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August 31, 2006

Kappa no kawa nagare

Kappa.jpg

Last year I had the opportunity to present a paper to a three-day seminar on publishing at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Spectral Doubling in Suzuki Koji's "Ring" was reasonably well received; especially considering only three or four attendees had seen any one of the Japanese, Korean or American versions of its film adaptation. One Japanese academic thought my structural analysis was fine but felt it was unlikely a Westerner could fully appreciate the horror of the story, unfamiliar as we are with water kami. The darkness, the chill and the damp that are so much atmospherics to a Western audience are freighted with sinister and fantastic significance to Japanese viewers. Now Pink Tentacle points to an archaeological find at Umi in Fukuoka. To some observers the googly-eyed earthenware head is clearly a kappa. Given Suzuki's Ring, this is not what I had expected.

Kappa are mythical (or real, according to some) creatures that live in Japanese rivers and ponds. Known as pranksters, kappa are notorious for luring people (particularly small children) into water and drowning them. They also like to eat cucumbers. Some theories suggest that the word kappa comes from the Portuguese capa, which refers to the “robe” worn by Portuguese monks who came to Japan in the 16th century. The kappa’s hairstyle also resembles the tonsured hair of the monks.

Children and cucumbers may be good for kappa care and feeding. Just keep them away from the wasabi: Even non-Ringu kappa can be terrifying.

Paddle to the Sea Update: We do have water kami, of course. I have been unable to find the film on-line otherwise I would share it will Flea-readers everywhere. Canadians only have to read the words "Please, put me back in the water" to know what I am talking about. This Wayne Omaha tribute leaves me with a lump in my throat. You'll make it to the sea, carved-wooden-guy!

Posted by the Flea at 08:34 AM | Comments (5)

Hanayo: Joe le Taxi

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:31 AM

Big in Japan

Countless "smitten" Japanese women are in search of eligible South Korean men. Thousands have gone so far as to sign up with a Japan/Korea dating agency to find a Yong-joon Bae of their very own* and some attention from men described as the "Italians of Asia".**

"South Koreans are so sweet and romantic -- not at all like Japanese guys, who never say 'I love you,' " Yoshimura said as she waited for her blind date, a single Korean man, in the 50th-floor bar of a chic Tokyo skyscraper. A telephone operator who lives with her parents in Hiroshima, she has spent thousands of dollars on her quest for a Korean husband, flying to Seoul 10 times in the past two years and bullet-training to Tokyo for seven blind dates with Korean men.

So far, though, she hasn't found the one she's looking for.

"Maybe I'm living in a fantasy world," she said, pouting her blood-red lips. "Maybe I'm looking for the TV stars I can't really have. But we are all allowed a dream, aren't we?"

*Yes, I want to slap him too. But he is reportedly worth US$100 so clearly he has got something most of us have not.
**Have these women met any Italian men for purposes of comparison? I think not.

Posted by the Flea at 08:27 AM

August 30, 2006

Your army is Poland's army.


You scored as Poland. Your army is Poland's army. Your tenacity will form a concept in the history of your nation and you're also ready to continue fighting even if your country is occupied by the enemy. Other nations that are included in this category are Greece, Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Poland

88%

British and the Commonwealth

81%

Finland

75%

Italy

75%

France, Free French and the Resistance

69%

Japan

50%

United States

38%

Soviet Union

31%

Germany

19%

In which World War 2 army you should have fought?
created with QuizFarm.com

One of the tables is giving my browser indigestion. Those bar graph results should read: Poland, 88%; British and the Commonwealth, 81%; Finland, 75%; Italy, 75%; France, Free French and the Resistance, 69%; Japan, 50%; United States, 38%; Soviet Union, 31%; Germany, 19%.

While I am pleased by my Britain and Commonwealth result it is an honour to stand with my fellow Pole, John Donovan.

Posted by the Flea at 11:03 AM | Comments (14)

Coil: Egyptian Basses

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 11:01 AM

August 29, 2006

Mencken Sees Tranquility Arise in U.S. From Ashes of Prohibition

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Five years of Prohibition have had, at least, this one benign effect: they have completely disposed of all the favorite arguments of the Prohibitionists. None of the great boons and usufructs that were to follow the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment has come to pass. There is not less drunkenness in the Republic, but more. There is not less crime, but more. There is not less insanity, but more. The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for law has not increased, but diminished.
- H.L. Mencken

November 1933 strikes me to have been a rather bleak time in which to have lived. At least there was the demise of the 18th Amendment for which to give thanks and with it the possibility of a more refined culinary sensibility. Shelia Graham took up the subject with noted curmudgeon, H.L. Mencken.

Miss Graham: I'm hoping the re-appearance of wine in restaurants will improve the food in this country. Americans pour scorn on the food they eat in England, but I think their own is worse. I have suffered indigestion ever since I came to this country five months ago. Do you think America is in for some kitchen reform?

Mr. Mencken: I doubt it. Americans, talking one with another, have a congenital antipathy to decent food. They eat bad stuff by choice and heave it in as fast as possible. This despite the fact their cooks have the best raw materials in the world. Nowhere else is there better meat or a wider range of good vegetables. But American cookery still grounds itself on English cookery and is thus but once removed from cannibalism.

On a related note, is a useful resource in the form of 365 excuses to get soused (Mencken makes the September edition). That end of WWII graphic cocktail graphic ought to be a T-shirt.

