Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
HEAVY METAL ISLAM: ROCK, RESISTANCE, AND THE STRUGGLE FOR THE SOUL OF ISLAM by Mark Levine – Heavy metal and Islam? An unlikely combination to be sure, and even I was surprised by that there exists a heavy metal rock scene in the Middle East and North Africa (the MENA). The author, who is a musician and is also a professor of Middle Eastern history writes a fascinating account of a world that few know and even fewer have ever heard of. And not only is heavy metal popular in the MENA, so is rap and hip-hop. Not only is this book about a little known portion of music, it also reads like a travelogue as Levine travels the MENA and interviews the musicians of those countries. A dangerous profession for those who play in countries who’s governments can be oppressive as well (and are a lot more effective than the prissy PMRC, which was a bad joke to begin with) – Shame on Tipper Gore! I’ve been listening to heavy metal since the fifth grade and I’ve never had the urge to pledge my soul to Satan, kill cats, eat bats, or take my life. I’m still here and I still listen to heavy metal. And it isn’t just the the PMRC that think heavy metal is satanic. Levine writes about an incident in Morocco where fourteen metalheads were arrested, tried and convicted for the crime of being “Satanists who recruited for an international cult of devil worship” and of “shaking the foundations of Islam”. I really get sick of people and parents, and now governments placing the blame on heavy metal for actions that the music has no relation to. It gets my goat when I think of that stupid woman who blames Judas Priest for the suicide of her sons. The media always neglects to mention the fact that the boy in question had history of drug abuse and such. Or the farcical Judas Priest child. Not only should the parents of those idiot sons be slapped upside the head, so should the lawyers who thought they could cash in on some of the biggest selling bands of that era. Back to this book, Levine travels to Morocco, Egypt, Israel and Palestine, Lebanon, Iran, and Pakistan, and covers the heavy metal and rap scene of those countries. But it seems there is hope for heavy metal in the MENA. One of the most successful rock festivals, called the Dubai Desert Rock Festival, was headlined by none other than Iron Maiden!! Iron Maiden in an Islamic country. Heck, that just shows that music brings people together, no matter what their governments say.
ODD THOMAS by Dean Koontz – Some people may consider Koontz a lesser King (as in Stephen King) but I find his stories to be more entertaining and not so descriptively long as with a lot of King’s novels. This story can be summarized as the kid from the “Sixth Sense” grows up, moves to a small town, and tries to live a fairly normal life – normal as person can who can still see dead people and who still want him to help them with unresolved matters. The surprise ending is also a little reminiscent of the “Sixth Sense” movie as well. But don’t let that stop you from reading this. It was quite entertaining.
THE INTERROGATION by Thomas H. Cook – The back of the book provides a better summary than I can come up with on my own so I shall borrow it – [A man has been accused of a terrible crime. There’s no witness, no evidence, but the police are convinced he’s guilty. They have twelve hours to find out the truth…]. The time is 1952, the place small town America. The terrible crime – the murder of an eight year old girl. The cops don’t have much to go on and the suspect who endures the endless questioning (thus providing the book with our title), does not succumb to any of the officer’s head games and sticks with his story of being innocent.
DON’T GO THERE: THE TRAVEL DETECTIVE’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO THE MUST-MISS PLACES OF THE WORLD by Peter Greenburg – A slightly different kind of travel book. But first, let’s not confuse Greenburg’s book with Robert Young Pelton’s “Peterson’s Guide to the World’s Most Dangerous Places”. Greenburg does not write about places like Baghdad or Mogadishu or other areas of civil unrest. No, Greenburg’s book is put together more like an almanac giving you information on the world’s most polluted cities, cities with the highest crime rates, countries that are disaster prone, areas that are susceptible to disease, and chapters on the worst hotels, worst airports, worst airlines, worst cruises, and of course the most corrupt countries as well. Although the title says the world, his focus his mainly on the United States. He would probably have to write another book to cover all the world’s must-miss places of the world. I enjoyed the chapter on the lamest claims to fame such as cherry-pit spitting capital of the world (Eau Claire, Michigan), the sink-hole capital of the world (Fountain, Minnesota) or the armpit of America (Battle Mountain, Nevada). I was surprised that he didn’t list Wall Drug, South Dakota though. You have to see it to believe! I know, I was there! I’m sure we all have our own “worst place” story as well. Mine? Getting ripped off in Tunis, Tunisia wasn’t all that bad – just a bit of carelessness on my part, sometimes you really shouldn’t be too trusting of people who want to be your friends. But I must say, I’ve had more positive experiences than negative ones.
