Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Praise God for the great ones,
Grandfathers, fathers, and uncles,
who poured into their sons
and made men of each of us.

Patient, yet no nonsense
grease, sawdust, and rough hands
subways and farmlands, engines and
stained glass, music and class

Such a great cloud
Reduced to hours one on one
skills, knowledge, arts, doing
theology of being

words in mouths, words made flesh
embodied again for us. Jubilate.

The days are numbered…

I’ve ported this beta incarnation of my website over to a new install of WordPress.  You can reach it at

I’ve changed the direction of this current blog site and will be primarily discussing music.

JPop music

Nippon Pop10 years ago, before I knew much of anything about Japanese Pop music, other than what I had learned on the streets of Osaka in 1997, I purchased Steve McClure’s Nipponpop from a little bookstore in St. Mark’s Place, NY.  It’s a glossy 11×17 book with tons of pictures, good reviews, and lots of eye candy.  It sits proudly on my “Americans intersect with JPop Culture” section of my library, right next to Fresh Fruits and Manga, Manga, Manga.

Now, being that it’s 10 years old, it’s very dated, but is still a good historical springboard from which to jump into exploring older trends, as well as forerunners of current.  It covers folks like Kome Kome Club, Ken Ishii (In fact that’s how I discovered him), Sakamoto Ryuichi, Amuro Namie, TRF, SMAP, Yuming, and a host of others.

The cool thing is that, after doing a search for Ken Ishii reviews on Google, I came up with the websiteShuuchishin that is an update to this book: This has many of Steve McClure’s original content, plus ongoing information.   This is a great thing if you are unable to read such goodness as the Oricon Charts.  The Oricon Charts are akin to the top 40 in the USA. You can hear examples, see videos, and check profiles of popular and upcoming artists.

For instance, at the time of this writing,  羞恥心, or Shuuchishin (Shyness) is at the top of ths list.  Take a look!
Random Thought: If energy is so costly, why are we leaving all our lights on at every store across the nation all night long?


Yes, it sounds a bit un-PC with it’s title, but I think it’s probably a play on “Hip-Hop.”

Confucius and Anime – here at last

The GuysI promised I’d post my slides for the UMSL presentation about Confucian Cardinal Relationships and Values in Shonen Anime.So, here you go:

I used Keynote 2008, and printed to PDF and HTML directly from the application. I wanted to include the audio and video of the clips I showed, but realize that perhaps there may be copyright issues, so I erred on the side of caution. 

Good reading

Lately, this book caught my attention:

Kuhaku & Other Accounts from Japan

Here’s the synopsis from the book’s page:

When we set out to find stories for Kuhaku & Other Accounts from Japan, we knew what we wanted: candid tales of life in Japan that weren’t trying to slice and dice the country and the culture into digestable nuggets. We weren’t looking for Ph.D. dissertations, just smartly told tales from the street.

Having lived in Japan for a long time, we realized these stories were everywhere. We tracked the writers down, asked permission to publish their tales, or more often, prodded them to put that story they had told us down on paper. Just about everybody responded favorably.

The stories in Kuhaku come from everywhere: tall tales told over beers in a pub, stories of corporate drudgery related during the lunch hour, doodlings on napkins at the local Starbucks and professional pieces produced on deadline for far-away readers.

I gotta get me a copy! Maybe you should too!

Teaser: Relationships

Here’s a sample of my keynote slides!

Cardinal Relationships

I’ll post the presentation after Saturday.

Sadao Watanabe

You may find this interesting:
Did you know that Concordia Seminary lost a valuable piece of art around the time of the Walk-Out, some 34 years ago? Did you know we recently got it back?

Well, we did. “Jacob and the Angel,” a hand-stenciled woodcut print by Japanese artist Sadao Watanabe, disappeared in early 1974. No trace, no clues, no proveable explanation. Watanabe was the first artist to use traditional Japanese styles and techniques on explicitly biblical themes, so he is a significant figure in modern Christian art, as well as a very popular artist in the U.S. But because he did his prints in sets of 50 or so at a time, we have succeeded – after years of trying – in locating and purchasing one of our lost print’s identical “sisters.”