Posted by the Flea at 10:41 AM | Comments (8)

They call it Samba

But it sounds more like Bossa Nova to me. Either way, this one goes out to Flea-readers everywhere: You all make my day.

Posted by the Flea at 10:38 AM | Comments (1)

August 28, 2006

Jumping the Gate

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This is one of those good news, bad news posts. The good news is that Morena Baccarin is stellar as problem child Adria on Stargate SG-1. The bad news is that her "Counterstrike" appearance follows hard on the heels of the series' cancellation by Sci Fi Channel; this despite a recent ratings bump from instant classic, "200". While Sci Fi has re-ordered Stargate Atlantis for a fourth season only ten more episodes of SG-1 are scheduled to air next year, ending with episode 215. Now MGM is scrambling for alternatives to save the franchise as Sci Fi claims their contract prevents MGM from producing the show for another U.S. network.* Additional episodes, a feature film, tv movies, a mini-series or a third Stargate series are all possibilities. Sci Fi Channel's attitude seems churlish. I imagine continuity issues with Stargate Atlantis might present a problem but present little excuse to prevent MGM from continuing to produce a show two million viewers a week want to watch, albeit for another network.

Save Stargate SG-1!

It is true the series had been flagging. With season ten, Stargate SG-1 is cable television's longest running drama and longest running sf series.** After such a run, fresh ideas are inevitably going to be thin on the ground; perhaps particularly by contrast with the new-model Stargate Atlantis. But an odd and unsatisfying shift in the writing half-way through Atlantis Season 2, and an infusion of new blood for "Fargate SG-1", has made the older show seem new by comparison. Adding Firefly*** to the Gate travel experience with Morena Baccarin enlivens off-world British Columbia scenery nicely.

"I love the character she is truly evil," the native Brazilian told an interviewer at The Scifi World website. "The worst kinds of people are the ones with no acceptance and she is one of those. What she believes is the word of God. And I get to wear really cool contacts!"

*MGM claims Stargate is second in importance only to James Bond in its franchise ensemble.
**This according to the linked Variety article. I expect they mean continuous series. Or possibly this is limited to cable. Dr. Who has, of course, been running for decades longer on British broadcast television; albeit intermittently.
***"Inara" is the third Firefly alum to make a Stargate appearance. Adam Baldwin (Jayne Cobb) appeared in Stargate SG-1 Series 7 episode(s), "Heroes" while Jewel Staite (Kaylee Frye) appeared as a lovable Wraith in Stargate Atlantis Season 2 episode, "Instinct".

Posted by the Flea at 07:23 AM

Dr. Grordborts Infallible Aether Oscillators

Weta Workshop designer Greg Broadmore has designed three v. Flea-ish steampunk side-arms of the Victorian future. I am particularly impressed with the look of the Manmelter 3600ZX.

By golly, aren't you lucky!

Bespangled in fine detail and with various (most likely quite dangerous) moving parts, these wave weapons of yesteryear are the perfect ornament for a gentleman's study or a deterring centerpiece for a lady's powder room or chiffonier.
Posted by the Flea at 07:14 AM

August 25, 2006

So This is Goodbye

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K-Punk asks us to imagine "an alternative history of pop in which glam rock was played on synthesizers." The result is the second album release by The Junior Boys, "So This is Goodbye". I first heard the first album at a record store on Roncesvalles by High Park. After "More Than Real" I dropped whatever I was looking for and walked out with music I had never heard before.* Almost the perfect way to encounter new music; unforced, unfeigned and serendipitous.

Arguably the most important moment in the whole Star Wars saga finds Luke Skywalker on his own looking out over the desert at the setting of the twin suns of Tatooine. In another scene, he explains to Threepio that "if there is a bright center to the universe, you are on the world farthest from it." Lucas is singaling his audience that Dorothy is about to leave Kansas in search of adventure. More than that, he is reaching for the place in any of us who have ever wanted to escape Tatooine. Someplace, anyplace, has to be better than this.

Regular Flea-readers will know I miss England. Not just the catastrophically glam bits of post-imperial London that are my stomping grounds or the majestic and foreign northern wastes of south Manchester. I miss Englishness as much as England. I miss Boots and Tesco Metro and the odd fillings in corner sandwiches packed for journeys by train. I miss black cabs and Silk Cuts** and the Vivienne Westwood tie selection downstairs at Liberty of London. I miss the Norrington Room and Boddingtons*** and shopping for bargains at the Penhaligon's store at Bicester. All sorts of things. It took me years to get there and once there it never occurred to me to leave.

There were a number of things which brought me back to Canada, some too personal to write about on a Friday morning. But one was sufficiently innocuous for this morning's Flea and illustrative of my point (which I am getting to); this being an ad for women's deodorant. I had been living in Manchester for two years at that point. The place has a ruins of Melniboné feel to it. The natives are friendly but it is difficult to trace an organic link between the people and the cyclopean Victorian engineering of the Ship Canal or condos in the ruins at Castlefield. More than that is the constant low-grade spookiness of the place. People may joke about the rain but it is always, always there. As one Texan friend put it, "It is hard to live in a place for so long that is so dark."

By contrast was the deodorant ad. So far from England's grim and exhausted north was a towering American landscape of shining steel and glass and women on the go. Not Melniboné but Barsoom.**** Then I spotted the streetcar and Union Station and some familiar cabs. My first thought was "That's Toronto!" closely followed by "What the hell am I doing here?" Toronto has neighbourhoods and blazing summer sun and Lake Ontario and just maybe the possibility of becoming an interesting place to be.***** In Toronto the future has yet to become impossible. I do not think you can ask much more from life let alone a city.

