Saturday, June 30, 2007


This is a magic lily that fell in the pond. It was just a root now it has leaves & buds!!! picture 2 This is lily number (at least) 8 for this plant

Skloot today


Pond Drama!

Monday morning: Scared Bob out of the yard before I left for work.
Tuesday morning: No sign of Bob today.
Tuesday evening: found 16 dead fish in various forms of munchedness.
Wednesday morning: Scared Bob out of the yard before I left for work.
Wednesday evening: Found 5 dead fish in various forms of munchedness.
Thursday morning: Scared Bob out of the yard before I left for work.
Thursday evening: Found 3 dead fish in various forms of munchedness. Put Sparky out near the pond.
Friday morning: No sign of Bob.
Friday evening: No dead bodies.
Saturday morning: No sign of Bob.

Meet Sparky the croaking frog. Sparky has a movement sensor - when evil Bob the pesky egret plops down for munchies, Sparky will croak & scare Bob away.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Hollywood in need of Japanese

Despite Hollywood's growing interest in Japan, as seen by recent movies such as "Letters from Iwo Jima" and "Babel," one thing often missing in these films is Japanese actors and actresses.

Films about the country often feature Chinese and South Korean actors playing Japanese characters because of a shortage of Japanese actors and those of Japanese descent in Hollywood. Such substitutes can cause cultural misunderstandings, so calls are growing for more Japanese actors to make their way into the U.S. film industry.

For example, "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift," which was released last year, was shot in Tokyo, but many Japanese moviegoers were disappointed with the film because Chinese and South Korean actors played Japanese roles. Similarly, the 2005 film "Memoirs of a Geisha," which portrays the geisha world in Japan, starred leading Chinese movie star Zhang Ziyi. But her performance was panned in Japan as her dancing was more along the style of kabuki than geisha.

In the past four years, Hollywood made about 10 films about Japan. However, the U.S. Screen Actors Guild said it had 20 Chinese union members, but only 11 Japanese members, including those of Japanese descent.

China's movie industry is growing by leaps and bounds on the strength of the Hong Kong movie industry, whose international stars, such as Jackie Chan, have already become household names.

Japanese actors, on the other hand, have to start from scratch. Only a handful, such as Ken Watanabe and Yuki Kudo, have made their presence felt on the international scene.

As such, Chinese and South Korean actors and actresses who resemble Japanese are often used. But they cannot convey the true essence of Japan as they are not familiar with the culture.

Keisuke Kitano, a professor specializing in film theory at Ritsumeikan University's College of Image Arts and Science, said the Chinese and South Korean film industries have mapped out strategies to export their movies to overseas markets.

"The Japanese film industry isn't as eager," he said.

With demand for Japanese actors and actresses increasing, a company called Hollywood Comets was established to help give Japanese a better shot at passing auditions.

According to Hollywood Comets, in the past, most filmmakers simply sought out Asian actors and actresses, but there have recently been specific requests every week for Japanese actors and those of Japanese descent.

However, few Japanese actors and actresses have sought help from the company. Instead, Chinese and South Koreans have contacted them the most, a Hollywood Comets employee said.

Mika Kuroda, a San Francisco resident who hopes to star in Hollywood films, said she has seen Chinese and South Korean actors play Japanese roles in Hollywood movies. After passing an audition for "Memoirs of a Geisha," Kuroda played a dancer in the film.

She said many American directors think all Asian people have similar facial features "so they don't see any difference if Chinese and South Korean actors play Japanese in their films."

However, calls for Japanese actors to play Japanese roles in Hollywood movies are growing. Hollywood Comets President Tim Goldberg said many Japanese actors have great potential and could appear in more Hollywood films.

Hollywood Comets, located in Los Angeles, opened an office in Japan in 2005 to help aspiring actors and actresses find success on the big screen in Hollywood.

Goldberg said he hoped Japanese actors and actresses would make a splash as interest in Japan grows with the globalization of the economy and culture, just as Japanese automobile and appliance makers have.

(Jun. 29, 2007)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

This morning

These were taken through a screen door.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Music Videos

?LIVE? Japanese 80s hardcore

Sex Pistols - "God Save The Queen" & "Anarchy in the U.K."



Operation Ivy - "Knowledge" & "The Crowd" Live @ The River Theater Sacto, CA. 26 December 1988

Gauze - Fact And Criminal/Fuckhead Live in Japan

BAD BRAINS Quasi-misinformed clip from an old syndicated TV news magazine. Fun for shits and giggles!


Balzac - "Nowhere #13" Live in N.Y.C.

Black Flag "Six Pack" Live @ The Cuckoos Nest Costa Mesa, CA. 1981

Suicidal Tendencies - Institutionalized Live in New York 1989


Aaahhhhhh! smelly dead thing!!!

Mooch & Kobe

Kobe in his favorite cool spot.

Skloot & lily

Rock band the Donnas take control after stumble

Fri Jun 22, 2007 11:24PM EDT

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Female rock quartet the Donnas have returned to their indie roots after disappointing sales of their last album for Atlantic Records derailed their dreams of mainstream stardom.

The Bay Area group have formed their own label in a joint venture with Redeye Distribution, which will release their currently untitled next album in mid-September.

"Whatever formula we were in wasn't working for us, so now we're carving out a new formula," said singer Brett Anderson. "After 14 years and a few other deals, I guess this makes it the new-new-new-new formula!"

The split with Atlantic actually happened in early 2006, when it was clear that the Donnas were in a rut with the Warner Music Group-owned label. While their 2002 label debut, "Spend the Night," sold 424,000 copies, the 2004 follow-up "Gold Medal" moved only 87,000 copies.

"We thought we were going to have a massive hit, we expected it to be bigger" than "Spend the Night," said Kevin Weaver, Atlantic's senior VP of A&R.

From 2003 to 2004, Atlantic underwent a number of changes because of Time Warner's spinoff of Warner Music Group to a new group of investors. The band saw a new lineup of personnel by the time it was working on "Gold Medal."

"No matter who was working there, everyone was working their hardest for us. Still, though -- and I know everyone says this -- if you join a major, a few months later it'll be like a new company," said drummer Torry Castellano.

It wasn't supposed to be like this.

Anderson, Castellano and their bandmates -- bassist Maya Ford and guitarist Allison Robertson -- had been playing together since middle school and had become as notorious for their punk-rock attitude and raucous onstage presence as for their metal-tinged rock.

In 1997, straight out of high school, they signed to California-based Lookout Records, one-time home of Green Day. They released four records that, combined, sold more than 110,000 copies by the time they signed to Atlantic in mid-December 2001 -- shortly after they'd turned drinking age.

The Donnas were poised to break to the next level, and were in a stronger position than Green Day: the punk trio had sold only about 80,000 records for Lookout when they signed to Atlantic's corporate sibling, Reprise, in the early '90s.

"We wanted to be on the radio. We'd still love to," said Castellano. "We didn't expect MTV and radio to happen immediately, but we were ready for it."

Atlantic's deal "was the least Big Brothery," Anderson said. "They had one of the smallest advances, but that's because of how much control we knew we would be given. When we heard other labels' initial pitches, it was like, 'So, how about you drop your instruments and we'll come up with a choreographed dance for you to do?' Atlantic was like, 'Yes, of course you may headbang."'

"Take It Off," the sassy single from "Spend the Night," made some headway at radio, peaking at No. 17 on Billboard's Modern Rock chart. (It was later added to PlayStation 2's "Guitar Hero" repertoire.)

The band posed for magazine covers, performed on "Saturday Night Live" and "TRL" and "did everything right, press-wise," says former Atlantic/Donnas publicist Nick Stern. "The Donnas were a press dream. They wouldn't say no to anything unless it was something raunchy, like a Playboy spread or taking off their clothes for Maxim."

Initially hesitant to license their music lest it hurt their credibility with the fans, the Donnas came to realize that such deals were good for boosting their exposure.

