Friday, February 27, 2009

Simulacra, or How Nike Spent a Year Masturbating and Gave Birth to a Golf Ball

An ode to a "thing" can be symbolic. Designers honor their muses with colors and shapes. Musicians code their love songs with pet names and maps to first dates. Most of the time though, simulacrum is cornballs deep fried in cheese. It's a Las Vegas hotel called The Venetian. It's the LonelyGirl on YouTube; it's Harajuku; it's Brian Austin Green.


The Nike Blazer High Premium

I'm convinced few will have immediately figured out all the details of this symbolic shoe, since it took me several viewings and an explanation to decipher all its bells and whistles. So permit me...

This is obviously a Nike shoe. I bought it at Proper in Long Beach, a very well edited sneaker store run by a guy named Tristan. I went into the store with Imprint-Ryan and jeffstaple , whom Tristan recognized (not surprising, as jeff designs sneakers etc.), but more impressive: Tristan recognized me from my last trip to the store with Eric Nakamura six months ago.

Tristan: Hey. You came in here a while ago with Eric Nakamura right?
Anne: Whoa. Yes I did. You have an amazing memory.

After drooling over a bunch of boat shoes, I picked up this number from a wooden spreadsheet of candy-colored sneakers. I had no idea what made a shoe "fly off the wall" to guys like Tristan and jeff so I kind of randomly picked this one up and asked:

Anne: What do you think of this shoe?
jeff: It's cool but I would never wear it.
Anne: Why?
jeff: I dunno. (He walks away and asks a clerk for his size in the sneaker equivalent of The Watchmen's Rorschach, if Rorshach were a German hooker. Truly, sneaker beauty is in the eye of the beholder.)

So I went back to re-examining the above Nike, to figure out if it had some coded message to a designer or team or Michael Jordan or whoever. Which sub-segment of the street savvy is picking up this shoe in earnest?

That's when I noticed the heel:

That's a red star hovering over what I'd approximate as Chattanooga.

Anne: jeff, is this someone's brand?
jeff: No. Or if it is I don't know it.

I flip the shoe around and notice what looks like a dark green hoodie printed on the tongue.
Anne: How about this? Is this a brand?
jeff: (Visibly annoyed) No. (He squirrels back to the wall of shoes.)

I then went to Tristan, interrupting his conversation with Ryan about selling cars (sic).

Anne: What's this stuff on the shoe mean?
Tristan: You mean why is that shoe covered in all that stuff?
Anne: Yeah.
Tristan: Nike (Urban) wanted to make a Tiger Woods shoe for winning the Masters, but they couldn't clear it with legal. The green hoodie is their version of green jacket from The Masters. The red star over Chattanooga approximates the golf standard over Augusta, which is the logo for The Masters.

(Viz: Anne's jaw dropping to the floor.)
What symbolism.
What bereft homage.
What a load of shit...

But it gets better.

Notice the swoosh. It's lined with fur.
Tiger fur.

Now look closer. The tiger fur has a print on it.
A fake wood finish.

Yes, folks. I give you:

(Viz.: Anne gives immaculate and spontaneous birth to octuplets)

Later in the day, after having thought about this shoe for the succeeding three hours, I decide I'm going to get this stupid shoe because it will make such a wonderful conversation piece. Plus, I love Tiger Woods and I love gawky puns. The shoe is practically made for me. I'm falling for this Pigmalion and it's a treacherous love.

I find out that not only is Nike's smallest Blazer High Premium a Men's 8, Proper doesn't have anything left but a Men's 10.5.

I buy it anyway.

[By the way, thanks, Tristan! I'm sure you never thought clowning a shoe to a golfer would help you sell a 10.5 hightop to a size 5-wearing-woman who will never wear it.]
But you know, the lynchpin for my buying this shoe wasn't my own mental retardation. It was what jeff pointed out after a third and final examination.
The white leather on this shoe has been dimpled to look like a golf ball.

