Oct 28, 2012

I Hate Songs Sung by Whitney and I Love Songs Sung by Carole

I hate songs sung by Whitney Houston and her followers. It doesn't mean that I hate her herself, but rather I have pity for her life. I just don't want to listen to her songs.

She could sing loudly in a very high note, and when she sung she looked so comfortable. But so what?

Her voice was a kind of acrobatic performance. When I heard her voice at first time, I was surprised at her voice, but I had got used to it quite soon, and I've been never moved by songs that were sung by her at all.

I think that it was the dark age of soul music from the late 90s to early 00s, because soul music world was flooded with songs without soul, like songs that were sung by Whitney and her followers.

I'm listening to Carole King's album "Tapestry". It's first time for me to listen to this album, but I've heard most of the songs in this album before.

Her songs are so simple that they could be poor when other singers sing, but when she sings, they are really rich. I love her hoarse voice, which move me deeply.







Oct 19, 2012

The Yankees in This Season ISN'T the Yankees at All

The Yankees was swept by the Tigers in the American league championship series and this season ended for me as a Yankees fan.

As I wrote the entry "Goodbye My Good Old Yankees", I loved the Yankees in the 1990s, including Derek Jeter, Paul O'Neill, Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Petite.

They were really tough stuff. Paul O'Neil had never got any batting title, but he really was a clutch hitter. He was the symbol of the golden age of Yankees in the 1990s.

This season I expected that the Yankees would get the world champion. I was anxious about their starters, but I was satisfied with their lineup. And I thought that they were really in good shape at the end of this season, so they would do best in the post season games.

But they disappointed me deeply in the American league championship series.

Starters were far better than thought. They did really good job.

I wasn't disappointed with Alex Rodriguez, because I've already known that he couldn't hit at the tough situation, but why couldn't Robinson Cano hit at all? Only Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez, who were the former Mariners, could hit.

In the top of the twelfth in the first game Jeter's ankle was broken, and the series substantially ended. And then the Yankees did NOTHING.

In the third game, Raul Ibanez, who caused miracles in this post season games, became the last batter. In the fourth game, C. C. Sabathia, who was an ace pitcher of the Yankees, got hammered.

The Tigers was a good team, but there was no tough player in the Yankees. What will the Yankees without Derek and Mariano be?

Oct 17, 2012

American Whaling and Japanese Modernization

Recently I read Eric Jay Dolin's "Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America." 

I've been interested in whaling for a long time, partly because I love the novel "Moby Dick" and partly because whaling deeply influenced to Japanese modernization. I have many other reasons why I've been interested in it, but I don't have enough time to write about all of them.

I've been to Nantucket Island, which is famous for the resort for celebrities living in the East Coast of the U.S. and the Nantucket basket. But for me Nantucket Island is the place where Ishmael got on the whale ship Pequod in Moby Dick.

Before I read the book "Leviathan," I knew about the history of American whaling in fragments, but I got a better overall knowledge about it from this book. I could now understand how Nantucket became the center of American whaling.

According to "Leviathan" the golden age of American whaling was from the 1820s to the 1850s, which is just when Japanese modernization began. From the 17th century to the early 19th century, the Edo Bakuhu, samurai's regime, which strictly closed the country, ruled Japan. In 1868 Edo Bakuhu was overturned, and the new government accelerated Japanese modernization.

The main reason why Edo Bakuhu was overturned was that it couldn't handle the threat of Western countries. In 1853 the fleet of the U.S. navy led by Matthew Perry arrived at the Tokyo bay to demand to open the country. Because of this affair Edo Bakuhu opened the country and many Japanese realized that Japan should be modernized to avoid being colonized by Western countries.

In the background of this affair there was American whaling. After the war of 1812, American whaling made great progress. Before that, its main fishing places were in the Atlantic, and then they expanded to the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. In the 1820s a fishing place off the coast of Japan was discovered and many whale ships from America appeared around Japan.

Edo Bakuhu wanted to close the country, but the foreign whale ships arriving off the coast of Japan resulted in contacts between Japanese people and foreign whalers. Sometimes American whale ships saved Japanese drifters, and some of them were taken to America and got an education there. Sometimes American whale ships shipwrecked off the coast of Japan and Japanese coastal people saved them.

One of the most famous Japanese drifters is John Mung. He was helped by American whale ship and taken to America. He leaned English and became a whaler. And then he smuggled himself back into Japan. When the fleet leaded by Matthew Perry arrived at Japan, there were only two English interpreters in Japan including him.

