Cue the dancing chibis

I wrote this seven years ago:

Joshiraku — Nobody is ever likely to license this. Five girls, practitioners of a peculiar form of Japanese comedy, sitting in a dressing room talking about random things is unlikely to strike most Americans as comedy gold, but Joshiraku was probably the funniest show of the year. Much of Koji Kumeta’s wit will fly over the head of English speakers who don’t have a detailed knowledge of Japanese culture, but enough does survive translation to make Joshiraku worth watching. It helps that the girls all have well-defined, idiosyncratic personalities. Download an episode to see if it appeals to you, and also to see the opening and ending. Both are engagingly lively, and the latter is one of the best of the year. It features dancing chibis.

Let’s start by ripping the fourth wall to shreds.

To my astonishment, I discovered Joshiraku was recently licensed. It apparently hasn’t sold very well, for it’s now on sale for a very good price at the other anime dealer. It’s not for everyone, but if you have a slightly cockeyed sense of humor and an interest in Japanese culture, it might be worth checking out. While it’s much milder than the other Koji Kumeta anime, it’s still not for children.

Also on sale is the complete edition of Dennou Coil, which is #3 on my list of the best anime series, as well as a couple of Mamoru Hosoda’s movies, The Girl Who Leapt through Time and The Boy and the Beast, and Kenji Nakamura’s exploration of economics.

Continue reading “Cue the dancing chibis”

Mysteries of the internet

While checking to see where my visitors come from, I discovered that some arrived here 18,207 days ago, almost fifty years in the past. This is curious, since I have been online for maybe twenty-five years and launched my first website a bit more than twenty years ago. I’m too lazy to do the arithmetic, but I have a hunch these early visits occurred on January 1, 1970.

Pretty ones, weird ones

Epicattleya Veitchii

The first batch of pictures from the orchid show are up. Although I spotted two Dracula plants, neither was in bloom. However, there was a Habenaria medusa in flower, which will probably be in the next batch. You can see the pictures here.

Bulbophyllum Walnut Valley Jersey
Cymbidium Vanessa Amorosi

Continue reading “Pretty ones, weird ones”

Looking for Dracula?

You might be able to find a Dracula orchid plant for sale at the Kansas Orchid Society’s annual show and sale, held this weekend at Botanica here in Wichita.

Maxthompsonara Bryon Rinke

You might also see Maxthompsonara Bryon Rinke, a multi-generic Zygopetalinae hybrid bred at Sunset Valley Orchids, first flowered by Bryon Rinke of the KOS and named for Max Thompson at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas. You might even see Max and Bryon.

There definitely will be several tables full of blooming orchids, plus plants for sale. I’ll be there taking too many pictures, as usual.

Halloween playlist

Planning a Halloween party for the weekend, or want something to listen to while distributing candy to the little extortionists next week? Here are some tunes for you.

Laika and the Cosmonauts, “Psyko

Fredösphere, “Abraham Lincoln Was an Invader from Space

Yuki Kajiura, “Sis Puella Magica

The Pretty Things, “Baron Saturday

Hedningarna, “Räven (Fox Woman)

Gjallarhorn, “Hjaðningaríma

Raymond Scott, “New Year’s Eve in a Haunted House

Oingo Boingo, “Pictures of You

Don Ross, “Dracula and Friends, Part One

The Klezmatics, “Beggar’s Dance

Brave Combo, “People Are Strange

Procol Harum, “Juicy John Pink

Split Lip Rayfield, “The High Price of Necromancy

Tonio K, “How Come I Can’t See You in My Mirror?

Van Der Graaf Generator, “Killer

Steeleye Span, “Elf Call

Haystacks Balboa, “The Children of Heaven

Denki Groove, “Mononoke Dance” (The full-length version is here, but I think it’s better shortened unless you’re dancing.)

Oingo Boingo, “Little Guns

Onmyouza, “Onikosae no Uta

Procol Harum “The Devil Came from Kansas

William Bolcom, “Poltergeist Rag

Mayumi Kojima, “Poltergeist

Tom Smith, “I Had a Shuggoth

Don Ross, “Robot Monster

Hedningarna, “Tina Vieri

For more suggestions, see Eve Tushnet, here and here.