Weaver spearheaded efforts to insert the Donnas' music into commercials (the 2006 Nissan Xterra), film ("Mean Girls"), videogames ("MVP Baseball 2003") and TV (theme song for the 2006 Winter Olympics U.S. Women's Snowboarding Team).

But they did not sell out completely.

"We want anybody of any age to listen to us," Anderson said. "And if I was a 13-year-old boy in middle school, I wouldn't go around telling people I listen to a band that did a tampon commercial."

The next album turned out to be optimistically titled.

"'Gold Medal' was a little more artistic, something a little different, and it just wasn't accepted in the way that we wanted it to be, from a commercial perspective," said Joey Minkes, the band's manager.

The lead single "Fall Behind Me" topping out at No. 29 on the Modern Rock chart. Despite a well-received run touring with Maroon 5 in early 2005, album sales increased only slightly on the road.

The band started on the next album, though Atlantic cut back the advance; ultimately, the Donnas never recouped on their Atlantic deal. In negotiations, Atlantic was willing to fund an album with a crossover hit, extending the amount of time required for the Donnas to write one. After writing three or four tunes without finding common ground, the band declined and the label passed.

"We had to go with our gut," Ford said. "We still could be with the label, but it wasn't right for anyone. We could've worked and worked for a pop single, but then it probably wouldn't have gotten played on the radio anyway."

More than a year later, the band sealed its deal with Haw River, N.C.-based Redeye earlier this month.

Whereas the band earned only royalties (16%, according to Minkes) at Atlantic, the Donnas' new Redeye deal guarantees a 50/50 split from sales, as well as co-ownership of the masters and a record-to-record contract. Redeye's deal is for North America, leaving the Donnas to choose international distributors.

The new album's sound isn't a major departure from what the band has played before. Produced by Jay Ruston (Jars of Clay, Meat Loaf, the Polyphonic Spree), the set is chock-full of big singalong choruses, fat '80s guitar licks and an upbeat pace.

With not a ballad to be found, it mixes glam-rock with punk and pop, inspired by the band's rekindled love for Def Leppard and Billy Idol, according to Ford.

Writing-wise, "I wouldn't say we did much of anything different after leaving Atlantic, though it helped that we had more time than we've ever had before to write it. It was very liberating not to have a deadline," she said.

The group has already begun streaming "Don't Wait Up for Me" via MySpace; the song appropriately opens with the sound of a stadium-sized crowd cheering as the crew encourages the object of its affections to "loosen up/drain a cup" as the electric guitars chug to the rhythm of clapping hands.

The band plans to court college radio, continue reaching out to fans through its message boards, MySpace blog and other online social networks, and to tour everywhere.

"That was our original love anyway," Castellano said. "We may have been in a lot of magazines and we pride ourselves on putting out good records, but we win over the most hearts at our live set."

Now the band is back in indie land, new deal in hand and with new sets of expectations.

"We've always been a wild card, being girls and being rock'n'roll," Anderson said. "But now, if people don't buy our record, we'll at least know we did what we wanted."


The Return

I scared an egret out of the back yard this morning when I opened the drapes. I went into my office to boot-up my computer & I was this on the roof across the street.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Live Music: The PUNK Started Here

Thursday, June 21, 2007

John Holmstrom's brought back his landmark magazine. We celebrate its rebirth with a June 21 show at Cafe Nine.

The New Haven Advocate Presents...PUNK Magazine Nite!
With John Holmstrom, Big Fat Combo and Larry Loud. June 21, 9:30 p.m. at Cafe Nine, 250 State St., New Haven. (203) 789-8281,

PUNK Magazine may not have coined the word that gave it its title, but it sure gave it new meaning. Applying the basics of rock & roll and its accompanying lifestyles to the burgeoning New York band scene, which flitted between seedy joints like CBGB and Max's Kansas City in the mid-1970s, PUNK became not just a social register for the scene but one of the most accurate depictions of it. It was slobby not slobbish, raw not slick, more hyped on images than words.

It helped that its founder, John Holmstrom, was a cartoonist. It was his comical vision of the Ramones, especially on the band's third album, Rocket to Russia, that gave the band a whole new level of fans, those who wanted to see their violent and drug-addled lyrics as funny, not creepy.

PUNK was the house organ of the NYC punk scene, but neither Holmstrom nor another one of the best known names associated with PUNK, Legs McNeil, were New York natives. They both hailed from Cheshire, though they weren't pals then as some punk historians have assumed. "I didn't know Legs in high school. I knew his brother," Holmstrom clarified in a phone interview last week. Likewise, another Cheshire-born PUNK contributor—photographer Tom Hearn, whose band Big Fat Combo will be at Cafe Nine June 21 along with Holmstrom for a bit of PUNK nostalgia—was someone Holmstrom knew in his teens only because he'd dated Hearn's older sister. Holmstrom also has great memories of Ron's Place, the legendary New Haven club (now the site of the Indochine Pavilion restaurant), which booked many up-and-coming punk bands. Other Ron's regulars that joined the PUNK staff include the cartoonists Cliff Mott and Mort Todd.

Given its influence, it's surprising that PUNK published fewer than 20 issues. Like underground comix and self-released punk rock singles, it had a longer shelf life and a different audience than its mainstream counterparts. In any case, PUNK didn't follow the usual rules for how to put together, and especially how to distribute, a magazine. Even in its heyday, he says, PUNK "would be on the newsstands but nobody would buy it on the newsstands"—they'd get it at the punk record or clothing shops.

PUNK folded in 1979, with a cover touting The Clash. Holmstrom started Comical Funnies, an alternative comics magazine, partly to demonstrate to his friend Peter Bagge (whose own Hate Comics later became the official comio of the grunge era) how easy it was to self-publish. From 1975 to 1984 he got a regular paycheck from Bananas, the kids magazine published by Scholastic, and from 1976 until well into the 90s he worked at High Times, for whom he adapted his hand-drawn PUNK Top 99 feature.

Holmstrom says he tried to relaunch PUNK in 2001, but that effort was set back years by 9/11. Now that the magazine's up and running again, Holmstrom justifies covering many of the same clubs and bands he did 30 years ago because "nobody likes these pop-punk bands there are today except 15-year-old kids. Nerds have taken over what's left of the rock critic world." That original scene, he feels, still matters. No argument there.

At Thursday's Cafe Nine show, Holmstrom says he'll "show slides and talk." He'll have copies of the just-released PUNK #21, which marks the closing of CBGB last year with a typically PUNK mix of mythologizing (with historical photos of The Dead Boys, Blondie, The Cramps and Lester Bangs) and heckling (hysterical fake ads for the club, including one for its planned Las Vegas franchise that has Lou Reed and Phyllis Diller sharing the stage). He'll also have a few back issues to give away. Besides Big Fat Combo, Larry Loud, whose 70s band The Cadavers was widely considered to be the first punk band in Connecticut, will play a set.

Music Videos


Butthole Surfers "Suicide", "BBQ Pope", "Wooly Bully" Live @ The Underground Railroad West Virginia 1983

New Order - Ceremony (live 1984)


DEAD KENNEDYS "Forest Fire" - Belgian TV 1980 "California Uber Alles" - Finland 1980

Jayne County "Cherry Bomb"


Killing Joke - A new day

fIREHOSE W/Paul Leary (Butthole Surfers) and Johnny Rotten

MDC - "Selfish Shit" Live on The Broadway San Francisco, CA. 1984

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Brothers doing it for themselves at the Japan Cherry Boy Association

The Japan Cherry Boy Association is facing a crisis after the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research revealed that almost one in four Japanese men aged 30 to 34 remains a virgin, according to Weekly Playboy (7/2).

"This is only the tip of the iceberg," Japan Cherry Boy Association founder and president Shin Watanabe (himself an unscathed 34-year-old) tells Weekly Playboy. "The real situation is much worse than this."

Watanabe argues that there are lots more Japanese men who are virgins than they are prepared to admit, saying that very few people surveyed about their virginity would be prepared to openly admit to not having broken their drought.