WORLD FOOD: IRELAND by Martin Hughes - So what do you think of when you think of Ireland? Shamrocks and Lucky Charms? Guinness, of course. Irish Whiskey? A given. But Irish food? Potatoes, you say. There's more to Irish food than mere potatoes! Irish Stew. Connemara Lamb. Or what I imagine what my favorite would be - the Irish Fry, which is described by the author as a "heart attack on a plate"! Just check out this recipe for a traditional Irish fry: 2 slices bacon, 2 sausages, 2 slices black pudding, 2 slices white pudding, 2 eggs, 2 tomatoes halved. The instructions are quite simple too, "start with the bacon and fry, fry, fry." And if you were like me, not knowing what black pudding is, it is a traditional Irish food made with "pig's blood, pork skin, and seasonings" while white pudding is "a version without the blood which is made from the remaining offal pieces of the pig and various cereals". And of course, I had to read this book while drinking a pint of Guinness (okay, it was can).
Monday, December 29, 2008
Landmark Tower / ランドマークタワー
Our friend is pictured second from the left / 友達は左から二番目の人
Tap dancing Santa / タップするサンタさん
We only watched the 2pm performance. Afterwards, we walked some more and headed towards the Red Brick Warehouse area for a bite to eat.
The Landmark Tower / ランドマークタワー
Red Brick Warehouse / 赤レンガ倉庫
We had a late lunch at a place called Tachibanatei in the Red Brick Warehouse.
Hayashi Rice / ハヤシライス
Curry rice with pork cutlet / カツカレー
We continued with our walk (and I continued with my picture taking) as it was getting dark, but I will save the pics for the next post.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Of course I've been keeping up with reading books in Japanese as well. And no, it's not about food this time. But it is another title by my current favorite Japanese author, Ayumu Takahashi. The title is "The Life Map". As with most of his books, they are filled with great pictures and a bunch of anecdotes about his own life's journey as well as the voices of others. The book is divided into seven chapters - Desire, Job, Partner, Choice, Action, Rule, and of course Life Story. I've already bought his new book as well, but you will wait until I finish reading it before I can tell you about it.
Monday, December 22, 2008
The burger alone isn't enough for lunch so I ordered it with a deli set. You can choose from a variety of items in their display case. Today, you had a choice of ratatouille, mixed olives, chicken salad, squid, and a couple of other items I can't recall off the top of my head. I chose the mixed olives. The set is also served with a drink.
If you do not like bleu cheese, then you would not order this burger. Definitely only for lovers of bleu cheese. Although I like bleu cheese, the burger was just okay. I enjoyed their Zazie Burger much better although the addition of baked apple was rather strange.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
This ramen shop, or rather the building this ramen shop is located in, may look its standing on its last legs from the outside, but I assure you, the ramen shop itself does good business. And once again, its located in our neighborhood. As its a tsukesoba shop, which means that the noodles are served separate from the broth. You dip your noodles in the broth and then eat up. Although, the smell outside the shop may take a little getting used to, the ramen itself was quite delicious. On one wall you will find signs of a lot of Japanese stars who have also graced this establishment with their presence.
The Broth / つゆう
Friday, December 19, 2008
I just love the contrast of the temple and the tower.
What's so special about this tree?
Check below for the answer.
And some views from the nearby Shiba Park.
Japan Cultural Treasure "Yushoin Reibyo Nitenmon" / 重要文化財 「有章院霊廟二天門 （ユウショウインレイビョウニテンモン）」
And we finally ended our walk at Shinbashi Station's SL Plaza.
I hope you enjoyed our walk.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
One of the things I was looking forward to seeing was the artwork of a giant spider. Did I say spider? Why yes. I like to go in search of the unusual in my favorite city.
And check out this view from one of the smoking areas of the Mori Building.
Our plan today is to walk around Roppongi Hills and then head over to that large red and white tower you see in the picture. That of course is the Tokyo Tower - 333meters tall and was finished in 1958. We only plan on walking around there, we decided that we were not going to go up it. And if you search, you can find some green in this concrete jungle called Tokyo.
Before heading to the Tokyo Tower, we came upon a couple of those little car cafes. One was called the Allo Cafe serving French snack foods (I think), and the other was called the "Hachi Bus", which sold scones and honey and coffee as well. The scones with honey were only 150yen so of course we had one.
This should bring back memories for my sister. We went out drinking here when we were on a family vacation almost fifteen years ago. Ooh, and the Tony Roma's - haven't been there in almost ten years either. I could go for some baby-back ribs.
The Tokyo Tower / 東京タワー