Aug 30, 2009

Diggin' In The Crates "Candidates For My Jukebox, Pt. 1" Edition

Call me old school, but I've always wanted to own a jukebox. A 45 jukebox - no need for one of those CD jukeboxes. When my future wife and I get our first house (which may be a while), my "man cave" (to use a rather current yet rapidly old already term) will have to have one of those - perfect working order, new needle, the works. I always liked the kind of jukeboxes that could hold at least 100 records and had a little hole where you could see the 45 being loaded onto the turntable, so that's what kind I'd get. Goodness knows, I've accumulated plenty of software over my lifetime. And this is definitely going to be one of the candidates..

Artist: Pink Lady
Title: "S.O.S." b/w "Pinku no Ringo"
Label: Victor
Vinyl: Top-quality Japanese black vinyl

Oh, come on - does anybody reading this need an introduction to Pink Lady? Mei and Kei, my first glimpse into the world of Japanese pop back when they did a guest spot on Leif Garrett's CBS TV special? Of course not. I've had this single and one other (a future candidate for this column) for at least a year now - extremely well-kept Near Mint condition. The seller even put the record in a vinyl inner sleeve before slipping it into the company sleeve! Again, never let it be said that our Japanese friends don't know how to take care of vinyl.

Both songs are in print, so no downloads; besides, anyone who cares about J-pop should have a good Pink Lady anthology in their collection and on their iPod, like this one. The A-side, one of their early hits, is a song many of you may have heard in a version from Music Fair in 2004 when Mei and Kei interrupted the post-Nacchi 14nin Morning Musume lineup's rendition of "The*Peace!" with "S.O.S.", only to have various MoMusu's take turns at singing lines at this kayokyoku classic (and cause a stagehand to have to run in and lower the mic stand for the vertically challenged Mari Yaguchi):

The B-side, "Pinku no Ringo", not only shows up on seemingly every Pink Lady anthology CD that has been pressed in recent years, but is also notable for the fact that the title translates to "Pink Apple" - which isn't too surprising, since "pink lady" is also a type of apple easily found in many supermarkets. I almost didn't find a clip of this rather cute song on YouTube, but at the last minute, I lucked out:

This guy owns

as if you guys need this for reference...

Aug 29, 2009

Site find: People of WalMart

The finest examples of American society on display at

I've always wanted to do a site like this, but based on the losers I see on BART every day. Then I figured it wasn't worth the risk of catching hepatitis so I quit taking BART. Still, would be interesting to see.

I'll just leave this right here..

Aug 24, 2009

Diggin' In The Crates "Survey Says... Why Do You Need A Survey When Diamond Dave Is Involved?" Edition

Probably NOT interesting for the record itself, even though it's a great one...
Artist: David Lee Roth
Title: Crazy From The Heat
Label: Warner Bros.
Vinyl: Standard black vinyl

There's no need to tell the tale behind this well known record: David Lee Roth's first solo excursion, meant to be a short side trip before he reconvened with Van Halen to record the follow-up to 1984 only to find himself on opposite sides with Eddie Van Halen after this EP became a surprise hit and the videos for "California Girls" (with Langdon's homeboy Christopher Cross sharing backing vocals with Beach Boy Carl Wilson) and "Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody" became fixtures on MTV for much of 1985.

The real tale comes with my finding this record and then finding what was in it. No, I didn't find a different record - I had found a copy of the vinyl the other day at one of my usual haunts and, since I had only previously owned the EP on cassette (ugh!) and found the vinyl to be in excellent condition, I nabbed it for four bucks. It wasn't until I brought it home, readied a keeper sleeve and was about to give the record a spin on the turntable when I noticed two sheets of paper inserted within. Looking at the enclosed sheets made me realize what was up with the curious sticker on the bottom left corner:

The "Image" that this particular copy of Crazy From The Heat was compliments of was Image Consultants, a (thankfully) now-defunct company that thought that they could determine what kind of records people want to buy better than the people who actually buy records (this, of course, is around the time when SST Records was shocking the shit out of everyone by having surprise hits with two now-classic double albums from The Minutemen and Husker Du). "Consultants" like this are why most American major label records (the kind that sell only to people who only buy music as an afterthought at Sprawl-Mart) over the past several years swallow (never mind just sucking) while real music fans turn to indie labels for their rock and Japan (and Korea, thanks to BoA and Girls Generation) for their pop. But I digress.