(Viz.: Anne signs a $1million contract to do Octopod porn)

It's so silly it looks like a "Crazy Japanese Invention"

The self-portraiter.
I wouldn't be completely embarrassed to be pull this out in public to take pictures of myself. Oh no. No way.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tsutsui Yasutaka at THEME


I've only just discovered this interview with Tsutsui Yasutaka, Japanese sci-fi pioneer and most recently known for his original script animated in eponymous Paprika, and the book I've long championed as having the best title EVER, Salmonella Men From the Planet Porn (above pictured).

At THEME Magazine.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


It's some kind of miniature piper fairy version of Osamu Tezuka right?
So very wrong.

(via Coilhouse)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Wake up the Finance Minister!



The Roman Anti-Mafia Police (no, seriously) is working with a European Union agency to investigate tapping Skype communications that are so popular with the mafia. I'm going to bet this never gets actualized because it's too complicated. Voip-tapping involves too much proprietary technology for anyone to figure out without hacking skills and hefty bribes. You'd have to be in the mob to know how to do this...


Monday, February 23, 2009

The Oscars and Asians

I had no expectations for Oscar81 last night, but boy was the casual banter good. Even A.R. Rahman's "om" speech, which would have made me cringe last year, had its intended yogic effect this year, as I watched nervously for signs of anything remotely sincere or interesting in Hollywood.

I experienced awkward Asian pride when Kunio Kato, who won "Best Animated Short" against all Pixarian odds, finished his acceptance speech with:

Thank you, my company, Robot Corporation.
Domo arigato, Mr. Robot.

"Okuribito" won "Best Foreign Film" against "Waltz For Bashir"-odds, and half of Mumbai showed up for the "Slumdog Millionaire" win. For a split-second, Asia felt really big.

BUT! If anyone can screw up even the most miniscule attempts to address Asians, it's the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, along with the brain-dead media that covers the Oscars for no other reason than to print pictures of celebs.

Exhibit A: Kunio Kato is quoted in today's papers as having said "Domo arigato, Mr. Robotto" for apparently no reason. The LA Times and ABC news neglect to mention Robot Corportation is Mr. Kunio's production company name, making it sound like he was just being funny (and not also apt), and Daily Mainichi pretends he didn't say "Mr. Robotto" in the first place.

Exhibit B: During the "in memorium" montage, they commemorate the brilliant film auteur "Kon Ichikawa" but use a picture of Rentaro Mikuni, in a clip from "Burmese Harp," a film Ichikawa directed, in which Mikuni stars. Close, but no cigar. This is the equivalent of showing Tom Hanks in a tribute to Ron Howard. No excuse for poor googling in 2009. [Thanks, Marty]

Friday, February 20, 2009

The PC Store

Microsoft is opening a small chain of dedicated retail stores.

Some suggested names for their store:

The Lemon Store
Gates' Foundation (of Wealth)
I Love the '90s
xBox 365
P.C. Richards, Best Buy, Fry's, Circuit City (I know), Comp USA, J&R... etc.


What I Learned From The People I Don't Work With

I have of late, been a driver of the publishing vehicle known as Museyon Guides: A Curated Guide to Your Obsessions, which I hope you all ten of you faithful blog readers get copies of in June when they become available. (There will be a website and review copies between now and then, I'm sure.)

Now, as a function of being a small-time editor-in-chief, you end up playing a lot of chinese firetruck by yourself. This puts your vehicle wildly at risk (Anne pointing a real .44 at an imaginary driver, screaming "Get the f__k out!").

So the Publisher and I started interviewing people to work with us (after I decided to let said publisher out of the trunk, of course). We talked to about twenty people who knew nothing about our project. Now that the firetruck is all square, I feel it is my duty to share what I've learned. Listen carefully:

If you want a job in publishing, YOU MUST READ.

I will grant that everyone we interviewed would have at least "looked at the material," but the very simplest gesture, the passingest of comments, the slightest indication of a real taste for reading, will truly make your case in a job interview with a publisher. And FYI, everyone we called back didn't just say they would read Museyon. They said they NEEDED to read Museyon to do their best job.

