Hop on over to a Grasshopper!

grasshopperFor all of us who enjoy a nice drink every now and then, it’s good to note that sometimes it just isn’t necessary to simply booze out when you order that special cocktail for yourself on a Friday night.  We’ve got our yummy Mai Tais, the Cosmos, the Martinis and the Margaritas, but in the world of hot people in hot places, that usually spells out the words “WILD” and “STYLISH” in bold-faced print.  That isn’t to say that those drinks aren’t great, but lets be fair to ourselves folks, we’ve all had them before and we’ve all had them from the same kinds of places, some of which are too noisy for their own damn good.  Taking in a strong drink transmits to us (and everyone else around us) the idea that we’re tough, we’re here to impress and that we’re taking our drinkin’ seriously.  Yes I admit that I do take my drinking seriously at times, but it makes me wonder if I’m a bit too focused on what that drink says about me rather than emphasizing on how that drink makes me feel after I’ve consumed it.

This should be an ample enough introduction now to my new favorite: the Grasshopper.  Laden with a mysterious history, the Grasshopper is a simple cocktail with a pleasant taste that’s sure to loosen up our hard drinkin’ mores for the sake of fun and relaxation.  Yes, you heard me, fun and relaxation.  The drink itself is nothing uber serious, you just mix one part of green Creme de Menthe with one part white Creme de Cacao and one or two parts of half & half over ice, shake well in your shaker and just pour it over a nicely chilled glass.  I prefer 2 parts of half & half since that gives the drink a much more creamy texture and lessens the “sting” of the alcohol.  Garnishes can include sprinkles of nutmeg, mint leaves, or whatever else you might fancy, but as long as you stick to that main recipe, it’s a drink that you really REALLY can’t mess up.

Reintroduced to me by the GF through a Big Bang Theory episode, the Grasshopper was the very first cocktail that I’ve ever made, and although it’s nothing complicated or alluring, its simplicity alone should really indicate to everyone that this is a drink worth trying out.  Its milkshake-like texture, greenish color and undeniably minty flavor is honestly hard to pass up, and if you’re still interested in messing up your Friday night by chasing tail at your local bar, then maybe it might help as a breath freshener to boot (but I’d suggest it as an aperitif instead).  Smooth, minty and ultimately fun, the Grasshopper is a must have whether you’re at your local bar or in the peaceful confines of your own home.  Oh, and yes, thanks to the GF, I make it very often.  Cheers everyone! (OP image courtesy of The Poisoned Martini)

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The 5 Things You Gotta LOVE about Yoshiaki Kawajiri

lensman_hKawajiri-san was, and is, many things.  He was (and continues to be) a storyboard artist and a damn fine animator to say the least.  He apparently likes hard-boiled science fiction.  He seems to like the color blue in lots of his earlier work.  He digs gory violence.  He also digs a nice dose of boobage.  Overall, there’s a whole lot to love about Yoshiaki Kawajiri and his contributions to anime at large, from his founding of Madhouse with other Mushi Pro veterans like Rintaro to the creation of acclaimed anime hits like the ubiquitous Ninja Scroll and Lensman.  As this blogger gathers y’all around his comical campfire, let’s sit down and, more importantly, break it down about why we all love Yoshiaki Kawajiri!

936full-wicked-city-screenshot1)  Madhouse’s Visual Appeal:  Kawajiri’s work with Madhouse is nothing short of fantastic.  The question however is in what way?  Does Kawajiri’s body of work exude a subtle critique of life and society in his storytelling?  Does he ooze oodles and oodles of character development for us to swallow up?  Is his selected soundtrack akin to Joe Hisaishi’s work with Studio Ghibli?  Well, to answer all of that:  No, no and HELL NO!!  Kawajiri’s not about any of that stuff AT ALL (at least to me).  He’s not here to tug at your heart strings nor is he here to stir your mind’s eye about the platitudes of life.  In many ways, it’s all visual to us, and Kawajiri does that in the best way, thanks to all the hard working folks at his preferred studio, Madhouse.  His direction and knack for fluid animation showcases that he’s here to please with lots of action, but trust us, it’s not the choppy Toei kind of action you find on TV.  With his body of work in OVAs and films, Kawajiri is out to give you eye-sex in the best possible way.  Look how fluid Taki’s movement is in Wicked City, or how well the camera pans in and out in Demon City Shinjuku.  What about his liberal use of blue to illustrate for us the ruins of Shinjuku, or the nightscapes of a futuristic Tokyo overrun with cybernetic criminals?  Have you seen how massive and menacing Genma is in Ninja Scroll, or the ferocity of the demons you’d find in Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust?  If you have, then it’s easy to see why many of the Kawajiri faithful flock to his work like crackheads to…err, crack.  Fluid, fast, full-bodied and sumptuous, Kawajiri’s visual appeal is at the heart of what makes him and Madhouse a beast to reckon with.

