About naikanomtom

Chicago native, former Florida resident and now, a Virginian. This is an extension of my now deceased YouTube channel, which will feature blog posts of various subjects, most of which will be fun and or lame. Subjects will include my thoughts on film, humor, food, politics and of course anime. Although I don't have the heart to dabble in anime music videos nowadays, I hope this will be a welcome place for my old fans, and a low-key refuge for new ones.

What the Heck is Going On?

Police investigate a shooting scene after a gunman opened fire on Republican members of Congress during a baseball practice near Washington in Alexandria

This past month has been insane. Hell, even the start of this week featured Foghorn Leghorn as he testified in front of a Congressional Committee about Lyin’ Trump.  However, I was NOT prepared for Wednesday morning, where someone from my home state came to my current state to shoot up Republican lawmakers as they trained for a charity baseball event against their Democratic counterparts.

I saw the news pour in from the lobby TV before I made my way out of my apartment complex and the first thing I thought was how close this was to my proximity? Was it going to be like what happened to Gabby Giffords?  Was it by the hands of a liberal who went off the rails? Did it really need to come to this?

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that regardless of how you feel about the assailant’s politics or penchant for violence, it’s stunningly clear that in the midst of this Trump Presidency, we are losing ourselves. The Comey testimonies, along with Trump’s reaction to alleged ties with the Russian Government, have now revealed the disturbing possibility that Donny might have obstructed justice like a cheap dictator with aviators.  The fact that an investigation into this obstruction has surfaced is not surprising, but we all need to hope that Mueller doesn’t get the axe either in this case.

It’s harrowing stuff folks.  Really.  However, one’s outrage about these very disturbing allegations (or other issues in general) has to be tempered so that it’s channeled in the right way.  Go talk to your Reps.  Hash it out with your Conservative friends and co-workers.  Point it out to a fellow passenger on the Metro whose face is frowning just as much as yours when you both read the Express.  Get your pals together and run for office.  Do all those things.  Just don’t go out and hurt people.   Just don’t. We don’t need that shit right now.  We’ve got enough of it in front of the TV as is.

A Great End to a Disappointing Arsenal Season (2016 – 2017)

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It’s Memorial Day today and after returning from a quaint little Jazz festival in Alexandria, Virginia, I just thought I need to make a few blurbs about Arsenal.  I originally wanted to write another hate-filled speech about Cheetos Emperor Donaldore J. Trumpfuckery the 15th and his ties to a secret cabal of one-eyed KGB kickboxers, but that’ll be for another day.  Today is for the vets, and it’s also for me to celebrate Arsenal’s victory over Chel$ki F.C. to win the 2017 F.A. Cup.

Our season in the Prem started out well, and things were looking good between November 2016 and January 2017.  However, losing Santi Cazorla was a massive blow, and as you already know, the wheels started to come loose a little later in the campaign.  Losing to Crystal Palace, Liverpool, Tony Pulis F.C., and Watford, along with ties to fucking Bournemouth and some offsides bullshit with Citeh dented both our hopes and our top four chase, making us 5th for the Europa League.  A big blow to us for sure, but I really REALLY want to stay positive and hope that there’s a silver lining in that as well.  If Chel$ki and United fall into the Europa League with little ire from the press, why can’t Arsenal, right?  (I’m being sarcastic of course)

However, I’m still not in the Wenger Out camp.  I’d only do so in order for Uncle Arsene to be spared of all this stuff.  That’s not to say that Arsenal aren’t without problems.  I’m as sick of it as anyone else when it comes to our pattern of implosion, but to visibly vent our frustrations on Wenger does him or us no justice.  Protest the way we play, or get in the board’s face about investment or even a change in tactics, but for reals folks, please don’t dis Uncle Arsene.  He doesn’t deserve it.

So give the old man credit for that back three.  Give him credit for his selections.  Give him AND the players some cred for smacking Mourinho in the face after beating ManU in the Prem and give him his due for giving us one helluva F.A. Cup final.

If you watched the final, then you know how exciting it was.  I was screaming at Arsenal all day to make sure they didn’t fuck anything up and sure enough, they didn’t.  The first 5 minutes was all Arsenal with some amazing possession and, handball or not, a neat goal from Alexis Sanchez.  I’m glad we got in Chel$ki’s faces and I’m glad we got some fortune for once.  Ramsey offside?  Yeah right.