It is with considerable pleasure, therefore, that I read K-Punk's FACT interview with The Junior Boys. Mark has already underlined his geographical obsession with their music. He describes it as "more middle of the tundra than middle of the road" and "a deeply Canadian record: crisp and white, like the Canadian winter." When I read his blog take last March I thought the metaphor was a bit forced; a result of an Englishman confronted with something Canadian and finding he has nothing whatsoever to say about it.****** But Mark returns to the same theme with the interview and with it an apparent interest in the space of Canadianity. Perhaps it is me that is selling the place short.

The Junior Boys' Jeremy Greenspan considers making music an hour outside Toronto.

... I do think environment is among the most important components of making a record. The place where you are, the conditions you set up for yourself, effect what you produce in countless and often inexplicable ways. I think of both of our albums as intrinsically linked to the countryside and cities of southern Ontario. It’s hard to qualify exactly, I don't know why I think of my records as ‘Canadian’, but I do. I think there is something about the vastness of Canada that influences me. Both ‘Last Exit’ (the song) and ‘FM’ which is kind of an extension out of ‘Last Exit’, deal explicitly with the northbound highways which lead from greater Toronto to the never-ending emptiness of northern Canada. There is a kind of agoraphobia that comes with driving in Canada, the feeling you get when you realize that your on a highway that leads seemingly with no end to absolutely nowhere. It’s a very familiar Canadian experience. In America, I've found, you feel that the highways always lead somewhere, if you drive long enough eventually you'll hit some city, some place you've heard of. In Canada it’s the total opposite, unless you're on a direct path to somewhere you'll get totally lost.

Exactly right. And something I have found difficult to explain to people from just about anywhere else (excepting Australians) (and sometimes South Africans). The great empty spaces of Tatooine are not such a bad place to be creative. After all, they had the Cantina Band. Still, I think setting their next project in Shanghai is an excellent idea. If I can come up with the cash I have been thinking of doing the same thing myself. The Junior Boys album is out in Canada and will be released elsewhere by mid-September. I have been listening to "In The Morning" over and over again on MySpace and suggest you do the same.

*I first heard The Streets in the same place.
**Foul as they are.
***People think Mentos ads are great but YouTube will have reached critical mass as soon as someone posts that Ferrero Rocher ad with the ambassador ("Excellente!"). I have been looking for it on-line for years now. Not this one. I am after the English-language version of this one.
****Given half a chance many English people will corner Americans and explain to them how lucky they are to be living in such a young country without stultifying European social conventions; this being the depressive phase of a bipolar condition familiar to Americans who have endured the condescension and cowboy remarks attending manic episodes of the same. This despite America being the oldest republic in the world and most of Europe an undergraduate social science experiment in comparison. Canadians don't get the same flak as they are generally considered to be too boring to be worth having a go at.
*****Plus, cities have a way of becoming cool approximately three months after I arrive.
******Remember, Canada is just possibly more boring than Belgium.

Posted by the Flea at 10:47 AM | Comments (10)

Tanya Stephens: These Streets

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 10:14 AM

August 24, 2006

Lacuna Coil: Enjoy the Silence

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 11:41 AM

August 23, 2006

The Battle of Southend

Polyphemus.jpg

One of the most important events which never happened took place on Day 7 following the Martian landing at Horsell Common, Woking.* The engagement of HMS Thunder Child with elements of the Martian invasion force in the English Channel off the Essex coast represents one of few human victories in the War of the Worlds. Thunder Child was an ironclad torpedo ram, presumably a later sister ship to HMS Polyphemus (pictured above). Nothing is known about her Captain or valiant crew.

Thunder Child's early career is unknown; she earned her fame in the last minutes of her existence, a battle known as the Sacrifice of Thunder Child. In this battle, the Thunder Child stands between Martian machines and steamers full of London refugees and for its efforts, it is sunk after ramming a wading Martian tripod, the wreckage of the ship then colliding with another tripod, destroying it, and with it, mankind's last line of defence against the Martian invaders. However, its efforts allow the refugees to make it to safety.

In H.G. Wells' alternate ending to the novel, the Martians prove to be disease-resistant** and rule the Earth for generations, using humans as livestock. Wells offers a pessimistic appraisal, one of his characters arguing the bulk of the middle-classes would soon accommodate themselves to their fate. Chapter Seven, "The Man On Putney Hill" is worth re-reading in its entirety. Yes, Wells' narrator decides the man is a dreamer, and some of the man's assessment is cold blooded, but when faced with the domestication or extermination of the human species his thinking is not unreasonable. This dreamer certainly does not deserve his treatment at the hands of Steven Spielberg; from working-class spirit-of-resistance to a mad dog fit only to be put down by an heroic Tom Cruise. Thus does Spielberg inadvertantly sum up the spirit of a debauched and degenerate twilight of civilization.

It need not end with a wimper. Some might say Thunder Child's sacrifice was in vain. The Continent could only provide temporary shelter from Martian forces and subsequent encounters with the Royal Navy end in disaster as the Martian Heat-Ray proved a devastating stand off weapon. Such thinking is profoundly mistaken. These last five years I have come to the conclusion that for people lacking a fighting elan there can be no explaining a simple truth: You can always try to take one with you.

