Japan – Niigata: when my camera was terrible

Today’s smartphone cameras have become so capable it’s hard to remember that carrying a camera was once a conscious choice. Once upon a time I had a camera in my pocket that was five times the size of a smartphone and it was complete garbage. Times have changed, have you noticed?

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On this blog, we are very, very slowly making our way through my past travels. Lots of Japan to go. Wanted to do a complete, worthwhile post on Niigata, but can’t. Nearly every one of my shots from that trip are absolute, grainy, garbage.

Most of that was me. I’m not the expert photographer I am now (cue laugh track including laughing by drunken hyenas). But also, at the time my camera was pathetic. I don’t even have it anymore, or remember what it was.

Here are the only shots worth posting. Enjoy. Who gardens better than the Japanese? Not me. Not you.

Uh, Niigata’s great. Go.

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there’s only one Joker

Apparently there’s a new Joker movie coming out.  It’s the fourth one this year.  I’ve never seen any of them.  They say this new one’s pretty good, I won’t be seeing it either.  Just don’t care, I’m over superhero, or superhero villain movies.

I think the only Joker I’ve seen was with Ledger, he did okay I guess.  I just found him completely uninteresting, even boring, because he played the part as a stark-raving-mad-brutal-psychopath.

There’s only one Joker, and it’s Jack Nicholson.  There will never be another.  All others are frauds.  His is the perfect combination of brutality, camp, evil, seriousness, character motivation & development, fun, and just plain great acting.  It will never be topped.

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That is all.  Please carry on.

 

 

Sean Bean seeks immortality

Great news! Sean Bean no longer wants to die. Said the global movie star, walking corpse, professional axe thrower, and jai-alai extraordinaire: “I’ve turned down stuff. I’ve said, “They know my character’s going to die because I’m in it!”

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“A ghost on Twitter.”

 

These are some of the positive changes in life, with so much else going wrong in the world, you can at least bank in the win column that in Bean’s forthcoming World War 2 role that an SS stooge isn’t going to cleave him in half with a flaming chainsaw.

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“Just another day at the office lads.  Be sure to clean up the mess.”

 

When you read this article, it’s comical how many different ways Bean gets tuned up on screen. It also kind of surprised me that Bean has died so many times because he’s played an evil villain.

I think this is because in my brain Bean is primarily Richard Sharpe. But in most of his death roles he’s been a murderer, rapist, terrorist, traitor, etc, etc.

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“Me, die?  Oh, oh no, mate.  This is the Sharpe Series.  I make other people die.”

 

But, we at TAP know more. We’ve also received exclusive word that not only does Bean not wish to die on set anymore, he also wishes to never die in real life.

Our contacts overheard him and his mates at The Major Pub & Grille in York. Bean was explaining his master plan at immortality. My agents even swiped the bar napkin he drew for his lads showing the infernal machine that will sustain his life until our Sun explodes.

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Bean also specifically said he’d do it right, and not like that “shite, con game” that was The Frankenstein Chronicles. This warms my heart to hear.

We fully endorse this plan. Bean just needs the funds to make it happen. If you’d like to contribute a small amount of your vast international gold reserves to help Sean Bean achieve immortality, please kindly mail cash or gold bullion to the following address:

The Arcturus Project – Sean Bean Immortality Project

C/O Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation

1794 Aguiyi Ironsi Street

Abuja 900001, Nigeria

 

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“Oh, hey there my Orc lads, just turned 1,376 today. Fancy a celebratory pint?”

is there a global leader who’s not a closet felon?

From Trump to Clinton to British royalty to [insert any elite person here] it seems there wasn’t anybody in power or money who didn’t deliberately fall into the spider web woven by Jeffery Epstein and his no doubt very large army of enablers and flunkies. Remember folks, these are the people who make decisions for you, and generally speaking, are supposed to be improving your lives. Or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to work, but no longer does.

What makes all this even more comical is that Epstein got the chance to off himself in a federal prison. Forget the conspiracy theories where a gaggle of coked out drunk alien assassins were hired by the illuminati to do him in. Dude literally hung himself with a bedsheet while a government contractor making minimum wage was in the loo browsing a dating app on his smartphone and wondering when the fuck his watch was supposed to end.