Postcards from Boomer Flats

John C. Wright recently quoted R.A. Lafferty. Coincidentally, I spent part of the day moving all my Gene Wolfe and Lafferty books to their own bookcase. Over the years I’ve accumulated a bunch, most of them acquired on my regular visits to second-hand book stores.1 Around the turn of the century, Lafferty’s books disappeared even from used sources. I found a volume or two and some pamphlets from mail-order sources2, but pickings were slim.

Fortunately, now, about 30 years too late, there finally is a good introduction to the most original writer of the 20th century. The Best of R.A. Lafferty is available in the U.S. The table of contents is here; the book includes most of the essential stories.3. If you’ve ever been curious about this teller of tales unlike other tales, this is a good place to start.

Three of Lafferty’s early novels have also recently been reissued in a single volume. It’s been a long time since I read Past Master or Fourth Mansions, so I can’t say much except that I didn’t like them as much as the better short stories. They’re due for a re-reading; I might find more in them now. However, Space Chantey, Lafferty’s retelling of The Odyssey, is one of Lafferty’s funniest books and an old favorite.

“All right, girl,” Roadstrum said when they were alone. “I have a few questions. They will be to the point, and I want answers.”
I doubt that you could understand the answers,” Aeaea warned. “I see now that you are a common simpleminded man, and we maintain a very high intellectual average here. It will be difficult to communicate.”
“Who is the ‘we’ that maintains so high an average, girl?”
“Only myself now. My father has been dead these last several centuries.”
“It should be easy to maintain a high average with only one entity.”
“It is. I am mistress of all the sciences. I go so far beyond all else that my work is called magic. I manipulate noumena, regarding monads as points of entry tangential to hylomorphism. As to the paradox of Primary Essence being contained in Quiddity, the larger in the small, I have my own solution. The difficulty is always in not confusing Contingency with Accidence. Do you understand me?”
“Sure. You’re a witch.”
“Exactly, but I frown on the name. Very unscientific.”

***

I have several duplicate Lafferties on my shelves that need homes. If you are interested, send me an email. Please include “Lafferty” in the header so I don’t delete it with the blackmail spam and other digital trash.

A consequence of liturgical reform

Amy Welborn, in a discussion of David Lodge’s novels:

My mother stopped going to Mass in the early 1970’s, just about the time that Souls and Bodies ends. It is not that she lost her faith. It is, as she probably would have said, that her faith lost her. She just could not stand it anymore. It broke her heart to go to Mass, to be forced to hold hands and listen to banalities and hear the blustery aging cantor belt out Kris Kristofferson’s “Lord, Help Me Jesus,” she who was raised by an aunt and uncle, skilled amateur musicians who played classical sacred music on organ and violin in their small French-Canadian parish in Maine. She stopped going, she would have told you, because there was no use in confessing that she had missed Mass, since she had no firm purpose of amendment. She had no intention of going back. And she never really did, until she died in 2001, her Requiem Mass in the funeral home chapel, led by some splinter SSPX fellow from somewhere in East Tennessee, not mentioned in the obituary since they were convinced the diocese would shut it down if they heard.

Fifty years ago today

The golden age of progressive rock began on this day in 1969 with the release of two classic albums, Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats and King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King.1

Also released on that day was the Kinks’ Arthur. It doesn’t quite qualify as “prog rock,” though it was a “concept album.”

I suppose I ought to comment about the historical significance of these works, with analysis of the musical techniques employed and explication of lyrics2, plus some personal notes…. Nah. The music speaks for itself.

Sudden, violent comedy

Wonderduck points out that we’ve had Monty Python for fifty years now. I discovered them late. Their show didn’t arrive in Kansas until years after I quit watching teevee. It wasn’t until a friend handed me the scripts for the shows that I found that they were pretty good. Reading the scripts alone doesn’t give you a complete idea of what they were — “Ministry of Silly Walks” seems like a dumb little skit on paper, but John Cleese perambulating transforms it. However, the words to “The Spanish Inquisition,” “The Cheese Shop” and a good proportion of the other skits are funny on the page as well as in performance, and that is still largely how I know them.