"There are 11 percent of people who gave an invalid answer to the survey and I bet you the vast majority of them would be virgins. And though there is also 65 percent who said they have had sex, that also includes the guys whose only experience is a single session at the brothel and nothing since, so there are a lot of virtual virgins in amongst them, too," Watanabe says.

The Japan Cherry Boy Association currently boasts of 517 members whose ages range from their teens to their 40s. Many join the association in the hopes that women will visit its website and try to pick them up. Some members, albeit only a few, actually succeed in "graduating" from the club by successfully experiencing sex.

"I'm the chairman of the association and I still can't get any sex, so I must admit I have mixed feelings when someone graduates," Watanabe says. "Guys who succeed change instantly, wanting to de-register immediately or patronizing other members by leaving them messages like 'You guys hurry up and get it over and done with, too.' I really hate it. I'd like guys who do succeed to stay around and offer advice to other members and tell them about their experience. But it seems once people have lost their virginity, they want to forget about ever having been a virgin in the first place."

Japan Cherry Boy Association members meet regularly for parties, where they frequently tell stories about how they cope with not having had sex, including this tale from a 32-year-old member.

"I've been going to yoga classes for ages and can finally get my body flexible enough to move however I want it to," he tells Weekly Playboy. "Just the other day, I finally achieved my dream of giving myself fellatio."

Cherry Boys Association members can't just be lumbered into the single lump of virgins, either. "Now, there are progressive virgins, who are striving to lose their virginity, and conservative virgins, who do everything they can to protect it," Watanabe says.

Conservative virgins argue that they've had enough of real women and would prefer two-dimensional types such as those found in manga and anime, who are also not going to lead them to the pain of rejection.

Some virgins, who call themselves liberated, go to ever further extremes.

"Most human worries stem from sex, right? Guys chat up women because they want to satisfy their sexual desire, which also motivates them to get a good job. You want to get along well with a woman, but you're filled with lust and thinking so much about sex it makes it hard to get along well with the woman anyhow," says a 30-year-old member who bought female hormones online to stifle his sexual urges. "Without lust, I'm doing much better with work and with women than I ever have."

Watanabe argues that Japan needs to do something about its excess of male virgins.

"We've got a declining birthrate, which means that the younger generations are going to have to look after the elderly. I can see a generation clash coming on. Why should young people who know nothing of sex have to look after old fogeys who can't get it up for sex any more?" he asks Weekly Playboy rhetorically. "To avoid that clash, those weak at love need to have love made smoother for them so they can enjoy it, get married and have children. I wonder if the media knows how much it hurts virgins and makes them feel isolated when it says that anybody at all is capable of love. We need a society kinder on virgins. We need to smile more at virgins." (By Ryann Connell)

June 20, 2007

'We shared a bed but never touched'

Ginou Richer lived with Edith Piaf for 15 tender - and often tyrannical - years. What does she think of the new biopic about the great French singer? Hannah Westley finds out

Wednesday June 20, 2007
The Guardian

La Vie en Rose
Turbulent... Marion Cotillard stars as Piaf in La Vie en Rose

No one knew Edith Piaf like Ginou Richer. "I was only 16 when I met Edith," she says. "It was 1948, and she was already a big star. My boyfriend was part of a group called Les Compagnons de la Chanson who toured with Edith and, against her wishes, he smuggled me along. When my presence was discovered, the great lady came along to throw me out of the hotel - but we instantly hit it off."

Piaf is currently being rediscovered by a new generation in France. Richer's memoir of the 15 turbulent years she spent as a companion to the country's beloved "Sparrow" has just been published, and she also acted as script consultant on the new movie La Vie en Rose, a colourful and dramatic tribute to the life of the great singer and songwriter, best remembered for emotional renditions of songs such as Je Ne Regrette Rien, L'Hymne à l'Amour and the song that gave the film its title.

Out on Friday, the film portrays Piaf's brief life - she died in 1963 at the age of 47 - as an extraordinary kaleidoscope of rags to riches, passion and misfortune. And, according to Richer, the actress Marion Cotillard doesn't just play Piaf but becomes her: "Marion has it exactly, the way she walks, talks, her way of laughing. The hardest part for her was lip-synching the songs, but really, you'd say it was Edith singing." Richer, too, is portrayed in the film, as a devoted member of Piaf's entourage, but her memoir, Piaf, Mon Amie, recalls a friendship that was as intense and rewarding as any of Piaf's many love affairs. "I ended up becoming her companion. I did everything for her, her hair, clothes, makeup, but I never received a salary. We lived together as a couple. She always referred to 'our' house or 'our' car."

When Piaf and the Compagnons parted company, Richer chose to stay with Piaf. "There were nearly 20 years between us but it didn't make any difference," she says. "We exchanged roles - sometimes she'd mother me, sometimes I'd mother her. Most of the time, we were just children together. When we were on tour and there was no man in her life, I slept with her in the same bed; and when she had a lover, I slept elsewhere. But there was no ambiguity to our relationship - we never as much as touched toes. Edith loved men! We were soulmates: I was from the backstreets of Paris, like her."

The public loved Piaf for her vulnerability as much as for her ebullience; she often encouraged journalists to write fiction rather than fact, realising the power of her own mythology. In private, her love of life, her energy and strong character made her a demanding companion. "She could be tyrannical," says Richer. "She had such high expectations of herself that she expected the same of everyone. With me, she simply demanded that I was present all the time. She always liked to know where I was. When I went out without her, she'd give me her car and driver so she'd be able to keep track of me. But I accepted her tyranny - it was proof of her love.

"She was the same with everyone. I remember how she insisted that Charles [Aznavour] and I accompany her to A Streetcar Named Desire a dozen times because she'd fallen in love with Marlon Brando. When she decided to eat steak tartare every evening, she expected me to do the same."

But Piaf's tyranny was not always affectionate. Richer remembers how one weekend, Piaf locked her in her townhouse without food or company because Richer was too ill to accompany Piaf on a weekend jaunt to the countryside: "She punished me because she didn't believe I was ill, even though I'd just come out of hospital. She thought I wouldn't accompany her because I wanted to sneak off to see a boyfriend, and she was furious at being thwarted."

When it was Piaf's turn to be nursed, after one of her many car accidents, Richer soon encountered a mystery: when she kept vigil at Piaf's bed, the singer didn't sleep - yet when the night nurse was there, she slept like a baby. "I eventually found out that the nurse was increasing her dose of morphine rather than reducing it - just to ensure that she had a quiet night. For me, that was when Edith's dependency truly began."

Rumours of alcoholism and drug addiction clung to Piaf and if, in later life, the drugs became necessary to combat the pain of rheumatism and other ailments, their use was initially exacerbated by Piaf grappling with heartbreak. When her lover, the French world champion boxer Marcel Cerdan, died in a plane crash, the singer's grief was such that Richer says she never fully recovered. "When he won the title, Piaf and I had been to Lisieux to pray to St Thérèse for him. She was sure he would win because that night we smelt roses in her room [a symbol of that saint]. After he died, she tried to contact him through various mediums. It reached worrying heights."

On other occasions, Piaf's demands had graver consequences. After having a son by her first husband, Richer - on Piaf's advice - gave him to her parents to bring up. "I was very young," she says, "and it was as though somebody had handed me a toy, a beautiful baby to play with. Edith used to say that just because you became a parent didn't mean you'd be any good at it."

That was a lesson Piaf had learned the hard way. Abandoned by her parents, a street singer and an acrobat, she spent her early childhood in the care of her grandmother, who ran a brothel in Normandy. Afflicted by bouts of blindness in childhood, Piaf was reclaimed by her father to become his working companion on the streets of Paris, where she would probably have met with the same fate as her mother - drunken destitution - had she not been spotted by cabaret owner Louis Leplée (played with insalubrious charm by Gérard Depardieu in the film), who gave her her first break and her first stage name, La Môme Piaf, The Sparrow Kid.

