Sunday, March 22, 2009

Things they don't tell you about Japan

I talked to people who had been there before me and I read a fair bit, but there were still a few things I wasn't prepared for that I saw at every corner. First, Japanese people walk slow. Also, all the cats have short tails. In the 15 months I spent there, I saw maybe three cats with full-length tails. Maybe because they were strays and got them eaten off by other cats or something.

Here's some pictures taken out of a book I found. The French impressionist movement was inspired in part by the Japense Ukiyoe (浮世絵) - pictures of the floating world. In every Japanese culture or art class I took, they would tell that the floating world is the red light and entertainment districts of pre-meiji Japan, but then go on to show lots of pictures of landscapes and scenes of townspeople doing whatever they do. Sometimes there'd be a lady putting on makeup or something, and there are some famous pictures of Kabuki actors, but other than the brief mention of the red lights there'd be nary a trace of them after the first introduction.

I found a book of 艶色浮世絵. I'm not sure exactly what 艶色 means, but the first character means lustrous or shiny, and the second one means color. If you get the first character and stick a 然 on it it becomes 艶然, which means seductive. So I guess 艶色 means either shiny colors or sexy colors. From this book, though, the meaning becomes clear. This book is a collection (or part of a collection, rather. It's book 4 in its series) With your kind permission, I humbly present to you the highlights.

We'll start off as tame as it gets. There are a lot of these in the book, just different outfits and faces. I think this guy went to the B. Dooley school of lovemaking. I'm not sure if anyone reads this blog that will get the reference.

And who doesn't love a little lesbian porn? But what's that they're reading?

Aha! They have a book of 艶色浮世絵! This picture makes me feel really connected with history. They might be looking at a picture that I have in my own book!

This couple is illuminated by a lamp in the corner of the picture. The look on the guy's face carries a sense of regret with a hint of boredom and resignation. Maybe he's wishing he could afford a hotter prostitute. Or maybe he just realized he left his keys in the car.

Here's a closeup. This was from a different picture - they printed one version and then stuck some darkness over the top of it to make a new version. These are woodblock prints, so modifications like that would be quite easy.

This guy appears to have snuck up on his lady while she was doing laundry. Check out the writing.

Writing itself is considered an art form. Almost all of the pictures in this book have calligraphy as well as the people themselves. From what I've seen of Japanese calligraphy the more illegible the more beautiful it is deemed, and it's taken to the point that even native Japanese can have a hard time reading it without a lot of experience. The editors of this collection have been kind enough to transcribe some of it for the reader. Usually it sets up the scene a bit and then gets in to the dialogue. This one is pretty creepy. I'm sure someone else could translate it better than I, but what follows is good enough for now.

Man: "How is that? Is it good? [he used katakana there for those of you who speak Japanese] Today's really good for me, too. The taste has become especially better since the time of 新鉢 [new bowl?? no idea, but probably dirty]. It's like it's sucking me in. That's a good taste. I've got no other wishes than to live the rest of my life with this kind of feeling.

Woman: "Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, I'm going to pass out. It's a feeling that is better not to stop. It's outrageous. Why is it like this?"

Some of the pictures get quite heavy with the otomatopoeia. Very fun, though judgements as to how classy it may be I'll leave to the reader.

This one appears to be mentally composing his shopping list. Do I need to get more milk...?

A pirate! Wait, a foreigner! He is, according to the caption, a "brown southern barbarian wearing a captain's hat."

And this couple appears to have an audience. I'm pretty sure that's a screen to the left of them, but only a sadist would paint a creepy old guy watching a room that was going to be occupied by naked people.

Here's a guy in the high roller suite.

And here's a couple watching TV

Here's another lady with an audience.

And here's a couple also using a tool. Interesting that even in 1802, the year this picture was made, people preferred their dildos big and black.

This one is a pretty straightforward picture, but I just want to direct the readers to compare the size of his dong to the size of his dome.

There you have it! A selection of Japanese art from the early 1800's.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Quick thought

People are poop-flinging blame at the current administration for allowing the AIG bonuses. They got money from the Bailout, right? The bailout that was given during the Bush administration, right? The one that explicitly said that once given it was subject to no revisions, oversight, etc etc etc, right? The one that was given out long before Obama and co. took office, right?

I don't want to be thought of as an Obama fanboy (though I am), but this is another instance that I feel like everyone else is missing something. Am I crazy? Bailout passed in October, Obama took office in January. Is our collective desire to forget the Bush administration so strong that we're adjusting the timeline already?

