Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Spirit of Ecstasy

Do you have something that motivates you? I mean, besides money or a family and kids? Do you have something that has captured your imagination since you were small or some item or object that enthralls you and makes you dream of what could be? Something that helps you to become your best? Something that helps and motivates you to be more than you could be by yourself?

I do. It is a statue of the Spirit of Ecstasy.

If you enter my home, at the very entrance is the Spirit of Ecstasy on a solid marble stand. It is big and it is very old and it is quite heavy. The height of the statue is about 70 centimeters tall (about 2'3" tall - 27 inches). And since it is bronze with a solid marble base, it weighs about 22 kilograms (about 48 pounds). 

Most people would know the Spirit of Ecstasy as the statue that adorns the hood of Rolls Royce cars.

Since I was a young boy, I had always been fascinated by art and this particular statue. If you have seen it once, you will never forget this historic and enduring design. The Spirit of Ecstasy is in the form of a woman leaning forwards with her arms outstretched behind and above her. Billowing cloth runs from her arms to her back, resembling wings. For me, she also represents the symbolic queen of what is probably my favorite art movement of all time: Art Deco.

Even as a child, the Spirit of Ecstasy captured my imagination. She "spoke" to me and she pushed me to chase my dreams. She showed that I could do the impossible, that I could fly. The Spirit of Ecstasy has always reminded me to never give up and to always push forward in spite of all odds! 

I had always dreamed of having my own Spirit of Ecstasy since I was small. 

When I saw this statue, years ago at an antique shop, I just had to have it. My wife agreed, but, to this day, she doesn't know the secret this statue holds and what it really means to me. I am serious when I say that, since I was a very young boy, this was one of the designs that has truly held my imagination all my life, and will continue to do so, until the day I die. 

I'd like to tell you why.

But first, about the Spirit of Ecstasy herself. 

Before 1910, her name was not The Spirit of Ecstasy but was "The Whisperer" or "Emily" or "Silver Lady" or "Flying Lady," and she was designed and created by sculptor Charles Robinson Sykes

There's a fascinating story behind this statue and the people involved with its creation too! From Wikipedia

The statue carries with it a story about secret passion between John Walter - the second Baron Montagu of Beaulieu (a pioneer of the automobile movement, and editor of "The Car Illustrated" magazine) and the model for the emblem, Eleanor Thornton. Eleanor was the secretary of John Walter, who fell in love with her in 1902. Their secret love was to remain hidden, limited to their circle of friends, for more than a decade. The reason for the secrecy was Eleanor's impoverished social and economic status, which was an obstacle to their love. On the other hand, John Walter was married to Lady Cecil Victoria Constance Kerr.

By 1910 personal mascots had become the fashion of the day. Rolls-Royce were concerned that owners were affixing "inappropriate" ornaments to their cars.... Rolls-Royce Motor Cars turned to Sykes to produce a mascot which would adorn all future Rolls-Royce cars and become generic to Rolls Royce, with the instructions that it should convey "the spirit of the Rolls-Royce, namely, speed with silence, absence of vibration, the mysterious harnessing of great energy and a beautiful living organism of superb grace to evoke the spirit of mythical beauty."... Sykes chose to modify "The Whisper" into a version similar to today's Spirit of Ecstasy. He called this first model The Spirit of Speed... Some critics and fans have given The Spirit of Ecstasy the dubious nickname "Ellie in her Nightie", suggesting Eleanor's influence.... In February 1911 Sykes presented to Rolls-Royce the "Spirit of Ecstasy." The similarity with "The Whisper" was hardly coincidental because the model for both had been Miss Thornton. The sculptor's signature appeared on the plinth and were signed "Charles Sykes."

Eleanor, our heroine, died on 30 December 1915 when the SS Persia was torpedoed by a U-boat! She had been accompanying 
John Walter (Lord Montagu.) He was thought to have been killed too, but survived and was saved after several days adrift in a life raft.

A beautiful woman who was the model for this iconic design? A love affair between a baron and this impoverished woman? The baron and the woman are off having an affair and their ship gets sank by a U-Boat? The beautiful woman gets killed in that U-Boat attack? The baron survives after being adrift for several days at sea? The secret history of one of the world's most famous automobiles? 

Wow! What a story! Wow! The aristocrats! Where's the Hollywood writers?

But I digress, like I said, to me even as a young boy, the Spirit of Ecstacy represented chasing my dreams and flying towards success. 

What my wife doesn't know (to this very day) is why I was so insistent upon buying that Spirit of Ecstasy statue when we saw it. Before we found it in the antique shop, I had never seen one in real life except the tiny 4 or 5 inch tall ones on Rolls Royce cars. And, actually, I'm not interested, nor ever have been, in cars or clothes. 