Richer says her time with Piaf was like living in a gilded cage, but when she finally left to live with her second husband in Cannes, she didn't experience it as a liberation. "She taught me how to enjoy life, how to make the most of it. We spent so much time laughing. I didn't want to leave her, but I was pregnant with my second son. I felt she was in good hands. She was with her last husband [Theo Sarapo], who I felt loved her as I loved her and would take care of her."

Piaf spent her last years in a villa in the Midi. "I saw her almost every day," says Richer, "but I still couldn't accept that she was as ill as everybody said she was. With me, she never showed any sadness or despair. She was always bright and optimistic - because that was how we'd always been together."

· La Vie en Rose opens this Friday.

· Piaf, Mon Amie by Ginou Richer is published in France by Editions Denoël.

What do you know about Edith Piaf?

A humdrum telling of Piaf's extraordinary life

Skinny Puppy

Among industrial music band's fans are Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson, and once you're in, it's a lifelong commitment

Thursday, June 21, 2007

More than 25 years ago, Skinny Puppy formed with the goal of releasing one record, and that would be it. "Somehow it caught on," says Ogre, the lead singer, "and affected a lot of people."

[MP3: "PolitikiL," Skinny Puppy]

Included among those affected and influenced by Skinny Puppy are Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson.

At the core of the band is Ogre and Cevin Key, who is responsible for the musical arrangements and sampling. In 1995, band member Dwayne Goettel died of a heroin overdose. Ogre says early Skinny Puppy was creatively fueled by drugs.

Ogre has given up using drugs, but says the creative process isn't that different. "You open those doors a couple of times," Ogre says, "and that's all you really need. It doesn't mean that once you stop doing drugs, you don't have the same accelerated, or decelerated, or twisted, unique perspective that you find yourself stumbling upon when you're using."

A live Skinny Puppy show includes a degree of performance art mixed with video projection, and the majority of the set list showcases selections from the group's latest release, "Mythmaker," which has a different sound from Skinny Puppy's earlier releases.

"We've always made records with a great deal of care and love and also always try to keep them very connected to what's really happening in our lives right now as opposed to going through some formula of making something to sell records based on demographics," Ogre says. "We've always moved on, but every album kind of feeds off of each other to a certain degree."

"Mythmaker" includes driving industrial rhythms, dark atmospheres and meticulous sampling from Key and Ogre's cynical lyrics. The first track, "Magnifis -- " tackles their take on our current political state: "I am the liar's nation/ Oh yeah/ I am the undisputed god/ Oh yeah/ I am the maggot's muscle, magnet missile ... master of it all."

In the last track, "UgLi,'' Ogre chants, "Jesus is ugly.''

"It's my normal disdain for the rise of the national imperialist empire in America, treatment of other humans in the world," Ogre says. "Not that I don't think there are good Christians, I think there are some very good Christians, but they need to clean their act up a bit."

Ogre refers to himself as a character for his live performances.

"This show's dealing more with a character that I found myself doing when I first started touring with Skinny Puppy," Ogre says. "It was coming from a place of real insecurity and being looked upon and really judged and I was a lot more introverted, so I create a playground for myself to operate in."

When someone becomes a Skinny Puppy fan, they're usually in for life.

"It's kind of like a Deadhead thing, isn't it? You either love it or you don't, and then people come along and they get it at certain times in their lives and they're like, 'Oh wow,' " Ogre says.

While Skinny Puppy has been influencing industrial music fans for more than a quarter-century, Ogre remains humble. He says people up come to him and express how the music of Skinny Puppy has really helped through difficult times in their lives. "That means a lot to me," he says.

Tony DuShane,

This article appeared on page G - 4 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Did Hitler unleash the Holocaust because a Jewish prostitute gave him syphilis?

20/06/07 - News section

Did Hitler unleash the Holocaust because a Jewish prostitute gave him syphilis?

A brief encounter with a Jewish prostitute may have led to Hitler's genocidal Holocaust, claim psychiatrists.

They believe he may have caught the sexually transmitted disease syphilis which, if untreated, can eventually cause madness.

According to a report, mental and behavioural disturbances triggered by the advanced stages of the disease could have resulted in Hitler targeting Jews and the mentally retarded.

There is "ample circumstantial evidence" for the theory, according to a team headed by psychiatrist Dr Bassem Habeeb.

Dr Habeeb said that there had been speculation that Hitler had syphilis from diary entries made by his personal doctor, Theo Morrell.

Yet despite significant medical and political clues, the theory has never been rigorously examined, he told the Royal College of Psychiatrists' annual meeting in Edinburgh.

He said: "If Hitler's life is looked at through the lens of a syphilis diagnosis, one clue leads to another until a pattern of infection and progressive infection emerges, a disease that may have defined him from youth as an outsider and that progressively ravaged his body and mind."

The disease would have fuelled a "deadly logic and blueprint for the Holocaust" which focused on particular minorities, he said.

Hitler, who reportedly had sex with a Jewish prostitute in Vienna in 1908, put syphilis high on his political agenda, devoting 13 pages to the disease in his book Mein Kampf.

The job of "combating syphilis - the Jewish disease - should be the task of the entire German nation," he wrote.

"The health of the nation will be regained only by eliminating the Jews."

Dr Habeeb said: "Hitler's bizarre belief that syphilis was a hereditary disease that was originated and propagated by the Jews and resulted in insanity and mental retardation" could be the reason he attempted to eliminate the mentally retarded.

He said well-documented aspects of Hitler's behaviour and health such as mood swings, paranoid rages, rashes and stomach problems were typical of syphilis.

In his diary, Dr Morrell noted Hitler's severe gastric crises, skin lesions, Parkinson's disease and violent mood swings as evidence that he had syphilis, as well as "sudden criminal behaviour, paranoia, grandiosity and mania", all of which are characteristic of cases of the advanced stage, neuro-syphilis.

Dr Habeeb, who works at Hollins Park Hospital, Warrington, said that experts had previously explored the possibility that Hitler had syphilis, but had not put together the chain of secondary neuro-symptoms that meant the Holocaust became the focus of his psychotic behaviour.

Before antibiotic treatments were developed, syphilis was incurable and could cause madness after a latent stage lasting many years.

Dr Habeeb said: "This disease can send you mad and it could be a horrible explanation for the obsession that led to the Holocaust.

"It's very hard to say with certainty. There's ample circumstantial evidence, though no final proof, that he definitely had it.

"But many other historical figures in the 19th and early 20 th century suffered from syphilis without the murderous consequences wreaked by Hitler."

Some historians say Hitler was exempt from Army service because of early symptoms caused by syphilis, which then disappeared as it entered the latent stage.

Others have suggested that Hitler received iodide salts, a well-known treatment for advanced or tertiary stage syphilis.

Some historians have laid Hitler's health problems partly at Dr Morrell's door, claiming he may even deliberately poisoned his patient.

Find this story at
©2007 Associated New Media

Strange case of Piles

A prisoner has been caught with an entire mobile phone charger hidden up his bottom.

Suspicious officers noticed murderer Tony Pile's discomfort while searching his cell, reports The Sun.

He finally confessed and grimaced as he produced the cable and plug.

Two fist-sized blocks of cannabis and cocaine were also found hidden in the cell on D-wing at Swaleside Prison on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent.

Police action is now being considered against Pile, 22, from Ashford, who was jailed for beating a man to death in a race hate attack in 2005.

A Prison Service source said: "We've known for some time that prisoners hide phones up there but this is a first.

"Pile had somehow managed to secrete the entire charger where the sun doesn't shine.

"It just goes to show the lengths some inmates will go to stay in touch with the outside world while banged up."

Staff launched a series of searches at Swaleside in a crackdown on smuggling of drugs and phones.

Ugly fish is seen as aphrodisiac

By NOAKI SCHWARTZ, Associated Press WriterWed Jun 20, 4:17 PM ET

The hagfish is a bottom feeder so repulsive it had a cameo on TV's "Fear Factor." It slimes its enemies, has rows of teeth on its tongue, and feeds on the innards of rotting fish by penetrating any orifice. But cooked and served on a plate, it is considered an aphrodisiac in South Korea.

