Fables of the River

Swallow…

Just one more cover.

I beat through field-dusted artifacts,

To Sun streets gone.

Your blur, free streaming ahead.


River Legends,

Have hidden speeds.

Body behind it perfect nobody.

Sun mountain just can’t picture.

Faltering behind steaming hand writings.


The field,

Where your chairs fall.

I, body, and all time.

Cuts streets.

A Bull’s post.

Free before slight lines.


See plans behind hidden ears.

Below sweet mountain.

Nobody locks all your culture.

Can’t blur that through more ghosts.


The train,

Breathing before the steaming river.

Cross dry, perfect suns.

All speeds of us,

Cut waves wide open.


By Oyl Miller

From the Land of the Rising Heat

Roki Sasaki.

The next monster of one hundred years.

A spindly 16-year old who was born to hurl a baseball. To throw at blinding speeds. All of his long-limbed body folding and unfolding in proper timing and efficiency, to unleash a sonic boom with the snap of his right wrist. Eliciting oohs-and-ahhs with every blaze of glory. Poor high school hitters, trying to make sense of phenomenal warp speeds—fanning blindly at the gust of baseball wind rushing past them. Failing with the futility of trying to drink soup with a single chopstick. No chance in this world or any other.

It is the stuff of anime or manga lore. A Chosen Boy, rising to national prominence. The Japanese Dream. Gracing the nation’s newspapers. Dominating long segments of airtime on nightly primetime. Triggering the tweets of celebrities. A whole country in rapt attention of Sasaki’s mound exploits. If you’ve been following Japanese baseball for any amount of time, you know the cadence and intensity the country’s mainstream fervor burns with. You’ve experienced the hallowed tones used to speak of these myths who emerge from the depths of Japan. Splashing to the surface fully realized, heaven sent from the mountain top, into the spotlight of Japanese media hysteria. First there was Dice-K, then Darvish, then Ma-kun. All moving along the celestial baseball timeline. Now, here stands Roki Sasaki. Number one in your program. Number one trending topic.

There is an obvious innocence when you see Roki standing on the mound. He’s just doing what he’s done every day of his life. It’s impossible for him to know that the very axis of baseball power now spins around him like a tightly wound slider.

It’s impossible for him to know that a single speeding fastball from his fingertips, topping 100 mph cracks the earth to its very core. That it sends a tremor over land and cyber space. A single Sasaki pitch, in less than a second, travels the world. The smack of the catcher’s glove, mass broadcasting a clear message. Announcing a presence. A baseball Spector. A new man-child has awakened in Japan.

Ready your scouts.

Prepare your fanbases.

Notify your coaches. Ping the redditors. The hype is resonating. Empty your pockets and prepare your best offers. Work on your Japanese etiquette. For soon, baseball innocence will be ready for market. This innate ability is available to be bought and sold. This lively arm is ready to join the arms race immemorial between Yankees and would-be-Yankee-killers. Always just one mystical pitching arm away from tipping the balance of power in the baseball universe.

Roki knows not which chalk line he is drawing nearer every day. His moment of crossing is coming. The final inning change. Until then, the redditors are worm-holing deep into a wikipedia frenzy. The American sportswriters are firing up their mobile word processors. We’ve got a live one here boys. Hear that? That’s the sound of a thousand bloggers cueing up lofty think pieces lauding the modernity of American baseball’s reliance on science, and bashing the archaic ways of Japanese ball that would put young pitcher’s arm in danger through stoic, traditional overwork. For in Japan, pitchers throw everyday without mercy. Without rest. (And in the darkest parts of Japanese baseball, without water.) For here, pitch limits don’t exist and taking a starter out of a game is viewed as a sign of weakness.

Young Roki is sparkling culture shock in the sporting world. The presumptuous and stubborn East versus West debate. Old school versus new school. Wrong versus right. Crystalized through the lens of sport. One of the most rooted in tradition sports. Which has yielded vastly different mentalities and ballplayers on two sides of the world.

Young Roki? He’s just trying to climb to the top of Japanese baseball Mt. Everest. He stands now on a Mt. Fuji peak, ruling Japan, and looking to claim legitimate baseball immortality by powering his team all the way to the Koshien title. To win the national high school baseball tournament. For in Japan, this conquest carries a perpetual cultural royalty. It’s a deep sporting honor on par with rising to national fame during March Madness. Even millionaire Japanese MLB stars, like Dice-K and Darvish still speak in reverent tones about their time at Koshien. Considering it the crowning jewel of their careers. For better or worse, it’s all down hill from the cultural highs of Koshien.

Hence the intense burn. Hence the meteoric pitch counts. Hence the literal embrace of giving everything for the good of your team. It’s an iconic sacrifice that echoes the Japanese love of the collective. The country rallies around, imbuing itself with a self-confirmation of their national identity, holding a mirror up top who they really are, all by living vicariously through young sports stars in the national spotlight. Young icons who leave fleeting but indelible impressions on the psyche of a nation.

And so now, in this moment, the world turns to Roki Sasaki. It turns for Roki. For now he unwittingly shoulders the weight and soul of this island nation. Shoulders that are still developing, that are already capable of unusual feats of diamond magic and of turning the world’s head with the snap of a lethal, embarassment-wreaking breaking ball.

