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My Weirdest Record: Score Yourself…Sexual I.Q. Test

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In the late-60s and early-70s there was a brief fad of sex manuals. No doubt born out of the attention from sex researchers like Masters and Johnson, these books were made with the mass market in mind, designed as educational materials for couples looking for advice on how to get down and dirty. The Joy of Sex and Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Sex* (But Were Afraid To Ask) are the all-stars of the genre to this day I think.

Sex records were also a thing around this time, although to a much lesser extent. I occasionally see these record stores. They often that feature dirty stories, “documentary” style interviews about sex, or just straight-up recordings of people doing it. Due to the fact that many of these records were mail-order only (and illegal) when they first came out, they’re pretty hard to find these days.

This LP, however, is the only one I’ve ever seen that combines both the sex record and the instructional sex book into one handy combo. Score Yourself…The Sexual I.Q. Test is exactly what it sounds like, an interactive test designed to gauge the listener’s carnal knowledge.

It’s really stupid. Continue reading

The Biggest Guide to Tokyo Record Stores on the Internet

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This all started because my boyfriend gave me his old MiniDisc player.

We were watching Techmoan on YouTube, some video about an obsolete tape format, and I mentioned how I wished he would do an episode on MiniDiscs, because they always interested me. Then, my boyfriend told me that he actually had a MiniDisc player (that he never used) and would give to me. It was a wonderful gift from my wonderful little man, but unfortunately he didn’t have any discs for it.

I went to my regular record store haunts scoping the back shelves for used MiniDiscs, but to no avail. After that, I decided to branch out and search some lesser known shops. Still turning up empty-handed, I reached out even further, doing research online to dig up as many record stores as possible, figuring that at least one would have used MiniDiscs somewhere.

It was at this point I realized that I had probably been to at least half of the record stores in and around Tokyo so I figured what would be the harm in hunting down the other half.

So if you find this useful and want to thank someone, thank my boyfriend. It’s all his fault.

And in case you’re wondering, no, I never did find a damn MiniDisc. Continue reading

The Wonders of Japanese Movie Programs

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There are a lot of differences between going to the movies in Japan and going in the United States. For starters, tickets cost a heck of a lot more, usually upwards of $20, and the seats are assigned. Many theaters also have deluxe seats that offer anything from increased leg room to full-on private suites. The theater near me even has a private waiting area for premium members where champagne and chocolate are served. It all combines to create a feeling that turns going to the movies into more of an event, much like going to a live stage show or a concert.

And just like a live event, in Japan, movies often get their own specially made programs.

And they’re dope. Continue reading

Thirteen David Bowie Songs I Want To Write About

Had planned to write a lot this week about a lot of different things. But David Bowie died and that’s all I can think about so that’s all I’m going to write about.

A few people have asked me what my favorite David Bowie songs are. That is not this list. I couldn’t make that list if you put a gun to my head. There are too many. Instead, these are the songs I think about the most when I think about Bowie, and the ones that trigger specific memories or feelings.

No artist has ever effected me as much as David Bowie has. I suspect it will be a while before I’m able to move on from this one.

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There are countless David Bowie songs for nearly every mood or activity imaginable. He has love songs ideal for slow dancing; sexy songs for getting your groove on; bitter tracks for post break-up self-loathing; political tunes for when you feel like nothing is right with the world; and upbeat dance numbers for when you just feel like dancing and having fun.

This is the only David Bowie song for kicking someone’s head in. That’s probably not why it was written, but that’s how it makes me feel.  Continue reading

Scrunged: Stone Temple Pilot’s Tiny Music…Song’s From The Vatican Gift Shop

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Scrunge (second-rate rip-off grunge) is a largely forgotten genre, and every few weeks I’m going to examine a scrunge act or two and see if they deserve a second chance. Today’s band: Stone Temple Pilots.

As I’m writing this, it’s been less than a week since Scott Weiland was found dead in his tour bus at the too fucking young age of 48. As such, I’m awash in a sea of tributes, eulogies, think pieces and listicles celebrating his legacy. Sadly, I wonder how many of them were on file and ready to go, minus a few key dates and recent events, considering the singer’s long-standing issues with drug and alcohol abuse.

When these articles look back on Weiland’s time with STP, they all seem to touch on the same points. The band’s first two albums were wild successes that outsold many of their contemporaries. At their peak, the band’s success was stymied due to Weiland’s legal issues related to his various addiction. When the band was finally able to continue with a (questionably) sober Weiland in the early 2000s, the spark was gone and they broke up. Weiland went onto record a couple of albums with Velvet Revolver, briefly rejoined STP for a self-titled reunion album, and then left the group again, this time on seemingly even more hostile terms.

Then the band recruited the guy from Linkin Park for an EP and tour and everyone was like “what the fuck.”

That’s a pretty accurate summation of the group, at least from a popular perspective. But it’s criminal in that it leaves out the band’s third LP, Tiny Music…Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop. Coming off the massive success of the band’s first two albums, which sold eight million and six million copies, respectively, Tiny Music was widely seen as a disappointment when it came out, as it sold “only” two million copies. Thanks largely to the previously mentioned drug issues, the band barely toured for the record, and the singles for the album were released erratically, making it difficult for the album to gather momentum.