And the overseas appetite for the hagfish — also known as the slime eel — is creating a business opportunity for struggling West Coast fishermen confronted with tough restrictions on the catching of salmon and other fish.

California's annual catch jumped from practically nothing to 150,000 pounds over the past four years. Oregon and Washington state last year reported around 1 million pounds of hagfish caught.

The 14- to 18-inch hagfish looks like an eel. In fact, there is debate over whether it is really a fish. The 300 million-year-old creature has no jaws and one nostril. Essentially blind, it dwells in the dark more than 1,000 feet down.

"The average person would be disgusted just by looking at them," said Mark Crossland, a state Fish and Game warden. "The product is difficult to deal with and handle — it's a little eel that once it gets stressed it excretes this slime."

On NBC's "Fear Factor," two contestants sat in a vat of the creatures and had to push handfuls of them through holes. They described the experience as sticky, stinky and disgusting.

Hagfish has a modest following among older Korean men who savor it as an appetizer broiled in sesame oil, sprinkled with salt and accompanied by a shot of liquor.

Peter Chu, a seafood exporter in Eureka, Calif., said the fish sells for as much as $20 a pound in South Korea, which he estimates consumes 9 million pounds a year.

"There's a myth there that it's an aphrodisiac. It gives you energy like Viagra," Chu said. "It's like oysters here."

Fisherman Mark Tognazzini, who used to catch hagfish in the early 1990s, said it is relatively inexpensive to get into hagfishing. They are caught in five-gallon barrels fitted with trap doors and baited with rotting fish.

In April, California officials encountered a fishing boat near Morro Bay carrying more than 15,000 pounds — approximately 45,000 writhing hagfish — that were to be loaded on jumbo jets live and flown to South Korea. The Washington-based crew was cited for violations that included fishing without permits and having oversized traps as big as wine barrels.

The hagfish's predators include whales, seabirds and seals. There are no catch limits for hagfish, and the species is in no immediate danger. But some experts worry it could be threatened if the boom continues, because hagfish do not reproduce quickly.

Tognazzini said they are an important part of the marine ecosystem whose job is to clean up the ocean floor. "The thing is, they're not cute — they don't hit people's hearts," he said.

As if its looks weren't enough of a turnoff, hagfish, when agitated, vomit and secrete a protein that reacts with seawater to create a thick mucus.

A single animal can turn a five-gallon bucket of seawater into a pool of goo in a matter of moments, said Eddie Kisfaludy of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. While the slime distracts predators, it also occasionally suffocates the hagfish.

"They're definitely more interesting than maggots, but then all these researchers who work on fruit flies will probably argue with me," Kisfaludy said.

India rattled by vibrating condom

By Jyotsna Singh
BBC News, Delhi

Crezendo condoms
The company says its product has been "well received"
A vibrating condom has sparked a fierce debate in India, over whether it is a sex toy - which are banned - or a means of birth control.

The controversial condom has caused outrage in the state of Madhya Pradesh, because a government-owned company is involved in marketing it.

The pack of three condoms, branded as Crezendo, contains a battery-operated ring-like device.

Critics say it is in fact a vibrator, and should therefore be banned.

Sex toys and pornography are illegal in India.

'Ultimate pleasure'

The condom was given a low-key launch across the country three months ago. At that time many critics failed to notice that it had government backing.

A promotional message from the company, Hindustan Latex Limited, describes Crezendo as a product that "provides ultimate pleasure by producing strong vibrations" .

Condom factory
Condoms and sex are still taboo in India

That has caused an outcry among many in conservative India, including the Madhya Pradesh minister for road and energy, Kailash Vijayvargiya, who argues that it is nothing more than a sex toy.

"Sex toys are banned in India and the vibrating device is nothing but a sex toy being sold as condoms.

"The government's job is to promote family planning and population control measures rather than market products for sexual pleasure," he told BBC News.

The Hindustan Latex company says that the new condom was launched to promote the use of condoms in order to prevent the spread of Aids.

'Personal choice'

"The product was launched with the primary objective of addressing a fall in condom usage... A major reason cited by users was the lack of pleasure when using condoms.

"So we added the vibrating ring as a pleasure enhancer. It helps to hold the condom in position besides producing a vibrating effect," company spokesman S Jayaraj told BBC News.

Condoms are becoming more available in India

The company says the condom pack, priced at 125 rupees ($3, £1.50) has been "well received".

It has strongly rejected allegations that its product is a sex toy, but has offered to withdraw the product from Madhya Pradesh if the state government asks for it.

Hindu hardliners have held protests asking the government to ban its sale, though most people on the streets of the state refused to be drawn on the matter.

But those who were willing to discuss such a sensitive issue seemed broadly supportive.

"It is wrong to protest against the move. It is a matter of personal choice," Kunal Singh, a resident in the Madhya Pradesh capital, Bhopal, said.

Medical store owner Ravi Bhannani said: "Customers want something new and this pack offers something new."

Monday, June 18, 2007

Judge Orders FBI to Turn Over Thousands of Patriot Act Abuse Documents

By Ryan Singel EmailJune 15, 2007 | 3:52:04 PMCategories: Sunshine and Secrecy

Just one day after a news that an internal audit found that FBI agents abused a Patriot Act power more than 1,000 times, a federal judge ordered the agency Friday to begin turning over thousands of pages of documents related to the agency's use of a powerful, but extremely secretive investigative tool that can pry into telephone and internet records.

The order for monthly document releases commencing July 5 came in response to a government sunshine request by a civil liberties group, which sued in April over the FBI's foot-dragging on its broad request.

The April request from the Electronic Frontier Foundation asked the FBI to turn over documents related to its misuse of National Security Letters, self-issued subpoenas that don't need a judge's approval and which can get financial, phone and internet records. Recipients of the letters are forbidden by law from ever telling anyone other than their lawyer that they received the request. Though initially warned to use this power sparingly, FBI agents issued more than 47,000 in 2005, more than half of which targeted Americans. Information obtained from the requests, which need only be certified by the agency to be "relevant" to an investigation, are dumped into a data-mining warehouse for perpetuity.

An Inspector General report in March found rampant errors in the small sample of NSLs examined and systemic underreporting of the powers usage to Congress. The report also found that agents issued more than 700 "expedited" letters, some containing materially false sworn statements. These letters had no legal basis and essentially asked companies to turn over data by pretending there was an emergency in order to get the data necessary to get a proper NSL. One former FBI agent says its clear the FBI violated the law.

Now the Justice Department must turn over 2,500 pages of documents a month to the EFF, including information on cozy surveillance contracts between the FBI and telephone companies and information on how data captured by NSLs were put into the FBI's massive data mining warehouse.

The Justice Department told the court that there were more than 100,000 potentially responsive documents and that ten people are working full time on filling the request for documents. Look out for a run on thick, black magic markers in D.C.

THREAT LEVEL can't wait to see:

1. All records discussing or reporting violations or potential violations of statutes, Attorney General guidelines, and internal FBI policies governing the use of NSLs, including, but not limited to:

A. Correspondence or communications between the FBI and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board concerning violations or potential violations of statutes...

2. Guidelines, memoranda or communications addressing or discussing the integration of NSL data into the FBIís Investigative Data Warehouse; 3. Contracts between the FBI and three telephone companies [...] which were intended to allow the Counterterrorism Division to obtain telephone toll billing data from the communications industry as expeditiously as possible;

4. Any guidance, memoranda or communications discussing the FBI's legal authority to issue exigent letters to telecommunications companies, and the relationship between such exigent letters and the FBI's authority to issue NSLs under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act;

5. Any guidance, memoranda or communications discussing the application of the Fourth Amendment to NSLs issued under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act;

8. Copies of sample or model exigent letters used by the FBI's Counterterrorism Division;

9. Copies of sample or model NSL approval requests used by the FBIís Counterterrorism Division;

10. Records related to the Counterterrorism Divisionís Electronic Surveillance Operations and Sharing Unit (EOPS).

Photo: buschap

Scholars Race to Recover a Lost Kingdom on the Nile

June 19, 2007

On the periphery of history in antiquity, there was a land known as Kush. Overshadowed by Egypt, to the north, it was a place of uncharted breadth and depth far up the Nile, a mystery verging on myth. One thing the Egyptians did know and recorded — Kush had gold.