But when I saw this bronze Spirit of Ecstasy statue at the shop, I knew I just had to have it. We've now owned her for over 11 years. 

Sometimes work gets me down or projects that I am working on don't go well or they get cancelled (like radio or TV shows)... Creating a movie or a radio show or TV show can sometimes seem like an impossible dream....

I can get depressed.... 

My wife knows this about my personality very well.

But what my wife doesn't know is that everyday when I walk out the front door or I come home at night, she is there waiting for me. The lady! The Spirit of Ecstasy stands at the front door and always cheers me on.

She always says, "Chase your dreams. Never give up! Always fly!" 

It must be my mental disorder that such an inanimate object can hold such sway over me and motivate me. I can't explain exactly why excepting that she has always been this way to me.

I think the story of the Spirit of Ecstasy is a fascinating one and find this sort of tale to motivate me and to make me think, "It's great to be alive."

Art that makes me happy or motivated, like the Spirit of Ecstasy does, is like magic. I hope that everyone reading this has some sort of item at home or office, be it a child's drawing, a painting, a photograph, an object or some art that inspires and motivates them. Doing so is a sort of mind control and can help you to overcome your fears.

Never forget everyone: "Chase your dreams. Never give up! Always fly!" 

She says goodbye to me and she welcomes me home everyday. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

True Story: Sandii & the Sunsetz, Go-Bang's and Rodney Bingenheimer and Me.

Some readers might know that I am a disc jockey in Japan. I have been doing this a long time. 

Long ago, I was the assistant for the legendary DJ Rodney Bingenheimer. It's how I got started in this business. And, since Rodney is my philosophical and spiritual leader for being a DJ, I have always tried to support new bands and new things like "Rodney Sensei" does. Today I want to tell you about the two hot Japanese girl fronted bands that were, I believe, the first Japanese bands that ever graced the airwaves on Rodney on the Roq's KROQ show in Los Angeles; one of, if not thee, most legendary rock n roll radio shows in history.

Earlier this morning, I had been talking with a friend about Little Tokyo in Los Angeles in the seventies and I was recalling a true story when I realized something for the very first time! That the very first Japanese band I ever got aired on the radio in Hollywood (on the World Famous Rodney on the Roq Show) had to have been Sandii and the Sunsetz (He played it once so he might not remember). 

The second one I got played on Rodney's show on KROQ, were the Go-Bangs which Rodney played heavily (He'd definitely remember them, I think.)

Here is my recollection of that time, to the best I can... 

See that? That just looks like a great record!

In 1980 ~ 81... I was a university student and assistant to legendary DJ Rodney Bingenheimer. 

On weekends, in the seventies and early eighties, I used to love going to Little Tokyo in Los Angeles just to hang out. Anyway, one day, I was in Little Tokyo wandering about and I walked by a bookstore. They had all sorts of Japanese magazines (duh!) and, right by the front door, they had a bin of used seven-inch records.

By this time, I had already played in a band and had a massive record collection. I became so cocky that I believed I could tell a good record just by looking at the jacket. 

I still do.

Anyway, I looked into the used bin and found a record by a band named "Sandii and the Sunsetz," that I thought, "This absolutely looks great!" But it was a Japanese band? How could I be sure? I couldn't. So, being a curious sort, I bought it and took it home to listen to and test my record selection skills. 

It was a GREAT song! I listened to it and loved it. That weekend, I took it to Rodney's show and handed it to him and he played it!

I can now honestly say that the first Japanese band that I ever got on air - in my radio career (and on the Rodney on the Roq Show), was Sandii and the Sunsetz - Battery. 

Maybe that isn't such a big deal to dear reader, but it is to me. I would have never guessed that so many years later, I'd be a DJ in Japan doing the same thing as Rodney: Finding new bands and playing them first!

Here's that video. I thought Sandii was a goddess!

Sandii and the Sunsetz - Battery:

Time would pass and I would move to Japan a few years later. I would find good music and send it to my friends like Rodney. Everyone liked Japanese versions of albums, because the Japanese versions always had extra tracks not available on the foreign releases.

In Japan, after looking a long time, I found another Girls band that I thought was fab! It was the Go-Bangs. I loved it!

I sent the Go Bangs song to Rodney and he liked it a lot too and played it several times. (I know he'd definitely remember the Go-Bangs!)

(The actual song, "Special Boyfriend" starts at about 2'30" into the video so you might want to fast forward to that. The other stuff is punk rock nonsense!)

Go-Bangs - Special Boyfriend:

For me, being into punk music in L.A. since the early seventies, I felt that most Japanese music at that time was, well,  lacking... I felt the Go Bangs were a sort of Missing Link and liked it a lot too.... 

