May 09, 2008
So, I went to Anime Detour last month and a good time was had by all, although I did put my back out for a week afterwards, hence the lack of posts in April. Apparently, I can no longer sit cross-legged for any length of time because the nerve in my leg starts hurting, making sitting in a chair very painful, which makes it hard to share my wit and wisdom with all the Jfro fans.
My dear friend KathySRW let Dr S. and I stay over at her hotel room, which was great and definitely the way to do things. Next time I may spring for a room or split the cost. Kathy's daughter was dressed as Light from Death Note, a 2008 cosplay favorite, along with Bleach, Hellsing, and the ubiquitous Naruto (In my day, ninjas were remorseless killing machines, and that's the way we liked it. Now get off my lawn with your ridiculous orange jumpsuit!) Here's some more pictures from my Flickr account.
We got to check out some new shows, of which our favorites were Flag and Witchblade. Flag was a serious look at war through the eyes of a photojournalist (literally, the whole show has the appearance of being shot through a camera viewfinder), and Witchblade was pure cheesy superhero fun (a superweapon chooses one woman with extremely large breasts to wield it in every generation, giving her nigh-invulnerability, a thirst for combat, and a desire to go without underwear).
Anime Science Theater 3000 was a new feature--a good idea, but it didn't live up to the possibilities. The show being mocked was Desert Punk, which didn't seem to take itself very seriously in the first place. I was hoping for a really, really bad old anime from the 80's, something like the Humanoid, named by Jonathan Clements as the worst anime ever made. Even so, the room was packed so close I could hardly breathe. It's a good thing Anime Detour is moving to a bigger hotel next year. The Thunderbird has a certain mid-century charm with its tacky Native American motif, but it's a motel with delusions of grandeur. Watching the cosplay contest on closed-circuit TV is not my idea of fun. Anime is so big now, a second con is starting up in the Twin Cities. Since it's not too accessible to mass transit, I won't be going (unless L'Arc-En-Ciel or Halcali appear live, not very likely in the Jpop-ignorant Midwest). Dr. S might go if it were all manly anime like Crying Freeman, Golgo 13, or Urotsukidoji.
For more on the anime phenomenon, I direct you to the documentary, Otaku Unite. It's a good history of fandom with some real characters in it. Plus, Kaiju Big Battel, how can you not love guys who dress like monsters and wrestle each other ineptly?
Now playing: Groove Radio
Friday, May 02, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
There are a few movies that are better than the comic books, though:
Ghost in the Shell. It's a good graphic novel, but Shirow gets sidetracked by his love of shiny mecha and cheesy cheesecake (though he does both well). The movie really focuses on the theme without the clutter, and I can watch it again and again.
The Stormriders. Wing Shing Wa is the master of crazy kung-fu battles, but his story is all over the place and his characters lack personality. The movie distills what's great about the comic into a silly but super-fun cgi Hong Kong version of Clash of the Titans.
Lady Snowblood. This one is close, but Koike (adapting his own comic) cuts out some of the silliness and the totally shoehorned-in lesbian subtheme of the comic, leaving us nothing but sweet, sweet vengeance.
I haven't read the graphic novels of Hellboy,Diabolik, or History of Violence, or seen the movie of Persepolis. Any thoughts on these? Someday I'd like to compare the manga, anime and French live-action version of Rose of Versailles (AKA Lady Oscar), but I'm not sure I'm ready to lay out the considerable dough.
Now playing: Groove Radio
Thursday, April 24, 2008
I'm too lazy to do any movie reviews, but for your viewing pleasure I have added a feed of my movies of the month on the left-hand side of this blog. Plus, bonus gorgeous movie stills courtesy of VLC. Enjoy!
