shimane 島根県 black
CONTENTS JUNE 2 0 1 0
Wet Blanket Ruth
Racism in Children, & Arizona
Possibilities & FIFA World Cup
Summer Escapes to Nagasaki & Gunma
Avocado, Recipes, & Gardening
E-mail your artwork to be featured in the next issue!
The Three Kingdoms
Out of Print Music
Letter from the Editors, We’ve had a great time with the Black Taxi. July’s issue will be the last for this JET contract year, and we want it to be the best yet. Help us celebrate our times in Shimane and say a fond farewell to the leavers in the next issue. We’ll also be looking for some new editors, so start thinking if you’d like to apply.
Submit your articles, artwork, and opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the publisher. Each are expressed by the writer at the time of writing.
EDITORS: Regina Durr, Jonathan Edwards, Greg Ferguson, Betsy Pinkham, Lauren Wetherington Cover: Adam Cooke
Black Taxi is a monthly magazine for the JET community in Shimane prefecture, Japan, published online. Read us at ISSUU (issuu.com/shimane.blacktaxi) or be our fan on Facebook.
featuring local businesses and people
Once a month youâ€™ll
find a profile for a local attraction at the front of the Black Taxi. We like sharing new places with you.
That great little spot in your town, please take a picture, write a review and send it to us. Donâ€™t be stingy now!
… 一寸 / chotto …
Is the “colorblind”
approach leading to more
Racist children? CNN.com conducted a pilot study involving 133 five year olds in Georgia and New York (USA). Children were asked to answer questions by pointing to drawings of children with different skin colors. The questions included Who is the smarter child? Who is the mean child? Who is the ugly child? Most of the children answered that the dark-skinned cartoon children were either mean, ugly and or dumb. But does that make children racist? No. Let’s begin with the definition of “racism”. Racism is the routine, instititutionalized mistreatment of a person based on his/her membership in a group on the downside of power. According to this definition, I don’t think 5 year olds have the ability, power, or authority to be racist. They don’t have power over anyone. They are 5. Ok, so what is this study really showing us? Stereotypes and prejudices. White 5 year olds showed a huge bias toward white. Black 5 year olds also showed a bias toward white but not nearly as strong. So why is this happening?
Lauren Wetherington would rather not chotto.
Aren’t children supposed to be innocent and unbiased? No. Children learn by discovering the differences and mirroring what is familiar. They are little impressionable sponges with high self-esteem. A child is going to mirror people in his environment that most resemble him. So when a light-skinned 5 year old is asked “Who is ugly?”, the 5 year old will probably not associate his light-skin with ugliness (if the 5 year old has moderate to high self-esteem). The real question should be “Do you think any of these cartoons are ugly?” instead of making the child choose. It’s almost as if the study was set up to prove racism in children.
Nevertheless, I do believe racist tendencies are learned in childhood. The child might have a racist family or maybe the child lives in a homogenous society. However, what if the child grew up with a family that never discussed racism and prejudices? But could that be even worse? What causes racism? Have you ever really thought about it? It is the product of instilled prejudices. It is assigning a characteristic to a group of people and letting it define that group of people. Ultimately, it influences your behavior toward that group of people and before you know it, racism seeps into our lives. We see it in the workforce, racial profiling, salary rates, media, and even in our staff rooms.
… 一寸 / chotto …
So what do we do when children begin displaying prejudices? If kids are going to make their own stereotypes due to basic evolutionary psychology patterns, how do we turn that into a positive thing? Tammy Harris wrote an article on Psychologytoday.com titled “Ending Racism Starts with Accepting Bias”. Harris’ article, as well as the CNN.com findings, indicate that the problem is not with the stereotypes and prejudices children establish, but how those stereotypes and prejudices grow into racism. Instead of ignoring bias, we ought to accept that it is something we as humans do naturally and explore ways to change the bias. The CNN.com study, as well as studies cited in Harris’ article, indicate that white parents
rarely talk about race to their kids. They prefer a “colorblind” approach thinking that if race is not part of the household, the child will not become racist. Perhaps not talking about racial issues is actually adding fuel to the racial fire. By not talking about race, kids grow up with what they see on TV, at school, in the movies, on the news, in videogames, and of course, from their families. As Harris mentions in her article, there is nothing wrong with creating biases or stereotypes. It happens everyday to everyone. It’s where you go from there that makes all the difference.
Disney’s Top 9 Racist Characters: No wonder kids get confused! Their favorite movies reinstate prejudices.
Merchant from Aladdin (1992)
Sebastian from The Little Mermaid (1989)
Sunflower the Centaur from Fantasia (1940)
The Indians from Peter Pan (1953
The Crows from Dumbo (1941)
King Louie from The Jungle Book (1967)
The Siamese Twin Gang from Chip N’ Dale Rescue Rangers (1989)
Uncle Remus from Song of the South (1946) – James Baskett (Uncle Remus) wasn’t even allowed to attend the premier.
Thursday from the book Mickey Mouse & Boy Thursday (1948)
Want to read more about racism in Disney? Check out http://www.cracked.com/article_15677_9-most-racistdisney-characters.html.
… 一寸 / chotto …
Japarizona? Legal racial profiling in Arizona Those who have kept up with the news recently may have heard that the state of Arizona, in an effort to combat illegal immigration, has recently passed a new law requiring all immigrants to carry with them proof of residency at all times, and requiring police to stop and request said proof from anyone they have “reasonable suspicion” of being in the country illegally and to detain them if necessary. Of course, the law has led to mass protests and its condemnation as being “racist” and “promoting racial profiling,” which is the practice of using an individual’s race or ethnicity as a factor in formulating reasonable suspicion in order to stop, question or arrest the individual. In other words, it is suspecting someone of wrongdoing because they are of a certain race or ethnicity. In Arizona, opponents of the new law argue that Hispanics will be disproportionately targeted by police regardless of citizenship giving the burden of proof of legal residency, and the possible detention, to full citizens. But the law itself is not the topic of this piece, nor is it about the possible discrimination it could bring to Hispanic Americans. I am using it because there is a Japanese law that is almost exactly the same that we, as foreigners, live under already. Think about it. Were we not told to have our passports on hand at all times when first arriving in Tokyo? Were we not told to continue to do so while we waited for our “Gaijin Cards”? Do we not have to carry with us said card at all times and immediately present it, orour passports, as proof of being in Japan legally if asked by an authorized officer? Did you know that not having your card/passport on your person or refusing to present it to an officer when asked is punishable by up to a 100,000 yen fine? It’s all right there in x
Leonard Large dares you to ask for his gaijin card.
Articles 23 and 76 of Japan’s Immigration Control Act. The Japanese law is basically the same law that was just passed in Arizona, yet it’s the latter that’s creating a storm of controversy that has reached as high as the President. What is the difference? It comes down to one thing: we do not look Japanese. It’s as simple as that.
