Monday, September 27, 2010


     Ascetic is not to be confused with aesthetics. Just leave it to some obscure Korean movie to improve my English vocabulary. I watched Come, Come, Come Upwards (1989) last night, which is about the lives of female Buddhists and, of course, asceticism.

     It's not my job to elaborate the difference between ascetic and aesthetics. I just wanted to point out I was forced to run to an English language dictionary while watching a Korean movie.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Arrive at Easterwine: The Autobiography of a Ktistec Machine

     I can not explain to you what I have just finished reading. My first exposures to the writings of R.A. Lafferty made a significant impact, but this novel just left me irritated and confused. And running to the dictionary every few moments (but sometimes laughing out loud, which makes reading this bilge worthwhile).

      Here are some (I left out the really woolly ones) of the words that I had either never seen before or did not readily know the definition:

callow - lacking adult maturity or experience; immature
purlieu - a neighboring area; outskirts; a place that one frequents
aerie, aery, eyrie, eyry - the nest of a bird, built on a cliff; a house or stronghold perched on a height
tor - a pile of rocks on top of a hill; a rocky peak or hill
fulgent - shining brilliantly; radiant
urbane - polite, refined, and often elegant in manner
fellah - a peasant or agricultural laborer in an Arab country  (plural is fellahin  or fellaheen)
poseur - one who affects a particular attitude, character, or manner to impress others
aestivation - the act of spending or passing the summer (also spelled estivation)
eutectic - formed at the lowest possible temperature of solidification for any mixture of specified constituents; used primarily for alloys
eidolon - a phantom, an apparition; an image of an ideal
chthonic - of or relating to the gods and spirits of the underworld (Greek mythology)
bilge - the rounded portion of a ship's hull; stupid talk or writing, nonsense
abscond - to leave quickly and secretly and hide oneself, often to avoid arrest or prosecution
cloy - to cause distaste or disgust by supplying with too much of something originally pleasant
subtile - accepted variant spelling of subtle
cybern - [not in my dictionary, could be a made-up word]
roue - a lecherous, dissipated man
intramuros - [not in my dictionary, could be a made-up word]
intraficies - [not in my dictionary, could be a made-up word]
paean - a song of joyful praise or exultation
palimpsest - a manuscript, typically of papyrus or parchment, that has been written on more than once, with the earlier writing incompletely erased and often legible; an object or place that reflects its history
gamy - ill-smelling; rank; showing an unyielding spirit; corrupt, tainted
prescind - to separate or divide in thought; consider individually
philology - literary study or classical scholarship (literally 'love of learning')
numinosity - related to 'supernatural' in meaning
amnestic - adjectival form of amnesia
Faeroes - a group of volcanic islands in the northern Atlantic Ocean between Iceland and the Shetland Islands
outre - highly unconventional; eccentric or bizarre
caul - a portion of the amnion, especially when it covers the head of a fetus at birth; also called pileus
gravid - carrying developing young or eggs 
quoit - a game in which flat rings of iron or rope are pitched at a stake, with points awarded for encircling it (sounds like horseshoes to me)

     A few quotes from this book:

"There is nothing the matter with matter. Life is no more than a privileged form of matter. Love is no more than a privileged form of life."

"You never get anything out of the ones who have the most."

"There is a man and a woman walking on the walkway; I would have to describe them as congenial-appearing crabs.
'Are you two married to each other?' Gregory asked them lovingly.
'Got to be,' the man said. 'Who else would have us?'"

Friday, September 10, 2010

Angels on the Streets

     I finally got around to cracking open "THE PAST UNEARTHED: Collection of Feature Films in the Japanese Colonial Period". It's a 4 DVD box set of Korean films from the early 1940s. In 2004, the Korean Film Archives found them in China, in a vault. The first movie in the set is titled "Angels on the Streets"

     The picture and sound quality made the experience rather trying. I could barely hear the Korean above the static and the picture was very dark. Thankfully, the producers included quality English subtitles. The extensive booklet is also written in Korean and English. The movie is 73 minutes long and I watched it in two parts, to make the experience more tolerable. 
     This movie is about the street urchins, which refers to the thousands of homeless children. They are never referred to as angels in the film. While the quality of the movie left much to be desired, the story and acting were not so bad.
      At the end of the movie, all of the actors (all Koreans) got into formation and pledged allegiance to the Emperor of Japan, under the crimson eye of the Japanese flag. I seriously doubt that was voluntary.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My newest favorite authors.

