Where Was Our Anime Ambassador In The 80's?

Evidence that the world needs an anime ambassador, to help ensure that all children have the chance to be as warped by cartoons as we were: The 10 Most Insane, Child-Warping Moments of 80's Cartoons. While I vaguely recall the Transformers and Smurfs examples, the one that made the strongest impression on me as a kid has to be this clip from the G.I. Joe episode "There's No Place Like Springfield" (details at the link).

BTW, I found the scripts to parts one and two of the episode. Neat. Now you can re-create that disturbing scene at home, perhaps in celebration of G.I. Joe's 25th Anniversary (which is being marked with a limited run of revamped action figures -- arguably a collector's investment opportunity -- and a feature film sometime next year). Or perhaps just to mess with some kids' minds.


Japan's Ambassador of Anime

This is huge news, people. Doraemon (aka Ding Dong) has been appointed Japan's cartoon ambassador, tasked with promoting anime to the world.

Once sworn in, Doraemon was heard to comment: "It's an honor to do such an important job. I'll work as hard as I can."

I, for one, welcome our new cat-like robot ambassador from the 26th century.



Pixeloo does an awesome job of untooning animated characters. Here's his rendition of Homer Simpson, and his follow-up post on the source material used to make it. Click the image to view larger.

Steve Brule RULEZ, Part Two

The video area on AdultSwim.com is working better now. And they've added my favorite Steve Brule clips from Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job! -- the ones I previously linked to, which were later removed from YouTube -- Dr. Steve Brule, For Your Wine and That's It For Dr. Steve.

"For your health."


Praxis is one of those super-groups with an evolving cast of heavily decorated recording artists. The kind that manages to continually defy genre boundaries with extreme prejudice. Praxis had a fairly significant influence on me (mostly because of Transmutation, Sacrifist and their contributing artists), which is why I'm typing this post right now...

I'm listening to Praxis' new album, Profanation, currently available as a Japanese import (or a .zip file here). It's Bill Laswell with the likes of Bernie Worrell, Mike Patton, Iggy Pop, Serj Tankian, Brain, Rammellzee, Otomo Yoshihide, Killah Priest, and of course Buckethead. It's interesting to hear what happens when musicians from such varied backgrounds hook up with a prolific guy like Laswell. Interesting to me, anyway. Take a listen and decide for yourself.


Third, Finally

Portishead are finally, after eleven years, releasing a third studio album. It's already leaked across filesharing sites, so it's clear that folks are hungry for it. But it's not exactly a third installment of the style defined by the group's first two albums. It's good, IMHO. Definitely starting to grow on me.

Here's the first "single" from the Third album, "Machine Gun":

R.I.P. Sir Arthur C. Clarke

His influence has had an effect on all of us in one way or another, whether we realize it or not. So rather than tip your proverbial forty, just drop a little science today for the recently departed Arthur C. Clarke.

Below is a clip of Clarke's latest reflections, recorded on his 90th birthday.


Lucky Enough

My grandfather, perpetually representing the Irish side of the family, used to tell us:
"If you're lucky enough to be Irish,
you're lucky enough."
That's the approach I've always taken toward St. Patrick's Day. I'm dealing with Irish blood running through my veins every day of my life - I don't feel the need to make an obscene novelty of my heritage for one day every year.

[I don't run around with the Polish flag tied to my back like a superhero's cape on Pulaski Day, either. Nor do I do anything particularly German during Oktoberfest.]

A lot of St. Patty's Day tradition is distorted anyway. Did you know that blue was the color originally associated with St. Patrick? Only through the phrase "wearing of the green" did the common practice of wearing green (instead of a Shamrock) become the tradition.

Color is not the only bastardization of tradition on St. Patrick's Day. A properly poured Guinness, not cheap beer dyed green, is the appropriate drink. Or a good Irish whiskey. Think about that before you help support the "drunk Irish" stereotype this evening.

If you're lucky enough to be Irish at all.


Know When You're Living

Welcome to another installment in my periodic posts about wordplay.

Today, I'll briefly discuss a phrase I've heard used four times in the past three weeks, and each time used incorrectly. The phrase?
Folks, that was just over seven years ago. The century turned when our calendars moved from 2000 to 2001. If you want to refer to the turn of the century, you must be more specific.

Please, know what year you're living in. Don't say "turn of the century" unless you mean to harken that period when we worried about the Y2K bug. Try "turn of the Twentieth Century" to refer to the late 1800's and early 1900's.

You're welcome.


Jazz Brain Isn't Just For Jazz

Nevermind that I keep biting BoingBoing posts. As a hobbyist musician who enjoys improvising when performing live, I find this very interesting.

The scientists found that a region of the brain known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a broad portion of the front of the brain that extends to the sides, showed a slowdown in activity during improvisation. This area has been linked to planned actions and self-censoring, such as carefully deciding what words you might say at a job interview. Shutting down this area could lead to lowered inhibitions.