… 一寸 / chotto …
ILLUSTRATION BY CHRIS MACKENZI
Nearly everything from hair color, skin color, facial features, and language is instantly recognizable as not Japanese and so someone can be identified as a foreigner before even giving their name. I personally have had a few instances of being referred to as “a foreigner” before I can utter a single word. Even doing everyday things like walking down the street or going to the grocery store are at times unsettling because in the back of my mind I know that anyone can take one look at me and instantly tell I’m a foreigner. And if that person happens to be one of those authorized officers, there’s nothing stopping him from asking me to present my card to prove I’m here legally.
It’s not meant to be malicious though, as it is simply a product of the homogenous society of Japan that anyone who doesn’t look Japanese instantly stands out as not Japanese and thus is a foreigner. We were told many times before coming over, and then several more in Tokyo, that we would stand out, that we would be under a microscope, in a spotlight and other
pretty ways to say we would not look Japanese. As pessimistic as it sounds, it’s near impossible for Japan to break from this, and the day will probably never come when having different colored eyes isn’t akin to having the word “foreigner” stamped on one’s forehead. I know this has sounded jaded, bitter or even resentful; but it is not because I am. I, like many others, have had countless positive experiences in my schools and community that I will carry with me forever. I wrote this because I find it fascinating that two very similar laws can have such dramatic differences in two different societies. Japan’s homogeny makes the law effective because it easy to pick out who is a foreigner. Whereas the diversity of the United States has deemed a very similar law to be racist and makes any enforcement a near impossible task without running into issues of racial profiling. I also wrote this because such a comparison of law between societies is something that I think needs more time and length to discuss than can be contained in the Black Taxi, but like all things, it has to start somewhere.
I dwell in Possibility-A fairer House than Prose-More numerous of Windows-Superior--for Doors-Of Chambers as the Cedars-Impregnable of Eye-And for an Everlasting Roof The Gambrels of the Sky-Of Visitors--the fairest-For Occupation--This-The spreading wide my narrow Hands To gather Paradise--Emily Dickinson
, I Answered When
Knocked When I first entered college, I was overwhelmed with possibilities. I had no idea what I wanted to major in, and so many things seemed so interesting. My first semester found me taking two classes on Islam, a Latin class, and an introductory survey class on East Asian art. Just from my first semester, you can tell that I was setting myself up for a path of studying the cultures and peoples of other places. No American history for me—it’s not that I don’t find that interesting, I do. I just find other places and other things more interesting. Ultimately, the art of Japan and China proved too much to resist. I wrote my senior thesis on Chinese art and now I’m teaching English in Japan. However, my journey from that naïve little freshman sitting in a classroom in Geneva, New York to globe-trotting English teacher in Japan required a bit of motivation. Back in that first-year classroom, I was scared. Not overtly terrified, but there was just something subconsciously holding me back. There was this discord between studying these spectacularly interesting places and the places themselves. I delved into the content, but the places were still so far away. And for some reason I was okay with that, at least at first. Eventually, the travel bug started to nibble. You could only look at images of Japanese and Chinese temples and gardens and paintings for so long
without wanting to be there in person. And then you start to read about the history, the culture, the natural surroundings. So I entertained the idea of going abroad, of going to these places, but there were still some barriers. For one, how would I get to Asia? And there was still some sense of reluctance, some sort of unwillingness to get on that plane and travel half-way around the world. I went on happily studying these things and these places. Thanks to the financial constraints of a touring trip to China or Japan, I didn’t really have to think or worry about going to these places. That changed when I heard about a trip to China. This was a three-week, mostly paid tour for 12 students at my school. It was sponsored by some sort of grant and there would also be two local school teachers on the trip. Should I apply? I of course thought about it for a little bit when one of my professors told our class about the trip, but my fears won out in the end. I decided it wasn’t for me. It was too far. It was too different. Yes, I had been to Canada and the Dominican Republic, but these were family vacations, where we were surrounded by other Westerners, safe in our cocoons. The idea of a trip to China was tempting, but the reality was more than a bit scary. That wasn’t the end of it, though. My professor asked me a few days later if I had applied, realizing that I was becoming very
monthly topic interested in Chinese art. I told her that I had thought about it, but that I decided not to apply. She didn’t scold me. She didn’t mock me. She didn’t even seem confused. She understood my reluctance, but she also told me more about China (she lived in Taiwan for a year and has traveled extensively throughout mainland China). She explained what a great opportunity this was. And she also made me realize that I couldn’t continue my passion for learning about China and Japan without actually engaging with these places. If I really wanted to study China and Japan, I had to get over my fears and apply. So I did. At first I didn’t even get in (I wasn’t taking Chinese, and it seems that everyone else who got in was). However, I eventually got in. I was nervous and anxious and excited. This was my first big trip abroad. I stayed on campus during senior week and we had mini-classes to prepare us for the trip. The day after graduation, we set off, mostly
first-years and sophomores, on a plane to China. It wan a truly amazing trip. I had a spectacular time. We saw so many things and got to experience so much. It was all very well planned and organized, and I got to see that traveling and being abroad wasn’t the scary thing I thought it was. This was an organized tour and so it was different from traveling on our own. But nonetheless, this trip showed me that I should not hold myself back from exploring, that I should try and go and see. Going to China showed me the joys of travel and the adventure of seeing what we study. Since then I have done a decent bit of traveling, along with a study abroad stint in India. I’m sure I’m mostly preaching to the choir here, but the joys of seeing and experiencing a new and different place will now always win out over whatever reservations I might have. My trip to China allowed me to open my mind to the possibilities of seeing the world.
The Art of Flowers Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement. There are two basic types of ikebana, the very strict and traditional heika style using tall vases, and the more relaxed moribana style which places flowers upright in a large flat base filled with water. Moribana also allows for the use of Western plants. Try your hand at VIRTUAL IKEBANA at http://web-japan.org/kidsweb/virtual/ikebana/index.html
monthly topic Betsy Pinkham
I’m 90% sure it was my mother who once told me to never say something was impossible. I’m sure other parents say similar things as a way to encourage their children to follow their dreams and attain happiness. My mother said it as a warning. It was an admonishment to never place myself above certain actions, and to remain self-aware enough to guard against them. It’s very easy to say “I’d never do that.” or “I would be impossible for me.” But we’re at our most vulnerable when we say these things. We need to remember that everyday “We say it’s normal people just impossible, and like ourselves then we stop become addicts, paying attention become violent, to the warning become victims, become betrayers, signs because become killers. No we’re certain it one wants that for couldn’t happen” themselves. No little girl dreams of someday being willing to do anything to get her next fix. No person hopes to be involved in an abusive relationship. No good guy thinks he’d ever cheat with his best friend’s wife. But everyday people do these things, everyday these things happen. Atrocities are committed by good and moral people.
Nothing is impossible. There are things I never want to do, things I never want to become. But just knowing something is bad isn’t enough to protect us from it. I never want to have an eating disorder, just as I never want to abuse my boyfriend, or be abused by him. I couldn’t ever be bulimic. I couldn’t ever be abusive. I couldn’t ever be a victim of abuse*. But, I really did eat more than I should have and sort of feel sick, maybe a quick trip to the bathroom to empty my stomach wouldn’t be so bad. But, I love him; he just made me so angry, but I won’t do it again. But, he loves me and we talked and he said he would never do it again. We say something is impossible, and then we stop paying attention to warning signs because we’re certain it couldn’t happen, we couldn’t do it. Just as I am capable of all the good and beautiful things humans have done, I’m also capable of all the bad and ugly things. It’s not enough to say I won’t do them, I have to guard myself and act to ensure I don’t do them. I live by the advice my mother gave me, and I plan on sharing it with my own children someday. For better and for worse, nothing is impossible.