In an era where all our elite leaders are too deeply in the flesh trade to actually govern, it’s no wonder why the most junior of all government employees is so bad at their job they can’t prevent a grown man from hanging himself in a high security federal prison. It’s a true metaphor for failure from top to bottom.

And the best part is, none of this was a secret. Just like how apparently all of Hollywood knew what that Harvey guy was doing, so everybody seems to have known what Epstein was doing. It was just the way things were.  It went on for decades in both cases.

If any of these guys made $12 as a Walmart packer, they’d all be in prison for decades. Instead, they’ll get to move on in life because nothing says the game isn’t rigged like being able to rub palms with a known sex offender without consequences.  There are rules for the weak, and impunity for the powerful.

The federal justice system convicts at a stasi like rate of 99%.  They’ll put a 19 year old who gets caught on the streets of Baltimore with a baggy of crack behind bars for two decades.  But damned if they’ll get around to cleaning house with a powerful senator, or banker, or celebrity who enabled a 15 year old to be raped.

This is how societies and cultures fail. Washington, Lincoln, Churchill, all these consequential leaders who carved the world we live in today, gee these dudes sure did have their own flaws. But I’m pretty sure closet felon wasn’t among them.

PS.   By the way, there’s no picture to this post. Why? Because almost every photo on this issue seems to already be doctored (faked) in some way, by one side or the other, to emphasize that Epstein was associated with [insert political rival here]. As if, one should be forced to forget, that everybody was in on this game.  It’s cultural suicide.

The National Gallery of Art – you’re not welcome

Sometimes the safest way to get through the day is to never get excited about anything. That way if things tank, you can just shrug and go get a beer. Instead, I got somewhat excited, things tanked, and it sort of robbed me of part of my brain for the rest of the day.

Those unfortunate to be long time readers of this blog will remember I occasionally go to galleries, dig Japan, and like weird art. I thought this was encapsulated in a visit to the National Gallery of Art which I walked to after being in DC for work.

They had a visiting exhibition on Japanese art and animals. What could go wrong?

The exhibit appeared to be underwhelming, and lacking structure, so I was having a hard time getting sucked in. But, this was because I spent the entire time looking over my shoulder to see whether a security guard was going to yell at me again.

I’ve probably been to a dozen galleries across the globe and never had to talk to a security guard, let alone interact negatively with one. It happened to me at The National Gallery of Art, four times, in less than an hour. Whether they were unhappy with the way I was carrying my backpack, or how close I was standing to an exhibit, or so on, they were in your face. They even got directly into the face of some poor old guy who was clearly hard of hearing.

Here is how a normal human interaction should work:

“Excuse me Sir, we would ask you stand back from the exhibit. You’re a bit too close. Thanks so much.”

This is how The National Gallery of Art thinks human interactions should work:

“HELLO!!!???”

I literally walked out. I said something unfortunate to the fourth guard, waved him off, and stormed out. I’ve never done this before. I was in the place for less than an hour. What a shame.

Turns out my experience is not rare. So now I’ll turn it over to some additional online reviews for folks who didn’t appreciate a Stasi like experience while looking at art, some of these are just heinous:

Lived in Paris where I had the very best art available. This is the best American art displayed I have seen by far. One complaint: I have a service dog and the staff who watch over the art in each of the rooms containing art were always anticipating my service dog was going to do something wrong (which never happens….ever) and they were anxious to catch it in the act. It was hard to relax and enjoy the art when someone is doing that to you in every room you enter over and over and over for hours.

Wow my son is 12 and I’ve raised him correctly, I dont need you following you telling me to not let him touch.

there are scumbag security officers working there. i was not warned in advance about closing time i didnt gave time to gather stuff. they got physically aggressive with me when it was closing at five pm. i am deaf and schizophrenic. i was trying to draw in peace in their galleries. i recommend to avoid the area. dangerous staff and guards. even the info desk lady scowled at me for being evidently deaf. avoid this hellhole.