Enter Roki Sasaki.

Paranoid Music Box: Thom Yorke's ANIMA Album Reviewed

Thom Yorke’s latest solo offering, ANIMA, sounds like the personal sequel album to Radiohead’s shock and awe masterpiece, Kid A.

Kid A was the national anthem that radically broke the music industry with it’s bold departure. It created a seismic shift that reframed the narrative of not only Radiohead, but it was the singular popular music album that signaled the end of rock and roll as we knew it. It burned the guitars and familiar drum textures in the dumpster out back, and replaced the familiar sonic palette with bloops and bleeps. With cut and paste lyrics that turned humanity into a machine and twisted it so far that the humanity and intention came back out through the speakers. It was a brilliant effort of smoke and mirrors piping directly into our collective ears. Minds were melted. A statement was made. 

And it’s one of the last “rock” albums we all definitely point to. The last hurrah before Napster, before streaming, before we had a million songs in our pocket. Before Steve Jobs changed the world. Kid A was a record of intent of a certain time and place. A shared space.

If Kid A was meant to ironically dominate stadiums filled to max capacity, ANIMA is the same artist, and longtime producer Nigel Godrich, working from hotel rooms and basement studios, intended to go directly and personally out to each of us. Through headphones. Starting intimate conversations and picking up threads. Weaving shared textures.

Call it chill-paranoia. A cousin of the paranoid-android sci-fi branch of rock pioneered by Yorke and Radiohead bandmates. Here, the discomfort in our modern times comes even closer to home. In paired down, minimally backed electronic tracks, Yorke croons and meanders in melodic and sedated tones. He sings of regret, disconnection and the fragility of our so-called shared experience. His lines, sharply written as ever, elucidating truths that we all feel but maybe haven’t articulated for ourselves. Yet when Yorke pulls his lines through the gentle ecosystem of beats and loops, the sentiment hits home.

ANIMA is filled with dream imagery. Upon first listen, it has the sensation of someone waking up from a dream and being forced to deal with a startling new reality. Slowly observing and then reckoning the change in atmosphere from a lost time.

The album’s opening track Traffic, crystalizes this awakening with tonal clarity. The track pulses in as Yorke’s disembodied voice calls out “Yeah.” The first command comes “Submit” followed by “Submerged.” Then comes world play with “Nobody and No body” an incantation to the avatar filled world we anonymously find ourselves drifting through—submerged. We then move immediately into a crystal clear thesis “It’s not good. It’s not right.” And then two more bits of stark imagery “A mirror. A sponge.” In this shattered poetry, Yorke establishes the setting and atmosphere. 90 seconds in, the characters have emerged. 

But then comes a line that straddles hope and irony “But you’re freeeeeeeeee,” Yorke lilts, letting the last syllable roll out and come undone as a chorus of machine-like applause rings out. The bass doubles down.

From here its terse verses and turns of phrase roasting elitist pigs, or apparently “zombies” now. Yorke muses on as the beat sustains. It’s all very dystopian—what else could it be—but there is also a brightness that coarses through the album. It’s as though, three albums into a “side-project” solo career, Yorke has found a sense of mission. A clarity of purpose.

On ANIMA, Yorke and Godrich paint from the same palette they’ve been using since Kid A, however there is a refinement and sophistication here. It suggests that perhaps this is not so much a side project, as it is a alternate project, or a legitimate Thom Yorke vehicle. Worthy of attention, not just as a restless oddity from a creative soul, but as a document of admiration in its own right.

- - - -

Below Thom Yorke discusses ANIMA and how his creative process has evolved over the years:

Sound On

Boy band billboard drive by.

Blaring auto-tuned lemon drops of pop.

Spreading over-produced white noise.

Look at all them leather-clad pretty boys.

Angst over nothingness.

Sales over somethingness.

Bleaching all taste from the streets.

Preaching mediocrity with all the right beats.

You already know what the music video looks like.

Pushing every pixel further out from life.

Same retouched photos of the immediate cute.

Putting synths on blast.

Critical thinking on mute.

Stretching expectations and pin ‘em on a backpack.

Instagramming them to a hashtag laugh track.

Look at the art-directed bad boy glares.

Frosted-tip, mean-mug stares.

Get lost in the artificial sheen.

Who cares if we ever know what they mean.

Read the lyric sheets and grow your knowledge.

Hang around at the uni ten years after college.

Street snaps over street smarts.

Thumbs up and glitter hearts.

Nice sample, who cares where it comes from.

And just like that, the billboard’s gone.

As the next one rolls in.

Next verse, same as the first.

Wash it away with the fat straw bubble tea.

As you wait in this line for two times eternity.