However, with all the chances we had throughout the first half, the game should’ve been out-of-sight with 4-0.  We dominated the midfield battle and for all the excuses Chel$ki fans can make about not being at the races, save it.  You guys put out THE title-winning eleven and for an occasion like the F.A. Cup final, you guys looked ordinary.  Oh, and that Ozil tackle on Hazard?  Priceless.

The second half saw the Blues amped up with a few more fouls, penetration and pace, which only made David Ospina look cooler and cooler with some fine saves.  Per, Rob and Nacho held Neaderthal Costa back pretty well for the most part.  Well, except for his goal of course.  But that was after the Victor Moses dive.  Which he got a red card for.  Sweet.  Again, you’d think Arsenal would be safe after that but then we got Costa’d.  I kicked a box at home as my head boiled with fury.  For an Arsenal fan like me, this usually means that we would not only implode, but  Per would break all three of his legs somehow, Ox would get a Red card for being Gibbs (again) and Phil McNulty would begin masturbating at the thought of writing another thinly-veiled ‘Arsenal-are-weak-get-Wenger-sacked’ fluff piece.

However, in only a few short minutes, Phil would have to go limp and clean his chin in disgust because when Olly Giroud came on, he made made a beautiful cross to an unmarked Ramsey, where he cannoned a header past Courtois (the best GK in teh Prem mind you).  The roar of the Gooner faithful thundered the air, the blue poop of London groaned and the Red Sea parted in Divine Rapture.  I wasn’t the only one jumping for Joy.  I clutched my Wife, I held on to the sky and was ready for Arsenal to defend for their life.  What a feeling, and what a goal!

Ospina and the rest of the defense had to then pull in one helluva shift to make sure the game didn’t turn into 2-2, with a brilliant save to keep us all in.  Mesut should’ve scored when Arsenal broke free but had to settle for the post, Courtois’ leg and a corner and I wished to God Giroud got his 100 goals for the club, but when that final whistle came, I didn’t care.  We saw through the challenge.  We beat the deserved Champions of England.  We won the F.A. Cup.  And we did it with our BFG Captain making his FIRST START OF THE SEASON!

I’m not so sure if this ‘saved’ our season because there’s just sooooo much that we still need to work on.  Injuries, motivation, mentality and, overall, contracts.  It sounds like the ‘same old Arsenal’ tag that most shit pundits like to beat us with, but it all happened at the latter half of the season, not the tail-end of November like usual.  We’re starting to slowly find a way to play without Santi, but we need to really rethink our defensive transitions because teams are finding out how to exploit us in our own half.  It’s my hope that the maturation of Xhaka in the Prem will help in that regard, but like many new signings at Arsenal, they usually don’t mature until they take a pounding.  Keeping Sanchez and Ozil are should be the main target of the club this summer, and if we do, we need to drill Sanchez to avoid turnovers at all costs.  I also personally think Giroud and the Ox should still stay at the club, with the former being a beast from the bench and the latter shining as a wing back.  Finally,it’s my hope that with a win like this, we can take a serious look at our problems, use Spurs’ current form as a kind of jealous motivation, and our sinking into the Europa doldrums as a silver lining for experience as we try to recoup ourselves to do something big next season.

Until then guys, let’s savor this win and tell the rest of the naysayers to piss off.

A Touch of Sammo

Sammo Hung is one hell of a legend when it comes to Hong Kong Cinema.  How he fights so fast with his frame defies imagination, so I try my best to find what I can from him here in the States.  So let’s get a few of my favorite fights together from Mr. Hung and check out the master at work.  Don’t forget to pick up your jaw from the floor.

I’ll definitely post more fights in the future, but for now, these’ll do.

Mawwiage

My husband and I did not court. I don’t even know if that is the way you say it. He didn’t court me? I wasn’t courted? We met in November 1992 through a mutual friend who knew we weren’t interested in dating. We were so disinterested in dating that we went straight for marriage. We got…

via 24 Things I’ve Learned During 24 Years of Marriage — Kathy Khang – writer, speaker, coffee drinker

My ego is a fragile thing, and it’s gotten me in trouble with my lovely wife many times.  When I let myself down, and more importantly, when I let her down, I really need to understand that whenever I do something wrong, I’ve got to NOT take it personally.  But as an uber sensitive guy, I’m still learning.  Thanks for sharing the list Kathy.