1800's Japanese porno coming up whenever inclination and opportunity coincide. I also got a new copy of Ableton so I am farting together a new 35 minute mixy thing whenever I find enough good songs to put together

Friday, March 6, 2009

I simply can't believe

That the google search terms "kanye west turdburglar" yields no exact hits.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

In which God shits all over my weekend plans and I discover that my ancestors hate smiling

I was all set to visit some friends in Columbia, when I got the news that my grandparents' home had been torn up by a tornado. It wasn't as bad as it could have been; there was a substantial piece of their roof missing and all the windows had been blown out. Lots of water damage in the house and debris in the yard. Their garden shed was facing the wrong way and the wind had blown the corrugated metal structure up in to the trees. An awesome sight. The craziest thing was that the second day I was there helping to clean up, my grandparents got a phone call from someone from a town about a 45 minute drive away from their home, saying that they found a picture of them in their yard. After the storm tore off their roof, it picked up one of their old family photos and carried it 30 miles away.

My grandparents were lucky compared to some others. Just two houses down, there was a giant pile of rubble where once there was a house. The people who had lived there only survived because they had retreated to a storm shelter. Walking around the neighborhood I saw an I-beam that had been bent at a 30-degree angle and thrown to the side of the street from a house that used to stand some 50 feet back. The town's only school (this is super rural Oklahoma) was ripped in half by the storm. There was a pecan orchard that had around 85% of its trees destroyed. Nut trees generally take 30 years or more to start fruiting, so the lady who owned it has had a large part of her income irrevocably ended.

Quite sad, but compared to the 15 or so people who died in a town just 5 miles up the road, even these people were better off than some.

My mom and I stayed at the house of a relative who was described as my cousin, twice removed. It took me a while to realize that this meant she was my grandmother's cousin. This lady is big in to genealogy and tracked that side of my family back to Germany by way of New Orleans. In her house she kept our family's pictures up in a hall of portraits. I learned that my grandmother was a smoking hottie back in her day and that my grandfather was a snappy dresser, though his ears make him look like a big galoot. I took pictures of the oldest pictures.

The first thing I noticed was that my ancestors were not big in to smiling. I realize that pictures took a while to take in those days and that maintaining a smile would be hard (I myself can't hold one for the five seconds it might take even now), but generally these people can't even hold a neutral face. This is Elizabetha Margareta Radmacher, who bears in my mind a striking resemblance to the woman in Grant Wood's American Gothic. Here is a face that says "We do not tolerate laughing in this house. Now finish chopping wood so your father can finish your daily beating before it's time for church."

Here is Louis Stahler and Margarete Elizabeth Offenstein. It's a bit hard to tell from the picture I took, but only Margarete is actually photographed. Louis appears to be penciled in afterwards. I can only guess that he died before they took the picture of his wife and they had to draw a portrait of his ghost. Margarete looks like she doesn't believe the picture will work.

This character is Samuel Sanders Jr. It'd be understandable to think that he was involved with the lovely Elizabetha Radmacher, but in fact he wasn't. It'd be easy to see them together, though. The frown on his face looks like it's been chiseled there since he was 4 years old. This is the face of a man who would tell you to shoot Old Yeller and then burn all of your favorite toys after you catch a cold.

This happy couple is Peter Oliver Sanders and Elizabeth Margaret Stahler. I particularly like the pose they've taken for this picture. It was on quite a few of the old portraits in the hall. I think it was supposed to suggest a supportive and loving wife in an era/area when body contact beyond a handshake would be pornographic, but to me this calls to mind a young jedi and his evil master standing behind him with hand on shoulder.

Lucinda Harrolle and William George Washington Sanders. Lucinda had it together and looked straight at the camera, but William got mixed up and stared fixedly at a tree in the background.

Samuel Sanders III and Elizabeth Gillespie. I have no idea why there should be so many Elizabeths in my family. It continues even through my generation with my older sister Sarah Elizabeth. According to it means "God is my Oath," which seems not just a lot to squeeze in to a name but also a pretty somber message to saddle some poor baby girl with.

That's all the pictures I took. Now that I've been accepted in to a graduate program and I don't feel so paranoid about my online life damaging my future prospects I can go ahead and post up some pictures from a book of 1800's Japanese porn that I found in a used bookstore in Osaka.

Until next time