Author Archives: Monahan

Emerald City ComicCon 2014

Here are a few items I came across during the recent Comic Con in Seattle last week:

HaloThis was a t-shirt from one of various booths that specialized in printed designs– They sold out during the first day!


This was the business card from Retro Pop Namu– one of the many artists who had a booth open all weekend. This was one of the highlights among the vendor tables.

Though not necessarily within the Asian/American themes, I was excited to come home with some quite excellent books– mainly this one that features an issue I searched for long and hard; The Amazing Spiderman issue #144

cb1Marvel has been publishing several collections of their most popular heroes and themes for several years now… I finally discovered them during the convention.

The next Emerald City Comic Con is will be the last weekend of March, 2015. Hope to see you there!

A Song Kato Would Be Proud Of

011903-concreteblondeDec124I spent the last few days reflecting on the ideas & concepts outlined in Kato’s writing (Kun Fu to Hip Hop) and as it often does, a song came to mind. This time from the band Concrete Blonde. The bands leader is Johnette Napolitano; she plays bass and sings. As a side note, she is firmly in the all-time top-5 bassists with the best tone and most recognizable players. Here is the video & lyrics:




Click here to view the embedded video.

I re-read silly lines
That made sense at the time
Pages all stained with tears and red wine
And I walk through the airport and see magazines
Every face that I see
So much younger than me
And I smile to myself how I don’t even miss
My glorious past or the lips that I’ve kissed
And I think to myself that how easy this is
Easy to breathe, easy to live

And I wonder why I tear myself in two
Over how to be, what to say and what to do
And I know you liked me better then
And I know you liked me better when I was a fool
…I was a fool
…I was a fool

So I live in these days
But I still have my old ways
’cause the future, somehow, has yet to arrive
And I see all around me the women on time
Kids and divorces and crisis in midlife
and do I surrender and give up my dream
for a brick in the wall and a washing machine
grow up and get real
for a kid in their teens
who won’t care what I’ve done
where I’ve been, what I’ve seen

And I wonder why I tear myself in two
over who to be, how to be and what to do
and I know you liked me better then
and I know you liked me better when I was a fool
…I…was a fool
…I was a fool
…I was a fool

I’m free to a fault
I’m 45
I’m playing guitar
I’m living my life
Fly down the highway
Sun on my face
I belong to nobody
I belong to no place

Week 10: Passing Thoughts

Since I’ve got some free time before week 10 begins, I thought I’d get my motorcycle out for a spin to see how many rainclouds we could dodge. As is always the case, many things came to mind– some of them I’ll share here.

9 Mar 14b

9 Mar 14 C

Everytime I ride my Triumph I think about two films: The Great Escape & On Any Sunday.

Here is one of the greatest motorcycle scenes– one that has inspired many, MANY people to ride motorcycles. Here is the full chase  in HD and  edited together  for one continuous clip:

Click here to view the embedded video.

This short clip features Bud Ekins– Steve McQueen’s double in the film– talking about the fabulous jump at the end:

Click here to view the embedded video.

The other film responsible for an entire generation of motorcyclists is On Any Sunday (don’t bother with the sequel– it isn’t related to the original):

Click here to view the embedded video.


Week 9: Anime & Manga

1.Japanese movie and television animation, often having a science fiction theme and sometimes including violent or explicitly sexual material.

1. a Japanese genre of cartoons, comic books, and animated films, typically having a science-fiction or fantasy theme and sometimes including violent or sexually explicit material.

There were a few anime/manga shows I watched as a kid, but we never called them by those names. They were just really cool cartoons. Where would our country be without categories for every aspect of life, eh?

So I thought I’d reach back and revisit some of those shows, and check out some of the newer ones that look interesting. In this post, Youtube is our friend~

Mobile Suit Gundam

“Mobile Suit Gundam is a televised anime series, produced by Sunrise. Created and directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino, it premiered in Japan on Nagoya Broadcasting Network on April 7, 1979, and lasted until January 26, 1980, spanning 43 episodes.”(Wiki)
First episode: April 7, 1979
Final episode: January 26, 1980
Program creator: Yoshiyuki Tomino

Episode 1 (subtitled)

Click here to view the embedded video.

Recently the series was revived for a video game:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Transformers (Generation 1: 1984-1993)

“The Transformers began with the 1980s Japanese toy lines Microman and Diaclone. The former utilized varying humanoid-type figures while the latter presented robots able to transform into everyday vehicles, electronic items or weapons. Hasbro, fresh from the success of the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero toyline, which used the Microman technology to great success, bought the Diaclone toys, and partnered with Takara. Jim Shooter and Dennis O’Neil were hired by Hasbro to create the backstory; O’Neil also created the name “Optimus Prime.” Afterwards, Bob Budiansky created most of the Transformers characters, giving names and personalities to many unnamed Diaclone figures.” (Wiki)

Some people contend that this series shouldn’t be considered anime, while others do. Despite which camp you find yourself in, the stylistic influence is obviously rooted in the genre.