The Go Gos, Bangles (in America), then a Japanese "punk taste" girl's band named the Go-Bangs... They were the first ones to get big. 

Those were the days before the internet so it was hard to get information on music. Not like today...

Nowadays, there's a cool Japanese rock/garage music boom. We have the internet. I still have a radio show... 

And, recently, Rodney Bingenheimer has been playing a steady stream of cool bands from Japan. 

Thanks Rodney!

So, the point? I just wanted to set the record straight; the two bands that really allowed all these other Japanese bands to get airplay on the world famous Rodney Bingenheimer show, and the first two Japanese rock bands I got on air in the USA were Sandii and the Sunsetz and The Go-Bangs.

So, those artists have a special place in my heart and my Dj history.... 

If anyone from Sandii and the Sunsetz or The Go-Bangs wanna come and be guests on my show, my doors are open!!!!


Rodney Bingenheimer has been playing some cool Japanese bands these last few years too. here's a couple of them:

The Privates - Action Woman:
(I made this video with Ken Nishikawa and some friends. Rodney plays this a LOT!) 

taffy - Snowberry:
(90's Brit Pop better than the British can make.)

The Routes - Perfect Hell: 
(The Routes have to be, by far, the most played band from Japan in the entire history of the Rodney Bingenheimer Show.)


The Rodney Bingenheimer Show is on Sirius Radio! Check it here:

Here's his Facebook page:

Thanks to Gene Gingatake for shaking the old cobwebs loose and reminding me of good times long ago.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Aerosmith and Me. A True Story.

I just realized that today is April 1st, so you guys will think this is a joke, and won't believe this is a true story (people who know me well, will know it is). But, I swear to god, strike me dead, that this is absolutely 1000% a true story. 

About twenty years or so ago (maybe a little more), I used to appear on a TV show (on Music-On-TV) with still-to-this-day famous VJ in Japan, George Williams. 

George interviewed artists as himself, of course, but I participated in the interviews as "the Masked DJ." 

I kept my Masked DJ true identity a secret and wore a pro wrestling full-head mask to conceal my identity. The Masked DJ's schtick was that his super-powers helped him to rid the world of crap music.

There was, and still is, a lot of that.

On that show, we often interviewed some the most famous bands and artists who came to Japan. George would ask the normal questions and I would ask stuff from out in Left Field. (Not like regular Japanese TV shows where they ask incredibly stupid questions like, "What is your favorite color?" or "Can you eat with chopsticks?")

No. Of course, there are no photos with the Masked DJ. Even if there were, you wouldn't recognize him. He wore a mask. This photo is fake but this recollection is not.

One day, the entire gang from Aerosmith were on the show. We got to do the interview on nationally broadcast TV.

George was asking the Aerosmith guys about their new album and tour. I was asking Steven Tyler all sorts of stuff; like if he was getting longer nose hairs as he was getting older (I could relate).

The interview went great. Towards the end of the interview, the Masked DJ asked the question that everyone in the nationally broadcast TV show in Japan was eagerly anticipating. 

The Masked DJ said to Aerosmith: "Wow! I'm your biggest fan in Japan. I go way back with you guys. All the way back to high school! I have all your records too! But there is one question I have that I'd like to ask since you aren't wearing your makeup..."

The boys from the band furrowed their brows and listened patiently and the Masked DJ said, "...So, the question I'd like to ask is, er, which one of you guys was the cat? And which one of you guys had the star on your eye?... And which one had the bouffant and super long tongue? And..."

As the Masked DJ was asking the questions, he could see Steven Tyler's face turning red, his cheeks beginning to quiver, his eyes starting to bulge out, and what looked like steam coming out from his ears and nostrils...

Just as Tyler was about to explode, Joe Perry and the other guys burst out laughing and laughing. Joe Perry was howling and said, "I was the one with the star on my eye!" and other members started joining in, "I was the cat! I was the cat!" 

Soon, even Steven Tyler calmed down and realized it was a big rock n roll joke and started singing.

I am now proud to say that I believe that am the first (and only?) person in rock n roll history who got Aerosmith to sing the Kiss song, "I wanna rock n roll all night, and party every day!" on nationally broadcast television. 

Judging by Steven Tyler's initial reaction, I am sure I will be the last too. 

Later on, when the show was over, walking out of the dressing room, sans wrestling mask, the Masked DJ (in real-life then mild-mannered Mike Rogers) overheard Joe Perry insisting to their manager, "Now THAT'S the kind of interview we wanna do in Japan!"

I have no doubt in my mind that if you ask the Aerosmith guys today if they remember singing "Rock n Roll All Nite" on Japanese TV with the Masked DJ, they would absolutely. No doubt about it.

