Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 in Closing

With 2009 coming to a close, that means that tomorrow I begin a new with the only holiday tradition that has a great deal of meaning to me, Japanese New Year. 

Oshogatsu has been a family tradition for decades now. It brings out the best and worst of my folks and well I love it. For the past three days, my mother, father, and I have been preparing food for an expected 100 guests who will stroll through my childhood home and feast on traditional family fair. I will wake at 7:00 and start making sushi, transition to making gyoza by 2:00 and continue cooking until the evening. By early evening, when all family has left, I take whatever food remains to my friends at my local pub and share the tradition with all who could not make it.

Some of the recipes have been handed down from my grandparents, food and taste memories that keep them alive even though that generation is now gone. Some of the more extraordinary delicacies of the bygone eras are also absent from the family table, for example whale. My father stated that the canned whale he had once was like chewing on a shoe imported in a can from Japan. Some recipes we serve are more "fusion" than tradition. Chow mein, and tofu wontons are not Japanese per se, but they do fill plates. And the "round-eyes" never know the difference.

So to close the year I leave you with a super simple recipe for my spicy tofu wontons

  • 1 package wonton skins
  • 1 package firm tofu
  • 4 jalapeño peppers
  • 4 large shallots
  • 1/2 bundle of cilantro
  • soy sauce
    1. Drain tofu and slice into three large slabs. Wrap in a paper towel and press between cookie sheets to drain off excess water. This may seem odd, but you need to get rid of all of the extra water from the tofu so you have a decent filling.

    2. Roughly chop cilantro, keeping some of the stems and place them in a food processor with the shallots and jalapeño peppers. Pulse in the food processor until finely chopped.

    3. Break apart the tofu by hand into small crumbles and add the chopped vegetable mixture. 

    4. Mix the vegetables and tofu together my hand until well integrated. You may want to wear gloves if the pepper are especially spicy given they may burn a bit.

    5. Add a small spoonful of the filling to a wonton wrapper. Fold the corner of the skin to make a triangle and seal with a little water. Press edges together firmly. This part is a little odd so follow the strange illustration bellow.

    (Original Source: feed://

    6. Deep fry.

    7. Eat.

    Happy New Year...Don't be a Douche Bag!

    Sunday, December 27, 2009

    Blackest Night Profiles: John Stewart

    If you're a fan of Green Lantern, you have probably chosen your favorite emerald warrior. John Stewart happens to be mine.

    If anything, he has been created as one of the most multi-dimensional character in decades. However, due to confusion and writers who have no idea who to properly utilize a minority character, they have often failed characterization with this individual.

    Brash, head-strong, an architect by trade, and a lover of Barbra Streisand (seriously, can't make this up), he will kick your ass three was till tomorrow.

    While everyone thinks Hal is the greatest of the Green Lanterns, he has never been made a guardian.

    John Stewart was chosen as a replacement GL in case there was an accident to the original. At various times, when Hal acted as a wimp and decided to forfeit his duties as his protector of his space sector John stepped up.

    He also accidently led to the destruction of the planet Xanshi, which led to him going a little crazy, and becoming the ultimate urban planner on the planet Oa. If you haven't read, Mosaic, go to the dollar bins and pick up the back issues and read them. It is an amazing series in which Gerard Jones and Cully Hamner develop John Stewart to his fullest potential.

    While Hal Jordan basically deals with being a douche most of the time when he isn't cowboying around. John Stewart deals with the numerous aspects of being a minority in America. The panel below perhaps best illustrates this. Hal of course thinks John is crazy, but here we see probably the best representation of the multifaceted representation of multi-cultural identity in comics. The balance of stereotype and tokenist representation versus cultural interpretation.

    John Stewart has been called the angry Green Lantern,  but a "Chip on His Shoulder," a phrase the fictional  character uses to  describes himself in a recent issue of the comic, is perhaps the most appropriate.

    So here we are, left with a man who possesses one of the most powerful weapons in the universe. We are left with a soldier who loves Babs and who mourns for his fault in the destruction of over a billion lives.

    Saturday, December 26, 2009

    Post-Christmas Stuffing

    With only a few days left in the year, I feel it's important to remember the birds.

    The wise owl lets us remember that 2009 is a year that will not be repeated...until the Great Crunch occurs. At that point in the distant future, when the universe stops expanding and the accelerating forces of the Big Bang no longer push dark and light matter into the ether, the forces of gravity will hold and all matter of the universe will be pulled back to its point of origin. Thus time will play backward in some strange parody of the way we think of things.

    The wise owl has many sage things to say to us. Like, "Spread your wings for 2010," and "How the hell did I ended up as a decorative mount in a resort lodge in the Columbia Gorge?" The wise owl should make us all remember, that we are never far from being piddly tourist attractions once our endings come.

