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5.26.2005 - [PINE*am Live In Albany, CA] Hide

PINE*am are a fine electronic trio from Japan, three talented women who know how to make pleasing pop music with keyboards and other cool instruments.

Tsugumi (Vocals, Bass), Taeca (Keyboards), and Chizuko (Guitar, Vocals) came to visit Albany, CA last night, at the Ivy Room, and put on a tight and enjoyable show, with many songs from [Pull The Rabbit Ears], their new album that's out on 5.31.05.

Below are some pictures I took from the event - they don't show that the space in front of the stage was quite crowded with new fans.

PINE*am at Ivy Room

PINE*am at Ivy Room

PINE*am at Ivy Room

PINE*am at Ivy Room

PINE*am at Ivy Room

PINE*am at Ivy Room

PINE*am at Ivy Room


5.24.2005 - [Stuff, Things and Junk: A Roundup] Hide
Laughing Man

This week I've been enjoying the latest DVD volumes of [Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex] (#6) and [Gantz] (#4). Both series have been mentioned here before, and [SAC] in particular is something truly special, highly intellectual as well as action packed. This time almost everything is revealed about the mysterious Laughing Man, the main antagonist/anti-hero of the series, which sets up the remaining few episodes of the first season. Look for the conclusion in Volume 7 on 7.26.05.

It hasn't quite been accentuated by junk.log thus far, but I'm a voracious comic book reader, usually picking up between 15 and 20 single issues a week (meaning that I read about 50 books regularly). My focus is all over the place, from arty independents to the mainest of streams, and right now I'm more into super heroism than usual, since lots of great creative work is happening in that sector.


I usually follow creators instead of characters, and so I'm enjoying disparate series like [Ex Machina] (mayor of NYC as ex-crimefighter), [Runaways] (young heroes combat their evil parents) and [Ultimate X-Men] (you know, X-Men?) because they're all written by Brian K. Vaughan. I'm also a sucker for some of the more nicely put together Marvel and DC books, like [Young Avengers] (writer is Allan Heinberg, who works on the [O.C.] for Fox, artist is the amazing Jim Cheung) or the [Seven Soldiers] series of mini-series, all written by the supremely esoterically pulse-pounding Grant Morrison (my fave).

If I was you, I'd look out for the 6 issue [Livewires] series by Marvel, by Adam Warren and Rick Mays, which is very manga and anime influenced, yet carefully tied into the outskirts of the usual super-heroic affairs (self-aware androids commit hi-tech espionage). It looks and reads great, and deserves more attention.

Countdown To Infinite Crisis

What DC is doing with their lead-ins to Infinite Crisis (their mega-event starting in the fall) is also mostly-brilliant and well-integrated into current continuity (meaning actions in one series can affect another, related series, as if they inhabit the same world - something that more fannish readers crave).

Marvel, on the other hand, is quickly veering into multiple pocket-universes with variations of the same characters - for example, in the same month, two super-teams like the X-Men and Avengers can go to the same, small location (like the prehistoric Savage Land), interact with the same villans, yet have no effect at all on each other's books. Or, even worse, in one case a few months ago, a member of a young team of siblings called Power Pack can be pre-pubescent in one title as a cameo ([New Thunderbolts]), yet late teenage in another ([Runaways]), all in the same month. It's all incredibly sloppy.

Street Angel

This must all sound incredibly trivial to you, but it's as if a character from [CSI Miami] appeared on [CSI NY] as a crossover, only played by a different actor of different races and genders. TV audiences wouldn't put up with it, so I don't know why us lowly "fanboys" should. Marvel introduced tight continuity in the 1960s, with titles you've actually heard of like [Spider-Man] or [X-Men], so I don't know why they should abandon it now.

Oh well, just understand that if you visit your local comic book store these days, you can find wonderful titles at all price points, in far more genres than what usually is translated to the movie screen. If you need personalized recommendations ([Street Angel]!), let me know.




5.23.2005 - [PINE*am Graces The Golden State] Hide

Just a reminder that the much celebrated PINE*am (celebrated by me, at least) is touring California as we speak. Thanks to Eenie Meenie Records, they are visiting the following locations, as the release date of their [Pull The Rabbit Ears] approaches:

05/24/05 - San Francisco, CA @ The Make Out Room (3225 22nd St.), 10 PM, 21+, $8
05/25/05 - Albany, CA @ The Ivy Room (860 San Pablo Ave.), 10 PM, 21+, $7
05/27/05 - G4 Video Game TV live performance, 4 PM PST
05/27/05 - Los Angeles, CA @ Tempest (7323 Santa Monica Blvd.), 11 PM, 18+
05/29/05 - Denver, CO @ TBA
05/31/05 - Los Angeles, CA @ UCLA (Bruin Plaza), 12 PM, Free
05/31/05 - Los Angeles, CA @ Amoeba Music (6400 Sunset Blvd.), 7 PM in-store

Yeah, Denver is stuck in there at the end, but perhaps I have some readers in Colorado. In any case, take part if you got parts to take.


5.18.2005 - [Step Off, FannyPack Attack Back] Hide

Follow me here: De La Soul's first album was all sex and daisies, and to prove to the world that they were still "hard", their second album was appropriately titled [De La Soul Is Dead]. It was an amazing album, yes, and definitely more serious, but it wasn't entirely necessary to literally strangle the flowers to death.