*I want to be clear that I’m not blaming the victim here. No on is responsible for the actions of another human being. But I’ve heard so many girls and women say “I’d never stay with a man if he hit me” and really, that’s great. It’s wonderful that girls are being taught that attitude, to not accept violence and/or domination from the men in their lives. But I don’t think they realize how difficult it might be to make that decision. What if it’s their long-term boyfriend, their husband, the same funny, sweet, nice guy that they fell in love with?
Basketball As a kid growing up in LA (California, America because after all America is not the center of the world and I shouldn’t expect everyone to know where LA is), the one thing I really wanted to become was a professional basketball player. That sounds really silly at first because this was ten years before Yao Ming and no Chinese in their right mind would’ve ever dreamed of becoming a professional basketball player. Kung Fu action movie star, maybe. Basketball? Not so much. But I thought I was different. Truth be told, I hit puberty when I was around 8 and I was 5’7 (the same height I am now) by the time I was 10. Puberty was TERRIBLE for getting girls because I had incredible acne and was actually called crater face for about 4 years until I discovered Proactiv, but it was ok because it was just so easy to play basketball when you’re a foot taller than everyone else. The only problem though, was that I didn’t have a basket. Growing up, I was very poor, so we couldn’t afford a basketball hoop. But my mom knew I loved it so she cut out the bottom of a cardboard box,
tied it to a crate, weighed it down with a huge rock and slung it over the second story of the apartment building we were living in at the time. As for a ball, I hung out at the basketball courts at Lincoln Park until everybody left, and if there was a ball, I figured, if I didn’t take it, somebody would, so it wasn’t REALLY stealing although, it wasn’t really NOT STEALING. But in any case, with a ball in hand and a makeshift basket in place, my dream had a foundation. My mom worked until 9 pm so after I finished my homework being the good Chinese boy that I was and ate my Banquet TV dinner that was 5 for 5 dollars at Vons Supermarket (usually Salisbury steak because the other ones were pretty much inedible), I practiced shooting until I couldn’t see the basket anymore. One day a group of Japanese kids at school noticed how easy it was for
tied it to a crate, weighed it asked if I wanted to join their team. At this point in time, it scared the crap out of me because I never had more than two friends in my life and it scared the crap out of me just to walk outside of my apartment, let alone join a basketball team. Moreover, my mom (and most Chinese immigrants for that matter) was fairly antiJapanese considering what had happened during the war. But my whole life I never had that many friends, I was crater face according to everyone, and all I had going for me was academics. Being an only child, looking back, I wanted friends more than anything but just didn’t know how to go about it. People? That’s scary. Basketball? I’ll give it a try. I did pretty well, but long story short, the doctors who said I would grow to 6’4 were wrong. I was an allstar for my AAU team for
monthly topic two years, but I stayed at 5’7 and went from Center to Forward to Shooting Guard to Point Guard, being forced to pick up new skills to adapt to everyone who were now quicker, taller, stronger, and faster than me. I was an immense disappoint to myself because I never lived up to my own expectations, but I wouldn’t call myself a failure as a basketball player because I did end up starting for my varsity team senior year, competing with guys that ended up playing for North Carolina (2009 National Champions), Oregon, and other schools all over the US. The important thing though, has nothing to do with achievements, MVP awards, how many points I scored, or anything really basketball related. For once in my life, had a group of friends that accepted me for who I was
even though I was really awkward, pimply, didn’t know how to dress, talk to girls, or even get a proper haircut. These Japanese people, who were supposedly my ancestors’ enemies, provided a place to stay when I felt lonely at home, food to eat when I got sick of TV dinners, and a type of love that typically a family provides, but never really understood due to the circumstances that were out of my control. It was as if my life had finally started when I met these people. And it was only after them that I developed the confidence to know that I can be somebody even if I was poor, even if I was awkward, even if nobody wanted to be my friend or give me a chance. They did, and forever I’m grateful to them, and that’s a huge reason why I’m in Japan. Basketball might’ve been my dream, and oftentimes we
can’t really ascertain that ideal which we aspire towards. But along the way, you might grow and change in ways you never would have imagined. You can’t change the past between the Chinese and Japanese, but you can amend the future. You might get rejected, but every shot you don’t take shot is a shot you won’t make. You only live once. They were a huge reason that I began to actually feel as if I mattered in this world. So, maybe not all of our dreams will come true. Yao Ming beat me to becoming the first great Chinese basketball player. But that’s OK. Maybe we won’t become astronauts, lawyers, the next Lebron James, the next Scarlett Johansson, or Iron Man. But if we don’t dream, we won’t become anything. So dream, and dream big! Because you only have one chance, one opportunity, in this one life that you’ll live. 一 期一会.
A short story by Betsy Pinkham
Susie was playing in a meadow. The sun was shining golden in the flat blue sky and there were butterflies of all sorts of colors fluttering over the wild flowers. Susie had already chained together a necklace of daisies and was sitting down to enjoy her ice-cream sundae with five cherries on top. But before the first spoonful could get to her mouth, the earth and sky started to shake. There was a series of jerks as every thing in the field felt like it was being tugged towards the far end. Susie wrapped her arms around the neck of a nearby unicorn still merrily sniffing the flowers and clung tightly. With a sudden wrench, it seemed to Susie that everything came loose. She had an impression of blue skies, sudden darkness, then teeth, before she was tumbling freely though space and landed quite hard on her bottom. Shocked and frightened no little amount, Susie started crying. “What did you DO?” came a loud voice somewhere above Susie’s head. “I don’t know what happened! I was just getting a snack and suddenly there was a side of little girl! Blegh, disgusting. It was such a tasty dream too!” a second voice answered. “Well now you’ve done it. Little girl? Little girl? Please stop crying little girl.” Susie’s sobs had turned to sniffles when she heard the voices, and now assuming it was she who was being addressed, opened her eyes and looked
around. In front of her were the two strangest creatures she’d ever seen. The first was very, very tall with a very long neck. He was also covered in fur! The other creature wasn’t as tall. But he was much more fat and was rainbow colored. He was also chewing with his mouth open (Susie wondered if his mother ever told him it was rude) and between his teeth she saw the flower filled meadows, and ice-cream Sundae of her dream. At the sight of such strange creatures and at her dream being chewed Susie began crying again.
