5 October 2017

Movie reference from a Japanese pop compilation

Having purchased Nippon Girls and Nippon Girls 2 on vinyl and finding both albums filled with liner notes, I was prepared for some cultural spelunking.

IMG_20170930_192053.jpg

First up: the movie "Susume! Jagazu tekizen joriku" (1968) [ IMDB ]. Sheila Burgel, author of the wonderful liner notes for NG2, commented in a paragraph on Akiko Nakamura that There is a fantastic scene in GS [Group Sound] film Susume! Jaguars Tekizen Jourika (Landing In The Presence Of The enemy The Jaguars Advance!) with Akiko Nakamura performing 'Niji-iro No Mizu Umi' in knee-high socks, a black pinafore and what appears to be an enourmous tutu as a top. I eventually found the IMDB reference with Akiko's name but the only hit with that wonderful translated title is for an Australian band who, though I'm sure are fine musicians, were just not what I was looking for. I eventually got to the IMDB link after finding a blog entry on "DIE, DANGER, DIE, DIE, KILL!" titled "Hey You, Go! (Japan, 1968)" about a movie with Akiko in it. Definitely worth a read and his video review with clips from the movie is here:

I have no idea how one title got translated to another, and Todd at DDDDK! reviewed a copy he got with no subtitles, so no insight there. He described it as similar to a Beatles or Monkeys film from the same era. I had watched the Monkeys' film Head and was... disappointed. Maybe better in a foreign language? According to DDDDK!, the movie is a showcase for the GS band The Jaguars--really just the lead singer--and Akiko plays his love interest. The song of hers we get on NG2 is "Namida no Mori no Monogatari" ("The Forest of Tears", worth listening to while it's up on DailyMotion). The one from the movie (YouTube below, while it lasts) sounds like it utilizes the chipmonk speedup that Burgel says was popular at the time (you wouldn't believe how many Japanese records from the 60s regularly employed this hilarious technique). Not as recommended.

posted by sstrader at 8:54 PM in Cinema , Music | comments (0) | permalink

3 September 2017

Kalevala

Research notes:

  • Kalevala - Epic poem of the Karelian people; an area that spans Finland and Russia. Originally from an oral history sung in 5/4 (1-2 2-2 3-2 4 5, example recording here). Made up of 50 songs (Finnish: runot). Many may be of Estonian origin. First published in two volumes of 32 songs/12,078 verses as The Old Kalevala, then revised and appended to be 50 songs/22,795 verses as The Kalevala (i.e. The New Kalevala).
  • Elias Lönnrot - Gathered and transcribed the Kalevala verses from dozens of singers. Made 11 trips from 1828 to 1836 in the central part of Finland and the neighboring part of Russia (i.e. Karelia).
  • Language - The language family, simplified: Uralic (root) > Hungarian, Finnic > Estonian, Finnish, Karelian. Unrelated to Indo-European languages. Karelian is sometimes considered a dialect of Finnish.
  • Amazon search - translators: Keith Bosley, John Martin Crawford, Eino Friberg, W. F. Kirby, and Francis Peabody Magoun Jr. In the list of books, Bosley, Crawford, and Friberg are the most positively reviewed.
  • I was hoping for a bilingual edition - XKCD - Board index > Numberologics, Alchemy, Linguinomics, and other Academiology > Language/Linguistics - Kalevala: no bilingual editions?: John Martin Crawford is the best [translation] I've seen but not bilinqual, side-by-side publishing of the Finnish original and the (rather literal) 1907 Kriby translation: Kalevala, bilingual edition. The side-by-side edition is a self-published hardback based on the Kirby translation.
  • From Ian M. Slater's review on October 17, 2004 at the Magoun edition on Amazon - Very much worth reading in its entirety for a comparison of editions. two early complete versions in verse, that by Crawford (nineteenth-century, from a German translation; available on-line), and the 1907 W.F. Kirby translation, directly from Finnish; Magoun's translation (1963) filled a need for a more literal treatment, with more supporting information; two translations of the "New Kalevala" into English verse, by Eino Friberg (1988) and Keith Bosley (1989), which many will find more appealing; for those who want both the story and all of the details, but either don't care about, or don't care for, such things as meter and rhyme, Magoun's translation remains a first choice

