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Tsunami Sento

March 23, 2011
how many gallons
of Edo's rain did you drink?


Msnbc published this photo of a makeshift bathhouse set up by Japan’s Self Defense Force for the dispossessed in Kamaishi-shi 釜石市 – a historic city in Iwate prefecture.

Killing water, healing water

In an unthinkably cruel twist, Kamaishi was recognized just last fall by the Guinness Book of World Records as having dug and constructed The World’s Deepest Tsunami Protection Breakwater®.
In other words, they had some of the best tsunami protection that time and money could buy. The sea-wall built in order to narrow the mouth of their bay was a ridiculous 207 feet deep (tall?),
and 6,430 feet long! The entire project took 31 years to complete (1978-2009)!

Receiving the Guinness Book World Record in 2009

"I was much too far out all my life..."

Utterly heartbreaking-ly, this was not enough for an earthquake and tsunami of this scale. 31 years of intense preparedness were laid to waste.
It’s the slightest bit comforting to see some Kamaishi folks finding a few minutes of the mind-erasing comfort that only a hot, hot Eastern Japanese bath can bring.
For the moment at least, the water was there to comfort and not to pain.

On The Serene Branson Grammy-Reporter Meme.

February 19, 2011

Help Computah!

Besides the viral-friendly creation of new, nonsense words (“heavy bertation” is now being used to describe everything on the internet) that lend themselves to staccato, Auto-tuned YouTube remixes a la “Bed Intruder,” the fascination with the Serene Branson newscast clip may also be attributed to the unique nature of her flub. Unlike most on-air gaffs, hers doesn’t appear to be caused by intoxication or a simple case of nervous anxiety, and she isn’t belligerent or overly self-conscious. Nothing flies at her from off camera and there are no wardrobe malfunctions. So, this phenomenon doesn’t really cater to Shadenfreude the way other flubs do.

Not correcting herself or laughing or crying or acknowledging the absurdity of what she is saying, she just keeps going & going as if expecting that actual words will eventually show themselves if she keeps putting in the effort – and we watch it over & over half-expecting the same thing. It’s as though she’s taken the Freudian slip several steps further and opened her primal subconscious wide. The spectacle immediately invokes the kind of exotic and uncanny tropes that particularly suit broad speculation: Demon-possession, mediums, malfunctioning robots, and the Reality-Horror of Paranormal Activity. Like a real life Stepford Wife, her prescribed intonation continues on autopilot, seeming not to recognize that it’s content is meaningless.

Some major factors in the clip’s viral endurance:

  • What kind of explanation is there? Not easily categorized: Drunk, Scared, Stupid – none fit.
  • There is some lesson about the workings of the human brain here, but no one knows what (convincingly). So, it bares multiple viewings.
  • It still has not been explained to anyone’s satisfaction. Here’s the latest: “A complex migraine”.
  • Nonsense words are funny.
  • Local newscaster gaffs almost always go viral.
  • Confusion / association with The Grammys and the term “speech”. As though she were accepting an award, it’s sometimes being referred to as “Serene Branson’s Grammy speech” – even in reputable publications: Business Insider: “Video of her incoherent Grammys speech has been removed by CBS, and is no longer available.”

Well, We Might Just Get To See THE GRANDMASTERS Sooner Than The Usual Wong Kar-wai Film.

February 18, 2011

EXCLUSIVE: The Weinstein Company has closed a deal for United Kingdom and Australian distribution rights to The Grandmasters, the Wong Kar-wai-directed Chinese language martial arts film. Harvey Weinstein is among a small group vying for domestic rights, with Fox Searchlight and Sony Pictures Classics also in the mix.

Let’s hope it’s not cut down to a one hour running time and dubbed. Who will they choose to be on the RAP MUSIC soundtrack? By the time it gets here, ODD Future will be totally mainstream and might fit the dark and aggressive theme!

But wait! Oracle heiress Megan Ellison is now said to be in final talks about acquiring the North American rights. Her company is Annapurna Productions, and she’s listed as an executive producer on TRUE GRIT. Here’s hoping that she can handle selling a quality Asian film to U.S. audiences — at least she doesn’t have the track record of Harvey Weinstein!

Eight-diagram global distribution strategy.


Yahoo!-ing Yahweh?

January 17, 2011

I burst out laughing yesterday when I spotted a book called “Googling God” on display in a suburban used book store. The thought process that led to this seems immediately transparent:

“I need a title aimed at young people about searching for God. Hmm, ‘searching’… HEY – the kids love the internets and the Googles, right?”

“Man..why didn’t I think of that before? It’s captures the zeitgeist and has alliteration! It was so obvious – I can’t believe no one’s used it before….”

Heh, oops.
I guess it’s up to me to write a third one…

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The Memory of Roofs

October 25, 2010

The Memory of Roofs, originally uploaded by gnosis / john r.

Incidental Gestalt Recognition.

October 17, 2010

“We, amnesiacs all, condemned to live in an eternally fleeting
present, have created the most elaborate of human constructions, memory,
to buffer ourselves against the intolerable knowledge of the
irreversible passage of time and the irretrieveability of its moments
and events.” -Geoffrey Sonnabend


photo by Flickr user JO3P

Akira Kurosawa’s 100th Birthday in the Age of Global Networks.

March 23, 2010

Today would be Akira Kurosawa’s 100th birthday. Criterion is celebrating with the release of a Blu-Ray box set of “Yojimbo” and “Sanjuro” (It must be popular, their site is crashing at the moment). There’s also this available:

Google Japan and UK have a “doodle” tribute to him. Wait, don’t they think we ‘muricans know who he is??

Kurosawa's 100th Birthday Doodle

Here’s some proof that we know who he is, Google! Or at least, NYC does.

His estate must be so proud!

Here are some lovely scenes from various early Kurosawa films from DVD Beaver. They are pretty randomly chosen by them for purposes of comparing video transfers — and therefore Hi-larious. Below the fold..

Read more…

Only 4 Hours Left to Purchase Everything Chris Marker Ever Produced (But Not Really)

March 18, 2010

My first thought was “I wish I had $25,000”. Then I read the description and thought “There are exactly zero details about any of this stuff ” What kind of completest collector offers something like this without any details about the condition of the journals and magazines; or the  sources, quality, format, and subtitle language of the videos?

Also, where did they get that photo of him?? Is it real? If so, he looks like Alan Arkin.

UPDATE: Thanks to Daniel from for a precise synopsis of why this is so weird and wrong and puzzling (in the comments).Also, my friend Gideon points out that he’s seen this photo before, and that it’s really him, and not Alan Arkin.  The only one I had ever seen was this:

Now I feel like I’m contributing to the problem by posting a photo of him!

Anyways, here’s the link to the auction for what it’s worth (and as long as it lasts). Below the fold is the full listing and description. Read more…


October 19, 2009
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Enjoy 80’s Animatronic Entertainment In The Comfort Of Your Own Home.

October 6, 2009

The documentary about the Showbiz Pizza animatronic band is out on DVD now! It’s pretty incredible: Not only is it about Chris Thrash (the guy responsible for all of the YouTube videos of his personal hacked band performing Britney, Usher, et al), but it’s also a whole history of Showbiz, Chuck E Cheese, and the man who invented the animatronic band. Here are some clips.


There’s tons of fun archival footage and 80’s TV commercials and it’s way more impressive than I imagined it would be. It’s kind of like watching KING OF KONG, where, half-way through, you find yourself thinking “Wow, the history of Showbiz/Donkey Kong is really important and everyone should know about this!” I think that’s a sign of a well-made documentary.