Thursday, August 24, 2023


I'm... back?

My last post here was four years ago. There are a few reasons for that - obviously nobody BLOGS anymore, right? This isn't 1996. The world moved on; Facebook, then Twitter, then Instagram, WhatsApp, all that crap. And Google stopped even bothering showing anybody anything written by actual humans in search. It's all just ads and stuff for sale now. So nobody's reading this. I know that.

But I dunno, Facebook's algorithm has deteriorated too lately, most of my actual friends have left anyway, and I guess I'm old enough now that I just never really got into any of the newer social media platforms. I'm on Instagram but I honestly don't really understand how it works. I use WhatsApp but it's more of a chat platform anyway. I did Twitter apparently for one year (looking at my timeline), then kind of lost interest, and now that it's gone "
XXXXXXtreme!!!!" with professional douchebag Elon Musk, I've basically just quit it. I completely draw the line at TikTok. I'm just not gonna do it. Too old.

I've had this blog for more than 20 years now (look at the timeline to the right! Feel free to click on the oldest posts and see what an idiot/cool guy I used to be). I was young when I started it. Blogging was still a thing people did, if they were on the internet at all. Now I'm old and I guess I'm coming back to the things I'm familiar with. I do find the newer social platforms just too limiting. I'm three paragraphs in here... can't do that on Twitter, er, "X", unless you do something stupid like break your message up into 20 different tweets (er, whatever) that you manually number, or take a screenshot of a Word document. Why the fuck do people think that's acceptable? Just use a platform where you can write like a normal person.

You can write longer on Facebook but nobody reads it because Facebook won't even show it to anybody. That's how the algorithm works. But anyway, I know who my friends are on Facebook and I find myself oddly censoring myself for the lowest common denominator. Fuck that! Here I can write what I want, fuckers! Fuck shit bitch ass! FUCK!

So, I guess I'm back here, at least for now. I may lose interest, I don't promise to stay here forever. Google has definitely lost interest and I'm surprised Blogger even still exists, given their track record with stuff they don't care about. So I still feel like at any time, they could just switch this thing off.

But whatever if they do. For now, I've already got a few more posts planned.

Dog photo because everything on the internet needs a visual, apparently, and why not a picture of my dog?

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is the best Star Wars

WARNING: Some spoilers for previous Star Wars films, but none for The Rise of Skywalker.

It's been so long since I've written anything here that my browser didn't even autocomplete the link for me. But I've got some strong feelings about this, and a need to counter, in whatever small way I can, the narrative I see developing in the media around Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker since its release. Because this is a great Star Wars movie, and I can't be friends with you if you think otherwise.

I've seen every "numbered" Star Wars movie in theaters at its initial release. Saw the original in 1977 when I was 5, before it even had "Episode IV" attached to the crawl. Played with all the toys that are now worth thousands of dollars (I don't own any of the valuable ones anymore). Saw the special editions in theaters too, then the prequels at midnight showings on the day of their respective releases. Preordered tickets to The Force Awakens when it came out and then wrote about it here afterwards. Did the same for The Last Jedi and talked about it on my YouTube channel.

What I'm saying is that I am a lifelong Star Wars fan, and I've been in "the moment" for every Star Wars release. This isn't something I came to late, and out of context. Not that I think that's some sort of litmus test for fandom, but there is a kind of flow and societal and political connection to Star Wars that I think is unfortunately missing for those who didn't live through each release at the time. Again, that's fine! It's nobody's fault if they happened to be born after 1977, or just didn't feel like watching until later, and many of those people still become huge fans of the series. But I do get the sense in some of the negative reviews I've seen for this particular release (as well as The Last Jedi before it) that most of that context is missing for those particular critics. It's almost as if every one of these films exists in a vacuum for them, and they see neither the purpose of these films nor the connection they share with the audience, whatever's going on in the world at the time, and each other.

If you haven't gathered from the subtext above, or you're just living under some kind of rock, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker isn't getting great reviews, despite being a great fucking movie. And I'm pretty annoyed about that. Now, Star Wars has always had critical problems, and they've always been annoying. But never has the disconnect been so great as it is now, with almost certainly the best of all the Star Wars movies getting some of its worst reviews. Star Wars movies have become polarizing, with people (including critics) liking or disliking them for reasons that have nothing to do with the story - and that wasn't really the case before The Last Jedi. The Last Jedi broke Star Wars - not for the idiotic reasons some people say, but because it turned what's supposed to be and always was a simple, fun morality tale into something complicated that people get emotional and angry about. (I guess that includes me.)