"There won't be any more blessed concerts for a million years or so; there won't be any Royal Academy of Arts, and no nice little feeds at restaurants. If it's amusement you're after, I reckon the game is up. If you've got any drawing-room manners or a dislike to eating peas with a knife or dropping aitches, you'd better chuck 'em away. They ain't no further use."

Ramming speed.

*In June of some year early in the twentieth-century.
**Die you Martian bastards!

The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one Update: Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds still scares three kinds of living Hell out of me. This fan promo video features introductory prog-rock amazingness for Flea-readers who have yet to hear the musical. These interior illustrations from various printed editions of the story are quite wonderful. I wants the Edward Gorey edition especially.

But still they come Update: The people of Woking are clearly mad.

Posted by the Flea at 09:24 AM | Comments (6)

Nana Caymmi w. Milton Nascimento: Cais

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 09:17 AM

August 22, 2006

The remedy that our enemies have chosen

Sherman.jpg

...we are not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war, as well as their organized armies. I know that this recent movement of mine through Georgia has had a wonderful effect in this respect. Thousands who had been deceived by their lying newspapers to believe that we were being whipped all the time now realize the truth, and have no appetite for a repetition of the same experience...
- William Tecumseh Sherman*

Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman was an all-time American bad-ass but one of his namesakes is a hero to Canadians. A couple hundred years after the fact it is good to discover once warring neighbours find themselves allied in purpose. This Matthew Brady portrait of General Sherman illustrates something of the man's character; not someone to cross under any circumstances. This August 22, and with at least one Mississauga housewife naming her son Khattab, I want to state for the record my first born son will be named Tecumseh. Though Sherman would also be just fine.**

Live your life so that the fear of death can never enter your heart. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light. Give thanks for your life and your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. And if perchance you see no reason for giving thanks, rest assured the fault is in yourself.
- Tecumseh

*I would have quoted "That’s a valiant flea that dare eat his breakfast on the lip of a lion." due to the flea angle but I have it out of context and consequently am unsure what he meant by it.
**Not that there is any immediate prospect of such a first born coming into existence; and with apologies to the Parental Units of the Flea for my obvious lack of organizational skills.

Posted by the Flea at 11:07 AM | Comments (7)

Da Nhat Yen & Chosen: Voulez Vous

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance. Now with extra Flea!

Posted by the Flea at 10:54 AM

Fighting ship pr0n

I am posting this link to the horrifying end of the Austro-Hungarian battleship Szent István mainly because I am astonished there is newsreel footage of the event. Also, to put an end to all the unfair remarks directed toward Captain Georg von Trapp from The Sound of Music. Landlocked, perhaps... but they so to did have a navy. Along similar lines, I had also never seen imagery of the post-WWII Japanese fleet. Haunting stuff. There is quite a bit of death in the following links so best not to get too gung ho about any of it (excepting this brutal footage of a Deutschland vs Iowa engagement).

Military Channel, YouTube user kcmmdr and the Flea are delighted to present somebody's idea of the top ten* fighting ship classes:

KylieBulletS.jpg No 10, the Hood class battlecruiser;

KylieBulletS.jpg No 9, the Deutschland class "pocket" battleship;

KylieBulletS.jpg No 8, the Essex class aircraft carrier;

KylieBulletS.jpg No 7, the Bismarck class battleship;

KylieBulletS.jpg No 6, the North Carolina class battleship;

KylieBulletS.jpg No 5, the Fletcher class destroyer;

KylieBulletS.jpg No 4, the Ticonderoga class missile cruiser;

KylieBulletS.jpg No 3, the Queen Elizabeth class dreadnaught;

KylieBulletS.jpg No 2, the Nimitz class aircraft carrier, and;

KylieBulletS.jpg No 1, the Iowa class fast battleship.

But wait, there's more!

Nimitz carrier operations, USS Wisconsin 16" guns considered, Russian carrier Admiral Kuznetsov doing its thing and some unavoidably sinister Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force footage should be more than sufficient for your immediate cubicle-enhanced naval-viewing needs.

*Minus the Los Angeles class nuclear-propelled fast attack submarine which could put an end of most of the list and then break for tea or whatever it is the Yanks drink in the afternoon.

Posted by the Flea at 10:47 AM | Comments (8)

August 21, 2006

Mat Weddle: Hey Ya

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:11 AM

Wii vs PS3

Just so we are clear. This mock Wii vs PS3 ad is just wrong. Wrong, wrong, wong. Sautéed in wrong sauce, as Tommy Lee might put it. And let's face facts: Tommy Lee knows from wrong sauce.

So, umm, don't watch it.

Posted by the Flea at 08:07 AM | Comments (1)

August 17, 2006

Hilary Duff: Play With Fire

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 09:37 AM

August 16, 2006

Goth Like Me

MagdaleneVeen.jpg

Some may imagine it is all black lipstick and ennui treading the boards at Savage or Funhaus. But just try walking a mile in my pointy shoes (especially in a Canadian winter). And yet there are compensations. As a for instance, I have been listening to Abney Park's "Stigmata Martyr" over and over again. That is Magdalene Veen, "last of the Kuiper Bedouins," pictured above, btw. Long has it been since I first traveled the farflung regions of the Kuiper Belt, teaching the locals my weirding way such that I might find Sanctuary (before it was replaced by a Starbucks). Their headman named me "Usul" which was cool once I realized I had misheard him.

