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I’m still a young guy, and I’ve only been seriously exploring music for about ten years or so. During that time however, I’ve had a lot of favorite bands/musicians: some of them composers, some of them rappers, and some of them power metal groups (please don’t ask). It was only when I discovered King Crimson about three years ago that I finally settled down in my search for the best, though. Everything from the warm, mellotron-laden progressive rock of their debut to the stark, futuristic music found on Crimson’s recent albums struck a cord with me, and I was in love before I knew it. Exploring the band’s extensive catalogue, which is filled with studio gems and absolutely searing live releases, has proved itself to be enjoyable enough, but with KC’s last album released in 2003, I began to wonder if we would ever get a new CD, which would be the first one released since I became a fan.
My prayers were answered a few months ago, when King Crimson announced the acquisition of Porcupine Tree’s drummer, Gavin Harrison, with the intention of recording new material. I was overjoyed. Not only would my favorite band be releasing a new album, but they would be playing with two percussionists—a set up that hearkens back to previous Crimson lineups in the 70s and 90s. I didn’t think that it could get any better until I read the front page of Discipline Global Mobile today. King Crimson will be touring this year. This summer. Right near me. I can hardly contain myself.
The dates for the mini-tour are as follows:

I want to make it to one of the New York shows. There hasn’t been any word on ticket prices yet, but I can’t imagine them being outrageously-priced. Even then, I’d be willing to pay anything to see one of the most powerful and influential bands of all time in action. Summer cannot arrive soon enough.

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I have strayed from business as usual here on this little blog of mine, working on a neat little project that involves that characters from the Touhou series of games. I have taken nine of the girls and arranged them in their respective spots based upon the concept of the Enneagram. For those of you who are not familiar with the concept, the Enneagram is a typology model, influenced by a variety of ancient thought systems such as Sufi Islam and Kabbalah Judaism. The Enneagram categorizes a person by one of nine numbered personality types, explaining the typical traits of each number. Each personality type has a special relationship with every other role on the figure. The Enneagram has a psychological purpose, identifying how the mind of each type works, as well as explaining how that person interacts with the world. The Enneagram also holds a spiritual signifigance for many people, who see it as a source of enlightenment. I have friends who swear by the Enneagram; they see it as a codex of sorts for understanding every person that they come into contact with. I also know folks who dismiss the Enneagram as a foolish fortune-telling device, citing the Forer Effect as evidence against its value. Personally, I believe that the Enneagram is just one of many tools that is useful in examining human interaction. It is not an absolute, as we are more than numbers, but it is interesting to apply this device to people in real life and characters in fiction. That is exactly what I have done with this Touhou Enneagram. It is just as interesting (and a lot cuter) than the model originally developed by a bunch of bearded Semites centuries ago.

Disclaimer

I put together this chart as a parody of sorts. It takes some of the personality traits and quirks of nine of the Touhou girls and assigns them to the position of the Enneatype that best matches their behavior. This blog does not have a large amount of readers, but if this post was linked to on certain Touhou-related boards, I can very easily foresee arguments over where each character should ideally be positioned, and whether or not the behavior that landed a character in her position is “canon”. First of all, this is not an in-depth examination of the nature of Gensokyo’s girls. I took elements of each character’s personality, represented in both official and doujin works, and assigned an Enneatype to her based upon that. Each decision was thought-out, but I did not take every minute detail into account when making these choices. If you think that a different character would be better suited for a certain type, then please leave a comment explaining why. I’m just asking that nobody makes a tremendous fuss over this. Likewise, if an Enneagram buff should stumble upon this entry, please realize that I am not a scholar of the model. My descriptions of certain personality types may not live up to your standards as a result.

The Enneagram (1400×1400)

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Type OneSikieiki Yamaxanadu

eiki4.jpgSikieiki is the judge of the afterlife, deciding if spirits will spend their time in heaven, hell, or somewhere else entirely. As a judge of deeds, Shikieiki is known to lecture other characters on their shortcomings and behave in a matter that is, well… judgemental. Because of her perfectionist tendencies, she is a prototypical type One. Ones are constantly striving not only to improve themselves, but their surrounding environment as well. As a result, they sometimes come across as stuck up, bossy, and hard to please. Ones are a stiff type that will accept nothing less than perfection. This model fits Sikieiki well, not only due to her role as a judge, but also because of her position as a demanding superior to Komachi.