    The wild turkey on the other hand wants revenge. The wild turkey knows what you ate for your xmas dinner, and thinks to himself, "My head is bare and free of feathers so I can easily pick at your carcass when the great wrath comes." 

    The wild turkey might not be wise like other birds. And it really can't fly very well. But that ugly head will eat your eyes out. And it will do so with only the type of pleasure that a wild turkey can. 

    So to 2009, we give you the bird. If fact we give you the bird four times over. Let this year die away like other ones. 

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    Friday, December 25, 2009

    Happy Jews Go to the Movies Day

    Krypton (comics)Image via Wikipedia
    If legends and the bible are correct, about two thousand years ago, a star shone brightly in the sky leading three Arab kings to the birth place of a sun god.

    But what was that great star that illuminated the night sky? Or, for that matter, was it actually a star that exploded?  For a supernova to appear suddenly and send light to the planet earth in such a short period of time to signal the birth of some god seems a bit out of question, thus I propose that the magi actually witnessed the explosion of a planet.

    The planet would have had to be close enough to Earth's solar system to be noticed by the unaided eye. And the size of the explosion would have needed to be small enough to dissipate after the epiphany.

    If the Planet Krypton is located within the Milky Way Galaxy, light from the explosions would have taken about 3.26 years to 1 parsec distance. But given that the universe is expanding this time is probably reduced since the space between Earth and the doomed planet were smaller. Also once must take into account the various elliptical orbits of planets and the additional forces of accelerations of dark matter pulling that light closer to our planet.

    As a result, above a cave in the town of Bethlehem, some teenager knocked up by an older man she never married, a man older than the known universe, gave birth to a baby. To make the the boy seem even more special, his unwed mother decided that claim that he was born on the same day that the Roman celebrated the feast of their sun god, December 25th.

    Two millennia later, we honor this day not by paying tribute to the billions of Kryptionians who died as their planet blew up. We also don't honor unwed mothers who have to create elaborate stories about their  child because the baby's daddy was playing the field.


    If you're Jewish, you go to the Movies.
    If you're Christian, you spend too much money to celebrate baby Jesus's birthday.
    If you're Japanese and live in Japan, you make reservations at your local KFC get a bucket of fried chicken and a bottle of wine.

    Or if you're single, you drink alone.

    Perhaps Christmas is the most ephemeral and cluttered of all holidays. Tomorrow we will have national buyers remorse and try to get rid of the crap we were given.

    Cheers, everyone. Cheers!

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    Sunday, December 20, 2009

    Meowable Song of the Day: Timebomb * Update *

    My love of Beck is probably only matched by my love of hamsters.

    For years, I had this vision that I would buy a pet hamster, give it a French name, and take it on walks with a little leash made of lace. I would then meet a lovely young woman who loved French-named hamsters, and we would then raise our hamster together.

    Unfortunately, the lovely young woman never came along. But I did get a hamster, well three over time, all named after French philosophers. Montaigne was the first of my hamsters, a noble free roaming soul, who often escaped from his cage and found himself wandering the heating vents and nooks behind book cases seeking some kind of adventure. Simone was the loud and rabble rouser of the night. She loved to run on her on some existential quest that could never be completed. My last hamster was Julia Kristeva, and if you want to have a really mean hamster that bites you close to a dozen times, name said hamster after a Marxist Feminist. Seriously. Downright mean!

    In any case, this homemade video found on the defunct Diskolito Beck page, via YouTube is fine ballance of Flash animation, hamsters, and homage to the historical videography of Beck.

    The song itself ranks a 5 meows on the 5 meow meowable scale.

    Edit* In the credit where credit is due department....

    A new acquaintance informed me that this video was created by a Japanese Woman who goes by the name Ham. She hosts a Japanese language Beck fansite. 

    Saturday, December 12, 2009

    Why Oregon is Special...

    When I think of the numerous reasons why Oregon is one of the most unique places in the the country this video, once legendary, now viral, comes to mind.

    The anchor man is Paul Linnman, former newsman for KATU. The location, Florence, Oregon, a small costal town about on the long stretch of long stretch along the Pacific. The subject of the news cast, a giant rotting whale.

    The video speaks for itself at this point.

    There are further legends that persist beyond this film. Legends of further "documentation" government, ODOT, Oregon Department of Transportation films that chronicle more of the exploding whale carnage. Individuals of a certain age set have had the pleasure to see this footage on their evening news broadcast. Every once in a while, KATU combs its archives and replays this in all its analogue glory.

    About every seven to ten years another whale will wash up on the shores of the oregon coast. Unfortunately, no fiascoes like this one have been repeated.