Liber Logaeth Update: Please feel free to click over to the other Flea and lend an ear to my second latest musical effort. "Al Azif" is built up from cicada samples plus one June Bug. It turns out conducting insects is much simpler than cat herding.

Non-transneptunian Update: And then there were twelve. I can live with the new definition of "planet" but only if the name Xena sticks. Otherwise, it is back to Anaximander for me.

For going on two centuries, astronomers have debated what exactly a planet is and which celestial bodies should qualify. The question was finally forced a year ago by the discovery of 2003 UB313, tentatively named Xena, a body larger than Pluto residing in an even more distant orbit. If Pluto is a planet, then Xena must be one, too -- along with lots of other bodies in the outer reaches of the solar system. But if you don't want to open the floodgates to so many new planets, you have to relegate Pluto to some lesser status. In either case, tradition must give way.
Posted by the Flea at 08:57 AM | Comments (4)

To your scattered topics go

KylieBulletS.jpg I am always ready for more vampires. This Dracula Year Zero reboot may be just the ticket.

KylieBulletS.jpg Bruce Campbell plans to remake Stryker's War. Fun.

KylieBulletS.jpg Battlestar Galacticsimpsons is self-explanatory.

KylieBulletS.jpg Some lucky Flea-reader may win a walk-on appearance on both Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis (though reading the Flea is no prerequisite for entry). I had planned to fill out the form and kept it quiet so as to marginally improved my chances but then I read the fine print. As a non-resident of the continental USofA I am SOofL. Does my pop culture vigilance count for nothing? Stargate's Canadian production team should know I stand ready for all their cameo needs.

KylieBulletS.jpg Tim Blair points to some EU propaganda cartoons that inexplicably failed to catch on with kids.

KylieBulletS.jpg Finally, on a serious note and assuming YouTube is back on-line, here is John Cleese as he delivers Graham Chapman's eulogy. You may be shocked to learn the content is most definitely not safe for work.

Posted by the Flea at 08:53 AM

My Mythos

Who Are You In The Cthulhu Mythos?

You are a STAR VAMPIRE, the race of cosmic entities with multiple mouths and suckers. They suck the blood from their (often human)prey, leaving the victim devoid of blood and juices within a minute. Flying with no means of visible propulsion, dwelling on an unknown planet, and only becoming visible when the juices of its victims bloat it with colour, so little is known about them that they remain a most fearsome and nightmarish threat to humanity.
Take this quiz!



Quizilla |
Join

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

This is a bit difficult to read but so accurate I have decided to reproduce it regardless. Normally I would just fiddle with the html to produce a more readable result but that rgb colour triangulation is too much to deal with before my coffee has finished brewing.

Posted by the Flea at 08:43 AM | Comments (1)

August 15, 2006

Under the General's Orders (Huang Fei Hong theme)

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance. Also, kick ass.

Now the Super Junior mix with added Flea!

Posted by the Flea at 08:41 AM

Michelle Yeoh in space

Danny Boyle presents Michelle Yeoh in space, coming in 2007. Note to viral and buzz marketing firms: Basically, you just need the words "Michelle Yeoh in space" and I am going to link your product and/or service. It is all too simple, really. And that is even taking into account if your Sunshine project reminds me of all-time-piece of crap, Solaris.

Fifty years from now, the sun is dying, and mankind is dying with it. Our last hope: a spaceship and a crew of eight men and women. They carry a device which will breathe new life into the star. But deep into their voyage, out of radio contact with Earth, their mission is starting to unravel. There is an accident, a fatal mistake, and a distress beacon from a spaceship that disappeared seven years earlier. Soon the crew is fighting not only for their lives, but their sanity.
Posted by the Flea at 08:37 AM

August 14, 2006

Type O Negative: Christian Woman

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 05:51 AM

The Influence of Monty Python on British Foreign Policy

The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand recently hosted David Fall, the soon to retire British Ambassador to Thailand. His lecture addressed the "surreal side of the world's negotiating circuit." The Telegraph has a fair summary but I would be delighted to find a copy of text on-line. His adventures in translation deserve closer scrutiny.

Mr Fall is quick to point the finger of fun at himself and his colleagues. Describing diplomats as "bureaucrats and political eunuchs" undeserving of the deference they are accorded, he said: "If you've got no sense of the ridiculous it can go to your head. The main importance of Python is that it deflates the pompous, it recognises the absurdities of life - and, believe me, diplomacy has more than its fair share of both."
Posted by the Flea at 05:47 AM

For the Technorati spiders

Technorati Profile

Posted by the Flea at 05:14 AM

August 12, 2006

GooGoosha: Unutma Meni

Rantburg can explain this one. Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 09:14 AM

August 11, 2006

All the Young Dudes

ZayraYoungDudes.jpg

Readers of Dave Navarro's blog would not have been surprised by Wednesday-night's double-eviction from the Rock Star mansion as Dave had telegraphed the possibility several days beforehand. Just remember: There are no losers in the Rock Star mansion.* Another place, another time, baby.

This week's Flea high-light was Zayra Alvarez' spectacular cover of David Bowie's All the Young Dudes. Her vocals are bit muddy in places. Umm... who cares? She has grasped the spirit of the thing exactly. Loved the platforms and form-fitting gold jumpsuit - both by Trashy Lingerie - and triumpant top hat from New York Hat Co.. More important, and just as I had suspected, internet evidence of her Spanish vocals show what she can do given the chance. Not only spandex but substance.