So let me spell out what Star Wars is, and is not - at least at its best, but also generally.

First, Star Wars is NOT:
  • High art
  • Satire
  • Subversive
  • Challenging
  • Particularly innovative (you could argue that the original was, although not very convincingly since it borrowed heavily - in some cases almost shot for shot - from many other films.)
It is:
  • Traditional feel-good, fun, moralistic escapism in a sci-fi, fantasy fairy tale setting.
You can argue that it should be all the things it's not - and many have! George Lucas may have even eventually wanted it to be those things (though he certainly did not in the beginning).

But it isn't. It never has been. So why expect it to be now?

You can also argue that it's not always the one thing that it actually is. And that's true! But the Star Wars movies that haven't been as fun, or as feel-good, or as escapist, are generally considered the worst of the Star Wars films (I'm looking at you, prequels). Not every Star Wars film is good, but the ones that are generally share that same trait.

The exceptions - at least by reputation - are The Empire Strikes Back and, to go outside the episodic films, Rogue One. But the former isn't really as bleak as people once thought it was (it's practically a Pixar film in tone compared to any of the prequels, or Rogue One) and the latter... well, go watch it again. Is it really as good as you first thought it was? I don't mind it overall, but it's got a lot of problems. One of them is that it doesn't particularly feel like a Star Wars movie, but more like an obvious ripoff of one. And one of the reasons for that is that (spoiler!) everybody dies.

Some said the same about The Force Awakens, but I loved it. I loved the new characters (especially Rey) and that it "got" Star Wars, which no movie since Return of the Jedi really had, including the Lucas-directed prequels! I felt the same watching it as I remember feeling as a kid watching the original film.

I was conflicted about The Last Jedi. My main problem with it was that half the movie just went nowhere. Rian Johnson seemed to want to show that failure was indeed possible for the "good guys" in this universe (his only justification for it since the film's release is that he wanted to "defy expectations"), but this doesn't really work in a series like this where one film leads into another, nor is it even very easy to do in any kind of satisfying way in a standalone film either. The audience doesn't want to invest itself in a plot only to see it unravel and fizzle out 50 minutes later. I went to film school - this is literally day one stuff. You just don't waste the audience's time - that will annoy them!

I also didn't like that (spoiler!) Luke died, and thought the way of his passing was just idiotic, not to mention lacking in... something. Pomp and circumstance? I dunno; this was literally the most important character in the entire series, and he just... disappears? Alone? Nah. Rewrite! I don't understand how this even got past the approval process. I do think Luke's character should have been given more respect, and really shouldn't have died at all - even at the time, it clearly was going to mess up the narrative for the following film (which it did, according to Maryann Brandon, Rise of Skywalker's editor).

And I just straight up didn't believe Kylo Ren when he told Rey her parents were "nobodies". I have no idea if this was Rian Johnson's intent, but it breaks all the tradition we know of in Star Wars for Rey to be as force-sensitive as she is without any lineage. And again, this is a series that has always relied on tradition. It is one of the central tenets of it. The Last Jedi seemed intent on telling us that everything we know about Star Wars is wrong. The problem is, without that tradition to serve as a foundation for this completely imaginary universe, everything just happens at random, which means nothing matters. This is also filmmaking 101 - standalone films don't need to be "realistic", but they do need an internal logic that holds true, and so do long-running series. Without being able to understand why things happen in a film, the audience ends up not caring about or really believing anything. Because at that point, there are no constraints besides whatever the hell the writer feels like vomiting up in the script - a script the audience can now see through, because their suspension of disbelief is gone.

I will say that I do not at all agree with the tiny but apparently pretty vocal contingent that was against minorities and women in the film. Some (probably) white guys are threatened by this for some reason - those are the kinds of guys I like to call "assholes". What really ticks me off, though, is that it gave critics an excuse to use straw man arguments about racism and misogyny against anyone who criticized The Last Jedi in any way, essentially allowing any and all legitimate criticism against the film to be dismissed as the rantings of extremists. Think the script had some obvious plot problems? Well, you're just a racist! (Or even a Russian troll.)