monthly topic “Oh no! Look what you’ve done you glutton.” “Me?! I’m rainbow colored. Little girls love rainbows. It must be you. You’re the scary looking one.” “Little girl, please stop crying. See, we’re not so scary.” Susie chanced to open her eyes again and was surprised to see the Very Tall Monster wasn’t so very tall anymore. In fact, he was just about her height now. “My name isn’t Little Girl. I’m Susie Kimball.” Susie stuck out her chin bravely. “Who are you?” “Not a who, a what.” the now-not-sotall monster rebutted. “We’re your eaters. I suppose if I had a name for myself it would be Susie’s Possibility Eater. And the one over there that dragged you here would be Susie’s Dream Eater.” Susie scrambled to her feet and stepped back. “Are you going to eat me?” “Of course not!” the rainbow one, her dream-eater, replied.. “Little girls taste terrible.” The now-not-so-tall-possibility-eater scowled at Dream Eater then turned a smile towards Susie. “What he means to say is that we don’t eat people. We only eat the leftover bits that would take up too much space. It’s all quite practical you know.” Susie peered over at Dream Eater to consider this, and caught him licking up the crumbs of her dream from around his mouth. She didn’t point because her mother said it was rude, but she did turn and jerk her chin at him. “Why did you eat my dream? I wanted to keep it. “I was hungry and it looked delicious.” He finished licking the last traces off his fingers. “I eat up your dreams almost every night. If I didn’t the dreams would fill up your head like a balloon. Before you know it, you’d be floating around in the clouds, dreaming all
night and all day. You’d never do anything because there’d be no room of anything else. Having a dream-eater is Very Important you know.” Susie liked dreaming about things like flowers and mermaids, and being able to fly, but she also liked being awake and playing with her friends and listening to Ms. Regan read stories in the library, and going to the beach, and most other sorts of things she did when she was awake. “I guess it ‘s OK. But if you only eat dreams, how did I get here? Is this a dream too?” “No.” said Possibility Eater. “Though you’re probably not awake, this isn’t a dream. We’d best find a way to send you back. Can you push her back since you pulled her in?” Susie stood bravely, but couldn’t help closing her eyes as Dream Eater waddled near and placed his hands… paws… claws (she really didn’t know what they were) on her shoulders and gave her quite a shove.. She had the sensation of falling, which ended abruptly, again with pain for her bottom. She opened her eyes, but rather than her bedroom, she found her self looking up into the faces of the two eaters. “Well, it looks like you can’t go back the way you came in, best start heading for the exit.” Possibility Eater offered her a hand and pulled her up when she took it. “Why didn’t we go there first?” Susie asked. “Because it’s all the way on the other side..” “The other side of what?” Susie was beginning to feel a little bit mad. “Where are we?” Possibility Eater face contorted as he appeared to searching for the right words. “I don’t know exactly where we are, but it’s rather like that space above the blue line of sky.” Susie’s face crinkled in confusion, so
monthly topic Possibility Eater continued to explain. “If you draw a picture of your house, you would draw the green grass at the bottom of the paper, then your house, and at the very top you would draw the blue sky, right?” He paused for Susie’s nod of agreement. “Well, this place is like what is above the blue line. It’s not the table or the wall behind the paper, it’s the part of the picture you can’t see and can’t draw because it’s off the paper.” Susie felt like she should understand, and she almost thought she did, but she couldn’t find words for it in her own head. She didn’t think Possibility Eater could explain it any other way either, so she just nodded and the trio started walking along to get to the other side of wherever they were. As they were walking along, they met another monster coming from the opposite direction. He was walking very fast, Why, Susie had barely spied him before he was right in front of them. “Good morning, good morning!” he greeted them. “Good morning. I’m Susie Kimball. What are you?” Susie was proud of herself for remember the correct address for the creatures in this place. “I’m a time-eater” he replied. “Is that why you’re so fast?” Susie asked.
“I’m fast because I don’t have much time. Time is very slow for children so there isn’t too much for me to eat.. But when you get older and busier, I’ll start eating more time and then I’ll finally be able to slow down because I’ll have more time. Some people don’t have time-eaters you know. They are very lazy people who are often bored and very rarely get anything done. Their time goes nowhere.” “What if time runs out?” Susie wasn’t sure how time could run, out or otherwise, but it was something she had heard her mother say as if it was something bad. “Don’t worry about that too much. Everyone runs out of time eventually, whether they have a time-eater or not.” Time Eater replied. “But I have to be on my way, not much time you know. Ta-ta!” and with that abrupt farewell, the time-eater rushed off. The three continued on and Susie thought about Dream Eater and Time Eater. Dream Eater kept her head from becoming a balloon, and Time Eater kept her from being bored. “Possibility Eater, why do you eat possibilities?” Susie asked the creature leading her ahead. “Because that’s what I do, but I suppose you mean what purpose I serve.” Possibility Eater looked back at her. “Maybe you’re mother told you that everything is possible. That’s very true for little girls, but everything is a lot of possibility.” He paused to consider his explanation. “Every time you do something, you narrow your possibilities. I eat the ones that you won’t use anymore. It’s a good thing; if every time you wanted to do something you had to sort though every possibility, you’d never be able to decide anything. When you grow up, you’ll have less possibilities than you do now. But you’ll also have new ones. “
“Every time you do something, you open up new possibilities. It’s all rather circular.” Susie’s eyes were spinning rather circularly in her head. Everything the possibility-eater said never seemed to make much sense. Dream Eater said they were nearing the exit when Susie saw another girl sleeping in a tall chair next to a birdcage. She was very pretty, even though she was drooling. “Who’s that?” Susie asked, unsure if the girl was a who or a what. “That,” replied the possibility-eater, “is Hope Eater.” “Why is she sleeping.” Dream Eater unexpectedly answered her query. “You don’t have any hope for her to eat at the moment, so she’s sleeping. She’ll probably mostly sleep for a long time. She only gets to eat when something you hoped for happens, or when you loose hope for something.” “Is that cage hers?” “Yes,” this time the possibility-eater answered. “She uses it to catch hope.” “It looks like a bird cage.” Susie observed. “Precisely.” They walked just a little farther and then quite suddenly the exit appeared before them. It was simply a door with the ‘EXIT’ glowing above it in green letters. “Well, here we are.” said Possibility Eater. “All you have to do is walk through the door.” “Can I come back sometime?” Susie asked. At first she had been frightened of the eaters, but now they seemed interesting, and she wanted to speak to the pretty hope-eater when she woke up, or maybe see what Time Eater was like when he had more time to talk.
“No can do” replied Dream Eater. “I’ll be watching what I eat from now on. You were a disgusting tasting surprise.” “People aren’t supposed to meet their eaters.” The possibility-eater seemed to be getting tall again. “The memory-eater will probably snatch this up you wake up, but I’ll tell you something important; everything we eat comes from you and so you command it. We can only eat what you let us eat. Though you really should feed us; too much clutter will weigh you down. Now off you go, I think I smell pancakes.” And with those words, Possibility Eater pushed her through the door as Dream Eater held it open. “There you are sleepy-head. I thought the pancakes might wake you up.” Mommy greeted Susie as she came out her bedroom door. “You slept late today, were you having a good dream.” “I dunno,” yawned Susie while rubbing the sleep from her eyes. “I think someone ate it.” “Ate what, Susie?” “My dream.”
