Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving from the NBC Saturday Morning Superstars!

NBC’s Saturday Morning Thanksgiving Holiday Feast!

Join us this Saturday at 8am (EST) on your local NBC channel for a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, featuring all of your favorite NBC Saturday Morning stars!

The Smurfs (8:00am EST/7:00am CT)- When that dastardly Gargamel destroys the smurfberry bushes, can Papa Smurf find the magic spell to set things right in time for the Smurfberry Harvest Feast? And what happens when the Smurflings help Brainy mis-use Mother Nature’s Horn of Plenty? Guest-starring Johan and Peewit!

It’s Punky Brewster (9:00am EST/8:00am CT)- When Glomer goofs up again, it’s up to Punky, Margaux, Cherie, and Allen to fix the holiday turkey before Henry gets home! Will Punky and pals learn a Thanksgiving Day lesson in caring and sharing?

Alvin and the Chipmunks (9:30 EST/8:30 CT)- Alvin, Simon and Theodore compete with the Chipettes for a spot on a Spacy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float. Will Alvin’s dirty tricks ruin Thanksgiving for everyone, or will he learn the true meaning of friendship and giving thanks?

Mister T (10:00 am EST/9:00 am CT)- Mr. T and his daring yet caring gymnastics team volunteer at an inner city youth center on Thanksgiving Day. When a gang of mean punks try some rough stuff, it’s a cranberry bet that Mr. T and the kids will show them the error of their ways in time for pumpkin pie!

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (10:30am EST/9:30am CT)- Spidey, Iceman and Firestar fight the Juggernaut. Guest-starring those uncanny mutants, the X-Men!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Here's the story of a real nut...

Some giddy prankster was recently arrested for scattering 200 beetle larvae on a train in Neyagawa, Osaka prefecture, and disrupting the daily rail schedule. When the police nabbed him, they found he had thousands of the squirmy little things in film cases. His excuse?

"(The worms) wiggle around and are so weird. I like seeing people surprised."

Here's some advice-- next time, try baking a cake or making delicious popcorn and serving it to the passengers. Or jumping out and screaming, "Boo!" Or simply saying something nice and complimentary to your seatmate.

Everyone likes to get compliments, right?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Meet the Tightsmen!

What happens when four guys want to play rock music during the height of Japanese Beatlemania? All you need to succeed is a catchy guitar-based sound and a visual gimmick. These gimmicks grow ever more baroque as the best ones are quickly snatched up. The Beatles had their bowl haircuts, matching collarless suits and pointy-toed boots. The Tightsmen have... tights.


The upcoming film GS Wonderland friended me back on MySpace, so I'm going to do my best virally to help the movie become a hit. Word-of-mouth marketing circa 2008 meets group sound circa 1968.

Smashing Barriers in Nihon: A High School Girl Drafted by the Pros!

Yoshida Eri, a 16-year-old high school girl, has been drafted by a new professional baseball league here in Japan. She's a sidearmed knuckleballer who threw a hitless inning against the competition during her tryout.

But she hasn't let the attention go to her head. As she humbly said at a press conference: "I always dreamed of becoming a professional. I have only just been picked by the team and haven't achieved anything yet."

This is exciting news. It's a breakthrough and shows how far we've come here on planet Earth. But if you want to see how far we still have to go and why in simply being drafted she's accomplished something important, scroll down to the comments section if you dare. Imagine if your every move were accompanied by an outpouring of that kind of ignorance and hostility.

Anyway, to end on a positive note, "Ganbatte, Yoshida-san!"

Saturday, November 15, 2008

When obsessions collide... Kuriyama Chiaki's gear new '60s music flick "GS Wonderland!"

On Myspace yesterday, I friended what I thought was either a strange new band or the return of some old musical combo called the Tightsmen (but they haven't friended me back). I took one look at their crazy pageboy haircuts and knew this was something for me. The keyboardist... this striking femininity about his face actually caused a few confused feelings... but there was something very familiar about him... I'd seen him somewhere before...

Then I realized it was none other than Kuriyama Chiaki styled up for the candy-colored mod milieu of '60s Japanese pop-rock known as "group sound."

GS Wonderland!

As you can see from the trailer, her new movie features pop/op art kitsch, lots of period nostalgia, with styles accurately and lovingly recreated. And an overload of screaming girls in Canarby Street Twiggy-inspired looks. As a super-fan of Chiaki, Japanese pop culture and '60s rock- especially groups like the Beatles and the Kinks- this is the new movie for me. One of those rare flicks I know I'm going to see in the theaters although I'll only understand about 10% of the dialogue. The retro audiovisual experience and the fierce presence of Kuriyama Chiaki as she works her way through her gender-bending boy rock idol life will be more than enough to keep me riveted.

Now if only the Tightsmen would friend me back, Japan would swing like a pendulum do!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Japan Says "No" to Pot-Smoking Tennis Pros

According to the Japan Times, police arrested a professional tennis player and his actress girlfriend for possession of marijuana. The investigators found the weed at the girlfriend's place, and she told them it was for her and her boyfriend to smoke together. Kind of sounds romantic: the couple that burns one down together stays together. And the story segues into information about Keio University students getting busted for pot, too.

What the devil's going on here? A pot pandemic?

It's funny to me that back home, a college student pot bust would barely make the local papers in the town where it occurred. In the U.S., it's almost a given that our college students are high on pot at any given hour of the day or night. Either stoned or stinking drunk. But here this is national news. Not huge national news, but national nonetheless. Keio is going to be Bong University in a lot of people's minds from now on.

The age-old alcohol versus marijuana debate continues. In Japan, it's fairly common to see old dudes drinking beer on the trains... at 9am. And I've seen some people just absolutely blotto hanging off each other and talking nonsense; even though it was in Japanese and I could barely understand it I could tell it was booze gibberish. Last year while waiting to do karaoke, we watched as a group of friends found a large garbage bag for their partied-out buddy (slumped on the sidewalk) to get sick in. Amusing, but kind of tender and touching in a way. After-work parties, late dinner at the izakaya with friends, sitting around at home getting quietly smashed. Bounenkai season is coming up and that means a full December calendar of year-end booze blitzing-- Japan is a drinking nation.

But I don't see the big street brawls around here we used to see regularly down among the frat bars in Athens. It probably happens, I just haven't seen it. Whereas back home on a beer-soaked weekend night a friend and I took a stroll through the middle of an alcohol-induced riot complete with police canine units on the streets and shirtless guys leaping barricades. Our little corner of town was fairly safe, but punch ups were a Thursday-through-Saturday night constant a few blocks over.

Personally, I'd prefer it if more people smoked pot than drank alcohol. We'd probably still have weird crime, but it'd be a lot more mellow. And pizza delivery restaurants would do some bang-up business and perhaps revive our moribund economies.