Enjoy the Pythons now, because in the very near future the punchline to all jokes, not just “how many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?” will be “That’s not funny.”

(The title is from here.)

Miscellany

Chainmail Bikini is back online.

***

Art or garbage? It’s hard to tell sometimes.

***

Derek Lowe recently added nitro groups to his “Things I won’t work with” category. You don’t need to be a chemist to enjoy his Lowe’s appreciations of azides, FOOF and other exceeding noisy or smelly substances.

***

William Briggs:

“Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.” This is, as everybody knows, Conquest’s Second Law. It is a true law, as all modern experience shows. But it says nothing about the pace or rate of the flight from Reality and Tradition.

A rock thrown upwards at the top of its flight is stationary. For a moment it neither goes up nor down. Then, a fraction of a second later, it begins it descent, but slowly, slowly. The speeds picks up, the rocks plummets faster and faster. It eventually crashes to the ground.

That’s the progress of rocks, a good but imperfect metaphor for the “progress” of human institutions. The imperfection comes in recalling a law Conquest didn’t mention: motus in fine velocior. Things accelerate toward the end. A falling rock has constant acceleration. Human failure is a force that feeds on itself.

***

100 things Mark Evanier learned about the comics industry….

93. If your character wears a cape, it should be more or less the same length in every panel and it should not get shredded more than twice a year.

***

Dr. Boli has completed his serial, Devil King Kun. From the 20th installment:

“Actually,” said Weyland, “good people generally don’t try to conquer the world. It’s not done, you know.”

“But if you don’t conquer the world, then won’t the evil people take over every time?”

“We generally prefer to let people choose their own government, and trust them to make the right choice.”

“Well,” said Miss Kun, “I’m willing to be good, but I’m not willing to be an idiot….”

The story begins here.

***

Saw Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion a couple of years ago and when a bloke in the audience shouted out for ‘Toad’ Baker asked if he’d ever had a drumstick shoved up his nostril.

The lovable Ginger Baker has been hospitalized, critically ill. Here’s an 1970 interview with the easy-going drummer, and a more recent look at the gentle soul.

Update: Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80.

Professor Mondo, a drummer himself, on Baker in 1990:

The other thing that struck me was that Ginger looked like a mad wizard from a fantasy novel, impossibly aged, but terrifyingly powerful. He was three years younger than I am now. I think both his mistakes as a human being and his phenomenal talent aged him in dog years.

See also Shabby Road for an overview of Baker’s life.

Have a Spoonful of Cream.

Wayback and forward

Jorma Kaukonen’s Catholic joke, via Stevie Coyle1 of the Quitters:

Q. How many Catholics does it take to change a lightbulb?
A. (Raises hand, extending three fingers) One.

I discovered a couple of acts worth investigating at this year’s Walnut Valley Festival. Muriel Anderson, who wrangled chickens for Chet Atkins, plays a hypertrophied harp guitar that combines guitar, bass and music box into a single instrument. Feel like dancing? Can you count thirteen?

Continue reading “Wayback and forward”

Let’s get small

Although there were some mid-size to large blooms at this month’s orchid society show-and-tell, the stand-out for me was the smallest, Platystele umbellata, above. The entire cluster of burgundy flowers was roughly a quarter-inch in diameter. It was difficult to photograph — I really needed a macro lens (ideally with another lens stacked in front, and with the camera connected to the computer for focus stacking) and a tripod — but after several tries I managed to get a passable picture.

The Platystele was dwarfed by Stelis viridipurpurata, which was nevertheless quite small itself. Each flower was about a quarter-inch across.

There are more pictures here, including Habenarias.

In addition to the usual close-up photos, I also made some panoramas of the botanical garden this past weekend, such as this view of the lily pond. (Panoramas look best in the full-screen mode.)

There are more views of Botanica at my panorama page. (Click the “recent” tab.)