Which is not to knock the spandex.

*Especially after T Lee lays down the Tommyhawk and chops their asses from the show. Josh Logan has a Jay Kay soul thing going on which I am sure makes him popular amongst people who enjoy that sort of thing. But it is so wrong for Supernova so so long to Josh. Jill Gioia's fake Heart-fan routine was really getting on my tits. Good riddance. And can someone please explain to me what it is with chicks and Janice Joplin? Caterwauling for the ages; almost as bad as being forced to endure Sylvia Plath.

Posted by the Flea at 09:54 AM | Comments (7)

Black is the new black

Agent Bedhead claims Britney Spears has finally lost her mind. Perhaps. All I know is that if I am ever sufficiently wealthy I am already sufficiently immodest as to do whatever it takes to get an AmEx Centurion card. These "black cards" were only an urban legend until American Express decided to oblige a very few of its best customers.

The Centurion Card, popularly known as the Black Card, is American Express's most exclusive charge card. Urban legends of a special, black-colored card offering dignitaries and celebrities unlimited spending power and after-hours access to high-end stores circulated in the 1980s. While the rumors were false, American Express decided to capitalize on them by launching the Centurion Card in October 1999 to selected holders of Platinum Cards, with an annual fee originally at $1,000.

The card is available only by invitation and, as of January 1, 2006, requires minimum annual spending of $250,000 on another American Express card and exceptional credit history among other requirements. Certain requirements have been known to be waived for major celebrities and business figures. As of 2006 the annual cardholder fee was $2,500 and it is estimated that there are fewer than 10,000 cards issued worldwide.

Actually, a Mastercard World Signia would do me fine. If it is good enough for Coutts it is good enough for me. In any event, I expect black is well on its way to being déclassé.

Posted by the Flea at 09:51 AM | Comments (3)

August 10, 2006

FutureSex/LoveSounds

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Long have I pondered the maxim, "Do not call up that which ye cannot put down." Certainly the spirits of Prince and '80s Bowie should not be evoked lightly. Not content with a club tour and a new home reportedly valued at $24m, Justin Timberlake has expressed an admirable goal for his new album.

FutureSex/LoveSounds is most definitely an album for the bedroom – tracks include Sexy Ladies, Love Stoned, Chop Me Up – while the first single doesn't proclaim "I'm bringing sexy back" for nothing.

"There's a lot of sexual undertones on the record," Timberlake admits. "Anything with a good groove really feels sexy. I want people when they hear SexyBack to feel hot. I want girls to want to be in the middle of the club and take their clothes off and dance."

Strange but true: I had exactly the same phenomenon in mind for my own project. On a related note: Asian goth girls!

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM | Comments (2)

The before of Storm Large and Magni Asgeirsson

Storm Large attempts an amibitious live Dead Can Dance cover in her pre-Rock Star life. It works. Magni trying out for Eurovision? Not so much.

I shall appoint you my executive officer in charge of radishes Update: Magni with hair.

Posted by the Flea at 08:41 AM | Comments (5)

August 09, 2006

2 Thermidor CCXIV

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"What time is it, Citizen?"
"It is exactly five seventy-five".

The Flea is no fan of the metric system let alone its impetus in a de-humanizing revolutionary irrationalism that so fervently imagines human lives can be abbreviated into units of ten.* That said, I am now desperate to own a French Republican calendar clock; surely the dernier cri in ironical office decor (examples here).

Fabien Chicha considers the subject alongside some achingly wonderful watches. Must. Have. Revolutionary. Time-piece! He points out the urge to fiddle with time did not end with the Revolution.

Proof of this is the recent attempt made by the Swatch firm to establish a new international time standard for users of the internet in order to abolish the constraints of time zones. The idea, which divided the day into 1000 equal “.beats” was not a resounding success.

Swatch Internet Time does not begin to approach the silliness of all manner of public policy. And I can see some of these Revolutionary fashions making a comeback as soon as the House of Flea is in business.

*That is a sentence horribilis but I am too distracted just now to chop it up into two proper sentences. So, sorry about that.

Learning carries within itself certain dangers because out of necessity one has to learn from one's enemies Update: Christopher Hitchens considers Leon Trotsky on Radio 4 (via the Drink-soaked Trots).

Posted by the Flea at 10:54 AM | Comments (2)

Talking Heads: Once in a Lifetime

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 10:51 AM

The persistence of memory

The continuing miracle of YouTube brings back two kinds of memories. The first is Madonna's first appearance on David Letterman in 1988. Sandra Bernhard was the guest but seems to have had the double-act planned in advance. It is much less interesting than I had remembered it to be. Letterman too is less entertaining than I had remembered though, in fairness, there is a grim fascination to behold what once was Madonna's human face.

Next is Madonna's notorious return appearance in 1995. One of the odd things about memory - let's be precious and call it "cultural memory" - is that this show was so talked about that it is familiar to me even though I did not see it when it aired; let alone this uncensored nsfw clip. Madonna is impressively obnoxious (resembling approximately one-third of the women I have dated; not a bad thing in my opinion). I have not watched Letterman since I was a teenager so it could be I have missed something but this is the only time I have ever seen the man flustered.*

Oh how the tarty have fallen. Here is an unremarkable and unmissed 2005 appearance. Chicken jokes. Seriously.