Type TwoAlice Margatroid

alice2.jpgEven though she is one of the most popular characters among fans, the Rainbow Puppeteer Alice Margatroid is often depicted in doujin works as being an unloved loner, longing for contact with others, specifically Marisa. The description of a healthy type Two, however, seems to be at odds with Alice’s situation: healthy Twos are naturally helpful and their presence is often enjoyed by others. Alice, on the other hand, is a less than healthy Two, craving affection and acceptance, but never quite receiving it. In some doujins, Alice is depicted as being a stalker, obsessive, and even mentally-unstable, all of which are traits of an unhealthy type Two.

Type ThreeHong Meiling

monban3.jpgPoor Hong Meiling is not appreciated as a person, but is instead identified only by the roles that she plays. As a Chinese girl, she is somewhat of a token in Gensokyo. In fact, some characters choose to address her as “China” instead of calling her by name. Meiling’s occupation is to guard the gate of the Scarlet Devil Mansion and that is what she is perhaps best known for, besides being from China. Because she is known more for the roles that she fulfills rather than for who she really is, Meiling is a good example of a Three type. Threes wear multiple masks, and the rest of the world sees the Three’s value through the roles that he or she plays. Like any good Three, Meiling seems to have a certain energy and passion for improving her performance as a gatekeeper, realizing that she will garner more respect as a result.

Type FourMystia Lorelei

mistia2.jpgThe Night Sparrow Mystia Lorelei is an confident and individualistic girl. Armed with a song that has the power to strike fear and confusion into the hearts of humans, Mystia roams the roads at night scaring mankind for the thrill of it. She may not be the brightest or strongest character, but she displays a strong sense of self-confidence even when facing a tough opponent. In doujin works, she is often depicted as a performing artist as well, singing her song to crowds of adoring fans. It is this blend of confidence and creative energy that Mystia displays that makes her an ideal type Four. Like Mystia, Fours are often quirky and odd in ways, but they do not doubt themselves and aren’t afraid to stick out in a crowd. Fours are often artistically inclined in one way or another too. Mystia expresses this natural creativity through her hypnotic song.

Type FivePatchouli Knowledge

pache.gifA physically frail but incredibly intelligent magician, Patchouli Knowledge is a rather withdrawn individual. She rarely ventures outside, choosing to instead spend her days in the Scarlet Devil Mansion reading books and researching magic. Patchouli’s inquisitive nature and generally antisocial behavior make her a typical Five type. Fives are the most detached of all the Enneatypes, placing value upon understanding information rather than emotional experiences. While they may have a circle of close friends, Fives are almost never the life of the party. Patchouli certainly fits this profile of a cloistered knowledge seeker. Knowledge is even in her name.

Type SixKeine Kamishirasawa

exkeine.gifKeine Kamishirasawa is a trooper. Cursed to an existence as a Were-Hakutaku, Keine juggles the burdens of teaching a school, defending Gensokyo’s human village, looking after Mokou, and hiding her monstrous secret from the people that she cares for. Keine has thrust the responsibility of looking after human beings upon herself and remains fiercely loyal to mankind. As a result, she fears for the fate of herself and her home, sometimes using her power to hide the entire human village in the folds of history during times of crisis. Like Keine, type Sixes have a strong sense of loyalty as well as a desire for security. They fear the unknown, and gird their loins for battle when required. The problem that Keine and every Six face is getting over their fear of the external and beginning to feel safe and confident.

Type SevenMarisa Kirisame

marisa2.jpgAn energetic, confident, and curious witch, Marisa Kirisame seems to be interested in or enjoy just about everything. She is a social character in doujins and seems to be friendly with nearly everybody, though she can be a bit of a pest sometimes. As a whole, Marisa is fun-loving and has an appreciation for life, making her an ideal Seven. Like Marisa, Sevens are generally active and involved people, taking advantage of life’s opportunities. They are eager to participate in activities, often with other people, as Sevens are a sociable lot. The vivacity of a Seven may annoy more reserved or pessimistic characters, but the sprightly Seven may not even realize the effect that he or she has upon others.