Insert number one was a blue sheet meant to be filled out by store owners for each record to give their opinion on what they thought of the record and how many copies they think they sell every time they play the record in-store (never mind that the equation of Diamond Dave plus four interesting and well-done cover versions equals artistic and commercial win). Kind of pathetic if you ask me...

The other sheet of paper enclosed by Image in this promo copy is all sorts of win, since its' a reprint of a press release featuring some tasty Diamond Dave philosphy about the record and immediate future he was planning on at the time:

Diamond Dave, of course, was right about how well he got along with the rest of Van Halen in the penultimate paragraph of page two... only he was 23 years early! Here's to VH picking up where they left off back then!

Aug 21, 2009

A-mei takes on Shima Uta

Taiwanese star A-mei covering Shima Uta ("The Song of an Island") from a 2003 concert. She sings in Japanese and just blows it away. Nobody's voice can match hers.

Aug 20, 2009

Weinstein's Fusionfunkysouljazz Part 4

Reuben Wilson - "We're In Love"

This one is a late release from Blue Note in 1971. Blue Note's success came to a halt when fusion jazz came around in the late 60s. Reuben Wilson was a LA-based organist who had gone to high school with jazz legend Bobby Hutcherson. Rueben Wilson's output went from soul jazz to downright funk. We can't hate a guy for trying to feed his family. Each release of his went more and more commercial, but still sounded good. By the way, this song sounds familiar doesn't it? I think Langdon and Tsuji might know this one.

Aug 19, 2009

Hump Day Eye Candy Extravaganza

I don't follow AKB48...don't know any of their songs nor do I know who any of the girls are...EXCEPT Tomochin...I just recently(yeah I know, I'm late) discovered how cute she is, even with her little snaggle tooth...soooooo kawaii...and so I give to you, the very 18 and good Itano Tomomi

Aug 17, 2009

Bollywood Babes

Jigna Mehta
Weinstein back to drop some more gems on you. Jigna Mehta is an up and comer in the world of fashion. Maxim India proclaims she's the new thing.

Old Weinstein found her scoping the Maxim with his cousin. She hooked me on to her and now Weinstein almost made tacos.

Got to give it to Guillermo for that reference. Her first name makes me want to get Jigna with it.

Aug 16, 2009

Diggin' In The Crates "Gangsta Punk" Edition

Was looking through a crate of 45s and 7" EPs when I came across this little puppy...

Artist: H2O
Title: "It Was a Good Day"/"I Want More"
Label: Side One Dummy
Vinyl: Clear deep-blue vinyl

Another random purchase from years ago during my frequent peeks into the singles bin at Gallery of Sound... New York hardcore punk band H2O doing two cover versions. The B-side is a vaguely standard cover of Suicidal Tendencies' "I Want More" from their eponymous debut album (the same one that spawned the hit single "Institutionalized") - I say vaguely because the band's lead singer, Toby Morse, doesn't exactly have a melodic voice compared to Suicidal's Mike Muir, so that kind of ruins it for me.

The A-side, though... oy vey! The band takes Ice Cube's hit from The Predator and turns it into a punk song. The rhythms are more like Green Day pop-punk than Youth of Today-style old-school hardcore, but the funny part is the band changes around some of the lyrics in their version, most notably changing the racial self-references to "honkies", which makes this a little less hard to take seriously. I don't know what Cube thought of this when it came out, but I'm assuming that the photo on the A-side label was taken before the band committed their cover version to tape (or hard drive):

Kinda messed up but hella funny

Aug 12, 2009

The fighting game quest part 1

First off it's been awhile, I've been busy auctioning shit off on ebay (search for seller bukkurowuronz) yep I've decided to sell my entire Transformers collection. My inner otaku is switching gears & I am getting rid of everything! The collection will still be there but I am going to concentrate more on high end quality pieces rather than the stuff that is readily available at your neighborhood Toys R Us or Target. As Wonton likes to say "quality vs quantity".

In whatever free time I have had I have been getting my ass kicked in Street Fighter IV (PS3) by my buddy Solidmac. I am not sure why Solidmac offers to play with me all the time because I am clearly no match for him. There are times when I can't do anything during the game & I have to just take the ass whipping.

I blamed my inability to offer any serious competition to him by my use of the standard dual shock 3 controller on the PS3. It sucks & I thought that if I had the proper equipment I would be able to play more effectively.