Now playing: HALCALI - tandem
Sunday, April 13, 2008
At first, set up was frustrating because it turned out I needed something called a router to share my DSL internet with my computer and Apple TV. The Radio Shack guy knew what I needed, but they apparently sold me one from the back of the closet all covered with dust, because it was old and didn't work. I found a tip online that told me I had to go into the online maintenance and change one setting for reasons unknown, but I couldn't get online to do it. The router company wanted to charge me money to give me customer support because it was out of warranty, so I marched right back to the Shack and demanded a new one. Then it worked after the aforementioned changed setting and downloading the version 2.0 upgrade. I can't blame Apple for the problem, but it would have been nice if the word "router" had been mentioned somewhere in the manual.
I bought an HDTV at the same time, so your mileage may vary if you have an older TV. I connected it with HDMI because CNet said it was the most freakin' awesome way of connecting things to a TV, and awesome it was. I looked at my photos from iPhoto, and I was like, "Oh, my god, I am the best photographer ever in the history of the world!" I like the way the slideshow pans your photos all Ken-Burns-like while music from your collection plays. Sometimes I just watch the screensaver, which is all your photos flipping around in a hypnotic manner. Podcasts are something I haven't looked looked into that much because I don't drive and (good librarian that I am) I never leave the house without reading material. As for video podcasts, I don't like watching anything over two minutes on my computer or iPod. This is an area I see myself going into more on the Apple TV, as I can listen to podcasts while cleaning or cooking and watch video podcasts on my comfy couch. AnimeTV and Erik the Librarian looked great on AppleTV. Flickr and Youtube can also be accessed, which was fun when I had a few people over last weekend. It's much more comfortable than having 5 people huddle around a computer screen. The remote works well, its controls are a lot like an iPod. It is a little harder to scroll through a long list, though. I have over 5,000 songs in my library, I need better search options. When you search for a song to buy, letters come up and you can type something in, but with your library you have scroll. What's up with that?
Renting movies was a new feature that made me sit up and take notice. Now we're getting a bit closer to my dream of being able to call up any entertainment I want on demand. It took me about 5 hours to download a whole movie and 2 hours for a TV show, so it's not instant gratification. You have 30 days to watch a movie, so I recommend doing it the night before. My back went out last week and I couldn't sit at my computer, so it was nice to have the option. Also, I have Netflix, but sometimes I don't get enough movies in time for the weekend, or I suddenly feel in the mood for something else. The selection is not large, so I hope it gets bigger. When I want to see something like the 40 Year Old Virgin, with an enormous hold list at the library and a long wait in Netflix, right away, it will come in handy. I don't have the desire to see enough popular movies to make paying 13$/month for HBO to be worth it, but every now and then my interests and that of the majority of the American people converge.
As some of you may know, Casa Jfro is surrounded by a force field blocking nearly all over-the-air radio and television signals. So what do I do when I want to listen to music I don't own already? Pay monthly fees to a company that will probably become a monopoly soon? I don't think so. So, I listen to internet radio. There are some great stations out there, but then I'm limited to the computer speakers in the bedroom. But, now with AppleTV, I can stream internet radio to the big honkin' speakers in the living room. Hurrah! The only drawback is, you have to have iTunes open and your computer on. It would be nice if internet radio was a option on the AppleTV, though, and you could search for stations and save your favorites. So, all in all, I'm really enjoying AppleTV. The main drawbacks are: not enough movies and shows, no internet radio, and the searching of one's library could be better. However, these can easily be fixed in an update.
Now playing: Shockwave Sessions Vol 007 - Martin Roth Mix
Monday, March 31, 2008
We're coming up with a list called "Dear Rock Star" for the next issue which is a list in question form asking an artist/band why they did one stupid thing or another.Of course, I had to weigh in:
Here's a few examples:
"Dear REM, Why did it take you 14 years to figure out that people wanted you to shut up and rock?"
"Dear Bob Mould, why do you insist on DJing without a shirt on? You have ex-fat guy skinny guy belly."
"Dear Juno Soundtrack, why did you make the world a place where I can't escape the childish out-of-tune ramblings of the Moldy Peaches?"
Dear Robert Pollard, I love you, but why the English accent? Have some Midwestern pride, for chrissakes! Your "A's" should be as flat as the Ohio Valley and your "R's" should be hit as hard as a punch in the face from William Howard Taft.