It seems that Bosley is artful but with few references and Magoun is dry with many. I went with the Magoun. I really wanted to get the a translation of the Eddas too, but that's just too much ancient mythology for now.

posted by sstrader at 10:43 AM in Language & Literature , Religion | tagged finland | comments (0) | permalink

8 July 2017

Down and up

My pessimism makes me think that this is the government we deserve: led by a base, media-obsessed president warned about in so many depressing movies and novels. That Obama, quoting writers and philosophers, was an outlier that has been finally corrected. And if it is not a government we deserve then it is simply one that is representative. Or--worse--one that our system inevitably leads to.

My optimism makes me think that the leaks and special prosecutors are the white blood cells that are manifest when needed in order to deal with an invasive aberration. A large, imprecise weapon yet still helping more than it harms. With every investigation of Nixon subverting trusted power, there is a Whitewater conspiracy that turns up only infidelity after distracting the populace and devitalizing the government. Still the body survives the disease, weakened but alive.

What does it mean that Obama-haters felt the same way, in reverse?

posted by sstrader at 5:53 PM in Politics | comments (0) | permalink

15 April 2017

Weekend in Austin

Impulse-bought tickets to see Kool Keith in Austin the weekend of April 7th. In late Friday and out late Sunday.

Friday night was drinks at the Driskill Hotel bar where we were staying (and where we stayed back in 2012). Snacks-for-dinner at the Easy Tiger beer garden where we learned our patio-bench neighbors ran out on their bill (waitress: "I don't suppose you saw where those people went, did you?"). More drinks elsewhere then the best Late Night Pizza I've ever eaten in my life at Peckerheads (sausage and mushroom?). Back to the hotel at around 2.

Not-too-late start next morning/noon and lunch/brunch at Irene's. Biscuits and gravy and eggs and bacon and a bottle of champagne for mimosas. Irene's locale took us west so we went further to Waterloo Records (sadly no purchases) and then HOPE Outdoor gallery. I'd heard about it from a Reddit post where some people painted a cool Ghost in the Shell mural. The mural was long gone, but the park was still cool: weeds and dirt and concrete structures all covered in graffiti with a dozen or so guys painting new ones. Recommended. Then drinks (and A/C) just down the street at a south Louisiana restaurant called Shoal Creek Saloon.

Remnant of the GitS mural

Back to the hotel for what was to be a short nap but what wasn't. Panicky wake up and abandon dinner Plan A (Justine's had a 45-minute to hour-and-a-half wait (enjoy the soft-core porn at their web site!)) to Plan B at Perry's Steakhouse close to the hotel. Piano and guitar jazz/pop at the front room seating with Thelonious Monk, Gerry Rafferty, The Beatles, and several other jazz artists I couldn't place. Next stop: Antone's for some music! Caught the end of the openers Cure for Paranoia: smooth singing/rapping with a touch of psychedelia. Then the beginning of Money Chicha: 60s, singer-less organ/guitar/latin percussion group. (Minor interruption in the middle of their set for me as I had to run back to the hotel to resolve gastro-intestinal dystonia!) Back for Kool Keith who played till around 2. Highlights were sections from Octagonecologyst including the infectious Earth People, several from Feature Magnetic, a tray of chicken wings brought out to the bar (I took caution from my recent history and passed on them), and some freestyle with Bushwick Bill (who later did some recordings with KK in the studio until 5 that night). Perfect concert!

Who's kool?

