Hyper/Ballad: Misao and The Spark Of Life

doublemisao

It’s real early morning
No-one is awake
I’m back at my cliff
Still throwing things off
I listen to the sounds they make
On their way down
I follow with my eyes ’til they crash

When you struggle with depression long enough, you come to realize that it is a daily struggle. No matter how well you function with it, the inevitable thrust of depression is to recover the spark that makes you want to experience the fullness of life. If you’ve been there you know that the spark is fleeting. Such is the beast: the fear that cloaks your mind and the paranoia that finds you while your walk down the sidewalk minding your own.

(Suggested listening: “Hyperballad” by Björk, “The Spark of Life” by Todd Rundgren)

reducedmisao

Some days you win, and others you don’t. Nevertheless, you try to get up and do it all over again or else you end up waving a white flag in your room or on your couch or from the safety of any place where you’re free from the world outside that goes on without you. You will do anything to protect what little you have, not realizing that your coping mechanism is getting you nowhere. Not seeing that you need to try something different to maybe get a better result. Even a bad step can be a step forward if you think of it that way.

Misao understands this all too well. The current Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling (TJPW) star is currently on an upswing, in the middle of a long win streak and one-half of her league’s tag team champions. But a few years ago, she was one of those people struggling to function. . . a virtual recluse, a self-described “shut-in”, saved and redeemed by the power of pro wrestling. She found the spark that gave her life meaning.

misaoprotest

When one of her friends and fellow wrestlers retired, she led the resistance against it. Friendship.

I started watching TJPW last year. It’s an Japanese women’s subsidiary of Dramatic Dream Team (DDT), one of my favorite leagues. It’s silly fun and the performers are endearing and entertaining. I’ve previously written about former idol and cult TJPW wrestling star Maki Itoh.

Maki Itoh is entertaining in her petulant madness but Misao is more compelling because of her life story. While Maki came to TJPW out of idol culture, Misao came to TJPW out of. . . her shell. In 2018, she wrote a four-part blog post about living with her family as a shut-in, staying in her room all day, subsisting on a bag of mini chocolate cream puffs from 7-11 simply because it had the necessary amount of daily calories and because it required minimal amount of chewing. She lived without the spark of life, which is to say barely living at all.

Her mother took her to a local festival where she saw wrestlers fighting in the street. They were having a falls-count-anywhere match and it amazed her. Chaos reigned and the men fought everywhere. A man in a shark mask bit his opponents. Jun Kasai, the hardcore wrestler and self-proclaimed “Crazy Monkey”, jumped off the top of a ladder and crashed for the victory. All of this excited Misao. She then realized that it excited her. She couldn’t remember how long it had been since she was excited about anything. It made her want to be a pro wrestler even though she didn’t understand it. She found the spark of life, a reason to get up in the morning.

In 2015, she began her professional wrestler career in earnest at TJPW as the green-clad masked superhero Hyper Misao. She wore a cape at all times and flew at opponents saying “I Am A Hero”. By 2018, she had a match with “Crazy Monkey” Jun Kasai, the man she had seen wrestling at that street festival years before.

The match came with a special stipulation that nobody could go for a pinfall until they finished a bag of mini chocolate cream puffs, the only food that Misao lived on when she still was a recluse.

Kasai defeated her after a wild match by splashing off the top of a giant ladder (naturally) but that was unimportant. Hyper Misao won a place in fans’ hearts by sharing her story and reaffirming why fans watch wrestling: because when it’s good, it makes us feel something and takes us out of ourselves. Just like any other entertainment at its’ best. Wrestling can be fulfilling, redemptive and celebratory.

Dv0gy3UUYAAFbcG

Hyper Misao vs. Jun Kasai

The first time I tried to write about Misao, I wrote a lengthy and detailed bio covering her origins and storylines. Maybe that’s interesting but not as much as trying to figure out why people still watch wrestling when there’s so much of it available to get burned out on. Moments like Hyper Misao’s match with Jun Kasai keep me watching. It wasn’t a technical classic or an artistic masterpiece but it didn’t matter when I watched it live or re-watched it much later.