    Of course every state has something special, ridiculous, and kind of embarrassing to boast about. Tennessee once hanged an Elephant for going berserk at a circus and killing someone.  And Connecticut is the birthplace of George Bush the lesser. So having a glorious exploding dead whale is probably a good thing.

    Thursday, December 10, 2009

    New Ventures in Nerdery...

    The death of Supergirl. Art by George Pérez.Image via Wikipedia
    While my obsessions with comic books are quite noted, one story remains the acme of perfection in my mind. Crisis on Infinite Earths is in my mind the ultimate example of perfect comic book story telling. Cast of thousands, new characters, shocking events, earth shattering revelations, and a story that is easy to follow.

    Pieced together in a twelve-issue maxi-series during 1985, this series changed the course of DC Comics for the next twenty-five years. But the story began much earlier with a series of appearances by a mysterious character named the Monitor.

    For the past two years, I have been collecting all of the cross-over issues related to Crisis on Infinite Earths and numerous ancillary texts that have accompanied the series. There are the "Official Cross-Overs," the "Red Sky Issues," the "Unofficial Tie-Ins," the "Passing Reference" books, the "Pre-Crisis Monitor Appearances," and numerous homage and other books revisiting the events of the Great Crisis. Overall, 199 issues have been compiled in my collection to chronicle this epic. These issues have lovingly been prepared to be bound in a series of eight, custom, hard-bound editions, of the story to accompany all previous versions of the text I have amassed.

    To map out what I have created, I decided to create a side blog, an omniblog of sorts, titled The Burnt Selena Project: Confluence of Infinite Earths. The plan is to go through each issue and provide a synopsis and brief index and annotation of events of the characters in the story relevant to the crisis. Some stories have direct correlates to the text, some are included for odd passing reference. Some I include because, they make sense in my circular referential mind of comic book knowledge.

    So please visit the new blog over the next few weeks, months and years. Hopefully I will provide some interesting distractions and additional comic book clutter to your daily life.
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    Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    Blackest Night Rainbow Coalition Profiles: Star Sapphire

    Star Sapphire (comics)Image via Wikipedia
    While Geoff Johns might be calling the ring bearers the "New Guardians" I really do think The Rainbow Coalition is a much better name for this colorful (ahem) ensemble of villains and heroes gathered together to fight the forces of the undead.

    So that brings me to today's featured character, Star Sapphire. Tragic, tragic Star Sapphire. The one of the few villains to put dependence into Co-Dependence on a regular basis. Why? Because everything the Violet Light does is done for love...kind of like a Richard Marx song. Makes you want to puke or kill yourself with a strong overdose of narcotics, right?

    Of course, Ms. Carol Feris, wasn't nearly Mature in her early incarnations as you can clearly see. The nineties were quite unkind to this lover of Hal Jordan.  And since Hal Jordan is the ultimate d-bag when it comes to women, she kind of got the shaft. Over and over and over and over ad infinitum. She even killed the wife of the Green Lantern John Stewart. No Good. She even kind of ruined her business and left her fiance to be with  a guy who came back from the dead who kind of blew her off (Hal).  So what's love got to do with it? What's love but a second hand emotion? Well, apparently it can make constructs that will kick your ass and turn your fear into fuzzy feelings after you've been entombed in crystal for a month or so. 

    But now...With Boobs and without a silly hat, she is out to save the universe. The other members of the Rainbow Coalition are pretty new. Indigo Same with Larfleeze, Saint Walker (which would have better been served with Walker Texas Ranger...but oh well), and Atrocitus. Hal and Sinestro round out the pack of Crayola Crusaders off to fight with the might of colored light and hopefully make our futures bright. 

    Okay I will stop.


    Take away lesson from all of this. Don't trust women in silly hats fixated on past lovers, who put on lycra costumes and say they are going to save the universe for love. You'll be in for a world of hurt in you get mixed up in the that bad juju.

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    Happy Pearl Harbor Day: A short history of what it means to be a Japanese American

    {{fr|Affiche ordonnant l'internement des citoy...Image via Wikipedia
    December 7th, 1941, perhaps the most significant day in the life of my family.

    Zeroes swoop in from nowhere on a calm day and nearly destroy the entire Pacific Fleet. War is declared.

    And a small family of immigrants tries to sort out what to do next.

    The legends about my family's actions after the news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor are sparse. Like many Japanese Americans, they stopped talking about this era of their lives, the times in the camps, the uprooting from their homes, the loss of property and livelihoods, the loss of dignity. One persistent legend is that as news circulated around the Japanese farmer population of the northern California town where my grandparents lived that government men, FBI agents, were coming by houses and taking away the town elders, Grandma took all the pictures of her youth in Tokyo and began tossing them into the wood stove. A childhood of images burned away. History lost.