2. The Kick-ass Musical Vibe:  For the many otaku that will moan about Kawajiri’s lack of music choices, I would probably tell you to stuff it.  That 80s-90s vibe that seems to never go away from OVAs yet still seems to help paint an even livelier picture on your screen is all green for me!  Cyber City OEDO seems to be the easy candidate for me to name since it features all kinds of synth like sounds that seem straight out of the 80s, but works damn well in a 90s OVA.  Wicked City’s soundtrack paints eerie images all around us as we see agents from the Black World wreck havoc in ours, while Ninja Scroll takes a predictable yet commendable approach to jidai-geki horn scores as the Devils of Kimon roam across the rain towards Shimoda village.  It’s not Hisaishi, and it certainly doesn’t have to be.  Kawajiri’s music is fitting, if not appealing, for the kind of animation he cranks out time and time again.

goku midnight eye3. Action Action Action!!!:  It’s not hard for us to say that us guys like our meat and potatoes, but when Kawajiri dishes ’em out, he does so with four gallons of bullets and thirty buckets of blood!  Action has always been the name of his game, and he deals them in spades here folks.  You either see laser guns blazing, missiles flying, swords or other weapons being hurled around to tear humans apart, and it all works!  His knack for capturing anything that moves fast with a flesh rendering impact at the end of it is simply spellbinding.  Maybe he’s watched one too many American action movies, but whatever the hell he was watching, him and Madhouse got all that action down PAT .  In addition, he toys with different themes of action too!  Demon City Shinjuku and Ninja Scroll root themselves in Japanese style sword-swinging action, with the latter being much more fast paced.  Wicked City, Midnight Eye Goku and Cyber City OEDO gives us gritty, brooding, silver-plated cyber mayhem (all of his cybernetic implements are very shiny and awesome).  Lensman is just, well, the sci-fi stuff but with a LOT more gunwork and running.  LOTS of RUNNING!!  Overall, whether it’s sci-fi gunfights or a swordsman ripping through Toyotomi ninjas, Kawajiri is simply a MAN of ACTION, and it shows!

demon-city-shinjuku-26984. Everything has a “tinge” of the Supernatural:  In Kawajiri’s world, nothing is really what it seems.  From a towering ninja with stone skin to a lingerie-clad beauty with shark’s teeth in her vagina, Kawajiri never EVER settles for the ordinary  Maybe it’s all the Hideyuki Kikuchi books he’s been reading all the time on the toilet, or maybe he got his butt reamed by a Buichi Terasawa-esque woman who resembles a motorcycle, but whatever he gets off on, it somehow splatters onto your screen in such an outlandish way that you’re BOUND to remember it.  The sheer fantasy and ferocity of his villains, like the Eight Devils of Kimon, or the various creatures that populate Wicked City and Demon City Shinjuku are evidence of this as well, which helps to draw out inevitable yet epic encounters with our would-be heroes towards the end.  Nothing is ever ordinary with Kawajiri’s work, and that’s even a given for his seemingly standard looking heroes, but if it was, would it still be just as cool?  I think NOT!

ninja scroll poster5. It’s for “MATURE AUDIENCES”:  It’s probably the one thing that sticks out about his work that few of us would ever openly claim, but it’s very VERY clear that Kawajiri-san has meant his work to be of a mature nature.  His depiction of violence and the ferocity of it may be one thing, but the nudity and the sex?  Oh yeah, it ain’t for your average 5 year old.  Wicked City depicts sex unabashedly, either as a weapon or as a way for our protagonists to communicate their love to each other.  Ninja Scroll illustrates Kagero’s despair as a woman, and her subtle liberation in Jubei’s arms.  Midnight Eye Goku has got naked babes with motorcycle parts on them or peacock tails glued to their asses.  Even Kawajri’s latest romp Highlander: The Search for Vengeance has a wee bit of it.  It ain’t gonna be kids anime from Kawajiri-san and for all of us involved, that’s why we come by.  It’s adults only.  Kiddie otaku fans need not apply.

So there you have it, the 5 Reason why we ALL LOVE Yoshiaki Kawajiri.  He’s got a nice body of work that’s not only action-packed and visually appealing, but it’s a body of work full of superhuman muscle flexing, ferocious violence and horror, kicking music and an ‘adults only’ flavor that only the meat-eating, scum-loving anime faithful like myself would ever dig.  Now stop reading this and go watch some of his stuff today!!

The February that was for Arsenal: Comments and the BBC have at it!