Well when Street Fighter IV was released MAD CATZ also released two SFIV branded fightsticks, the standard edition or SE fightstick & the Tournament Edition or TE fightstick.
The TE being more sought after because #1 it was designed to look like the Taito Vewlix arcade cabinet that houses the Street Fighter IV game in Japan & #2 it actually uses real Sanwa Denshi parts which are the same parts in the vewlix arcade cabinet. Yep it doesn't get any more real than that.

Of course I couldn't find a TE stick anywhere on or around launch day & I was a sad sad boy.

I did pick up a HORI Real Arcade Pro 3 stick at Anime Expo though. I took my stick home & expected to plug the sumbatch in & DOMINATE Solidmac, but that didn't happen.
I found I actually got worse!

Why was this I wondered?

This is what started two months of research & a personal quest to actually get good at SFIV & fighting games in general.

I did research after buying my HORI fightstick & found them to be a respected manufacturer of fightsticks in Japan & they have dominated the market for years. So thankfully I was not ripped off with my uninformed purchase of the stick. Many fighting game enthusiasts used HORI sticks & yet many more serious fighting game players were modding their sticks to gain a competetive edge. Hmmm why mod a good stick?

It turns out that many players were modding their sticks to have Sanwa Denshi buttons or Seimitsu buttons also swapping their joysticks out for different model Sanwa or Seimitsu ones.

Holy shit! Basically it all comes down to preference. Good players could tell subtle differences in the equipment they used, good players had preferences in the layout & feel of their equipment as well.

I read up on shit for a couple weeks & was amazed at the sub culture of the fighting game enthusiast.
One thing that gives me trouble on the HORI that I noticed right off the bat was that the movement on the joystick is restricted to a square. I found it hard to pull off fire balls etc because I didn't have a smooth movement during my command input & I kept getting hung up on the corner. This was due to the "square gate" on the joystick. The square gate is STANDARD in Japanese Joysticks.

I would go on but I really cannot do a better job than lilchubbyasian's explaination so peep this:

So my problem was that I was playing by using maximum throw angle, that is, I was moving the joystick until it hit the edge of the gate thus getting caught up on the square corners.

Japanese players were using smaller movements & NOT using maximum throw angle when using the joystick. This is perfectly fine because all of the "fields" that trigger the command inputs on a square gate are distributed evenly.

I immediately hopped on my HORI & tried to practice using smaller throw angles to achieve my command inputs, I did better in pulling off my moves.

BUT I noticed that I was having a hard time playing the same characters in different games for example I used to use Ryu as my main in Street Fighter IV, I also got Street Fighter II HD remix but noticed I was having to tweak my throw angle to pull off the same moves in HD remix namely the signature Dragon Punch...then I found this:

So even my n00b mind could tell the difference in input AND I received a great SFIV tip to top it off.
This shit is hella deep & to get good at fighting games takes alot of practice. I've decided to not switch to an octagonal gate & stay with the standard Japanese square gate in order to learn to make smaller movements to achieve the input.

Aug 10, 2009

Diggin' In The Crates "15 Years Before I Discovered Whiteberry" Edition

In more ways than one, this week's edition was worth the wait...

Artist: The Street Sliders
Album: Tenshi Tachi
Label: Epic/Sony
Vinyl: Standard black vinyl

In 1986, while I was slogging it out as a bassist in a semi-crappy Top 40 band (Hey, it was my only source of income at the time), I was also engaging in some pen-pal correspondence with a few people via the pen-pal listings in Smash Hits magazine. One Christmas, a Japanese pen-pal I had for awhile sent me a package containing a rather kawaii teddy bear (which I probably still have somewhere) and three home-recorded cassettes; she also saw fit to slip pictures of the bands and hand-written track listings on either side of the j-cards. I still have the cassettes, but I can only recall one of the two other artists she sent (The Mods). The third was these guys:

This tape - recorded directly from her own vinyl copy - was the first one I popped into my stereo, probably because it was the first one on the stack. The song represented above, "Boys Jump the Midnight", is the album's opening track. I was hooked for the next 45 minutes - great post-punk rock that blurs the fine line between The Clash's London Calling and The Rolling Stones' Tattoo You - and remained hooked for years. And that musical comparison is probably a bit closer to the Stones in many places, especially in many of the guitar parts and on the two tracks where lead guitarist Kohei Tsuchiya takes over for primary vocalist/guitarist Kiroaki Murakoshi and sings very Keith Richards-esque vocals.