Type EightReimu Hakurei

reimu4.jpgMuch like One types, Eights are strong-willed and often find themselves in charge of the situation, but while Ones like to ensure that everything is orderly, an Eight just wants control. Unlike Ones, Eights aren’t authoritative figures, but rather natural-born leaders who use their skills to establish dominance. For a lack of a more formal term, a successful Eight is “the man”. As the heroine of nearly every game in the Touhou series, Reimu is indeed the man. She is not a control freak who squabbles about details, but if something isn’t going her way, she is going to fix it: most likely in a forceful manner.

Type NineCirno

cirno8.jpgYou all knew that this was coming. How could you have not seen it coming? After all, it is essentially a mortal sin to associate Cirno with any number other than ⑨. Even if her personality was more in line with a different number, I am obligated to assign her to the Nine category to keep this stupid meme running. Luckily, Cirno does share some qualities with the rest of the Nines out there. The Nine class is seen as the mediator between all of the other Enneatypes. Therefore, the ideal Nine is simple, innocent, and relaxed. Of course, being able to see every side of an issue without bias may leave a Nine confused at times. Who comes to mind when words like “simple”, “innocent”, and “confused” are uttered? Cirno of course. That makes her a Double Nine, doesn’t it?

**All of the pictures used for the character profiles came from Nyagakiya.

Further information

I hope that you enjoyed my little analysis of Touhou in the context of the Enneagram. Once again, I must stress that this is just a lighthearted attempt to reconcile an ancient mystic concept with a modern-day series. Please don’t look too far into it from either direction. If you are interested in the Enneagram, however, there is a wealth of information out there. There is a brief online test available for free, which will tell you which Enneagram numbers best fit you. It’s interesting to see where you stand on the figure and in relation to other famous people and characters. Like Patchy, I test out as a Five. I guess that makes sense. Of course, a free quiz, a few books, or even the Enneagram itself will never tell you who you are. Only you can make that decision.

This is the second bootleg that I have uploaded now. I can’t up things like these too often because my school restricts bandwith on a weekly basis, and FLAC files can make a significant dent in that (20GB) weekly limit, especially when you download as much as I do. Judging from the statistics, it looks like a decent percentage of the few readers that this blog gets enjoyed the Mars Volta show that I posted last week. There’s a lot of amazing music like TMV out there today, but this time I wanted to focus on a classic band: Can.

Information

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Title: Queueing Down
Artist: Can
Performance Date: May 12, 1973
Genre: Krautrock
Download Link: One Disc
Tracklisting:

  • 01 – Queueing Down [35:55]
  • 02 – One More Night [08:49]
  • 03 – Spoon [16:05]
  • 04 – Stars and Lines [14:41]
  • 05 – Vitamin C [13:41]

Music

Along with a few of their other countrymen, Can is well-known for developing the “Krautrock” aesthetic, a type of progressive, psychedelic rock that was primarily limited to Germany in its early years. During their golden age, Can was made up of four proficient German musicians and Damo Suzuki—a Japanese wandering performer who the band literally recruited off of the street. This quintet recorded Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi, and Future Days together: all three of which were revolutionary albums that are recognized as classic works of genius today. Can’s output declined after Suzuki left the band to become a Jehova’s Witness in 1974, and the group eventually broke up after releasing a few decent albums in the late seventies.

This recording features Can in more glorious times, however, with Suzuki still in his position as the group’s frontman, doing what he is famous for: crooning and murmuring strange lyrics made up on the spot. The opening track is perhaps the best example of Can’s spontaneous creativity, as it is an entirely-improvised 35 minute jam. Even the other songs that are performed, which originally appeared on studio albums, are significantly extended, seamlessly incorporating tight and professional improvisations. The quality of musicianship displayed in this performance (and in any Can live show) is something that must be heard to be truly believed. Fans of Can in the studio will appreciate beefed-up versions of favorites like “Spoon” and “Vitamin C”, while curious first-time listeners will simply be krautrocked to death by these five monster tunes. As far as bootlegs go, this is a personal favorite of mine and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Perhaps it is pointless for me to first comment on Spice and Wolf after six episodes have already aired, given how everybody is talking about it, but I wanted to hold out until my number of viewed episodes reached a nice multiple of three. Each person is obsessive-compulsive in his or her own special way, and with me, it concerns numbers. “After Five Episodes”, or even worse, “After Four Episodes” simply will not due for this tidy and orderly blog. Moving on to the focus of this perfectly-balanced post, however, the quality of Spice and Wolf as series has really surprised me. It is without a doubt my favorite currently-running anime, causing me to drop everything that I am doing for half an hour every week in order to follow the travels of a little wolf inside a cart.