This had a threefold effect - first, it cemented in the critics' minds that they must be right about The Last Jedi (which they largely liked, specifically because it deconstructed what made Star Wars what it was); it also allowed them to turn it into a liberal vs. conservative political issue (which it most certainly isn't - yes, critics, you did that, not the fans, and I'm telling you this as a liberal Democrat). And it poisoned the well, changing expectations among those same critics and also some of the more casual fans for what the final film in the new trilogy would be. Some of them even seemed to root for the rest of what we know and love about the series to be torn down. I mean, what the actual fuck, guys?

So here we finally are with The Rise of Skywalker, the last film in the "Skywalker Saga" as it's now called, launching into this poisonous environment, where a lot of people are going to hate it no matter what. It's the close of what is for me personally a 40+ year journey through these films. It was going to take a lot to satisfy me, and there's just a lot of emotional weight there - it's (supposedly) really the end of something I've lived with for basically as long as I can remember anything. I've known Star Wars almost as long as I knew my parents.

And man, did this movie deliver! It is everything I wanted as a Star Wars fan. It fixed basically all the problems The Last Jedi introduced - at least to the point it could. It's basically JJ Abrams saying "ignore all that other bullshit; this is Star Wars in its purest form, just as you remember it." I laughed, I cried. (It's true!) At the end I clapped, as the entire audience did.

I'm not going to give away spoilers as I have for the other films, just because this one's new. But I just don't see how you can watch this movie, as a Star Wars fan, and say "meh, I was expecting more." More what?! On the other hand, some critics - and some fans - have criticized the movie for trying too hard to cover all the bases. My question to them is, what's wrong with that?! This is the end of the series - there are no more films to cover any bases that need covering! And this is one of the very few endings to anything that I can remember where - at least from what I can think of - all the answers were provided to everything you ever wanted to know (but, unlike Solo, for example, nothing you didn't). And it did that in a really satisfying, uplifting and fulfilling way.

In other words, the movie is total fanservice. As it should be!

This is not "toxic fandom", this is just fandom. Nobody calls fandom "toxic" when Marvel or DC movies give the fans what they want - why is Star Wars held to a different standard? The fans are the audience for these films - if they're not made for us, who are they made for?

Some people act as as if those of us who've spent 40+ years with this series would want anything but what amounts to a love letter to the fans, or deserve anything less. We are the ones who financed Star Wars! We are responsible for the series reaching a ninth numbered film! Not the naysayers and critics. It is our money that justified every single sequel since the original movie. The Rise of Skywalker is a Star Wars movie through and through, made for the fans, packing in more references, homages, and literally all of the major characters from every episodic Star Wars movie into one mega meta-Star Wars extravaganza. And it's awesome!

My wife told me after the movie ended that she thought those who didn't like it "have crossed to the dark side." She was joking, but I genuinely think she's right. You'd almost have to be a cynical, angry and/or depressed asshole to not like this movie, expecting a continuation of Rian Johnson's "subversion" of audience expectations ("most film plots have a point, so let's make one that doesn't!") that was out of place in the second-to-last film in this series and would be even moreso in the final film of all. All I can do is roll my eyes at those people. You're choosing a film that tears everything down not just about Star Wars but about basic storytelling in general over one that's as well-crafted as any blockbuster I've ever seen and presents an uplifting message that literally made everybody in my row of the theater verklempt. Sorry, but you're on the wrong side. You're the bad guys!

I mean, look - again, I spent four years getting a degree in cinema studies. I am a film critic by training. Which is just to say that by nature, I love challenging films. I love subversive films. And I've certainly seen my share of them, by choice. I believe that cinema is the art of the modern era. But Star Wars is not those things, at least not primarily. (I do think The Rise of Skywalker is more artistic than any other Star Wars film, but "artistic" actually means "like art" - whether it actually is art would be something I'd need to think and write about a lot longer than this.)

And I love it more than almost anything anyway. It is its own thing - almost a genre to itself. Don't expect The Rise of Skywalker to be otherwise, don't see it and end up disappointed that it does exactly what it sets out to do, and don't critique it as something it's not trying to be. That doesn't help anybody. And it doesn't make you sound smart. It just makes you sound like somebody who doesn't like fun, doesn't want to be uplifted, and hates everything that other people like. In other words, it makes you sound like a dope. Stop it.

Friday, September 07, 2018

SCANDAL at PlayStation Theater, New York City 09/05/2018 REPORT!