Dear Stephen Malkmus and Lou Barlow, Why do you play live when you obviously don't enjoy it? It makes Jesus cry.
Dear Craig Finn: I'm sorry you got a B- for your stories in Creative Writing 101, but reading them in front of a Bruce Springteen cover band doesn't make them any better.
PS. I know it might seem like I spend all my online time at Chunklet and Name That Film, but I really don't. They just trigger an impulse to opinionate all over the place. For example, I've recently discovered Post-Apocalypse, a whole site chock-full of post-apocalyptic awesomeness. I just hope that someday the Twin Cities will have a party like this.
Now playing: The Melvins - Eye Flys
Sunday, March 30, 2008
For those of you who don't know the story of my street name, it all started with a woman Dr. S and I saw on the bus. She was wearing a trucker hat over unruly long red hair, a satin baseball jacket, and a t-shirt with the word "Princess" on it in big, glittery, cursive letters. She was sitting in the nutjob seat (across from the driver) monologuing about various issues, when she said, "My name is ___, but my street name is Princess." After she got off the bus, a man in a dapper brown 70s-style three-piece suit, hat, and cane sat down in her seat. He then complained loudly for 10 minutes or so about the smell she allegedly left behind, but I suspect "he who smelt it dealt it."
Anyway, the next week Dr. S and I discussed what my street name should be, and Bad Ass Jfro what what we finally came up with. It rolls trippingly of the tongue, don't you think? T-shirts are available at reasonable prices.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
American Beauty: A re-hash of warmed-over 60s ideas. Suburbs bad! Teenagers good! Military men insane! About as deep as "Pleasant Valley Sunday".
I also hated Lost in Translation, but it could be just watching people who are miserable because they got a free trip to Japan burns my ass.
Anything by the British Art School club: Sally Potter, Peter Greenaway, Derek Jarman, and Ken Russell (except for Lair of the White Worm). These movies would be OK for 10 minutes at a time in an art gallery, but not for 2 hours. Caravaggio was just agonizing. Oh look, the Pope has a digital watch! That must symbolize something!
Betty Blue, Breaking the Waves, King of Hearts, and any other arty mental-illness-exploitation movie. If it doesn't resemble any mental illness anyone has ever seen outside of a movie, it isn't any good. This goes for terminal illnesses as well.
The Mystery of Kasper Hauser, Apocalypto, and any movie with the theme: nature good, civilization bad. If civilization is so bad, why are you making a movie about it? Shouldn't you be out in the woods whittling something?
Crappy Hollywood studio product doesn't bother me as much as critically-acclaimed arty crap. I usually know better than to see some stinky blockbuster, but bad arty movies insist on their own importance. Unfair, perhaps, but true.
Now playing: aztec camera - jump
Sunday, March 02, 2008
The Hives are like that--they did everything possible to get the crowd going last Thursday at First Avenue. They reminded me a lot of the Godfathers, what with the suits and the 60s-style garage rock. The main dig against them is that they aren't original, but if, like me, you can't resist the primal lure of garage rock, originality doesn't really matter. If I'm offered a mouth-watering slice of cheesecake, what do I care if someone else make a similar one 40 years ago? That one guy from the Monks died, so I'll probably never see them live. Give the Hives credit, though, not many garage rock bands had more than one good single (there's a reason why the most famous garage rock record is Nuggets), and they've had three albums chock full of catchy songs. Most of the 80s garage rockers like the Fleshtones and Joe "King" Carrasco and the Crowns killed live, but their albums were pale reflections except for one or two songs.
Now, if only The Hellacopters and the Nomads will come to town, for the Swedish garage rock trifecta . . .
Now playing: Hermano - Letters from Madrid
Sunday, February 17, 2008
“You Won’t See Me Coming”
—Jean Jacques Brunel (Gankutsuou:The Count of Monte Cristo)
A dark but energetic techno tune with sinister vocals by former Stranglers bassist Jean-Jacques Brunel that foreshadows the many machinations of the mysterious Count.