Scholars have come to learn that there was more to the culture of Kush than was previously suspected. From deciphered Egyptian documents and modern archaeological research, it is now known that for five centuries in the second millennium B.C., the kingdom of Kush flourished with the political and military prowess to maintain some control over a wide territory in Africa.

Kush’s governing success would seem to have been anomalous, or else conventional ideas about statehood rest too narrowly on the experiences of early civilizations like Mesopotamia, Egypt and China. How could a fairly complex state society exist without a writing system, an extensive bureaucracy or major urban centers, none of which Kush evidently had?

Archaeologists are now finding some answers — at least intriguing insights — emerging in advance of rising Nile waters behind a new dam in northern Sudan. Hurried excavations are uncovering ancient settlements, cemeteries and gold-processing centers in regions previously unexplored.

In recent reports and interviews, archaeologists said they had found widespread evidence that the kingdom of Kush, in its ascendancy from 2000 B.C. to 1500 B.C., exerted control or at least influence over a 750-mile stretch of the Nile Valley. This region extended from the first cataract in the Nile, as attested by an Egyptian monument, all the way upstream to beyond the fourth cataract. The area covered part of the larger geographic region of indeterminate borders known in antiquity as Nubia.

Some archaeologists theorize that the discoveries show that the rulers of Kush were the first in sub-Saharan Africa to hold sway over so vast a territory.

“This makes Kush a more major player in political and military dynamics of the time than we knew before,” said Geoff Emberling, co-leader of a University of Chicago expedition. “Studying Kush helps scholars have a better idea of what statehood meant in an ancient context outside such established power centers of Egypt and Mesopotamia.”

Gil Stein, director of the Oriental Institute at the university, said, “Until now, virtually all that we have known about Kush came from the historical records of their Egyptian neighbors and from limited explorations of monumental architecture at the Kushite capital city, Kerma.”

To archaeologists, knowing that a virtually unexplored land of mystery is soon to be flooded has the same effect as Samuel Johnson ascribed to one facing the gallows in the morning. It concentrates the mind.

Over the last few years, archaeological teams from Britain, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Sudan and the United States have raced to dig at sites that will soon be underwater. The teams were surprised to find hundreds of settlement ruins, cemeteries and examples of rock art that had never been studied. One of the most comprehensive salvage operations has been conducted by groups headed by Henryk Paner of the Gdansk Archaeological Museum in Poland, which surveyed 711 ancient sites in 2003 alone.

“This area is so incredibly rich in archaeology,” Derek Welsby of the British Museum said in a report last winter in Archaeology magazine.

The scale of the salvage effort hardly compares to the response in the 1960s to the Aswan High Dam, which flooded a part of Nubia that then reached into what is southern Egypt. Imposing temples that the pharaohs erected at Abu Simbel and Philae were dismantled and restored on higher ground.

The Kushites, however, left no such grand architecture to be rescued. Their kingdom declined and eventually disappeared by the end of the 16th century B.C., as Egypt grew more powerful and expansive under rulers of the period known as the New Kingdom.

In Sudan, the Merowe Dam, built by Chinese engineers with French and German subcontractors, stands at the downstream end of the fourth cataract, a narrow passage of rapids and islands. The rising Nile waters will create a lake 2 miles wide and 100 miles long, displacing more than 50,000 people of the Manasir, Rubatab and Shaigiyya tribes. Most archaeologists expect this to be their last year for exploring Kush sites nearest the former riverbanks.

In the first three months of this year, archaeologists from the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago scoured the rock and ruins of a desolate site called Hosh el-Geruf, upstream from the fourth cataract and about 225 miles north of Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. Their most striking discovery was ample artifacts of Kushite gold processing.

Gold was already known as a source of Kush’s wealth through trade with Egypt. Other remains of gold-processing works had been found in the region, though none with such a concentration of artifacts. Dr. Emberling said that more than 55 huge grinding stones were scattered along the riverbank.

Experts in the party familiar with ancient mining technology noted that the stones were similar to ones found in Egypt in association with gold processing. The stones were used to crush ore from quartz veins. The ground bits were presumably washed with river water to separate and recover the precious metal.

“Even today, panning for gold is a traditional activity in the area,” said Bruce Williams, a research associate at the Oriental Institute and a co-leader of the expedition.

But the archaeologists saw more in their discovery than the glitter of gold. The grinding stones were too large and numerous to have been used only for processing gold for local trade. Ceramics at the site were in the style and period of Kush’s classic flowering, about 1750 B.C. to 1550 B.C.

This appeared to be strong evidence for a close relationship between the gold-processing settlement and ancient Kerma, the seat of the kingdom at the third cataract, about 250 miles downstream. The modern city of Kerma has spread over the ancient site, but some of the ruins are protected for further research by Swiss archaeologists, whose work will not be affected by the new dam.

British and Polish teams have also reported considerable evidence of the Kerma culture in cemeteries and settlement ruins elsewhere upstream from the fourth cataract. Near Hosh el-Geruf, the Chicago expedition excavated more than a third of the 90 burials in a cemetery. Grave goods indicated that these were elite burials from the same classic period and, thus, more evidence of the influence of Kerma. A few tombs had the rectangular shafts of class Kerma burials, graceful tulip-shaped beakers and jars of the Kerma type and even some vessels and jewelry from Egypt.

“The exciting thing to me,” Dr. Williams said, “is that we are really seeing intensive organization activity from a distance, and the only reasonable attribution is that it belongs to Kush.”

The primary accomplishment of the salvage project, the archaeologists said, is the realization that the kingdom of Kush in its heyday extended not just northward to the first cataract, but also southward, well beyond the fourth cataract. At places like Hosh el-Geruf, they added in an internal report, “the expedition found the Kushites’ organized search for wealth illustrated in a significant new way.”

The research is supported by the Packard Humanities Institute and the National Geographic Society. The Hosh el-Geruf site is in the research area assigned by Sudanese authorities to the Gdansk Museum, which invited the Chicago team to dig there.

By this time next year, the dammed waters may be lapping at the old gold works, and archaeologists will be looking elsewhere for clues to the mystery of how remote Kush developed the statecraft to oversee a vast realm in antiquity.

Security setup records teen sexually abusing barn horse

Suspect arrested on charges of burglary, sex abuse of animal

A Corvallis teenager is facing charges of burglary and sexual abuse of an animal after being arrested last week at a barn in northeast Corvallis.

The teenager, 17 at the time of his arrest, was arrested by Deputy Randy Hiner and Corvallis Police Officer Jason Harvey at the barn in the 4000 block of Northeast Minnesota Avenue at about 2:30 a.m. on June 7.

The owners of the property had reported assaults on the horse before, once on July 30, 2006, and again on Feb. 9 of this year. After the July incident, the owners noticed the halter of their mare had been moved. So the owners installed a video surveillance camera inside the barn.

In February 2007, the owners again noticed a halter and some food dishes had been moved in the barn. When they checked the video from the surveillance camera, they saw a male who they estimated being between 16 and 18 years old, sexually assaulting the horse. He wore a jacket and long pants and a baseball cap. They were not able to identify the suspect from the video.

Deputy Clay Stephens, who viewed the video, said the youth seemed very practiced, not hurried but not wasting any time. Stephens said he seemed to be following a “very concise, deliberate, well-thought-out plan.”

After the February incident, the owners installed a silent alarm on the barn. On June 7, at around 2:30 a.m., the alarm sounded in the house. The owners looked at the video monitor and saw the suspect preparing to assault the horse. They called the sheriff’s office. The suspect had gotten into the locked barn by squeezing behind one panel of a sliding door.

The suspect was charged with second degree burglary, a Class C felony, and sexual abuse of an animal, a Class A misdemeanor. He was taken to the Linn-Benton Detention Center where he was arraigned and released later the same day. His next court appearance is a hearing June 20.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The one that got away from Mooch!

