Creative License

What is that Creative Commons tag that you see on the bottom of many blogs, and why is it important? Check out this article that deals with not only copywrite issues of written word, but also music and video. It is interesting how Hilary Rosen, long percieved as “the Man” incarnate by people who oppose the RIAA, views the potential of Creative Commons in the present and future of the music industry.

When Will They Learn?

It seems that the engineers at Disneyland in Anaheim are trying to work out a way of restoring the speed to the teacups in an effort to return the Magic Kingdom to its former glory (here’s the link over at CNN)This is a smart move, but it is just one of many things that they must do in order to make people want to return there.
Justin wrote about this earlier in this post. I have a hunch that we are not the only native Californians who have grown up with fond memories of blasting cans and varmints with lightbeams with flintlock muskets, getting reprimanded for ramming into the rear fender of friends and siblings while tasting two-stroke lawnmower-grade exhaust in the muscle car inspired Autopia, looking for treasure and living fish while diving in yellow submarines, and seeing that hippo eat some well deserved lead on a cruise through the African jungle (Notice it was the jungle back then, as in a journey into Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. It was not the modern romanticized, wussified, tree-hugging, granola eating friendly term “rain forest” because back then a “rich, dynamic biodiversity” meant that there were a lot of different things that were out to eat or pester you.). Like New Coke, the changes to the original formula must go because, quite simply, they suck.
I don’t know about how Universal Studios Los Angeles has changed since I’ve been here, but Japan’s USJ has it down. Before Downtown Disney(the mall outside of Dland), the Universal Citywalk was a pretty cool place to go and chill on a free day and provided a good variety of decent places to eat (Tommy’s, Gladstones, etc…). This design was successfully copied (or more accurately, interpreted) in Osaka, and I recommend getting some ribs at the Chicago Rib Factory if you are there with a huge mug of porter (this is the first porter I have spotten in Japan, anywhere!) to wash it down with. As for inside the park, it has all of the standard attractions (T2 show, Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, etc…) and some things that you won’t find in L.A.. The show that they put on right before closing combines dancers, speedboats tugging acrobatic kites, water jets/lights/lazers in syncronized bursts, and lots of fireworks. Their mainstreet is a trip, not even remotely accurate to the Beverly Hills and Hollywood streets that it portrays- it is the material equivalent of what Japanese people think it is after watching a lot of “Beverly Hills, 90210”, “Beverly Hills Cop”, “Tough Guys” (anyone remember this Heston movie?) type media. I can not describe the sensation brought on by hearing the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” song from the animated TV show blaring in a back alley, next to one of the “studios” The standout rides were (predictably) Spiderman, Shrek (not a ride, technically) and (unexpectedly) Jaws.
Spiderman kicked ass, but I don’t like hearing him speak in Japanese. If I had my way, there would be subtitles translating what he said, but maybe that’s just me. It’s a mix between the Star Tours/Back to the Future ride on a track that changes rooms. Go check it out.
Shreck is set up as a regular movie theatre, but the chairs moved with the movie, and it sprayed water droplets, pneumatic bursts, and fog to bring the audience into the story. These elements combine quite effectively, and the only thing that was missing was incorporating a form of Smell-o-Vision into it (the cotton candy scent of the mist doesn’t count).
Jaws is a current version of how the Jungle Cruise was envisioned as being when it was first concieved. In fact, it’s a rip off of the JC except that the environment of the ride is a prop for the main star instead of the main attraction in itself. The tour guides, much like those in the old days of the JC, relish in their (intentionally) cartoonish schtick as the apathetic/spazzy/inexperienced/ADD kid who didn’t take his damned riddlin skipper, telling corny jokes and blasting away at Jaws with… A huge pump shotgun! Pyrotechnics, a lurching ride, and not caving into the anti-violence whinings of offended PC weaklings make for a refreshing experience. I’m not saying that the Jungle Cruise and Frontier Land should have large shotguns, but that they should return to how they were twenty years ago. In fact, I prefer the nostalgic six-shooter chrome plated cap gun in the jungle context because it belongs there.
Until Disneyland is freed from the tyranny of minority of over-sensitive pansy crybabies, it will continue to wither away and alienate those of us who remember how it was and how it should be.
If you really must have something new and revolutionary to unveil at Disneyland, here it is: Stop serving nasty food at your fast food counters and give us what we will gladly pay for(not all of them are nasty, but the one in Tomorrowland under the rockets is). Return the authentic barbecue to Frontierland, next to the murderous Big Thunder Mountain rollercoaster. Nothing ruins a good day like a steamed hamburger and limp, cold french fries and knowing that you paid too much for it. And pass out shotguns for the Small World ride. Now THAT, would generate interest and attract a whole new as of yet untapped demographic to the Magic Kingdom.