Article and photographs from Cosmiclog at msnbc.com
A laser scanning team has just finished up work on Mount Rushmore, kicking off the latest phase of a project to create a digital record of the worldâ€™s great monuments. Two weeks of arduous 3-D scanning wrapped up just today, said Elizabeth Lee, director of projects and development for California-based CyArk. "It was a really successful project," she told me. But it wasn't without its challenges. Rope teams had to clamber down the face of the mountainside in South Dakota's Black Hills to record the ins and outs of the 60-foot-long presidential faces. The weather didn't help. "We had everything," Lee said. "We had 90degree heat, where people got sunburned. We had snow that kept us from working for two days. Yesterday, there were hailstorms and floods and tornadoes.â€? But it's all worth it: When all the readings are compiled, the partners in the project - including the National Park Service - will have the most accurate virtual rendering ever made of the decades-old monument. Between 1927 and 1941, the faces of
Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt were sculpted by hundreds of workers using dynamite and chisels. This time around, the workers had to take care not to chip away at the rock. In addition to using more traditional surveying techniques, Lee and her teammates set up laser-scanning equipment on custom-made tripods, and bounced laser light harmlessly off the sculpture's nooks and crannies. CyArk explains how laser scanning works in detail. Laser scanners capture millions of data points to create a highresolution rendering of Abraham Lincoln's face. During today's final round of measurements, a tripod was positioned on Washington's eyebrow and just above his chin to scan the parts of the face that couldn't be accurately measured from the ground or from the top of George's head, Lee said. The product of all this work will be a highdefinition 3-D computer representation of the famous faces. The park service can use the database to create picture-perfect representations of Mount Rushmore for scale models, online virtual tours and perhaps a
monthly topic holographic display at the visitor center. And in case anything happens to the monument ranging from normal wear and tear to a catastrophic crumbling - the 3-D data can be used to guide repairs. CyArk sees the Rushmore project as part of its grand plan is to create virtual records for 500 heritage sites around the world in five years. "We haven't set an official start date yet," Lee said. Nevertheless, the venture is getting an early start toward the 500-site goal by carrying out more than 30 preservation projects at places ranging from Angkor Wat to the ancient Egyptian capital Thebes to San Francisco's Presidio. Lee said CyArk is the brainchild of engineer/entrepreneur Ben Kacyra, who immigrated to the United States from Iraq in 1964 and helped develop the 3-D laserscanning technology that was used on Mount Rushmore. In the past, laser scanning
has been put to use in such applications as "Star Wars" anti-missile systems and oil-prospecting operations. Kacyra is using some of his fortune to show that "the technology that he developed could be used for heritage purposes" as well, Lee said. In an Associated Press interview, Kacyra said he was pleased to see Rushmore added to the laser-scan list. "Being an immigrant, the monument is a symbol that I cherish," he said. "It's a symbol for the U.S., and a symbol for the world.â€? Rushmore was CyArk's first international project done in collaboration with the "Scottish 10," a heritage-mapping effort that involves Historic Scotland and Glasgow School of Art. There are still more groups out there scanning history. Here are just a few of the latest adventures to come to light: (www.cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com for article and photographs)
Sue, the biggest complete T-rex ever found.
Romanesque monuments created in Spain.
Nottingham Caves Sue photograph: Planeteyetravele.com
The World Cup is more than a soccer tournament. It’s more than an excuse to wake up at insane times to watch a match. It’s more than a group of obsessed, football fanatics drinking beer at the local pub or sports bar. It’s more than red cards, off-sides, team cheers, and starting lineups.
It’s the most widely-viewed sports event in the world. In 2006, an estimated 715.1 million people watched the final match in Germany. The World Cup brings a country together with the excitement of a possible victory. The World Cup offers possibilities and opportunities for the host country and its citizens. The World Cup isn’t just about 32 countries and their players; it’s about the entire
world having one positive and uplifting thing in common: Soccer Mania.
Visit www.fifa.com/worldcup/index.htm for all your World Cup needs.
monthly topic The World Cup isn’t just for the jocks, even high –end fashion is a possibility! Louis Vuitton and FIFA announced their collaboration on a new travel case for the FIFA World Cup Trophy. Currently being designed, it will be used for the first time at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. “The FIFA World Cup Trophy is our most precious asset. It’s the most coveted trophy, not only in the world of football but beyond. It succeeds in uniting fans all around the world in a healthy competition for the final prize. A trophy as precious as the FIFA World Cup Trophy deserves a travel case of the same elegance and prestige. From now on, the trophy will not only travel in safety, but it will also travel in style.” - FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.
World Cup Quiz
think you know something about the World Cup and its history? Answers on page ? 1. What year was the first World Cup held?
2. Where was the first World Cup held? 3. Who won the first World Cup? 4. What two years did the World Cup not happen and why?
5. What country has played in every World Cup?
All photography from FIFA.com
6. Who scored the first World Cup goal? 21
the official matchball
“Impossible is nothing” - Adidas
On the day of the Final Draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, the official ball for the competition was unveiled. The adidas Jabulani, which means ‘to celebrate’ in isiZulu, is the 11th edition of adidas's FIFA World Cup balls. The 11 colours that are present on the Jabulani pay tribute to both football and the country in which Africa’s first-ever FIFA World Cup will be held. They represent a colour for each team player, every official South African language and for each of the eleven South African communities that will welcome the world next year. The design celebrates two of the most important facets of the South African nation diversity and harmony - as it is these principles that make it such a colourful and welcoming nation. Grip 'n' groove Jabulani ushers in some major advances in football technology. Running your hands over the ball, the first impression is the
Picture and article from FIFA.com
grip’n’groove texture, which allows for maximum control, stable flight and perfect grip under all conditions. The grip ’n’ groove’s profile circles twist around round the entire ball in an optimal aerodynamic way and the integrated grooves provide unmatched flight characteristics, making this the most stable and most accurate adidas ball ever. Minimal seam, more perfection As opposed to the flat-paneled molding of previous adidas footballs, Jabulani comprises
eight thermally bonded 3D panels that have been, for the first time ever, spherically molded to make this ball a perfectly round football that is more accurate than ever before. "According to the rigorous FIFA specification range for footballs, we have created a ball that is small and heavy allowing for maximum accuracy, perfect grip and exceptionally stable flight," said Thomas Van Schaik, the adidas Head of Global Public Relations. A number of the world’s best players have echoed Thomas’s sentiment. Frank Lampard remarked: “It's a very strong ball, true to hit.” While on the receiving end of one of Lampard’s strikes goalkeeper Petr Cech said “You can feel the energy coming towards you, like a shot.” Football history From as far back as the Telstar used at Mexico 1970, the first ever adidas FIFA World Cup ball, adidas have been dedicated to propelling
monthly topic football technology into the future, always innovating and never settling for the ordinary. The distinct 32 white and black leather panels that comprised the Telstar made it the roundest ball of its time. Meanwhile the Tango used at Argentina 1978 was so futuristic that it formed the blueprint for the next five FIFA World Cup footballs. The 2002and 2006 editions of the FIFA World Cup ushered in football revolutions in
their own right, showing adidas’ ability to keep ahead of the game, in a world in which technology is changing faster than ever before. From that first 32 white and black paneled Telstar to the eight-paneled synthetic masterpiece that is ‘Jabulani’, adidas have maintained a standard in line with their core value “impossible is nothing.”
