entertainment, general silliness, Lighter Things, Things We Should Know

From the Blevkog Archives – April 21, 2006: Cultural Relativism: An Example

Note to readers: I’m not entirely sure why, but this has always stood out for me as one of my favorite pieces of writing that I’ve done on Blevkog. This particular frivolous item comes from the prior incarnation of the blog. I may have written better entries since then, but I don’t think I’ve ever written anything more memorable. It has been edited slightly to remove what must have been evidence of a sale on commas and to add a photo at the end. Fortunately I am no longer so prone to being Captain Subordinate Clause. Enjoy.

Apropos of nothing except the spirit of Friday afternoon, I present the following.

As regular readers may know, in a rather lengthy comment to my compadre kevvyd’s item here, I made reference to the concept of cultural relativism. Simply put, it is the unfortunately rare ability to judge a culture or its members on its own merits, and not on the basis of another country’s cultural norms. The opposite of cultural relativism could therefore be called ethnocentrism.

Other cultures are different, that’s pretty much why there are other cultures. It makes the world an interesting place to live, all too often in the sense conveyed in the Chinese curse.

Japan, as a culture, has some interesting and unique qualities similar to our own, but just different enough to make us cock our heads sideways like a dog when you make a funny noise. For example, comic books are for the most part intended for adult consumption, and many cartoons are also so intended. The output of the anime culture, as it is called, is immense.

For quite a while, different business interests have made deals to bring some of these products to North America – the comic books are experiencing an unprecedented surge in popularity, for example. The cartoons have enjoyed a longer history, with Astro Boy closely followed by Speed Racer. Japanese cartoons, as a rule, have often seemed badly animated and poorly dubbed, which is partly true: often the dubbing is a result of the stories needing to be changed to more appropriately, shall we say, North American values.

Which leads me to this: many of my generation look back with an embarassed fondness on a show called Battle of the Planets. You know, the one with the flaming spaceship. In said battle of the titular spheres, Mark, Jason, Princess, Keyop and Tiny save the world each weekday (or whatever) from the forces of the evil Zoltar, from the planet Spectra.

With me so far? Great.

Not long ago, I was excited to find at my local library a copy of the Ultimate Collection of B.o.P. (if you’ll excuse the acronym). What intrigued me, however, was the inclusion of the original Japanese episodes of the series that became, after the meaty paws of Sandy Frank was finished with them (anybody else thinking about the ‘Sandy Frank’ song from MST3K?), Battle of the Planets.

Originally, the series was entitled ‘Science Ninja Team Gatchaman’. In this series, Ken, Joe, Jun, Jinpei and Ryu battle the forces of Galactor (from somewhere on earth, not from space), represented by the evil Berg Katse. In this series, the characters, particularly Joe (the moody one), swear a fair bit, using the ‘S’ word more than once, per episode. As I said, these things were relatively easy to remove, since the dubbing process would change the language anyway.

Further to this, the show is considerably more violent – in one episode, we are shown the corpses of victims of one of the monsters, and people obviously die by the hundreds in some of the attacks on cities. This content was cut to reflect the North American culture at the time, and since it resulted in a considerable amount of material being cut, the U.S. producers hastily animated the robot 7-Zark-7 to act as a narrator and time waster.

This is going somewhere, honest.

As I watched one of the original Japanese episodes, I was completely surprised by something. We open the episode in a fictional country, in which there is a large peak, Blue Mountain. Upon said mountain are carved the faces of three of the country’s past presidents (sound familiar?). The work has taken three generations to complete, and the young lady is just about to finish the fourth head, that of Jesus. Yes, Jesus.

The Gatchaman episode is, in the original translation from the Japanese, “The Magma Giant: Emperor of Hell”. One of the heads from the mountain is used by Galactor as the head for the roughly 500-foot tall lava monster. Can you guess which one?

Cultural relativism: the ability not to totally laugh your ass off at any culture in which this phrase is even possible:

500-Foot Tall Molten Lava Jesus.

GATCHAMAN_VOL_5-9

Excuse me sir, do you have a moment to discuss YOUR FIERY DEATH?

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general silliness, Lighter Things

The Sound of… Silent?