I want to feel something when I watch wrestling, both for the people in the ring and for myself. By telling us her story, she gave us more than temporary amusement. She gave us something of herself. She was willing to be vulnerable in a way few artists are. It was an act of giving, pure without self-aggrandizement or self-gratification. It was touching and inspiring and she did it in the forum of pro wrestling where damn near nothing is like that. Almost nothing in entertainment is like that, full stop.

In February, Misao turned heel by renouncing her superhero persona. Frustrated with constantly losing, she took off her mask in the center of the ring and cut it to pieces with a pair of scissors. To emphasize her point, she spiked the scissors into the ring canvas, before aligning herself with NEO Bi-Ishiki Gun leader Sakisama and walking off into the cold February night. It was a symbolically destructive act, killing off the old to make a new start. Misao stared into her past accomplishments and saw an abyss.

hyper-misao-no-more

sakisama-misao

Misao with Sakisama just after removing her mask

When she returned to TJPW as a member of NEO Bi-Ishiki Gun, Misao (no longer Hyper) returned as Sakisama’s imperial guard. Her gear was a gothic black variation of her past life of a superhero. She no longer flies through the air proclaiming “I Am A Hero”. More importantly, she wrestles without a mask. Sad that such a face that beamed so brightly with joy under a mask would be so expressionless now.

On November 3rd, Misao and Sakisama will defend their tag titles on one of DDT’s biggest shows of the year, DDT Ultimate Party 2019! in one of the prominent matches on the card. Misao has come a long way from being that girl who hid in her room all day living on chocolate snacks from the convenience store. Fans and fellow TJPW wrestlers still miss the fun-loving, crowd-pleasing wacky Hyper hero, including her Ultimate Party! opponent Rika Tatsumi. She among others have tried time and time again to bring that side of Misao out but failed miserably.

brandnew2019

A champion, but at what cost?

Wrestling is built on moments, as is life. Misao had that moment of clarity when wrestling helped her rescue herself from reclusion. She had another one when destroying the old Hyper hero persona (admittedly, her in-ring ability has improved greatly since then). She will have more in her career and life.

EIIVO-9VUAAeTaf

courtesy Twitter @misao_tjp

When she started, she wanted to be the superhero of TJPW. Just by getting in that ring, she did something far more heroic. By turning away from her Hyper past, she turned away from that heroic act, practically denying it. It’s cold and it’s cruel but it feels true: there is still sorrow and light inside of us that we struggle to reconcile and that is the nature of the beast that we know as depression. We all want to be something other than what we are. If we change, we yearn to forget the past, to deny it. To deny how it felt to be so low.

D5lNbi0XoAA02DV

There’s a beautiful view from the top of the mountain. Every morning I walk towards the edge. (photo courtesy @oystersearrings on Twitter)

Don’t lose hope for yourself. We’re all capable of having moments, breakthroughs, epiphanies. So much good is possible in this life. Joy, love and happiness is possible in a world that seems inhospitable to such concepts.

UPDATE: Misao was pinned at DDT Ultimate Party! 2019, ending her winning streak and losing the tag team titles in the process. Such is the nature of wrestling, as the story continues. The titles and winning streak were the underpinning of her confidence. It remains to be seen what will happen now they have been taken from her.

UPDATE, January 2020: Misao broke away from Saki-sama and left NEO Bi-Ishiki Gun. After a short hiatus, Hyper Misao returned but after a losing a match stipulation became the super-kawaii Akemi Dareda Sore. Temporarily, at least I think.

(Reference information and photographs were used courtesy DDT English translation fan account @ddtpro_eng on twitter and DDT WordPress fansite which keeps up with DDT and all its’ subsidiary promotions including TJPW. Many thanks.)