The place is jammed with sweaty rude security guards that looked at me as if I had no business there and followed me around as if I was in a department store about to steal something. If I had blue eyes and blonde hair I’m certain I would have had a different experience. If you are of color go with someone or be prepared to be uncomfortable . I’m so disappointed because I love art and had planned to visit often but the security staff is extremely unprofessional and ruined the atmosphere for me to fully enjoy the art. Also no curator at any of the popular exhibits I visited. I expected more from the nations capital😶😢😒

How can you get kids interested in art if they are not welcome at all! I went to visit with my 3 kids (10, 7 and 5). We live in the area but I was waiting for the right time to go as I was hoping to get them interested in art at a young age. Unfortunately my experience was really bad. The museum is great as it hosts great works of art, however almost every person I interacted was either a snob (very common on people interested in art for some reason) or plain rude. As soon as we entered the very first room, my 7 year old got to about 2 feet from a painting pointing at something he liked. My wife quickly stopped him and started explaining that he needed to stay away from the art. Even though she stopped him in time and we clearly had the kids under control, a security guard came and started scolding my son. My son got really scared, sat on a sofa and started sobbing silently, since he wanted to cover his face he put his legs on the sofa to cover his face with his knees. The guard came to him again and told him he needed to take his shoes off the (very cheap and plastic) sofa. I told the guard he was overreacting since he was just a kid and then he started with his typical speech of “you cannot tell me how to do my work” and actually asked us to leave the room. We did not leave the museum but you can imagine the kids have no interest on ever going to that museum again, and neither do I. I have great respect for the Smithsonian as an institution and love all other museums, however I was deeply sadden with the experience. I really cannot imagine how art can be promoted to kids if they are not welcome at all.

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fuck this place

we demolish Stella Artois’ (aka InBev) pathetic advertising lies

Once upon a time it was said that celebrities who wanted to make money shilling product were required to go to Japan to do it. It was considered poor taste and reflective that the actor’s career was in the tank if they tried it in America. This is the entire plot point of Lost in Translation (which remains among my favorite movies) where a washed up Bill Murray heads out there to hock Nippon whiskey.

Well, those days are long, long over. Soon it’ll be no big deal to see a celebrity promoting a vacuum cleaner. I don’t really care either way, I hate most celebrities anyways and so couldn’t care less how they earn their coin. But it’s directly applicable to the point of this post which is to assault the lies of Stella Artois.

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During this last Super Bowl the viewer got to see Carrie Bradshaw and The Dude drinking Stella. The idea that The Dude drinks anything other than white russian is bullshit, but I digress. Now they’ve dragged out Idris Elba to push the beer. A guy who would have made a great 007, but turned it down, is now reduced to pushing this cheap beer. What a loser. Doesn’t he already have enough boats?

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The general idea of the ad campaign is that Stella is fancy, a sophisticated way to poison your body by ingesting a toxin known as alcohol. The most emphatic scenes in these commercials are the ones where they show dressed up rich people swilling Stella at the original 1926 Christmas party. And there’s multiple shots where Stella poured from the tap foams over and requires the use of a foam knife.

I laughed out loud at the foam knife part. For those who don’t know, in the old days draft beer typically came in barrels. Before the age of refrigeration these barrels basically sat at room temperature. With warm beer, when the carbon dioxide was exposed you got a ton of foam into the mug. So barkeeps needed the foam knife to get rid of all this extra foam. To the modern drinker, this warm beer would have tasted skunked or funky due to the poor overall carbonation of the end product.

Only later when keeping beer cool became widespread did this practice disappear because it was no longer required. It’s why you don’t see bartenders using foam knives today, unless they’re tapping a firkin. So while it looks fancy (in theory) what Stella is basically saying in these commercials is that they prefer Stella warm at room temperature, at poor quality, and skunked out. You can even reinforce this trend by buying the Stella foam knife on Amazon (I’m not joking) so that you too can dispense warm, poor quality beer to your guests.