T-Square’s EWI Legends

Those that do follow me know how much of a huge T-Square fan I am, and one of the signature sounds of the band comes from the EWI – Electronic Wind Instrument.  Manufactured by Akai, the EWI has been described by the gang from Video Games Live! as a ‘terminator flute’ and to be honest, it’s true.  It’s easy to dismiss the instrument because it sounds like a over-hyped synthesizer, but it packs power if you know how to play.  Given that T-Square had three sax / EWI players during their history, I decided to show my favorite live performances that  you can find on YouTube, so please check the videos out below and enjoy!

Takahiro Miyazaki was T-Square’s third saxman and EWI artist before band legend Takeshi Itoh returned.  Here he’s jamming to the amazing Knight’s Song, which would eventually become Masahiro Andoh’s “Moon over the Castle” for the Gran Tursimo game series.  Watch how the tempo of the band makes him almost explode!

Second is the insane Masato Honda.  Many fans consider him to be the best and most talented front-man of the group due to his amazing improvisations.  He’s a great artist but I still think Itoh-san is the best.  I don’t care how crazy his version of Truth is, but that’s Itoh’s song.  However, Honda-san’s got TONS of EWI hits to his name.  Samurai Metropolis, Door to Tomorrow, Little League Star, Crown & Roses and more.  However, for my money, his EWI hit would have to be Faces.

And lastly, Takeshi Itoh, the legend of T-Square, has that ONE song.  The song that put them on the map.  The song that made them an international sensation.  The song that no one forgot….TRUTH.  Seriously folks, ’nuff said.

I’M NEVER FLYING UNITED AGAIN!

Words cannot describe my fury….my anger.  I’ll never fly this shitty airline again.  The utter horror at what unfolded in Chicago just to make things easier for some United employees under the guise of some bullshit random drawing is the kind of crap you’d obviously here from Trump’s America.  I hope this dude sues the shit out of them.  I hope he gets so much cash that he’ll burn it in front of United’s HQ.  I hope United’s stock crashes and that picket signs are unfurled all over the runways.  I hope that guy who got put on leave gets reprimanded to high hell and I hope United think twice before they screw over folks for peanuts in such a detestable manner.

But United are a horrible, capitalistic enterprise that only gives a damn about the bottom line.  Just like a lot of other companies in the Land of the Free (TM).  I’m looking at you Wells-Fargo.  I’m looking at you BOA Robocaller 3000.  United won’t care.  United will try to sweep this under the rug, but I’m wishing AND HOPING that it’s gonna rise right up and give this awful airline a nice kick in the ass.

What if this guy was my Dad, or my Grandpa?  What if this guy was your relative, or a friend, or maybe even the Doctor you depend on for your care in Louisville?

He doesn’t deserve this United.  Nobody does.

Naika Talks TIME FORCE: The Show That Brought Me Back to Power Rangers

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It was in 2001 when I first ran into Time Force on a Saturday morning.  As some of you may know, I was a big devotee of the Power Rangers during the Saban / Fox Kids days but veered off of it after the amazing end of Lost Galaxy.  The time travel aspect seemed a bit weird to me and, frankly, I didn’t bite.  Fast forward 14 years later in 2015, where I found myself not only watching Linkara’s History of Power Rangers to kill time, but returning to where I left off in my fandom of the show.  That’s right peeps, I finally saw Time Force and I LOVED IT.  Everything about the show was so fun yet fresh, while still retaining that campy attitude that made MMPR so lovable at the time.  Looking back, I can safely say that thanks to Time Force, I’m finally back to being a Power Rangers fan.