It occurs to me that the use of the phrase “silent majority” implies some sort of misguided supposition that the person using the phrase is correct and others who constitute the more vocal (and generally ‘liberal’) constituents are really uninformed and in reality only have small numbers behind them despite the significant number of voices speaking out on an issue.

Has this ever been proven to be true? Why, if you are in the majority, are you and your compadres not speaking up, given you have the supposed moral high ground? Why stay silent? Are you sneaking up on us? Are there secret armies of right-wing ninjas out there somewhere? (geez, I hope not)

I suspect the opposite to be true: “silent majority” actually means “I recognize that nobody else agrees with me but I’m going to pretend to be on the winning side anyway to make myself feel better.” It’s actually the verbal equivalent of thumb-sucking.

Canadian politics, general silliness, justice, law, Lying douchebags, Past indiscretions biting you in the ass, Rob Ford, Self-righteous asshole, The Centre of the Universe

The Ford Follies

As most people in the free world are by now aware, the Mayor of our beloved T’ranna, Rob (Are You Gonna Finish That?) Ford has been bullying his way through scandal after potential scandal on pure bluster and the careful construction of a facade of fiscal responsibility. While I will admit he has had some positive financial effect on the expenditures of the city, a few – shall we say, cracks – have now begun showing in his facade.

In fact, police are now in possession of a video which purports to show the Pilsbury Dough Mayor smoking crack – a video that was the subject of a crackstarter Kickstarter campaign to raise money to purchase said video from certain unscrupulous types. Which, it must be said, seem to be Mayor Ford’s preferred choice of constituents.

This promises to be the most horrible Halloween the Ford family has ever seen. Seriously, there’s being a bit shady, then there is participating in criminal activity and associating with known criminals, as the evidence purports to show. Mayor Ford is an oaf and a bully and is poised to make Toronto even more of a laughingstock than it already is to the rest of the country.

He needs to resign immediately, but he won’t unless he is forced, because he is determined to retain power in his sweaty, pudgy hands by any means necessary. Soon, he’ll come out swinging, because despite his repeated “No comment” in the past few days, he doesn’t have the intelligence or sophistication to rein himself in for long. Soon the attacks will begin and the implications of a conspiracy against him will be made (The Toronto Star made me do it!); what will not happen is his taking responsibility for anything that has or will happen. Like any common thug, he will resort to bluster to obscure the truth.

Despite his limited but significant successes as Mayor, he deserves none of the support he currently enjoys. For such a big man, he’s an awfully small man – too small to be Mayor of Canada’s biggest city.

Image

As your Mayor, I feel strongly that… Wait, is that crack? 

Addendum: Oh boy, the fun has already started! 

general silliness

Longest Nap Ever…

Whew! Feels like forever since I was here last. Did I miss anything? Guys? Guys?

I kid, of course. When Fearless Leader Kevvyd sent me a note the other day to let me know we were starting the blog up again, I was in immediately.  I am approaching my second year here in the Centre of the Universe, and I’m sure I’m probably even more rude and opinionated now as a result, despite my being raised a Maritimer. I’m looking forward to contributing regularly again, even if it’s to indulge my silly side rather than rant incoherently. I’m hoping to strike a balance, but you never know.

Welcome back, ‘Koggers! We’re back in business!

general silliness, Lighter Things, media

Random Petty Annoyances, Part 1

Ok.

So, most of my freinds, including my co-authors here, would tell you that I am generally a laid-back individual. Not much really gets to me… at least not all at once. No, I have to see the same stupid-ass behaviors several times before they really manage to annoy me sufficiently to write about it. So, for your enjoyment, and in the spirit of catharsis, I offer the following random sources of unreasonable anger:

  1. Your headphones should not ever be larger than the device playing the music. At least certainly not by several orders of magnitude. I see a woman nearly every single day with a tiny iPod, and gigantic headphones. You may as well walk around with a couple of Victrolas strapped to your skull. Unless you are headbanging vigorously, listening to music should not tone your neck muscles.
  2. Pressing the button at the crosswalk 3,000 times will not make the light change faster. Here’s how it works, folks: press the button, and at the appropriate moment in the cycle of light changes, the ‘walk’ sign will appear. Standing on the corner pressing the button repeatedly like a monkey on methamphetamines will not make a lick of difference – it will change when it changes. All you’re doing is making yourself look like a fucking idiot, but fortunately the beeping noise makes it easier to tell where you are.
  3. There’s a lot of noise made about courteous driving, who is teaching courteous walking? Nobody, that’s who. To the morons who can’t walk and hold a conversation without taking up an entire pedway, move the fuck over. When stopping to figure out where you are, please don’t randomly stop and aimlessly move from side to side – if you do, there will be at least one person behind you with a red face and a bulging forehead vein who will gladly take you the fuck out. Which, I suppose, would solve your problem as your location would then be irrelevant. Finally, old people at the mall and elsewhere: I understand, you’re old and close to death, and want to savor every moment, and that’s wonderful, circle of life, whatever whatever. Just remember that some of us are not retired, some of us have deadlines and meetings and family obligations, and would appreciate if you could step aside, or, alternately, drop the fuck dead, you slow, wrinkly ass old motherfucker.
  4. Why is it not ok to portray a woman as unintelligent, but every man on television, particularly commercials, is a barely functional retard? Granted, some of us men are morons – I used to be in retail, so I am very familiar with the concept. However, every man on commercials should logically be starving to death, wearing horribly stained clothes, sitting in a pile of his own filth in a decrepit house except – thank goodness! He’s married, and his super sensible wife will save him from himself! Think about it, though: how competent and caring are you, little missy, if you married this helpless ape in the first place, and had offspring with him? How good does your infallible judgement work when you remember you have fucked this man-child at least once, and allowed him to pass on his genetics? Thanks for spawning another generation of drooling muttonheads (unless it’s a girl, of course). Look smugly at your clean counters all you like, somewhere your idiot hubby is lighting himself, or possibly others, on fire. Good thing you are so goddamned smart. Enjoy your life sentence chained to an orangutan! Mazeltov!
  5. Seriously, who the fuck besides you cares if you can dance? Singing, or other types of talent, I can, if only reluctantly, understand – but dancing? That’s gotta be a limited job market. Don’t be wasting the warranty on my television inflicting your spasmic flailings on me and my loved ones. Consider for a moment before you answer the following: how many famous dancers can you name? Let me be more specific – not actors, like Gene Kelley or Fred Astaire; not singers who dance well, like Paula Abdul; and not ballet dancers, like Baryshnikov or whoever else, but hip-hop style modern dancers. I can’t think of any. Perhaps I lead a sheltered life, or, maybe, just maybe, there ain’t too many of ’em. You can shake your fat ass and move your feet to some awful music: congratulations, sunshine. Enjoy poverty. Rhythmically.
  6. Additional volume does not make English magically translate into a universal language. Folks, I been hanging onto this one for a while. It’s Summer, 1992. I am spending the final week of my exchange program to Germany at a hostel in Frankfurt. I’ve been there for three and a half months, living with a German family in a small town, and eating nearly all of my meals with them. I’m ready for a change, so I head for a McDonald’s sign… And end up in line behind a couple in their mid-30s (I refrain from naming a nationality, but it rhymed with Camerican) who are screaming at the top of their lungs in an attempt to make their order understood to a unilingual German girl behind the counter. They are getting more frustrated, the young girl is about to cry. The woman, in true douchebag fashion, asks the poor employee, at full volume, “WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?” Which is where I stepped in. My first instinct would have been to inflict critical wounds through the forceful introduction of tourist skull to counter, but, curiously, I stepped in and calmly translated (yes, I speak German). The couple looked surprised, the employee looked at me as if I were like unto the Second Coming. The couple went away grumbling, I got a big smile and some free fries from an appreciative fraulein. So, next time any of you out there feel superior to someone because you speak the Queen’s English, remember just how many languages it is stolen from, and how many great works were written in other languages. Calm the fuck down, and try to understand – believe me, you may not enjoy the fries, but the smile makes it worthwhile.
blogger, entertainment, general silliness

Shameless Self-Promotion

Good Morning.

Just a note to inform Blevkog readers, particularly those of a more geekish bent, that I will be posting sections of a work in progress on our sister blog, Revenge of the Inner Geek. The posts are excerpts from a longer work in progress regarding bad sci-fi movies, and hopefully there’s a chuckle or two contained within.

Consider this a hopefully-effective method of moving closer to a writing career.

Shameless plug complete, take a trip over and check it out. Thank you for your attention.