Image from SCANDAL's official Facebook
10 years after their first concert in the city, Japan's all-female rock powerhouse SCANDAL finally returns to New York! This is part of their "Special Thanks" tour of North America, for fans who don't often get to see them in a live setting. What follows is my show report, as I've done after all five shows of theirs that I've attended (the previous four in Japan). I had a VIP ticket to this one.

What did that VIP ticket buy? Well, early access to the venue and merchandise, and most importantly, a meet & greet with the band! SCANDAL never do this in Japan, so I couldn't pass up the chance.

You can get an idea of the makeup of the crowd from the above pic of the line. This was the two sections of the VIP line - I was told initially that the other section was General Admission and was a little confused when they were let in first, but no, they were the VIP's too. They're people just like us!

Unlike the past four SCANDAL shows that I've been to, this time I was by myself. I'm fine with going to concerts alone and this is not my first time doing it, but I had nothing but my phone to take my mind off the oppressive heat while standing in line. (The photo above may look like it's indoors, but it's more like an open air garage - actually worse than being on the sidewalk because there's no wind!) I was already drenched in sweat before entering the venue, which didn't help my nervousness about meeting the band. "Luckily" there was still about a 30 minute wait inside before getting to them, in air conditioning.

I'm going to do something I normally don't do here and post a photo with myself in it, because it's probably a once-in-a-lifetime occasion:

Yes, I'm a huge doofus, literally. They look great while I look like the Jolly Green Giant. And what do you do with your hands in this situation?! That's a dilemma I hadn't considered! I had to laugh when I first looked at this picture afterwards (at myself, certainly not them!). I'm 6'4", but I look about 7 feet tall in this photo. It's like a bad Photoshop job. But no, it's real. And it's proof that I met SCANDAL and I am really happy to have it.

There - all fixed!
Everyone had about five seconds at the meet & greet, which I expected. I had come up with some short things to say that I thought they'd understand in English like "welcome back to New York!" and "you guys rock!" and "have an awesome show!" I'd given up the idea of trying to say anything in Japanese because I knew I'd never pull anything out of my head quickly enough. But in the end, all I even managed in English was "Hello!" while walking in and "Thank you!" while walking out. They repeated both back to me with big smiles and waves and were very friendly - they seem like nice people! They'd probably have been ok with me saying a few more things, but I was a little star struck.

After the meet & greet, I kind of expected I'd be handed an "exclusive gift" that I'd seen advertised for some of the US shows, but no - no one got anything, and the staff knew nothing about it. (Other people online seem as confused about this as I am, so it's not just me.) Well, since I was at least satisfied that I didn't miss something, I shrugged it off for the moment, still happy to bask in the afterglow of having just met the band, and took my place on the floor.

This is not much different from where I was when I saw them in Nagoya, about 4 people deep and right between Haruna and Mami. Very close! I didn't think I cared about being so close this time because I've been that close before, but when I saw the space available, I couldn't resist. And once the show started, I was glad I ended up there.

Image from SCANDAL's official Facebook
The venue itself seemed pretty full from where I was by the time the show started, although I couldn't really tell if the crowd filled all the way to the back wall.

Unlike at their Japanese shows, photos were allowed at this venue - though with only "non-professional" cameras, which means no interchangeable lenses. (And no video.) My phone is the best non-professional camera I have right now, so it's the only one I brought with me.

The show started on time and began with a thunderous rendition of "Shunkan Sentimental". A real crowd-pleaser and tone-setter right from the start, and a good sign for the set list to come! In fact, no need for suspense - here's the full set (from Scandal Heaven - I didn't write it down myself):

01. Shunkan Sentimental
02. Awanai Tsumori no, Genki de ne
03. Stamp!
04. Your song (English ver.)
06. Platform Syndrome
07. OVER
09. Morning sun
10. Departure
11. Koe
12. Sisters
13. Koisuru Universe
14. Electric Girl
16. Take Me Out

17. Shoujo S
18. DOLL

Great choices, I thought, and a decent length to the show - although it felt very short! It was a rock-heavy set, which suits my tastes. And SCANDAL, unlike many bands, fully embraces their history and never seems to tire of playing their past hits, even while mixing in new ones.

They blasted through the first four or five songs without a break before finally pausing for a short MC. Their energy level right from the start was very high, jumping around as much as I've ever seen them, and they seemed to be in a good mood. The MC segments, if you're wondering, were very short, because they don't speak a lot of English. But they (mostly Haruna) did their best, sometimes mixing English and Japanese, sometimes speaking only Japanese but using hand gestures and sound effects (which was funny!) to make a point. But none of the few MC segments were longer than a couple of minutes.