14 years is a long time, and much has happened to me in my life.  When I finally sat down to watch Time Force, the first thing I thought to myself was “Jesus, I should’ve watched this back in the day!”  However, if I did, I probably wouldn’t have been that productive during my college days.  Besides, try telling a girl in college that you still watch the Power Rangers at that time and I’m SURE you would’ve been laughed off the park.  Anyways, what I SHOULD say is that my regret for not watching Time Force came much earlier as I watched Linkara’s review of it.  Oddly enough, it didn’t spoil anything for me.  Instead, it primed me for the awesomeness that would come when I finally saw Wes and the gang in action against the madness of Ransik.  Full of awesome action and a decent story (for a PR show), Time Force not only helped me rediscover my love for the PR franchise, but it was a way for me to pass the time while living alone.  My girlfriend at the time (now wife) had to relocate for her Ph.D., and it would take me almost 10 months to reunite with her.  It wasn’t easy living for either of us at that time, but we made it work.  Looking back now, rediscovering the Rangers really did cheer me up because living without your girl is utter hell.

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What I love the most about Time Force is how much of a goofy family the team is, and how important the idea of togetherness is to the group.  In many ways, Jen, Lucas, Trip, Katie, Wes and Circuit are like college roommates who not only had shitty jobs, but lounged around on their free time, ate tons of junk food, lived in a drafty apartment (clock tower), watched movies and played jokes on each other.  Mind you, this is how they are WHILE they’re catching bad guys and being Rangers.  It’s as if the Power Rangers franchise grew up with its audience, where at first, it started out as a tale about positive high-schoolers who wanted to save the world, and they would slowly mature into adults who either went off to discover new galaxies, joined a Ranger version of the National Guard or became Timecop impersonators seeking to relive their college days.  Whatever the case may be, these later seasons after Power Rangers in Space displayed a more grounded sense of friendship and togetherness under the backdrop of much darker themes, with Time Force being the best of the three.  This not only makes Time Force a perfect season for occasional binge-watching, but it’s also a great introduction to the Power Rangers Universe for new fans (i.e. My Wife).

Now, a show like this wouldn’t be what it is without the action.  The Timeranger footage first of all is amazing, so we seriously have to give it up to Toei and the JAC Stunt Crew for making the Japanese action such a thrill to see.  However, a PR show wouldn’t be what it is without Koichi Sakamoto and his stunt team for truly bringing the pain when it comes to the U.S. fight scenes.  There’s a plethora of painful falls, combos and acrobatics here in Time Force, and Koichi’s gang do their utmost to bring you explosive action from start to finish. The stunt team even have fun with themselves by filming an impressive yet hilarious homage to Jackie Chan with the fictitious “Frankie Chang.”  Although Koichi’s crew does double for the Ranger actors frequently (plenty of wigs and stuff), he does give the likes of Erin Cahill, Kevin Kleinberg, Michael Copon, Deborah Estelle Phillips, Kate Sheldon and Jason Faunt the chance to do some of their own fighting, which is always neat to see.

Eric

However, the standout stunt fighter in Time Force would have to be Dan Southworth.  The stuntman / actor did an outstanding job with his portrayal of Eric Myers, the Quantum Ranger, and took the fandom into new heights as he blurred the line between being a rival and being an absolute bad-ass.  Besides doing all of his own stunts and fight work, he’s proved himself to be one of the best actors on the show by making Eric the kind of anti-hero that hasn’t been seen on Power Rangers since the Magna Defender.  As Dan has stated in many interviews, Koichi Sakamoto had a huge hand in giving him the chance to audition for Time Force, and it’s paid off massively for both him and the Power Rangers franchise.  From the stunts to the explosions, from the fights to even Dan Southworth, Time Force wouldn’t have been as good without Koichi Sakamoto at the helm, and it shows.

Another big element that made Time Force such a hit would have to be the villains.  Without question, the tokusatsu monster designs are amazing here, but what I’m really talking about is the characterization of Ransik, Frax and NadiraVernon Wells was totally over-the-top as our main antagonist, yet he gave so much memorable depth and grayness as Ransik that you can’t help but sympathize with his lot in life.  And he had bone swords!  That is fucking COOL!!!  Nadira on the other hand can be a bit strange for a villain at first, but trust me, you’ll warm up to her eventually, especially towards the end.  In many ways, she’s like a psycho valley girl… with superpowers.  Lastly, Frax deserves special mention as a villain who’s maniacal, cunning and duplicitous.  However, as many of us know, Frax also has secrets of his own buried in the past that, in many ways, make him more man than machine. All in all, Time Force would never be what it is without villains that not only engage our heroes in equal standing, but challenge our own notions of what a villain on Power Rangers can be.

