• My Top Five Albums of 2019

    When I sat down to write a “best of the year” list, I realized it would have to be my top five albums of 2019. This year hit me especially hard, and I wasn’t able to catch a ton of new releases in other mediums. For better or for worse, streaming means all the new music I want for the same amount of money each month. So, without further ado, here are my picks for the top five albums of 2019!


    5

    LAMB-THE SECRET OF LETTING GO

    Lamb has always been a very hit-and-miss band for me. Each of their previous albums had 2-3 tracks I absolutely loved and a lot of other tracks that I didn’t really care for. It’s with great surprise and delight that I put one of their albums in my top five this year. 

    This is by far their most accomplished and focused album. They’ve traded their ambient trip-hop for, well, less-ambient trip-hop. All of the songs here are catchy and memorable, even the slower and more atmospheric ones. The Secret of Letting Go sees Lamb perfecting their songwriting and highlighting their ability to evoke melancholy, all while managing to keep sight of what made their sound unique in the first place.


    4

    APOPTYGMA BERZERK-SDGXXV

    Look. We all would have rather had a new studio album from Apoptygma Berzerk this year. It’s been ten years since Rocket Science (does Exit Popularity Contest count as a studio album?). Anyways, if a studio album was off the table, you could do a lot worse than SDGXXV. The album is a remixed and reworked version of their very first album, Soli Deo Gloria, which came out 25 years ago this year. Get it?

    Eighteen artists contributed tracks to this re-imagined version of Apop’s EBM masterpiece. As with any kind of remix album, not all the songs here are winners. However, most of them do offer fresh interpretations of songs that we’ve all had on repeat for ages. I’m just excited it didn’t take another decade to finally get some “Backdraft” remixes. 

  • Meshikou Review: Welcome to the Holy Ramen Empire in Columbus

    Meshikou is a ramen shop located in a strip mall on Bethel Road, sitting between a computer repair store and a poker club. From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but you know what they say: don’t judge an open kitchen ramen shop by its cover.

    Walking inside, I was immediately taken aback by how nice it looked. The decor has a clean and contemporary aesthetic to it. Customers can sit at snazzy wooden tables or the counter for a more authentic Japanese ramen experience. While it’s on the small side, Meshikou looks more like an upscale Short North restaurant than something you’d expect to find in a strip mall.

    I started the meal with an iced water and a genmaicha hot tea. Going against the current Columbus trends, I was served a glass of water with ice actually inside of it. I didn’t have to pour my own room temperature water from a salvaged milk bottle into a small iceless glass. While I’m not usually a tea person, the genmaicha was some of the most delicious tea I have ever had and became an instant favorite.

    For appetizers, I went with the Enoki Bacon Wrap and the Salt and Pepper Chicken Wing. The bacon wraps were just okay. They didn’t have much flavor and the portion size was sparse for the price. I’m swiping left on the Enoki Bacon Wrap.

    The Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings, on the other hand, were amazing. These large wings were seasoned and fried perfectly and then tossed with fresh pepper, onion, jalapeno and garlic. They were seriously yummy and I had to stop myself from eating all of them to save room for the actual ramen.

    The Fireball Miso Ramen I ordered consists of chicken chintan broth infused with miso paste and a ball of spicy garlic paste, served with wavy noodles. It’s topped with kikurage mushrooms, corn, white scallions, and a marinated soft boiled egg. You can choose to finish it off with pork belly or pork tenderloin. I opted for the pork belly.

    My ramen was absolutely incredible. After mixing everything together a bit, I alternated between chopsticks and spoon to greedily devour the contents of my giant bowl. The noodles and pork belly were cooked to perfection. Something bold and heavenly was created as all of the flavors came together. Before I knew it, I had tipped the remaining contents of the bowl into my mouth. It was over far too soon.

    Whether you’re a ramen aficionado or a first-timer looking to try something different, Meshikou won’t disappoint. It has some of the best ramen Columbus had to offer. Seriously. Check it out.

  • Tenchi Muyo! Fifth OVA Series Release Date Set

    The first Blu-ray disc of the fifth OVA series of the anime series Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki, which was popular mainly in the 1990s, will be released on February 28, 2020 in Japan. The fifth OVA will be six episodes long. If you pre-order all six volumes, you’ll get the pilot novel as a pre-order bonus (just like they did with OVA 4).

    The Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki series started when Masaki Tenchi released a “demon”  that was sealed away in his grandfather’s shrine. It’s a sci-fi comedy that revolves around the antics of aliens who have come to the Earth for various reasons. In addition to OVA (original video animation) and movie versions, the TV versions also gained popularity. Tenchi Muyo OVA 5 will be directed by Keitaro Motonaga, who also directed Digimon Adventure Tri.

    STAFF

    General Director: Masaki Kajishima ▽ Director: Keitaro Motonaga ▽ Series Composition / Screenplay: Hideki Shirane ▽ Character Draft: Masaki Kajishima ▽ Character Design / Overall Director: Sayuri Sakimoto ▽ Art Setting: Miki Miyamoto ▽ Art Director: Miki Miyamoto ▽ Color Setting: Takuya Kawami ▽ Acoustic director: Yasunori Honda ▽ Ending Theme Song: Kaori Oda ▽ Sound Production: Pony Canyon Enterprise ▽ Animation Production: AIC ▽ Animation Production Cooperation: A-Line

    News translated and adapted from MANTANWEB.

