1. Every Japanese Corporate Mascot

    Working as a nice little followup to our post on Brands of the World, Pink Tentacle has the scoop on the Japanese Figure Trademark Database.

    As you may or may not know, it’s damn near a requirement for any company operating in Japan to have some kind of cute cartoon mascot to front the business and appeal tot he inner six year old girl in all of us.  On occasion, these mascots may actually have something to do with the business’ method of acquiring black ink but often it’s just a weird-ass concoction from the witches brew of the company president’s sympathies, popular trends at the founding of the company and whatever acid is still floating around the heads of the marketing department.

    I myself spent a year and a half working for the company with the pink rabbit with the cape and the duck’s beak.  (The beak stood for embezzlement, maybe?)

    At any rate, if you’re looking for inspiration for the next Twitter bird, you could do a lot worse than browsing through the 99 at Pink Tentacle or braving the arcane search process at the Japanese Figure Trademark Database.

  2. Butoh

    click through for HD–recommended

    [Before I get into talking about Butoh, let me first just say that the above is a great example of how to make a single-camera document of a performance watchable afterward by people who weren’t there.  Greta job, Rick.  Everyone else, watch it full screen or not at all.]

    Butoh is an art with far more people saying its name than doing it well, the sort of thing that’s easy to get turned off of by the people who will excitedly tell you about it.  Think Stan Brakhage or yoga or string theory or quinoa.  I originally dismissed it all as another bit of the weird, modern East for performers to dig into for avant garde street cred.  Well, actually that’s pretty accurate but really, that’s just the part you’ve got to get over to really dig into the meat of it and not taste the chemical tang of poseurdom.

    As such, I won’t attempt to explain it much beyond saying that it strikes me as a very precise infection of Japanese stage traditions with all the trauma and weirdness of globalization’s cultural blender.  By which I mean: naked people in white paint dancing like their stuck in time, trying to pull the whole world towards or back from the brink.

    Alright I’ll shut up and give you some Sankai Juku

    This one‘s great too… it just won’t embed.

  3. FU1K: Submarine, 659 words

    As promised, we’re diversifying our offerings to give you some short fiction, collected as Fiction Under 1000 words (FU1K).  As that I personally find reading a story off a screen to be lacking, we’ve got a specially formatted print version as a PDF for you to print out.  It’s adapted from the Pocketmod so it should fit nicely into your pocket and be ideal for reading on public transportation, no matter how crowded.  Print and fold ’em, leave ’em in public places, sneak them into friends’ jackets.

    print version

    Admission is five hundred yen, which I chop the last two zeroes off of to get dollars. I pay for both our tickets even though we never said this was a date. The attendant closes the door behind us silently and the rivets on our jeans click together as we sit down next to each other. When the ride slows near the top, my thumb is tracing the underside of her bra back underneath her shirt. A man comes on the intercom and says something I tune out and she translates: “He say we stop.” We stop moving. I slide my arm down and she moves closer.

    Before I moved to Japan, I spent my last month or so drinking in local bars and making a lot of calls from the payphone to lie to old friends and acquaintances. These were important last steps, the calls and the bars, because I figured I ought to make myself good and sick of where I’m from by overexposure and I just might need that last hit of barroom wood paneling, pointless gossip and dusty neon beer signs that are part of my DNA, for better or worse. Besides, there’s that whole theory of relativity where time moves differently in different spaces and at different speeds and while I live my life here a day in the future, back home they may be all aging terribly or enslaved by a race of superintelligent lizard men or something. Its important to establish a base line measurement of lies and hazy last memories to figure out the path you’ve taken once you return. If you return. I told several people I was on a submarine making a documentary on polar lichen so they shouldn’t expect any quick replies. Now I get letters from ex-lovers that read like:

    I think of how we could of been and what you mean to me while you’re so far away under the icy waters and I feel frozen like the lonely lichen and…

    The letters usually wrap up with something about Jesus, pot brownies or trying a new prescription on advice of an ad in a women’s magazine. These are the thoughts that stagger through my brainpan while I’m clinking glasses with salarymen to Health, Wealth and Stealth and still telling lies in bars and on phones and acting completely simian. I email back home from under a table:

    I’m talking to you from the future where there’s an electronic board that lists the date and hour of your death. I have a cell phone that looks like a ten year old’s idea of what cell phones are like in Japan. Its the size of a baby hamster and can tell the future if you type to it in Kanji. I eat bento for lunch that I buy from a man wearing a rubber horse’s head.

    This is the stuff of daily life, so far out of context that the only point of reference I can grasp is a dim idea of a slow, quiet apocalypse approaching behind the jumbled skyline like the flat grey clouds of a summer storm.

    On my wrist, my watch beeps and says in a tiny computer voice “Do you remember the nineties?” I look out from the top of the 8th largest ferris wheel in the world built on the top of a thirteen story building with my hand down the pants of a girl wearing a tshirt that reads “There is no now, only Couture”. There’s more lightbulbs flaring at me than visible stars in the sky. Through her hair I see fields of neon hustle for my shifting consumer whims. I think of the oil that lubes the gears of it all and the grim ugliness that will come when it runs out, the darkened grey buildings, the unfashionable desperation of hunger and the dust of stalled progress and I shift my hand down a few more centimeters to the places forbidden here on video.

  4. Robot Whales Will Save Us, I Assure You

    More linking strands in the swirling digital chum of the intertube, gentle reader.

    First off, here’s an oldie but goodie (from way back in in 2008) from Vice:

    Whereupon they tag along with a mission to catalog what’s floating around in the vast plastic morass in the middle of the Pacific.  In case you’re unfamiliar, the Wikigods say:

    The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also described as the Eastern Garbage Patch or the Pacific Trash Vortex, is a gyre of marine litter in the central North Pacific Ocean located roughly between 135° to 155°W and 35° to 42°N and estimated to be twice the size of Texas.[1] The patch is characterized by exceptionally high concentrations of suspended plastic and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre.

    Mix that with a report on Pink Tentacle about floating robot UAVs deployed in the gross urban waterways of my ex-stomping grounds of Osaka.  Keeping it Japan-style, they look like UFO’s with a jaunty blowhole fountain that is not only cute but serves to keep the solar panels chilled down for better efficiency.

    These two bits of internet flotsam fused somewhere in my brain: why not develop some kind of UAV that feeds off its environment to skim out at least the surface flotsam of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

    While this couldn’t be a straight-up port of the Osaka UFO floaters (they filter the water, not skim out trash, the concept is there.  Additionally, why not pattern this on a successful creature in that environment that feeds in a similar fashion: baleen whales.


    Picture it: a pod of three to five robo-whales chomp and filter great mouthfuls of trashy seawater in the gently swirling waters of the gyre, fed by solar panels, internally mounted motion-activated dynamos and an internal “digestion” system that burns or chemically breaks down the plastics into fuel.  Undigested waste products are compacted and floated out on tethers for later collection and use in constructing a floating monitoring station maintained by well-heeled sailing eco-tourists.

    Hell. Yes.  Someone put up a cool million for an X-prize and make MIT and RPI race the garage scene for a working prototype.  All I ask is that every one of ’em has a little decal that reads: “AARON CAEL THINKS YOU’RE TRASH”