They did mention their previous New York show several times - the first overseas show they'd done - and said because of that, playing here felt like "coming home". At one point, Haruna asked if anyone had been at that first show - when one fan raised his hand, she asked, "are you a liar?" I personally discovered them just about a month after that show - maybe it was even reading about it that turned me on to them - so I've been a fan for nearly as long as they've been around, but just missed their NYC debut.

Since a New York show by SCANDAL is not exactly an everyday thing and I'd basically paid extra to be close to the stage, I decided to do my part to give them a good show and make it worth the trip for them. I've been in bands and it really is true that the band can feel (and see) the energy from the crowd, and it affects the effort that the band puts in and the way they feel about that show afterwards. So, especially being that I was alone and not worrying about what anybody around me thought, I went pretty much all out with as much energy as my own now middle-aged, lanky body could muster up. (I wasn't middle aged yet when I first started listening to them!)

Image from SCANDAL's official Facebook
I was drenched in sweat again by the middle of the set. Luckily I had brought my old SCANDAL towel with me, and bought a second one at the show to swing around. (I don't want to fling my sweat at the rest of the crowd.)

The first five songs in the set all seemed pretty well known by the crowd, and many people even knew what they were supposed to do - if you've never seen a Japanese band live, there are specific actions for different songs that everybody does in unison. Jump at certain times, wave your hands at certain times, yell "Hey!" at certain times, clap at certain times. In New York, obviously not everybody knew those things, but a lot of people did, and those of us who did led the rest of the crowd.

I felt a little bad for the band during "Platform Syndrome", "OVER" and "FREEDOM FIGHTERS", though, because clearly most of the audience just didn't know them. I do know them but I didn't know what to do during them... so I just did my best. A lot of people just stood around listening, but I think those are some of SCANDAL's best songs ever, so I was still in full bounce mode. I guess most of their US fans just haven't bought those albums. If you haven't, do it!

"Morning Sun" and "Departure" felt like a break for both the band and the crowd, and I definitely needed it. I've noticed that they often put a couple of slow songs in the middle of their longer sets, probably for just this purpose. It's also when I was able to take the few pics that I did - it was one of the few times peaceful enough to do it! Again, I felt like "Morning Sun" was probably over some of the crowds' heads - did some people just stop buying SCANDAL albums after "STANDARD"? But I love that song. I'm not as into "Departure" but I know some people are, and more people seemed to know it.

The back half of the set kicked back into overdrive (no pun intended) beginning with "Koe", which I failed to recognize at first and the crowd took a strangely long time to react to. (In Japan, this song always causes an immediate eruption. According to the band's own fan club poll, it's their second-most popular song there, next to "SCANDAL BABY".) I think the band might have slightly altered the intro, but it's hard to remember. When we all did finally recognize it and began rhythmically clapping during the first verse, Mami smiled, looked around at the crowd and nodded as she sang.

Image from SCANDAL's Line blog
"Sisters" came following a short MC in which Haruna dedicated the song to New York City (I'm not quite sure why), and without an acoustic guitar she created a new quiet electric intro that led to a funny moment when an audience member blurted something out just as the intro began. Haruna abruptly stopped, looked at the audience member and said "Really??"

Throughout the set, being so close to the stage and one of the tallest blades of grass, I got plenty of eye contact from both Mami and Haruna. And whenever Haruna looked at me, she smiled - no doubt because I'm a big, goofy guy who was going nuts. I've been this close to them before but never seemed to catch Haruna's eye; I think this time I was just able to give her something fun to watch. Especially in the songs where not many other people were doing much.

And I like to think I was partially responsible for the little burst of extra energy she seemed to muster towards the end of the show - she was really going crazy herself by the time "Love Survive" and "Take Me Out" came around. I don't think I've ever seen her jumping so much, and the only time I've seen her scream and come to the front of the stage so often was in Nagoya. She was uncommonly aggressive, especially during "Take Me Out" - a song that I have no real feeling for on the album. But it just goes to show how songs can take on new life when played live, as all of the band were bouncing around the stage like Super Balls. It was an awesome close to the main set.