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Another element that I can’t leave out when talking about Time Force is the Zords.  They are amazing in this season, and this is especially the case for the Time Force Megazord.  It’s the first time in the series where we get to see the main megazord exhibit two separate modes of transformation which yield two different combat modes.  The Mode Blue Time Force Megazord utilizes quick moves, jump kicks and fast-paced gun-fighting to wear down opponents.  The Mode Red Time Force Megazord however is used more often and has that conventional robot look, especially since it utilizes a saber and shield.  Mode Red also has the coolest finishing move for a Zord with what I call the “Countdown Slash.”  When a mutant is hit with this, time stops, the Megazord Saber acts like a clock and once all the hands hit 12, the Rangers say “You’re Time’s UP!” This freezes our adversary down and he or she gets sent to the slammer.  Neat, huh?  Furthermore, the Time Force Megazord has a host of other robot allies, including the Time Shadow Megazord (which can combine with the Time Force Megazord to make two additional modes for the Shadow Force Megazord) and the Quantum Ranger’s awesome Q-Rex.  Now it might not sound like a lot of zords, but trust me, Time Force has got your robot fix covered!

Finally, Time Force wouldn’t be such a standout season without the amazing work of the main cast.  Each and every one of the main Rangers brings something so fresh and unique to the franchise that it begs you to wonder why they didn’t go ahead with that rumored second season.  Now, the first shout-out most definitely goes to Erin Cahill’s amazing performance as Jen Scotts.  She was the first Pink Ranger to act as a leader on Power Rangers and showed all the nerve, emotion, control and conviction to earn that title.  This is especially evident in the first few episodes because when we first meet Jen, everything comes crashing down for her after losing Alex.  However, events like this help Jen grow into a capable and empathetic Ranger who loves her team, sticks to her ideals and never gives up.  It isn’t easy being both a leader and a woman in the superhero world, but Jen shows us that vulnerabilities can lead into strengths in the most dire of circumstances, making her one of the most memorable Pink Rangers in Power Rangers history.

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Much love also goes to Katie Walker, portrayed by Deborah Estelle Phillips.  Katie in many ways is the true big sister of the group, who displays not only superhuman strength but a super gigantic heart.  Whenever she’s not clobbering Cyclobots, she’s giving emotional support to the team either through funny banter or rib-crushing bear hugs.  This makes episodes like “Future Unknown” such a treat for fans who want to see more from her.  Oh, and let’s not forget “Legend of the Clock Tower,” where she basically meets a crappy poet, beats up colonials and changes time for good (holy shit)!  As many of us know, Katie gets the least amount of development as a main Ranger, but that doesn’t diminish her standing in my book.  Like Tanya and Aisha before her, Katie goes into the history books of the PR universe as an amazing female character who can not only topple armies and save the world, but can do so with a whole lot of heart and soul.

Since Time Force is a show that involves high-tech officers from the year 3000, there’s nobody that visually embraces this notion more than Trip & Circuit.  One is a green-haired alien genius with a crazy gem that helps him see into the future, while the other is a super-duper cute baby robot owl who can summon zords.  Seriously, can you beat that?  That’s like the dynamic duo times ten!  Also, my wife LOVES Circuit, and it’s especially cute to see him interact with all the Rangers (including Katie at the end of the heartbreaking-yet-adorable-but-still-ominous “Circuit Unsure”).  Now among the Rangers, Trip is the gentle genius who’s got a heart of gold, but has a tendency to be a bit naïve with folks who will take advantage of this.  Nevertheless, I think it’s that innocence and willingness to trust in the goodness of others that makes Trip such a positive character on Time Force, especially in episodes like “Trip Takes a Stand.”  And if he’s ever in a pinch, Circuit arises from his backpack to the rescue.  Like Trip, Circuit’s very innocent, but he’s always willing to go above and beyond to help the Rangers save the day.  This obviously puts him at risk, and unfortunately, he does get abducted, tampered with, and even takes a bullet for the team.  However, that only means that Circuit is a lovable bad ass that, like Trip, can go the distance.  Remember, this is the same lovable owl that told ERIC, THE QUANTUM RANGER, to go do his fucking job during “Movie Madness” (my wife loves that scene because Circuit goes “WHOOOOAAAAH” when Eric tries to swat him off of his SUV).  Lovable to a fault, Trip & Circuit are the tech wizards of the team, but just because they’re nice doesn’t mean they can’t whoop your ass sideways.