I remember and will never forget either. It's not everyday Aerosmith sings Kiss songs on national TV!

Thanks to Lisa Mychols for reminding me about this. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

HOLLYWOOD EXCLUSIVE! The Script for the "Return of the Hulk" Hollywood Blockbuster 2020!


It has been revealed to this writer (from anonymous sources who cannot be named) the Top Secret and Exclusive Story and script for the upcoming $550 million dollar budget "Return of the Hulk" film set for theatrical release in early 2020.

Here is the story:

Bruce Banner, feeling lonely, embarrassed, and dejected after the miserable failure of that crap Marvel Movie Club: The Incredible Hulk feature film in 2008 
(IMDB: hadn't been seen in public for years. 

During this time, Bruce, chasing Dr. Elizabeth "Betty" Ross's tail for over 5 decades, finally gives up on her and starts drinking heavily to wash away his feelings of being a complete failure in life. 

One fine day, Bruce Banner is sitting at home on Sunday morning watching an NFL game and drinking Buttwiper beer with his friends and their girlfriends. He is amazed at just how everybody is so freaking enthralled with NFL football players. He can't believe it. 

Neither can I.

So, he decides that he can redeem himself if he becomes a pro-NFL player. He goes out to try out for the position of middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears... Because he is so nervous, he fails to turn into the Incredible Hulk everytime he's put into the scrimmage and he gets his ass run over by guys three times his size. 

Finally, Bears coach, Dick Buttkiss, cuts him from the squad.

Soon after, Banner gets so pissed off at himself that he turns into the Hulk and wrecks the locker room where he is spotted and picked up by a scout from the Green Bay Packers!

The Packers sign the Hulk. That year, the Packers, with the help of the Incredible Hulk, who had 627 interceptions, 2879 unassisted tackles, 97 blocked extra point and field goal kicks, and 278 TDs in his rookie year, go to the Super Bowl.

Just before the Superb Owl, Betsy calls Bruce at home to ask him if he's going to the big game. Bruce says he will and promises to meet her there right after... But now Bruce really knows he's in love with Betsy and she loves him, I mean, Bruce, er, the Incredible Hulk... Whatever...

Bruce decides that when they win the game that day, he will give the Super Bowl ring to Betsy and finally admit to her who he really is and then he is going to ask her to marry him. Happy ending, right? 

Not so fast!

Just before kickoff, while sneaking into the locker room to change, Bruce actually spots Betsy in the stands waving to him and blowing kisses before the big game, he is so happy and gleeful that he fails to turn into the Hulk for the entire first three and 1/2 quarters of the game. 

When coach Buttkiss threatens the Hulk with a suspension and a $1500 fine, for freaking not even showing up to the game, and Bruce hears this and has a cow (realizing he might not get a Super Bowl ring to give) he turns into the Incredible Hulk, and joins late in the game.

There are 3 seconds left on the clock. The Denver Raiders have a chippy shot 15-yard-field goal to kick. The Hulk runs onto the field as the crowd goes wild!...

Just as they are about to kick, the Hulk glances at Betsy in the stands and his heart melts....  He feels like he is turning back into Bruce Banner! 

Can he hold on being the Incredible Hulk just long enough to block just one more field goal and win the big game?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Queen of Rock n Roll is Dead. Long Live the Queen! Kak Channthy from The Cambodian Space Project!

The Queen of Rock n Roll is Dead. Long Live the Queen! 

Kak Channthy from The Cambodian Space Project has passed away. Damn! I've been pushing this band hard for the last 3 or 4 years.

Recently, even Iggy Pop on his BBC show has picked up on them and was pushing them big time. It is rumored that Iggy agreed to appear in a Cambodian Space Project movie as music video - as well as an Iggy Pop Tribute Compilation!

Kak san! You were/are the best! God bless you our love!

The reports of her death:

The Cambodian Space Project -- Have Visa No Have Rice

Cambodian Space Project - House of the Rising Sun: 

Goodbye, dear. you are the Asian Rock n Roll Legend!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sid Vicious is Dead... Or is He?

There's all sorts of tribute bands running around these days. 

There's a Beatles Tribute band (painful!) Elvis Presley Tribute band (painful and tons of those), a Queen tribute band, a David Bowie Tribute band, etc. etc. etc. 

Well, you know you've hit the depths of total shite (or is it cool?) when there's a Sex Pistols tribute band. Hell, there's not one, there's at least two! Never mind the Sex Pistols Tribute Band, here's the Sex Pistols Experience!

Frigging holiday in other people's Disneyland!

OK. I guess it's better than a Journey or Foreigner cover band.... Which isn't saying much.

By the way, there is one cool cover band. It's in Japan, and they are a AC/DC cover band called, ABCD. OK? 