 

Review: Jesus Is King by Kanye West

October 25, 2019 is a momentous day in music history as the release date for the new Kanye West album, the much-delayed Jesus Is King. More than fifteen years and now nine albums into his career, Kanye has proved to be as controversial and thrilling as ever.

kanye400

Jesus Is King is a four-disc set consisting of two concerts recorded Halloween Night 1973 at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago. The band features drummers Ralph Humphrey and Chester Thompson, percussionist Ruth Underwood, bassist Tom Fowler, trombonist Bruce Fowler, saxophonist/vocalist Napoleon Murphy Brock, and keyboardist/vocalist George Duke.

kanyemaga

One might think that this era is over-represented, what with last year’s release of The Roxy Performances, which came literally two months after this Halloween performance. This goes double if you own 2016’s Road Tapes, Venue #2 which took place two months prior. Three bands, slightly different changes in personnel and repertoire, four months apart.

 

kanyesorry

This much-cherished era of Kanye’s career (1973-1974) represents the last high water mark before plunging headlong into controversy. A song like “Penguin In Bondage” presages more shocking variants like 1975’s “Carolina Hard-Core Ecstacy” and 1979’s “Bobby Brown Goes Down”. Combined with 1974’s “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow” becoming an unlikely hit, the future looked bleak for fans of Kanye’s high-minded material as novelty humor became an added staple of studio and live repertoire. Jesus Is King represents the beginning of the end of an era of Kanye’s music.

kanyetrump2

The band on Jesus Is King is strengthened by new additions Thompson and vocalist Brock who makes his presence felt on the Nixon/Watergate commentary “Dickie’s Such An Asshole”. The Humphrey/Thompson tandem-drummer lineup with Brock sing-shouting over “Cheepnis” sounds at times like James Brown chasing Sly Stone through a fun house with a flamethrower.

It’s fitting that a forty-six year-old song about a President facing a impeachment inquiry be released now when history repeats itself for crimes making the original pale in comparison.

You know you put me in office
So you must have wanted me in office
I’ve did you no harm
I’ve did you no harm
You know I’m not a crook
You know I’m innocent
They say I had twenty-five tapes
I only have ten
I don’t know what happened to the rest
Musta gave ’em to a friend

So how does this compare with The Roxy Performances? For one thing, four discs is a lot more manageable than seven discs. On the plus side, “Pygmy Twylyte” does not turn into an overlong skit about selling someone drugs or a gym sock rolled up into a high school diploma (don’t ask). Unlike Roxy which was also a movie shoot, the Halloween shows are just concerts and there’s no distraction from playing good music. There’s a neat extra on the Jesus Is King rehearsal disc when “Magic Fingers” from 1971 is tried out by the new lineup.

On the down side, I don’t need to hear rehearsal versions of the songs that I just heard, “Magic Fingers” exempted. There’s also this tendency with archival live releases to include extra between-song chatter. Is this necessary? I would argue that in the main it’s not.

In my final analysis, I’m not listening to Jesus Is King ever again. Kanye’s brain broke a long time ago and he needs help. Everybody kept telling him he was a genius and they didn’t reverse course after Yeezus came out. Sometimes you have to tell a talented person when they’re fucking up. Otherwise they might make a real piece of shit like Thing-Fish.

Don’t ask.

 

Getting Ready To Not Forgive Them For This, Part 2

A few months ago I was invited to do some phone canvassing at the county Democratic party headquarters., which I previously wrote about.

If you read that original post, you’ll remember it didn’t go well. I tried it again Saturday and it went even worse. How bad? Eugh. I was berated several times. I was told that the Democrats were blowing it. I was told to go to hell because I was a Democrat. I was told “hey I work midnights, please lose my number”.

I’m too sensitive to hold down a job. Nobody likes being berated by customers, bosses, co-workers. People take it anyway because they need a job but I can’t take it so I don’t. I haven’t had a job in years. Because I was a volunteer for the Democrats on this deal, I left and nobody minded.

Matt Bevin is one of the most unpopular governors in the country. Given the circumstance, one would think that Americans would acquiesce to doing the right thing when backed into a corner. Four more years of Matt Bevin would be horrible for Kentucky.

But you know something? I don’t give a shit about Kentucky or most of the people in it. I care about myself, my friends and family. If everybody else decides to submit to the will of a lizard man like Bevin, that’s on them.

I hate to admit it but I loathe most Kentuckians. Mostly because they do it to themselves. I’ve seen things get worse in my lifetime under the leadership of a six-term Senator who only gets his feelings hurt if you add the word “Moscow” to his first name to make it more alliterative. He is as unpopular in Kentucky as Bevin is and likely to get moreso and yet will likely still win in November 2020 because Kentuckians don’t fucking learn their lesson.