  • What Can’t You Put On A Billboard?

    What Can't You Put On A Billboard?

    Since my time working in the out-of-home industry was recently put to an end, I thought I’d answer one of the most common questions I’d get: what can’t you put on a billboard? The answer is almost as nebulous as the question itself. Let’s take a look at a billboard that was recently taken down.

    This controversial billboard (pictured above) was recently taken down in Columbus, Ohio. It features an elderly woman in a spacesuit, holding a helmet in one hand and a gun in the other. The text on the billboards reads, “It’s my birthday, b*tch.”

    It was purchased by social media and viral video star, Ross Smith. The woman on the billboard is Ross’s grandmother, who frequently appears in his videos. According to Ross, the billboard was supposed to be a birthday present for his grandma and its intent was to mock the “Storm Area 51” movement.

    After the mass shootings in El Paso on Aug. 3rd and Dayton on Aug. 4th, the billboard company received several complaints about the billboard. It was removed immediately.

    There are a lot of opinions about removing this billboard, both for and against. Many people can’t believe it ever went up in the first place. What actually is and isn’t allowed on a billboard, anyhow? Previously, buying a billboard meant you bought from an advertising expert, so knowing content regulations wasn’t necessary. Technology now allows anyone to buy a billboard online, so it’s more important for media buyers and marketers to understand the rules and regulations.

  • From Astral Chain To Zetman: The Story Of Masakazu Katsura

    Although he’s a famous manga artist in Japan, there’s a good chance you’ve probably never heard of Masakazu Katsura – and if you have, it probably wasn’t until very recently. He’s the character designer for Astral Chain, the latest action title from PlatinumGames. In anticipation of Astral Chain’s release, we’re taking a tour through some of his previous work so you can become better acquainted with his output (if you’re not one of the lucky people who’s already a fan, of course).

    Masakazu Katsura was born in Japan in 1962. Growing up, he was always good at drawing, though amazingly, he never wanted to be a manga artist and had little interest in the medium, preferring movies and novels. He entered a manga contest when he was in high school purely so he could raise the funds to buy a stereo with the prize money; fame was not at the forefront of his mind at that time. As it turned out, he ended up winning the award and it launched his career.

    Grab a box of tissues and get ready to nurse those broken hearts as we take a look back at some of Katsura’s career-defining titles.

    This article was written for Nintendo Life. Please read the full article here.

     

  • Christina Kubisch and Her Electrical Walks

    I wrote this paper on Christina Kubisch and her electrical walks back in grad school. Reading through it again, I think the “finding narrative” section perhaps needs a revamp. That being said, I did a decent amount of research on both Kubisch’s work and the foundations of sound walks in general, so I thought it was worth posting. Enjoy!


     

     

    Electrical Walks and the Living Narratives of Cities

    Introduction

    In her electrical walks, Christina Kubisch provides walkers with a pair of headphones and asks them to explore the city. The headphones are not normal headphones. These headphones plug into the stories of the city. They are custom made headphones that convert the electromagnetic fields given off by any electronic device into sounds. Each walker explores the city, making choices and discovering the hidden sounds of the city. Each electrical walk produces a personal mix of the city created by the walker, who plays both spectator and artist in the context of the walk. By participating in the project, each walker is exposed to and asked to express the stories of the city in whatever way they deem fit. What, if any, meaning is behind these electrical walks? What does the living, breathing narrative of the city sound like?

    This paper is divided into several sections. Since these electrical walks are a deviation from the more traditional soundwalks, the first section takes a look at the basic purpose and theory behind them. The second part gives a history of how Kubisch’s work as well as how she developed her electrical walks and describes what the experience is like. The next section defines these electrical walks in the context of participatory art and explains how the walkers can manipulate the sounds and how and why this makes this participatory. Finally, the last section will put everything together and attempt to answer questions of narrative and meaning related to the electrical walks.

  • El-Hazard Coming to Blu-Ray

    Nozomi have announced that they’re rescuing the El-Hazard franchise from licensing limbo. While they had already rescued El-Hazard The Wanderers series years ago, they’re bringing over El-Hazard: The Magnificent World, El Hazard 2: The Magnificent World, and El-Hazard: The Alternative World to DVD and Blu-ray in 2020.

    All of these were originally localized by Geneon/Pioneer decades ago. The original OVA series — Magnificent World — is a classic and still holds up really well. It’s sequel OVA — Magnificent World 2 — is pretty bad. The TV series retelling of the original OVA — The Wanderers — is also pretty bad. The other TV series — Alternative World — takes place in the OVA canon and while it’s decent, I’ve never successfully watched the whole thing.

    Kudos to Nozomi for giving me the opportunity to pick up the original OVA on Blu-ray without having to import from Japan. I can’t say the other series would be worth upgrading to Blu-ray versions, but if you haven’t seen the original, it’s definitely worth checking out. Maybe this will get people excited for that gritty El-Hazard reboot that’s in the works.