Sunday started with lunch/brunch at Swift's Attic. Spicy Bloody Mary bar and delicious croque madame for me while looking around for members of the advertised Strader/Fiedler wedding to see if I would recognize any long lost relatives (nope). We then had a couple of hours for museum-going. First, The Contemporary Austin for a show of paintings by Garth Weiser from the last 10 years. Amazing layers of paint and lined textures that look different from every angle and range. Refreshing. We also saw a short silent film by Mark Lewis titled Galveston: camera view slowly descends on a tall office building, ending upside down at street level passing through the town. It made the rest of the day seem unusually right side up. Next stop was the Museum of the Weird! Mummified babies, two-headed animals, and fur-bearing trout (my favorite) in the front room with the Minnesota Iceman stored in a freezer in the back. Four of us also got a show from a man who can hold on to live wires without getting shocked. Coincidence of the day: both he and Bushwick Bill were little people.

Electricity is weird

Final drinks at The Jackalope (in between Late Night Pizza place and Museum of the Weird) where we watched Mars Attacks! Off to the airport where boarding was delayed then takeoff delayed but we lost the right to complain after hearing about what happened on that United flight the same evening. Home in time to be reminded that we had to shut off the water just before leaving for the airport because of a leak. The bucket held throughout the weekend, so no unwelcome surprises.

posted by sstrader at 10:17 AM in Cinema , Concerts , Where was I? | tagged travel | comments (0) | permalink

14 March 2017

GitS and whitewashing

I'm not that comfortable with some of the accusations of whitewashing that have been made recently. There are many recent instances, but the key one I'm interested in is Scarlett Johansson in the upcoming Ghost in the Shell movie.

There are certainly horrific examples of whitewashing from decades ago ranging from blackface to exaggerated Asian (Breakfast at Tiffany's!) or Indian affectations. These can be explained away as cultural gaffes of history, like an older person using an impolitic term. It's not great that they happened, but our embarrassment of them as a culture is a sign that we've grown. Recently though there have been very public discussions on and dissatisfactions with European whites playing characters of other cultures and cisgendered playing trans. I feel that the legitimate issue with whitewashing is when, simply, a crude stereotype or one-note character is presented. The stereotype is lazy and racist (*-ist (side-note: I've noticed the word "racist" used as a catch-all for social over-generalization w/r/t race or nationality or gender, and I kind of like its transformation into a catch-all)) and so is the easiest to spot and critically dismiss. The writer or actor doesn't care enough to understand the othered group, and so presents a thin, shadow of a character. What could be a dynamic secondary or tertiary character becomes filler with a check mark for "different".

However, and this is key, actors should be allowed to act. They perform as characters with advanced skills they haven't personally acquired, or with mental aberrations and manias they do not possess and could never acquire or as people that could never exist. Taking that into account, is nationality or gender so out of the realm? Though I haven't seen it, the show Transparent seems to be, critically, the canonical example of a cisgendered actor playing a transitioning character. With quality writing and performance observation, the specter of minstrel shows dissolves into an illumination into the lives of humans of the world.

Over the past few months, I've been watching pinky violence films from 1960s/70s Japan. They generally deal with female street gangs fighting aggressive male competitors, or corrupt government institutions taking advantage of the poor or female or both. In several (e.g. Sex Hunter, the Rica series), those who have mixed national parentage--"half-breeds"--are treated with focused brutality by the alpha gangs and a strong-willed female thug steps up to protect them. In Sex Hunter, the half-breed Kazuma is played by the Japanese/Italian actor--with visually uncertain heritage--Rikiya Yasuoka. In the Rica trilogy, the lead Japanese/American woman is played by Rika Aoki. I am uncertain whether the actress is herself multiracial. Nationality it seems is very fluid.

Back to Ghost in the Shell, it was pointed out in a comment from a recent Reddit thread that five of the seven other main actors are of distinct, non-Japanese nationalities, and I'm reminded that a main theme of the story is that of fluid gender, individuality, and consciousness. This seems key.

posted by sstrader at 7:30 PM in Cinema , Culture & Society | tagged ghost in the shell | comments (0) | permalink

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