*Excepting an exemplary Drew Barrymore performance which, thankfully, I did see at the time.

Posted by the Flea at 10:47 AM | Comments (7)

August 08, 2006

She wouldn't say no

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I am not certain how this slipped under my gorram radar: Morena Baccarin may star in Joss Whedon's Wonder Woman. IMDb even has the rumour listed. For her part, Baccarin has reportedly said she wouldn't say no to the part. I should certainly hope not.

"I feel bad for Joss because I’m sure he’s getting bombarded with questions about it. I mean, I’m not going to say no to a superhero but it’s not up to me."

This has all come to my attention for two reasons. First there is the release of fan documentary "Done the Impossible" (which should come with a massive multiple spoiler warning). I cannot recommend it to any but the most rabid Firefly fans but, given there is no other kind of Firefly fan, this does not present much of an obstacle. The second reason I have Firefly in mind is down to A Former Servant of Her Majesty belatedly making his way through the series.* This after a couple years of my claiming it is better than Ron Moore's Battlestar reboot. And by better I mean just as good but different.

Which brings me to a small point for Flea-readers who have not seen the show: Be sure to watch the tv series before you watch the feature film. If you watch the feature first I will never forgive you.

*He asks the important Inara or Kaylee question. The answer is, of course, Kaylee.

Great CGI for a fan film Update: Mosquito speculates about a galaxy dominated by Canadians and Ukrainians. Please. As if there is a difference between Canadians and Ukrainians.

Posted by the Flea at 08:53 AM | Comments (7)

Dean & the Weenies: F*ck You

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.*

*Various instructions and suggestions for viewing: As the song title suggests, this includes nsfw language. Low contrast nightclub photography indicates the full screen option for best viewing results. And if you have yet to see Mondo New York do so by all means!

Posted by the Flea at 08:47 AM

Peaceful Nation Shrine

Following criticism of his visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in 1996, Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto asked, "Why should it matter any more?" Of course, if the actions of imperial Japan's less illustrious war dead should no longer matter it begs the question of quite what a procession of Japan's Prime Ministers, cabinet ministers and members of the royal family are paying homage to at Yasukuni.

Writing for the Nichi Bei Times, Ben Hamamoto's "Entertainment Re-oriented - Atomic Pop Part I: It Created a Monster" considers atomic imagery in post-war Japanese pop cinema. This forwarded by the Flea's Network Warfare Expert who points to the "tease" that is the title for next week's follow-up: "Next week is Part II: “The World is Super-flat;” or “What Hello Kitty has to do with The Rape of Nanking”.

Here’s a riddle: What came from the Pacific, burned entire Japanese cities to the ground and left people with radiation poisoning, only to become the protector of the country it devastated?

The United States Armed Forces, of course, and their most destructive weapon: the nuclear bomb. But if we were to venture into the realm of pop culture, there is at least one more answer… Godzilla.

Here's a riddle: What Nichi Bei Times article follows the rhetorical convention of framing the atomic bombing of Japan in the context of "Japan's wartime trauma" without giving a passing hint of events leading up to those actions; let alone the "wartime trauma" of anyone living in a 3850 mile arc from the Japanese home islands. I am looking forward to the second part of the essay. It may be too much to hope Hamamoto includes some discussion of the causal relationship not only between Nanking and Hello Kitty but Nanking, medical experiments on prisoners, "comfort women", plague warfare in China, etc. etc. and the bombing of Japanese cities. Oh, those and kicking Gojira in the nuts at Pearl.

Posted by the Flea at 08:41 AM | Comments (5)

August 07, 2006

Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe/Siouxsie and the Banshees: Peek-a-boo

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It's Simcoe Day! Ontario's first Lieutenant-Governor! ROCK to the ON!* Crank those speakers! Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

*Except the bit about nine members of Simcoe's appointed Legislative Coucil in Upper Canada owning slaves. That is so NOT cool. Still, he banned the importation of slaves into Ontario which helped move events in the right direction. And he built Yonge Street with his bare hands; the longest street in the world. METAL!

Posted by the Flea at 08:54 AM | Comments (8)

I do feel fine, actually. But thanks for asking.

Jon Stewart showcases cable news coverage of the end of the world. This is silly season material* but I confess I am vexed to learn about the Rapture Index. I so should have thought of it first. Flea-readers may be pleased to learn the index is down due to lack of occult activity though an increase in liberalism means it is still best to get right with the Lord.

The FAQ is bonus and extra. For example, what is God's favourite colour? Also, why is Robin the Boy Wonder?

*Excepting the blasphemy; see Matthew 24.

Posted by the Flea at 08:51 AM | Comments (1)

August 04, 2006

Muse: Knights of Cydonia

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.*

*WIth a grateful tip of the hat to Taylor & Company. This one is gold. On a semi-related note, even though Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is a bore pirates are still way cooler than ninjas. I don't even see where there is room for debate on this one.

Posted by the Flea at 11:44 AM | Comments (3)

August 03, 2006

Now look, I once stood exposed to the Dragon's Breath so that a man could lie one night with a woman. It took me nine moons to recover. And all for this lunacy called, "love," this mad distemper that strikes down both beggar and king. Never again. Never.

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Oh, did I say "never"? This was clearly hyperbole. Popoholic articulates a sound plan right here.