FannyPack have followed a similar route; their first album [So Stylistic] was fun and breezy hip hop, all giggles and butts waggling. [See You Next Tuesday], their recently released sophomore effort, ups the ante with nudity, sex, drugs, endless partying and "hard" girls, all presented in an entertaining and dancy manner. The three girls (Cat, Belinda and the luscious Jessibel) take the stage running, backed by Matt Goias and Fancy, their relatively expert production crew.


I actually much prefer their new release to their first, largely due to the increased skill which tempers the requisite hardness. The "skits" are innocuous enough, and a few of the tracks like [Pump That] (extra-dancy), [Feet & Hands] (extra-hard) and [On My Lap] (extra-sexy) are way more catchy than I bargained for, and well worth the admission price.

For more strongly committed FannyPackers like myself, you can get a "bootleg" CD-R direct from their website, which basically is a bunch of [So Stylistic] remixes, along with a few extra new sounds, not to mention another disc of band pics. It's a casual affair, and almost actually worth the price.


5.17.2005 - [Two Eyes Are Better Than "The Eye 2"] Hide
The Eye 2

Shu Qi is beautiful and talented. Thus, pretty much any movie that she's been in has been watchable if only due to her presence, and [The Eye 2] is no exception. I saw the first [The Eye], an Asian neo-horror hit that saw limited release in the US, and enjoyed it more for the atmosphere than any profundity. Apparently it was popular enough in Chinese- language areas to see a sequel in 2004, which I picked up on DVD a few weeks ago (Cantonese or Mandarin with English subtitles, from Media Asia Hong Kong).

Like I said, the lead actress is something special, so it wasn't much of a challenge to watch her deal with a pregnancy and unwanted spiritual intrusion into her life. If you want more plot than that, read this review. Sufficed to say that there actually are some scary moments you haven't seen before, assuming that you're still frightened by blurry, ashy yurei (Asian ghosts typified by [The Ring] or [Ju-On]). By the end of the movie, where the main "secret" plot point has been clarified, you can't help but marvel at the stubbornness of Joey, the frantic pregnant woman, who will literally do anything to help her unborn child, by making amazing leaps of emotion-filled illogic.

Shu Qi of The Eye 2

Saying any more would spoil the plot, but I do like the visuals that the Pang Brothers summon, along with the alternative perspective that posits the horrific as spiritually essential.

Some day, [The Eye] is scheduled to be remade by US production houses, but here's hoping that eventually this superior sequel sees the light of day on the big screen. Otherwise, go to YesAsia or your favorite Chinese-language video source for cheap thrills.


5.16.2005 - [Attack Of The Wireless Boomerangs] Hide

So. The XBox360 was introduced last week, on the most horrible The Killers heavy event known to man. Today, at the E3 Expo in LA, the PlayStation 3 was shown with far less fanfare. Considering the fact that the PS3 might be up to twice as fast as the X360, Sony didn't have to release a flock of crows, they just put on sunglasses and showed off their shiny, curvalicious box.

You can find analysis of both of these devices at all of the usual places, and sufficed to say that I'll be buying both over the next year. However, I did have to comment about their respective controllers. The original XBox had big black monstrosities the size of small babies, and eventually they came out with a controller type S which hit the spot. Their latest controllers, seen above, are petite, wireless, and basically great, save for the asymmetrical thumbsticks.


Sony's controllers are also wireless, but seem to be more suitable for a game of horseshoes. I cannot imagine playing with a crescent moon of such immensity, and hope beyond hope that they will come out with a wireless version of the traditional Dual Shock masterpiece. On that day, I shall send my wireless boomerangs aflight, smashing them into oblivion much like I'd imagine that Christian Bale as Batman would. Perhaps there will be a DVD tie-in there.


5.9.2005 - [PINE*am Contest Results] Hide

At the end of this month, PINE*am are to release a nice album called [Pull The Rabbit Ears], which I find quite winning. They're a fine electronic trio from Japan, three talented women who know how to make pleasing pop music with keyboards and other cool instruments.

Please also note their impending tour of the US, which starts this month. Travel to my brand new PINE*am page to see all of the dates, which cross the wide expanses of North America.

I just finished up a PINE*am contest along with Eenie Meenie Records, and here are the results:

1st Place: Jennifer

2nd Place: Ashley B.

3rd Place: Robert W.

See the PINE*am contest page for exactly what they won. Winners have been contacted, and prizes will be mailed soon. Look for the next contests starting next week.


5.1.2005 - [Titan Go King's Contest Results] Hide
Titan Go King's

There are bands you like for purely aesthetic purposes - their sound, divorced from their show, is pleasing for whatever reason. Then there are bands like Titan Go King's that have to be appreciated via the whole package, music as well as stage presence.

Pinky (Vocals, Guitar), Yonyon (Bass) and Lintsu (Drums) are three girls from Kyoto and Tokyo that have that special something, cuteness combined with a visceral pop punk explosion that's hard to resist.

Titan Go King's are a great band, and I just completed a great contest to honor them. The winners are as follows:

4 Winners: [Titan Go King's Sound Sampler 01].

Ben Sabin
Bill Beckett
Jessica Co
Christopher Tang

1 Grand Prize: The above mentioned sampler, along with a DVD of their promotional video for [A Volume of Titan Go King's]. Plus, both of their albums in brand new Japanese versions.

Marisa Repin

Winners have already been contacted, and will be sent their prizes shortly. Look for the next contest soon.



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