Image from SCANDAL's Line blog
The encores were expected, but the song selection was a surprise. I didn't expect them to do anything with choreography on this tour (not sure why... playing in America plus getting older plus generally de-emphasizing choreography over the past few years, I guess). So when they launched into "Shoujo S", probably their most famously choreographed song ever, I just about lost my proverbial shit. It was the extended version with the solos for everyone - the only time Rina was really able to do anything directly for the crowd, but one of several moments when Tomomi was able to show off her frankly amazing skills on bass. And yeah, they did all the choreography they've ever done for that song live (which is a bit less complicated than the video, but not much), and they still look like they love doing it.

Image from SCANDAL's Line blog
Closing with "DOLL" seemed appropriate but was still unexpected - normally they have only one towel-waving song on a tour, and I'd heard that "Electric Girl" served that purpose on the recently concluded Asia tour. But "DOLL" is the original towel-waving song, and it was their major label debut, so closing with it on this tour is kind of a love letter to the fans, and seemed an intentional book-end to their two NYC shows 10 years apart. By the end of the song, I could barely even keep my arms in the air. I will say that I was the only one in my area of the crowd waving a towel, but goddammit I didn't care. That's what you're supposed to do during that song! I know the band appreciated it.

Image from SCANDAL's Line blog
The band did an extended goodbye like they do at one of their big special shows, and when they walked off stage, I could see them high-five each other backstage. They may always do that, but like everything else at this show, it looked particularly forceful and with real emotion behind it.

Overall, this was the most raw and most into it I've seen SCANDAL in some time. I wrote in my last show report from Tokyo in 2015 that they'd almost become too polished for a live house setting, but at the NYC show they seemed to embrace the casual venue and let it all hang out. And no one can connect with a crowd like they can. Seriously, no one. Even across the language barrier. Rock music is a universal language anyway.

Let me close by saying (admitting?) that after all these years - and it has been a lot of years now - SCANDAL can do no wrong in my eyes. Trust takes time to build up, and I admit that they almost lost me a few times, what with their occasional forays into rap and pop. But I've grown to trust them completely as a rock band - after 10 years, it's obvious that there's no one more genuine. They've come a long way and done a lot of different things since that first NYC show in 2008. And I know that whatever they do in the future, I'll always be a fan.

As usual, a couple of random notes that didn't really fit in elsewhere:
  • The actual sound at the show wasn't great. This was almost certainly a venue problem, not anything the band had control over. If you were there and it was your first SCANDAL show, just know that they usually sound better from a technical perspective. In fact, their great live sound is something I've talked about in my other show reports.
  • The merchandise available at the show can be seen on the SCANDAL official Facebook. They also had "HONEY" CD's, but nothing else extra. (If you're going to a later show and don't have it, buy "HONEY"! It's great!) I personally bought the XL black t-shirt and a towel. I recommend buying a towel, unless you have a SCANDAL towel already. As mentioned, there's always at least one song, and in this case two, where you're meant to wave your towel around.
  • Haruna's short hair actually looks pretty badass live. It bounces around and gets in her face and makes her look even more like a rock star, if that's even goddamn possible.
  • I was pleasantly surprised by their tour outfits! Last time in the US, they wore what looked like street clothes. Their current outfits suit their image better, and look more "designed" and coordinated. I don't ever expect them to go back to stuff they wore in the distant past, but their current outfits are an improvement over jeans, overalls and football jerseys.
  • The old Squier signature guitars were mostly absent - though I was happy to see Haruna break out "Skullsilver" for the encores. I think she still likes it! Mami only played her black Strat, from what I remember, while Tomomi played her navy blue P-bass and her white Yamaha BB2024X.
  • The band has to bill themselves as "SCANDAL from Japan" here, because of a certain other Scandal that's been around a lot longer in the US. Unlike some people, I don't mind this and I honestly doubt the band does either, because the American band is still active and has been since the 1980's (and there is no better example of the 80's than that link). I probably would have preferred the simpler "SCANDAL Japan", though (similar to "X Japan", who took that name for the exact same reason). The "from" just makes it sound like it's part of a sentence. It's kinda weird, but ultimately doesn't really matter.

This is my fifth SCANDAL live report - read them all!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

What's inside a Tomy Digital Diamond from 1978?

I've posted a bunch of new videos to my Modern Classic YouTube channel since the Quad 8 video a year ago - I'll be going through and retro-posting a bunch more, and eventually they'll all have their own blog to live on. But for now, check out my little teardown of a Tomy Digital Diamond electro-mechanical baseball game from 1978. I've owned it for 40 years, and this is my first time taking it apart!

About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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