Transformers (G1) season 1, episode 2

Click here to view the embedded video.

Speed Racer

“Speed Racer, also known as Mach GoGoGo (マッハGoGoGo Mahha GōGōGō?), is a Japanese anime/manga franchise about automobile racing. Mach GoGoGo was originally serialized in print form in Shueisha’s 1958 Shōnen Book, and was released in tankōbon book form by Sun Wide Comics, re-released in Japan by Fusosha. It was later adapted into an anime by Tatsunoko Production and it aired on Fuji TV from April 1967 to March 1968, with 52 episodes. The anime was rebroadcast on Tokyo MX from July 1, 2008 to September 25, 2008. Selected chapters of the manga were released by NOW Comics in the 1990s under the title Speed Racer Classics, later released by the DC Comics division, Wildstorm Productions under the title Speed Racer: The Original Manga. In 2008, under its Americanized title, Speed Racer, Mach GoGoGo was republished in its entirety in the United States by Digital Manga Publishing and was released as a box set to commemorate the franchise’s 40th anniversary and to serve as a tie-in with the 2008 film. It was published under the title Speed Racer: Mach Go Go Go under the company’s DMP Platinum imprint. The television series itself is an early example of an anime becoming a successful franchise in the United States, spawning multiple spinoffs in both print and broadcast media.” (Wiki)

Speed Racer: The Trick Race

Click here to view the embedded video.

 Astro Boy

“Astro Boy (鉄腕アトム Tetsuwan Atomu?, “Mighty Atom”, lit. “Iron Arm Atom”) is a Japanese television series that premiered Fuji TV on New Year’s Day and is the first popular animated Japanese television series that embodied the aesthetic that later became familiar worldwide as anime. It originated as a manga of the same name in 1952 by Osamu Tezuka, revered in Japan as the “God of Manga.” After enjoying success both in Japan and abroad as the first anime to be broadcast overseas, Astro Boy was remade in the 1980s under the same name(s), and in 2003 as Astro Boy: Mighty Atom. It lasted for four seasons, with a total of 193 episodes, the final episode presented on New Year’s Eve 1966. At its height it was watched by 40% of the Japanese population who had access to a TV. In 1964, there was a feature-length animated movie called Mighty Atom, the Brave in Space (鉄腕アトム 宇宙の勇者 Tetsuwan Atomu: Uchū no yūsha?) released in Japan. It was an anthology of three episodes; The Robot Spaceship, Last Day on Earth and Earth Defense Squadron. The latter two were filmed in color.” (Wiki)

Mighty Atom vs. Astro Boy (1963)

Click here to view the embedded video.

Astro Boy –1980s (subtitles)

Click here to view the embedded video.

 Kimba the White Lion

Before there was Disney’s The Lion King, there was Kimba the White Lion. Watch the two side-by-side and decide for yourself where Disney got its inspiration for their blockbuster film.

“Jungle Emperor (ジャングル大帝 Jungle Taitei?), titled in English as Kimba the White Lion, is an anime series from the 1960s. Created by Osamu Tezuka and based on his manga of the same title which began publication in 1950, it was the first color animated television series created in Japan. The manga was first published in serialized form in Manga Shōnen magazine. The anime was produced by Mushi Production. The later series was produced by Tezuka Productions.

This anime series has enjoyed popularity worldwide — including in the United States, Australia, Europe (where it has been translated into several languages such as French, Italian, Catalan, Spanish, German, Dutch etc.) and the Middle East.

A new TV special premiered September 5, 2009 on Fuji TV. Produced in commemoration of Fuji TV’s 50th anniversary, it was directed by Gorō Taniguchi, written by noted novelist and drama writer Osamu Suzuki, and featuring character designs from noted illustrator Yoshitaka Amano.” (Wiki)

Kimba the White Lion Ep.1, “Go, White Lion!”

Click here to view the embedded video.

DMC (Detroit Metal City)

Here is something a little more current– and more intense. Of course, anything that takes its name from one of my all-time favorite bands, KISS, is worth investigating~

Detroit Metal City (デトロイト・メタル・シティ Detoroito Metaru Shiti?) is a vulgar comedy manga series by Kiminori Wakasugi, serialized in Young Animal from 2005 to 2010. An anime OVA series, twelve episodes of approximately 13 minutes each, was released starting on August 8, 2008. A live film adaptation directed by Toshio Lee appeared in Japanese theaters on August 23, 2008. The series takes its name from the KISS single “Detroit Rock City”. (Wiki)

DMC Ep.1 (subtitled)

Click here to view the embedded video.