I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings so I'll try to be discreet, but my favorite failure actually said, "I don't really read much." Naturally, I'm not REMOTELY worried this person will read my blog. Sigh (imaginary driver coerces real gun from Anne, pulls back the safety).

Anyway, here's a neat article about the popularity of travel memes despite plummeting guide book sales.

The guide is dead.
Long live the guide.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

With so much Japan going on in the blogosphere it's hard to believe so much news about it can still be incomplete or wrong. Even Peanut Butter gets better coverage.

Yani told me to checkout the Japanese-wiki entry on Johnny's Jimusho to see how poorly researched the earlier Guardian piece I blogged was. Suffice it to say he was right. There is much more than meets the eye. (Ed.: links reposted)


The Guardian has clips from the recently deposed Japanese minister of finance in all his drunken glory. There is a King Arthur-Dudley Moore-potpourri-joke somewhere in all this that is just not coming to me yet.
(Thanks, Nate)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Tales From the Crypt: NYC Recessions edition

This is an almost word-for-word transcript of a phone call I just had:

Man: hello?
Anne: Hi. I'd like to speak with John Doe (my accountant)
Man: He's not here.
Anne: Oh. (Pause) Is Jim Doe (his partner) in?
Man: No. Sorry. Good day now.
Anne: Wait, I'm sorry, is this not an accounting firm anymore?
Man: (annoyed) Who is this?
Anne: Anne Ishii, someone there did my taxes last year.
Man: No, no one's here.
Anne: Where is John Doe now then?
Man: He left in May.
Anne: So...this isn't an accounting firm anymore.
Man: No. Sorry. Good bye.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Studio 360taku

I love Studio 360. I love Kurt Anderson, and I love the amazing stories he produces. I love the sound editing. His daughter guest stars in this week's episode and she seems cool. But...

Kurt, if you have access to a time machine, I would be so grateful if you took this week's episode on Japan and go back to either:

a. 1991, when Purikura, Hikikomori, Akihabara and Unusually Polite Train Station Missives in Japan were news, or
b. The day before you uploaded this episode

and I dunno, fix it or something. I want to go back to saying with unflinching enthusiasm that Studio 360 is still the best show on NPR. Too little too late by the time you bring in Shuntaro Tanikawa.

p.s. it's Akihabara, not AKAhabara.

Exposé on Johnny's Jimusho in The Guardian

This is the most interesting exposé on a Japanese business practice I've read in a while, and I don't typically like articles that make Japanese business practices sound unique in any way.

Everyone Japanese or Japan-associated knows Johnny's Jimusho. It's a management company responsible for every Japanese boy bands of note. Johnny's is to bands like SMAP what Lou Pearleman was to N Sync.

Anyway, I did not know half of this stuff about the founder/owner of the management company:

To understand Johnny's (for short), the all-powerful "pretty boy factory" that's been dealing exclusively with boy bands since the Beatles' heyday, you have to understand the man who holds its throne. Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the 77-year-old Don of Dubiousness, Johnny Kitagawa.Never photographed, never interviewed, the elusive Kitagawa was originally born in Los Angeles (hence the western first name), but came to Japan as a US marine remained there after his discharge.

More at The Guardian.

grammys observation -- very late edition

I, like ten other people, was trapped at home Sunday night with very little else to do after a tumultuous Comic-Con weekend, and decided to spend my quiet evening recuperating watching the Grammys. I came out of it with only one observation:


Namely, with Justin Timberlake. At least Kevin Bacon has 6 degrees separation. JT just has his rectum wrapped around your face.

And while I'm not offended by anything that happens to Coldplay, I am put off by Jay Z making his "surprise" entrance during a somber piano solo, like he's going to wow us. Because at the end of the gay, he doesn't wow us. At all. I haven't been this embarrassed for someone since Sarah Palin. Someone remind him he's not the one who came up with The Grey Album.