     Greg Egan and R. A. Lafferty are my newest favorite authors. They are pointedly different from one another, as Egan focuses on hard science and Lafferty essentially wrote tall tales, with very little science. I have read all 7 of Egan's published novels and I'm currently waiting for Zendegi to be published. Egan doesn't write that much, so it's easy to keep up with him.
     Lafferty is a bit more complicated. He wrote a lot; more than 30 novels and 200 short stories. What's impressive is that he didn't start writing until he was in his 40s. His first novel, pictured below, was nominated for the Hugo Award:

     The above novel features Thomas More as the protagonist, the inventor of utopia.

     Both of these authors are not for lazy readers. They either use vocabulary or concepts that will require the use of dictionaries or other supplemental material. Lafferty makes me use the dictionary every 22 seconds, while Egan makes me use a Physics textbook every 22 attoseconds. That's great and it's what I enjoy about reading.
     Although a great deal of information can be found about these authors at other sources, I can summarize by writing that Egan is the hardest of hard science fiction writers (read Schild's Ladder if you want proof) and Lafferty is the funniest (read Through Elegant Eyes).

Friday, February 19, 2010

Psychotic people.

     Yesterday, a psychotic man flew a small plane into an IRS building. The story is here: uphill battle

     Most interestingly, I had read a short essay written by Philip K. Dick the morning it happened. He wrote the essay in October 1979. Here is the relevant excerpt:

     "An excellent therapist I once knew made the point that in almost all cases of criminal psychotic acting-out there was an easier alternative that the disturbed person overlooked. Brenda Spenser, for instance, could have walked to the local supermarket and bought a carton of chocolate milk instead of shooting eleven people, most of them children. The psychotic person actually chooses the more difficult path; he forces his way uphill. It is not true that he takes the line of least resistance, but he thinks that he does. There, precisely, lies his error. The basis of psychosis, in a nutshell, is the chronic inability to see the easy way out. All the behavior, all that constitutes psychotic activity and the psychotic lifestyle, stems from this perceptual flaw."

     Most people suffer from an acute inability to see the easy way out. Those are the types of people that yell and display much anger. I remember my 5th grade physical education teacher, Mr. Beekman, pointing out that it's unhealthy to bottle up anger. However, there is something to be said for people with chronic psychosis - they are very pleasant to be around until they crack.
     Another thing of interest is that 'shootings' are not new. They were making the news in 1979, just like they are today. In Los Angeles in 1979, a 17 year old girl named Brenda Spenser walked into a shoolyard of children and opened fire, killing two of them. She did so 'because she didn't like Mondays'. 
     As for the attack on the IRS building, I can relate to the anger some people have for the IRS. As I pointed out in my previous blog post, I view the IRS as bullies. But to destroy one's own life in order to attack a bully is not very helpful to one's life. Just like with Korean gangsters, if you give the IRS some of your money, then they will leave you alone. I view it as 'paying them off'. Paying them to leave me alone; that's how I justify it. I could fight them, but they are bigger and stronger - it'd be like jumping into a pit of crocodiles. However, if I were psychotic, then I'd view the pit of crocodiles as the easiest solution.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

DoDonPachi: Dai-Ou-Jou Arrange Album

     DoDonPachi: Dai-Ou-Jou roughly translates to "Angry Leader Bee: A Peaceful Death". It was originally released in 2002 in the arcade format and eventually ported to the Playstation 2 and Xbox 360. The company that made the game is called "Cave" and they typically make shooting games (like Gradius) that are considered too difficult for Western gamers, so you've probably never played one of them, unless you import games (or live in Japan).
     I first heard the soundtrack about 7 years ago. It was composed by Manabu Namiki, who does much of the music for Cave shooters. In 2009, an arrange album for Dai-Ou-Jou was published by Cave featuring a variety of top artists in the game music world. The music is transcendent; it exceeds any possible auditory desire I could ever have. I have to pick this as the best arrange album released in 2009. I made some scans of it.

Front Cover

Back Cover


     The next two scans are of the obi, which means "belt" in Japanese. However, it is more colloquial to say "spine card". The obi, or spine card, covers the spine of the jewel case and displays pertinent information about the CD, such as the catalog number, release date, title, bar code, etc. Almost all Japanese CDs contain an obi, and they are collectable items. People tend to pay less or not pay at all for CDs that are missing the obi. Rarely do obi have any sort of interesting artwork. But this one does.

Obi Front

Obi Back

     The line-up of arrangers on this CD is impressive.

     The first track was arranged by Yasuhiko Fukuda, who composed Emerald Dragon for the PC Engine, which I have listened to many times.

     The second track was arranged by Yasuhisa Watanabe, a member of Zuntata, well known for Metal Black. His nickname is "Yack". I am very familiar with the works of this composer.