Did you know…?
Meet Zakumi- the official mascot of the 2010 FIFA World Cup! We’ll see him mingling with the fans. Kawaii!
Three million tickets will be available for the 64 matches to be held in South Africa's 10 stadiums.
For the 2010 FIFA World Cup more than 5, 70,000 people are expected to watch the matches live.
Adidas started to make soccer balls in 1963 but made the first official FIFA World Cup ball in 1970. The first ball used in the World Cup to use the Buckminster type of design.The first ball with 32 black and white panels. The TELSTAR was more visible on black and white televisions (1970 FIFA World Cup Mexico™ was the first to be broadcast live on television). Photograph: http://www.soccerballworld. com/HistoryWCBalls.htm
SA art scene ready for 2010 FIFA.com
“The 2010 FIFA World Cup offers a unique opportunity to showcase South African artists,” said Jacques Michau
(LOC) Friday 21 May 2010 Art and football are not the most obvious of bedfellows, but with a large influx of tourists set to descend on the cities of South Africa, the galleries around the country are preparing to show off the nation's inherent talent. “The 2010 FIFA World Cup offers a unique opportunity to showcase South African artists,” said Jacques Michau, curator at the Everard Read Gallery, in Johannesburg. “Our artists will have the world here, and it’s the perfect opportunity for them to expose themselves.” The exhibition A View from the South is a collection of pieces from some of South Africa's best artists, a cross section of both old and new pieces. “What we thought is that instead of having a specific artist exhibiting we would invite our stable of artists to produce one or two works that really push the envelope, so that we could show off our talent and what South African artists are doing.”
During the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup the gallery saw a marked increase in visitors, with Sir Alex Ferguson among them. “There were more feet coming through the gallery, and this is what we are expecting from the World Cup. In Johannesburg, as far as tourist destinations go, it's not a hive of activity on the same level as Cape Town or Durban, so I think people do tend to come to the galleries.” With the global community focusing its attention on South Africa ahead of the World Cup, galleries like the Everard Read have noticed a growing interest from international clients. “There have been more enquiries about our artists, a growing interest in what is going on in the South African art scene.” Another major player in the South African gallery scene is David Krut Projects. The company comprises a collection of gallery spaces, workshops and bookstores dedicated to highlighting contemporary South African art and design.
monthly topic “We are fortunate to have a range of spaces in various locations in both Cape Town and Johannesburg, where we will be exhibiting the FIFA 2010 Official Art Poster Edition as well as a selection of prints and paintings,” says Taryn Hackett, gallery manager at David Krut Projects in Johannesburg.
“We are hoping for an increase in foot traffic through our gallery during the World Cup. We want to be able show an international audience the inherent creative talent in South Africa. We have chosen to exhibit works which reflect a wide range of subject matter, techniques and mediums, by both established and upcoming South African artists. ”David Krut Projects have been involved in retailing the FIFA 2010 Official Art Poster collection. The posters are prints of specific art pieces commissioned for the World Cup. Out of the 17 artists who produced work for the poster collection, 12 are originally African, with 7 of the artists from South Africa. “The reception to the posters has been fantastic in that, by combining the visual arts with the global popularity of football, the project has sparked an interest that has
resonated with a much wider audience,” says Hackett. The Exposure gallery in Cape Town is a predominantly photographic concept space that prides itself in being a platform for cutting edge photographic artists and photographic concepts. “We have been showcasing South African photographers for the last three years and will be showcasing as many local photographers as possible over the World Cup period,” said Fernando Badiali, owner of the Exposure Gallery. “We also be exhibiting a number of photographic books based around football.” One of these books is AMEN, a 208 page photo essay by Jessica Hilltout focusing on grassroots football across Africa. “The piece I feel that best encapsulates the spirit of the World Cup is the local flavour of this book,” said Badiali. Aside from the tourists who will be enjoying the rare experience of seeing much of this art for the first time, the World Cup also presents an opportunity for the country’s creative community to get behind the tournament. “Our artists are excited, South Africa is excited, you can feel it,” said Michau.
Find out more at FIFA.com. Photograph by Andrew Vester-Cohan 25
tips and tricks in and out of Shimane
Explore the city beyond it’s atomic bombing past LOCATION On the north-western peninsula of Kyushu, 7 hours west of Izumo
Regina Durr has traveled to over 23 countries and is rarely seen in the iinaka
Explore the city’s Chinese origins eating champon noodle soup filled with vegetables and seafood in Chinatown. Or, for a Portuguese flavor have castella (a sponge cake) found everywhere. GET AROUND Use the streetcar to get around or walk. Pay ¥120 each trip or get a ¥500 day pass at the Tourist Information Center at the station.
WHAT TO DO Start in the south side at the Peace Park to capture a perspective on the 1945 atomic bombing which devastated the city. After wandering around all of the presents from other countries, make your way past the epicenter up to the Atomic Bomb Museum (¥200). Tip: skip the “automated headset,” it’s worthless. In 1549 the Portuguese began to settle in the area coming off their ships. You’ll feel like you’re in Europe surrounded by Japanese people around the Dutch Slopes. Or, you can step into Oura Catholic Church (¥300)– the oldest remaining church in Japan. Imagine yourself as a diplomat living in Japan during the 1800’s at Glover Garden (¥600).
Walk around the town to discover the impact of Chinese settlers since 1562. Sofuku-ji temple (¥300) pays homage to the Ming Dynasty and stands on its own as a colorful, breathtaking sight. Get your fill of street food or sit-down meal in Chinatown along with buying souvenirs not only made in China, but from China. Skip into modern Nagasaki in the Prefectural Art Museum or at the Museum of History and Culture. Then relax at the top of Mt. Inasa and view the city from a near-aerial view on the ropeway. Secret Tip: Take a morning tour of a ghost town off the shore. Gunkanjima was a thriving mining city on an island that looks like everyone escaped one day leaving all possessions behind. Book in advance – it is often full.
tips and tricks in and out of Shimane
A thrill-seekers paradise
HEADING TO FUJI ROCK? It’s a short distance from the festivities in the neighboring prefecture. Get a discount if you go that week!
LOCATION 70 minutes north of Tokyo by bullet train in northern Gunma-ken, and accessible from Kansai or Nagano
CLAIM TO FAME The traditional, red Japanese good luck doll, Daruma, is from the area. Paint one eye when you make a wish, then the other when it’s fulfilled.
SPECIAL DISCOUNT! Canyon’s is offering a ¥2,000 Yen discount for all BlackTaxi readers on all-day weekday tours from July 26th – August 2nd. Just mention the Black Taxi when you make your reservation!