At least those guys in ABCD have a sense of humor, and they aren't doing it for money, they do it for fun.

The rest of these bands mentioned above do it totally and completely for money. 

What a rock n roll swindle! 

NOTE: I think I find Disney's Country Bear Jamboree more entertaining, original and satisfying than these packaged rock band deals.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The True Story of the Rotters (Late 1970s Los Angeles Punk Band)

Rock Stardom for Dumbshits. By the Phantom Surfers!  Damn! Why didn't they put this out way back when? 
If I had read this in my youth, I'd have been bigger than Bavid Dowie! 
"The best book on the subject ever written. I wish it had more pictures, though." 
- Nigel Nitro of the Rotters

I got a message from one of those internet domain companies asking me if I wanted to buy a domain with the name of the band I was in forty years ago... 

Uh, I'll pass this time.... But it reminded me of some funny stories from the heyday of the Rotters...

L => R: Phester Swollen, Johnny Condom, Nigel Nitro (me),  Rip Chord 1977.

Today's post was originally written in the late 1980s (I believe). It was written by my best friend, Phester Swollen who was the original guitarist of the Rotters. My name was Nigel Nitro. I posted this today because I was reminded of just how bad rock music had become in those days...


The Rotters Story by Phester Swollen

It was 1978 and rock and roll was the worst putrefying heap of overblown bovine excrement imaginable. Walking into a record store was about as fun as having a raging bout of the Hershey squirts and with no choice but to use a Super Seven gas station toilet that was plugged with some wino’s puke and butt blow. Hearing the likes of Peter Frampton, Steely Dan, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and that phony working class schmuck, the Boss left us contemplating the big sleep to put us out of our misery. What the fuck was this shit? It sure as hell wasn’t rock. We were frustrated, pissed off and offended.
Nigel Nitro and I were a couple of nasty film production students at Moorpark College, just northwest of Los Angeles. We stuck out and didn’t fit in. Neither of us wanted to make films with a couple of retarded lovebirds walking on the beach to some lame ass Jim Croce ballad. Our goal was to make vicious, stabbing satires. If people were offended we knew we were on the right track. One night we both saw an episode of 20/20 on the lobotomy box ranting on the evils of this hideous new scourge on society from England called punk rock. It featured live footage of the Damned and the Sex Pistols with subtitles for the lyrics so that the world could see how vile and disgusting they were. They hated it. We loved it. If it pissed them off so much it HAD to be good! It had everything we’d been dying to hear for years and besides, any idiots could do it. That meant us too.
Within a couple of weeks we started The Rotters with another Moorpark film loony, Bruce Brink on drums and Rip Chord on bass. Bruce soon bailed out for fear that the local Oxnard or Ventura hillbillies would kill him for playing punk, a reasonable concern. Rip’s friend Johnny Condom took over on drums. Since Nigel and I were both students at Moorpark College we were able to weasel our way into the recording class almost immediately as they were in need of bands to record on the four track. The recording students hated us. We weren’t real musicians. We were sloppy, not together. We were out of tune most of the time. We didn’t know what the fuck we were doing. But we didn’t care. We had a lot of wild enthusiasm and the teacher of the class, Richard Simpson, caught on to this. He told us; "you guys aren’t any good, but you have fun and that’s all that’s really important." Then he encouraged us to put out a single, which he would master for us for free.
We’d played a few volatile shows. After being kicked out of the Mickey Moose disco in Ventura for sucking and being pelted with debris in Anisque Oyo Park in Isla Vista for being shitty, we knew we were good. Sit On My Face Stevie Nicks was a standout and the logical choice for the single. It had been written in about ten minutes as one of the worst songs possible while at the same time taking a stab at the big bucks rock world we hated so much. Amputee, a kind of anthem of the stupid, was on the flip side.