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When I first heard of Spice and Wolf, I had no idea what the actual story behind it was about. Of course, this was because my first exposure to the series was in the form of a pornographic doujin. While it was no Wikipedia article, it intrigued me enough to download the first episode of the animation, which had just begun its run. Judging by the naked wolfgirl featured so prominently in various screencaps and promo pictures, I was expecting a generic fan-service show that I would enjoy as a guilty pleasure for three episodes before dropping it. Maybe there would even be a cry of “Tail feel so good!” somewhere in the mix. Fortunately, I was sorely mistaken.

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Set in a transitional time period, Wolf and Spice is the tale of Lawrence, a shrewd travelling merchant, and Horo, a companion and business partner that he picks up along the way, who happens to be the mostly-human incarnation of an ancient wolf goddess. Over the centuries, Horo has been witness to a slew of cultural changes that have diminished her stature as a goddess: most notably mankind’s self-sufficiency in agriculture, and humanity’s growing faith in the Church rather than pagan deities. Feeling less than welcome in her current residence, Horo joins Lawrence on a journey to the north, where she will meet up with the other wolves that had long since emigrated. Given that Lawrence is a merchant, the journey is anything but direct, with Lawrence attempting to make profits where he can along the way. The merchant’s trade brings both Lawrence and Horo into contact with swindlers, thugs, and even worse, the Church itself. With their wits, courage, and knowledge of economic theory, both Horo and Lawrence attempt to wriggle their way out of dangerous situations and make it to the north country alive and well.

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Needless to say, Spice and Wolf completely surpassed the (low) expectations that I had of it. While the fantastic setting and complex plot certainly had something to do with my instant attraction to this series, what really struck me was the quality of both of this show’s protagonists. In a medium that is not always known for its deep and multi-faceted characters, both Lawrence and Horo are a breath of fresh air. Unlike so many other male leads, Lawrence is a cool, collected, and clever. If any other man chanced upon a naked wolf goddess, they would have most likely turned red, gotten a nosebleed, and then would have lived out an awkward relationship with Horo for the remainder of the series—or behave in a manner equally cliched and lame as that. Not Lawrence. Simply put, he is the man. If Lawrence is indeed the man, then Horo is the wolf; her charm, intelligence, and experience compliment Lawrence and his trade quite well, providing him with guidance that translates into increased profit. The relationship between these characters is more than a few entertaining exchanges. It is very natural and believable, which is a strong contributor to my enjoyment of Spice and Wolf.

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As a whole, Spice and Wolf is the best anime running this winter. From the moment that the first words of the sweet and mellow opening theme begin to the final notes of the adorable Engrishy ending song, the viewer finds his or herself within a fascinating world driven by a captivating cast of characters. Every single episode so far has left me wanting another one immediately. If for whatever reason, the reader has not viewed Spice and Wolf yet, do yourself a favor and pick up this lovely series.

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I have been following Spice and Wolf exclusively through BSS Subs, who deliver speedy but adequate subs of this series.

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I am not a huge fan of visual novels or eroge, but I’ve always been fascinated by Saya no Uta, a title that blends surrealism, horror, and of course, eroticism to create a wonderfully twisted tale about the love between a man and a monster. Saya no Uta (Saya’s Song) has been out for quite some time now, but if you ever wanted to do more than just fap to it, you’d have to understand Japanese, or rely upon various summaries and external script translations to understand just what was going on. I am one of those people who does not speak Japanese, and I lack to coordination to read a text file and enjoy loli sex at the same time, which is why the Saya no Uta translation project is wonderful news to me.

I had heard rumors about a group translating Saya no Uta for months now, but I had no idea if this was true, and just who was doing it. This site answers all of those questions and fills me with hope. I have no idea how long it will take for the translation to be completed (it is a pretty short game though) but hopefully Providence will smile down upon us all, and in a matter of time, we will all be reading this horrid pornographic work in God’s language: English.