Robotech Turns 29 Today

Since our class is spending the week watching anime, I found this to be an appropriate news flash~

The classic series Robotech made its North American TV debut this day in 1985


This was a very popular anime series that lead to several spin-offs

… in a nutshell:

ROBOTECH is a sweeping science-fiction anime epic of humans defending their homeworld against alien domination. The saga is told through the eyes of characters caught up in a series of wars that erupts when a mysterious spacecraft crash-lands on Earth at the turn of the millenium. The secrets of alien knowledge aboard this vessel were unlocked, leading to the development of “Robotechnology” and the creation of a vast arsenal of robotic “mecha” to defend the Earth against the alien threats that would eventually strike to lay claim to the mysterious power source known as “protoculture.”

ROBOTECH has often been called a “space opera” because it is not just action-packed entertainment, but also an engaging drama.

Robotech Ep 2, 720HD:

Click here to view the embedded video.


News & Blues: Week 9


North Korea Tests Rocket Launcher With Longer Range, South Says

To followup on last weeks post about the military exercises taking place in Korea (both North & South), Today’s New York Times reports more saber-rattling from the North.

“North Korea on Tuesday tested a new multiple-rocket launcher with a range long enough to strike major American and South Korean military bases south of Seoul, South Korean military officials said.

Four rockets were launched Tuesday afternoon from Wonsan, a coastal city east of the North Korean capital Pyongyang, flying 96 miles to the northeast before crashing into the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, a South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman said.”

The NY Times also has a very interesting page tracking the Timeline on North Korea’s Nuclear Program.


Willie Dixon, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, James Brown Achieving Postage Stamps

The Blues has many shades; some are dark and some are light, and some Blues are happy– ” Happy indeed for the fans of these Blues and Rock legends who have been recognized by the U.S.Postal Service.

“The United States Postal Service is unveiling new stamps that will be rolled out in the next two years, According to a The Washington Post. Included in the subjects are Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and James Brown, who’s the focus of a biopic movie entitled “Get On Up” to be released this summer. The artwork is still “in design development.”



Asian Import Guitars: The Up-Side

So far I’ve written about Zen Guitar and several about its application to my practice/playing, Asian/American guitar & bass players, connections between guitars/music and motorcycles… so are there any other crosscurrents between Asia and the US?

Of course! Starting with the connections between East & West manufactures. The reasoning for US builders branching out to include Asian versions of their instruments varies. Most simply want to add a lower cost version of their instruments that appeal to begginers and the budget minded. Larger companies such as Fender add that having guitars built in several Asian locations enables them to meet production demands around the world.

Many Asian versions of American models are very high quality. Most are reasonably priced– usually around half what their original American made versions sell for. The lower prices are usually atonable through use of lower quality woods, parts, and the lower cost of manufacturing usually through subcontractors. For instance, World Musical Instrument Co, in South Korea is one of the worlds largest manufacture of guitars. They are a subcontractor for all the big names such as Fender, PRS, Gibson, and many other companies. Cort and Samick are also Asian makers of the three who claim to be the worlds largest. Either way, these factories produce far more instruments than are produced in the US. And this is good news for beginners, the budget minded, or anyone who wants a nice guitar at a lower price than an American made guitar.

Among the more popular Asian/American imports is G&L. It’s the company founded by Leo Fender (founder of Fender guitars), and the last place Leo worked before his death in March 1991. G&L recently added a line of imported guitars under the “Tribute” banner. These are guitars built in Indonesia to G&L’s specs and fitted with American made G&L electronics– which is one of the things that sets the Tribute series apart from its competitors. Typically the Asian import models from companies such as Gibson, Fender, and PRS, feature electronics that are “designed by” the parent company. This means the quality of the guitars electronics are a far cry from that of the parent companies.

Surfing YouTube’s collection of head-to-head videos shows that the Asian models are very close to the quality of the US versions. Here are a few such videos– some results are very surprising!

USA vs Inport G&L comparison (great history & info, less-great musicianship in this video)

Click here to view the embedded video.

G&L Tribute L-2000 Bass review

Click here to view the embedded video.

Another US manufacturer, Music Man (a division of Ernie Ball) also have an Asian import series which are marketed under the name “Sterling by Music Man.” These basses have received quite a bit of praise as well:

Click here to view the embedded video.