Continue reading “Let’s get small”

That new church smell …


St. Joseph Church, Andale, Kansas

… is curing varnish.

St. Joseph Church in Andale, Kansas, isn’t actually a “new” church. The current building was probably built during the first quarter of the 20th century (the parish history is vague on specific dates). However, it was damaged by a lightning-caused fire last year and has only recently been reopened after repairs and renovations.

Unlike most of the churches that I’ve been photographing, St. Joseph actually looks like a Catholic church, not a box or a spaceship.

The panorama is best viewed in the full-screen mode.

Not exactly Spanish castle magic

Fillyjonk triggered one of my stranger memories. A long, long time ago I spent a summer in Spain. One day my group traveled to Segovia (by bus, not dragonfly) to see the Alcázar. It was a spectacular place, everything a Spanish castle ought to be. My most vivid memory, though, is not of the Alcázar itself. I spent some time on the terrace at the top of the tower surveying the region. While I was there, someone with a tape recorder played two songs over and over, loudly. One was “American Woman,” and the other was “Spirit in the Sky.” I felt a certain slight dissonance between what I saw and what I heard.1

Literary notes

Gary Saul Morson:

Why is it, Solzhenitsyn asks, that Macbeth, Iago, and other Shakespearean evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses, while Lenin and Stalin did in millions? The answer is that Macbeth and Iago “had no ideology.” Ideology makes the killer and torturer an agent of good, “so that he won’t hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors.” Ideology never achieved such power and scale before the twentieth century.

Joseph Moore:

Up until current times, it would have been scandalous for a woman in a Catholic country to arrange her own marriage in defiance of her father. Romeo & Juliet is a cautionary tale against just such presumption. The nurse and the friar are the villains of the story, overstepping their rightful duties. Until modern times, readers of the play all understood this.

***

For literature of a different sort, see Dr. Boli.

Good taste …

… doesn’t apply here, except maybe in a Cramps sense. (Right-click and open in a new window to see every lurid detail.) A friend spotted this vehicle in a college parking lot near his place and sent the picture with the comment that “Anime can be dangerous.” Well, maybe. There are better ways of advertising your enthusiasms — though if that’s the sort of anime you like, it might be better if you kept it to yourself.

Update: the rest of the story.

The Joe DiMaggio of bloggers

For years, one of my first stops every morning after cranking up the computer was Dustbury. There would always be something new and worth reading. The proprietor, Charles G. Hill, a self-described “generalist and occasional wiseguy,” was intelligent and insightful. He was witty and clever, too, very good with bad puns, and an unabashed brony. He was always a pleasure to read. One of the few things I looked forward to on Mondays was his weekly survey of search terms leading to his site, with a wisecrack for each item. His familiarity with obscure popular music rivaled that of the Professor, and he had a healthy appreciation of fine stemware.

Dawn Eden and Charles Hill at an Oklahoma bloggers’ meet-up in 2005.

It wasn’t all wisecracks at Dustbury, though. Hill struggled with depression all his life. During the past few years he faced worsening problems with health and mobility. His “Vents” were often painful to read, and other posts could be disturbing. Although our interaction was limited to occasionally leaving a comment at each other’s site, I worried about him.

Charles Hill passed away yesterday from injuries received in an accident.

Dusty Sage

If there is such a thing as a “national treasure” on the internet, it’s Charles G. Hill’s site. The text deserves to be printed on acid-free paper and available in libraries for ages to come. I hope someone capable steps up to preserve Dustbury, as Pixy Misa and J Greely did for Steven Den Beste’s sites.

When perusing Dustbury, be sure to check the tabs at the top of the page, as well as the main blog. There you will find much else of interest, such as his profile with Norm Geras:

What would you do with the UN?
I’m not quite sure, but I expect it involves dynamite….

Do you have any prejudices you’re willing to acknowledge?
I shun anyone who can speak the word ‘multicultural’ with a straight face.

Update
Tributes to Dustbury: Roger Green; Steve Lackmeyer; Rob O’Hara.

(The post title is from John Salmon; the picture of Dawn Eden and Charles G. Hill is from Michael Bates.)