Once we had a test pressing we naively decide we should take it down to KROQ and give it to Rodney Bingenheimer to play. Rodney’s’ show Rodney on the rocks was THE punk show on L.A. radio at the time. We drove down to Pasadena to the station and snuck in by standing at the back door with a bunch of punk looking guest types. When they let them in, we walked in too. We didn’t know it right away but they were the Ramones and Clem Burke, the drummer from Blondie. Even though we didn’t have any drugs for Dee Dee, Rodney still played our record and put us on the air with Joey Ramone. Almost immediately Rodney asked us, live on the air, if we liked the Ramones. Nigel and I simultaneously said, "uh… er… we like the Sex Pistols". They broke for a commercial, told us "you guys gotta leave now!" and kicked us out. But the damage was done. KROQ was inundated with requests for Sit On My Face Stevie Nicks the next day.
For some strange reason Fleetwood Mac took offense. Well, there’s no accounting for taste. It seems this was the era when Mick Fleetwood was boning Stevie Nicks behind Lindsay Buckingham’s back and he felt he had to rescue her honor. Christ! As if they didn’t have enough problems of their own with all the break ups, infidelity, cocaine addictions and millions of dollars burdening them! They had to throw their weight around and go after some fledgling punk band. I guess it was a case of the big bully beating up the asthmatic wimp on the playground for making a smart ass comment and laughing during his oral report. We soon found we were banned in Los Angeles. Someone claiming to be Mick Fleetwood himself called KROQ and threatened them with a lawsuit if they played the song, then called Nigel at home with the same threat. All the major record stores in Los Angeles were threatened with no more big selling Big Mac albums if they sold our nasty little single. Ooh scary! What a threat. Who the hell bought Tusk anyway? It sucked the turds out of a dead bloated water buffalo’s anus. Some stores hid our records under the table like a bunch of pussys and some gave Fleetwood Mac the finger and still got their albums anyway. Then they decided to be less obvious and the doors to a number of the clubs in town closed to us mysteriously.

This was at the last show I appeared at in the USA with the Rotters was at UCSB with The Suburban Lawns and a bunch of other bands.
We didn’t really need their help in fucking everything up though. We could do that ourselves. Any money we might have made went into beer. We couldn’t play worth shit most of the time, didn’t follow any L.A. punk clique rules and were lazy as hell. None of this helped at all. The second single, Sink The Whales Buy Japanese Goods b/w Disco Queen, we couldn’t give away. None of us had any use for stacks of the record so many of the 1,000 copies went into the trash. Now it’s a coveted collector’s item. Go figure. Disillusioned, with our dreams of glory crushed, we broke up early in 1980. However, The Rotters have managed to survive although not with the original line up. But what the hell, how many punk bands stay the same for more than 20 years? The whole idea of middle age punks is offensive anyway. But then again, that’s the point.
Phester Swollen
NOTE: This is what started this all off.... $1888 (USD) for Are you out of your mind?

But, then again, for a band that couldn't give away its records, some of the old stuff sure sells for a lot of money. Anybody who'd buy this stuff must be crazy.

Tell me this is the very first one printed or a clerical error!


Monday, March 5, 2018

Don't Create Your Life's Regrets: Having an Affair

(This article orginally ran in 2012)

Usually, at this time of year, I'd make my predictions for the next year. But, as baseball legend Yogi Berra once said, "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future." Of my top ten predictions for 2011, incredibly all of them were exactly correct excepting eighty percent of them....I predicted Kim Jong Il's death and Manny Pacquiaou kicking butt correctly, but the rest were way off. So I won't be doing predictions this year. 

Instead of predictions, let me state some facts. Such as, "If you do so-and-so, you will regret it" I have much experience with that, so I have confidence in that area.

I am an expert at doing stupid things and then regretting them later. So let me warn you about one thing that far too many people do that they later regret... Sometimes they regret it for the rest of their lives.... And that is having an extra-marital affair.

Guys do stupid things. I don't know an honest guy who won't admit it. I've done lots of them in my life.

One of the really stupid things we do is get married or engaged while still young and then go out an have affairs with other women.

They might be so-called, "One-night stands" but, if they are, that's usually only because the woman wasn't satisfied and is no longer interested in having sex with a dud. Yep. Been there. Done that.

Why we get a fiancee or get married and then still want to go out and screw around with other women is really a head scratcher. Oh sure, I can say that now that I am to be 55-years-old next year, but when I was 16 ~ 25, I, like 97% of all guys who will admit it (the other 3% are liars), would have sex with just about any girl on the planet at any time any place.

Oh, don't think I was so sexually active at 16. I wasn't. I only dated "Handrietta and her five sisters" back then. I didn't actually have sex with a girl until I was 20 or 21.

But I digress. Where was I? 

Oh yeah. Doing stupid things like having affairs. Why do guys do that? Well, it's definitely a problem of not being able to control hormones. That's for sure. Guys have a hormone problem when they are young and it makes us unable to think with our brains and only with our, er, family treasure. 

But when it comes to having an affair that means breaking a bond of trust.  When we make a bond of trust to some wonderful girl (and trust that all women have a little girl inside of them as all guys have a little boy inside of us) as well as her family, why do we have an affair and want to hurt their feelings? Many girls have some childhood fantasy that they carry through life that they will meet some white knight on a steed and we are going to take them away. I think they call it a "Cinderella Complex." We meet this wonderful girl that we fall in love with. Then we meet her family and father and mother who are kind to us; we marry. Then, we screw around with other women and mess things up for them and ourselves!? Why do we do that? What have they done to us that was so bad? Why do we want to hurt them so?