WHAT TO DO Get wet! Challenge yourself by sliding, jumping, and repelling off waterfalls without any rope in the new sport of canyoning. Or go whitewater rafting down the Tone River’s grade-4 rapids. Stay dry! Rent a bike or join a group to go downhill mountain-biking deep in the lush, green forests. There’s also rock climbing and hiking to do amongst the mountains. In the mountains you can go caving through tight spaces with a helmet and headlamp. Fly! … Or, pretend to! Japan’s only bungy jump off a bridge is waiting for you to take a leap of faith. It’s 42-meter (137
feet) height is above rapids and sure to frighten you. Or try a safer option and paraglide to see the scenery at a slower pace. Relax! The area is well known for it’s hot springs dating back to the 16th century. They dot the small town and whisk you away to serenity. Try that or one-on-one yoga class. Sightsee and learn! Get immersed in one of 27 local handicraft houses at Takumi-no Sato Craft Village. Or, walk along the Mt. Tanigawa ropeway after visiting the 18th Century farmhouse from the Edo period.
recipes and more
avocado appetite Before coming to Japan I had never eaten avocado outside of guacamole and California roles. But curiosity overcame me and I found myself trying new recipes with the strange green fruit. I’d never had eggplant either, but avocados are currently in season while nasu won’t be until later this summer, so I’ll be focusing on avocados this month. Avocados can make a delicious part of a healthy diet. They provide almost 20 essential nutrients, and are a source mono and polyunsaturated fats that can help lower bad cholesterol. Avocados contain Vitamins C, K, E, and B6, potassium, and magnesium, all important and essential nutrients to our bodies healthy functioning. They are high in calories, about 250 in a medium-sized fruit, so moderation should be exercised. Avocados ripen off the tree, which means you can buy one that’s not quite ripe and wait for it. If you buy an unripe avocado and plan to use it in a few days, you should place it in a paper bag and store it at room temperature. You can speed up the ripening process by placing an apple or banana in the bag as well. To test the ripeness of an avocado, use the palm of your hand, not your fingertips, to gently squeeze it. A ripe fruit is firm, but will give when you squeeze it.
Facts taken from avocado.org, the California Avocado Commission
Betsy Pinkham loves to try new things!
Once you’ve got your ripe avocado, you’ll need to cut it in half lengthwise, rotating the blade around the seed. Twist the two halves apart from each other, than use a spoon to pry out the seed. You can then either place the avocado half cut=side down and peel the skin off, or simply spoon the flesh out. Be sure to sprinkle all the cut avocado flesh with lime or lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Now you’re ready to use that avocado. My two favorite ways to eat avocado are as a spread on toast, or as a shake/smoothie, garnished with a fresh sprig of mint. The creamy taste and texture of avocado makes them the perfect for healthy dips and spreads. Do you still have that seed you removed? Great! Avocado seeds can’t be eaten, but with a little tender care you can grow your own avocado tree. Just suspend the lower half of the seed in a glass of water using toothpicks until it sends out roots and sprouts. Pot it in some soil, and if you live in a warm enough area with mild winters, you can plant it outside. If not, just be sure to trim it and keep it as a house plant. Your tree won’t produce avocado unless you can manage to graft it with a producing avocado tree. But they do make lovely decorative plants and if grown outdoors can make great climbing trees.
recipes and more
Avocado Shake 1 avocado Â˝ cup plain yogurt 1 cup milk 1 tsp sugar Ice cubes *optional: more fruits *sprig of mint to garnish
Avocado toast Two slices of bread 1 avocado 2 tomato rounds 1cm thick 3 sprigs of parsley Salt and pepper 1 tsp mayonnaise Mash the avocado. Add salt and pepper to taste; be careful about adding too much salt!
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high for about a minute.
If you donâ€™t have a blender, just skip the ice and mix all the ingredients in a bowl with an electric beater.
Toast the bread. Spread mayo, and then avocado on the toast. Top each slice with a tomato round. Place a sprig of parsley on top of the tomato, then chop up the third sprig and sprinkle it over the avocado. Enjoy.
recipes and more
Lexi Sanborn is working on her farmerâ€™s tan.
Before Golden Week I left Japan with the hope that I would find a completely transformed garden upon my return. Having asked several people to help water the plants, I knew that I wouldn't come back to a dry, wilted shadow of its formal self. Instead, I imagined great verdant growth stretching higher and higher--perhaps a flower or two? I got verdant green growth all right, just not in the form I wanted. No, instead of the warm, sunny weather inspiring my little seedlings to grow big and strong (which they marginally did compared to their growth before) it was the weeds that burgeoned. Doing a quick "drive by" on my way home I was shocked to see I couldn't see my garden any more through the weeds. It looked like I was trying to grow a lawn. A sinking feeling of doom overwhelmed me, for I knew that long hours of labor were in store. The weeds in my garden are various, but the most annoying and difficult to eradicate is a type of grass with deep growing and interconnected roots. The roots connect to a little "ball," and if this is not taken than the weeds will simply grow again. My garden, originally fallow land for the past several years, is worse than most
other gardens in the area. As the weeds were allowed to grow freely, their system is well built and complicated. I spent a total of five hours one weekend, digging up the weeds with my trowel. After five hours I had only managed to clean out about 1/4 of my garden. Later during the middle of the week I went out again, and a neighbor dropped by. She had been so concerned over my plight of picking weeds she had come out to show me the tool she used to pull them out. It was, she said, much better than using a trowel to dig them up. Voluntarily she stayed at my side pulling weeds for about an hour. Then the two bordering farmers gave me some of their freshly harvested onions (which I made into the sweetest French Onion Soup I have ever made). That day, I truly felt the love of the Japanese but a hatred for my garden. The next day I went out and bought the tool she used (a small sickle) and another tool recommended by the farmer next door (also sickle-like). I am now Lexi, the Farming God of Death. The following weekend Greg of Misumi (and soon to be of Matsue) came out to help me pull weeds. By this point things were getting manageable and we proceeded amiably. It was really quite nice for him to come out to do
recipes and more
Image Credit: Greg Ferguson
something as back breaking as weeds. With the fine weather followed by a warm rain I was anxious for my vegetables which seem to be doing better as of late. However, upon checking up on the garden a few days ago I found the weeds back to their usual business and popping up just where I pulled them out. This garden certainly isn't without weeds.
Progress check: Bought some tomato and basil that are progressing nicely. I also bought watermelon that are currently being attacked by bugs. I have tried to fend them off with a mixture of water, dish soap, oil and chili powder compote. Cilantro is gradually getting more robust, and in bloomâ€”though I've cut it back a little so it will grow more bushy, as opposed to stringy.
What I thought were green beans, but may actually be zucchini. Only time will tell. Carrots are almost ready to start thinning. Zinnias and flowering plants are gradually getting bigger. Will sow some radish seeds this weekend, as well as more basil and watermelon.