I wish the translators the best of luck. Fans who do this kind of work for everybody else are awesome.

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It’s that time of the year again: the moment when some person makes a collage of all the promo pictures for the upcoming season of anime, everybody stares at this giant image, and then we all judge the books by their covers. Well, that’s what I do at least. I rarely follow the production of a series actively. I just wait for shows to come out and watch what looks or sounds interesting. Of course, with all the sites in Japanese, it is hard to tell just what is interesting right away. I usually rely upon friend’s suggestions and word of mouth to compile a small list of shows worth following each season.

There are, however, at least two anime on this list that catch my attention right away. The first item that I noticed was a third season of Gyagu Manga Biyori, which immediately brought a smile to my face. I saw the first season of this wonderful series just last year, and it had me tearing up in laughter with its simplistic art style and obnoxiously bizarre sense of humor. I’m trying to remain optimistic, hoping that some kind translation group will pick GMB up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it remains ignored this spring, considering how the second season was never subbed past the first three episodes. The other show that I am looking forward to is the anime adaptation of Golgo 13, which is based off of an already popular and long-running manga series about a professional assassin. I have not read any of the manga yet, (despite the fact that many volumes have already been released in America) but I do remember catching one of the Golgo 13 original video animations on television once, and finding its main character incredibly badass. I hope that a group picks this up as well, because it has the potential to be a great, mature action series.

There are most likely some other fine shows on this list as well, but nothing else really jumps off of the page at me. I will probably end up watching two or three additional anime this spring, but only after word of each series has made its way to me. If you are one of the three people who reads this entry (hey, I only started blogging here this month) and you are excited for an upcoming series, please leave a comment and let me know. I love getting suggestions.

This is the first post of what I hope will be a recurring feature here on this site: bootleg sharing. In my introductory post, I stated that I didn’t want this blog to simply be a music upload dump, but I think it’s fun to upload and discuss bootlegs every now and then. Unlike commercial albums, bootlegs are recorded by fans for fans. The tapers and traders usually do not see a dime from the efforts, which makes bootlegging absolutely justifiable in my book. It’s all about the music. The recordings uploaded here will be lossless, which is the standard in the trading community. The songs are kept in this format to prevent the quality decay that occurs when a file is transcoded. Feel free to encode these files to lossy sources for your own listening, but if you ever trade the material to somebody else, try to ensure that it is lossless. Anyway, here’s the show that I uploaded for this entry:

Information

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Title: Live in Sydney
Artist: The Mars Volta
Performance Date: March 15, 2007
Genre: Progressive/Psychedelic/Alternative Rock
Download Link: Disc One | | Disc Two
Tracklisting:

  • 1.1 – Rapid Fire Tollbooth [15:13]
  • 1.2 – Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of) [15:20]
  • 1.3 – Cygnus….Vismund Cygnus [18:10]
  • 1.4 – Viscera Eyes [09:08]
  • 1.5 – Idle Tooth [06:20]
  • 1.6 – Drunkship of Lanterns [12:48]
  • 2.1 – Vermicide [04:50]
  • 2.2 – Tetragrammaton [17:08]
  • 2.3 – Cicatriz ESP [14:39]
  • 2.4 – Meccamputechture [7:16]
  • 2.5 – Day of the Baphomets [13:40]

Music

Despite the fact that The Mars Volta is consistently praised as a band of technically-adept musicians, a group of true innovators, and the King Crimson of our generation, I have never really gotten into them. I enjoy their first two albums whenever I put them on, but I have not bothered exploring the group any further. Since acquiring this recording however, my position on the Mars Volta has changed, and I am more interested in this fascinating young group than I ever was before.

This disc-spanning live set contains much of the band’s already-classic material, bookended by tight extended jamming. Each and every song is performed accurately with a certain energy that is unparalleled by other acts. If I was a dedicated fan, I’d be able to elaborate upon specific moments during this show that catch my attention, but as of right now, I can only comprehend this recording as one long psychedelic explosion. Perhaps it’s for the best, as my attempts to describe this music from an outsider’s perspective would be hamfisted no matter what. In fact, I really don’t have much else to say about this one. I just liked this show so much that I figured that I would share the wealth. I am looking forward to listening to more Mars Volta in the future, as well as writing more “real” articles for this site. Enjoy!