Of the ten counties in America with the shortest life expectancy, six of them are in  Kentucky’s Fifth District, represented by Republican Hal Rogers who has been in office. . . since 1981. They don’t fucking learn. Is the short life expectancy his fault? Of course not. But I’d be ashamed. Rogers isn’t. They call him the “Prince of Pork“.

Two of the other counties are in Kentucky’s Sixth District, represented by Republican Andy Barr. They don’t fucking learn.

And why don’t they learn? Because of some God/Guns/Gays/Abortion/Coal mumbo-jumbo. There’s so many crosses all over this state, Kentucky is like Italy with most of the art and culture stripped away. It’s almost as if they think they won’t get into Heaven if they vote Democrat.

But let me assure you that if my fellow Kentuckians get what they deserve, I won’t enjoy it because I’ll be caught in the crossfire and so will many of the people I care about. I’ll simply go on not forgiving them. Just like in 2015 when Bevin won in an upset over Jack Conway. That doesn’t mean I’ll forgive them. Not in this lifetime, which thankfully is not in the Fifth or Sixth Districts.

 

 

Lindsey Graham Hates Cats Because Their Dicks Aren’t Big Enough

Trigger warning: this has words in it. You may not like some of them.

Lindsey Graham hates cats because their dicks aren’t big enough.

That is the sentence that got me suspended from twitter for a week. Again.

This is not my first twitter suspension. You’ll notice that I am not capitalizing twitter. Some people don’t capitalize tv or god. For me, my word is twitter and being suspended from twitter is like being let out of Shawshank. I should be thankful but I’m pissed. What a miserable hellhole. I can’t believe they kicked me out. Let me back in.

Let me repeat: Lindsey Graham hates cats because their dicks aren’t big enough.

The implication being that Lindsey Graham loves barbed penises. Cats have barbed penises. Cats are too small for a fully-grown human to receive penetrative intercourse from.

If Lindsey Graham is going to receive a cat’s barbed penis, he wants it to be thick and large enough to accommodate him.

I was surprised how fast it was. It took less than an hour from initial posting to suspension. The last time I got suspended it was for a tweet I’d posted two weeks beforehand.

@donaldtrumpjr Your father is retarded. Therefore you are at least half-retarded.

This could be considered targeted harassment according to twitter terms of service. I considered it a low blow but well-deserved insult. Insults are protected speech by the First Amendment. Not on twitter, though.

This may offend you but I think we should make an exception for Trump. Let’s call him a retard until we make him cry and resign from office. We can do it. We could be heroes. Just for one day. When they go low, we call them ret- no, no, stop. . . it’s a slippery slope.

By the way, do you remember when the Iranian president called Trump “mentally retarded“? Good times.

So this is my little corner of the Internet where I can insult whoever I want without getting suspended. I might as well get it out of my system. You may not like some of this. For you cuckservatives, I’ll try to be somewhat bi-partisan.

  • “Nancy Pelosi” + “fat tittay” + “rule 34”
  • “Nancy Pelosi” + “AOC” + “BDSM” + “rule 34”

(I tweeted those two above and never got flagged. Apparently, only Republican males got triggered.)

  • Amy Klobuchar has a cleft vagina.
  • Mayo Guiliani was originally going to be “Mayor” but I misspelled it. Then I realized it looked better that way.
  • Mayo Guiliani married his cousin.
  • No, really. Mayo Guiliani married his cousin. Look it up.
  • I assume Mayo Guiliani also fucked his cousin, repeatedly.
  • Why would anybody marry their cousin? To keep them in the country?
  • “The Legislative Graveyard” is what Mitch McConnell named his taint.
  • Joe Biden isn’t as horrible as we all think. He’s just whatever.
  • Steve King is so ashamed of his interracial fetish he masturbates to the yin/yang symbol.
  • Chuck Schumer envies eunuchs.
  • Lindsey Graham’s nickname amongst elder Republicans in the Senate: “Suzanne Sugarbaker”
  • Ben Carson is a n. . .o good man.
  • Pete Buttitieg’s “gay Christian technocrat” is a bit he got from a Twitter account called Cumtown Character Generator.
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will never kiss Ben Shapiro, no matter how much he picks on her.
  • When Elizabeth Warren cums, she makes excitable Julia Child noises.
  • Donald Trump is retarded.
  • Therefore, all of his adult offspring are at least half-retarded.
  • Lindsey Graham hates cats because their dicks aren’t big enough.
  • It hasn’t stopped him from trying to get them to fuck him.