This cutie was on one of the sliding door window screens. Moochie had been walking around the yard with it in her mouth & playing with it earlier.
After it ran up the screen I dragged Moochie into the house so it could get away. I figured it won this battle.

Tattoos go against Bible’s teachings

June 15
In response to Grant McGee’s June 1 column on tattoos:

It may not be politically correct to cite the following in this amorally diverse culture, but here are 12 reasons not to get a tattoo.

12. The procedure for getting a tattoo is painful. It involves needles jabbing you.

11. Tattoos can fade, so often they have to be “re-inked.”

10. Seems like statistics suggest that a sure way to jinx a relationship is have the name of your romantic interest tattooed on your person.

9. What will tattoos look like when you’re old and wrinkled? Ugh!

8. They are permanent. We change our taste in clothes, people, interests, but a tattoo is for life. If you like permanent art, invest in art you can hang on your wall and sell later or pass on to your kids. I’ve never heard of tattoos increasing in value.

7. If you decide to try to remove a tattoo, it’s very expensive, painful and often leaves scarring.

6. Your tattoo will make it much easier to identify you in a criminal lineup.

5. For many, tattoos seem addictive. They can’t be satisfied with one little item, but go on and on.

4. They are expensive. Why is it that many people with tattoos who smoke and drink alcohol (to excess) can afford these items in their budget, but are hard up for cash when it comes to basic essentials? Do tattoos advertise a stereotypical “class” of folk who don’t budget or prioritize their funds very well? Sorry, but stereotypes don’t usually come from a vacuum.

3. A tattoo puts off potential employers. Many jobs require uniforms. Tattoos compete with this concept. With obvious tattoos, you’re obviously disqualifying yourself from high-end jobs.

2. Health concerns regarding this semi-surgical procedure without guaranteed surgical or regulated precautions. People have been known to get hepatitis and other diseases from tattooing. If you go to donate blood, the interviewer always asks if you’ve been recently tattooed.

And the No. 1 reason for not getting a tattoo:

1. The Bible says you shouldn’t — Leviticus 19:28

“You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord.”

The law of God given to Moses was on three levels :

1) The moral code — for all people of all time — practical rights and wrongs for the general well being of mankind;

2) The ceremonial or priestly code, which was for the Jewish people’s identity to set them apart from their idolatrous neighbors; and
3) the civil code, which “governed” the nation as a civilized culture.

If tattooing is “truly” wrong and not just a matter of personal opinion (if any absolutes still exist), then this action must go contrary to the Judeo-Christian set of moral standards set down in the Ten Commandments.

The commandment, “You shall not kill!” has been defined as to refrain from hurting or harming anyone including self.

The Bible also states, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
We live in a culture of moral relativism where for the most part each person decides for themself what’s right or wrong. It is unpopular to suggest that someone’s actions may be wrong. We might hurt their feelings or sound “judgmental” or dent their self esteem.

When someone gets a tattoo and shows it off, we’re tempted for a moment to tell them what we really think. Then you hear yourself say simply, “That’s nice!” or worse yet, “That’s cool” and thereby only encourage this objectionable practice.

Oh yeah! The No. 1 reason for getting a tattoo — “It’s cool!” How shallow, how juvenile, how potentially destructive!

And for those who’ve gotten tattoos: As hard as it may be to do, it’s OK to admit that you made a mistake, stop, and encourage others not to do the same.

Scott Blazek is pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church. Contact him at 763-4526.

Skloot up for dinner

Tattoos making a mark in China

Tattoos making a mark in China

By Sun Yuqing (
Updated: 2007-06-16 20:16

More and more Chinese are beginning to have or accept tattoos, according to some tattoo fans said during the Tattoo Show Convention China 2007 in Beijing.

A photographer said that policemen in certain areas of east China's Jiangsu Province would question young men with tattoos years ago since they were usually regarded as punks looking for trouble.

A 27 year-old man surnamed Wang openly showed off his torso with his arms and back covered in tattoos. [Sun Yuqing/]More

A girl's tattoo is reflected during the Tattoo Show Convention China 2007 in Beijing June 16, 2007. [Sun Yuqing/] More

But now the practice of pricking indelible marks on the skin is becoming popular in China as the convention is crowded with men and women with different kinds of tattoos. The organizers hope this event can provide a platform for a healthy and professional development of tattoos in China and also offer the room for tattoo fans to exchange ideas.

A 27 year-old man surnamed Wang openly showed off his torso with his arms and back covered in tattoos. He wore army pants, wore a gold necklace and had a ring that pierced his lip. He said he was only 17 when he had his first tattoo, a black swirl of thorns on his left shoulder. Wang talked with his friends who also had tattoos, and he was friendly to those who touched his tattoos or asked for taking photos.

Wang also admitted his parents were against him having a tattoo at first but gradually they accepted his choice. Now, Wang's arms, chest, and back are tattooed with different designs. A design of dragon on his left arm was finished after 30 hours and the tattoo cost 8,000 yuan (more than US$1,000), said Wang.

A girl Tian Tian, 19, had her back tattooed with two evil-looking bald heads and she explained that she just liked the design. Tian Tian also acknowledged her parents didn't like the tattoo.

"It's my own business, and I have my own rights," said the teenager, who just quit her job in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province,

Many tattoo artists from other provinces were on hand to give fans tattoos at the convention.

One surnamed Lee said he has worked in this field for three years in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province. "It's a profitable job, and I earn about 10,000 yuan one month," claimed Lee. He developed his business mainly through friends and word of mouth.

However, Dong Dong, chief tattoo artist for Beijing-based Mummy Tattoo Studio, said that he couldn't earn that much, but he could earn enough to buy the materials for tattoos. Dong Dong has worked in the industry for eight years and he continues his major career of painting now.

He said: "In previous years, many people had tattoos just to show off and think they are cool. But now more people decide their own design and have tattoos because they are really interested in them." Dong Dong said that a good tattoo artist should have a good understanding and use of color transition, style and design.

Fun in the backyard with Kobe & Mooch

Friday, June 15, 2007

'Cream of Wheat' man gets grave marker

Fri Jun 15, 4:41 AM ET

A man widely believed to be the model for the smiling chef on Cream of Wheat boxes finally has a grave marker bearing his name.

Frank L. White died in 1938, and until this week, his grave in Woodlawn Cemetery bore only a tiny concrete marker with no name.

On Wednesday, a granite gravestone was placed at his burial site. It bears his name and an etching taken from the man depicted on the Cream of Wheat box.

Jesse Lasorda, a family researcher from Lansing, started the campaign to put the marker and etching on White's grave.

"Everybody deserves a headstone," Lasorda told the Lansing State Journal. He discovered that White was born about 1867 in Barbados, came to the U.S. in 1875 and became a citizen in 1890.

When White died Feb. 15, 1938, the Leslie Local-Republican described him as a "famous chef" who "posed for an advertisement of a well-known breakfast food."

White lived in Leslie for about the last 20 years of his life, and the story of his posing for the Cream of Wheat picture was known in the city of 2,000 located between Jackson and Lansing and about 70 miles west of Detroit.

The chef was photographed about 1900 while working in a Chicago restaurant. His name was not recorded. White was a chef, traveled a lot, was about the right age and told neighbors that he was the Cream of Wheat model, the Jackson Citizen Patriot said.

Long owned by Kraft Foods Inc., the Cream of Wheat brand was sold this year to B&G Foods Inc.

Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton renounce homophobia

Three prominent dancehall artists known for their anti-gay lyrics have signed the Reggae Compassionate Act

Rosie Swash
Thursday June 14, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

Three of the biggest names in reggae and dancehall music have agreed to renounce homophobia and excise lyrics promoting violence against gay people from their music. Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton, all previously responsible for anti-gay lyrics, have signed the Reggae Compassionate Act, a petition set up by the Stop Murder Music campaign.