Unfortunately, it would be several years - perhaps close to two decades - before I would have a more tactile copy of the album on CD, by which time I had already starting to keep some poor shipping department guy at CDJapan busy with orders for Morning Musume, Whiteberry, Yui Horie, Koda Kumi, etc. I did a somewhat random search one day for The Street Sliders, found that all of their albums were still in print on CD, and immediately looked for and nailed a copy of Tenshi Tachi. (I recall putting songs from the album on mix CD's back then in my pre-MiniDisc and iPod days, so that would mean that I had gotten my CD copy around 2003).

Fast forward to this year. While I was on my writing hiatus last month and working on the manuscript for Here Is The Wonderland, I was playing the album on my iPod via my speaker dock, and decided to take a quick break and see if I could find a vinyl copy of my own in order to enhance my collection and nourish my turntable. I went to the same site that I had acquired my Sayuri Ishikawa mid-70's best-of album from, discovered a near mint copy of the album (inside and out, complete with lyric insert and photo book) - never let it be said that the Japanese don't love their vinyl! Before two minutes had passed, I bought myself what I figured would be an early birthday present.

No such luck. By the time my actual birthday rolled around, my precious copy of this album arrived at US Customs at JFK in New York (isn't package tracking wonderful?), and sat there for three fucking weeks, wondering if it was ever going to make its way to the TGML/So Hot She Shits Fire/My Sweet Meetan/YODC East Coast home office.

It'a arrival day? This morning. Was there a leftover Homeland Security directive from the Bush Administration that President Obama's people missed that said, "Al Queda terrorists may be disguised as Japanese rock albums of at least 20 years vintage?" In all my years of ordering music and whatnot from Japan, I have never had ANYTHING held up in customs. Ever. My original pen-pal-generated cassette of this album made it through with no problems. My CD made it through with no problems. Finally getting a vinyl copy after 23 years? Not so easy...

Rather than piss and moan further about that, it would probably be better to share a couple of more videos from the album: "Back to Back", heard here in its 12" remix version...

And "Angel Duster":

Aug 6, 2009

Son of Gigan's Right on Time Anime Expo 2009 Pictorial Report

So it's been a month since AX '09, and here are my pictures. The wait will be made worth it by the fact that it will take you a month to get through all of these.

Final Fantasy XIII - on BUILDINGS.

And at night.

The LA Convention Center in the distance.

We're getting closer...

Two lovely young ladies pointing me the way to their respective hotel rooms, no doubt.

It wouldn't be Anime Expo without an appearance from MOON KNIGHT. Great costume, MK.

Naruto's rarely seen "Compensating Ninjas."

The star of the upcoming Miyazaki epic The Bluebird's Fannypack.

The GI Joe movie comes out next week, and I already like this Cobra Commander better than that one.

Cosplay Rule #14: Entry badge undermines impact of scary troll costume.

"Are you cosplaying?" I asked. "No," she said. "Snap" went my camera. I really don't know why I bother asking anymore.

Sorry Honey, I know you're all dressed but I can't marry you right now. I have pictures to take.

13 pictures before we get a peace sign? What's happening to this world?

This group also attended the Michael Jackson memorial that took place across the street a few days later. They didn't change.

The sea of humanity in the lobby. Fun fact: the entire group wore the combined equivalent of one travel-size stick of deodorant.


Uh-oh! One of these characters has been Raiden' the fridge...

Pop quiz: which one of these people will grow out of this hobby within the next two years?

My personal favorite costume of the weekend: The Shadow of Andy Capp.

One of these people with the expensive cameras may even be a professional photographer!

Or not.

"What do you mean I'm a little fat for a Gundam? My feet are as skinny as they ever were!"

This sleek, dynamic looking cosplayer was a marvel when he stood still. When he tried to walk he was less mobile then my multiple-stroke suffering father.

Finally, a robot programmed with the decency to cover up his junk.

What male Japanese pornstars do on their days off.

I believe that's Arcee standing next to the Michael Bay monstrosity.

"Hey girls, I have this great photo, of course I can't see up your skirts..."

What are the odds the guy in the bear suit is the same guy that was laying on the floor?

I got nothin' for this one.

Amazingly, I have even more pictures. I'll post those at a later date. Until then, time to get in line for AX 20110.