The Gibson guitar company has been building guitars and basses in the US for many, many years and are considered among the leaders in the production of musical instruments. Their Asian import models are marketed under the “Ephiphone” moniker.  There have been a lot of issues with Gibson in the last 10-years or so that call into question the quality of their US made instruments. This video compares the US made Les Paul model with an Asian made Les Paul model. Again, the results will surprise you (musicianship is much better with these guitarists…):

Click here to view the embedded video.

US Gibson vs. Asian Ephiphone “Slash model” comparison

Click here to view the embedded video.

All of this is the up-side of the Asian import guitar market. Stay tuned for the dark-side… coming next~


Friday Ozeki: Question #15

For my final Ozeki post I am going to attempt making an interesting post using one of the 15 questions posed on the Madison Public Library handout. Mainly because I can’t think of anything else creative. Is this saying that I’m giving up? No. I am one of two or three people in the world who really did not care for the book and after my last three Ozeki posts have exhausted my creative flow.

“Imagine that you had a notebook like Nao’s diary and you wanted to communicate with an unknown reader as she does. What would you write about? Would you be as honest as Nao is with us? What are the benefits and risks of writing such a document?”

To answer the last question first, Evergreen philosophy professor Bill Arney asserted several times last (Fall) quarter that there is always a price to pay for your writing. I risk further isolation from my classmates who loved the book (one went so far to say that “it was like sweet nectar”) by writing anything critical of it. The other side of the coin is that my writing might empower someone else who didn’t like the book to speak their mind.

Back to the first part of the question, I don’t have to imagine having a notebook like Nao’s; I have written– and continue to write in notebooks intended to communicate with unknown readers. The difference is my writings are songs and poems. I started writing in these notebooks a long time ago. The intended reader was the listener. The unintended reader was myself! As I look back on some of my writings I am often reading them 10, 15, 20 years later. I am a very different person now compared to then.

Much like Nao, I mostly wrote about things happening in my life, what I was feeling, desires and aspirations… sometimes just riffing on something that inspired me to write. Yes, I did– and continue to–write honestly. Though if I am trying to express a feeling (opposed to an event) through music I embellish and write in a way that serves the imagination. It remains honest– perhaps differently, but it is still genuine. One difference that I’ve noticed in my writing between then and now is that I am more aware of the potential reader now than I was at Nao’s age. Words have meaning. Even more so when put to music as it communicates on a deeper level than simply words on a page. As such my writing tends to be more… intentional… now than it was before.

The benefits to writing such things can be like those interviewed by Densho. When writing about things that weigh heavy on one’s mind, the benefit is often the feeling of a heavy weight being lifted from the persons shoulders. A weight many people don’t realize they are carrying until they speak about it– or in this case, to write about it. Another benefit, especially when I’ve completed a song, or finished performing it, I often feel reinvigorated. To quote bluesman Elwood Blues, “…no pharmaceutical product could ever equal the rush you get when the band hits that groove; the people are dancin’, and shoutin’, and swayin’; and the house is rocking’!”


Thrusday Ozeki: Daisuke-Kun’s “Now’s The Time”

Very little is known about Daisuke-Kun.

What is known is that he attended school in Tokyo Japan, and was bullied by a transfer student from America. Though it is widely reported that he recorded many songs, this is the only one known to exist. Rumors abound regarding the reasons why. Some say Daisuke-Kun sold his soul to the devil at the Shibuya the way America’s great bluesman Robert Johnson did at the crossroads. Others say the 2011 Tsunami which destroyed his home town also claimed his life. Another, more reputable claim is that Daisuke-Kun retreated to a temple precariously located near the top of Mt. Fuji and is only accessible at great risk to life and limb.

It is very likely that the songs blues stylistic influence came from the American transfer student for whom he was madly– yet secretly in love. The details about the song, and the whereabouts of its author again, are shrouded by myth and legend. What we do know is that Daisuke-Kun left us this song which has become the best selling Japanese blues song of the year:

“Now’s The Time”

How many roads must I travel
How high must the mountain be
Before I call on her
The one who only my heart can see

She came from far away
Yet she began so near
From the time departed
And returned in fear

Shunned by those around
Hopes dashed and future bleak
She is the other part of me
Beaten down but not as meek

She sits and contemplates
Writes in a book
That she didn’t make
Her fingers bleed, her pin
It shakes, and another
Life she surely makes

Followed her home
And to my surprise
A knife to my throat
Something she did
Or something she wrote?

Then I realized
Were not so close
Two time beings
Being in time

Anger and hate
Changed her state
Never really departed
Never said goodbye

Unlike her
I want to live
Live another day
Because I have
Much more to say