161954706_crop_exactIt’s the beginning of March, and to be blunt, I’d like to collect all of you fellow Gooners out there and hear about your thoughts concerning the Gunners and what a menacing February its been for them.  Our tragic loss to Blackburn in the FA was too much for me to bare, and with the British media’s Crisis-o-meter set to full blast on Arsenal’s defeat at the hands of an in-form Bayern Munich, it’s reasonable to say that to most non-Gooners, the Arsenal are up the shitter.  Doom and gloom has returned once again, and although they played and won against Aston Villa late in February, that won’t stop the BBC and our own would be Gooners to tarnish and feather the team at large.

However, let’s take a step back to look at what others like to say about the gang we love to call The Gunners.  The Beeb’s own Garth Crooks (a former ‘Spuds’ player mind you) generally writes the “Team of the Week” column and although Arsenal came on top against the Villans on February 23rd (with many a thanks to two goals from Cazorla), Jack Wilshere was given the spotlight on his choice. saying:

When is Arsene Wenger going to wake up and smell the coffee? He’s got serious internationals in his side with much more experience but far less fight than Jack Wilshere. The England international is the only real leader they’ve got and if Wenger doesn’t give this lad the support his talent deserves then he will be off like Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie. And it will serve him right.

Where the fuck does this nonce come off from?  No one is even TALKING about club departures from Arsenal!!!  He just signed a new contract and subjects like this aren’t even in the radar yet, let alone on some jackwad’s blog discussing who’s in the “Team of the Week!!!”  How the FUCK is that even relevant?  Is trolling THAT relevant for football coverage??  Garth Crooks, who died and made you judge and jury upon all you see at the Arsenal, eh?  Loads of garbage, plain and simple.

649301-fbl-eur-c1-arsenal-bayern-munichBut let’s track back even further and see what the BBC had to say about Wenger’s “imminent” departure (a la Benitez?) from Arsenal after his FA Cup shock and Munich Massacre shall we?  In all honesty, we had no excuse to lose in the FA, given that it was the most REALISTIC chance for us to gain back a Cup of some sort, but it’s clear that our defense and, dare I say, goal keeping issues need to be addressed.  I love the SZCZ, but he’s gotta be keen as a butcher knife, and with errors like that, some may wonder if he’s sharp enough to cut the mustard.  TV5 needs to grow in stature in terms of leadership and there’s just gotta be more of a “Shut this FUCKING GAME DOWN” mentality if we are to have a real bite into the Top 4.  But alas, Phil McNulty has overdone all of us shameful Arsenal fans and decided to write one of his biggest, steamiest, nastiest piles of journalism in a while, where the headline vaguely seems like it’s there to call for the manager’s head.  In this steaming pile of shit, he writes:

Throw in defeats to League Two Bradford City in the Capital One Cup and more recently Championship Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup and this is a manager and team as far away as it has ever been from restoring old glories.

It is a sorry state of affairs for a classy, decent and dignified man who has brought so much to the Premier League as well as three titles and four FA Cups to Arsenal. Where he once had “The Invincibles” he now has the fallibles.

Contrary to some fairly widespread opinion, the media is not out to “get” Wenger but you cannot turn muck into honey and a simple analysis of Arsenal’s current place makes grim reading. He is held in huge respect, affection too, but past achievements cannot act as a shield against present realities.

Of all the things that irk me the most is this “I know a lot better about this shit than you” attitude that riles me about both of the aforementioned blog articles from the Beeb.  With no positive advice from these sages save for the olde English adages of “Grow some balls Frenchie,” “Buy more,” “Don’t hide behind your past laurels,” and the good ol’  “Gonna lose another player so you BETTER SPEND,”  one wonders if these daft football scribes masturbate themselves to sleep with dreams of becoming oligarchs who do nothing more than to use their coffers to silence their mistresses and fatten their football clubs.  With nothing constructive to contribute to the seemingly “ignoble” fall from grace that Arsenal are “apparently” undergoing, one wonders if that’s really what British football wants.  The irony of it all is that some of the things that Arsene has been accused of during his glory days (bringing more foreign, i.e. French, players to the English game) in such negative fashion have now become things that most clubs do without any sort of reprimand.  Alan Pardew’s grab and bag of French stars is proof of this, irregardless of the fact that he was one of the many people who considered Arsenal’s accomplishments as “not necessarily a triumph for British football”.

However, I’d like to end this incessant ranting with some clippings I got from McNulty’s comments section in relation to the aforementioned shit-piece her wrote about Arsenal (in numerical order, with Comment #005 being the highest rated).  Feel free to say what you feel, and as you know, I am only highlighting these to only bring perspective to all of you Gooners who may or may not have lost their fucking minds.  Regardless, keep the faith people, and if you really love Arsenal, then do us a favor, CALM THE FUCK DOWN!!!  (Me included)  Either that or just hope that we won’t implode in a frenzy of self-hatred once we get the results from Sunday’s derby with the Spuds.

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