Hot Frontier Action

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The tiny blanket fails in hiding the Cheif’s enthusiastic undertaking.
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During a long cattle drive through the arid lands of the Southwest, sometimes cowboys were forced to use what was readily available on the trail to feed orphaned calves. Occasionally, these practices developed into something different.

Current Archaeological Activity in Afghanistan

When I hear the word Taliban my hardwired neural response has brought up images of terrorists, Osama Bin Laden, and Afghanistan catalogued from National Geographic articles, James Michener’s words, and old news clips. I hadn’t thought about the huge Buddha statues that they destroyed since before the U.S. initiated a regime change, but I haven’t forgotten about it. I remember watching the reports about the Buddhas in the Hindu Kush being blown up and feeling a deep sense of despair, even though I am not Buddhist.
It seems that there are plans being made to sort through the broken pieces to reconstruct the Buddha of Bamiyan from the many pieces (check out this article at Discover Magazine). Apparently, some researchers were able to make a 3-D model of the Buddha by using the collective data of digital photographs. Another group is analyzing the distribution of specific materials used to construct different parts of the statue with the hope that this information might help to fit the pieces together precisely how they were to before the TNT.
The article also mentions that it is likely that a statue of a Sleeping Buddha is located nearby, just waiting to be excavated. It’s kind of ironic that this Buddha is safe (if it still exists) due to the Taliban’s own actions. If further excavation had been allowed in 1979, that Buddha might have been destroyed as well. It will be interesting to see how these archaological projects develop. I think that it would be cool if they could rebuild the Buddha of Bamiyan from the sum of its parts.
This article also reminds me of the Buddha of Leshan story, which any JET will recall reading and repeating to their students, possibly for the speech contest, if they have used the New Horizon textbooks in their Chugakko. That story was one of the rare few which I didn’t mind reading aloud 3 times in a row, unlike the one about the aincent tree narating its memory of seeing a little girl and boy die from radiation poisoning at the end of WWII. It is a powerful story, but quite painful in a different sort of way to hear 20 times in a row, narrated by student after student in the same theatrical style.

Recruiting a New A-Team

Apparently they are planning on making a movie. I always wanted to see someone actually get hit by a bullet, just once. The plan sounds good so far.
Just one question. Who can they find to play the part of BA that won’t be a dissapointment? It had better not be Ving Rhames, Bob Sapp, or Deebo from Friday. What if they made B.A. into a white guy and gave the part to Vin Diesel? Expect the worst, hope for the best.

Kyushu Danshi Reunion

I have been up for more than 24 hours now, and have good memories of meeting up with Luke, Mark, and Manami, who came up for capoeira and sightseeing respectively. The capoeira meet was crazy (Justin put up his pics here)- I can only say that it was like watching contortionist gymnists sparing with eachother pumped up on amphetamines. Luke held his own against all who took him on, despite their initial attempts to haze him. Respect, biotches…
We met up with Mark and Manami after at the after party and after-after party and proceeded to drink like old times. Some choice individual words will give an impression of the night out:
congas and djembes
unexpected huge matsuri in Namba
dijiradoo
techno nunchakus
long island ice tea
kinryu (different from the chain down in Kyushu) ramen
internet cafe vs. karaoke (debating where to catch some sleep at 4 in the morning- internet cafe won)
Damn. I miss nights out with the old crew- The Fingerhut brothers, Joe, Danny, Jason, Matt, Luke, and everyone else who used to come out to drink, cause trouble, and find any excuse to celebrate something with a get together or party. We may have all gone our separate ways, but when our paths will cross there is one thing for certain. Some pretty interesting things will happen in quick succession.

The Usuki Magaibutsu

Oita remains one of my favorite areas of Kyushu to explore. After work, I’d often hop in my car and drive in the general direction of either Beppu (on the Yamanami Highway) or Oita city (on the 57), and check out signs, attractions, unmarked roads, and other promising prospects that would cross my path. On one of these excursions, while driving through Usuki City (near the coast) I happened upon this place.
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Continue reading The Usuki Magaibutsu