Wow. Rose McGowan looks amazing. These pictures almost make up for her dating Marilyn Manson. Almost. If looking like a goth will get you a girl like Rose, then give me some black eyeliner, pronto!

That and the Villain Chair would mean Flea got game.

Posted by the Flea at 07:54 AM | Comments (2)

Kylie Minogue & Towa Tei: GBI

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:51 AM

That's one trouble with dual identities, Robin. Dual responsibilities.

I had a second look at Alien Vs Predator and it was much better than I had remembered it. The cgi is beautifully rendered and, even though the piece is derivative of an odd pop culture potpourri from Hellraiser to Cube to Kim Stanley Robinson's Antarctica to the most entertaining of the paperback Alien and Predator novels, it has a popcorn/B-movie appeal. AVP is not so much a prequal as a before to the Alien continuity and as such it does not interfere with any future installment in the faltering franchise no matter what the die-hard fans may think of it. So how to account for the film's poor reception? A second look suggests the mistake was to think of AVP as an Alien film when it is more fun to watch as a Predator movie. Expectations thus lowered it is much easier to enjoy.

My YouTube travels for this post once again lead me to Batman: Dead End fan-trailer, the closest thing to a proper Batman film until Christian Bale stepped into the suit. Outside Grant Morrison and Dave McKean's Arkham Asylum, I have never a fan of the Joker character which I suppose demonstrates how I fail to understand not only Batman but the whole DC universe. That said, I can see why fans have expressed reservations about early casting news from the next Batman production: The Dark Knight. Heath Ledger is reportedly set to play the Joker. Though to me the problem is not the inevitable Brokeback jokes but the hours of my life Ledger owes me for A Knight's Tale and The Order; horrible, horrible work.

Posted by the Flea at 07:47 AM | Comments (2)

August 02, 2006

Zayra Alvarez: Jenny (867-5309)

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM | Comments (1)

Lest thou be judged

Talk about judgement. Last week's Rock Star Supernova elimination shocked audience and contestants alike as Phil Ritchie was sent home before Zayra Alvarez. Some of the scandalized think keeping Zayra on is a cynical act by producers wishing for Superstar USA-style rubbernecking ratings. Dave Navarro sets them straight:

As for the old "producers" pulling the strings of the show, or the "it's rigged" thing, that is just stupid. If you think that for one minute that anyone could get Jason, Tommy and Gilby to do something they didn't want to do, then you obviously haven't been in the meetings. (Of course I know you haven't... But I have.) HAHAHA. Those guys are hard asses and I have never seen any one of them back down for anything.

That's telling it like it is, Dave. ROCK ON! Anyone wanting to know the score should check out this unaired clip of Navarro's pointed question to Phil during the judging (Update: It looks like this might have happened after Phil had been giving the boot as a gesture pour encouragez les autres).

Small sidebar: Releasing unaired clips to YouTube? Mark Burnett Super Genius.

Chacun à son goût Update: Since critics supposedly got it wrong about Impressionism our civilization has found it increasingly difficult to render aesthetic judgements. Perhaps giving in to Monet was the snowflake that precipitated the avalanche. Perhaps not. Either way it looks like we are reaching the bottom of the hill. I mean seriously, Roberto Cavalli vodka can only mean one thing: The Chavs are at the gates.

And another thing Update: I think Gilby Clarke was wrong about Zayra's vocals being off this week. Her voice has an engaging/frightening/enthralling Björk tonality that really came through on this one. It is precisly this eldritch quality to her voice that allowed her to actualize an insight that may have been possible only because she had never before heard the Tommy Tutone tune; the hard kernel of stalker enjoyment at its heart.

Posted by the Flea at 08:41 AM | Comments (1)

August 01, 2006

Say, was you ever bit by a dead bee?

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"You know Steve, you’re not very hard to figure. Only at times. Sometimes I know exactly what you’re going to say. Most of the time. And the other times, the other times, you’re just a stinker."

Possibly the best lines from any film I have ever seen. These delivered by Lauren Bacall in her first film rôle as Marie Browning, or rather "Slim", alongside husband to be Humphrey Bogart in To Have and Have Not (1944). Vichy French baddies, shoot-outs and Hoagy Carmichael on the piano. This one has everything. If To Have and Have Not was not already the perfect movie the wiggle at the end would have made it so. Seriously, the wiggle.

This is the first of four Bogart/Bacall films; the others including Dark Passage and Key Largo. I liked Key Largo just fine. It had the virtue of not being set in San Francisco and thereby avoiding noirish atmospheric clichés. But for all that Dark Passage is accused of gimmickry - and boy is it gimmicky - Key Largo has a staginess that I find harder to forgive in a film. At least noir gimmicks represent an attempt to figure out the new medium rather than restaging old conventions; something like the fun, adventurous mistakes bloggers make when they stop trying to pretend they are writing for a newspaper.

To Have and Have Not does not face these problems. The worst that can be said about it is that it attempts to recapture the spirit of Casablanca or that it is tangentially based on Hemingway's least successful novel. Though the worst of Hemingway stills seems to me to be something to aspire to. "I needed the money," was Hemingway's explanation of the book. A reason that is more than good enough in the book of any professional writer.

Posted by the Flea at 10:07 AM | Comments (3)

Method Man & Mary J Blige: I'll Be There For You

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

I can't think of a segue Update: Swiss bunker pr0n! I especially like the look of bunker no. 7 as a home-conversion project.

Posted by the Flea at 10:04 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)