-o.m/

NBA Finals Game 2: Revenge of Kevin McCallister

Call it the curse of Home Alone. As Drake looked to replicate his Game 1 dominance, he made a critical error by sampling a piece of 90s pop culture. On the back of his hoodie, one of his minions had iron transferred the image of Kevin McCallister from the seminal, feel good Macauley Culkin slash Joe Pesci vehicle, Home Alone. With only the word “Kevin??!?!” appearing beneath the image—in a callout to injured MVP Kevin Durant. It appears Drake must secretly be a Warriors fan since Golden State exerted their hardcourt will, pulling off the Game 2 victory in the 6. Post game, sad Drake memes flooded the interwebs. Durant and Play Thompson roamed the hallways afterwards, shrieking echoing taunts through the foundation of the stadium directed at “Aubrey” himself. Durant, hooded and spindle legged, limped through the halls—visualizing the threat of his return haunting the Raptors like the Grim Reaper waiting in the wings. Your time is up Toronto. And Drake, er um Aubrey, there is a tombstone being etched with your visage on it as we speak. How will Drake respond to this trolling backfire? Time will tell which pop cultural reference he will try and twist to his own advantage next. With Durant set for a mid series return, Aubrey better speed things up.

NBA Finals Game 1 MVP Troll

Drake took control of the NBA Finals. Exerting his presence from the sidelines and executing God’s Plan. Transmitting his aura into the prehistoric spirit of the Raptors. While some refer to Drake’s actions as “antics,” the final score left no doubt as to who controls the Finals. It’s Drake. Drake controls these Finals. Not since Spike Lee has their been an uber fan willing to put a franchise on their back and carry it to Larry O’Brien glory. Drake is unstoppable. The lint picking was the shoulder shrug of these Finals. While Drake has yet to insert himself into the lineup, he has inserted himself into the storyline and central intrigue of these Finals. How will Klay Thompson respond? Will Steph’s father or mother step up? With Curry and company busy and tied up with the Raptors on the floor, Drake is free to roam like the spirit animal and “Clever Girl” Velociraptor mascot that he is. It’s like that scene in Jurassic Park where Timmy and Lex are scrambling around a kitchen trying to evade a hungry pack of velociraptors. Only in this version, the raptor picks lint from Timmy’s head and then eats whoever he damn well pleases. Perhaps Draymond Green is the Tyrannosaur in this amber encased metaphor? Only in this version, there is no stopping Drake from ruling Isla Nublar and putting Hotline Bling on blast over the park PA system. Sparing no expense. It’s gonna be electric fence wire bling if the Warriors think they have the pop cultural muscle to step to Drake’s neck-bearded swag. They’re already fenced in.

Naomi Osaka slams reporters who ask her to speak in Japanese with new Nike commercial

Our new Nike commercial for Naomi Osaka was covered by Sora News 24. It’s always nice when your work ends up sparking a conversation. Click here to read original article.

Naomi Osaka slams reporters who ask her to speak in Japanese with new Nike commercial

”Osaka has just one word to say in response to all those annoying questions about her ethnicity and her love of katsudon.

Since winning the Australian Open and the U.S. Open against her idol Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka has taken the top-spot in the Women’s Tennis Association rankings, becoming the first Asian to hold the top spot in either men’s or women’s tennis.

Her success has brought her a lot of attention from the media, particularly in Japan, where her love of katsudon (pork cutlet rice bowls) and her half-Haitian, half-Japanese background remains a solid talking point. And one thing Japanese reporters can’t stop themselves from doing is asking her to answer their questions in Japanese.

After shutting down these reporters in the past, Osaka is now returning to address them and all others like them, with a new commercial for Nike. In the ad, she slams back at all the insensitive and impertinent questions that get served to her during interviews, and has just one word to silence them all.”

Take a look at the ad below:

In the clip, Osaka can be seen on the court, showing off her strong playing style as a volley of questions roll by. There’s “Who’s your biggest rival?”, “Are you a hard court specialist?” and “Do you consider yourself Japanese or American?”

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Then there are a few questions in Japanese, including “What are you going to buy with your prize money?”, “Can you answer in Japanese?” and “Will you eat katsudon again today?”

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How you feel when your love of katsudon comes up every time you’re interviewed.

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Then, at the end of the ad, Osaka turns to the camera and has just one thing to say in response to all those questions.

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In true Nike style, the clip delivers a strong message at the end: “Don’t change yourself. Change the world.”

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It’s a message that fits in nicely with Osaka’s public image, as a woman who continues to do her own thing while drowning out all the stereotypical questions from the media who want to place her in neat, narrow-minded boxes.

And judging from the reaction online in Japan, it’s a message a lot of Japanese people agree with too.

“What a fantastic ad! I hope everyone sees this.”
“Some of the questions in English are annoying but the Japanese questions are even more annoying.”
“Such a great insight into what she has to deal with every day.” 
“Japanese reporters need to watch this ad.”
“The Japanese media need to have more respect for her as an elite sportswoman.”

The Nike ad has definitely got everyone talking, and while it takes a different approach to one of her previous ads for Japanese brand Nissin, it’s definitely a step up from the controversial ad that whitewashed her appearance.

It’ll be interesting to see if this new commercial will have any effect on the types of questions reporters plan to throw at Osaka next time she does a round of interviews. Hopefully they’ll reign in the talk about katsudon and her ethnicity, and focus on her contribution to the world of sport, because as the star tennis player has said in the past, regardless of her dining preferences, background, and language ability, “I’m just me.

(Article by Oona McGee)