April’s guest Top Ten post comes from Graeme Mcnee. He’s a good friend of mine who lives in Japan. I met him when he was studying in Glasgow and I went to meet up with him a while ago when I went to Japan. I’m itching to get back out to see him. Anyway, Graeme does the Minimal Comics website which I have mentioned before. His work is great. You can check out his website for more information. You can also follow him on twitter too. This is a great top ten and as usual Graeme has gone all out and provided some little illustrations too. Don’t forget to check out his excellent radio show, From Sand To Sky.
1. The Night Of The Hunter (Film, 1955)
This has been on the top of my “Films I really Want To See List” for about 10 years. When I lived in Scotland it was hard to find a copy of this film. It was even harder to find in Japan until it was finally re-released recently. And while the film didn’t disappoint, it was nothing like I imagined it was going to be. It’s no wonder the director Charles Laughton never made a film again. I’m left wondering how the hell this ever got made in the first place.
2. Giving Up Caffeine
I spent the first two weeks of April sick for one reason or another, and was unable to drink any hot liquids. This meant I had to quit my five-cups-a-day tea habit, and I’ve been going without tea ever since. I tried to give up caffeine once before in university, and it made me so sick, I didn’t realise how addictive it was. If you’re bored and want something to do, why not see how many days you can go without caffeine? You may be surprised.
3. Moondog – The Viking Of Sixth Avenue (Album, P-Vine, 2012)
I have two of the Prestige era Moondog albums, but this was also recently re-released in Japan through the always interesting P-Vine record label. It’s good to hear some of the later Moondog tracks like “Invocation”, and the complete Moondog On The Streets Of New York EP (1953) is also included. Listening to Moondog always makes me want to pick up some boxes and start making some DIY music.
4. Friday Night Drinks After Work
The “one quick drink before heading home after work” culture doesn’t really exist in Japan. Usually people go out to a restaurant, eat a lot and get completely smashed. So I decided to introduce the idea here and have been exploring various restaurants in locations I wouldn’t otherwise go to, and there are some really good places hidden around. I might one day make a guide book to “Top Obscure Friday Night Restaurants”.
5. A Moment Of Cerebus (Website, 2011-Present)
I’m a big fan of Dave Sim and Gerhard’s Cerebus The Aardvark, so it’s nice to see a revived interest in the series recently. One of the better sites to appear is the Moment Of Cerebus site, which presents a new daily image and accompanying annotations. There is a lot of good info here and many images I had never seen before.
6. Star Trek Voyager: Season 4 (TV Series, 1997-1998)
I didn’t watch Voyager during it’s original run, despite my little brother telling me how good it could be. When I ran out of Doctor Who episodes to watch, a friend passed on Voyager and it’s slowly been growing on me. I like this season especially, because the Seven of Nine character, in addition to being completely hot, is being used to raise some really interesting philosophical questions about modern hierarchical social structures. I just watched the episode called “Prey”, in which Seven goes head-to-head with the Captain about how Starfleet claims to encourage individuality and uniqueness, but punishes and oppresses those who express ideas that don’t fit into Starfleet’s command structure. A particularly complex topic that was never addressed in TOS or TNG, and one that resonates a lot when looking at Japan and the strict social codes enforced here.
I’ve had a renewed interest in Jessica Alba ever since she was arrested for going out on her own in the middle of the night and pasting “Stop The Shark Killing” posters all over town. Perhaps there are lots of celebrities using Facebook or whatever, I don’t know, but somehow I stumbled across Jessica Alba’s stream and was surprised to see she was using it just the way the rest of us use it: posting pictures of her day and all stuff she’d been up to. My two weeks sick in bed was made a lot easier following Jessica’s trip around Tokyo and learning that not only did she go shopping in Shibuya and visited Disney without any body guards, but that she also…. queued in line to the rides like a normal person?!
8. Madlib – Medicine Show #13 (Mix, Stones Throw, 2012)
I got my first surprise when I did my usual scout around Tower Records and discovered there was a final surprise installment in the Medicine Show series. I got my second surprise when I removed the black cover and saw the artwork inside. Basically a rip-off of the Rubber Johnny artwork, but fuck, it’s disgusting enough that the world could live without both in my opinion. Good mix though!
9. Happy Mania by Anno Moyko (Comic, 1995)
A very cool and fashionable girl recommended this to me when I asked her about girl’s manga. I have no idea if this is cool in Japan or not, but I’m enjoying the whimsical artwork and insight into the single girl’s mind. It’s kind of a caper story about a girl trying to find a good man and realising that almost all of them are just perverts. The emotions are really well drawn so it’s good material to study Japanese with.
10. Sun Ra
My landlord is a big Sun Ra fan and when I first moved in he gave me a stack of the more obscure 1950s and early 1960s albums to listen to. At the time I copied them and didn’t really pay much attention. But when my neighbour recently mentioned he was also getting into Sun Ra, I dug them out and started listening to them again. I’m particularly enjoying Cosmic Tones For Mental Therapy (Saturn, 1963) and When The Sun Comes Out (Saturn, 1963). I think it’s really interesting how my landlord, my neighbour and now me have been getting into Sun Ra… is the building picking up energy waves from Saturn?
11. Secret 7″ Series for Teenage Cancer Trust (7″ Record Series, 2012)
This is a very cool idea: ask seven bands to put out 100 copies of a 7″ single, and get a whole load of designers and artists to produce one-off covers to put them in. There are no markings on the covers so you don’t know which song you have until you buy it and take it home (although you may be able to guess from some of the artwork). All money goes to the Teenage Cancer Trust. DJ Shadow is taking part, and even better, The Cure are using the series to celebrate the 20th anniversary of “Friday I’m In Love”!