All three musicians have suffered loss of revenue, which some reports estimate amounts to as much as £2.5 million, over recent years following high-profile boycott campaigns from organisations such Stop Murder Music and gay rights group OutRage! "The Reggae Compassionate Act is a big breakthrough," said Peter Tatchell, an OutRage! founder who is one of the forces behind the act. "The singers' rejection of homophobia and sexism is an important milestone. We rejoice at their new commitment to music without prejudice."

Dennis L Carney, vice-chairman for the Black Gay Men's Advisory Group, added: "This is a giant leap towards restoring peace, love and harmony to reggae music. These performers are sending a clear message that lesbians and gay men have a right to live free from fear and persecution - both here in the UK and in Jamaica."

While Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton have all pledged to "uphold the rights of all individuals to live without fear of hatred and violence due to their religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or gender", several other high-profile Jamaican artists have been singled out for not complying. "The other five murder-music artists, Elephant Man, TOK, Bounty Killa, Vybz Kartel and Buju Banton, have not signed the Reggae Compassionate Act. The campaign against them continues," said Tatchell. He added: "These artists have openly encouraged the murder of lesbians and gay men, which is a criminal offence in every country... [They] are the moral equivalent of neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan."

The pledge taken by Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton can be read here.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Japanese comic titans double the laughs


It was a marketing gimmick of the first order to open Takeshi Kitano's "Kantoku Banzai!" and Hitoshi Matsumoto's "Dai Nipponjin" on the same weekend. This head-to-head duel between films by the two reigning kings of Japanese comedy can only boost the box office of both.

Kantoku Banzai! Rating: (3.5 out of 5)
Star Star Star Star Star
Kantoku Banzai!

Director: Takeshi Kitano
Running time: 104 minutes
Language: Japanese
Now showing (June 8, 2007)
[See Japan Times movie listing]

A preliminary verdict of sorts has already been rendered by the Cannes Film Festival, where "Kantoku Banzai!" was rejected for the competition and "Dai Nipponjin" was selected for the Directors Fortnight section. A three-minute short Kitano made for an omnibus film commemorating Cannes' 60th anniversary screened — but so did 34 shorts by other directors. It's a cute throwaway, about a grimy worker wandering into a rundown rural theater where Kitano is the projectionist — and screws up the screening of Kitano's own "Kids Return" in the usual ways.

Similarly self-referential is "Kantoku Banzai," a film that Kitano has described as part of the ongoing "creative destruction" of his career, beginning in 2005 with "Takeshis'." In that film he played two versions of himself — one "Beat," a famous TV comedian, the other, "Takeshi," a scuffling actor who idolizes Beat. The film's many shifts between dream and reality are head-spinningly hard to follow — and "Takeshis' " was a box-office disappointment.

In "Kantoku Banzai!" Kitano has made his first all-out comedy since 1995's "Minna Yatteru ka" (Getting Any?) — the least screened of his films, for good reason, being little more than a feature-length dirty joke that falls flat. His new film, however, is more accessible and funnier, especially to anyone who has been following his long TV and film career. Kitano stars as "Kitano" — a director who is rummaging around the genre bin for his next film and coming up empty-handed. This, Kitano insists, is not only fiction — he hit an impasse and "Kantoku Banzai!" was his way of working through it, somewhat like Fellini with his crisis-of-confidence masterpiece "8 1/2." So we get Kitano trying and failing to make an Ozu-esque home drama, a tear-jerking love story, a gritty 1950s family drama, a ninja actioner and a J-horror movie. All have their comic moments, but only the family drama achieves something more than (deliberately lame) parody. Its alcoholic house painter father (Kitano), abused housewife mother, studious older brother and mischievous younger brother are all based on Kitano's own dysfunctional family — and its incidents, including the way poor shitamachi (old downtown Tokyo) residents fasten onto a new car like vultures on prey, give the lie to recent nostalgia about the glorious warm-hearted 1950s.

The film truly gets underway in its second act, in the tale of a mother- (Kayoko Kishimoto) and-daughter (Ann Suzuki) pair of grifters who attach themselves to a rich political fixer/philanthropist Mr. Big (Toru Emori) with the aim of marrying off the daughter to Mr. Big's idiot son. Kitano plays Mr. Big's hapless private secretary, who gets into various ridiculous scrapes in the service of his boss.

The gags come from the unfettered, unhinged late-night-TV side of Kitano's mind, not the serious-film-director side, in which the comedy is usually subsidiary to the larger story and not all that funny. A nice bizarro touch is the frequent appearance of a "Kitano doll" that takes the brunt of the punishment (getting dumped off a bridge, beaten to a pulp by goons, etc.) for Kitano in his various incarnations. A sign that the 60-year-old Kitano is getting too old for action scenes? Not really, since he also appears as a high-flying, sword-wielding ninja, taking on 60 opponents at once.

But the doll does get laughs and reminds us that Kitano's mind, creative blocks or no, is still one of the most original in Japanese — or world — show business. Its big joke: Kitano, who has ostensibly sworn off the violent gangster pics that made his reputation, has made — guess what? — another violent pic. Ho ho — but Kitano gives his 13th film the biggest possible send-off, taking the joke to another, higher, more explosive level.

If "Kantoku Banzai!" is a gag-studded treat for fans, "Dai Nipponjin" is an ambitious play for everyone from kiddies who like "Ultraman" to pointy heads who can spend endless coffee shop hours parsing the film's multilayered take on the Japanese spirit. Matsumoto, the boke (dim-wit) of the manzai duo Downtown, reportedly spent five years developing the film, his first as a director, discarding almost as many story ideas as Kitano did for "Kantoku Banzai!" But instead of subjecting the audience to his rejects, Matsumoto builds on a simple-but-brilliant comic premise with patience, subtlety and daring. The laughs come slowly at first, but pick up steam as the story progresses and, in my case, kept coming hours after the film was over.

Dai Nipponjin Rating: (4 out of 5)
Star Star Star Star Star
Dai Nipponjin
Hitoshi Matsumoto struts his stuff in "Dai Nipponjin." (c)2007 YOSHIMOTO KOGYO CO. LTD

Director: Hitoshi Matsumoto
Running time: 113 minutes
Language: Japanese
Now showing (June 8, 2007)
[See Japan Times movie listing]

The premise: the hero, one Daisato (Matsumoto), is being interviewed for a documentary, but looks and talks like a middle-aged loser. He lives alone in a cluttered firetrap of a house, has the scraggly hair of the homeless and is hated by his neighbors, who have decorated his front gate with exhortations to die or disappear. His business is being a superhero, but though he is fifth in the family line, the character he becomes — Dai Nipponjin (The Great Japanese) — has long since gone out of fashion. With his stand of straight black hair (imagine the electroshocked hero of "Eraserhead," with longer hair), short arms, long trunk and purplish pro-boxing briefs, Dai Nipponjin looks like a compendium of everything uncool in this age of long-limbed, artfully coifed, stylishly dressed Japanese superstars.

Also, instead of being of normal human size, like Superman or Spider-Man, Dai Nipponjin becomes as gigantic as the monsters he battles, through a process that is absurdly dated. How can the masses identify with such a grotesque throwback to old, unstylish Nippon? The short answer is, they can't, and despite his feats of derring-do (with monster introductions by a nasal-voiced narrators in the style of pre-war radio broadcasts), his TV ratings are slipping.

Matsumoto plays this character with an utterly straight face, while fleshing him out with deft, dry comic strokes. This approach is reminiscent of Ricky Gervais in "The Office," but Matsumoto has a wackier imagination — and gives it full rein, ending with a finale that threatens to degenerate into a violent, unfunny free-for-all. But it also offers a spot-on commentary on similar free-for-alls staged countless times on TV (by Downtown among others), as well as the distance Japan has traveled from its cultural and spiritual roots. Matsumoto, the hippest and smartest of comic puppetmasters, is never preachy or obvious. Also, unlike Kitano, he keeps his ego firmly on a leash. I give him round one of this battle of comic giants, by a decision.

The Japan Times: Friday, June 8, 2007

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