     

     

  • Beth B’s Stigmata and The Cinema of Transgression

    Today, we’ll be taking a look at Beth B’s Stigmata. Before we can do that, we need to talk about a bit about Structuralism. The Structural film movement seemed to be a response to the seemingly complex experimental films that came shortly before it. Those working within the movement wanted to return to a simpler film form. The filmmakers considered to be part of the Cinema of Transgression were responding to the Structural movement. They found Structuralism to be boring and even elitist. According to Nick Zedd’s manifesto, they wanted film to be dangerous again.

    In terms of imagery, the film is very simple. Most of the film features six persons, centered, at medium close-up. On top of that, there are some different shots used sparingly throughout the film: a bird flying in a building, a POV shot of someone looking out of a window, a horse pulling a carriage, older people sitting on a bench.

    The film begins with the six interviewees talking about their horrible childhoods and the great pain they felt inside of them. They all begin talking about how they dealt with that pain, eventually leading to the fact that they were all drug addicts. As the film goes on they all talk about their experience with abusing drugs and then how they all eventually decided to get treatment. The use of the talking heads and the almost non-existence of an interviewer immediately reminded me of Errol Morris. I find it really interesting to just sit back and listen to people talk in this manner.

    Looking at the film in formal terms, I was almost surprised to read afterward that Cinema of Transgression was a response to what people didn’t like about Structural film. I liked this film, but in terms of form, I wouldn’t exactly call it exciting or dangerous. In fact, a lot of Structural films probably contained more camera movement.

    The main difference would be the content. In Structural film, the form tends to be (or is valued more than) the content. The strength of this film is the content. Based on the title, I actually thought the interviewees would all claim to have experienced stigmata. As it went on it, I thought it would be about suicide attempts. By the time I figured out it was about drug addiction, I was so interested in them and their stories, I wasn’t even thinking about what the film was about. It also fits into the Cinema of Transgression because the film is about drug addiction and as Peterson points out that Postmodernist films of this kind tend to seek out kinds of impurity.

    While I liked the film I do have mixed feelings on the run time. Part of me feels like it was just a little too long and another part feels that that thirty-eight minutes wasn’t nearly enough time to learn about these people and their struggles. I mentioned how Errol Morris uses a similar kind of interview technique (I’m guessing Beth B. didn’t use an interrotron) and part of the reason his films are great because of the way he blends music, re-enactments, and graphics with the interviews. I don’t believe the simplicity hurts the film, but if this is supposed to be a kind of attack on Structuralism, I expected just a little more excitement.

  • Evangelion Reference in Once and Again

    On this, the eve of Evangelion dropping on Netflix, I present to you the scene in Once and Again where the uber popular anime series is mentioned. This from from season 2, episode 7, “Learner’s Permit.” In this episode, Grace goes out with Pace’s annoying friend, Spencer, in hopes that Pace will become jealous and ask her on a date. The two do share a moment, and a kiss, brought on by the power of Evangelion discussion.

  • Looking Back At Picket Fences

    A Critical Analysis of Picket Fences:

    Season 1, Episode 18

    “The Body Politic”

     

    INTRODUCTION

    After working on L.A. Law as a writer and story editor for five seasons, lawyer-turned-writer Dave E. Kelley wanted to focus on a show of his own. The show was an hour-long dramedy based around the family of the sheriff of the fictitious town of Rome, Wisconsin. CBS worked a deal out with Kelley and the first episode of Picket Fences aired on September 18, 1992. Combining high drama, low humor, controversial issues, and some of the most memorable plotlines and characters television has ever seen, Picket Fences ran for four seasons, winning fourteen Emmy awards and two Golden Globes. This paper serves as a critical analysis, defining and exploring how different aspects of Picket Fences worked together to create one of the best television shows of the last few decades.

    THESIS AND LOGLINE

    The thesis of the show can be found within the title. The white picket fence is a symbol associated with happy suburban living. It symbolizes the American Dream: a fulfilling job, a sizable stable income, and a nice house filled with a happy family. The basic theme of Picket Fences is that underneath all the guise of prosperity and happiness, life is weirder and a lot more complicated than people let on. It looks at where one person’s rights begin and another’s end, which is appropriate as fences are often used to mark boundaries. Ordinary people struggle with complicated ethical and moral issues every day and the answers are not always easy. David Lynch used the symbol of a picket fence ironically in his 1986 film Blue Velvet, which explored the dark underbelly of a suburban neighborhood. While the title of the show may be viewed as ironic, the show does not treat its content ironically. It creates real characters that are usually trying to do the right thing or to understand their own prejudices against others. The problem is that the “right thing” is not always clear.

    The logline for the show is: an aging sheriff tries to keep the peace in a small town plagued by bizarre and violent crimes. As the sheriff, it is Jimmy’s job to keep the town under control and the focus of the show usually revolves around him and his family. While perhaps simplified, the logline does an adequate job of describing the basic premise of Picket Fences. The use of the word “bizarre” also prepares the audience for the use of unconventional plotlines.