time force trip and circuit badass

However, I seriously need to put a word in about Lucas Kendall.  There isn’t that much to Lucas since he’s either chasing girls or traffic tickets, but he’s shown to have a lot of consideration for others once he warms up to them.  Whether it was about Trip being a Xybrian on the first episode of the show, or when he’s dealing with Dr. Zaskin’s daughter in “Bodyguard in Blue,” Lucas can get pretty annoyed with others who inconvenience him.  However, that goes full 180 once both parties are put in a life-or-death situation.  Another thing you’ll notice about Lucas is that he has these suave mannerisms that he exhibits throughout the show.  These can include his obsession with hair gel, love of cars, his grin and even his tendency to straighten his hair, especially during his fight-and-chase in Part 2 of “Movie Madness.”  Hell, he even pioneered the Polaroid Selfie in “Dawn of Destiny!”  There may not be much to Lucas, but all in all, he’s cool.  Besides, how many suave, Asian, race-drivin’ time cops have you seen on TV anyways?

Lastly, we need to have a word about Jason Faunt as Wes Collins.  Despite being a clueless rich kid, Wes’ enthusiasm about being a Ranger gave him the impetus to fight for his place within the team.  Furthermore, his happy-go-lucky nature, selflessness and overall status as ‘the reluctant heir’ was a breath of fresh air for the franchise, where Red Rangers generally seem to be born leaders chosen by fate.  However, in order for Wes to have any sort of character development, he needed help, and his interactions with his Father, Eric, Dr. Zaskin and the rest of Time Force were instrumental in giving us a sense of how far he’s come since the beginning of the show.  Finally, Wes’ story can’t be complete without his tense-yet-tender relationship with Jen.  It’s clear early in the show that he simply rubs her the wrong way in almost every department, especially in terms of looks (ahem, Alex).  However, they slowly begin to trust each other like real partners would, making the last episode of Time Force such a bittersweet moment once everything is said and done.  All in all, these are the reasons why Wes is one of my favorite Red Rangers of the Saban Era.  Not only is he willing to sacrifice everything for love and friendship, but he’s a carefree and spirited guy who’d love nothing more than to do the right thing as a Power Ranger.

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Despite its inherent awesomeness, Power Rangers Time Force isn’t without its faults.  I think we can all agree that there’s some plot holes peppered throughout the show, where we’re left wanting a bit more explanation with respect to the future.  Nevertheless, the writers did an excellent job adapting Timeranger to make a show that not only stayed true (to a degree) to its source material, but added enough detail to make Time Force unique in its own way.  This season of Power Rangers is nothing like the campy high-school antics we would find in the first five seasons, but one full of consequences, loss and ultimately, separation.  However, that’s also complimented with an amazing level of mirth, camaraderie, reconciliation and forgiveness.  It’s easy to use the Angel Grove years as a way to dismiss the franchise as a whole, but take one good look at Time Force and you’ll see that it’s not only a great kids show, but an amazing landmark for the Power Ranger franchise in terms of risk-taking.  Time Force was the PR show that finally got honest with itself to make something memorable, and to this day, fans cite it as one of the best seasons of the Power Rangers Universe.  It’s the season that, in many ways, put action and characterization ahead of super powers.  It’s the season where we lose a Ranger in the FIRST EPISODE.  It’s the season where thirty / forty-somethings can ask themselves, “Was I like that in 2001?”  It’s the season where women aren’t sidelined BUT are actually leaders okay, LEADERS!  It’s the season where villains can finally find a path into redemption and yes, it’s the season where I, after 14 odd years, can finally say to myself, “I love the Power Rangers, and you know what?  That’s okay.”  Thank you Time Force.  Thank you for bringing me back to the action.