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Stella is a mainstay European beer and has been for decades. Only recently has the goal changed to sell it widely in America. In 2008, Stella got wrapped up in the creation of the AB InBev behemoth creation which probably now sells half the beer on the planet. Sometime later somebody at InBev was probably like, hey we can sell Stella to dumb Americans and pass it off as real swanky Euro beer.

Now I’m one who truly believes there is no actual bad beer. I’ll drink just about anything. But there are certainly beers that aren’t good, and Stella’s one of them. It’s basically just Europe’s Bud or Miller. There’s nothing special about it. Except the advertising campaign that says so. That and the stupid (and entirely unnecessary) tulip glass that they always show it in.

So is this scam working on the American people? No shocker here: Yes! From 2010-2015, Stella sales more than doubled in America. Today Stella remains one of the country’s fastest growing beers. It’s why you see it and those stupid tulip glasses in almost every bar now. And you better believe they’re not charging you Bud or Miller prices for Stella. Nope! You’re paying extra for that ultra-fancy Euro beer, fools.

The Giant Octopus is very wise and aggressive. I wonder how many Americans know that Stella is owned by InBev, or what InBev even is? Or that in Europe Stella is basically Bud? Hell, I doubt most Americans even know that Bud is foreign owned. But basically it worked, Stella’s blatant advertising lies have made a ton of gold for them. So, sadly, I guess the conclusion of this post is once again that we’re all doomed.

In general, society’s just not smart enough (or doesn’t care enough) and is happy to be manipulated and lead around on a leash by the Giant Octopus, straight to the bar, to hand over its cash without coherent thought. Doomed! [sigh]

the tyranny of public music

Lots of things are everywhere: oxygen, people, squirrels, cable hate news, oppressive heat, ghosts, and so on. But public music has (for whatever reason inside my twisted brain) been my problem lately.

The easiest example of this is the lightweight, feel good, soft rock or pop rock they play in the grocery store. My contempt for this knows no bounds. I have to bring my own music; I can’t stand to listen to it otherwise.

They just opened this dynamite Yucatan place within walking distance of my apartment. They’re a small chain but are awesome. I walk by them this morning towards the train station and they now have a speaker that blasts music outside their front door, it’s playing soft rock.

If there’s anything I can’t stand more than music I can’t stand, it’s music broadcasted to the public in a manner that assumes the least amount of risk possible. I’m sure a team of corporate suits got together and developed, “Safe Corporate Playlist for Modern Demographic Populace – Version #498b”. This is available to your local chain store for $14.99 a month per store. The suits made billions last year and then blew it all on their third boat and coke.

We here at TAP are here to help. Our wisdom knows no bounds. Our ideas will be adopted everywhere. Please spread the word. Your cooperation, as always, is truly appreciated. We truly, do truly, desire to keep liquidation to an absolute minimum. Here is what we want played in public from now on:

1) generic, faceless, pointless soft rock

2) unhinged death metal to include constant screaming and nonsensical electric guitar riffs lasting seven minutes

3) genuine classical music

4) medieval monk chants with accompanying children’s choir

5) full blown profanity laced gangster rap that makes elderly women exclaim “Oh Dear!” inside the store

6) Michael Jackson, sandwiched before and after with voiceovers regarding the exploitation of children

7) spoken word album read by Christopher Walken on the Book of Ruth

8) genuine classic metal back before all those bands sold out

9) violin or flute playing by a talented high school student

10) we’ll throw in some female pop rock or whatever they call that stuff, the one with the famous women

11) country music, or at least the unimaginative kind not written by a team of Nashville boardroom suits

12) audio playback of YOUR coworkers talking in the next cubicle about the most mundane and eye wateringly foolish things

13) chants from a reborn ancient Aztec death cult which will make even the most hated of modern political views seem tame by comparison

14) classic Sinatra; as in the ones he recorded while completely wasted, with a dame waiting in the next room

15) no Christmas music, ever

16) Vladislav’s greatest hits of 1976, including his famed electrical metal album, “Tashkent or Bust”

17) please, help me

18) no really, please help me

19) I don’t know why I did this

20) 20! 20 line items; blogs are magical