I mean, when David Bowie surprises an Arcade Fire audience, it works.
Run DMC banging down Aerosmith's studio wall worked.
Linda Rondstadt x Aaron Neville worked.
Seiko Matsua x Donnie Wahlberg...ugh...god...

Paris Hilton wants Sir Paul McCartney in HER next album.
John Lennon is doing the opposite of turning in his grave.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kind of amazing

There were some pretty random NYCC booths this 2009.

Dolla Morte's publisher, Bill Zebub, was there, showing strong for the metal contingency. Eric and I bought a couple documentaries that I still haven't been able to watch for lack of proper alone time.

But the crème de la crème for me was Radio Spirits. Recordings of old radio shows, including...
Greent Hornet and Kato! The radio show predates the TV show several decades, and folks, I'm listening to it now, but it's a real gem. It feels good on the ears. All the voices have their own distinct timbre. The cops have Irish accents, the criminals sound like BoSox fans. They say things like "Jumpin' catfish!" "Holy Glory," "Holy Coals," "Holly Moses" and of course, "Holy Moly."

And Kato.
Kato comes off as an oblivious chink to the cops, but because this is radio and radio-media is unburdened by the fear of portraying chinks on visual broadcast, Kato gets to have serious dialogue with Britt Reid/Green Hornet. In other words, he's not a martial weapon, but a regular Sherlock. Amazingly, though he started out Japanese, he is eventually Filipino.

Most interestingly though, the female characters' voices are all Ishii-normal -- i.e. deep and declarative. Which begs the question, when did the "upspeak" falsetto-pitch girl voice come to fore?

Monday, February 9, 2009

1-800 Ishii-can't-keep-a-phone-to-save-her-life.

My goddamned third iphone, lost to the ether, again. I can't say it was stolen this time, but I left it at a bar late Saturday night and no one can account for it come Sunday afternoon.

I was told to let myself be freed of that tie to humanity, by someone who later showed me an SMS conversation in his iPhone, the nature of which was a throat-choking threeway invitation at 5 in the morning. I told him to give me his phone so he could be "freed." Shit. If I had that in my phone I wouldn't give it up either.

I'd always been so proud of my stories about plenis and plunus, and I never ever blush, but aforementioned David Choe's SMS conversation really took the cake. My craziest SMS conversation was from a guy who on our first date told me his favorite things to do were "scratch lottery tickets and online poker." In other words, a winner. But, quite unexpectedly, the text message he sent me a few days later maintained a poetry and precision of a true artist, and so I'd kept it all these years later.


All caps. And that's the thing you really miss when you lose your phone. This thing is a real loss. The anthropology of cell phones. For example, I spent the worse half of 2006 chained to the tether of sweet digital nothings proffered from a boyfriend who refused to call himself as much. That phone has been long lost. I ordered my very first cell phone on September 10, 2001, for emergencies. Lost. The very first boy I made out with had a 1-800 number for his pager, and I thought that meant he was generous.

Behold treachery.

To commemorate all that is wrong with modern phones, I am getting the weakest, most functionless phone on the market right now. Something with no memory or memories, and no more than 12 buttons.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Boba Fettish

Citizens of the Nerdsphere,

I hope to see lots of cosplay today. Yesterday's Hellboy-Batman (a la Bale) was simply gorgeous, winsome, meta-nostalgic. Where are the body paint and rubber abs of yore?
But hark what hoodie through yonder booth breaks? The most popular costume, at NYCC, was undoubtedly, the Boba Fett hoodie by Ecko.That's Mark, the new GRNY-employee who happens to be an old friend of a friend. Small galaxy, hyuk hyuk (Ishii pushing glasses up her nose and sniffing up). He and I counted close to 20 Boba Fett-hoodie wearing attendees pass our booth yesterday, which was at least 20 more than any plasticine version we saw. (Mark promptly took the sweater off after seeing three doppelgangers. He's such a queen.)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ishii's NY Comic-Con weekend

Starting the morning fresh at Javits Center for NY Comic-Con. Pretty sure "fresh" and "Javits Center" have never met in a sentence.