And to celebrate, we have put all twenty of our Watanabe prints into an exhibit in the Library’s art gallery for the Spring Quarter. Our collection of Watanabes hasn’t been on exhibit in many years. The full set of 20 images hasn’t been together in 34 years. So we invite you to come in to see our entire collection – one of the largest Watanabe collections in the U.S. – and join us in celebrating the return of our “prodigal” piece.

Japanese Movies

So I am getting ready to introduce, “KuChuu TeiEn” (Hanging Gardens) and “Linda, Linda, Linda” at a Japanese film festival at Wash U here in St. Louis.  It’s pretty exciting!   These both deal with cultural issues and social commentary.  I think the latter is a movie more my style when compared to the former…

Funny, LindaX3 could just be any other Shojo Anime out there…and I’m not Mr. Shojo…

KuuChuu TeiEn       Linda Linda Linda


We live in a society vastly concerned about our works.  We are always quick to inform everyone why we really haven’t failed at something when it’s gone wrong, why what we’ve messed up is not really our fault, and why the things we do are right, at all costs.  In other words, we are always justifying ourselves to others.

This is what we were talking about in class the other day.

If we are always denying we are wrong, fallible, flawed,  is this really true?  I would have to say that it is most certainly NOT true.

It used to be that people said, “Nobody’s perfect.” But now we say, “It’s not my fault.”  Or even, “It’s all good,” that is, “whatever you’ve attempted to do is good.”  Personal accountability is at an all time low, and we are always justifying our behavior.  We want to look good.  What if we all of the sudden did not care about how we look anymore?  Or even, what if no one cared about what job we did, or where we live, or what car we drive?  What would happen?

Maybe we’d lose our identity, we’d wind up having nothing to justify anymore, but we’d have nothing to show either.  Where would we be if we weren’t always justifying our selves to everyone around us?

Perhaps we’d be empty, because no one would care.  We’d have to derive our sense of identity, our source  from something else, something outside of ourselves.   Something other than our works.

Just food for thought.

Yoko Kanno – I’m Incredulous Again

I am taking a break from reading about Meiji era Christian intellectual Uchimura Kanzo, and am now writing about a fantastic modern composer who writes in just about any style you can think of.  I just couldn’t help myself, I had to add this – Yoko Kanno is amazing.

She is amazing because she can mimic the music of a period, expand upon it, and then make it her own.  The piece I am listening to right now is called Memory of Fanelia from the Shojo-style Anime called Vision of Escaflowne.  I’ve watched only a few episodes so I am not the most familiar with the content, but oh, the soundtrack!

You all know that I love Anime and lecture about it and use it as a topic for classes that I teach at a university here in town.  Outside of Anime, I have never heard any of Yoko Kanno’s music, so there is no other context to discuss outside of soundtracks.

This particular piece is wonderful because it could have been written by Frederick Delius or Peter Warlock-it is that good!  It is an entirely string orchestral piece.  It has great sweeping movements, solo parts with harp and pizzicato strings underlaying the main themes of the A movements, restating the theme with full orchestral marcato chording in the A’, and when she moves into B it becomes so much more lyrical like Warlock’s Serenade, with a rounded out swell, question and answer, and short descent down the circle of 5ths in the C to move back into A after she so deftly modulated away from it.   Heck, at this point, she creates a mood reminiscent of Vaughan Williams’ Brook Green Suite and ends up with an end that feels just like Delius’ Air and Dance.

I am amazed at how she pulls this off; completely believable and totally sweet.  I forgot how much I love this piece.

Back to another kindred spirit now, Uchimura Kanzo.  I love him as much as Soseki, and that’s a tall order.