One of the main reasons why the U.S. government sent the fleet to Japan was to secure supply bases for American whale ships, but ironically at that time the golden age of American whaling was ending. Although the main use of whale oil was for lights, in the 1850s oil fields was discovered and developed in America and whale oil was replaced by kerosene.

I learned from the history of whaling that globalism wasn't just a recent phenomenon and an unexpected side of Japanese modernization. I think that you can find another unexpected side of American and world history from the book "Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America."

Oct 14, 2012

Education in School and Self-learning

I think that self-learning is the boll and education in school is the branches.

Preferences and needs for learning depend on the individual, so no school education can satisfy every student's preferences and needs perfectly.

English education in Japanese school has been criticized for a long time, because despite learning English for six years in high school, few students become fluent in English. .

English education in Japanese school has a lot of problems, but I think that the main reason why most Japanese people can't speak English is lack of self-learning. We, ordinary Japanese people, can live our everyday lives without English. We can avoid talking with people who can't speak Japanese and we know about foreign countries through translations.

But avoiding English apparently limits our world. I wrote about "the meaning of learning a foreign language" in an entry on myweblog. When we speak only Japanese, the internet isn't actually the "inter"-net but the Japanese net.
The most important thing in English education in school is to make students understand the meaning of learning a foreign language. If they understood it, they began self-learning and school should just support their self-leaning. If they didn't understand it, school could never make them master any foreign language.

Oct 13, 2012

Boy's Culture and Girl's Culture

The wallpaper of my PC is from "Sin City." I love this picture.

I said to a female colleague, "This picture is so cool, isn't it?" She replied, "Mm, I don't know if it is or not and, in any case, I'm not really interested in cool things." When, my friend, who's really into comics, said that she didn't know a single girl who liked "Sin City", I began to think that perhaps this kind of coolness was a boy thing.

I wrote about "The Dark Knight" on my weblog. I really love this movie. But my friend said that, although boys might love "The Dark Knight", she, herself, liked Tim Burton's Batman movies more because they were colorful and fun whereas "The Dark Knight" was too heavy  "The Dark Knight" was influenced by the American comic, "Batman: the Dark Knight Returns", which was also created/drawn by the same artist/author who drew/created "Sin City". Maybe thinking the "The Dark Knight" is cool is another boy thing.

Although I know that it is very controversial, I feel that gangsta rap is coolest in hip hop music. Contemporary hip hop music is too commercialized for me. How do you think about Ice-T? It also might be the thing in boy's culture.

The valley between boy's culture and girl's culture is so deep.

Oct 6, 2012

Hip Hop and the Death of the Author

My favorite pop music is Rock and Funk in the 1970s.

I think that the 1970s were the golden age of Rock and now it is dead as I wrote in the entry "The Song for All of the Stupid Boys in the World."

I think that rock music isn't contemporary music now either. Hip hop killed Rock music in the 90s, and Nirvana was the last band that created new rock music. And then rock musicians have basically rehashed old rock music, so I mainly listen to rock music from the 60s and 70s.
Sometimes I used to try listening to Hip Hop music, but Hip Hop sounded so strange that I couldn't get used to it. Recently I realized that what was different between Rock and Hip Hop and now I enjoy listening to hip hop music.

Roland Barthes, a French critic, wrote about the concept "the death of the author." For the traditional literary critics, literary works were always related to their authors, but Barthes insisted that we should read the texts themselves. Texts weren't creations by their authors, but each text is related to and quoted by others.

Roland Barthes' theory is based on structuralism. Claude Levi-Strauss, one of the most famous anthropologists, studied mythology by applying structuralism. Mythology doesn't have its authors, so it can't be related to its authors. Levi-Strauss focused on the variations of the texts of mythology and revealed the meaning and structure of mythology.

Hip Hop brought "the death of the author" to the world of pop music. Rock music was treated in the traditional way of literary criticism, but Hip Hop music is rather like mythology.

After the Beatles released the album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", Rock musicians made many albums, which were thought as art works created by them.

On the contrary Hip Hop music aren't creations of the special authors. In the beginnings of Hip Hop, DJs played pieces of songs with turntables on the street. They didn't create their original songs but just edited and quoted songs, which already existed.

Please watch this video, "Otis" by Kanye West and Jay-Z.

Otis Redding's, a legendary soul singer, song was quoted. His voice and shout were reconstructed, and raps of Kanye West and Jay-Z were overdubbed.

Who is the author of this song "Otis"? Otis Redding? Kanye West and Jay-Z?

I realized that I should enjoy the song itself and forget about who was the author. Barthes called this attitude "the pleasure of the text."

In the Hip Hop world the author is actually dead.