“Hikari To Kage O Dakishimeta Mama”
--Naomi Tamura (Magic Knight Rayearth)
I’m not too into magical-girls shows, but I love this song. It’s like a lost 70’s bubblegum hit you can’t get out of your head.
--HALCALI (Mr. Stain on Junk Alley)
Another song that really sticks in your ear, this hip-pop song with a Latin/Ska beat makes me want to dance every time I hear it.
“Ready Steady Go”
--L'Arc-en-Ciel (Fullmetal Alchemist)
This anthemic pop-punk song perfectly represents the innocent but determined spirit of the show’s Elric Brothers.
--The Seatbelts (Cowboy Bebop)
A jazzy 60’s –style instrumental is perfect for this retro-futurist series that is full of references to 60s and 70’s Japanese and American television.
--Juno Reactor (Texhnolyze)
A dark techno-industrial tune sets the mood for this dystopian science fiction anime.
“Yume no Shima Shinen Kouen”
--Susumu Hirasawa (Paranoia Agent)
Off-beat electronica with unidentifiable World-Beat influences (Tibetan? Finnish? Bulgarian?) sets the stage for a thought-provoking anime.
“Cruel Angel’s Thesis”
--Yoko Takahashi (Neon Genesis Evangelion)
A techno number so upbeat it starts to sound sinister as the anime gets darker and darker.
--Akino Arai (Windaria)
An oldie but goodie, this yearning ballad perfectly conveys the tragedy of the anime’s star-crossed lovers. Not recommended for people with low 80’s pop tolerance (I can’t get enough, myself).
--John Sykes (Black Heaven)
A show about a former Metal guitarist whose music saves a whole planet needs a kick-ass opening tune like this one from former Whitesnake guitarist John Sykes.
Bonus worst anime theme song: “Stray”–Steve Conte (Wolf’s Rain)
The Wolf’s Rain soundtrack is by anime soundtrack goddess Yoko Kanno, who also did Cowboy Bebop, but this opening theme song just annoys me. It’s so mellow and middle-of-the-road, more for a dentist’s office or a romantic TV-movie on the Hallmark Channel than a dark and thoughtful science-fictional adventure. The first time I heard it, I was already tired of it.
Friday, February 15, 2008
The Nicholas Brothers, "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo", Orchestra Wives
Marilyn Monroe, "After You Get What You Want", There's No Business Like Show Business
Jo Kennedy, "Body & Soul", Starstruck
Ethel Merman & Donald O'Connor, "You're Just in Love", Call Me Madam
John Cameron Mitchell, "Wicked Little Town", Hedwig & the Angry Inch
Angela Lansbury, "Little Yellow Bird", The Picture of Dorian Gray
"Sodomy", Meet The Feebles
"Jaan Pehechaan Ho", Gumnaam (featured in Ghost World)
Anna Karina, Sami Frey, & Claude Brasseur "The Madison", Band of Outsiders
Mick Jagger, "Memo From Turner", Performance
"Buckle Down, Winsocki", Best Foot Forward
Dolores Gray, "Thanks A Lot, But No Thanks", It's Always Fair Weather
Gene Kelly, "Pirate Ballet", The Pirate
"Pop! Goes My Heart", Music and Lyrics
"Chal Chaiyya Chaiyya", Dil Se
"Gala Gala Happy", City Hunter
Marlene Dietrich, "See What the Boys in the Back Room Will Have", Destry Rides Again
"Sukiyaki", A Hero Never Dies
Jonathan Rhys Meyers & Shudder To Think, "The Ballad of Maxwell Demon", Velvet Goldmine
Unfavorite: anything from The Sound of Music. It's so wholesome it makes my teeth ache. Music and dancing is supposed to be sexy, dammit!
Here's a selection of all the ones on the list I was able to find on YouTube for your enjoyment:
Now playing: Black Sabbath - War Pigs/Luke's Wall