Meetings on Intellectual Property and then selling BUTTloads of T-shirts and UglyDolls at the GR Booth. (See you there!)
Booth-sitting at Publishers Weekly later, if you want to hear me wax optimistic about publishing.
Stare agape at what I predict will be some g-hetto cosplay outfits (you know, cuz of the recession), and nod vacantly to a conversation about Asterios Polyp.
Afterward, follow me to the KGB Sex Workers Literati Reading (at the KGB bar)!

Back at Giant Robot for the day. Sidenote: I thrive in these high-impact customer service moments. Come by and get clowned.
Then I'm paneling with Monsieur C. Kidd, for the incredible, incredulous, incomprehensible honor he keeps bestowing me as co-conspirator of Bat-Manga! I swear I'm as pointless as lyrics in a Ruins' single, but I'll fink of somefing to say...
And in a last minute save for the Asian-Ams, Ishii will moderate a panel on superhero anthology, Secret Identities. I know a scant couple of you will sense potential conflict here, but my response to you is, "why do you think they asked me to do this in the first place?"
Then of course, DEHARAVATH.

If I've done anything right the previous two nights I'm not going to wake up till 11am. I'll come in and hoover-vac any floor copies of anything people want to unload.

(via Greybean)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My shirt's the sh*t yo!

Alright kids. Many of you know I've been making these shirts for states. States of mind...
Like, Oregon. Who doesn't love them a pale teva-wearing pacific northwesterner?

Oregon: A Beaver State of Mind...

We's also gots the:
Maine! I wanna live there forever. I'm gonna learn how to fly (fish)!
I came, I saw, I Concord.
Canada: Above it all.

Oscar Wilde Bookstore, RIP

From The NY Times:

The Oscar Wilde Bookshop in Greenwich Village, which is believed to be the oldest gay and lesbian bookstore in the country, will close on March 29, its owner announced on Tuesday, citing economic troubles.

Victim of recession...and low gay literacy, I guess.

I used to live a stone's throw from Oscar Wilde Books and felt good being near it. That stretch of Christopher St. is one of my favorites still, but it's sad to see it go one more step in the direction of predictably overpriced boutiques. Ten bucks says that storefront turns into a house accesories store with a big ole birch branch as its window display.

The story.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Miley v. The OCA

In picture, left to right:
Tyler "I bought my dogtag at Hot Topic" Harrison,
John "Asian dude" Doe,
Miley "Hannah Montana" Cyrus,
Jayden "Dad said next year, NEXT YEAR, I get to take the Cayenne to school." Jones
Wilford "Jayden thinks the Cayenne is his, but it's mine..." Jones
Betty "What's shiofuki and why am I supposed to wear gloves?" Buckner
Damien "Does this merlot-rioja blend match my silver necklaces?" Angel

Yeah... I'd comment on the disgrace but it's like shooting fish in a barrel, or seven retarded teenagers in a living room set from Miami Vice.
Let the OCA say it.
(Thanks for the link, Aaron)

Monday, February 2, 2009

PHOENIX (AP) — A Tucson television station's broadcast of the Super Bowl on Sunday was interrupted for some viewers by about 10 seconds of pornographic material, the station said.


Models... Tch...

I was in Murray Hill the other day and walked past this American Apparel storefront display. I did a slow double-take.
Anne thinks to self: Who EVER stands like that? What a stupid pose. American Apparel has totally lost its "realness."

Then I pictured myself in this physical stance...but it only makes sense if I'm really drunk and competing for a Vogue-ing prize. One of those things never happens, and so neither would the pose.

Then I took the 6 train up to Grand Central and came into the concourse, where VAIO was doing an interactive advertisement for a new notebook. Their installation was a dozen women in evening gowns and platinum blond wigs, striking ballroom poses with their notebooks.

You can't see it here, but one of the models eventually struck the American Apparel pose.

So there's your answer. Who strikes poses? Models. Duh.