Life in Japan
Who the heck is
The Asian history and myth we miss out on… Jonathan Edwards loves him One of the aspects of living here in Asia that I enjoy is having access to entire some quasi-true history. sections of history that Western teaching either skims over or outright ignores. Sure, we are all familiar with the ten labors of Hercules, Ulysses’ odyssey, Joan D’Arc, William Wallace, and even the exploits of 300 skilled Spartans against an angry Persian horde through historical teaching and various media, but if I asked the average westerner what long running Chinese Dynasty fell into chaos around the same time as the Roman Empire did, could they answer? Many of our students probably could (I guarantee NOTHING), as that is the period known to us as The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, an account of the Han Dynasty’s collapse and the three ruling lords who attempted to take over. Images from Koei’s Dynasty Warriors 5 and Amazon
The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is quite popular among the Asian powers and revered in a similar manner to Greek mythology in the west. In Japan alone there are countless television shows, books, manga, video games, toys, and more associated with the period. The fun part of the whole deal is that the history is true, almost all the figures mentioned in the story and their general actions were real. Their exploits however, have been embellished to epic proportions. A good western example is the Trojan War, a real conflict between two kingdoms. Accompanying the truth however is the myth: a legend featuring Gods and heroes of fantastic ability. So too does the Three Kingdoms period contain celestial omens, Daoist magicians, and lone warriors capable of slaying entire armies. Depending on where you intake the story, the degree of realism (and truth) varies significantly.
Life in Japan
Here in Japan the age is better known as 三国時 代 (Sangoku Jidai), the Three Kingdoms Era. The two most popular forms at this current time, especially for our students, are video games and film. For China’s Olympic games, famed Chinese action director John Woo (Face/Off, Mission: Impossible 2) was commissioned to make a film about China, and a famous battle from the Three Kingdoms Era was picked, the Battle of Red Cliffs. The two part epic, titled Red Cliff, was heavily promoted and very successful across Asia, but garnered very little attention abroad. As for video games, the Three Kingdoms Era has inspired long running series in both the strategy and action genres. For strategy there is Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a game that started way back in the late 1980s and still receives sequels for various gaming platforms today. On the action side, there’s Sangoku Musou (三国無双 - Three Kingdoms Unrivaled), known abroad as Dynasty Warriors; a game which glorifies the era’s many heroes and pushes their legendary skills to the extreme. The series has many sequels, spin-offs, and even
crossovers with Japan’s own famous historical figures. I occasionally bring the franchise up at my schools and have been surprised to find how many students are aware of and play current and older iterations of the series, even girls. So, why is a fifty year period of brutal, heartless bloodshed that ended China’s greatest dynasty (the Chinese often refer to themselves and their language as Han to this day) so beloved? There are so many ways to answer that finding an explanation is difficult. Within the Three Kingdoms Era is enough war, lineage, and intrigue that the novel rivals J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings in length and scope. As the three factions were so well matched, they essentially destroyed themselves, leaving history with no clear victors to establish as the proverbial “good guys”. People can argue to this day whether the Wu, the Shu, or the Wei were the ideal rulers to succeed the Han Dynasty based on what qualities and virtues they value, nearly two thousand years after the fact.
While the era actually had many different factions and nobles trying to take control of ancient China, these three were the greatest and longest lasting thus giving the era its name.
WEI Led by the ambitious Cao Cao (Tsao Tsao, not Cow Cow). Ruled with an iron fist, but praised loyalty. Also famous for Xiahou Dun, Dian Wei, and Sima Yi.
SHU Led by the virtuous Liu Bei (Leeyu Bay). Shu hoped to preserve the glory of the Han and serve the people. Also famous for Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, Zhuge Liang.
WU Led by the brilliant Sun family. Descended from the legendary strategist Sun Zi (Sun Tzu), the Sun family used strategy even at the cost of their allies.
楽しい / tanoshii
Greg Ferguson finds enlightenment in entertainment
We’ve been buying music online for years now. Not only are stores like iTunes and Amazon the easiest (and greenest) method in the world for buying music, but they collectively have what is arguably the vastest catalogue of songs and albums available. Free from the hassles of reproducing physical copies of CDs and shipping them to brick and mortar stores that must allocate shelf space for them, all online stores need to operate are the files themselves, which can be copied as endlessly as necessary. Nobody’s niche tastes need be excluded. Yet, I’m learning, there is so much music that is excluded. I’m not talking about unpopular, offensive, or otherwise objectionable music, but music that many would consider to be quality but remains, for whatever reasons, out of print. It’s baffling and downright infuriating considering how easy it would be to distribute. Sure, some music is tied up in legal double-shank knots. Take the absence of the entire Beatles catalogue on iTunes, all thanks to a petty squabble over the rights to the name Apple. Sheesh. Even sillier, in a way, is how music from other countries (let’s say Japan) can be sold only at home but not internationally, even if the record label (let’s say Sony) exists in just about every major market in the world. Surely that’s a missed opportunity for notoriety and revenue. But beyond that, there’s still a lot of other music, though, that is nowhere to be seen.
So what to do? Fortunately for some, fellow music lovers have taken to the Blogosphere with their vinyl crates and discontinued CDs and began a crusade to share everything they can get their hands on in lieu of legal, commercially available copies. Occasionally, a record will show up for free that’s already for sale elsewhere, but most of the site owners are respectful and remove them after finding out. They really just want to sincerely preserve the memory of their favourite music and ensure that others aren’t deprived of the chance to enjoy it just because the copyright holders won’t offer it for sale. Audio quality may be less than ideal at times, especially when dealing with scruffy old LPs, but for the most part a treasure trove of mostly forgotten music has been accumulating online for the past couple of years to the point where you’d probably get more music among a handful of sites than at your nearest CD shop.
Detailing all of these services would be too taxing a task for me now, but allow me to share a few of my choice recommendations:
My Jazz World www.myjazzworld.net Far and away the mightiest jazz blog on the Internet, My Jazz World by a fellow called Smooth has offered a wealth of obscure Japanese jazz, ‘80s jazz, soul, and other “smooth” things, all in top-quality audio transfers thanks to some very expensive record equipment. Having suffered a few setbacks as of late with regards to Blogspot terminating his account, he’s been thriving at his own domain for the past few months, and shows no signs of slowing down with daily updates.
OufAr KhAn oufarkhan.blogspot.com Primarily a jazz outfit, OufAr KhAn nevertheless shares some peculiar soul, funk, and percussion music from Africa, Brazil and elsewhere. Less frequently updated than many others, the site is still noteworthy for its gargantuan archives, most of which are still online. Even when not, the info provided for each release is valuable, and in many cases the music can be tracked down on other blogs via Google.
楽しい / tanoshii
In-Flight Entertainment oungetastic.blogspot.com If campy ‘60s lounge music and retro ‘70s space sounds are your bag, then In-Flight Entertainment won’t disappoint. Being the one place where the music is as good as the cover art, this blog has been turning out delightful music on a daily basis for a little while now.
Music From the Third Floor thirdfloormusic.blogspot.com Here’s one for the Curry King crowd. Music From the Third Floor is a stunning repository of old Bollywood soundtracks. The guy behind the blog is a true-blue fan of the genre, and the depth of his knowledge is a match for his obvious appreciation. With 150 (no! 175 … NO! 200!!) titles, the blog may wind up being short-lived, but seriously – how many of you have anywhere near 200 Bollywood soundtracks? Right.
Anything useful…or not useful
何でも / nandemo WebMD’s 15 steps to losing weight Drink lots of water
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