The researchers also saw increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, which sits in the center of the brain’s frontal lobe. This area has been linked with self-expression and activities that convey individuality, such as telling a story about yourself.

“Jazz is often described as being an extremely individualistic art form. You can figure out which jazz musician is playing because one person’s improvisation sounds only like him or her,” says Limb [that's Charles J. Limb, one of the researchers]. “What we think is happening is when you’re telling your own musical story, you’re shutting down impulses that might impede the flow of novel ideas.”

Limb notes that this type of brain activity may also be present during other types of improvisational behavior that are integral parts of life for artists and non-artists alike. For example, he notes, people are continually improvising words in conversations and improvising solutions to problems on the spot. “Without this type of creativity, humans wouldn’t have advanced as a species. It’s an integral part of who we are,” Limb says.

That might help explain some of my behavior when not playing music, too. (Yes, I am suggesting that I may have an over-active prefrontal cortex. Those of you you know me know the kinds of things I say without thinking.)

[Pic via Musilosophy]


Steve Brule RULEZ

It appears that BoingBoing's Xeni Jardin is as enamoured with John C. Reilley's Steve Brule character as I am. Rather than duplicate her efforts, I'll just point you to her post. And give you a taste of the Brule clip we quote all the time around our house, above. Oh, and the sequel to it, here. Cheers, and enjoy.

Cartoon Network removed the video clips from YouTube. There are some clips online at Adult Swim's page for Tim And Eric's Awesome Show, Great Job!, but you've got to click around a while to get to anything -- and you'll be waiting for a lot of clunky pages to load. Waiting and waiting and waiting. This should be the link to video clips, but I can't tell because it's taken ten minutes to load and there's still nothing but navigation showing. So sad, Cartoon Network. Break a simple user experience and replace it with a pathetic one.

Adult Swim's video page finally loaded, after seventeen painful minutes on a T3 connection. Stupendous. Here's what's worth waiting for, I guess:

Blinded With Science

The last time I participated in a science fair, my project was withheld by the teacher. See, she didn't actually read my proposal to subject white mice to small amounts of microwave radiation and study the effects -- but she gave it the okay for me to proceed. I was one of the top students in that class, and I suspect she figured whatever I'd do would be fine. She didn't realize that I wanted to help demonstrate how the massive power lines running over a nearby park might be slowly cooking the kids. Or that I was going to show this by putting a pair of white mice in the microwave oven for one second, on low, every two days (another pair got one second every four days, and one pair was "control" with no exposure).

When I brought the project in, complete with photographic records of what happened to the mice after two weeks, the teacher was horrified. This was a Catholic school, mind you, and I had less than three weeks left of eighth grade. Though a top student, I was already an outcast for suggesting that I didn't want to or need to go through with confirmation (I did, only to renounce Christianity entirely within a few years). My science project was doomed to hide in the closet until after the science fair, when I would be graded separately, with a parent present. My mom came in, I aced science that year, and I ultimately lost a little respect for some of my teachers. (Yes, I'm talking about you, Mrs. Chic.)

With that story out of the way, you can understand why I am so charmed and delighted by 41 Hilarious Science Projects. Enjoy.


Sibling Site Updates Q1 08

Between recent events, having work to do at home over the weekend, and a business trip to London that starts in two days, I felt like I needed to get grounded in something that wasn't work related ... and do it in a hurry. Publishing a new web site can give one a sense of accomplishment. Two sites, even better. So I finished some updates I've been putting off to pylbug.com, particularly to my (almost) complete discography.

And then I posted two new mashes-up to Noise Throng:

This one I've been toying with, on-and-off, for a while...

Pour Some Witness On Me
[Roots Manuva vs. Def Leppard]

And this one I whipped up over the course of a few evenings this past week...

Run With The Devil
[Van Halen vs. Gnarls Barkley]

Boredom is a provocation.

I think I've been bored my whole life. I used to complain about being bored to my mom. Chronically, hopelessly bored. All the time. She would reply with a simple correction: "No, you're boring."

Around the same time I left home for good, I started experimenting more regularly in the recording arts. It was, in the beginning, something I did to alleviate the boredom. Coincidentally or not, it was around then I started becoming a fan of The Boredoms. [Have you heard them lately? They're playing in-the-round at Congress Theater in a few weeks. You should try to go.] They're not boring. They're not the main reason for this post, either.

Boredom is. In fact, I'm wondering if boredom isn't actually one of my more productive states. If necessity is the mother of invention, as they have always said. Anyway...

Today, I caught up with some bookmarks I've been meaning to read into further. One was about a term that caught my eye about a month ago - Strategic Boredom. You should watch this video about it. It's not boring. At least for most of you regular commenters, it won't be boring. But it is a bit nerdy. And you're gonna need about twenty-eight minutes to get through it. Enjoy... unless you've got something better to do.