     The third track was arranged by Kohta Takahashi, whom I am not very familiar with. He has done some work for Namco series, such as Ridge Racer and Tekken.

     The fourth track was arranged by Ryu Umemoto, whom I am not very familiar with.

     The fifth track was arranged by Motoaki Furukawa, whom I am extremely familiar with. I've been listening to his music for nearly a decade. He is foremost a talented guitarist and has composed music for several early Konami games, such as SD Snatcher and Xexex.

      The sixth track was arranged by Yuji Takenouchi, who also composed music for several old Konami games. He composed the music for the sequel to Metal Gear, as well as Space Manbow.

     The seventh track was arranged by Kinuyo Yamashita. She also worked for Konami and composed the music for Castlevania, the very first one. The reason why I bought this CD without even wondering if it would be good is because of Yamashita's involvement. If the composer for Castlevania makes something, then you listen.

     The eighth track was arranged by Hiroki Kikuta, an old Squaresoft composer, well known for Secret of Mana, and its sequel Seiken Densetsu 3.

     The ninth track was arranged by Motoi Sakuraba, who probably has the largest discography in all of video game music. I am very familiar with his music, but I can't say I've even listened to half of what he's composed. Most notably, he's the man behind the Star Ocean and Valkyrie Profile series.

      The tenth track was arranged by Kota Hoshino, whom I am not very familiar with. I know he's done a lot of work on the Armored Core series, though.

     The eleventh track was arranged by Akari Kaida, whom I am somewhat familiar with. Most notably, I can recall her work on Breath of Fire III. She's done music for several other Capcom games as well.

     The twelfth track was arranged by Tomoko Sasaki, who composed the music for Nights, a popular Sega Saturn game.

     Oh, and I can't forget the guy that originally composed this music, Manabu Namiki:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


     One of my favorite doujin groups is Dangerous Mezashi Cat. They have many different members and have published 8 albums so far. Doujin groups are quite different from the people that normally arrange video game music albums, as they are not actually hired by the company that made the game. "Doujin" essentially refers to a fan-made thing, or a group of people that share an interest in something. This is not to be confused with an amateur status; the doujin groups do sell their albums and make money. They just aren't officially recognized. However, since they are simply fans, the quality ranges from phenomenal to atrocious. Many thousands of doujin albums have been released in Japan, alongside the many thousands of official albums.
     Here is what the artwork looks like from Dangerous Mezashi Cat's latest album:



     As you can see, they even went through the trouble of making a picture disc, which I think is really cool. On this album, they arrange music from the earliest Megaten games, which is short for Megami Tensei, a popular series of games in Japan. The music is similar to Castlevania, mainly because of the gothic sounds. Even though I've never played any of the Megaten games, I am quite familiar with the music, as I've listened to almost all of the soundtracks in that series. Thus, I found this CD remarkably interesting for the new arrangements of music I have loved for many years.
     One thing is very much for certain - DMC is getting better. There is absolutely no way for a casual listener to single this music out as coming from a video game.
     This CD was released on Dec. 30th, 2009 and I received it just a few days ago. It's important to buy these types of CDs right when they come out because the print runs are very limited, which can potentially skyrocket the price if it becomes popular. It is very easy for these albums to reach $50 and then $150, so if you wait, you're either going to pay out the ass or have to find someone willing to trade. Or hope someone posts it on the internet.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Airports for human beings.

     There currently does not exist any airport which is designed to accommodate humans. Every human that walks into an airport is assumed to be a terrorist, which implies that the design of an airport is based on that assumption. I would argue that approximately 99.9% of all humans are not terrorists, which means that 6.5 million people are terrorists, or have terrorist-type thoughts and plan to bring them to fruition.
     An ideal airport would not have any security and would be designed like a movie theater. Customers buy tickets and then proceed to their appropriate aircraft. The process should take less than 15 minutes. This is not a laughable prospect, nor an impossible one. Just think of termites.
     When your house is infested with termites, you don't say to yourself, "You know, I'm going to fight these termites. I don't want to exterminate them. I just want to fight them every day for many years and spend as much money as I possibly can." But that is precisely how the U.S. military wants to deal with terrorists. Scratch that. There is no "want" about it, that is how the U.S. military does things. As slowly and as expensively as possible. It is not a living organism, so the concept of want has no meaning. While it is constructed of humans, the military itself is not a human and thus erroneous anthropomorphic thoughts easily come to mind.
     So this is why we still have terrorists on the planet. The U.S. military does not view them as the average homeowner views termites.