 

 

. . . And It All Went Downhill From There

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?

Those were my words at the end of the premiere of WWE Friday Night Smackdown on Fox. Brock Lesnar had just defeated Kofi Kingston in about ten seconds for the WWE Championship.

Sometimes you have those moments when you’re watching something and you go “what the fuck”. The Fonz water skiing over the shark. Indiana Jones hiding in a fridge to survive a nuclear blast. Brock Lesnar beating Kofi Kingston in ten seconds.

You know that wrestling is choreographed. The participants have to work together, right? Watch the video. See the problem?

Kofi jumps right into position where the guy can do the move that finishes him off.

A wrestling match is a little story. Some of them have a backstory. In this case, the backstory is the champion (Kofi Kingston) is the underdog against Brock Lesnar who is taller, stronger and most crucially a former UFC Heavyweight champion. There’s a strong chance that Brock will beat Kofi and become the new champion. David vs. Goliath, except this time David has championship gold.

This is the first time pro wrestling has aired on an over-the-air network in decades. One of the big four. Not basic cable. Fox, home to The Simpsons, Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers. Mostly known for their Fox Sports package because they show NFL and MLB games, as well as NASCAR. This was perhaps for the biggest television audience WWE has had in years. . . and this is the shit they pull? A ten-second main event?

The great thing about wrestling is the participants’ ability to bend reality. There’s a chance that the underdog might pull off an upset. They give you a reason to believe. You root for them, you begin to hope for something to happen against all odds. You’re sad for the underdog when that belief is snuffed out and the inevitable conclusion is reached.

You could say that this was an UFC-esque surprise finish (a recent UFC fight ended in five seconds by KO). In this case, a guy who successfully defended the world championship for six months was ragdolled for one move and then pinned. That’s not even a UFC-style surprise. It’s just lazy.

You could excuse them for having to be out in time for the local news. Brock vs. Kofi had to be over in time to do the thing where Cain Velazquez comes out to challenge Brock after the match.

That is 100% not my problem. They’re the professionals. I’m not going to bend over backwards and make excuses for them or try to justify the bad creative decisions they make. There’s no set minimum on what a full match has to be, but I can tell you it sure as hell isn’t ten seconds.

WWE would like to have me back. I’m a lapsed fan. Sometimes I check in just to remind myself what drove me away in the first place.

 

The McMahon family was all over the first Fox Smackdown. From Vince and Stephanie in the opening to Shane’s match. Vince and Steph said “hi” and if they could have they would’ve taken longer to do it.

Shane lost to Kevin Owens in a loser-gets-fired ladder match, which means he’ll be back before the end of the year. I’m waiting for a loser-gets-attacked-by-pitbulls match.

Speaking of suspension of disbelief, watching Shane wrestle means having to pretend that the 50-year-old son of the owner of the company can actually go toe-to-toe with real professional athletes despite looking like his heart could explode any minute.

So what does any of this have to do with Kofi Kingston and Brock Lesnar? Maybe if the family that ran the company could ease off their ego trip just a teeny bit, maybe two things: maybe last night, Kofi and Brock could have had a actual match instead of the wrestling equivalent of tipping the king over. AND maybe in the long term they could actually create new stars (like they used to in The Rock, John Cena and Batista) instead of bringing in ex-MMA champions like Ronda Rousey and Cain Velasquez to get some buzz for the product.

But that’s overly optimistic. And in two years when they’re kicked down to Fox Sports 1 like a shitty Spanish football team, mark my words that October 4, 2019 was WWE’s high water mark and the beginning of the end.