Especially if we have children. Do we hate our partners and children (and ourselves) so much that we want to mess it up so badly just for 2 hours of sex and then weeks and months of whispering, lying and sneaking around? What, are we stupid?

Ninety nine percent of young guys have an excuse for doing stupid things; if they are under twenty five, they can't control their hormones.  But when we are older, have kids and a meaningful job, why do we risk all of that? I mean, think about it. When a guy is married or has a steady girlfriend or fiancee, then why would they want another girl? 

To be totally flippant about it, isn't one girl enough trouble as it is? 

Go figure.

But even more confusing than men having affairs is married women having affairs, I think. OK, call me sexist, but, from what I have read and understand, women don't go around thinking about sex for seven or eight hours straight a day, everyday like men do. Women don't go to bed at night and dream about sex all night and wake up in a puddle.

Nope. From the literature I've read, they don't do that. 

There is a woman who lives in my neighborhood that we've know for at least six years, named Linda (not her real name) who I think is having an affair. Linda has two kids and is somewhere around 35-years-old. I have no solid proof, like photographs, that she is having an affair, but, like I said, "Been there. Done that." I could surmise from what she was doing, how she was dressed and how she has been acting, that she is indeed having an affair. 

I used to see Linda walking around in the neighborhood sometimes, like I see all the neighbors. I am a friendly guy so I always greet the locals. Linda would be walking around with her small children and I'd say, "Hi!" My wife and son would also say hi to Linda and her family.

Because of my job, I don't usually have to go sit in an office from 9 - 5 everyday. I often get to work from home or have very unusual hours. Often times I go to the local Starbucks for meetings with friends and clients and possible business partners. It was at the Starbucks that I saw Linda and knew immediately that she was having an affair. I felt sorry for her. But mostly I felt sorry for her children.

By the way, near the Starbucks, across the street, and a 4 minute walk on the back road, is also what we call a "Love Hotel." A Love Hotel is a hotel that rents out rooms for two-hour trysts. They are quite popular for young people and those having affairs... So the Starbucks is probably a convenient (but stupid) "meeting place." 

Anyway, my meeting with my client was at 10 am sharp inside the Starbucks which is on the seventh floor of this huge department store near my house. Ten am is opening time for the department store and Starbucks. I was one of the first customers in the Starbucks. I bought my coffee and sat down at a table near the door so that my client and I could catch each other easily. I don't usually pay attention to other people in coffee shops and certainly don't look around for other people that I might know so I sat down and opened my computer. After a few seconds, the lady at the table next to me abruptly stood up and almost ran out of the coffee shop. I noticed her because of the way she was dressed; She had on dark sunglasses (inside of a coffee shop on a cloudy day? Hmmm?) and was wearing a head scarf like some woman who was hiding from the police in an old detective movie. It was Linda. She didn't say, "Good morning" or anything to me and she swiftly left the coffee shop.

A tad bit odd, wouldn't you say?

See? This is how women dress (Jacqueline Kennedy) when they don't want to be recognized. If a person is dressed like this, they are ashamed of what they are doing or they are outside on a windy day. Dressed like this inside a coffee shop? 

Now, let's review this situation. It's just past 10 am. The coffee shop just opened. I am one of the first customers in the shop. I buy my coffee and sit down. This woman, who I've seen in the neighborhood (and who has even been to our house with husband and children for a BBQ party before), dressed in an obvious fashion to disguise herself, ups and abruptly leaves the premises without saying "Hello" and she's wearing dark sunglasses inside a building?!

What's that say to you? Circumstantial for sure, but it says to me that she's having an affair with someone.

As Shakespeare would say, "Oh what a tangled web we weave when we first practice to deceive."

Like I said, I feel sorry for her. I feel sorry for her husband and I certainly feel sorry for her kids. Hopefully she has stopped but probably not.

I suspect that she knows that I saw her (and I could "read her mind") as I have seen her around the neighborhood over these last few months but she definitely tries to avoid greeting us and avoids having eye contact with me anymore.... When I do see her, she has that "deer caught in the headlights"  look. Oh well. Poor woman.

It's hard enough in life to obtain happiness and peace as it is, why ruin your chances by your own stupid and foolish actions?

If my guess is correct, and I am quite confident that it is, now, what does she have? She is living in guilt. She has betrayed her family and children. Did the kids deserve this? Make no mistake about it, no matter how you slice or rearrange it, it is betrayal. Now, she has to live with that guilt and regret all her life. Like I said, I know what I am talking about. I've experienced this.

Maybe it is a sickness of the heart and soul? 

Some will say that it takes three to have an affair: two people to have the affair and a cold, mean or uncaring spouse to create the situation whereby the other spouse wishes to have an escape. This might be true. But it still doesn't erase the guilt that someone like Linda must feel when she looks into her children's eyes.