And that’s a goddamn shame. Continue reading

Limited Editions Unlimited Bullshit: Twilight Time Edition

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I have about 4,000 records. Give or take. It’s hard to keep track with a collection that spans two continents. A lot of time people ask me what the “most valuable” record in my collection is, and to be honest, I rarely know of the top of my head. That’s the kind of thing that changes on a regular basis. Skimming my Discogs page right now, it would appear that the most valuable record in my stacks is my copy of Velvet Underground & Nico, complete with in-tact banana and Verve sticker on the back. On a good day my copy can probably go for about $300 – $400. Most of the other very valuable records in my collection go for around $100 – $200, and include hard-to-find vintage soundtracks, a ton of rare Pearl Jam and Nirvana LPs, and a few old Krautrock first pressings.

Most of these have one thing in common: they weren’t designed to be collectibles, it just kind of worked out that way. The Nirvana and Pearl Jam LPs were pressed at a time when no one was buying vinyl, so they were made to fit a very low demand. Ditto for the soundtracks. The Krautrock records are valuable because demand for them has grown tremendously over the years, and mine happen to be in very good condition – which in itself is a rarity.

My point is that I have nothing against collectibles. I’m a collector after all. I get that people want rare shit. That the act of it being rare makes it a commodity. And that the “thrill of the hunt” is part of what makes collecting records, games, or anything for that matter, so fun.

But while I love rare items, genuine scarcities whose value has increased due to unforeseen circumstances, “collectible” materials, items made scarce on purpose for no other reason than to limit supply versus demand, piss me the fuck off.

Continue reading

Tokyo Street Art Gallery

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I’ve been in Tokyo a little over a year now and during that time I’ve come across a fair share of amazing street art that I’ve been meaning to put up here for quite some time.

Now, before I get a snarky comment, I know that not all of this is “street art” in the traditional sense. Some are graffiti and some are storefront displays, but it’s all art and I saw it all on the street, so I don’t know what else to call it.

Regardless, I think it all showcases what a wonderful and artistic city Tokyo is. I hope you agree. Continue reading

Scrunge Retrospective: Rotting Pinata & Throwing Copper 20 Years Later

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A few years ago I read an issue of Spin that had a retrospective on grunge rock. Part of that retrospective was dedicated to “scrunge” or “fake grunge” that blew up in popularity immediately following the mainstream embrace of Nirvana and Pearl Jam in 1991. Most scrunge acts were reviled by critics, but many of them went on to become phenomenally huge, albeit for a very brief period of time.

Looking back, the era of scrunge was incredibly short-lived. I would say it started not soon after grunge itself, probably in 1992 with STP’s debut album, peaked in popularity just two years later in 1994 with Bush’s Sixteen Stone, and then vanished without a trace by 1997, being replaced by post-grunge and fellow flash-the-pan genres nu-metal and rap-rock.

So five years in total, and while that’s not much, as someone who was a teenager at the time, I really can’t overstate just how big this kind of music was. Soul Asylum, Candlebox, The Toadies and their ilk, they may have been shooting stars, but sure shined bright while they were here. So in that regard, I’m disappointed to see just how much they’ve been forgotten in the years since.

At the same time, I’ve been wondering if my somewhat positive views of these bands is nothing more than the rose-colored tinge of teenage nostalgia. Because, while these bands played a crucial role in my development as a music-obsessed geek, to be honest I’ve rarely re-visited most of them in the years since their prime. So maybe their continued snubbery in the annals of rock history is justified? Continue reading

Check Out This Dumb Thing I Bought: Hanshin Tigers Gamecube

Japan has this chain of second-hand stores called Book-Off. Like it’s name suggests, it started as a second-hand bookstore, but over the years its morphed into a general secondhand media store. At Book-Off you can buy DVDs, CDs, video games, and even VHS tapes and laserdiscs at some locations.

Book-Offs are dope, and  have become my go to spots for finding the weird and unusual, usually at cut-rate prices. Thanks to my crate-digging at Book-Off I’ve found countless game music CDs on the cheap, a few weird movies, and even some great classic GBA titles. But last week’s score has to be a crowning achievement.

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BEHOLD THE HANSHIN TIGERS GAMECUBE.

I don’t know why. Continue reading

Invada Responds to My Record Store Day Post

My post on what I saw as problems with Record Store Day caught the interest of a lot of people – especially Invada Records, the label I called out specifically in my write-up.

And since Invada is a small label run by a handful of very awesome people, they took the time to respond to my criticisms with the post below. In it, they raise a lot of very good points that I was not aware of, and I think it sheds some light on the problems labels face when planning limited edition releases.

I stand by the gist of what  said, I don’t think Record Store Day is a fan-friendly event anymore. And if it keeps going like it is then it’s going to self-destruct and take out some records stores with it. But I apologize to Invada if I was overly harsh towards them. They are one of my favorite labels, I only focused on them because they were the only label whose releases I was following.

Anyways, its good to get their side of the story, read on: Continue reading

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