    FDR signed Executive Order 9066 declaring the entire West Coast an exclusion area and by spring of the following year, my grandparents and three of their children were shipped away to a prison camp in the Colorado desert. This would be home for the next three years.

    In the picture below, the woman standing with the baby is my Grandmother. She is pregnant with her fourth child. By the time the war will end and the camps will close, my father will be born. He will be her sixth child of thirteen. He will be the last born in the camps. A baby in a prison.

    My father and I have had a long standing tradition of putting on a Kamikaze bandana, pulling out our Imperial Navy Flag and hoisting and irreverent middle finger to the whole of America on Pearl Harbor Day. We watch Tora! Tora! Tora! the only decent film made about that glorious and tragic day. And in general we observe a bit of tasteless revelry in tragedy.

    Why? Because our family lost. My father is an American citizen born in a prison with all rights stripped away because the American Government and Populace was paranoid and racist. We observe the right to say this country of ours was WRONG. We don't celebrate the deaths. We don't celebrate the destruction. We have a wake for our civil rights, for all of the things my grandparents lost.

    And with these pieces of contradictory history I am left with distinct actions of distasteful distraction. Today I serve some of the few veterans who fought in the Pacific Theater. Today the Japanese are model minorities, fetishized and stereotyped into a particular role they have carved for themselves after the war. Today I still don't trust the government because of what they did to my family over sixty years ago.

    Today is Pearl Harbor Day a day that America lost. The first of many days that America has lost. America lost on the day FDR removed the rights of thousands of loyal American citizens. American lost when FDR believed that tens of thousands of children were a threat to this country and should be segregated from society.

    God Bless this Mess.

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    Sunday, December 6, 2009

    Perfect Sounds...The Muppets sing Queen

    Somethings just speak for themselves. And while I typically try to avoid posting viral videos, this this caught my attention.

    In this presentation of Perfect Sounds, The Muppets cover Bohemian Rhapsody. While this song is a classic in its own right, it has unfortunately been sullied by Wayne's World, and countless other pop-culture uses that have taken the glory out of this epic. 

    This version is a bit more "child-friendly" than the original. No guns, no death, no devil, no scaramoushing. But the tongue in cheek satire that embodied the Muppets is still there.

    On my Meowable Music Scale: I give it a 5 meows out of 5.

    I believe Animal and Beakers parts are my favorite. Even if you hate Queen, you have to love The Muppets. If not, you obviously are inhuman, so some type of evil automaton. 

    Friday, December 4, 2009

    Guy Gardner: Bowl Cut

    Guy Gardner is a unique case in the world of comic characters.
    Not only did he sport a highly unfashionable bowl cut for decades, he is also one of the few arch-republican comic book characters. 

    And perhaps it is fitting that as a republican he will turn into a rage-filled-blood-spewing-vomit-monster-Red-Ring-wearing monster in the next issue of the Green Lantern Corps. It's a little known fact that the Red Lantern Battery is actually fueled with the hatred spread by AM Conservative talk radio hosts, but that is a different story all together.

    I am here to talk about on hell of a Guy. Consider this to be a bit of a requiem for Guy.

    If anything, he has always been a victim of bad luck. He was supposed to be the Green Lantern of Earth. But because he was too far away, he didn't get the green ring.  But that didn't stop him from doing good. He became a social worker, worked with kids, dealt with an abusive father, blah blah blah. Got a bad hair cut he based on his favorite comic book character. 

    Guy with all of his foibles had a level of dignity. All the fans hated him. They hated him as a replacement for Hal Jordan, even though history shows that Hal Jordan is just as much of a jerk if not more of one than Guy ever was. Guy Was the headstrong rebel, the John McCain (before the senator became a sell-out).

    And of course he was completely nuts. He took a girl on a first date to a stag film. To a theater owned by Black Hand! Which is comedy in itself. He then kicked Black Hand's ass.

    So whether Guy will return from being a Red Lantern or not, we won't know until the end of Blackest Night. But I kind of hope so. He is a great flawed character. Proof that good heroes can be Republicans. And that a bad haircut doesn't mean that you can't fight Doomsday or Sinestro or Superboy Prime and still be a badass.

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009

    Ride the Bronze Buffalo: Ride the Bronze Dog

    Sometimes statues are meant to be mounted like a noble steed. Sometimes those bronze statues are those of dogs. How this Bronze dog sculpture near Children's Hospital up on Pill Hill manages to balance rocks on his nose, I am not certain. Well...I am certain, they are welded to his snout.

    This reminds me of what by chance might be the coolest of the most odd comic book heroes ever created--The Dog Welder. But this character is best left for a second post at another date.

    Remember, if you have a picture of yourself riding a bronze statue of an animal, please send it along. Somewhere on this page is a place to send me a message.

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