Life is too short to live if it is full of regrets. Of course, we should live life fully, but we should never betray the trust of those we love and who love us.

I hope that, in 2012, my friends, you can live a wonderful year without misfortune and regrets.

Happy New Year 2012. May the New Year see you and yours happy, healthy and prosperous. Live without regrets

NOTE: For you bilingual folks (or those who know about Google Translation), my wife has written a pretty funny commentary and take on this story. She thinks I am imagining things. It's hilarious: 男の勘、男の想像力 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Japan? Samurai, Ninja, Geisha and Benshi...

In the old days (1908 ~ the 1930s)、during the heyday of Silent Films, there was no such thing as subtitling of movies in countries like Japan (that loved western culture). 

Also, as in the west, pianists or string quartets would accompany the Silent Films (Until the music started recording those soundtracks in 1923). So, how did, say, Charles Chaplin or Rudolph Valentino, become worldwide stars when people couldn't understand the silent movies? Or the cards that were inserted into the films to explain situation or dialogue? 

There's no way the average Japanese could read this back then... 
Heck, it would be troublesome today!... Wait a sec... You guys all read English...
Imagine if the cards said this:
Get it? They could be on the screen for 2 minutes and it wouldn't matter! Chuckle!

Outside of English speaking countries, the films were narrated and explained by what is called, "rhetorician." The Merriam Webster dictionary defines, "rhetorician," as a: "master or teacher of rhetoric; an orator." Or "an eloquent or grandiloquent writer or speaker."

In Japan, these orators were called, "Benshi." 

Benshi (stage left)

The Benshi would stand on the stage to the side of the screen and explain the situations in the movies and even add in character dialogue... 

Some of these benshi were incredible at what they did; many became superstars in their own right. In fact, these benshi were responsible for people like Chaplin or Valentino becoming famous in Japan. Many fans came to see the Benshi, not so much to see the Hollywood stars! Chaplin or Valentino or the rest were the side acts... Many people came to be entertained by the oratory of the legendary Benshi...

For many people in Japan, it was the Benshi, not the Hollywood stars in the movie that was the main reason for attending the theaters back in old Japan in those days. 

I believe, as far as cinema and the mass media, the rhetoricians, the Benshi, were the very first in the evolution of today's voice actors. 

Thirty years ago, in Tokyo's Asakusa district, there was a theater called, "Kaminari Theater" (Lightning Theater) and they used to have performances just as they were held during of the heyday of silent films: They would have evenings set up to recreate the exact experience and event of Benshi and Silent Films from the 1920s. 

In the old days, in Japan, going to the cinema and seeing a Benshi was a premium experience for the high-class; people would have dinner and champagne or sake while watching the Silent Films.

I went often to those recreations in the 1980s.

Kaminari Theater used to show these Silent Films with quartet & Benshi. When the films were over, I was so impressed, moved and inspired, I had tears in my eyes. 

Benshi: Sawato Midori

If this is difficult for you to comprehend, about the Benshi, here's an example: It might be difficult to understand because it's in Japanese, but watch this lady, Sawato Midori, she is awesome. At the very start, she does the voices, of the daughter, mother, sister; then she goes on to do the voices of the samurai men who are fighting... And then flawlessly back to the narrator.

Here is Sawato Midori who is probably Japan's top Benshi.... Even today! She's an incredible talent, :

I met some executives at a silent movie company in Tokyo the other day and am attempting to arrange a showing of, perhaps, a Chaplin movie (and an old samurai movie) with a string quartet accompaniment and a Benshi for our Mt. Fuji - Atami Film & VR Festival and other Japan film festivals planned. 

The events will be promoted just like the above explanation. They will be promoted as something like, "A time trip back to Japan of the 1920s." 

The shows will include a dinner (like the food they ate back in those days) and drinks.. Drinks from the 1920s: Salty Dog, champagne, rice wine.

After everyone is served dinner (which will be a meal like people would have eaten at a dinner show in 1923 and seated), the main event starts: A Chaplin or Samurai Silent film with quartet and Benshi... 

Everyone can experience the past and even foreigners will like it as the Samurai movies even have English subtitles in most cases movies and the Chaplin films have the dialogue and situation card inserted. 

I think this would be the most fantastic theatrical experience! 

Time trip back to the days of the Silent Movie stars, dinner, the show featuring a string quartet and the Benshi!

A once in a lifetime trip to a better time and an age long gone by.


For more information about Mt. Fuji Atami Film & VR Festival

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This post is dedicated to Stephen David Brooks, Koji Kamibayashi, Sawato Midori, My wife, Candice Anne Marshall, Scott Hillier, Giedre Bumbulyte and Elliot Grove.

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